f T if ' h
GIFT OF FAIRIVIAN ROGERS.
University of Pennsylvania
Annenberg Rare Book
OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
THE HUN TliNG FIELD.
MRS. EDWARD KEN^NARD,
"THE GIRL IN THE BROWN HABIT," "KILLED I\
THE OPEN," "A CRACK COUNTY,"
" LANDING A PRIZE," etc., etc.
Ijv one volume.
F. V. WHITE & CO.,
81, SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND.
KELLY AND CO., GATK STBEET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDF, TV.C.
I. — The Melancholy Man ... 1
II. — The Poptjlak Woman .... 15
III. — The Man "Who Blows his own Trumpet 31
IV. — The Dangerous Woman ... 48
V. — The Sporting Horse Dealer . . 62
VI. — The Man who goes First ... 84
VII. — The Venerable Dandy ... 98
VIII.— The Farmer 115
IX.— The "Funk-Stick" . . . . 128
X. — The Good Samaritan .... 144
XL — The Hospitable Man .... 158
XII. — The Jealous Woman . . . .175
XIII.— The Bore 188
XIV. — The Man who has Lost his Nerve . 202
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OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD
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THE HUNTING FIELD
I.— THE MELANCHOLY MAN.
We all know the melancholy man of our
hunt. Where is the hunt who has not one at
least ? Nine times out of ten he belongs to
the wizened aristocratic type, and is unmis-
takably a gentleman, in spite of his pinched
and woe-begone appearance, which, save for
nice clothes, is worthy of a tramp on the
His features are good, but lean and flesli-
less ; the nose well-shaped and inclined to be
2 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
aquiline ; but the complexion is of that dull,
lustreless, purple hue which at first sight
raises a suspicion of an unhealthy partiality
for spirituous liquor, but which in reality
comes from a torpid liver, a bad digestion
and a defective circulation.
Is it necessary to state that he is a con-
firmed pessimist, who looks at everything
with jaundiced eyes and from the darkest
point of view ? He cannot be cheerful if
he would. Bilious headaches, chills and
stomachic derangements render him a con-
stant martyr. The unfortunate man can
never forget that he has a body, and he is
unable to rise superior to its depressing in-
fluences. His physical vitality is low and
communicates dolefully with the brain.
You seldom meet him without his declaring
in solemn, lugubrious tones, that England is
croing downhill as fast as she can, that her
trade is a thing of the past, that she is rotten
to the core, that the aristocracy are on their
Tim MELANCHOLY MAN. 3
last legs, and that when the Queen dies we
shall have a revolution and become a prey to
anarchy, socialism and dynamitards. In his
opinion, the army and navy are laughing-
stocks for the rest of the world, as inefficient
as they are grossly mismanaged, and if we
had a big European war we should probably
knuckle under without striking a blow. He
refers with malicious glee to our reverses in
South Africa, and looks upon the Irish ques-
tion as a striking instance of England's
As for fox-hunting, he loses no opportunity
of stating that it has gone to the dogs alto-
gether. Hounds, men, foxes, scent, have all
deteriorated, and the good old days — if they
really were good — have departed for ever.
We no longer possess any horses worthy the
name of hunter — they are either thorough-
bred screws or the progeny of cart horses.
We have allowed the foreigner to buy up our
most valuable stock ; and then, in our short
4 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
siglitedness and crass stupidity, prided our-
selves on the achievement. The love of sport
is dying out. A spirit of disaffection is spring-
ing up. By the time our sons and daughters
attain their majority, hunting will only be a
memory of the past, and foxes will have dis-
appeared from the face of the earth. After
that, the deluge.
These are a few of the melancholy man's
favourite topics of conversation, and he be-
comes gloomily eloquent when expatiating on
The weather is a continual source of an-
noyance and irritation to him. Needless to
say, it is never just right, and he abuses the
Englishman's proverbial privilege of grum-
bling at it.
If it rains, he is very miserable. It is a
sight to inspire compassion in the heart of
one possessing a robuster organization, to
witness the touching resignation with which
he bends his lean body forwards and meekly
THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 5
bows his well-hatted head to the gale. Smiling
faintly at his nearest neighbour, he says with
unutterable woe :
" This is what we call pleasure ! "
When the icy winds sweep over the broad
Midland pastures, chilling horse and man
alike, he shivers and shudders, growls like a
bear with a sore head, and tries to restore
warmth to his perished frame by beating it
violently with his frozen hand, the fingers of
which are dead, the nails a bluey white.
