(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Hunting the Fox"

Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



I 





c^. 



V 



HUNTING THE FOX 



I 



HUNTING THEFQX! 

BY 
LORD WnXOUGHBY DE BROKE 




BOSTON AND NZW TOBK 

HOUGHTON MnnjN COMPANY 



» • "" 






• • • 



■\ \ 






Song shall declare a way 
How to drive care away, 
Pain and despair away, 
Hunting the Fox! 

EGBBTON WAmBUBTON. 



525679 



PREFACE 

In offering these reflections to the public I wish 
to disclaim any intention of laying down the law. 
What I have written is derived from my own 
experience as M.F.H., and from what I have tried 
to learn from serving as an apprentice mider my 
Father, whose Advice an Fax^Hunting was pub- 
lished in 1906. 



vli 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

Thefotmeof Foz-huntiiig " 1 



CHAPTER II 

Masters of Foidioands—To dig or not to dig?— Choice of 
Hunt-servaats — Fanners' horses — Puppy walkers . 8 



CHAPTER III 

Masters of Foxhounds (oonHmud) — Cub^iunting— R^;ular 
hunting — Control of the fileld — Drawing — Pace from 
ootert to ooTert 19 



CHAPTER IV 

The Huntsman — Qualities required — Feeding, exercise, and 

breaking SI 



CHAPTER V 

The Huntsman in the fidd--His i»oper position when hand* 
ling Hounds— Dog language— A morning's Cub-hunting 39 

ix 



HUNTING THE FOX 



CHAPTER VI 

PACK 

The Huntsmiui (eotUmued^lAyvag Hounds on to a tine — 

Getting Hounds away from ooTert on a Fox ... 49 



CHAPTER VII 

The Huntsman in the open — Mr. Thomas Smith's patent cast 
— ^Examples in practice — Some maxims about casting — A 
sinking Fox 59 



CHAPTER VIII 

The importance of technique — The exercise of patience — The 

loye of Foxhounds 73 



CHAPTER IX 

The Foxhound — Mr. Bany and Mr. Meynell — ^The modem 

Foxhound — Foxhound Sho'^s — Rounding ... 86 



CHAPTER X 

Horse-breeding and the training of the young horse 99 

CHAPTER XI 
Riding to Hounds, and some advice to the Field . . .110 

CHAPTER XII 
Some sporting Writers 121 



• ••*•••- • • • 



• . . •«• • • . • • 



CHAPTER I 

THE 7UTUBE OF FOX-HUNTINO 

When we declared war upon Germany in 1914, 
many people thought, some perhaps hoped, that 
Fox-himting in the British Isles was doomed. It 
would appear that the former are likely to experi- 
ence a pleasant shock of surprise, while the latter — 
if there be any — ^may be disappointed. For the 
immediate consequence of mobilization was the 
recognition of Fox-hunting as a first-class national 
asset. It is not too much to say that the Expedi- 
tionary Force could not have left England unless 
the nation could have drawn upon studs of well- 
bred hunters to bring the Peace establishment of 
Army horses up to war strength. Never were 
Cavfklry so quickly or so well mounted as those 
regiments of Regulars and Yeomanry who embarked 
for France in August 1914. 

But quite apart from the point of view of 
national utility, Fox-hunting will surely survive 
from its own innate qualities. The manner in 

1 B 



^ ; , . : .HTJBTING THE FOX 

fWl^i^ii itbM liy^ tbrough all the obstacles of war 
'iime is a slffi(3ieht testimony to its vitality. And 
here let us pay our tribute to those who have 
helped the sport through these critical times : to 
the tact and sagacity of the Committee of the 
M.F.H. Association, and above all to those who 
through age, sex, or any other reason, were pre- 
vented from serving in the Army, and who took 
the Hounds out day after day under very trying 
conditions. To ride a horse half*fit and to ride 
that horse all day; to hunt Hounds that are 
poorly fed ; to know that even if they were in good 
enough condition to tire their Fox he would almost 
surely find an open earth ; to be short-handed 
both in the himting-field and in the kennel ; to 
have a diminishing number of walks for puppies ; — | 
all these things have not made the management of 
hunting during the War a very pleasing occupation. 
From the point of view of the Master and his Staff 
the only compensation that can be imagined, 
beyond the gratification of duty done, is that the 
Hounds have not been ridden over by a large and 
impetuous Field. Even this advantage has its 
objectionable side : the Himtsnlan wants at least 
enough people out to catch his horse if he has a 
fall and turns him loose. 

However, we seem to have put the worst behind 
us, unless indeed we have another war. We may 
breathe again now that we have been able to breed 



HUNTING THE FOX 8 

and enter a certain number of young Hounds each 
y^€kr. In the last resort this was the only thing 
that really mattered. Had the great governing 
Kennels of England ceased to produce the Fox- 
hoimdy the end would not have been far distant. 
All else can be re-created except the Hounds. The 
**raw material'* will breed itself fast enough. 
All the rest is well within the range of British 
g^us. So far indeed from making Fox-hunting 
more difficult, the revival of agricultural prosperity 
is calculated to make it easier than it has been for 
many years. When prices were high in the Early 
and Middle Victorian Age, a large proportion of 
farmers could aSord to hunt, and did hunt, while 
farmers generally enjoyed such a degree of aflSuence 
that they did not trouble very much about claims. 
Moreover, they could aSord to look after their 
fences in the proper way, instead of mending them 
with wire. When prices fell in the early 'eighties 
and agricultural depression looked as if it had come 
to stay, the himting former became rarer ; Hunt 
Committees had to spend more money on claims ; 
fences were neglected for lack of funds and labour, 
and wire was used in some countries to save trouble. 
In fact, owing to the low prices, a general hand-to- 
mouth state of things prevailed on the land that 
did not make the management of a himting country 
quite so easy as it had been in the golden age. 
On the other hand, '^s we have lately realized to 



4 HUNTING THE FOX 

our cost from the national point of view, the 
area under grass increased steadily, and in a cer- 
tain sense — ^possibly overestimated — enhanced the 
chcirm of riding over the comitry. But, as well as 
the grass, riches were all this time increasing in the 
commercial world, albeit at the expense of a 
neglected agriculture, and the successful Briton, 
as is his wont, turned his eyes to the himting- 
field, hired a himting-box, and spent his money 
on the Sport of Kings. So Fox-hunting continued 
to flourish, supported by a sound balance at its 
bankers*, and, above all, by the love of sport 
inherent in all classes of the realm. If this brief 
analysis of the fortunes of the chase be correct ; 
if agricultural prosperity has gone hand in hand 
with the prosperity of hunting; if hunting has 
become more popular not because of agricultural 
depression, but in spite of it, then we have nothing 
to fear from a revived agriculture. The farmer 
will have the golden key in his hand, and be able 
to mount his horse and show us the way over the 
fences. Human nature will probably be much 
the same after the Wcur as it was before the War. 

Hunting, like the drama or any other institution, 
depends for its existence on the support of public 
opinion. Public opinion is not an easy thing to 
define ; probably when we speak of public opinion 
we refer to that amount of thought, tradition, 
sentiment, and practical support which can be 



HUNTING THE FOX 5 

brought to bear on any given proposition. The 
life of a thing will ultimately be secured by 
the number and the ability of the people who in- 
tend to make it a success. A bad cause well 
organized may survive long enough to astonish 
even its own devotees. But a good cause is never 
lost. Fox-hunting is a good cause, if ever there 
was one. And the War has surely increased the 
number and ardour of its supporters. The one 
thing that all Fox-hunters in the Fighting Services 
have looked forward to throughout the War was 
the great day when they would hunt again. 
Hundreds of boys who had never even ridden 
before the War foimd a fresh charm in life by 
learning to ride and to love horses. Any one can 
testify to this who has seen the sad faces of all 
ranks in a Cavalry regiment in the throes of being 
de-horsed and put on to bicycles. And not only 
did these boys learn to ride, but many of them 
while training at home had their first taste of the 
elixir of the chase, and will be good firiends to 
Fox-hunting for all time. 

On the whole, then, we may expect to be con- 
fronted with nothing very new in the management 
of hunting after the War. If there be any one 
who is temperamentally opposed to sport, and 
would injure it if he could, he is hardly worth 
considering. His whole outlook would probably 
be anti-social and un-English in whatever rank of 



6 HUNTING THE FOX 

life he is to be found. He can perhaps best be 
described as the spiritual descendant of that often- 
quoted band of reformers who wished to put a 
stop to bear-baiting not because it gave pain to 
the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the 
spectators. The only pressure to which Fox- 
hunting might have to yield to a certain degree 
in some coimtries does not proceed from any 
prejudice against sport, but is purely economic in 
its character. The national need for houses or 
gcurdens, or public works, may by common con- 
sent become more imperative in certain suburban 
districts than the national need for the local Hunt, 
which may fail to sustain what has probably been 
for many years somewhat of a spoon-fed existence. 
Changes of this kind are purely local, and will 
have no effect on hunting as a whole. Let us 
not forget that Foxes were once himted and killed 
in Mayfair and Kensington, and that himting did 
not cease in the British Isles because Lord Berkeley 
was no longer able to kennel his Hoimds at Charing 
Cross. For every pack that was disestablished 
by the expansion of cities, others were formed in 
rural districts, until we now have more packs of 
Foxhounds in the United Kingdom than ever we 
had before. 

There remains one cardinal principle with 
regard to the spirit of Fox-himting. If it is to 
retain its vigour, it must never become the privilege 



HUNTING THE FOX 7 

of any particular class. Like all other really good 
things it is either national or else it is nothing. 
If ever it presents the appearance of being based 
upon exdusiveness the whole fabric will dissolve. 
The proper preservation of Fox-hunting is a trust 
held by all parties to its direction, whether land- 
owners, farmers, or subscribers, in order to provide 
the healthiest form of British sport for every one 
who can enjoy it, whether on foot or on horseback. 
There is a young generation growing up who have 
not had the tonic of Military Service. Hunting is 
the one field sport left in these islands — ^with the 
possible exception of Deer-stalking, which is only 
enjoyed by a small minority — ^that in the face of 
modem luxury still calls for courage, endurance, 
decision, and nerve. Let us hand it down to those 
who come after us in its best and purest form. 



CHAPTER II 

Masters of Foxhounds — ^To dig or not to dig ? — Choice of 
Hunt-servants — ^Fiyrmers' horses — ^Puppy walkers. 

No one is too good to be a Master of Foxhounds. 
If be be gifted with the average endowment of 
tact, administrative talent, power of penetrating 
character, and all other attributes that form the 
essential equipment of a successful public man, so 
much the better ; but he should at least be reared 
in the atmosphere and tradition of coimtry life, 
fond of sport for its own sake, a good judge of 
Horses and Hounds, and the possessor of a re- 
markably thick skin. For in addition to directing 
the sport in the Field, the M.F.H. is indeed a public 
man who should have some faculty for the art of 
government, being ultimately responsible for the 
welfare of the country over which he presides. 
The character and ability of the Hunt Committee 
and Secretary, and the disposition of the owners 
and occupiers of land may make his task pro- 
portionately easy or difficult as the case may be. 

8 



HUNTING THE FOX 9 

But there is no limit to the influence of the M.F.H. 
if he has the power and the will to use it wisely 
and well, fortified by the resolve to leave his country, 
when he lays down his office, in at least as good a 
state as he found it, and as much better as he can 
possibly make it. The proper administration of 
a hunting country is a vital part of Fox-hunting. 
As a general principle the Master should always 
work through the agency of the Secretary and the 
Committee, who should consult him before taking 
important decisions. But the Master had better 
not come into open and direct contact with any- 
thing that has to do with finance, however much 
he may advise in private coimcil with regard to 
ways and means. The main postulate is that he 
should know everything that is going on, so that 
he may place his experience and influence at the 
disposal of the Secretary. The only administrative 
department that he might conceivably take into 
his own hands is that of the earth-stopping. If 
the Secretary hunts every day in the season from 
the beginning of Cub-himting, he can manage 
the earth-stopping himself, and it is probably 
better so. But even then the M.F.H. and the 
Huntsman should be personally acquainted with 
every earth-stopper in the country, and know where 
to find him, especially if the Secretary lives some 
distance from the Kennel, and cannot therefore be 
communicated with on an emergency. But who- 



10 HUNTING THE POX 

ever actually manages the earth-stopping, the 
importance of it cannot be overestimated. A 
badly stopped comitry is responsible for more 
trouble to the cause of Fox-hunting than almost 
anything else. It acts and reacts on the whole 
reputation of the sport. To draw coverts blank 
because the earths are open places the entire Hunt 
in a ridiculous position. To run to ground just as 
Hounds are settled to their Fox causes acute 
disappointment to every one. If the Fox does not 
find an open earth until he has shown a good run, 
some of the ladies and gentlemen may indeed have 
enjoyed their gallop, and may take refuge in the 
comfortable formula that the good Fox will live 
to run another day. This light-hearted prophecy 
may or may not be fulfilled. No one can tell. 
Some one may make it his business to see that the 
Fox does not get out of that earth alive. But it 
is quite certain that constantly running to ground 
seriously impairs the moral of both Huntsman and 
Hounds. Nothing makes a pack of Foxhounds so 
well as killing beaten Foxes. Nothing unmakes 
them like being robbed of their game when they are 
running for blood. And with regard to the pre- 
servation of Foxes, the ancient paradox, ^^The 
more Foxes you kill, the more you have to kill/* 
contains a vital truth. The whole countryside 
soon gets to know whether the Hounds are killing 
their Foxes or not. If they kill them, all is well. 



HUNTING THE FOX 11 

If not, some officious person may think it his duty 
to save them the trouble. 

A whole chapter might be written on the science 
of earth**stopping. It is probably right to try to 
proceed on the principle of putting permanent 
grates to every drain, which, with periodical in- 
spection, shall last for all time, and to stop securely 
every earth at the beginning of Cub-hunting until 
about February 1, when the earths may be opened 
to allow the vixens access to them, and put to in 
the morning and reopened at night. But much 
will depend on the individual earth-stopper and 
the nature of the country. Some earth-stoppers 
seem to be bom and not made, while in some 
countries the badgers will play havoc with the 
most elaborate defences. But there is one element 
that has an important, if indirect, bearing on 
earth-stopping which is within the orbit of the 
Master's decision. This is the matter of digging. 
During Cub-hunting the Cub should fdways be 
dug out and eaten unless there are very obvious 
reasons to the contrary. To take an esttreme case, 
a Cub may be marked to ground very early, before 
the Hounds have done any work, in a place from 
which it would obviously take a gang of navvies 
at least two hours to get him out. By this time 
the sun would be risen, and it might do the con- 
dition of the Hounds more good to try to find 
another Cub, not forgetting to stop the earth before 



12 HUNTING THE FOX 

drawing again. Some Masters will leave a digging- 
party and trust to getting back to the earth and 
killing the Cub later on. If this course is followed, 
one of the establishment should be left at the earth 
to direct operations. If the digging-party succeeds 
in digging down to the Cub, and there seems to be 
no prospect of the Hounds being able to come and 
eat him, the whipper-in, or whoever is in command, 
should have orders to let the Cub go rather than 
bring him to the Huntsman in a bag. A moimted 
man in livery carrying a Fox about the country 
in a bag is not an edifying spectacle ; and to eat a 
Fox out of a bag on the way home does not do 
Hounds much good. If, on the other hand, the 
Hounds mark their Cub to ground after a fair 
morning's work, then the M.F.H. should not be 
afraid to face a good long dig. He will blood his 
hoimds, teach them to mark their Foxes to ground, 
give satisfaction to the Fox preservers, and very 
likely dig out the earth or drain in such a way that 
it is safe for the season. 

So much for digging during Cub -hunting. 
Digging after November 1 is another matter. To 
dig or not to dig ? That is the question. The 
general ethics of modem Fox-himting would seem 
to preclude the practice ; but the Master's decision 
must be guided by the scent, the weather, the 
length of daylight, and the prospective magnitude 
of the operation. If it is a good scenting day and 



HUNTING THE FOX 18 

the precious hours of daylight are short, he will be 
wise to try to find another Fox, unless the dig is 
certain to be only a matter of a few minutes. 
Good scenting days are so rare that not a moment 
must be wasted. If he decides not to dig, he should 
have the Hounds called away inunediately, and 
leave the earth quietly and quickly. He will in 
this manner cause the minimum of disappointment 
to the Hounds, and disclose the refuge of the Fox 
to as few people as possible. To potter about over 
the earth, to collect a crowd of foot-people who 
amuse themselves by an amateur dig after the 
Hounds have gone, to keep the Field waiting, and 
in the end to disappoint the Hounds, — all this is 
bad policy from every point of view. If the scent 
is so poor that the chance of a good run is remote, 
the weather fine, and the daylight long, a dig may 
be legitimate even during the regular hunting 
season. 

Having digressed somewhat on the subject of 
digging for the purpose of illustrating its influence 
on the welfare of the Hunt, let us return to some 
other aspects of Mastership. Of these the engage- 
ment of the servants is one of the most difficult 
and hazardous. It is easier to choose a wife than 
to choose a Huntsman. The M.F.H. may know 
all about some particular Huntsman and have the 
fortune to find him free at the right moment, 
otherwise he will have to rely upon hearsay ; but 



14 HUNTING THE FOX 

it is well to reinforce such knowledge by watching 
the man at his work. If a week or more can be 
spent in this way, so much the better. One day 
is a great deal better than nothing, but it requires 
a judge of very ripe experience to form an opinion 
in one day, and even then it is very easy to make 
a mistake. Something may be gathered from 
voice, manner, horsemanship, and the look of the 
Hounds. But the day may be one of those good 
scenting days when all Huntsmen are dubbed the 
finest Huntsmen in Europe, or it may be one of 
those terrible days a succession of which would 
ruin the reputation of the very elect. The cardinal 
tests of the ability of a Himtsman in the field are 
his capacity to mark and to becur in mind the exact 
spot where the leading Hoimds lose the scent, 
and his power to keep his Hounds together well 
in front of his horse, with their looses to the ground, 
without too much help from his whipper-in. If a 
Himtsman is perpetually in front of the Hoimds, 
drifting about with no apparent reference to the 
place where they threw up, or if he is constantly 
sending one of his whippers-in to collect small 
parties of Hounds, you may be sure there is some- 
thing wrong. 

An attempt will be made in another chapter to 
deal more fully with these points. We €tre now on 
our visit of inspection, and unless the scent is 
first-rate, a rough and ready judgement might 



HUNTING THE FOX 15 

possibly be formed by keeping them in view. In 
any case, a visit should be paid to the Kennel, not 
forgetting the boiling-house. If the Kennel and 
its inmates, both human and animal, are clean 
and tidy, and the food thick, with not too much 
soup in it — ^none would probably be better — ^then 
the impression is favourable. 

Let us assume that the Huntsman is engaged 
and has entered on his duties on May 1. Although 
the M.F.H. is ultimately responsible for him and 
should know what he is doing, there is such a thing 
as the Master interfering too much in the details 
of kennel numagement. When a man is engaged 
for the important position of Huntsman, he is 
worthy of a free hand to develop the condition of 
the Hounds in his own way, and in modem phrase 
it ^^ is up to him to make good.*' His employer 
should satisfy himself before engaging him that 
he is likely to proceed upon sound principles with 
regard to feeding and exerdse, the breaking of 
young Hounds, and the management of Whelps, 
and then leave the execution of these principles 
to the servant, who if he cannot be trusted to 
produce his pack in the autumn fit to kill an after- 
noon Fox,* and well-broken enough not to need 
the whip, had better naake way for some one else. 
The suggestion that the Master may be well advise^ 
to leave the Huntsman to do his own work in the 
Kennel is not meant to imply that he should neglect 



16 HUNTING THE FOX 

the Kennel in the summer. If he is really fond of 
Hounds he will want to breed a pack worth looking 
at on the flags, and it is a great advantage to the 
Huntsman if his Master will invite the visits and 
criticisms of various judges and breeders. No one 
is too old to learn, and a wise Huntsman who can 
keep his mouth shut and his ears open on these 
occasions will gather much food for reflection. 

The choice of a whipper-in is in a certain sense 
less important. Provided he can take care of his 
horses and has a fair share of the great gift of 
receptivity, he will, as a general rule, become 
whatever the Huntsman can make him. Some 
establishments seem to have the art of turning 
out good men. Others never seem to be able 
to teach anybody, probably because no definite 
system is maintained, because blame is given when 
things go wrong, no praise when things go right, 
while those in authority are either incompetent or 
unwilling to give a reasoned explanation of the 
why and the wherefore of orders. 