Every tooth chatters, and he can scarcely
Poor man! with his sluggish blood and
bad circulation, he feels the cold acutely.
It seems to shrivel him up and drives
him down to depths of wretchedness even
blacker than those in which his spirit
habitually resides. On such days he greets
his familiars, as one by one they appear
at the meet, with a dejected nod of the
head and a " What fools we are to hunt !
6 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING HELD.
Just think that every time we go out on a
morning like this and try to imagine we
are enjoying ourselves, it costs us precisely
a ten pound note."
" Oh ! come, come, my dear fellow, it don't
do to look at tilings in that way," says some
strong, stalwart young man in reply, eager for
a flourish over the fences. " We shouldn't
care for any ot our sports if we began to
reckon up the costs."
"I can't help it," groans back the melan-
choly man, as a blast of cold air comes
whistling over the uplands and cuts through
him like a knife. " I'd give a fiver this
minute to be at home."
" Lord bless us ! " responds the other
cheerily. " Don't talk like that. Why, what
on earth would you do with 3^ourself if you
didn't hunt ? You'd die of ennui.''
" Ah ! that's where it is. You've hit the
right nail on the head. After I've read my
newspaper of a morning, I don't know how
THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 7
the dickens to kill time. I think I'll go
"Not you. You'd be bored to death.
Depend upon it, there's nothing like fox-
" One gets into a groove and can't get out
of it," sighs the melancholy man ; " but it's no
use trying to persuade me that there is any
enjoyment in this sort of thing. Phew!" as
the wind catches his hat and it is only saved
from rolling to the ground by the guard-
As our friend is so keenly sensitive to the
inclemency of the elements, it might naturally
be supposed that on a fine day, when the sun
is shining overhead in a blue, clear sky, his
mental condition would rise like a barometer.
But such is by no means the case. The
melancholy man is melancholy always. It is
only a question of degree w^itli him.
Imagine a bright frosty morning that acts
on most people as a tonic. He starts from
8 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
home, vowing that there cannot by any
chance be a scent, which opinion he freely
communicates to his friends with funereal
solemnity. Should his predictions turn out in-
correct, as is sometimes the case, he shifts his
ground with considerable ability and in his
low, sepulchral voice inquires if you have
ever noticed how remarkably badly horses
fence, and how sharp and black the shadows
appear when the sun shines brif^htly.
"Take my advice, my dear fellow," he
urges, " don't jump more than you can
possibly help. The best of hunters can't see
the size or depth of a ditch on such a day as
this. Do you remember poor Tom Buckley ?
No? Well, three years ago Tom Buckley
broke his leg through his horse blundering at
a bottom and rolling head over heels. It was
not the animal's fault. The sun was shining,
just as it is shining now, and he could not see
one bit what he was going at. Tom Buckley
never was the same maix after that fall. It
THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 9
played the bear with him. He got rheuma-
tism and sciatica, and it ended by his having
to give up hunting altogether. Poor devil !
He does nothing now but dangle about the
clubs, run after old ladies who go in for
parties, and play whist."
At this juncture his listener executes a
hasty retreat. He feels that if he hears many
more of the melancholy man's tales he shall
not have an atom of nerve left. As it is,
what between the frost, and Tom Buckley's
miserable fate, a cold shiver begins to creep
up his spine. At last hounds are moving on
and he gladly rides after them. He cannot
exactly define the reason, but his friend's con-
versation nearly always produces a depressing
effect — a sort of the-world-has-come-to-an-end
kind of feeling.
Meantime, the real business of the day
commences, and the despondency of the
melancholy man increases. If hounds find
and run well, his spirits grow lower and
10 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
lower. He experiences none of that exhilara-
tion which the chase is supposed to produce.
On the contrary, he sees nothing but disasters
and difficulties ahead. Every fence appears a
man-trap, at which he confidently expects to
meet with his death. For, needless to say, he
does not ride hard, or love jumping for
jumping's sake. His nerves and health are
both too shattered to enable him to derive
any real satisfaction from risking his neck
over a country. He does not care for life.
Not a day passes that he does not inveigh
against it, yet, strangely enough, he is singu-
larly loath to leave it.