Having engaged his servants, the M.F.H. will 
have to find horses for them to ride. The governing 
principle is to give them good ones ; this is not 
only the kindest but the cheapest plan. A high 
authority has remarked that a good servant will 
always take care of a good horse. Self-preservation 
will prompt him to do this, because he will not 
want to put a safe mount out of action. The same 



HUNTING THE POX 17 

instinct will not make him particularly anxious 
about the welfare of a bad one. It is wise to buy 
as many horses as possible from the farmers. The 
hunting-farmer is one of the best, if not the best 
of friends to Fox-hunting, and from every point 
of view should be encouraged to own and breed 
good hunters. There is no greater encouragement 
to him in this direction than the knowledge that 
he will always have a willing customer in the 
M.F.H. if he can produce the goods. If this under- 
standing can be created, the M.F.H. will have the 
great advantage of having the pick of all the best 
farmers' horses in the country. He has an oppor- 
tunity of seeing them because he visits all districts 
regularly when hunting, and can make it his busi- 
ness to know all the young horses which the farmers 
ride. The spectacle of a horse bought from a 
farmer carrying one of the Staff — or maybe the 
M.F.H. himself — ^well to the front, not only advances 
the national cause of horse-breeding by force of 
example, but promotes good-will and legitimate 
pride by giving the late owner of the horse a re- 
flected, almost a proprietary, interest in the 
establishment. To quote Egerton Warburton : 

And should his steed with trampling feet 
Be urged across your tender wheat, 
That steed, perchance, by you was bred, 
And yours the cotn on which he's fed. 

If it is well for the M.F.H. to take a general 

c 



18 HUNTING THE FOX 

interest in the farmers' horses, it is essential that 
he should take particular interest in the puppies 
and puppy walkers. The personal touch in this 
matter, as in most others, is more valuable than 
many silver cups, though prizes and a good 
luncheon on a fine day in July undoubtedly warm 
the heart. 



CHAPTER III 

Masters of Foxhounds (eonimued) — Cub-hunting — ^Regular 
hunting — Control of the Fidd — Drawing — ^Pace from 
covert to covert. 

Let us now consider the duties of the M.F.H. in 
the hunting-field. Of these the scientific direction 
of the Cub-hunting is of crucial importance. It is 
here that the pack is made or naarred. It cannot 
be too often repeated that the primary object of 
Cub-hunting is to teach the young Hounds to hunt, 
and in addition to complete the education of the 
last year's entry. Puppies are of no proven value 
to the pack during their first season, and cannot 
even begin to be counted as reliable until at least 
the end of their second Cub -hunting. As well 
as training the young Hounds, the Cub -hunting 
season gives opportunity and leisure to the Master 
and his Staff to study the science and to practise 
the art of the chase. Each day should add some- 
thing to knowledge, which is the secret of success 
in hunting as in everything else. 

Cub-hunting should begin the very moment 

10 



20 HUNTING THE FOX 

the state of the harvest will allow, and should 
be pursued relentlessly » no matter how hard 
the ground may be. Continuity of training is of 
supreme value, and to interrupt it is a fatal mistake. 
The M.F.H. should be out every day himself, so 
as to make sure by personal supervision that a 
definite system is carried out and that no liberties 
are taken. In bad scenting weather, when Cubs 
do not come to hand easily, temptation to depart 
from orthodox methods may easily arise, when 
the influence of the M.F.H. should be on the side 
of that little extra bit of perseverance that sooner 
or later is bound to prevail. Keep on plajring the 
game, the Cubs will be caught, and the pack will 
be made, not forgetting that one really well-beaten 
Cub killed is worth more than almost any amount 
of fresh ones chopped before the Hounds have 
had to work for them. They should have their 
blood and hackles up, and be savage with their 
Fox before they kill him. When two or three 
couples catch a fat Cub asleep and the remainder 
of the pack wander up mainly to see what is the 
matter, it is doubtful if any permanent good is 
done except to add to the number of noses on the 
kennel door. Here and there, no doubt, Cubs will 
have to be held up in small places. It is better 
to do this than not catch any at all. But the 
orthodox method is to visit the strongholds first 
and to stick to them all morning. The best way 



HUNTING THE POX 21 

to teach a pack of Hounds perseverance, the true 
secret of success, is for the Master and his Staff to 
exhibit this quality themselves. Hounds are very 
receptive. Even after it would seem certain that 
every Cub has left the covert, it is always well 
worth while to draw back over the old ground on 
the chance of getting a tired one on to his legs who 
has lam down, hoping his enemies had left. This 
is often much more profitable than breaking fresh 
ground, and having to begin aU over again to tire 
a fresh litter of Cubs. There are few things in 
Fox-hunting of more value to the moral of the 
Hounds than to finish a long dragging morning 
by re-flnding . Ug-we^ Cub L k^kin. .ft.f 
a good cry lasting about a quarter of an hour. The 
lesson learnt from this experience is that in dealing 
with a Utter of Cubs it is a good general rule to 
keep on the same ground as long as possible, much 
on the same principle as in dealing with a covey 
of young partridges at the same time of year. At 
a certain phase of the operation everything seems 
to be hopeless, and the game to have vanished. 
But more often than not it will tend to creep back 
home again, if indeed it is not lying down on its 
own ground. It should be remarked that a tired 
Cub will often lie very close, and not always in 
the thick places, sometimes trying to hide in the 
boundary hedges and ditches of the covert, so that 
in drawing back over the old ground the search 



22 HUNTING THE FOX 

should not be perfunctory, but even more patient 
and thorough than in drawing over it for the first 
time. 

During at least the first month of Cub-hunting, 
Hounds should be kept in covert and not allowed 
to see daylight. This for two reasons : first, the 
puppies learn to depend on the old Hounds and 
go to the cry much better in covert than in the 
open. They cannot stare about, and are forced 
to use their ears and their intelligence. Second, 
the whole pack learns how to correct its own faults 
without holloas and assistance — ^the most valuable 
of all lessons — ^when the Cub makes a sharp turn, 
and the scent is overrun. In addition to this, the 
Staff cannot keep near Hounds in the open until 
at least the middle of October. What happens ? 
The training and condition of the old Hounds gives 
them the lead; the puppies follow them, not 
rightly knowing what they are after; sooner or 
later a check occurs ; a hare jumps up, offering 
a temptation which impetuous youth cannot resist, 
even in its second season, and a general demoraliza- 
tion ensues. The old Hounds are disgusted, and 
the puppies, after running the hare as long as sight 
will serve, throw up their heads and lie down to lap 
in the nearest pond. The Huntsman and whippers- 
in will probably not get all parties together again 
until such mischief has been done that will take 
many mornings of steady work in covert to correct. 



HUNTING THE FOX 28 

If, in spite of all precautions. Hounds get away 
on an old Fox, they should be stopped as gently 
and quietly as possible, in such a manner as not 
to make them think they have done anything 
wrong. If the Huntsman is lucky enough to be 
with them at the first check, he can draw them 
away from the line directly their heads are up and 
he can gain their attention. This is so constantly 
done with the best intentions during the regular 
hunting that it should not be difficult during the 
Cub-hunting. They should then be taken quietly 
back to the woodland at such a pace as will give 
them time to get their minds and bodies cool before 
asking them to find another Cub. Hounds should 
never be invited to draw with their mouths open. 

During the month of October, when the country 
is a little more practicable for mounted pursuit, 
and after the puppies have been well drilled in 
covert for some weeks, if the whole pack come out 
of covert well together on the line of their Cub, 
then they may be allowed to go, when a sharp 
burst or two in the open will teach them to get 
throu^ the fences, and improve their condition 
by opening their pipes. But before the 1st of 
November they should never be holloaed away 
on the first Fox that leaves the covert. This 
Fox is nearly sure to be the old dog Fox, who will 
probably lead his pursuers so far away from home 
that it may be impossible to get back to the covert 



24 HUNTING THE FOX 

in time to deal with the Cubs ; and in the second 
place it is a golden rule laid down by a great 
authority that during the Cub-hunting season 
Hounds should always be made to find their own 
Fox. 

After November 1 the M.F.H. will have to 
address himself to the management of his Field. 
This task is rendered easy or difficult in proportion 
to the manner in which the cardinal rules of the 
chase are scientifically observed. For instance, if 
the woodlands are drawn up wind, the ladies and 
gentlemen will be able to hear the Huntsman 
draw for his Fox, and hear the Hounds find him. 
And in fact the management of the Field, both in 
covert and in the open, depends indirectly upon 
the Huntsman. If his horn and voice are always 
clear and intelligible in covert, every one will 
know exactly what he is doing and when it is safe 
to stand still without the fear of being left behind. 
If he is vague and indefinite; like a bad actor who, 
in the language of the theatre, cannot ^^ get it over 
the footlights," then the Field will quite naturally 
stalk him to see for themselves what he is doing, 
with the result that no Master can control them. 
In the open, if the Himtsman rides well up to his 
Hounds and has sufficient wisdom and self-control 
to stand stock-still, well away from them, when 
they come to a check, then the Field will also be 
obliged to stand still. There is nothing else for 



HUNTING THE FOX 25 

them to do. About seven times out of ten the 
Hounds will hit off the line for themselves, and all 
goes well again. When he is ultimately obliged 
to try his hand at a cast, if he will only make the 
smallest possible circle first up wind and then 
down wind, with his Hounds well in front of him, 
the Field may be induced to stand still because 
they can see what is going on, and there will be 
no excuse for following him about when he is 
casting. This method of handling the situation 
at a check has been prescribed by the best authori- 
ties, and serves the purpose of making it possible 
for the Master to control the Field, to say nothing 
of its being by far the most likely way to catch 
the Fox. If, on the other hand, the Huntsman 
thinks that the moment a check occurs he must 
be up and doing, and acts in the contrary manner 
to that which has just been indicated, by riding 
into his Hoimds and starting off on an indeterminate 
dragging expedition down wind with all his Hounds 
behind him with their heads up, it is next door 
to impossible for the Master to prevent the Field 
from following him, smashing the fences when 
Hounds are not running, and foiling all the ground, 
while the Hounds are far more concerned to avoid 
being jumped upon than to put their noses down 
for the scent. This painful exhibition generally 
ends in the Master losing his temper and the 
Huntsman losing his Fox. 



26 HUNTING THE FOX 

It would seem, therefore, that the Master's 
duty of controlling the Field will depend to a great 
degree upon the technique of his Huntsman. He 
can also make things immeasurably easier for him- 
self if he can prevail upon his Field to give him 
precedence, if he is there in time to claim it, when- 
ever Hounds are not running. If he is in front he 
can be as quiet and as powerful as the policeman 
regulating the traffic outside the Mansion House. 
But if even one lady or gentleman get in front of 
him, his power to set the pace is gone ; he is, then, 
either obliged to raise his voice with the risk of 
getting the Hounds' heads up and spoiling the run, 
or else he has to race for the lead and set the whole 
cavalcade cantering and competing at the very 
moment when a sober pace should be the order of 
the day. It is a mistake to hold up the Field at 
a gate or in a road for a moment longer than is 
absolutely necessary. The more eager spirits will 
tend to work round on the flanks and get out of 
hand. The ideal state of things to aim at is the 
creation of a feeling of confidence that no one will 
lose his start by conforming to the pace and direc- 
tion of the M.F.H. when Hounds are at fault. 
Here again the Huntsman can help. If the short 
circle already described has failed and he is making 
a wider circle down wind, he should always let 
his Master and the Field know by voice or horn 
when Hounds have hit off the scent again, that is. 



HUNTING THE FOX 27 

if they happen to do so at such a distance that the 
cry may not be easily heard. The exuberance of 
the preceding gallop begets much talk at a check. 
However regrettable this may be, it is not un- 
natural ; and on every count the Field should never 
be given a reasonable excuse for saying that the 
Huntsman has slipped them. 

In approaching a covert to find a Fox, it is wise 
to draw the woodlands up wind so as to get a good 
start with him, while the small coverts should be 
drawn down wind, so as to give the Fox a good 
chance of getting on his legs in time to avoid being 
chopped. But in both cases the last half-mile 
at least should be covered at a walk, so as to put 
the Hounds into covert with their mouths shut and 
to allow the rear of the column to close up. If 
this rule is not carefully followed the Hounds will 
not draw well, while the straggling horsemen 
become distributed all over the country, and may 
very likely head the Fox by trying to make up for 
lost time and to get a start by riding on the down- 
wind side of the covert. In the absence of military 
discipline it is remarkable how the tail of a Field 
of two hundred people will lengthen out, even if 
the Hounds are only travelling on the road at the 
rate of six or seven miles an hour. By walking for 
the last half-mile or more before getting to the 
covert-side, the M.F.H. will give himself a chance 
of collecting his Field. Sometimes circumstances 



28 HUNTING THE FOX 

make it difficult or impossible to draw a woodland 
up wind in the orthodox manner. On these occa- 
sions a short halt may be called about a mile from 
the covert, and one of the Staff instructed to canter 
on down wind for a view ; this is especiaUy to be 
thought of after Christmas, when the Foxes have 
already been hunted and the coverts are thin. 
But on no account should the Huntsman be 
allowed to ride up to any covert, send his man on 
for a view, try to put the Fox out by blowing his 
horn, and then gallop the Hounds round to lay 
them on to his brush. This practice sounds tempt- 
ing, and may indeed result in something brilliant, 
but it is thoroughly unsoimd. Even if done once 
the Hounds will not forget it for weeks, and the 
next time they are asked to draw, will be looking 
up into their Huntsman's face expecting him to 
clap them on to their Fox and save them the trouble 
of drawing. The more successful this manceuvre, 
the more fatal its effect upon the moral of the pack. 
The pace from covert to covert should be regu- 
lated mainly by the temperature and the wind. 
Hounds can travel comfortably on the road at 
least half as fast again on a cool day up wind 
as on a warm day down wind. The natural 
pace for a Hound on the road is about six miles 
an hour. They should never be asked to go to 
the meet faster than this, except perhaps during 
the first few weeks of Cub-hunting, when a some- 



HUNTING THE FOX 29 

what faster pace will help their condition ; and on 
no occasion should they be hurried beyond this 
pace on the way home. But from covert to covert 
they can be accustomed to go on an average about 
eight miles an hour. Like all men and women 
they are creatures of habit ; like some men and 
women they are intensely receptive, and can be 
taught by a clever and sympathetic Huntsman 
to do almost anything. 

The M.F.H. should of course arrange to draw 
all his country impartially, with a mental reserva- 
tion that the woodlands can be drawn with advan- 
tage more often than small coverts. An isolated 
covert in what people call " the good country " 
had as a general rule better not be drawn more 
than once every six weeks. It is better not to go 
Cub-hunting at all in a covert of this kind. If it 
is known to contain a strong litter of Cubs, some 
Masters think it right to disturb them before 
November 1. If this is done, the Cubs should on 
no account be mobbed. They should be allowed 
to go quietly away without anything being said, 
and such Hounds as come out after them should 
be stopped and turned back to the cry in the covert. 
The body of the pack should be allowed to hunt 
their own Cub away. But it is a mistake to spend 
too long a time Cub-hunting in a pet covert, whose 
proper function is to provide good runs when 
every one is out to enjoy them later on. Even if 



80 HUNTING THE FOX 

no Cub is killed in the covert, after an hour or two 
of work every stick in the place will smell of Fox- 
hound for weeks afterwards, and a grave risk is 
incurred of not finding there again until after 
Christmas, or perhaps until the next season. 

The M.F.H. should never try to elude the foot- 
people by trotting away from the Meet to draw a 
distant covert. The County Pack and the sport 
it can show in each locality is in a certain sense the 
traditional property of the natives, whether they 
are mounted or on foot ; they are proud of their 
inheritance ; and if the foot-folk do holloa out of 
place, or head a Fox or two once or twice in the 
season, the harm they may do in this way to sport 
is a small matter compared with the legitimate 
disappointment caused to many people who are 
real friends to Fox-hunting, although only mounted 
on ^^ Shanks' mare,** by not having a chance of 
seeing a Fox foimd in the local covert. 



CHAPTER IV 

The Huntsman — Qualities required — ^Feeding, exercise, 

and breaking. 

If no one is too good to be a Master of Foxhounds^ 
it is certain that no one is too good to be a Hunts- 
man, be he professional or amateur. A man who 
can combiae in his own person the many qualities 
that are the essential attributes of a first-class 
Huntsman is indeed difficult to find. Considering 
what a very important part the Huntsman plays 
in the lives of so many people, it is open to doubt 
whether we take enough pains to attract talent 
into the service, or whether we take enough trouble 
to train such talent as we have. In almost every 
important profession save that of service with 
Hounds, there is some definite standard of tech- 
nique, some school for students where only the 
best is taught, some theatre where the best men 
can be seen at their work. The doctor, the actor, 
the lawyer, the painter, not to mention many 
others, can all study their art from the written 
and spoken lessons of recognized authorities, and, 

81 



82 HUNTING THE FOX 

better still, can actually see the first - class artist 
performing, and copy him if they can. But the 
opportunity for Hunt-servants to acquire know- 
ledge is haphazard and fortuitous : a boy may grow 
grey in the service of Fox-hunting without even 
seeing Hounds properly handled or Foxes scien- 
tifically killed. This disability is unavoidable, 
but there it is. Unavoidable because the young 
servant may be limited to the observation of a 
Huntsman who may be setting him a bad example 
at the most impressionable time of his life. Lucky 
is the youth who stays long enough in cme place 
where the orthodox system is carried out. 

Many people will say that Huntsmen are bom 
and not made. This, like many other generaliza- 
tions, is only partly true. No doubt some men 
have more talent for the chase than others ; but 
talent cannot afford to dispense with knowledge. 
The French character would almost appear to 
have welded the experiences of the hunting-field 
into a definite, perhaps even an elaborate science, 
thus creating a recognized school which must 
surely be valuable to the student. The British 
are perhaps more impatient of detail, not over- 
fond of an academy, so, beyond certain rather 
vague traditions, and one or two writings that 
will be referred to in a later chapter, the young 
Huntsman in this country has nothing much to 
guide him but his power of receptivity and his 



HUNTING THE FOX 88 

ability to profit by his own mistakes. There is 
no doubt that personal experience is the best 
teacher. But personal experience would be quick- 
ened if it could be fortified by the experience of 
the great Masters of the chase collected in such a 
form as to be accessible to us all. 

Now to our Huntsman. Within reason it is 
not essential that he should be so very young and 
so very light. This does not mean to say that 
he should be old and heavy. But as a general 
rule it is not likely that a man will have absorbed 
enough knowledge to be a successful Huntsman 
until he is well past thirty. At this age there is 
the best part of twenty good years in front of him 
if only he knows how to ride, even if his horses 
have to carry as much as a ^^ light fourteen stone." 
If they are asked to carry more than this, the task 
of mounting him in some countries would become 
formidable, possibly prohibitive. But we must 
not forget that a light-weight who does not know 
how to ride will get to the bottom of his horse, 
while a middle-weight who sits still and keeps 
hold of his horse's head will beat him every time. 
His very limitations will have taught the middle- 
weight, if he has any sense, not to take liberties 
with his horses, while the superior momentum of a 
middle-sized horse and rider will enable them to 
brush aside obstacles and get through the dirt 
with less exertion than a feather-weight couple. 

D 



84 HUNTING THE FOX 

If the verdict on the whole is in favour of the 
middle size in man and horses, it is certainly in 
favour of the middle size in Hounds, which aspect 
of hunting will be dealt with in a later chapter. 

But whatever the Huntsman weighs, there is 
no doubt that he should be a good horseman. 
This postulate is not purely utilitarian. It is not 
too much to say that imless he is a good horseman 
he is not likely to be a good Huntsman, because to 
be a good horseman involves the possession of 
that knowledge of and sympathy with animals 
that is an essential portion of all true woodcraft, 
particularly the woodcraft of the Huntsman, the 
main purpose of which is to influence the intelligence 
of animals for the amusement of man. If things 
do not go smoothly between a Huntsman and his 
horse, you may be sure that he has missed a part 
of that understanding of his raw material which 
must be the main characteristic of the successful 
exercise of his profession. And if he does not 
understand one part of his raw material, the Horse, 
he will not be likely to have a temperament to 
understand the other two, the Hound and the 
Fox ; and of these two the proper understanding of 
the Hound is of the first importance. The Hounds 
and not the Huntsman have to find, hunt, kill, and 
eat the Fox. The frame of mind of a Huntsman 
towards his Hounds should be inspired and governed 
by the principle that his duty is only to render 



HUNTING THE FOX 86 

them such services as they cannot perform for 
themselves, and never to interfere with them for 
any other purpose. Hence, roughly speaking, the 
two dominant ideas of the Huntsman should be 
to bring his Hounds into the Field in tiptop condi- 
tion, and having got them away close to their 
Fox, not to go near them when they lose the scent, 
until they obviously feel the want of him, or unless 
he can give them some definite piece of information 
which they cannot obtain for themselves. Even 
this must be done with great judgement and skill 
if the doing of it involves the dangerous expedient 
of getting their heads up. 