Combined with certain unconquerable
fears, he possesses a mad desire to be with
the hounds. His great ambition is to be
thought a forward man. He heartily disdains
the roadsters, and takes every opportunity of
abusing them. But in spite of his gallantry
— which deserves all the more credit from
being forced, and not natural — a line of gaps
THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 11
and gates does not always succeed in bring-
ing him to the desired goal. Every now and
again a stiff, unbreakable piece of timber, or
a cold, glancing brook bars the way. Then
come indecision, mental conflict, defeat. That
stout ash rail is sure to break his bones, the
water will give him his death of cold. No,
he dare not take the risk. He tells himself
that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ;
and so the chase sweeps on. Some get over,
filling him with envy and a species of grudg-
ing admiration ; others retrace their foot-
steps. Not infrequently he is left alone ;
alone, with no companion save black thought
and dark, dark despair. He looks again at
the obstacles, but alas ! they do not diminish
in size. Finally he turns tail and seeks a road,
despising himself as he mingles with the
mighty throng swarming on the macadam.
" What a garden ass I am to hunt," he
mutters disconsolatel}^, for the run has been
productive of nothing but mortification to
12 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
liim. Yet straightway arises the embarras-
sing question :
" What the deuce should I do if I didn't ? "
There lies the root of the whole difficulty,
and a very serious one it is. The fact is that,
apart from his liver, his digestion and his
bodily ailments, the melancholy man has little
to occupy his mind. He is not intellectual or
self-contained, and his resources are nil. He
has no work, no profession, nothing to fill up his
time. His only aim in life is to try and amuse
himself, and in that he signally fails. The
commonest navvy, labouring by the roadside
at breaking stones, is better off than he. At
least, the hours do not hang heavy on his
hands, and he can eat and drink without fear
of the consequences, or speculating as to what
patent medicine he shall invest in next. Our
friend the melancholy man hunts, shoots,
races, fishes and swears, but from none of
these things — not even the latter — does he
derive more than very temporary satisfaction.
THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 13
When bantered by his acquaintance as to his
habitual state of despondency, he asserts that
it is constitutional ; but would it be so if he
were obliged to work for his living, if too
much ease and comfort had not spoilt him in
early life, and taught him to spend his entire
existence wondering how he can kill time ?
As if Old Time would not rise up and defy so
puny an opponent. No doubt his bodily in-
firmities are a sore trouble, and we sympathize
heartily with him on this account, but has he
not yielded too much to them and to the curse
of idleness ? Is he not just a little hypochon-
He does nobody any harm. He is his own
worst enemy, and more to be pitied than
either laughed at or censured. But it would
prove a good thing for the melancholy man if
his house were to be burnt over his head, if
he lost all his money, and found himself
forced to gain a living by the sweat of his
brow, instead of going hunting six days a
14 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
week and grumbling the seventh. He would
find his zest for pleasure increase if he no
longer possessed the means of gratifying it,
and time hang less heavy on his hands when
he had some occupation. Too much ease, too
much luxury, too much self indulgence, these
things produce melanchol}^ and are respon-
sible for half the bad livers and the bad
digestions in the kingdom.
IL— THE POPULAR WOMAN".
The popular woman is generally a fortunate
one. In fact, slie owes her popularity in
great measure to her good fortune, for she
has certain conditions in her favour, without
which she might vainly have aspired to the
title that distinguishes her.
Looks by themselves are not sufficient to
insure a solid social success. To begin with,
they do not stand the test of time, and
opinions are apt to vary so much on the
subject. In proof of this statement, are there
not numbers of young and pretty married
women in the hunting field who ride obedi-
ently behind their husbands, stuck to them as
if by glue, and who almost entirely escape
observation? They never by any chance
16 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
have a masculine friend, and their discretion
is quite remarkable. Even that sour-tongued
Mrs. Grundy fails to detect a flaw in their
conduct. They are beautiful but dull, highly
estimable but unresponsive to a degree, in
short just what good nice women should be.
Nobody talks much either to or about them.
And the reason ? Oh ! the reason is simple
enough, and the dear creatures are not,
perhaps, quite so good as they seem.
Their husbands are nearty always either
too loving and attentive or too severe and
jealous. Their ideas of marital duty are
horribly strict — at least on the female
side : they have a separate set for their
own guidance — and so the poor wives,
who doubtless all possess an embryo germ of
popularity, have no chance of developing it.