Condition is the key to success. If the question 
were asked, *^ What shows most sport and kills most 
Foxes ? ** the magic word " condition " would be 
a safe answer. A moderate-looking lot of Hounds 
will catch more Foxes than all the Peterborough 
winners put together if they are in better condition. 
Authorities may not quite agree as to the exact 
methods by which the requisite fitness can best 
be gained and kept. Some will advocate more 
summer exercise than others, and every one may 
not see eye to eye as to the amount of covering 
there should be on the Hounds' ribs at the beginning 
of Cub-hunting. The feeding demands primary 
attention. There is good ground for supporting 
the rule that the quantity of food should be reduced 
in the summer rather than the quality. In some 



86 HUNTING THE FOX 

Kennels the thick oatmeal and flesh that is, or 
ought to be, served during the hunting season is 
watered down. This must surely be a mistake. 
Solids are the natural sustenance of dogs. They 
will no doubt swallow gallons of slush if they cannot 
get anything else, but as it does not stay by them, it 
is doubtful if it does them any good, and it is really 
wasted. It is true that when they are not working 
under high pressure they will require less food ; 
but it is good policy in the smnmer to let the con- 
sistency remain thick as in the winter, and to give 
them less of it, with the addition of some boiled 
greens or nettles. Hounds should also be halted 
at summer exercise where the young grass is long, 
and they will soon obey the dictates of nature 
and clean their digestive organs by eating it. By 
giving them thick food in a greater or a less amount 
all the year round, the sound quality of their tissues 
will be maintained. After a fortnight of slush a 
Hound will become flabby; his coat, that true 
index of health, will lack lustre ; he will lose his 
vitality, and his whole system will take weeks to 
recuperate at the very season of the year when 
he ought to be fit for long exercise. A Hound's 
condition should never be let down below a certain 
level. It is so much easier to let down than to 
build up. 

The proper feeding of the Hounds has been given 
the first place in the summer duties of the Hunts- 



HUNTING THE FOX 87 

man because, with regard to all kinds of stock 
both human and animal, the main avenue to health 
is diet. The next thing is exercise. The actual 
breaking of the young Hounds should be carried 
out with as little whip as possible. Any more 
whip than is necessary to ensure obedience is 
nothing more or less than gratuitous cruelty, 
which will one day recoil on the head of the person 
who uses it. If you see a pack of Hounds scatter 
in different directions with their stems down 
whenever a whipper-in gets off his horse, you may 
be sure that the discipline of that pack has been 
obtained by sheer severity instead of by firmness, 
patience, and confidence. All good Foxhounds 
are highly bred, affectionate, sensitive creatures, 
and will not give you of their best if they are 
actuated by fear. Our forefathers apparently 
relied on the terror of the whip more than we do. 
Perhaps the years that have gone by have bred 
into the modem Foxhound a hereditary sense of 
discipline ; but there is no doubt that to-day we 
have a better way. It is true that certain puppies, 
like certain boys and girls, are all the better for 
a stroke or two in season. But the instrument 
should be light and the application rare. Flogging 
can never be an effective substitute for voice, 
manner, personality, and the capacity for authority, 
without which requisites it is better not to enter 
the service of the Foxhound. 



88 HUNTING THE POX 

The entry should be exercised separately from 
the entered Hounds for some weeks, so that the 
entered Hounds who have abeady been disciplined 
may be spared the worry and annoyance occasioned 
by the drilling of the young ones. Short and 
gentle horse exercise may begin for both old and 
young Hounds about six weeks or so after the end 
of the hunting season, the hours and pace being 
gradually increased, until the whole pack covers 
during the month of August from eighty to a 
hundred miles a week. Some Huntsmen may 
perhaps advocate even more than this. But it 
is doubtful if more than a certain degree of fitness 
can be achieved by summer exercise, and the 
excessive straining of it may very likely subtract 
from the vitality of the pack to no useful purpose. 
The average working life of a Foxhound is so short 
that it can almost be counted in days ; let us there- 
fore not waste a single hour of his energy. In 
countries where riot is plentiful, Hounds should 
of course be allowed to see it occasionally during 
the summer, and firmly, and above all quietly, for- 
bidden to ** look " at it. But however steady they 
may become under supervision in the simmier, 
the last word about riot will not be said until they 
have killed several brace of Foxes. The blood of 
the Fox is the true antidote to the pursuit of the 
hare and the deer. Hounds will soon learn what 
animal they are brought out to hunt. 



CHAPTER V 

The Huntsman in the field — ^His proper position when 
handling Hounds — ^Dog language— A morning's Cub- 
hunting. 

The fact that the Huntsman has been the intimate 
companion of his Hounds during the smnmer does 
not necessarily add to his. power of influencing 
them in the hunting-field. Cupboard love does 
not go very far with Foxhounds, It is the sport 
that tells. Bolingbroke, in one of his letters to 
Sir William Wyndham on the State of the Nation, 
wrote of the House of Commons : " You know the 
nature of that assembly : they grow, like hounds, 
fond of the man who shows them game, and by 
whose halloo they are used to be encouraged.'' 
Foxhounds are not like Mr. Jorrocks' horse 
Artaxerxes, of whom his owner said that he would 
sooner have a feed of com than the finest run that 
ever was seen. As a matter of fact, it is not really 
a positive essential that the man who is going to 
hunt the Hounds should even have seen them in 
the summer at aU. If he understands how to 

39 



40 HUNTING THE POX 

handle them he will begin to get their confidence 
in a very few hours, and after he has killed a brace 
of Cubs with each pack they will not want to 
attach themselves to any one else. 

Although the general plan of campaign during 
Cub-hunting differs from that of regular hunting, 
the actual method of handling Hounds is in prin- 
ciple the same. The primary idea that the Hunts- 
man should bear in mind is that the Hounds should 
leave the Kennel in front of his horse and remain 
there all day, except when he is riding well away 
from them on a flank for the purpose of manceuvring 
them. This maxim may not be carried out to the 
letter on the road. But even here the body of the 
pack should always be in front of the Huntsman; 
they will naturally be there if he is only proceeding 
at what is called ^* Hound jog " ; if he wants to go 
faster than this he should teach his Hounds to 
conform to his pace by the influence of his voice 
and manner, and not by having them whipped 
and frightened after him. Foxhounds can be 
taught to do almost anything if they are spoken 
to civilly, cheerfully, and firmly. It is not con- 
sistent with their dignity for the Huntsman to 
ride away from them at his own pace in silence, 
and for them to be rudely ordered to follow him 
by the whipper-in scolding them from behind. 
On the road, as elsewhere, a well-modulated dog 
language on the part of the Huntsman is invaluable. 



HUNTING THE POX 41 

In dealing with all kinds of animals, too much 
attention cannot be paid to the inflexions of the 
human voice. A Huntsman who cultivates this 
art can get his Hounds to go with him at any pace 
he likes without any whipper-in at all. In actual 
practice it is well to go to covert in September 
at almost eight miles an hour, for the sake of 
economizing daylight and incidentally for the sake 
of a little extra condition, slackening the pace, of 
course, to let Hounds get cool before they are 
asked to hunt. It is not difficult to achieve this 
pace at this time of year ; Hounds are then fresh 
and eager, and in the early hours the traffic does 
not impede. On arriving at the covert-side, there 
is no occasion during Cub-hunting to send away 
either of the whippers-in for the purpose of getting 
a view. The Huntsman, having their assistance, 
will not find it a bad plan to halt about one hundred 
yards from the covert, and have his men so placed 
that they can prevent any Hound breaking away 
from him until he gives the signal after a minute's 
pause. When he says " Eleu in there ! " the old 
Hounds know what to do fast enough, and will 
show the young ones the way into the covert. 
The Huntsman cannot now be too patient. He 
should follow his Hounds up to the outside of the 
covert, and not go inside himself until every Hound, 
both old and young, is well out of sight. Then he 
should go quite slowly to the gate of the covert. 



42 HUNTING THE POX 

using his voice all the time. This method has 
been here indicated in almost the detail of a drill, 
because the importance of teaching Hounds to 
draw properly cannot be overestimated. There 
is nothing more true in Fox-hunting than the old 
saying, ^^A Fox well found is half-killed.'' Let 
us see what happens if this system is not carried 
out. If the Huntsman does not wait for the 
young Hounds to enter the covert with the old 
ones, they will follow him round by the gate and 
not leave his horse's heels until the old Hounds 
open on a Fox, thus tending to acquire the fatal 
habit of expecting their Fox to be found for them 
instead of finding him themselves. If he indeed 
waits for all his Hounds to get through the fence 
and then trots away silently, hoping some time or 
other to meet them in the covert, the puppies will 
very naturally begin to wonder what has become 
of him, and will creep out of the covert by the same 
way they got in and follow on his track, so that 
soon after he gets inside, instead of finding every 
Hound busy drawing, he will perhaps find the old 
ones, who know more about hunting than he does, 
drawing for their Fox; but will find the young 
ones looking at his horse's tail, or, worse still, the 
drawing-party will very likely disturb some riot 
which may cross the ride in full view of the puppies, 
who wiU not be slow to take advantage of the treat, 
with an effect on their moral that will take weeks 



HUNTING THE FOX 48 

to correct. If he had used his voice outside the 
covert, they would know where he was, and would 
the more readily tend to leave him and help the 
old Hounds to draw, instead of coming back to 
look for him at the place where they last saw him. 
The advantage of scientific over slipshod methods 
cannot be better illustrated than by a comparison 
between the right and the wrong way of putting 
Hounds into covert and getting them to draw. 
How often one hears that a certain pack of Fox- 
hounds draw well, while another pack is slack in 
drawing. If the truth were only known, the slack- 
ness is probably due to a faulty technique on the 
part of the Huntsman rather than to the disposition 
of the Hounds. No doubt some individual Hounds 
draw better than others, and will find a Fox in 
spite of any Huntsman. But there is good ground 
for the opinion that the capacity of the pack as a 
whole to spread and draw well is an acquired rather 
than an inherited characteristic. 

However, we will now imagine that aU is well. 
Every Hound is out of sight ** examining with 
curious nose each likely haunt," and the Huntsman 
is well away from them either in rear or on a flank, 
encouraging them with his voice while he awaits 
the thrill of the first find of the season. And let 
it be a find. If a whipper-in sees a Cub cross a 
ride he must not holloa. He can tell the Huntsman 
very quietly, who can then turn his horse's head 



44 HUNTING THE FOX 

in the required direction, go on drawing, and give 
his Hounds the chance of crossing the line of their 
game. At all costs during Cub-hunting they must 
either find, or think they have found, their Fox 
for themselves. This is the way to teach them 
to hunt. If the Cub is unkennelled where the 
underwood is short and he can be easily viewed, 
some Huntsmen *^ see red " and cannot resisjt the 
temptation of galloping and holloaing at him to 
try to turn him into their mouths. This gipsy- 
like practice cannot be too strongly condemned. 
It usually results in a noisy and undignified exhibi- 
tion of failure, with possibly a stubbed horse or a 
catastrophic encounter with a blind ditch. In the 
meantime he will have got the Hounds' heads up, 
and probably have caused the Cub to make a sharp 
turn, with the result that the Hounds overrun the 
line and can only be induced to hunt again after 
the loss of much time and tissue. Even if, for 
once, he baffles the Cub so that he is caught before 
he is well on his legs, little or no good is done. 
The young Hounds will not know what they are 
after, and the breaking up of the Cub will be a 
half-hearted affair, if indeed they will eat him at 
all. No. When the Cub is unkennelled, particu- 
larly in view, aU hands should be silent and still, 
and the Hounds should be allowed to do the rest. 
The object of Cub-hunting is to teach the puppies 
to hunt, and to confirm the entered Hounds in the 



HUNTING THE POX 45 

practice of catching their Foxes at the end of the 
run and not at the beginning. 

As soon as the first Cub is afoot the rest of the 
litter will also be roused, and the Hounds may 
soon be divided into two or more lots. If there is 
anything like a scent the whippers-in should not 
try to stop the Hounds to one lot, but should rather 
try to take positions where they may prevent any 
one lot breaking covert after the old Fox. The 
entire staff should now keep quiet and save their 
horses. The Huntsman should trot about the 
rides, awaiting the next phase of the operation. 
The old dog Fox will almost certainly leave the 
covert as soon as he hears the cry. But it should 
not be forgotten that the old vixen will very likely 
dodge about the covert to the very last minute in 
the hope of saving her Cubs by diverting attention 
to herself. And at this time of year some vixens 
when viewed at a certain distance, are apt to be 
mistaken for Cubs. On a certain memorable 
morning in the Midlands, every Fox except one 
had apparently left the covert and the pack all 
got together on one line. The first whipper-in, 
who was no novice, viewed the hunted one away 
and assured the Hunts|nan that he was after a 
Cub. The deluded man blew his Hounds away, 
expecting to handle a beaten Cub every minute. 
Imagine his surprise at being treated to a nine- 
mile point, at the end of which the Hounds ran 



46 HUNTING THE FOX 

into the old vixen. But we will bar accidents for 
the moment and picture to ourselves one of those 
propitious mornings when the different lots have 
worked the Cubs with a fair cry for» say, two 
hours. The advantages of letting each lot hunt 
its own Cub are now apparent. Much tissue has 
been saved to both man and horse which would 
have been expended in rating and abusii^ the 
Hounds for doing the very thing they were brought 
out to do. Not only that, all the Cubs have been 
kept on their legs and are beginning to get tired 
at the same moment, so that as soon as one is 
caught and eaten it may not be very difficult to 
clap the Hounds on to another leg -weary Cub 
and crown the morning's training with yet another 
taste of blood. With a view to doing this, it is a 
good thing to leave the second whipper-in and 
second horseman to watch the rides while the first 
Cub is being eaten, so that, if they see another, 
the Huntsman knows whereabouts to draw up to 
him later on. But we have not yet killed our Fox. 
The Huntsman must judge the moment when the 
opportunity arises to get all parties together on 
to one Cub. Sooner or later one party will usually 
become stronger than the others and gradually 
absorb the smaller ones. The Huntsman can help 
the concentration by riding to the head of the now 
official party, cheering them, and sounding his 
horn when they cross a ride. The whole pack is 



HUNTING THE POX 47 

now settled to one Cub. Some Huntsmen will try 
to have him headed back into one quarter of the 
woodland. This policy is of doubtful expediency 
unless the Cub is nearly beaten and cannot get 
far away from the Hounds, because whenever he 
is turned the Hounds tend to overrun the scent, 
and the time lost in recovering it on the foil gives 
him the opportunity to think, and a fresh lease of 
life. It should be tried, however, when the Cub 
is almost done, rather than run the risk of changing 
on to a fresh Fox in another quarter. When the 
Hounds run into their Cub it is probably wise not 
to take him away from them. Let them tear him 
in pieces while they are angry, and thus leam the 
habit of breaking up their Foxes properly while 
the Huntsman excites them by horn and voice. 
Those who hunt Hounds in mountainous countries, 
where they cannot be with them when they kill, 
will tell you that Hounds will be content to kill 
their Foxes without eating them. This looks as 
if the eating of the Fox by the Hounds is not a 
natural process, but is really a tour de force, stimu- 
lated by the presence and manner of the men in 
red coats, before whom they wish to show off, 
prompted by a legitimate dash of vanity. Be this 
as it may, there is no doubt that the worry is the 
right finish to the chase. Nothing can be more 
melancholy or indecent than having to leave the 
carcase of such a beautiful creature as a Fox 



48 HUNTING THE FOX 

hanging on a tree, after having vainly performed 
numerous antics to entice the Hounds to eat him. 
The best way to avoid this depressing anti-climax 
is to stand aside when they kill him, and feed 
their frenzy by sounding in their ears the right 
tocsin of the chase. A puppy has been known 
to fight for the head and win it on the very first 
morning of Cub-hunting. Let him keep it. The 
late Lord Henry Bentinck wrote that ^* a puppy 
that has once fought for the head and carried it 
home in triumph, trotting in front of the hounds, 
will never look at a hare again ; he is made from 
that day, and marks himself for a stallion hound." 



CHAPTER VI 

The Huntsman {continued) — ^Laying Hounds on to a line- 
Getting Hounds away from covert on a Fox. 

An attempt has been made in the last chapter to 
describe a successful morning, when scent and luck 
have served and the earths are well stopped. On 
these occasions everything seems so easy. But 
there will be some scentless mornings which will 
test the patience and perseverance of the very 
stoutest. The best thing the Huntsman can then 
do is to keep on moving and using his voice cheerily, 
so as to show his men, his Hoimds, and the Cubs 
that he means to persevere. When the Hoimds 
cannot speak to a Cub, the only thing that is likely 
to keep him on his legs is the soimd of the human 
voice ; but, if the covert is too thick for a horse to 
go through, it is better to stand still and encourage 
the Hounds to draw it rather than dismount and 
draw it on foot. The Huntsman only has to do this 
a few times for the Hounds to acquire the habit of 
never going into a thick place at all unless he gets off 
his horse and goes in first to show them the way. 

49 S 



50 HUNTING THE FOX 

Now this proposition contains the kernel of the 
true secret of v hunting Hounds, which is always 
to endeavour to let the Hounds do everything for 
themselves, and even when help is actually given, 
to give it in such a manner that they do not know 
they are being helped, and think they are acting 
on their own initiative. This is why all the great 
master minds agree that Hounds, when in a diffi- 
culty, should never be meddled with except as a 
very last resort. Now in order to carry this idea 
into practice it cannot be too often repeated that 
the principal part of the technique of the Huntsman 
should be to keep his Hoimds always well in front 
of him, where he can influence them by a half- 
turn of his horse's head, and keep their noses down, 
whereas, once he gets in front of them, he may 
require two or more men with whips to drive them 
after him with their noses in the air. The acquisi- 
tion of this art requires some cultivation, and may 
be helped by remembering that the Himtsman 
must regulate his pace by the pace of the Hounds. 
If he does not wish them to get behind his horse, 
it seems a simple common-sense rule never to place 
himself in ftont of them. Yet many people seem 
to forget that on a bad scenting day Hounds will 
go slowly, and that on a good scenting day they 
will go quickly, and think that the Himtsman can 
enliven the proceedings on a poor scent by getting 
ahead of his Hoimds and setting the pace himself. 



HUNTING THE FOX 51 

There never was a greater fallacy. Huntsmen who 
adopt this practice are sometimes called quick, 
until they have lost Fox after Fox and eventually 
find that their reputation has disappeared without 
any one being able to give reasons in writing. 
The only occasion when the Huntsman should have 
his Hoimds kept close to him by his whipper-in, 
and make the pace himself, is when he makes up 
his mind to go to a holloa, and rightly wishes to 
prevent the Hounds hunting any line until he has 
laid them on to the Fox he means to hunt. When 
he determines to go to a holloa, he should go and 
fetch his Hoimds, distract their attention from 
what they are doing, and tell them in language 
about which there can be no mistake, that he is 
going to lay them on to a scent. 

But even now he should not get ahead of the 
Hoimds. He should carry them with him in his 
hand, so that he may be able to lay them all on to 
the line together. 

And there is much fine art in laying Hoimds on 
to a line. The manner in which it is done may 
make all the difference in the world to the day's 
sport, because, if it is attempted in a haphazard, 
unscientific fashion, it will almost surely result in 
either dragging them over the line without hitting 
it, or in ^^ that fatal piece of bimgling, hitting it 
heel-way," the most heart-breaking of all exhibi- 
tions. In order to avoid this the Huntsman should. 