They are meek dummies, wdio accept their lot
and who allow their individuality to be
merged in that of the lordly personage they
have chosen to espouse. Some of them are
THE POPULAR W0:MAN. 17
willing slaves, others grumble, but dare not
rebel. Now the popular woman is not ham-
pered in any way. She enjoys liberty of
speech, liberty of action, liberty even of
conduct. She can do and say pretty much
what she likes without being called to ac-
count. Is she single ? you ask. No, certainly
She has a husband, but he is an amiable
nonentity, or if not wholly a nonentit}^ she
knows so well how to manaijfe him that he
seldom interferes. He yields to superior
merit, and plays quite a secondary and sub-
ordinate part in the establishment. He
hardly ever knows who's coming to dinner,
or the names and number of his guests. His
wife grasps the reins of power in a firm gri}),
and does not relax her hold for a minute :
she is a sharp woman, and knows that if she
loosed the matrimonial cords, ever so slightly,
her popularity would soon become im-
IS OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
Her husband is a very rich man, and owns
one of the most beautiful places in the
county. He is generously constituted, and
allows her to spend what she likes. His own
tastes are extremely simple and child-like,
and very little contents him.
Both he and his better-half are excessively
hospitable, and keep regular open house.
He is the last person in the world to find
fault, yet sometimes he cannot help wishing
for a quiet hour to himself. The neighbouring
town is furnished with a cavalry barracks,
and the officers are always dropping in to
every species of meal. Sometimes they spend
a long and happy day, beginning at about
eleven in the morning, and lasting until
twelve at ni^ht. But Monsieur is much too
wise to make any objection. It is Madame's
affair. H it pleases her to have a lot of
young fellows perpetually hanging about the
place, well and good.
In truth she lavishes her invitations broad-
THE POPULAR WOMAX. 10
cast, and especially amongst the engaging
males of her acquaintance. She feeds them
with game, venison, truffles, foie-gras, cream
ice, hot-house fruit, and all the delicacies of
the season, and the}'' go away highly satisfied,
declaring in their own expressive language
that they have been awfulty "well done."
And to be " well-done " is the first secret of
gaining that refined, delicate, fine-fibred
thing, a man's heart.
" Poor old Charlie's " (as they call their
host) wine also meets with unqualified ap-
proval. His sherr}^ is " ripping." His tawny
port "A 1." They testify their appreciation
by the number of bottles which they cause
to disappear at every visit, and by the fre-
quent recurrence of those visits. Master
Charlie's best Cuban cigars, a box of which
is always open, also meet with commenda-
tion. His guests help themselves freely and
puff away with great enjoyment at the
fragrant weed, sitting meanwhile in careless
20 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
attitudes on the sofa by Mrs. Charlie's side.
These gallant soldiers treat their hostess with
tender familiarity, and they play like children
with her gloves, her fan, or her lace pocket-
handkerchief, every now and then, quite by
accident, letting their great clumsy fingers
come in contact with her pretty jewelled ones.
On such occasions she takes no notice, for
Mrs. Charlie is not strict, neither is she a
prude. The nineteenth century has set its
face against prudes, and she goes with the
times. As for tobacco, she vows she has not
the faintest objection to it (though she never
allows her husband to smoke in her presence
when they are alone), and declares that no-
thing pleases her more than to see her guests
making themselves at home. They take her
at her word. Who could doubt the veracity
of so charming and sensible a person ? She
delights in a good story, and is not irremedi-
ably shocked by a naughty one. She re-
proves^ but forgives the teller in a way which
THE POPULAR WOMAN. 21
makes the naughtiness appear almost virtuous,
and restores the self-confidence of the nar-
In return for the many substantial benefits
received and the material advantages gained,
the artless j^ouths who are entertained so
sumptuously by the popular woman, are dis-
interested enough to dangle about her saddle
out hunting, to pay her compliments, varying
in sincerity, and to indulge Avhenever they
meet, in that light meaningless banter which
is known in the English language by the name
of " chafT." They carry their devotion to
such an extent that young and pretty girls,
quite ten or fifteen "years junior to Mrs.
Charles are left almost entirely neglected.
But then they have no good dinners to give,
no comfortable house to offer as a club, and
are not the possessors of a large income.
Masculine admiration is composed of a good
many mixed ingredients. It is not all "I
love and adore nothing but your own sweet
22 OUR FPvIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
self." To do the popular woman justice how-
ever, in spite of a tolerably pronounced
partiality for young men, she knows how to
render herself extremely pleasant and agree-
able to all classes. She makes it a rule never
to turn up her nose at anybody, and when in
the hunting field goes out of her way to say
a few cheery words to each of the numerous
ladies of her acquaintance. She knows that
they aU possess tongues, and considers it
better policy to conciliate them than offend,
for she is quite aware that these dear female
friends of hers tell little spiteful stories
against her behind her back, although to her
face they are all civility and amiability.