62 HUNTING THE FOX 

as already stated^ have all his Hounds round his 
horse well in hand. The next, and the most 
important thing of all, is that, before he gets near 
the line, he should ascertain beyond all manner 
of doubt what is the direction of the Fox's head. 
When the Fox has been holloaed over a road or 
a ride in a covert this should not be difficult. If 
the whipper-in has had to go and fetch the Hunts- 
man he can always give him full information on the 
way to the place. If the Huntsman is coming to 
the holloa, the whipper-in, or whoever has seen 
the Fox, should stand on the line with his horse's 
head the same way as the Fox has gone. Some 
distance— say twenty to thirty yards — ^before the 
Huntsman gets to the place where the Fox has 
crossed, he should stop and turn his horse's head 
in the direction that the Fox has gone, and put all 
the Hounds into the covert. He should then ride 
quite slowly down the ride or road, so as to give 
his Hounds time to spread and get their noses 
down. It is better for the Huntsman to keep in 
the ride than to go into the covert with his Hounds, 
because, by keeping in the ride, he has every Hound 
between him and his Fox, and is in a position to 
stop any Hound from getting on to the wrong side 
of the ride and speaking to the scent heel-way. If 
this system is carefully followed, the Hounds will 
soon get to learn when the time has come for them 
to feel for the scent, and they will get busy at once. 



HUNTING THE FOX 68 

The Huntsman must not be disappointed if they 
do not always speak at once to the scent at the 
very place where the Fox is reported to have 
crossed, because he may make a sharp turn inside 
the covert, as soon as he is out of sight, and may 
run parallel to the ride for a few yards before 
resuming his original direction ; or it may be one 
of those curious days on which Hounds seem to 
own the scent better when they are a few yards 
to the right or left of the actual line ; or again, if 
the Fox is running down wind, the steam from the 
horses may spoil the scent for a few yards. Strange 
things happen out hunting. It is true, however, 
that when you are hunting Hounds there is nothing 
more mortifying than to be shown by your own 
tried and trusted whipper-in the exact spot where 
he last saw the Fox, and then to find that your 
Hounds will not own to the scent. But it is certain 
that the best way to avoid this distressing experi- 
ence is to slow down some time before you get to 
the place, so as to give your Hounds plenty of 
time to spread and feel for the scent, and they will 
sooner or later tell you where their Fox is gone. 

To lay Hounds on to a line in the open in the 
middle of a field is a Uttle more difficult, but the 
principle of the operation is the same, the all- 
important thing being to keep them well in hand 
and not attempt to lay them on until the direction 
of the Fox's head has been definitely ascertained. 



54 HUNTING THE FOX 

Having found this out, the Huntsman should then 
manceuvre so as to get every Hound between him 
and his Fox. This can best be done by pulling 
up, or slackening his pace, so as to allow the Hounds 
to get well in front of his horse. If the Fox has 
crossed a field it is a good plan to put the Hounds 
through a gate or gap into the field, and for the 
Huntsman not to enter the field with them. By 
turning his horse's head he can then draw the 
Hounds across the line, and as soon as one Hoimd 
even has spoken they will all start together merrily, 
and will take the credit for themselves. This 
method also has the advantage of keeping the riders 
off their backs by giving them a field's start. If, 
on the other hand, the Huntsman gets ahead of 
his Hounds and rides wildly, cap in hand, in the 
direction the Fox has gone, with the pack straggling 
after him, half the Hounds will be staring at his 
horse's tail, while the other half will very likely 
strike the scent heel-way if the Fox is travelling 
down wind, as is generally the case. The same 
tactics should be applied when the Fox has crossed 
a road ; the Huntsman should throw his Hounds 
over the road, but on no account enter the field 
himself. In this way he is so placed that he is 
master of the situation ; he can stop Hounds if 
they happen to hit the scent heel- way; he can 
also prevent the horsemen from entering the field 
until every Hound has got his head down and is 



HUNTING THE FOX 55 

well settled to the Hue. If he jumps the fence out 
of the road with the Hounds behind him» every one 
else will jump out of the road» and very likely drive 
him and the Hounds for two or three fields before 
he hits the line, if, indeed, under these circumstances 
he is lucky enough to hit it at all. He, moreover, 
stands a good chance of being forced into taking 
a parallel line to that of the Fox, and he will learn, 
without studying Euclid, that two parallel lines 
will never meet. 

So much for the art of laying Hounds on to a 
scent. Let us now find our Fox, and offer some 
suggestions for the conduct of the Huntsman in 
the field after November 1. On and after this 
magic date it will be his first duty to aim at getting 
all his Hounds away together as closely as possible 
behind the first Fox that leaves the covert. If the 
Hounds have found their own Fox and are tied 
to him with a good cry, he will be wise to await 
events, bearing in mind the golden rule that Hounds 
should never be stopped off one Fox and put on 
to another, however tempting this proceeding may 
appear to be at the moment. Should they throw 
up suddenly, and another Fox is holloaed away 
when all is silent, it is of course just possible for 
a clever Huntsman, if he is up wind of the pack, 
to pounce upon the chance like Ughtning and to 
carry them away to the holloa. But do not forget 
that to do this is to take a liberty which can only 



66 HUNTING THE FOX 

be justified by complete success^ while a failuie» 
or even a partial success, may ruin the whole day. 
But there are other occasions when the scent in 
covert, particularly in a thick one, may not be so 
good, and only a few Hounds have opened. The 
whipper-in holloas a Fox away down the wind, 
probably the same one that the Hounds have found. 
He should not continue holloaing longer than is 
necessary to let the Huntsman know that the Fox 
is away. The leading Hounds may or may not 
go to the holloa. But the worst thing the Himts- 
man can do is to gallop off to the holloa with them 
and begin blowing his horn for the rest of the pack 
when he gets there. The Fox having gone away 
down wind, most of the best Hounds will be left 
in the thickest part of the covert and may not 
hear the horn at all, and at best will get a bad 
start, a poor reward indeed for having generously 
gone into the thorns and brambles to get the Fox 
on his legs, and one that may well make them 
rather chary of repeating the process. It is true 
that with a certain amount of luck every Hound 
may eventually be coimted out of covert, provided 
always they do not get on to another Fox on the 
way ; but the tail will be separated from the head 
by one or two fences, and probably by several 
ladies and gentlemen who will have galloped down 
wind after the Huntsman in order to get a start, 
so that the pack will not get together until the 



t 



HUNTING THE FOX 67 

leading Hounds have come to the first cheek. 
Nothing could be more demoralizing. 

When the Hounds who are left behind have been 
striving with their heads in the air to get to the 
f ronty it takes them some time to grasp the situation 
when they get there; many valuable moments 
are lost before they recover their morcd and put 
their heads down ; acute observers will tell you 
that under these circumstances, unless there is a 
burning scent, things are never quite the same again, 
and that a minute or two, apparently lost at the 
beginning in giving every Hoimd a good start, is 
recovered over and over again in the course of the 
run by the concentration and cohesion resulting 
from the whole body starting in a mass. In order 
to accomplish this, the moment a Fox is holloaed 
away down wind the Himtsman should either stand 
still or, if necessary, turn back up wind, so as to 
get into dose touch with the body of the pack. 
He should then tell them that the Fox has gone 
and that he wants them. For this purpose he 
should reserve one particular call on his horn, a 
call that he never sounds except when the Fox has 
broken covert, or when he has got his foot upon 
the Fox's dead body. Hounds will fly to this note 
like nothing on earth, and will come tumbling out 
of the thick covert into the ride, or field as the case 
may be, only too gladly. The Huntsman then 
canters them round to the holloa — where the 



68 HUNTING THE POX 

whipper-in should be standing on the line, having 
stopped any leading Hounds that may have 
hunted the Fox through the covert — ^and lays on 
both ends of his pack together, so that he gives 
each Hound a fair start, and correctly carries out 
the first phase in the operation designed for the 
purpose of catching his Fox. 



CHAPTER VII 

The Huntsman in the open — Mr. Thomas Smith's patent 
cast — Examples in practice — Some maxims about 
casting — ^A sinking Fox. 

Let us now imagine that all has gone merrily for a 
mile or two. It may be one of those pet days on 
which Homids can burst their Fox and run into 
him in about half-an-hour, the ladies and gentlemen 
having had their work cut out to keep with them. 
To all who take part in it, an affair of this kind 
is the very elixir of Fox-hunting, probably of all 
sport. To the Huntsman it is the quintessence 
of his ambition. Sometimes it is suggested that, 
inasmuch as the weather and the Hounds and a 
certain amount of luck are the only factors, the 
Huntsman is merely a passenger. Do not believe 
it. The victorious burst is the concentrated result 
of weeks and months of careful training, feeding, 
and conditioning, and reflects the highest credit 
on the man who has been responsible for these 
things, to say nothing of his skilful performance 
in getting all his Hounds away together on the 

69 



60 HUNTING THE FOX 

back of his Fox. The late Lord Henry Bentinck, 
in his own inimitable manner, puts it so well that 
it is impossible not to quote him : 

"The highest praise that can be given to a 
Huntsman is for a fool to say, * We had a great run, 
and killed our fox ; as for the Himtsman, he might 

have BEEN IN BED.' " 

Or the day may be one of those rare days, almost 
as delightful as that described, when, although the 
pace is not so good. Hounds are able to follow their 
Fox without any help wherever he goes, and if 
they do not change on to another, to wear him 
down in about an hour, or perhaps longer. But 
on nine days out of ten, they will be brought to 
their noses in less than twenty minutes. In the 
meantime, the ideal place for the Huntsman to 
ride should have been about a hundred yards to 
the right or left rear of the pack, whichever is 
down wind of them. He should as far as possible 
look ahead, so as to anticipate difficulties, but his 
attention should be mainly concentrated on the 
leading Hounds, so as to mark the magic spot 
where they lose the scent. This faculty is by no 
means so easy as it sounds, and to exercise it 
correctly requires a practised eye. For instance, 
a party of young Hounds, rejoicing in the lead, 
sometimes seem to think that the fun is going to 
last for ever, and in their exuberance wiD often 
drive on, and even throw their tongues for several 



HUNTING THE FOX 61 

yards past the place where the Fox has turned, 
before they will admit their mistake. There is 
no animal so masterful and cocksure as a young 
dog Hound who has raced for the lead and won it. 
The head, therefore, cannot be too carefully 
watched, so that if, in the last resort, a cast has to 
be made, the Huntsman should always have in the 
back of his mind the exact spot where the scent was 
actually lost. He also ought to have in the map 
of his mind Mr. Thomas Smith's invaluable sketch 
of a cast in his Diary of a Huntsman, published in 
1888. This sketch as a general guide for recovering 
the line after the Hounds have done trying for 
themselves, and when there is nothing to indicate 
where the Fox has gone, cannot be beaten ; it is 
hardly too much to say that it ought to be hung 
up on the wall over every Huntsman's bed. A 
Huntsman who will be content to follow the 
principle of it, and set his face against fancy casts, 
will be surprised how his Foxes will come to hand, 
provided always that he knows to a yard where 
the scent failed. It is here reproduced, and the 
explanation of it cannot be better given than in 
Mr. Smith's own words. It should be observed 
that Mr. Smith cannot be very far wrong, because, 
in the Craven country — ^not the best scenting 
country in England — ^he hunted his own Hounds, 
and in one season killed ninety Foxes in ninety-one 
days. " The principle of it," says Mr. Smith, ** at 



62 



HUNTING THE FOX 



starting, is startling, yet few succeed better, namely, 
that of first holding the hounds the way he does 







"\ 




Mb. Smith's Sketch of a Cast. 
Ffcm ** The Diary of a HtMiteman/' by Thomiu Smiih, 1888. 



HUNTING THE FOX 68 

not think the fox is gone. Thus, when at a check, 
and the pack have made their own swing, he then 
holds them romid to the right or left, whichever is 
most up wind ; consequently this side would have 
been the most unlikely ; for they probably would 
not have checked at first had it been right, owing 
to its being rather up wind, when, if it does happen 
to be right, they hit it off directly, so that it takes 
scarcely a minute to hold them round back, behind 
the spot where they checked, about a hundred 
yards or so. He then turns and takes a little 
wider circle back, to the left the same distance, 
till he reaches, or nearly so, the line he came to 
behind the check at first. Now having ascertained 
for certain that his fox is not gone back, or short 
to the right or left, he can with confidence begin 
a wider cast than he would have ventured to make 
otherwise, owing to a fear that the fox had headed 
back, or to the right or left. The wide cast he 
commences on the left from behind, progressing, 
according to his judgement, and selecting the best 
scenting ground forward, beyond any fallow or 
bad scenting ground. As he now knows that the 
fox must be gone on, this cast is continued all 
round in front, and to the right, till he again reaches 
the line behind ; he then takes a wider cast either 
way, and is guided by circumstances : but nineteen 
times out of twenty this last is not required, except 
the fox is headed some distance back, and the 



64 HUNTING THE FOX 

steam and stain of the horses prevents the hounds 
feeling the scent, the quick first cast back. If 
there is no wind to guide him, there may be a cover 
to which the fox is gone, on the left ; but still he 
holds them first the unlikely side/' 

The one contingency that Mr. Smith would 
seem to omit is that of the Fox having gone to 
ground and the Hounds having failed to mark 
him. Those who have studied and applied this 
plan can give numerous instances of its success. 
Some years ago, on a very cold day in January, 
with a steady north wind blowing, a pack of Fox- 
hounds had hunted their Fox due west for about 
five miles at a fair hunting pace with little or no 
help. The first real check then occurred one field 
short of a turnpike road running almost due north 
and south. Hardly a mile away, straight down 
wind on the left or southern flank, was a well- 
known stronghold. A man in a one-horse trap was 
halted in the road, having heard the Hounds. 
He had not seen the Fox, though the Fox might 
have seen him. It looked like a thousand to one 
that the Fox had turned down the wind to gain 
the friendly stronghold, and a very strong tempta- 
tion arose to hold them that way. But not for- 
getting Mr. Thomas Smith, the short up-wind cast 
was tried, nearly back to the original line ; in less 
than two minutes they hit him off and raced into 
him in the middle of a grass field three miles farther 



HUNTING THE FOX 65 

on, over the road. What had probably happened 
was that the Fox had seen the man in the trap, 
turned three-quarters right about, and then crossed 
the road to make his original point,— an eight- 
mile point, and with the exception of the sharp 
turn just described, nearly straight all the way. 
The seemingly obvious down-wind cast would no 
doubt have saved the Fox, while Mr. Smith's recipe 
undoubtedly killed him. 

On another day Mr. Smith was almost forgotten, 
and yet in spite of the fact that he was only tried 
as an afterthought, the Fox was killed in a neigh- 
bouring country after a fine run. The Hoimds 
had thrown up at a point marked X on the map, 
at the end of a grass lane which was crossed by a 
field road making a T-shaped junction of roads. 
In the comer of a field, at the top of the T on the 
left front, a flock of sheep had run together at a 
point marked C on the map. The wind was blowing 
from the west, or left of the line. The Himtsman 
naturally held the Hounds beyond the sheep to 
point C, but with no response. He should now 
have held them up wind to the left nearly back to 
the original line, and then have held them round 
the front as far as the right rear to point B on the 
map, so as to draw a complete cordon roimd X, 
the spot where they last had the scent. Instead 
of that he began with a down-wind cast only as 
far as the point A on the map, and announced that 

r 



66 



HUNTING THE FOX 



he had lost his Fox. To get back up wind through 



''--., 




the horses was a matter of some di£Eiculty. As a 



HUNTING THE FOX 67 

last resort, therefore, he was asked at least to 
complete his down-wind circle. Luckily the Fox 
had not turned up wind, so he hit him off when he 
had got nearly back to the right of the origincd line 
at point B on the map. The Hounds hunted 
slowly into a long covert on the side of a hill a mile 
down wind, from which the hunted Fox was 
luckily viewed away. This gave the Hounds a 
new chance, and they got on to terms with him 
and killed him in a patch of gorse bushes after 
another three miles, the pace quickening every 
minute. At the place where the check occurred 
the Fox had probably been headed, turned back 
on his own line, and eventually re-made his point. 

This is a vcduable concrete example of the vital 
necessity of completing the circle and covering 
all the ground when making a cast. When a cast 
has to be made, it must be scientific, and not 
sketchy. Nothing can be worse for a yoimg Hunts- 
man than to make a vague drift down wind and 
then to have the luck to hit off either his own Fox 
or another one. He will be lauded to the skies 
for having made what is called a ^^ bold forward 
cast,'' and will think he is going to do the same 
thing every time. Deluded Huntsman I The next 
time, and the next, he will get farther and farther 
from his Fox, and those who were foremost in 
praising him on the ruinously lucky day will now 
become his most mordant detractors. ^^A nice 



68 HUNTING THE FOX 

fellow, but he never kills his Foxes. It is all over 
with him at the first check.*' If he had followed 
the Thomas Smith principle, the worst that the 
most inveterate crabber could say would be, ^^ Oh 1 
he is a bit slow ; I can't make out how he does it, 
as he often seems to cast back ; but somehow or 
other he kills his Foxes." To sum up, then, the 
things to be remembered by the Huntsman in 
making a cast are, first, the place where the leading 
Hounds last had the scent ; second, to follow the 
general direction of circles up and down wind 
already described; third, to keep every Hoimd 
either in front of him or well away on his flank ; 
fourth, never to force the pace, but to regulate it 
by the pace of the Hounds, bearing in mind that, 
with a burning scent, they can be cast almost at a 
gallop, and that with a poor scent they can only be 
cast at a walk. (It may here be remarked that 
some Huntsmen always make their casts at the same 
pace, usually the trot, which must surely be a 
mistake, resulting in either casting over the line 
or else in clausing the pack to straggle when they 
should all be together ; the cast should be made 
at the highest speed at which cohesion can be 
maintained) ; and fifth, to keep his whipper-in 
inside, and not outside the circle. The Hounds 
will always revolve on the circle of which their 
Huntsman is the pivot, if he will say a word to 
them from time to time when they lose sight of him 



HUNTING THE FOX e9 

owing to the fences or fonnation of the ground. 
They should need no whipper-in to turn their 
heads, if the Huntsman knows how to handle 
them; to say nothing of the fact that in most 
countries the fences will not allow the whipper-in 
to ride round the outside of the circle. He had 
far better, while the cast is being made, ride behind 
the Huntsman, save his horse, and make himself 
useful by getting the gates open ; though, if both 
men are there, the second whipper-in might profit- 
ably sink the wind and perhaps give the Huntsman 
a good lift. Should he be lucky enough to get a 
view, or obtain sound information, he should let 
the Huntsman know as quietly as he can, point 
with his cap the direction of the Fox, and, if possible, 
meet the Huntsman so as to tell him all about it 
on his way to the holloa. The Huntsman, even 
if he views the Fox himself, should take hold of his 
Hounds quite quietly and canter them up to the 
place where the Fox was last seen. 

One more maxim about casting and we have 
done. It is indeed contained in Mr. Thomas Smith's 
advice, though not explicitly stated. It is, always to 
try to recover the line at the nearest possible point 
to where it was lost, and never to yield to the 
temptation to get nearer the Fox by getting ahead 
of this point, and trust to striking the line farther 
on, however strong the probability of success may 
appear. This maxim also applies in going to a 



70 HUNTING THE FOX 

holloa. One fine day a Fox was found in a small 
covert on the north side of a road that runs from 
Bristol to Hull. The Fox went away up wind, 
and ran for three fields parallel to the road in the 
direction of Hull. He then made a sharp turn to 
the right, and the Hounds overran the scent, 
flashing rather wildly for a hundred yards or so. 
One of the Staff who had not left the road saw the 
Fox cross the road, but could not see him beyond 
it. He held up his cap, and as the Huntsman 
approached gave him full information. The Hunts- 
man jumped in and out of the road, carried his 
Hoimds with him, made a wide circle round the 
open fields, expecting to pick up the scent every 
second, but never crossed the line at all. Being 
anxious to show sport to an eager Field, he no doubt 
thought that this risk was worth taking in order 
to save time. What he ought to have done was 
to have laid on his Hounds at the exact place in 
the fence where his man saw the Fox leave the 
road. No one, indeed, could have reasonably foimd 
fault with him even if he had made assurance 
doubly sure and laid them on at the place in the 
fence where the Fox had been seen to enter the road, 
and let them himt him out of it. Either of these 
courses was a certainty ; the course he actually 
took was a speculation, which spoilt the run. 

Let us now suppose that the check has been 
successfully dealt with. Unless the Fox has turned 



HUNTING THE FOX 71 

up windy or his line has been quickly recovered on 
the first short down-wind cast, he will have gained 
some ground, and the pace will now very likely 
become slower, until he begins to tire and the 
Hounds begin to work up to him. So far we have 
imagined the chase to have taken place over the 
open country; but few runs of any length are 
recorded in which no coverts are touched. If the 
Fox goes into a small covert the Hoimds should be 
allowed to hunt his line into it. It is tempting 
to take them off their noses and try to hit the line 
on the other side. But the danger of hitting off 
the line of a fresh Fox who has moved on hearing 
the cry is too great to warrant this speculative 
practice, while, if no Fox has left the covert, the 
Hoimds will have been taken off their noses and 
deceived, with nothing to show for it ; though, if 
a clever whipper-in has seen the beaten Fox go 
away, the manoeuvre can be, and probably ought 
to be, tried. If the himted Fox goes pto a wood- 
land or chain of coverts, say in a park, the Hunts- 
man should keep as near the leading Hounds as 
he can, and constantly soimd his horn and voice. 
This lets his men and his field know the direction 
of the chase, holds the pack together, and tends 
to keep the Fox's head straight. Some say that 
this also tends to move fresh Foxes out of the way 
and thus reduce the risk of changing Foxes. An 
acute observer once said that from time to time a 



72 HUNTING THE FOX 

hunted Fox will stop to listen, and if he hears 
nothing will often tium. If he hears his pursuers, 
either human or animal, he wiU usually go straight 
on. At this phase of the rim it is of no avail for 
either whipper-in to get too far ahead for a view. 
If the Fox keeps fairly strfdght the Hounds will 
hunt his line. If he turns right or left, the man 
who has posted on will very likely be thrown out, 
and therefore not be available at the very moment 
when his Huntsman most wants his help to con- 
centrate on a sinking Fox. The right place on 
these occasions for the first whipper-in is on a ride, 
or on the outside of the covert not far away from, 
and parallel to, the Huntsman. The second 
whipper-in should be back, and never go on to 
the next covert or quarter in a woodland until the 
whole chase is thoroughly well committed to fresh 
ground, because a sinking Fox, or a Fox who is 
even beginning to be tired, wiU so often try to 
shake off his enemies by turning short back in 
covert. Then when the Hounds throw up, the 
timely holloa from the wise man who is looking 
back is worth anything and has killed many a 
Fox, while the noses of the Foxes whose lives have 
been saved by the whole establishment posting 
forward would cover all the kennel doors in the 
British Isles. 



CHAPTER Vin 

The importance of technique — ^The exercise of patience — 

The love of Foxhounds. 

In the foregoing chapters some suggestions have 
been offered as to how the Huntsman should act at 
various phases of the run. Every one who knows 
anything about Fox-hunting will say with truth 
that the exact application of the teachings of 
science cannot always be carried out in the hunting- 
field, any more than a Cavalry operation can on 
all occasions, even on peace manoeuvres, minutely 
follow the drill-book. Yet in either case ignorance 
or neglect of certain rules will generally bring its 
own punishment in the long run. Although on 
occasion these rules have to be thrown to the winds, 
the successful Huntsman will always have them 
in his mind and apply them nine times out of ten. 
On the tenth occasion his very knowledge of the 
rules of his art may give him the privilege and the 
power of attempting the briUiant coup. Some 
people would seem to think that the true Hunts- 
man does everything by the light of nature. This 

73 



74 HUNTING THE FOX 



proposition opens the door to the old question, 
" What is genius ? " Whether or no it be really 
the ^^ infinite capacity for taking pains " is a matter 
that will not be pursued here. But it can be 
asserted without fear of contradiction that no 
Huntsman has ever risen to eminence without 
understanding the science and art of Fox-hunting, 
and being fortified in his application of them by 
the never-varying use of an intelligent and in- 
telligible technique. The method and style of 
handling Hounds both before and after finding the 
Fox have already been dealt with. The proper use 
of the horn and voice remain to be considered. 
These are of primary importance, being the instru- 
ments through which the Huntsman expresses 
himself to his Hounds, his men, and his Field. 
They should both be used with the same purpose 
and in the same manner. Their import should be 
clear beyond all manner of doubt to all parties 
concerned. Each phase of the Hunt has its appro- 
priate dog-language and appropriate notes on the 
horn, which should always be used at the proper 
time — ^and on no other occasion. For instance, 
any one who understands Fox-hunting should be 
able to stand a mile down wind of the Himtsman 
and tell by the ear alone exactly what he is doing 
when he has unkennelled a Fox in covert. The 
horn need never be usedj^as a general rule until the 
Fox is found, though, when approaching a small 



HUNTING THE FOX 76 

thick covert after the whipper-m has been posted 
to view him away» it is legitimate, and perhaps 
desirable, to blow a short blast to wake up the Fox 
before Homids are put in, and save him from being 
chopped ; and, in drawing a woodland, the Hunts- 
man can with advantage blow the same short 
blast as a signal if he turns round to draw back, 
whilst he should also cry " Yo Hote back, Yooi 
over try back " two or three times. It is difficult 
to describe notes on the horn in writing ; perhaps 
it will be understood if the note in question is 
described as being sober, consisting of two beats, 
and containing no element of pulsation or excite- 
ment ; these should be reserved until the Fox is 
afoot. When the Fox is found in a small covert 
the Huntsman had better be silent, his object being 
to take no advantage of the Fox at this moment 
and to let him get away. Sometimes the imlucky 
chop is imavoidable, but if a Huntsman chops 
more than, say, two or three Foxes in the season, 
it is not too good a sign of chivalrous intentions. 
But in a woodland where the Fox can take care of 
himself, he can rattle his pack up to the leading 
Hoimds, if he is near them, by a view holloa or 
two and a succession of short, sharp notes on the 
horn, not more than seven or nine in number. 
The same horn and holloa should be soimded when 
the chase crosses a ride, or when he gets a view 
in covert and wants his Hounds. A limited 



76 HUNTING THE FOX 

number of notes on the horn is advised in covert 
in order to form as great a contrast as possible 
to the long call, which must be sounded when the 
Fox breaks covert. Each Huntsman will probably 
have his own particular call to get his Hounds out 
of covert, but should have the imagination to 
make his horn speak in harmony to this thrilling 
moment* 

Before soimding his horn the Huntsman should 
invariably holloa " Cop forrard away " as loudly 
and clearly as he can. This is the final and execu- 
tive word of command, which should always be 
given by the great man himself. The pulsations 
of the long call on the horn that follows should be 
sustained as long as he has breath in his body, 
and should be renewed until every Hoimd is away 
and the great adventure in the open is definitely 
laimched. The horn should now be returned to 
the horn case, and need not be taken out again 
until another covert is entered, or the Fox is killed, 
run to ground, or lost. The horn need hardly ever 
be blown in the open, and certainly never should 
be used when casting, because in the open the 
Hounds are, or ought to be, in front of the horses. 
A possible exception to this rule may occur when 
Hounds divide ; when the whipper-in has stopped 
his lot, and their heads are up, a timely note or 
two may be invaluable in recalling them to the 
Huntsman's lot. Do not forget that they can 



HUNTING THE FOX 77 

sometimes hear the horn when they cannot hear 
the cry of the other Hoiinds. When the Himtsman 
has his Fox in his hand or has nm to ground, the 
same call may be used as in breaking covert. 

YHien a covert is drawn blank, the appropriate 
call on the horn can best be described as a long- 
drawn wail. The same call can be used for going 
home, or for calling on stray Hounds. When all 
the Hounds are on, the Staff should be informed 
by two short, sharp notes sounded in quick suc- 
cession. 

The above are only general indications, as the 
method of sounding of the English himting-hom 
cannot be expressed in terms of music, as is possible 
with the more elaborate French instrument. Yet 
our Huntsmen can, if they cultivate the art, make 
the short horn speak quite as humanly and clearly 
as the French Huntsmen can the long one, and 
can even put more individual character into it, 
not being tied and bound by an exact musical 
phrase. The horn recommended is the rather deep- 
noted " Goodall," which seems to give forth a finer 
resonance and to be audible at a longer distance 
than any other horn. Its soimd might be called a 
" twang " rather than a ** tweet," to use Mr. Surtees* 
description that appears in most of his works. 
A description, however, on paper of the tones of 
the horn and voice is naturaUy imperfect, because 
the thrill that can be afforded by their melody is 



78 HUNTING THE FOX 

indeed indescribable. But whether the Huntsman 
be melodious or not, there is no excuse for his not 
being audible and explicit. 

The horn and voice are organs that are given 
to him not only to inspire others, but also to make 
himself understood. In a woodland the unforgiv- 
able sin is to indulge in long periods of silence. 
One of the surest signs of incompetence is the 
sight of stray Hounds standing about and listening 
for their Huntsman, or running vaguely down the 
rides, probably in the opposite direction to where 
he is, trying to find him. It is not only waste of 
time for Hounds to be himting the Huntsman 
instead of hunting the Fox, but also creates waste 
of time later on when the pack has to be called 
together to draw another covert. Two or more 
couple are wanting. If he has to abandon them 
altogether, he is exposing them to all sorts of bad 
habits and dangers. Nothing is worse for a Hound 
than to be ** ungummed " and be left to his own 
devices. He becomes independent. He is at 
liberty to hunt hares, fill himself with garbage, or 
go home. If the Huntsman stands still and blows 
for the stray Hoimds, valuable time is lost, and 
much noise made, which may disturb Foxes and 
so cause trouble. A man is sent back for them, 
the Staff is depleted of his services at the very 
moment when they may be most wanted. 

All these things would be avoided by a clear 



HUNTING THE FOX 79 

and correct use of the horn and voice at an earlier 
phase. Prevention is better than cure. The Hunts- 
man as a general rule ought to be able to produce 
all his pack at any given moment, and should be 
miserable if any of them are missing. Nor is it a 
good sign if you ride up to a whipper-in in a wood- 
land and ask him where the Huntsman is, and he 
says, ^' I don't know, I have not heard him for a 
long time." This may be the boy's own fault for 
getting too far up wind — ^a not uncommon failing — 
but as often as not it is due to vagueness and lack 
of thought on the part of the Huntsman ; the 
Huntsman who is best served is he who makes 
himself the most intelligible to the Hounds, his 
men, and his Field. 

So much for technique, or the control of the 
mechanical aids to the chase. What other qualities, 
besides the power to use these aids effectively, 
should distinguish the Himtsman with whom we 
should all like to hunt ? Many pages have been 
written setting them forth. If, indeed, he enjoys 
the equipment of body and mind that Mr. Jorrocks 
demanded in his famous advertisement for a Hunts- 
man at the he€kd of the nineteenth chapter of 
Handley Cross, he should go very far. In accepting 
James Pigg, Mr. Jorrocks certainly had to dispense 
with a great many of the perfections that he postu- 
lated in the columns of the Handley Cross Paul Pry. 
No wonder that the advertisement produced ^^ an 



80 HUNTING THE FOX 

immense sensation in the world of servitude." 
But although we will not follow Mr. Jorrocks' 
inimitable counsel of perfecticm, there are at least 
two mental qualities that are indispensable to a 
successful Huntsman. These are without doubt 
Patience and a Love of Foxhounds. 

Now to hunt down a very wild animal with a 
pack of Foxhounds in the shortest possible time 
requires a good deal of what some people call dash, 
and others would call varmint or devil. It is 
perhaps not too much to say that no Huntsman will 
be really brilliant imless he has a certain excit- 
ability somewhere in his temperament, at least a 
latent capacity for getting his blood up. U he is 
wholly deficient in this regard, he may indeed be 
patient, but he will be so patient that he will get 
farther and farther behind his Fox every day he 
goes out, and never kill one at all above ground 
except by accident. But the power to combine 
patience with other elements of a somewhat 
opposite character is not given to every man. 
Yet it should be assiduously cultivated by the 
Huntsman. He certainly has every chance to 
learn it, because there is no school for patience 
more severe than that of himting the Fox. The 
blanks are many and the prizes are few. U on 
coming home without his Fox he will fairly examine 
the causes of his failure, he will generally find he 
has lost more Foxes by being in a bad hurry than 



HUNTING THE FOX 81 

by being what some people call slow. In the 
pursuit of the Pox everything depends upon 
system; and without patience no sound system 
can be thoroughly carried out. 

To begin with, it is obvious that the cover 
must be carefully drawn. In an earlier chapter an 
attempt has been made to explain that a momentary 
exercise of patience is essential to getting all the 
Hoimds out of covert together when the Fox is 
holloaed away. Even more important is the period 
of patience when they throw up their heads at a 
check. 

But more telling than all is the patient self- 
control that must be used when the Fox is nearly 
beaten. And more diflficult, because the blood is 
up and the moment of victory would seem to be 
at hand. Strange as it may seem, it tnay some- 
times be a hindrance rather than a help for some 
one to catch sight of the beaten Fox a field or two 
away at the moment when the Hounds are slowly 
but surely himting up to him. The temptation 
to give them a lift is wellnigh irresistible. The 
Huntsman will have shown the Hounds by his 
manner that he has got a view, and, by the time 
he gets them to the place where the Fox was last 
seen, the Fox will have got through the next fence, 
or very likely lain down in it. The Hounds will 
have their heads up expecting to be shown their 
Fox, and will not readily put them down again. 

o 



82 HUNTING THE FOX 

In the meantime the riders will have carried the 
Huntsman and Hoimds clean past the Fox, who, 
if he has the luck not to be seen lying down, and 
the sense not to get up imtil his enemies are out 
of sight, will save his brush. The golden rule on 
these occasions is never to take Hounds off their 
noses unless it is absolutely certain that they can 
get a view, as when the Fox is crawling across the 
middle of a hundred-acre field. Of course if the 
Fox is heading for a covert known to be full of 
firesh Foxes, or for an open earth, the tour deforce 
of lifting the Hounds must be tried. This was 
done with success one evening when Hounds had 
been himting a ringing Fox for two hours with a 
poor scent. The first whipper-in viewed him dead- 
beat making his way straight for a large woodland, 
where he was nearly sure to put up a fresh one. 
The orthodox practice had to be abandoned, 
because, with failing light and scent, the Hounds 
could not have hunted up to him before he gained 
the stronghold for which he was heading. The 
whipper-in was sent on to keep the Fox in view 
and to try to head him off from the covert which 
lay about a mile away. The Huntsman took the 
Hounds off the line, galloped them on, and these 
two men played into each other's hands so cleverly 
that the dog Hounds knocked their Fox over just 
outside the wood — and came home happy. On 
another occasion the lift was tried, but failure was 



HUNTING THE FOX 88 

only averted by the intelligence of one of the Staff, 
who did not forget to look back. The bitch pack 
had brought their Fox across the vale at a good 
pace for fifty minutes, and came to a check in a 
turnpike road — no doubt owing to the Fox having 
turned right or left in the road before crossing it. 
The Huntsman, seeing him creeping up the side 
of a fence about three hundred yards ahead, 
caught hold of the Hounds and tried to lay them 
on at the spot where he last saw the Fox, near a 
haystack close to the fence. No response. He 
then held them vaguely on without a line for 
nearly half a mile, followed by the whole Field. In 
the meantime one of the Staff wisely reconnoitred 
the ground where the Fox was last seen, and 
marked him l}dng closely tucked under the hay- 
stack. He was luckily able to send a friend to 
bring the Huntsman back while he stayed and 
watched the Fox. On this occasion it is clear that 
only by a clever piece of staff work was the view 
prevented from, being fatal to the Himtsman. 
Had he not caught sight of the Fox and yielded 
to the natural temptation to lift his Hounds, they 
would soon have hit the line out of the road and 
worked up to their Fox by themselves. 

Experience should tend to cultivate the faculty 
of patience. Patience in the face of a persistent 
run of bad luck : patience at critical moments in 
the hunting-field. 



84 HUNTING THE FOX 

Add to Patience the Love of Foxhounds. 

It is often said that some men are ^^ doggy " by 
nature, and possess some charm that makes all 
dogs love and obey them. Whether this is true 
or not is incapable of proof. But there is no manner 
of doubt that the practice of common sense and 
the cultivation of sjrmpathy will go a very long 
way in the art of dealing with a pack of Foxhounds 
in the field. 

The first essential for the Huntsman to bear in 
mind is never to lose his temper with the Hoimds, 
nor even to speak harshly to them. He may lose 
his temper with his Field, his men, or his horse, 
though he had much better keep smiling with all 
three. But once he loses his temper with his 
Hounds he gets out of tune with them, and his 
whole influence over them has vanished. 

A pack of Foxhounds is seldom in quite the same 
mood two days running, being keenly influenced 
by the scent and the weather. On some days they 
appear to be wild and headstrong, on other days 
listless and slack. But whatever they do, the 
Himtsman should always place the most favourable 
construction on their proceedings, and be ready 
to take all the blame for himself ; he should never 
be in such a frame of mind as to blame his Hounds. 
Of course it is a fatal mistake to be overcome by 
sentiment to the extent of being lenient to rogues, 
especially if they are mute. A mute Hound should 



HUNTING THE FOX 86 

always be put down at once. Some Huntsmen 
are apt to get too fond of old Hoimds, or to spoil 
certain Hoimds who have made a lucky hit and 
so got them out of a difficulty. A certain dog 
Hoimd once puzzled out the line of a Fox down 
the middle of a road and put everybody right. 
The Himtsman was so pleased at this that, whenever 
his Fox had run down a road, he relied exclusively 
on this dog, who soon foimd this out and from 
that moment had the poor man completely at his 
mercy. He would put his nose down whenever 
he got on a road, travel down the road with or 
without a line, and even look back from time to 
time as if to invite the Himtsman to follow him, 
and so caused the loss of Fox after Fox by drawing 
the whole establishment after him long past the 
place where the Fox had turned out of the road. 
No. A pack of Hoimds should be hunted collect- 
ively and not individually ; the love of Hounds 
should never degenerate into favouritism. 



CHAPTER rX 

The Foxhound — ^Mr. Barry and Mr. Meynell — ^The modem 
Foxhound — ^Foxhound Shows — ^Rounding. 

The modem Foxhound is bred, or ought to be 
bred, with a sound constitution, contained in a 
graceful, elegant, and symmetrical body of a size 
which is neither bulky nor insignificant. This 
type has now held the field for about one hmidred 
and seventy years. The middle of the eighteenth 
century marks the evolution in the breeding of 
Foxhounds for courage, stoutness, and speed. 
Before that time our ancestors were satisfied with 
something very much slower. They apparently 
kept Hounds who had to be taken out at an im- 
dignified hour in the morning to drag up their Fox 
in the hopes of getting on to terms with him before 
he had properly digested his supper, perhaps 
killing him after a leisurely stem chase lasting 
well into the afternoon. But this pottering style 
did not suit the ardent spirit of such pioneers as 
Hugo Meynell, John Musters, and John Smith- 
Barry. During the decade 1760-1760 the modem 

86 



HUNTING THE FOX 87 

system of unkennelling the Fox at a gentlemanly 
hour in the morning, and bursting him by the 
speed and condition of the Hound, was successfully 
launched. The best evidence of the new pace is 
afforded by the celebrated match at Newmarket, 
which took place in 1762. A match was made 
between Mr. Meynell and Mr. Barry, each to run 
a couple of his Hounds a drag, from the rubbing- 
house at Newmarket town-end to the rubbing- 
house at the starting-post Beacon-course, a distance 
of four and a half miles, for five himdred guineas. 
After the match was made, the famous Will 
Crane was invited to train Mr. Barry's couple of 
Hoimds, of which Bluecap was four and Wanton 
three years old. Crane at first objected to their 
being Hounds that had been entered, and wished 
for young Hounds, who might probably be taught 
with more certainty to run a drag ; his motion, 
however, was set aside, and the Hounds were sent 
to Rivenhall, in Essex. As Crane had foretold, at 
the first trials to induce them to run the drag they 
took no notice ; but at length, by dragging a Fox 
along the ground, and then crossing the Hounds 
upon the scent, and taking care to let them kill 
him, they became more handy to a drag, and had 
their exercise regularly three times a week upon 
Tip-tree Heath ; the ground chosen was turf, and 
the distance over which it was taken was from 
eight to ten miles. The dogs were in training 



88 HUNTING THE POX 

for one month, their food consisting of oatmeal, 
milk, and boUed sheep's trotters. On the 80th of 
September the drag was drawn over the distance 
previously agreed on, and the four Hounds were 
laid on the scent : Mr. Barry's Bluecap came in 
first ; Wanton, very close to Bluecap, second ; 
Mr. Meynell's Richmond was beaten by upwards 
of a himdred yards, and his second, a bitch, never 
ran in at all : the course was covered in eight 
minutes and a few seconds. Threescore horses 
started with the Hounds. 