Mrs. Charlie is not a person to quarrel with
lightly, for every winter she gives a ball, and
besides that, is constantly getting up theatri-
cals, concerts, bazaars, &c. Every one likes
to be asked to her parties. They give the
young ladies a chance of meeting young
men, and the dowagers an opportunity of
THE POPULAR WOMAN. . 23
taUliiig and gossiping. True, when the festi-
vities care over there are some ungrateful
enough to call them oinnliini gatherunis, but
what does that matter ? It does not prevent
the very same people from seeking invitations
on the following year.
Mrs. Charlie knows all that goes on in the
county. One or two of her greatest friends
and staunchest adherents are always ready
to repeat every ill-natured remark, but she
has the good sense to take little heed, and
when she meets the ofiender makes no altera-
tion whatever in her conduct. For the
popular woman is very good-natured, even
although it be with that light, superficial
good-nature which proceeds mainl}^ from a
cold temperament, a robust constitution, and
a profound content with self.
►She is proud of her popularit}', and would
make a good many sacrifices to retain it, and
her husband is proud of it also, perhaps
even more so than she. It never enters his
24 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
honest head to imagine that the swarms of
friends who invade their household resemble
flies buzzing round a treacle-pot. When the
treacle is all gone, very few of [them will
The worthy fellow entertains a profound
admiration for his successful wife. lie be-
lieves in her, and trusts her implicitly, and
nothing pleases him more than to see what a
universal favourite she is.
The farmers to one man adore Mrs. Charlie.
She talks to them in her fluted, silvery tones,
— those tones which have just a touch of
patronage and exaggerated sweetness about
them, and inquires with well-simulated in-
terest after their affairs, the prospects of
agriculture, the price of grazing-stock, and
the birth and parentage of the young 'un
they bestride. Their good-humoured bluff-
ness and unconcealed admiration please her.
It makes her sigh now and again over the
little vein of insincerity that runs through
THE POPULAR WOMAN. 25
her own character, but she likes the honest
fellows none the less on that account, and at
every race-meeting plies them with cham-
pagne and pigeon-pie, until they drink her
health in a salvo of applause.
The popular woman rides well to hounds,
and looks remarkably neat on horseback.
Her hunters render it difficult to keep the
tenth commandment, so perfect in make and
shape are they ; and the rider does them
justice. She has the best fitting habit in the
whole hunt, and the number and elegant
patterns of her waistcoats drive other sports-
women to despair. Such spots, such stripes,
such delightful checks and combinations,
where on earth do they come from ? Mrs.
Charlie has no concealments on the subject.
She is open and kind to a degree. She tells
everybody who her tailor is, where lie lives,
how much he chari^es, and invariablv wiu.ls
up by declaring that as regards her own
personal expenditure, no one could be more
20 OUIl FKIENUS IN TIIK IIuNilXa FIELD.
economical than herself. " My dear, I never
spend more than twenty pounds a year on
my hunting clothes." But lo and behold ! on
application to tlie tailor, he respectfully in-
forms his customers that Mrs. Charlie has a
bad memor}', and labours under some strange
mistake as regards price, whilst the piece of
horse-cloth from which her last waistcoat
was made, was specially woven, and cannot
be procured for love or money, since the
loom has accidentally been destroyed. So
the would-be imitators retire discomfited,
only to gaze with renewed envy at Mrs.
Charlie's hunting-attire, which even her
greatest detractor cannot help admitting is
perfect. She seems to possess some secret
unattainable by others of her sex. Their hair
comes down ; hers never does. Their elastics
break ; her skirt always keeps in its place.
Their faces get Hushed and red ; she in-
variably retains the same cool pink and
white complexion, with which she sallies
THE POPULAR WOMAN. 27
fortli of a morning. A.nd then what a waist
she has for a woman of her age. Straight
and well as the popular woman rides, she
misses many a good run through her in-
veterate love of " coflee-housing." When
ion-crino- from covert to covert, instead of
keeping up with hounds, she generally sniks
back to the very tail of the procession, ac-
companied by one or two chosen individuals.