Copper, Mr. Barry's Huntsman, was the first 
up, but the mare he rode was completely blind at 
the finish. There were only twelve horses up out 
of the sixty ; Will Crane, who was mounted upon 
Rib, a King's Plate horse, only finished twelfth. 
The odds, before starting, were seven to four in 
favour of Mr. Meynell, whose Hoimds it was said 
were fed, during the time of training, entirely 
with legs of mutton. This epoch-making affair is 
immortalized by Sartorius in pictures belonging 
to the present Lord Banymore, who also has, at 
Marbury Hall, a portrait of Bluecap by an unknown 
artist, which perhaps may not do justice to the 
subject. Two structural points, however, are 
interesting, being sjrmptoms of speed : the forearm 
is placed imder the very foremost part of the 
shoulder, and the hocks are well let down. 

And so the modem Foxhound was evolved from 



HUNTING THE FOX 89 

models like Mr. Barry's Bluecap, and Mr, Corbet's 
Trojan, bred for quality, stoutness, and speed. 
It is sometimes argued that one type of Foxhound 
is not enough, because different countries require 
different Hounds. The vaUdity of this maxim is 
doubtful. In a sense it may be true that a coarse, 
bulky, heavy - shouldered brute, who would be 
ridden over in the first field in the Midlands, might 
manage to hide his congenital defects and keep out 
of the way of underbred horses in a cramped 
country where small enclosures are fenced from 
each other by impossible banks. But in truth 
there is no country where a well-bred Hound of 
the middle size, with good neck and shoulders, 
will not hold his own with any other sort that has 
yet been bfed, besides being far more pleasing 
to the eye. 

Let us try to describe him in a little more detail. 
He stands not less than twenty-three, and not more 
than twenty-four inches high. He has a lean head, 
rather conical than flat, with a delicately chiselled 
muzzle ; dark, full, luminous eyes, denoting keen- 
ness and intelligence ; dose-lying ears, small and 
pointed. His long neck, with the line of the throat 
quite clean, is supported by sloping shoulders, 
at the foremost point of which his fore-legs are set 
on, with knees near to the ground, plumb straight 
whether viewed from the side or the front. His 
feet are round without being fleshy, with the toes 



90 HUNTING THE FOX 

close together. His fore-ribs are deep» but not so 
widely sprung as to push his shoulders forward. 
The upward curve of the under-line is not unduly 
pronounced, even when he has not been fed for 
twenty-four hours. His muscular back is flat and 
straight right up to the point where his feathery 
and delicately curved stem is set on. The thighs 
are wide and muscular, supported by straight hocks 
near to the ground like his knees. His coat is 
smooth, glossy, and so supple that you can pick 
up a handful of it from his back and see it glide 
back into its place the moment it is released. 

A Hound built on these lines would be difficult 
to beat in any country. If, however, we wish to 
perpetuate the type, the question arises whether 
the mating of dogs and bitches of the middle size 
may not tend to breed Hounds that are too small, 
until eventually we get our Foxhounds as small 
as harriers. There seems to be no danger of that 
at present. ^^Keep your own hoimds of the 
middle size," said an old breeder, ^' and you 
can always go to other kennels where they keep 
big ones for a stallion hoimd." But the prob- 
ability is that in many Kennels during the last 
fifty years the more massive sort has become the 
more fashionable. 

The celebrated Brocklesby Rallywood, entered in 
1848, with Sir Richard Sutton's and Mr. Osbaldis- 
ton's best blood in his veins, came to Belvoir in 



HUNTING THE POX 91 

1851 in the time of the no less celebrated Will 
Goodall, and is said to have made the Belvoir 
Pack. Gk>odall fell deeply in love with him, and 
bred from him freely. His own opinion of Rally- 
wood is quoted by Mr. Collins in his very interesting 
History of the Broeklesby Hounds, and is worth 
repeating here : ** This is a most beautiful little 
short-legged dog, exceedingly light of bone, but with 
beautiful legs and feet." From the same book we 
learn that '' Druid " in SiUe and Scarlet wrote of 
Rallywood that " although good twenty-three, he 
was mean to those who like a big hound." This 
dog hunted hard for nine seasons, and was certainly 
one of the most famous, if not the most famous, 
sire of the last century. Yet, from the con- 
temporary descriptions of his lack of calibre, he 
would not be among the fashionable sires of to-day, 
and would look Uke a harrier if he were brought 
to the covert-side with some of our modem dog 
packs. So there is good ground for the assertion 
that during the last fifty years the size of Fox- 
hounds has increased. Why ? The explanation 
may possibly be found in the growing popularity 
of Hound Shows. 

There is much to be said for and against a 
Hound Show. The most valid argument in favour 
of a Hound Show is that it gives prominence to 
the value of symmetry. Symmetry in Foxhounds 
should be aimed at not because it is good to look 



92 HUNTING THE FOX 

upon, but because a certain physical structure 
enables a Hound to do his work for the longest 
possible time in the quickest and easiest manner. 
Other things being equal, the good-looking Fox- 
hound on the flags should certainly, in the long 
run, beat the ugly one in the field. This is the 
value of symmetry, and nothing else is. Im- 
mediately that a fashionable standard of looks 
becomes an arbitrary affair, presented, like one 
of M. Poiret's creations, to satisfy caprice with no 
reference to utility, then the show-ring becomes 
dangerous. 

Now the tendency of live-stock shows is to 
create an advantage in favour of bulk, particu- 
larly when its exhibition is enhanced by generous 
feeding. How often does one hear that " a good 
big one is better than a good little one." This 
standard of judgement may or may not be all very 
well when appUed to shire horses, bullocks, or pigs. 
But it is all very bad when applied to Foxhounds. 
And there can be no doubt whatever that bulk is, 
unfortunately, an advantage in a Foxhound Show. 
Nowadays a dog of twenty-four inches, an inch 
higher than the Brocklesby Rallywood, the Belvoir 
Gambler, and the Warwickshire Harper, when 
exhibited against modem Peterborough winners 
is apt to be described as *^ a smart little dog, but 
not big enough," unless, indeed, his structure is 
so ultra-perfect that nothing can deny it. This 



HUNTING THE FOX 98 

does not mean to say that the Peterborough 
Foxhound Show should be discontinued. Far 
from it. The show is extremely valuable in that 
it preserves a standard of symmetry. The danger 
is that this standard of symmetry may become a 
purely show-ring standard, instead of remaining a 
standard of physical structure designed to enable 
the Foxhoimd to tire and catch his Fox. But one 
Foxhound Show is probably enough. The multi- 
plication of shows might lead to pot-hunting with 
Foxhounds, the most imthinkable of all calamities. 
While we are on the subject of appearance, a 
word may be said about rounding Hounds' ears. 
This practice is a relic of an age when mutilation 
of animals for the sake of appearance was much 
more common than it is to-day. Horses' ears, 
for instance, were cropped for no other reason 
than to gratify contemporary fashion. There could 
have been no other reason. It is urged that 
Foxhounds' ears are still rounded for certain prac- 
tical purposes, such as a healthy letting of blood, 
and the avoidance of tearing the ears in brambles 
and thorns. And on the other hand it can be 
claimed that nature gave Hounds long ears to 
protect the ear-hole from water getting into it. 
Either of these reasons is open to argument. 
But probably the principal reasons are that the 
eye has become accustomed to rounded ears, and 
that inasmuch as the different shape and length 



94 HUNTING THE FOX 

of Hounds' ears are accentuated by giving a free 
rein to nature, the uniform appearance of a pack 
is enhanced by rounding all ears to the same length. 

Many people think that all Hounds' ears, however 
shapely by nature, look better when they have 
been artificially curtailed. So that the matter of 
rounding probably resolves itself into a question 
of taste. Masters who have abandoned the practice 
certainly save their men and Hounds from some 
very sanguinary hours in the Kennel. Moreover, 
the silken ear of the Hound, untouched by the 
knife, lying close to his head, tapering down to a 
delicate point, is surely one of nature's endowments 
which cannot be improved by human interference. 

The average Foxhound is at his or her best 
during the third and fourth seasons of hunting. 
It is, no doubt, delightful to see the puppies enter- 
ing to the sport of their ancestors in their first 
season, but they cannot be considered reliable 
until they have completed at least two seasons of 
Cub-hunting. A bitch may then be mated. But 
it is really wise not to breed from a dog Hound 
until after the whole of his second season is com- 
pleted. In this way he will have done three Cub- 
hunting seasons before the time of year arrives 
for putting him to the stud, and his stoutness and 
steadiness will have been fairly tested. Indeed 
the more brilliant a dog puppy appears to be in 
his first season, the more chary one should be of 



HUNTING THE FOX 95 

using him. His pedigree may be spotless, and 
the risk may seem a very small one, but his very 
brilliancy, fortified by a stroke or two of good luck, 
may very easily make him conceited and develop 
in his character vices that may be transmitted to 
his descendants with disastrous effects to the pack. 
Perhaps he may contain in his disposition all the 
latent faults of his otherwise illustrious progenitors, 
so that to breed from him too early in his career, 
until these faults have had a chance of declaring 
themselves, is an offence against the principle of 
selection which is the secret of true breeding. 
Some breeders may say that we have now arrived 
at an era in the breeding of Foxhounds when all 
pedigrees contain the same strains, so that par- 
ticular selection need not be so carefully studied. 
This argument pushed to its extremity would seem 
to convey that Foxhounds can be produced in- 
discriminately like guinea-pigs. Be this as it may, 
nothing can ever alter the fact that some Hounds 
are better than others, and that, while no bitch 
should be kept who is not worth breeding from, 
too much trouble cannot be taken in the choice 
of a sire. It is well to study constitution in mating 
Foxhounds. Given of course tongue, speed, and 
steadiness, constitution is the most important 
thing of all. Some very highly-bred strains seem 
to develop feeble constitutions ; it is therefore 
wise to resist the temptation of using a sire because 



96 HUNTING THE FOX 

he is first-rate in his work, if his food does not do 
him any good even when he has been coaxed to 
eat it. His descendants will be weak to resist 
disease, difficult to rear, and wiU cause much loss 
of time and much disappointment. 

Breeders' opinions differ as to the degree of 
closeness that should be observed in comparing 
the pedigrees of a sire and a dam whom it is pro- 
posed to mate. It is not necessary to have the 
whole Mendelian theory at the fingers' ends» but it 
is a good rule of thumb not to aUow the same name 
to occur more than once until you get above a line 
drawn across the top of the second generation. 
That is to say, that every Hound should at least 
have different great-grandsires and great-grand- 
dams on both sides of the house. When you get 
farther back than the second generation the 
same names may occur, indeed must occur, dotted 
about all over the pedigree chart. This is necessary 
in order to preserve the type. It is a mistake to 
go too far away in blood. To take an extreme 
case, a fantastic alliance between an English 
Foxhound and a Welsh Foxhound who have no 
ancestors in common, is calculated to produce a 
family of freaks of no recogm'zed type, or perhaps 
the whole litter will favour the English or the 
Welsh, according as the one or the other is dominant 
or recessive. 

Another good thing to remember in breeding. 



HUNTING THE FOX 97 

which would seem obvious, though occasionally 
forgotten, is that, in the long run, like begets like. 
If straight Hounds are wanted, it is asking for 
trouble to breed from crooked ones. If it is desired 
to breed Hounds with good necks and shoulders, the 
most likely chance of success is to select a sire 
with goad neck and shoulders, and mate him with 
a bitch of similar structure in this regard. 

A well-bred pack of Foxhoimds will not contain 
the names of many different foreign sires in its list. 
The best packs in England are bred from compara- 
tively few strains. By adhering to these one is 
sure sooner or later to produce replicas of the best 
types in certain families ; they are bound to crop 
up from time to time ; nothing, as far as we under- 
stand the laws of heredity, can possibly prevent 
their appearance. If, on the other hand, the 
M.F.H. goes to all and sundry Kennels in search of 
a type that pleases the eye, and uses five or six 
sires of good looks but doubtful ancestry, he may 
perhaps breed a good-looking one, but he is not 
Ukely to breed a stallion hound or a brood bitch 
that will endow posterity.' Therefore, in looking 
over a pack of Hounds with a view to finding a 
sire, one should beware of a Hound list that contains 
sires from a variety of obscure Kennels. When 
A suitable sire has been selected from a Kennel of 
good repute, it is wise to send to him one or two 
of the best-looking bitches from home, and not 

H 



98 HUNTING THE FOX 

the moderate ones, so as to give him every chance ; 
if these bitches are themselves got by a foreign 
sire, so much the better, because any dog puppies 
from them, provided they grow into stallion hounds, 
will be far enough away in blood to be mated with 
most of the bitches at home. One or two luckv 
hits made on these lines every second or third 
year wiU keep a pack together, and confirm the 
type far better than any nmnber of experiments 
in first-class looks with third-class pedigrees. 



CHAPTER X 

HO&SE-BBEEDINO AND THE TRAINING OF THE 

TOUNO HOB8E 

The breeding of a sudfficient number of Hounds 
need not present any great difficulty, but the breed- 
ing of a plentiful supply of hunters will not be so 
easy. Ireland has been the great reservoir for 
hunters for many years, but it would appear that 
in the attempt made in that island during the 
War to breed light-draught horses, the breeding of 
hunters has suffered. It is, however, reasonable 
to expect that the demand will create the supply, 
especially when one or two plentiful hay harvests 
have made the keep of hunters more possible. In 
the meantime, there is no doubt that more hunters 
can be bred in Great Britain. They are likely to 
be valuable for some years to come, and it is well 
worth while, for profit as well as for pleasure, to 
use every effort to encourage and organize the 
breeding of hunters in this island. 

The most encouraging sign of recent years is 
the wonderful improvement in the type of thorough- 



100 HUNTING THE FOX 

bred hunter sires exhibited at the King's Premium 
Show. Ten or fifteen years ago the King's Cup 
could be won by a horse who would to-day hardly 
get a premium, and certainly not a super-premium. 
In those days five hundred pounds was considered 
a good price to pay for a King's Premium winner, 
and from two to three hundred pounds was some- 
where near the normal price ; but during the last 
decade, especially since the super-premium was 
offered, some exhibitors began to pay as much as or 
more than a thousand pounds for a horse, with the 
result that the Show Yard at Islington in March 
1916 presented a finer sight than any country in 
the world could produce. Well over a hundred 
British thoroughbred stallions under one roof, is 
an exhibition that has never been equalled any- 
where. These magnificent creatures, under the 
admirable organization of the Board of Agriculture, 
are available to breeders in all parts of Great 
Britain for a fee that is not worth talldng about. 
To be able to command for a trifle of one or two 
guineas the services of a thoroughbred horse who 
has stood the test of training and won races, does 
away with all vestige of excuse on the part of the 
hunting community for not doing its very best 
to provide the mares and make the attempt to 
supply the market upon which so much depends. 
One of the best ways to encourage the breeding 
of hunters is by a liberal prize-list at shows for 



• •, 



■: : 



HUNTING THE POX W1-. 



, • . ••• . • ••• • • < • • 



brood mares and all stock up to seven years old. 
Every Hunt in the kingdom might have its own 
show, or join with neighbouring Hunts for the 
purpose of holding a joint show. A Hunt Horse 
Show need not conflict with county shows already 
established. On the contrary, it will tend to help 
the county shows by stimulating and widening 
the local interest in horse-breeding. But its main 
value lies in the fact that it brings the subscribers 
to any given pack of Foxhounds into personal 
and responsible touch with the breeding of the 
animals which are destined to carry them across 
country. The subscribers to the show will mostly 
be the same ladies and gentlemen who subscribe 
to the Hounds. They attend the show, and there 
have the opportunity of inspecting all the young 
horses and made hunters belonging to the farmers 
in the district. The show might almost become 
a kind of fair. In addition to farmers' classes there 
should also be classes for the subscribers them- 
selves, in which the farmers are invited to exhibit. 
The breeding of himters should no longer be left 
to the farmers alone. It is obviously the wisest 
poUcy, if he wants to follow the Hounds on horse- 
back instead of on foot, for every hunting man to 
keep a brood mare of his own. It may be urged, 
in answer to all this, that a Hunt Horse Show 
presents financial difficulties that cannot be over- 
come. The answers to this objection are, that 






402... . HUNTING THE FOX 

■ . ' . - 

the breeding of hunters will soon be in a very 
precarious state unless it is organized and stimu- 
lated in every possible way, and that unless hunting 
people are prepared to reckon the support of 
breeding as part of the necessary expenses of Fox- 
hunting, we are within measurable distance of 
having to hunt on foot. But the financing of a 
single-day show is not in truth a very formidable 
operation. The main expense of a two-day show 
is the vast amount of woodwork used for stables, 
shelters, and offices. This very heavy item does not 
occur in the expenses of a one-day show, which can 
be run on an income which is small compared with 
its good results. 

The next question that arises is how to breed 
the hunter. The ideal hunter is without doubt 
the thoroughbred horse up to fourteen or fifteen 
stone. There are not very many of these animals 
in existence, but, however difficult to breed, theirs 
is the type at which we should aim. We already 
have the thoroughbred sires. There is some 
difference of opinion as to the selection of mares. 
One school of thought inclines to the opinion that 
thoroughbred mares, and most hunter mares, 
have not the requisite calibre to breed a foal big 
enough to carry weight in the hunting-field through 
deep ground and over fences, and that the best 
chance is to mate a thoroughbred sire with a cart 
or van mare. It is true that every now and then 



HUNTING THE FOX 108 

a fine weight-carrying hunter has been bred from 
the first cross of these opposite extremes, but 
whether a mare bred in this way will, in her turn, 
become a good himter brood mare is another 
matter. Some say that by scientifically crossing 
and recrossing her stock alternately with the 
thoroughbred and the cart horse, always coming 
back to the thoroughbred, the right type of weight- 
carrying hunter should eventually be established. 
This will take some generations to prove, but the 
process might be a success in time if strictly carried 
out on scientific lines by a careful breeder ; and 
a distinct breed of horse for hunting purposes 
might be evolved, in the same way that the Cleve- 
land Bay and the Hackney have established their 
identity. At present, however, we have not 
sufficient data or experience from which to form an 
opinion. From our experience of the first cross 
between the thoroughbred and the cart horse, it 
would seem that the types are too far apart for the 
experiment to be recommended; such successes 
as there have been are probably accidental. Six 
sound, strong van mares with action were carefully 
chosen, a few years ago, and mated every season 
with a super-premium thoroughbred sire. In 
ten years not one of these has bred a hunter ; one 
mare has bred six or seven useful animals, of no 
very definite character, that can do farm work 
on light land, or trot to market fairly smartly in a 



104 HUNTING THE POX 

trap. This slight experience is here given for what 
it is worth* Van mares were chosen as being, 
perhaps, a shade nearer to the thoroughbred than 
a cart mare. But even so, this experiment in blend- 
ing is not very encouraging. 

What, then, is the alternative ? The only 
alternative is to go on as we are doing now, and 
make the very best of the experience we now 
have. And this experience is in our favour. All 
the best hunters we have ridden are either purely 
thoroughbred or got by a thoroughbred sire from 
a hunter mare with quality inherited from her own 
father, whose name is in the Stud Book. One of 
the main values, and certainly the main charm 
of the animal we all want to ride, is courage. 
There is nothing more wonderful than the courage 
of a well-bred horse. Now a plebeian ancestry 
may conduce to the size of its posterity, but it is 
not calculated to endow it with courage. Let us 
therefore make the best possible use of the material 
we have ready to our hand in the shape of hunter 
mares, not far removed from the thoroughbred. 
It is almost a sacred obligation for any one who 
owns a mare of this kind either to breed from her 
or else to take every means in his power to see that 
she is bred from — supposing that he has to part 
with her. 

Let us now imagine that we have bred the 
animal we want, and that he is four years old. 



HUNTING THE FOX 106 

Whether for our own comfort or for the purpose of 
selling him to our friends, he should be thoroughly 
well broken in every respect before he goes out for 
his first morning's Cub-hunting. There is nothing 
more important, firom every point of view, than 
teaching a horse good manners when he is young. 
He should, at an early age, be trained so that he 
will stand stock-still while he is being mounted 
and until the rider gives him the signal to move. 
Very few horses are really taught to do this pro- 
perly. He should open gates, and be accustomed 
to wait, with the reins on his neck, if his rider 
wants to use both hands to lift a gate that cannot 
be opened with the whip. He should allow a whip 
to be cracked by his rider on either side or over 
his head without flinching. If he is highly strung, 
nervous, and ticklish, too much pains cannot be 
taken to get him used to the touch of hands and 
straps all over his body. In order to do this, it is 
not a bad plan to teach him when he is three years 
old to draw a very light harrow or bush or log 
of wood, driving him from behind with long reins. 
It will not even diminish his value if he is regularly 
broken to harness. He should, of course, be 
absolutely quiet with all road nuisances, and if he 
can be brought up in the constant companionship 
of dogs, so much the better. Stress is laid on all 
this because the possession of good manners by 
the animal we ride makes all the difference to the 



106 HUNTING THE FOX 

comfort and pleasure of a day's hunting. In 
addition, it is of course postulated that his mouth 
is properly made, and that his make and shape 
are such that he can move well in all his paces and 
be able to gallop fast. If so, he is at four years old 
not very far from being a made hunter. *' You 
can teach him to jump/' said a wise and witty 
judge of horses, ^* but you cannot teach him to 
gallop " ; and, indeed, the teaching of a young 
horse to jump is the easiest and most delightful 
part of his tuition. Nearly all horses come to it 
in time ; some do it more comfortably than others ; 
some seem to be natural jumpers the very first 
time they are asked to get over a country ; but 
there are surprisingly few horses who are really 
bad jumpers. The proof of this is that, out of a 
large Field, many indifferent riders are mounted 
on indifferent horses and still manage to get over 
big fences with comparatively few mistakes, even 
if they are not in the first fiight. But, in spite of 
this, our young horse should be given every chance 
of acquiring the accomplishment with confidence 
and ease. For this purpose it is well that he 
should be driven with long reins over fences when 
he is young, before he is ridden over them. Captain 
Hayes' long -rein system cannot be beaten for 
breaking and mouth-making young horses, as we}l 
as for teaching them to jump. The tackle required 
is a thick unjointed snaffle, a standing martingale 



HUNTING THE FOX 107 

with clips to fix on to the rings of the snafiSe, a 

strong surcingle with a ring set on low down on 

either side, and a pair of reins about eight yards 

long made of webbing with loops at the ends. 

The offside rein should pass from the snaffle ring 

through the ring on the surcingle, and be brought 

round just above the hocks to the right hand of 

the driver, whose proper place is on the nearside of 

the horse, a few feet to the rear. The nearside 

rein should pass straight from the ring of the 

snaffle to the left hand of the driver, who should 

never let go of the loop, even if he has to shorten 

the rein. He is now at the apex of a triangle, of 

which the horse forms the base and the two reins 

the sides. He can drive his horse either straight 

ahead or in a circle, taking care to keep the right 

hand low down so as to prevent the offside rein 

from getting over the horse's back. This rein will 

be kept in its place by the ring on the surcingle. If 

by any chance the offside rein does get over the 

horse's back, or if he gets into a tangle of any 

kind, all he has to do is to loose this rein at once, 

and cling for dear life to the nearside rein, so that 

he will pull the horse's head towards him, and 

save the situation. If the driver can keep his 

own head as well as the horse's head, this practice 

ought never to fail. As soon as the young horse is 

accustomed to being handled in this manner, he 

should be invited to jump small places and blind 



108 HUNTING THE FOX 

ditches to make him deyer with his feet. As 
soon as he is over the fence the driver should 
loose the offside rein from his hand, and the horse 
will halt or come romid in obedience to the pressure 
from the nearside rein. Horses learn this habit 
very quickly, and soon begin to stop of their own 
accord when they are over the other side. It is 
well to have two assistants on foot standing on 
the taking-off side of the obstacle on each side of 
the selected place, in order to supply a little moral 
suasion by the voice. The whip should not be 
used except as a last resort ; the mere presence of 
the men is generally enough ; most young horses 
have sense enough to give in to the weight of 
numbers. The first few fences that our young 
horse is asked to jump should no doubt be small 
and perhaps thin, simply for the purpose of giving 
him confidence. But it is probably a mistake to 
practise too long over places that can be tampered 
with. The thing becomes too easy, and the pupil 
may very well become slovenly and careless. He 
should be made to learn that jumping — ^like all 
other accomplishments — ^requires a certain effort, 
and that it is safer to negotiate obstacles with 
something to spare. For this reason the natural 
country is a better field for practice than an 
artificial school, however cunningly it be contrived. 
An artificial school is of some value in teaching a 
young horse to balance and stand on his hocks. 



HUNTING THE FOX 109 

But in a very few days he acquires the trick of 
skimming over the obstacles with hardly an inch 
to spare, and does not learn to take care of himself 
as he would in the blind ditches and thorns of the 
natural country. Timber jumping may perhaps 
be learnt in a school, and indeed it is wise, even 
when an aged horse has been imported into the 
Midlands, to longe him once or twice over a bar 
before taking him out hunting. But after all is 
said and done, there is nothing like a run with 
Hounds to make a young horse. One good gallop 
will do it with a generous animal, and we will try 
to say something about this in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER XI 

BIDING TO HOUNDS9 AND SOME ADVICE TO 

THE FIELD 

In the presence of so many fine horsemen and 
horsewomen as we see to-day, the subject of this 
chapter must be approached with some diffidence. 
At most Meets of Foxhounds in the Midlands there 
are generally at least twenty-five ladies and gentle- 
men, each of whom not only means to be at the top 
of the Hunt, but also has the courage, the skill, the 
experience, and the horse with which to get there. 
The horses, within limits, are perhaps the least of 
these factors. If these same twenty-five people 
were to change horses with the second flight, they 
would still be first when Hounds run. So that 
any advice contained in this chapter is offered with 
profound respect. 

The right beginning to a day's hunting is to 
come to the place where the Hounds meet, and 
to come there in good time. This sounds like a 
platitude; but both these rules are occasionally 

broken with disastrous results. It is a very grave 

110 



HUNTING THE FOX 111 

offence against the laws of Fox-hunting to be 
late for the Meet, or to speculate on the covert 
that the Master is likely to draw and to wait 
there for him to come. After Christmas, when 
Foxes are wilder than earlier in the season, the 
sound of a voice, the tread of a horse, or the 
slamming of a gate may very likely frighten the 
good Fox away before the Hounds come, and 
so the day's sport is spoilt. C!overts should also 
be avoided on the way to the Meet for the same 
reason. If by an unavoidable accident you cannot 
arrive punctually at the Meet, the least likely way 
of spoiling other people's pleasure is never to wait 
near a covert, but to ride the roads until you can 
join the Hunt. The Master can help very materi- 
ally in the matter of his Field being punctual at the 
Meet if he always moves off precisely at the same 
moment every day. It is a good rule to advertise 
the Meet at 10.45 until the 1st of March, and 
move off without fail on the very stroke of eleven. 
This hour is easier to fix with precision than 11.15. 
A Master whose own punctuality is not above 
suspicion, and who, after he has arrived, dawdles 
about on foot and moves off at ^' any old time," 
does not deserve to have a punctual Field. 

The really keen Fox-hunter, who is determined 
to get a start, will not be very far behind the 
Hounds on the way to covert. If a Fox jiunps 
out of a hedge or crosses the road on the way to 



112 HUNTING THE POX 

draw— and many more wonderful things than 
this may happen — ^those who are nearest the Hounds 
get the benefit that always accrues to the man 
on the spot. It is always worth while to begin 
the day with the expectation that there will be a 
tearing scent, and that the run of the season is 
about to take place. It is time enough to talk 
to £riends and leave things to chance after the 
Hounds have told you that it is a bad scenting 
day. On arriving at the covert, study the wind 
and mark in the mind the down-wind comer where 
the Fox is likely to break ; map out, too, in advance, 
your dispositions for getting a good start if the 
expectation is realized. This is not difficult if 
the covert is small. If it is a woodland, the best 
thing to do is to try not to let the Huntsman 
get out of your hearing while he is drawing ; but 
on no account follow him about or ride in his track 
now, or indeed at any other time. There is 
nothing more irritating to a Huntsman than to be 
conscious that some one is dogging his footsteps. 
Not only that, the Huntsman should be quite alone 
whai he is drawing, so as to be able to use his 
ears to the fullest advantage. Another horse 
clattering, splashing, and champing the bit close 
behind him, may very easily prevent his hearing 
the first Hound open when the Fox is unkennelled. 
The Huntsman indeed should always be given 
plenty of elbow-room at every phase of the chase. 



HUNTING THE FOX 118 

Some people seem quite miable to ride anywhere 
else in the whole county except in the Huntsman's 
pocket. Perhaps it saves them the trouble of 
thinking for themselves how to take their own 
line ; perhaps they think that if they maintain a 
horse's length distance in rear of him all day they 
are sure to see what there is to be seen ; but, 
however this shocking habit has been contracted, 
it should be sternly repressed. 

Let us now imagine that the Fox and the 
Hounds are well away, and that it looks as if we 
are in for a good thing. Unless you are one of the 
very first through the first gate, it is permissible, 
even if a trifle theatrical, to secure a good start 
by jumping the fence alongside the gate, if it is 
negotiable. If this has to be done, however, do it 
at least twenty-five yards away from the gate, 
and get your horse well by the head, letting him 
feel the rein and heel on the side farthest away 
from the gate, so as to distract his attrition 
from the crowd. These precautions are sometimes 
forgotten, with the ignominious result that the 
horse refuses, and butts into the flank of the throng 
that is wrestling with the gateway. But whether 
the coimter-attraction of the gate is there or not, 
all, or nearly all horses should be ridden with 
extra resolution over the first fence or two. If 
Hounds are really going to run, the ideal place to 
aim at is somewhere between fifty and one hundred 



114 HUNTING THE FOX 

yards to the right or left rear of the pack, keeping 
of cotirse on the down-wind side. This is by right 
the place that should be occupied by and ceded to 
the Huntsman if he is there to claim it. If he is 
there no one ought to try to get nearer the Hounds 
by riding a line inside of that taken by the Hunts- 
man. It is an offence to get between the Hunts- 
man and his Hounds as long as he is riding well 
up to them. Some Huntsmen, indeed, seem 
themselves to be too fond of riding in the wake 
of their Hounds. By doing this they are only 
making their own job the more difficult. The 
leading Hounds can be more easily watched by the 
Huntsman if he rides slightly to one flank of them ; 
but if he rides directly in their line, he will not only 
tend to drive them beyond the point where the 
Fox turns, but will also have a string of followers 
who will aggravate this danger. The ideal state 
of things is achieved when no one is riding in the 
wake of the pack, which should be left quite clear 
of horses for a considerable distance. Therefore, 
for a follower of the Hoimds, the safest place in 
every sense of the word is well away on the flank. 
Here there is always plenty of room where he 
can indulge in that deUghtful sense of adventure 
arising from picking his own places at the fences. 
Some people ride fairly well up to Hounds all their 
lives, but seem to like a lead whenever they can 
get it. Most good riders to Hounds will tell you 



HUNTING THE FOX 116 

that, apart from the satisfaction of choosing your 
own line, your horse as a rule wiU go better with no 
one in front of him ; there is nothing to distract 
his attention ; there is no risk of having to pull 
him out of his stride if jrour leader has a fall ; he 
is ** on his own " ; he has to look where he is 
going, and has no incentive to copy the mistakes 
of the horse in front of him. But in any case it is 
not wise to trust too much to the automatism of 
any horse. As a general rule, all horses should be 
definitely ** made up " at each fence. Some riders 
rather appear to increase the pace as they get near 
the fence, and to be concerned with the fore part 
of the horse rather than with his hind part. The 
opposite practice is the safer; the rider should 
contract the stride of his horse by taking hold of 
his head about twenty yards from the fence, bring 
his hocks underneath him by pressure from leg 
and heel, and present him at the fence in collected 
form, marking with the eye the spot where he 
intends the horse to take off. This procedure also 
gives the horse the chance of filling iiis lungs with 
wind before he makes the effort to jump. Far 
more falls have been taken by riding too fast at 
the fences than by riding too slow. There are 
very few obstacles that a horse cannot clear from 
a collected canter. A bold horse should certainly 
be collect^ in the manner described. With a 
slug, or a possible refuser, it is obviously necessary 



116 HUNTING THE POX 

to tighten up the collectmg process, even to the 
extent of ktting him feel the spurs, and feel them 
in good time, so as to make up his mind for him 
in advance. It is not of much avail to use the whip 
on a sticky jumper before the fence has been 
jumped, but, if he jumps it in a slovenly manner, 
it is wonderful what a few sharp cuts will do if 
properly applied the very moment he lands. He 
will dart over the next fence in a surprisingly agile 
manner. The exact explanation of this altered 
demeanour is not quite clear. But the above 
recipe is a certainty, and was recommended to the 
writer of this book many years ago by one of the 
finest horsem^i in the British Isles, who had for 
many years ridden all sorts of horses over all sorts 
of fences at the very head of the Hunt. 

Having got a good start and a good place, it is 
easy to form an opinion as to whether it is a good 
scenting day or not. If there is a good scent, you 
may, in the words of an amateur Huntsman who 
was generally in the same field with his Hounds, 
ride your horse up to 75 per cent of his value. 

On the very best days Hounds will seldom run 
for more than twenty minutes without a check, 
or at least a breathing space. 

On bad scenting days the wise man will give the 
Huntsman and the M.F.H. a wide berth, and thus 
save himself from getting disliked, and his horse 
from getting tired. On these days the Hounds 



HUNTING THE POX 117 

check very oft^i, and every time they check they 
get farther behind their Fox, and therefore tend 
to hunt more slowly* Yet there are always some 
sanguine spirits who would appear to think that, 
by some magical process, the scent will improve 
after each delay, and, as soon as the Hounds own 
the line again, begin to compete with redoubled 
vigour, regardless of the sad truth that, unless 
the Fox lies down or has a fit, he is every moment 
increasing the distance between himself and his 
enemies. The people who form this little band 
are the same every day. They are, no doubt 
unconsciously, a great nuisance to the Huntsman 
and M.F.H., but are animated by nothing but zeal. 
If only they could be persuaded to take a line 
either to the right or left of the Hounds, they would 
see far more sport* If, indeed, they get a little 
too forward on the flank, they do not do nearly so 
much harm as if they were riding on the very tail 
of the Hounds, provided they will pull up when 
the Hounds are in difficulties, and turn their horses' 
heads the same way as the Hounds' heads are 
pointing when they fling themselves towards the 
horses to recover the scent. Hounds take their 
sense of direction from horses to a greater degree 
than many people imagine ; they jdeld to pressure 
from horses on their stems and get driven past 
the magic spot where the Fox turned, but, when 
they fling to the right or left, will nearly always 



118 HUNTING THE FOX 

drive through a small group of standing horses to 
make thdr own east, partieularly if the riders 
conform to them by turning their horses' heads. 

These remarks are only intended to apply to 
days when the scent is poor. When there is a good 
scent nothing very mueh matters, and every one 
is at liberty to keep near the Hounds by the quickest 
route. On days when the scent is so poor that 
Hounds cannot run for three fields without check- 
ing, the wise riders will keep to the gates as much 
as possible, save their horses, and incidentally 
avoid making unnecessary gaps in the fences. 

If a member of the Field views a Fox, he should 
turn his horse's head in the direction the Fox has 
taken, stand up in his stirrups, and point with his 
hat in hand. It may be remarked in passing, that 
he cannot do this if he has a hat-string. If he is 
at a place where the Huntsman cannot see him, 
he should hoUpa. Never mind if it is a fresh Fox ; 
the Huntsman need not come to the holloa if he 
is engaged in doing something else. If nothing 
happens, it is well to ride back to the Huntsman 
and give him the fullest information. This should 
still be done even if the Huntsman answers the 
holloa. Bide back to him, meet him, and place 
him in possession of everything you know, so 
that he may know how to act when he arrives on 
the spot. If you see any one on foot who has seen 
a Fox, the cardinal questions to ask him sj:^ where 



HUNTING THE FOX 119 

he last saw the Fox, which way his head was, and, 
above all, how long ago. The Huntsman is sure 
to ask you this last question directl]^ you get into 
touch with hiiUy and it creates an unfortunate 
lapse in your information to be obliged to confess 
that you did not ask* It is true that some people's 
estimation of time is a little vague, but as much 
can be gathered from the manner of the informant 
as from the exact number of minutes he reckons. 
As was stated at the beginning of this chapter, 
these few hints to ladies and gentlemen who hunt 
are offered with real respect. They are the result 
of some observation as to the manner in which 
the duties of the M.F.H. and his Staff can be made 
as easy as possible by the Field. It is not proposed 
to enter at any length into the delicate relation- 
ship between the M.F.H. and his followers. In 
truth he can make it whatever he likes as far as 
his own limitations will allow. Some Masters may 
be efficient without being popular. Some may 
be popular without being efficient. Some may be 
both popular and efficient. But having devoted 
a few paragraphs to the conduct of the Field, 
experience of human nature will tell us that as a 
general rule it is better for the M.F.H. to say 
" Thank you " than to say " Get out of the way." 
Sometimes the tongue obeys the brain too readily, 
and the sharp word is on the wing. But all 
sportsmen are very generous, and only too ready 



120 HUNTING THE FOX 

to put it aU down to zeal, provided that an honest 
attempt is being made to show sport. And when 
all is said and done, the two chief points for the 
M.F.H. to remember are, that every one comes 
out for enjoyment, and that the best answer to 
criticism is to show a good run and kill a dead- 
beaten Fox in the open. The general public are 
not bad rough-and-ready critics of any given 
performance, whether it takes place in the theatre 
or the hunting-field. In either case their criticism, 
good or bad, has to be accepted, or else the Box 
Office returns are apt to suffer. 



CHAPTER Xn 



SOME SPOBTINO WRITEBS 



A REVIEW of the literature of the Chase has been 
so well written in the first chapter of the Hunting 
volume of the Badminton Library, that it could 
hardly be improved. The author closes his retro- 
spect with an appreciation of Beckford's Thoughts 
on Hunting, and supposes his reader to be well 
acquainted with such authors as Delm6 Radcliffe, 
"Nimrod," "Scrutator,** Surtees, and Whyte- 
MelviUe. There are others besides these, however, 
who deserve some mention, which will presently 
be attempted, although this chapter does not pre- 
tend by any means to be an exhaustive description 
of a complete Fox-hunter's library. 

Books about Fox-hunting roughly fall into 
four classes : Text-books, Hunt Histories, Fiction, 
Poetry. Of the writers of Text-books, taken in 
the sense of a text-book being a manual of in- 
struction, Beckford is at the top of the class. 
Country gentleman. Fox-hunter, scholar, linguist, 
and wit, he has illuminated his ThoughU upon 

121 



122 HUNTING THE FOX 

Hunting with an amusing and cultivated style 
that is quite his own. The authors of the Bad- 
minton volume remind us of an appreciation of 
Beckford's work by a contemporary writer : " Never 
had fox or hare the honour of being chased to death 
by so accomplished a huntsman; never was a 
huntsman's dinner graced by such urbanity and 
wit. He would bag a fox in Greek, find a hare in 
Latin, inspect his kennels in Italian, and direct 
the economy of his stables in excellent French." 
Every word of Beckf ord can be studied to-day with 
advantage by any one who wishes to become 
M.F.H. If one dared to make any reservation 
with regard to this distinguished author, one 
might say that too much attention is devoted to 
the correcticm of Hounds by the whip ; and that 
to turn down before the young Hounds a badger, 
having first taken care to break the teeth of the 
poor brute, seems a needless piece of cruelty. It 
is also curious to find such a fine sportsman as 
Beckford countenancing the turning down of bag 
Foxes. It is true that he says he dislikes bag 
Foxes, and proceeds to state his objections to 
them in his own inimitable manner. But the 
minute description on the very same page, of how 
to organize a hunt after a bag Fox, can hardly 
have been written by any one who had not done 
it himself. 

The best thing in Thoughts upon Hunting is 



HUNTING THE FOX 128 

BecJdbrd's description of a Fox chase in Letter 
XHL From the point of view of a lover of Hounds, 
it is probably the best thing of its kind that has 
ever been written. Here you have the feelings of 
the enthusiast and the spirit of the sportsman, 
set down by the pen of the expert in language 
that is almost blank verse, and can be described 
without impertinence as being superior to the 
lines of Somerville, whom he so amply cites. 
Beckford need not have called SomerviUe to his 
aid. He knows how to "get it over" better 
than the poet. He conveys the romance while 
preserving the technique of the chase in a style 
that will always bring a thrill to the heart of the 
true Fox-hunter. 