Here she becomes so interested in lively badi-
nan-e of a flirtatious nature, or else in listen-
ing to the latest gossip of the hunting-field,
that she frequently misses her start, and pre-
fers riding about the roads with the reigning
favourite rather than going in for a stern
chase. She seldom experiences much difficulty
in finding a companion, for she is a lively
and entertaining personage, with manners
highly agreeable, if a trifle artificial, and the
light tone of her conversation is finely suited to
the majority of idle young fellows who like
to be amused, and who neither care for nor
28 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
appreciate high intellectual attainments in a
woman. Mrs. Charlie prefers the anecdotical-
biographical style, and her smart remarks in
this particular branch generally call forth
great applause, and are greeted by bursts of
Her male friends talk of her familiarly as
*' an awfully good sort." Few of them can
conceive of higher praise than contained in
So the popular woman proceeds on her
triumphant way, starting fresh admirers,
and making new acquaintances every season,
yet having the social tact to keep up with
her old ones whenever it is possible. Her
life is a light, easy, happy one, surrounded
by every comfort and all that money can
But if we look closely into the cause of her
popularity does it not appear that great part
of it is due to no less a person than poor old
Charlie — that pleasant, easy-going individual
THE POPULAR WOMAN. 29
who adores liis wife, who lets her do exactly
as she likes, and who furnishes the sinews of
war without a murmur?
Would or could Mrs. Charlie have attained
to the position she occupies of " popular
woman of the hunt " had she been mated to a
surly individual, mean and close-fisted, who
refused to let her ask a soul to the house
without his express permission, and who threw
every conceivable obstacle in the way of her
social advancement ? Popularity cannot be
achieved without a certain amount of liberty.
Women know this, and men know it too,
though they won't admit it, and profess to
despise the Charlies of this world. Wives
are so much better, crushed and kept in
good order. At any rate, without her hus-
band's passive support Mrs. Charlie would
have encountered many difficulties. He gave
her house, money, position, and all the con-
ditions necessary to insure success, and
whilst she climbed the ladder, he remained
30 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
content to play second fiddle to " the popular
There are men, and men. Let us give him
III.— THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN
Most of us are acquainted with the man
who blows his own trumpet. Taking a com-
prehensive glance round the hunting fiehl,
there is generally no difficulty wdiatever in
selecting one or two fairly representative
specimens, who thoroughly understand the
somewhat egotistical art of glorifying them-
selves at the expense of Iheir neighbours.
As a matter of fact they are not scarce, and
exist in considerable numbers.
Their music, however, varies. Some men
blow their own particular trumpet in such a
subtle, refined and artistic manner that it
scarcely offends the ear, whilst others play
the favourite instrument so loudly and
32 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
clumsily that the distracted listener flies,
overcome with disgust.
Taken as a rule, the great bulk of musi-
cians are not much liked by their comrades.
Nine times out of ten the deeds of valour
which they proclaim so stentoriously, are
chiefly imaginary, and are known by the field
to possess a fabulous origin.
If hounds have had an extra good run, it
is a foregone conclusion that, according to
the man who blows his own trumpet, nobody
has seen anything of it except himself and,
perhaps, the huntsman. In his bumptious,
loud-voiced wa}^ he narrates how he jumped
some place, hitherto considered as unjump-
able, and so secured a start whilst all the
hard riders of the hunt were coasting up and
down. Beings never caugjht as^ain he led
every yard of the way. By Jove ; j^es, every
And in that week's Field and sporting
papers there will probably appear a highly-
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 33
coloured account of Mr. X.'s exploits.
Nobody knows how they became chronicled,
or why he alone, out of all the field, should
have his doings published and lauded up to
the skies. Mr. X. himself, when bantered on
the subject, professes entire ignorance, but is
willinnf to discuss it with s^reat ":ood humour.
He has an amiable weakness for seeing his
name in print, but vows that the writer of
the account in question is a perfect stranger
Nevertheless the observant, and possibly
the envious, remark that whenever a repre-
sentative of the Press puts in an appearance at
covert side, the man who blows his own
trumpet treats him with great civility and
distinction, brings forth his instrument and
plays some out-of-the-way fine flourishes upon
it. A stranger is naturally impressed, and,
not knowing the gentleman's idiosyncracies,
accepts his statements in good faith. Several
of Mr. X.'s personal experiences are so
34 our. FKIENDS IX THE HUNTIXG FIELD.
remarkable — at least, when told by himself —
that if he did not repeatedly vouch for their
truth, you would have considerable difficulty
in believiuf? them to be veracious. For
instance, there is the stor)^ of how Mr. X.
swam a river a quarter of a mile broad, and
reached the opposite side, firmly seated on
his saddle, just in time to dismember the fox
in the absence of the huntsman and the
entire field. Also the tale of how he cleared
a canal, tow-path and all, vvhicli lurked
unsuspected on the far side of a hedge, and
which jump, when measured very carefully
next day, proved to be no less than thirty-six
feet and a half. And then there is the
gallant incident of his jumping two railway
gates in succession on his M'^ay to covert,
rather than wait for the train to pass, and so
arrive late at the meet.