Less witty and cultivated than Thoughts upon 
Hunting, but almost equally instructive, are such 
text-books as The Noble Science, by Mr. Delm6 
Radcliffe ; NoiUia Venatica, by Mr. Thomas Vyner ; 
The Diary of a Huntsman, by Mr. Thomas Smith ; 
and Observations on Fox-huniing, by Colonel Cook. 
Of these Colonel Cook's work is probably the 
least familiar to this generation, though a modem 
M.F.H. would do well to follow almost every word 
of advice it contains. It is interesting to recall 
that Colonel Cook married Miss Elizabeth Surtees, 
a kinswoman of Robert Smith Surtees, author of 
Handley Cross and Mr. Spongers Sporting Tour, 
because, in the latter work, there are two oft- 



124 HUNTING THE FOX 

quoted sayings that are extracted by Surtees from 
CSolonel Crook's book. One is that which he puts 
into the mouth of Dick Bragg : ** A weedy hound 
is only fit to hunt a cat in a kutchen/' The other 
is to be found in Mr. Pufflngton's letter to Lord 
Scamperdale about the celebrated Beaufort Justice : 
'* The late Mr. Warde, who of course was very 
justly partial to his own sort, had never any objec- 
tion to breeding from the Beaufort Justice." 

The Diary of a HtmUman, by Mr. Thomas 
Smith, published in 1888, contains the diagram 
of the famous ** all-round-my-hat '' cast already 
described in this book ; admirable drawings of a 
good-looking and a faulty Hound, and of a fresh 
Fox and a beaten Fox ; as well as some sterling 
advice to Fox-hunters. This is perhaps the best 
text-book of the lot after Beckford's work, and 
should be carefully studied by all Huntsmen and 
whippers-in. GooddU^s Practice^ by Lord Henry 
Bentinck, can hardly be dignified by the name of 
a text-book, as it is really only a fragment. But 
what a fragment I It is of the kind that makes 
one long for more of the same sort. Every Master, 
Huntsman, and whipper-in ought to know it by 
heart. It is but three thousand words or there- 
abouts, but from its condensed, terse, and ** var- 
minty " phrases there is more to be learnt about 
hunting the Fox than from many volumes ten 
times its size. 



HUNTING THE FOX 125 

Of course the authorities abeady mentioned are 
not in absolute agreement upon all points, but there 
is one point upon which all the Master minds agree. 
It is so well stated by Lord Henry Bentinck that 
his words may here be quoted. He says it is ruin- 
ous to a pack of Hounds to meddle with them 
before they have done trying for themselves. " If 
they are meddled with in their natural casts they 
will learn to stand still at every difficulty and wait 
for their Huntsman • • • f or once the Huntsman 
can help them, nineteen times the Hounds must 
help themselves." It is remarkable that, in the 
accounts we now get every morning in the news- 
papers of the doings of so many packs, we seldom 
read of tired Foxes being killed at the end of good 
runs. A possible explanation of this may be that 
nowadays Hounds are taken off their noses far 
too often. Nothing tells in favour of the Fox so 
much as getting the Hounds' heads up. As soon 
as ever you see the Hounds following the Huntsman 
about when they are in difficulties, the Fox is as 
good as lost. Much stress has been laid on this 
in an earlier chapter, but it cannot be too often 
repeated. 

Of Hunt Histories there are many. Among 
the most interesting are The Annals of the War- 
mckahire Hwnty by Sir Charles Mordaunt and the 
Rev. Walter Vemey ; The History of the Brocklesby 
Hounds, by Mr. George Collins; The History of 



126 HUNTING THE FOX 

^ Bebmr HwU, by Mr. T. F. Dale ; and The Fox- 
hounds of Great BrUain and Ireland, by Sir Humphry 
de Trafford and his collaborators. 

Among the writers of the Fiction of Fox-hnnting, 
Surtees must surely be given the palm. He not 
only thoroughly understood the sport itself, but 
has also painted with his pen a gallery of portraits 
which, among a large class of readers, will outlive 
many of the characters of the novelists of the 
nineteenth century. It is no impertinence to say 
that these pen-portraits would have survived even 
had there been no Leech to make their immortality 
doubly sure. But what a collaboration I The 
alliance between Gilbert and Sullivan is the only 
alliance in the world of art to which it can be 
compared. Leech knew his subjects as intimately 
as did Surtees. Thackeray's paper on Leech's 
pictures of Life and Character tells us something o( 
the secret of his fame. **' The truth, the strength, 
the free vigour, the kind humour, the John Bull 
pluck and spirit of that hand are approached by 
no competitor. With what dexterity he draws a 
horse, a woman, a child I • • • Any one who looks 
over Mr. Leech's portfolio must see that the social 
pictures which he gives us are authentic • . « the 
inner life of all these people (the English) is repre- 
sented. Leech draws them as naturally as Teniers 
depicts Dutch boors, or Morland pigs and stables. 
• . • Mr. Leech has as fine an eye for tailoring and 



HUNTING THE FOX 127 

millinery as for horseflesh • • • the backgrounds of 
landscapes in Leech's draivings are as excellently 
true to nature as the actors themselves ; our respect 
for the genius and humour which invented both 
increases as we look and look again at the designs." 

Handley Cross is regarded by most people as the 
masterpiece of Surtees. For the pure Fox-hunter 
this appreciation is certainly correct. In the pages 
of this book there is Fox-hunting of all sorts, 
from the romantic narratives of Michael Hardy's 
fine hunting run, and of the last effort of the old 
customer in the middle of a large grass field outside 
Pinch-me-near-Forest, down to the priceless bur- 
lesque of Fox-hunting on the Pomponius Ego day. 
Mr. Jorrocks' sporting lectures are rich in anecdote 
and contemporary reference. They are amusing 
enough, if a trifle forced, and have the merit of 
giving an advertisement to Geoffrey Gambado's 
"Academy for Grown Horsemen." No sporting 
library is complete without a copy of this work. 

But the student of the early Victorian epoch, 
whether or no he or she be a Fox-hunter, will find 
a delicious comedy of contemporary manners in 
Mr. Spongers Sporting Tour^ Ask Mamma^ Plain 
or RingletSj and Mr. RomforcTs Hounds. In these 
books we find that Surtees could not only portray 
Huntsmen and grooms, but could with equal skill 
present noblemen, country gentlemen, bankers, 
parvenus, actresses, card-sharpers, farmers, and 



128 HUNTING THE FOX 

many other characters. The account of Mr. 
Sponge's visit to Jawleyford Court cannot be 
beaten. It is a delightful piece of burlesque, in 
half-a-dozen chapters, of this pretentious Jawley- 
ford with his spurious hospitality, his cheap cellar, 
his third-rate art gallery, his weakness for a lord, 
his ostentatious reception of his tenantry, his 
family pride, his love of display, — in fact all the 
attributes that make a reaUy vulgar snob of a man 
who ought to have been a gentleman. All this, 
together with the interior economy of Jawleyford 
Court, is depicted by the hand of a master whose 
power of penetrating character and skill in delineat- 
ing it is surely of the very first order. The great 
merit of his picture of Jawleyford is that, with the 
exception of the extravagance in making him ride 
to the Meet of the Hounds in the uniform of the 
Bumperkin Yeomanry, it is not really overdone. 
Less subtle, but none the less historical, are the 
portraits of Lord Scamperdale, Jack Spraggon, 
Mr. Pufflngton, and Mr. Sponge himself. Ask 
Mamma is not so widely read as Mr. Spongers 
Sporting Tour, but is well worth reading, if only 
for the Pringle correspondence and the portrait of 
^^that gallant old philanthropist, the Earl of 
Ladythome, of Tantivy Castle, Featherbedford- 
shire, and Belvedere House, London." The letters 
from Mrs. Pringle, who, as Miss Willing the lady's 
maid had been the friend, and as the widow Pringle 



HUNTING THE FOX 129 

of Curtain Crescent Pimlico afterwards became 
the unfCy of Lord Ladythome, to her son Billy 
Pringle, instructing him how to behave while on a 
visit to Tantivy Castle, and the naive replies of 
Billy to his mother, are masterpieces in a manner 
all their own« Lord Ladythome is admirably 
drawn. He had hunted Featherbedfordshiie in 
a style of great magnificence for nearly forty 
years, so he cannot have been far short of sixty, 
but in spite of his years ** no pretty woman in 
town or country ever wanted a friend if he was 
aware of it," and he said that ^^ the sofa and not 
the saddle was the proper place for the ladies." 

Plain or Ringlets is not so clever as Ask Mamma^ 
but it contains a first-class comedy scene, depicting 
an interview between Mr. Jasper Goldspink, the 
local banker, and the Duke of Tergiversation, the 
needy political hack peer who was always ready 
to change his party in order to get office. 

Mr. Romford^ s Hounds is perhaps better known 
than either Ask Mamma or Plain or Ringlets, and 
is certainly too well known to call for much com- 
ment here. One cannot help forming a sneaking 
affection for Facey the Lnpostor, because he 
knew so well how to hunt a Fox ; and the author 
contrives to invest Mrs* Somerville, the soi-disante 
sister of Facey, once Lucy Glitters the circus rider 
and now grass widow of our old friend Soapey 
Sponge, with sufficient charm to make us think 

K 



180 HUNTING THE FOX 

Faoey was a very lucky fellow to have her for his 
sole oompanion during a hunting season at Beldon 
HalL The most amusing thing in the book is the 
account of the ** camouflage " employed by Lucy 
and her stage friend Betsy Shannon, to conceal 
from Facey, up to the very last minute, that the 
small party which he fondly thought was to be re- 
galed by a rabbit-pie and a cheese before listening to 
his rendering of " Old Bob Ridley " on the flute, was 
actually to be a first-class county ball, with a band 
and a champagne supper provided by the renowned 
Mr. Fizzer of London, Confectioner to the Queen. 

Surtees' works have now survived for some 
sixty or seventy years, and, among a large class 
of reader, bid fair to outlive many of the Victorian 
novelists. Surtees might be described as the 
Thackeray of Fox-hunting fiction. His characters 
live. It would be very interesting to know whether 
a greater number of all ranks in the Army in 1918 
knew Bawdon Crawley than knew Mr. Sponge, 
or whether a greater number knew Becky Sharp 
than knew Lucy Glitters. Thackeray would prob- 
ably win the day, but possibly not by a very large 
majority. 

But it would require less courage to hazard the 
suggestion that, as a sporting writer, Surtees has 
outlived Whyte-Melville. At the same time. 
Market Harbaraugh can be read again to-day with 
pleasure. The portraits in this book are indeed 



HUNTING THE FOX 181 

the only portraits in Wh}rte-Melville's gallery that 
most people will remember by name without much 
effort. Mr. Sawyer and his flat-catching horse 
Marathon, the Honble. Crasher, and Parson Dove 
have been too well drawn to be easily forgotten, 
while the spirit of horse-coping that pervades the 
whole book seems to reappear in most modem 
transactions. 

When we speak of the Poetry of Fox-hunting 
we probably mean nothing more than Verse. If 
Coleridge was correct in saying that ^* Poetry is 
the blossom and fragrance of all human knowledge, 
human thoughts, human passions, emotions, lan- 
guage,** then it is doubtful if true poetry can be 
a vehicle for the spirit of the hunting-field. Yet, 
on the other hand, as Shakespeare has not omitted 
to write about the Chase and about Hounds, 

matched in mouth like bells 
Each under each. A cry more tuneable 
Was never holloaed to, nor cheered with horn, 

perhaps it may be claimed that hunting has indeed 
received the authority of the poets. Those who 
wish to examine this proposition cannot do better 
than read a delightful work called The Diary of 
Master William Silence; a Study of Shakespeare 
and of Elizabethan Sporty by the Right Honble. 
D. H. Madden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of 
Dublin. The author reminds us of Dr. Johnson's 

k2 



182 HUNTING THE FOX 

saying that '^ He that will understand Shakespeare 
must not be content to study him in the closet, he 
must look for his meaning sometimes among the 
sports of the field/' 

The oflBcial poet of the Chase in the eighteenth 
century was William Somerville, constantly quoted 
by many writers until about a hundred years after 
his death, which took place in 1742. Doctor 
Johnson is not so kind to Somerville as he is to 
Shakespeare ; he says in his Lives of the Poets that 
"To this poem" ("The Chase") "praise cannot 
totally be denied • • • and though it is impossible 
to interest the common readers of verse in the 
dangers and pleasures of the chase, he has done all 
that transition and variety could easily effect." 
Although Somerville outlived this characteristic 
criticism for some time, he has very few readers to- 
day, possibly few more than those who come across 
quotations from *' The Chase " in Hundley Cross. 

Of songs and verses about Fox-hunting there 
are many. The late Mr. Bromley Davenport has 
made two contributions which may not be very 
widely known, but are, nevertheless, classics in 
their own sphere. It is impossible for any Fox- 
hunter to read the ^* Dream of an old Meltonian " 
without a thrill : 

Last night in St. Stephen^s so wearily sittuig 
(The Member for Boreham sustahied the Debate), 
Some pitying spirit that round me was flitting 
Vouchsafed a sweet vision my pains to abate. 



HUNTING THE FOX 188 

The Maoe and the Speaker and House disappearing, 
The leather-clad bench is a thorou^bred horse, 
*Tis the whimpering cry of the foxhound Fm hearing, 
My ** seat ** is a pigskin at Ranksborough Gorse. 

How he heard the voices of his dead friends now 
riding by his side, how he got a start, how he rode 
his young horse over the Whissendine, how the 
bitches raced into their Fox outside Woodwellhead 
Covert, all this is told in fifteen throbbing stanzas, 
the very best of their kind. There is an exquisite 
sense of pace about the whole thing, and a gather- 
ing note of triumph that cannot be described in 
writing, but can only be felt by reading the epic 
itself. 

In a different vein, subtle and satirical, is Mr. 
Bromley Davenport's " Lowesby Hall," a parody on 
Tennyson's "Locksley Hall,*' pronounced by Whs^te- 
Melville to be the best parody in the English 
language. The burlesque is so fine that, in some 
passages, it is hardly distinguishable from the 
original. It is as fresh to-day as on the day on 
which it was written, and is startling in its pro- 
phecies of modem events. There are some shafts 
of satire levelled at the Cobdenites and the Radicals, 
and that school of thought which we now call 
Pacifists : 

But the gentle voice of Cobden drowns the fierce invader's 

• drum, 
And the Frenchmen do but bluster, and Napoleon funks 
to come. 



184 HUNTING THE FOX 

If for Frenchmen you read Germans, and for 
Napoleon you read the Kaiser, you have a strange 
fSamily likeness to a certain school of thought that 
made itself heard before the War. Then comes 
more prophecy : 

For I looked into its pages and I read the book of Fate, 

And saw Fox-hunting abolished by an order from the State. 

• •••••• 

Saw the landlords yield their acres after centuries of wrongs, 
Cotton lords turn country gentlemen in patriotic throngs ; 
Queen, religion,' State abandoned, and the flags of party 

furled 
In the government of Cobden and the dotage of the world. 

Nor do the Fox-hunters escape : 

HariE, my merry comrades call me, and Jack Morgan blows 

his horn, 
I, to whom their foolish pastime is an object of my scorn. 
Can a sight be more disgusting, more absurd a paradox. 
Than to see two hundred people riding at a miserable fox ? 
Will his capture on the morrow any satisf^u^on bring ? 
I am shamed through all my nature to have done so flat a 

thing. 
Weakness to be wroth with weakness ! Fm an idiot for 

my pains. 
Nature gave to every sportsman an inferior set of brains. 

This last line is masterly, and was described to the 
writer by a good judge of literature who had never 
hunted, as the very quintessence of parody on the 
author of ** Locksley Hall." 

It had not been intended to offer comment in 
these pages on the works of any living author* 



HUNTING THE FOX 185 

But it is irresistible to pay a tribute of sincere 
admiration to Mr. Masefield's recent work entitled 
Reynard the Fox^ which will take a very prominent 
place on the shelves of most hunting libraries. 
There has been but one voice among both hunting 
and non-hunting people in proclaiming its excel- 
lence. Had Dr. Johnson seen it he would have 
had to revise his maxim already quoted in this 
chapter, that **it is impossible to interest the 
common readers of verse in the dangers and 
pleasures of the chase." The feelings of the 
hunters and the hunted, and in fact the whole spirit 
of an English hunting country, have never been so 
faithfully portrayed in rhythm and metre. There 
has been some discussion among Fox-hunters as 
to whether Mr. Masefield has committed any 
solecisms in the matter of hunting technique. To 
say that he had done so would be to prick spots 
upon the sun. Yet the Hounds of Sir Peter Bynd 
would surely have been worthy of a place in the 
Foxhound Kennel Stud Book, which you may 
search from end to end without finding any Hound's 
name expressed by a monosyllable, such as **Queen." 
The reason of this is that names of a single syllable 
do not carry when called out in the field so well as 
names of two or three syllables. The names that 
are in most general use are what would be described 
in terms of prosody as dactyls, spondees, and 
trochees. But possibly Mr. Masefield has authority 



186 HUNTING THE FOX 

for this. Sir Peter would appear to have given the 
word to move off from the Meet, and the name of 
the covert to be drawn, to his first whipper-in Tom 
Dansey, instead of to his Hmitsman, and to have 
called Tom by his surname instead of by his 
Christian name. Later on the Huntsman also 
calls him Dansey. He would surely have called 
him Tom. Mr. Masefield also writes of a pink 
coat and a crop. Perhaps these words are now 
sanctioned by general use. Most of us, however, 
who were blooded in the 'seventies, would naturally 
talk of a red coat and a whip. Such trifles seem 
hardly worth mentioning, and they do not detract 
one jot or one tittle from the fame of Mr. Masefield, 
who has alone succeeded in writing of Ibl run which 
would make even the most bloodthirsty Huntsman 
want the Fox to beat the Hounds at the finish. 
Perhaps this Fox saved his life because Sir Peter's 
Hounds were ^^ great chested '' and ^^ broad in 
shoulder,'' and therefore lacking in a sufficient turn 
of speed to pull their Fox down in the open. Be 
this as it may, the account of the run holds the 
reader breathless from find to fijiish, and conveys 
an atmosphere of animal and country life in a 
manner that can hardly be equalled. 

Let us conclude with one who has gone. There 
is no writer of Fox-hunting songs whose ring sounds 
more merrily than that of Mr. Egerton Warburton 
of Arley Hall, a Cheshire squire like Mr. Bromley 



HUNTING THE FOX 187 

Davenport, and the bard of the Tarporley Hunt. 
"The Woore Country," "The Tarporley Hunt, 
1888," " The Little Red Rover," and " Tar Wood " 
are among the best. But all his songs breathe a 
spirit of good-fellowship in the hunting-field and 
conviviality in the Club, to the accompaniment of 
a jolly jingle of bits, spurs, and claret glasses and 
the music of the hunting-horn. 
This is in his best manner : 

Stags in the forest lie, hares in the valley-o ! 
Web-footed otters are speared in the lochs ; 
Beasts of the chase that are not worth a Tally-ho 1 
All are surpassed by the goise-oover fox I 
Fishing, though pleasant, 
I sing not at present, 
Nor shooting the pheasant, 

Nor fighting of Cocks ; 
Song shall declare a way 
How to drive care away, 
Pain and despair away. 
Hunting the Fox I 



THE END 



Prmied in Greai Britain/or Constablb & Compant, Limited, 
3^ R. & R. Clakk, Limitbd, Edinbufik, 



RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 
TO^^ 202 Main Library 



LOAN PERIOD 1 
HOME USE 


2 : 


3 


4 


5 < 


f> 


ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

R«n*wolf and R«chorg«f may b* mad* 4 day* prior to lb* du« dot*. 

Bookf may h» Ronavrad by calling A42-3405 


DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 




LIBRARY USE 3NLY 








APR 2 9 1 


m 






1 


CinClJLAtlON 


DEPT. 






AmQ 


1 DlSf cmc AK 


»~ »^ 


^ 




' uiov URL Hi 


29 ^o 





















































FORM NO. DD6 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
BERKELEY, 94720 



yC 20209 



U.C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES 



C0MEA3371>4