Unfortunately for Mr. X., he is unable to
produce any eye-witnesses in support of his
assertions. They have all either died, gone
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TliUMPET. 35
abroad, or disappeared. As a rule, they die.
But there is no fear of the ^^ounger genera-
tion forofettinf]f our friend's feats of valour.
They hear about them much too often. If
only the man who blows his own trumpet
could be persuaded not to talk so incessantly
and exclusively about himself, people would
be much more ready to give him credit for
his performances, which if not brilliant, are
fair. As a rule, he is too greatly taken up
with his own doings to have a good eye for a
country, and therefore is quite incapable of
cutting out the work over a stiff line of
fences. But he will jump where other people
jump, and is generally there, or thereabouts.
The pity is that by some strange hallucina-
tion of the brain, pleasing to himself, but not
to others, he invariably imagines in every
run that he has had the best of it, and fre-
quently irritates his friends by exclaiming in
a patronizing tone :
" IluUoa ! my dear fellow, where were you
36 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD,
in that gallop? I missed you altogether.
Never saw you once."
Not unfrequently he meets with a richly-
deserved rejoinder, but the trumpet blower has
no sense of shame, and reproof rolls off him
like water from a duck's back. His self-
complacency wraps him round in an impene-
trable garment, and there is something
almost sublime in his unassailable serenity.
Laugh at him as you please, he is a most
happily constituted individual, and always
on good terms with " number one."
Mr. X. rarely jumps the smallest fence
without cantering up to some of his acquaint-
ance, and saying :
" God bless my soul, sir ! did you see what
an extraordinary bound my horse made over
that place ? Gad ! but he must have cleared
close upon thirty feet."
'' I am ver}^ sorry," comes the contemp-
tuous, sneering, or indifferent rejoinder,
according to the mood of the speaker; "but
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TEUMPET. 37
really I have not a pair of eyes at the back
of my head, and even if I were so fortunately
constituted, I doubt whether I could succeed
in kee^^ing them perpetually fixed upon
" Ah ! " returns our friend X. with com-
passionate good humour, for, to give him his
due, it takes a great deal to put him out of
temper, and thanks to his peculiar organiza-
tion, sarcasm is nearly always lost upon him.
" Poor chap ; I forgot how short-sighted you
are. What a misfortune it must be, to be
sure. You miss so much."
" One's deuced glad to miss some things."
" Ha, ha ; just so, just so. But about my
new horse, I tell you he's a ripper."
" Very likely. I never knew you possess
one that 3'ou did not say the same of."
" Ah ! but this animal is something quite
out of the way. lie is such an astonishingly
His comrade casts a critical glance at the
38 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD.
gallant creature, who is said to have cleared
nearly thirty feet, when certainly six would
have sufficed. Such lion-hearted hunters are
not to be met with every day, as he very
well knows, and they inspire respect.
" Where did you pick him up, X. ? " he
inquires with some show of interest, for rare
is the sportsman not willing to plunge into a
discussion about a horse, even on slight
" I bought him from Northbridge. You
know Northbridge, don't you? A little
fellow with a yellow face and black mous-
'• Yes ; a deuced hard man to hounds."
" Do you really think so ? He has shock-
iuiz bad hands, and could no more ride this
horse than a child. He was always in
difficulties, so one day, when I saw that he
was particularly unhappy and ill at ease, I
went up to him and made him a very hand-
some offer for his mount, which he accepted
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TIIUMPET. 39
on tlie spot. That's the way to do business.
The horse was quite thrown away upon
Northbridge, but he's worth his weight in gold
to a man with o-ood hands."
" Meaning yourself, I suppose, eh ? "
"AYell, the proof of the pudding is in
the eating. See how quietl}' he goes with
me. I can do exactly what I like with
" Ah ! " says his companion ironically.
" But then we're not all such accomplished
But if our worthy friend draws the long-
bow out hunting, when actually surrounded
by all the dangers of oxers, bullfinches and
stake-bound fences, he waxes a thousand
times more eloquent when the excitements
of the day are safely over and he reclines in
a comfortable armchair by his own fireside.
His imagination then leaps over every
obstacle, and scoffs at the narrow boun-
daries imposed by truth. There is no need
40 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
now to bridle either his tongue or his fancy,
and when let loose one flows on as vivaciously
as the other.
He makes his poor young wife's flesh
positively creep with the stirring recital of
the heroic deeds he has performed, and the
extraordinarily narrow escapes he has had
from breaking his neck or his back, maiming
himself permanently, or disfiguring his good
looks, which he esteems very highly, whilst
pretending a superb and manly indiflerence
They have not been married very long, and
the foolish creature believes in him still
as next door to a Deity. Every morning as
he goes forth to the chase, in all the brave
array of scarlet coat and snowy breeches, her
timid heart beats fast with pangs of horrible
apprehension, as she looks tearfully up into
his great, healthy, rosy face.
" Oh, Tommy, darling," she exclaims im-
ploringly, " do be careful, if not for your
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OAVN TRUMPET. 41
own sake for mine. Eemember that you are
a married man now."
" You little goose ! Am I likely to forget
" Perhaps not. I hope not ; but really,
Tommy, dear, it always seems to me that you
are so ver}', very rash. Surely it cannot be
necessary for you to go out of your way to
jump these tremendously big places, especially
when nobody else, from your account, dreams
of running the same risk."
He laughs in a lordly, patronizing manner
— for her upbraidings are sweet incense to
his vanity — kisses her fair cheek, and says
" Dearest, you are too fond — too anxious.
You would not have your Tommy a coward,
would you, or show the white feather when
hounds run? No, no, that is not his nature.'
She casts an admiring glance up at him
through her tears.
" My own," she says in a voice choked with
42 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
emotion, " all I ask is, that you should not be
quite — quite so horribly brave. Every time
you go out hunting I am miserable until I
get you safety back again."
He gives her another hug — this style of
conversation, especially when carried on
before the butler and footman is extremely
agreeable — then rides gallantly awa}^ and
returns at evening primed with a series of
adventures even more astounding than those
he has hitherto recounted.
The hounds found. There was a ghastly
piece of timber,at least six feet high. Certain
death stared you in the face if your horse
failed to clear it. Death ! Aha ! what was
that to him — to any brave and resolute man ?
Others might shirk it if they liked, but he
would sooner meet with his end than despise
himself as a " funk-stick." No, never should
it be said of Idin that he had turned away
from any mortal thing. The fellows were all
hano'inoj round and hesitatincr. Gad ! the
THE MAX AVHO BLOWS HIS OWX TIIUMPET. -13
sight made his blood boil. It was more than
he could stand. He crammed his hat down
on his head, took his feet out of the stirrups,
" And — oh ! M'hat, Tomm}^ ? You do
frighten me so," gasps the poor little woman.
" And by an extraordinary miracle got
over. Only man who did. Not another one
" I should think not, indeed," says his wife
with a sob of relief and terror.
*' The young fellows now - a - days are
a poor lot," he continues disparagingly.
" They haven't half the spirit of we married
" Perhaps that's because your wives render
you desperate." And with these words she
falls upon his neck and kisses him, and vows
that never, never was there such a daring,
foolhardy, but altogether delightful personage
as her Tommy. Only it will not do for him
to go on in this reckless and quixotic fashion.
44 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD,
His life is far too precious, ever so mucli too
If he has no regard for it himself, and risks
it needlessly every day, at least he might
remember how dear it is to other people —
that they would be simply miserable if any-
thing were to happen to him, &c., &c. As
for courage, it is downright wicked to carry
personal bravery to such an extent. Why !
A Gordon is a joke to him, and so on,
Tommy sits in his armchair, stretches out
the long manly limbs that he so wilfully
endangers, and listens with the utmost com-
placence to all this innocent tirade. It is an
hour of unmitigated enjoyment to him, and
he cannot refrain from throwing in a few
picturesque additions every now and then,
which still further increase Mrs. Tommy's
fears for his safety, and exalt him almost to
a demi-god in her estimation.
In his wife's presence he has no hesitation
THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 15
ill blowing the trumpet with loud clarion
notes, to which every fibre of her sensitive
And uncommonly pleasant he finds the
process, with a pretty, adoring little woman
as listener, who never detects a false chord
and goes into raptures over even his most
fantastic flourishes. It is a great temptation
to perform loudly and frequently, and he
makes no effort to resist the insidious
She is his ; why should he not impose upon
her love and her credulity ? The one is as
sweet to him as the other, for they flatter his
self-esteem in about equal degrees.
But take care. Tommy. You are playing
with edged tools. The time may come when
this trusting and simple creature will no
longer believe so implicitly in your gallant
deeds, when suspicions may begin to arise in
her mind, until at last you stand revealed as
a braggart and a boaster.
40 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUXTIXG FIP:LD.
Then, instead of the soft caresses and
tender solicitude to which you have been
accustomed, you may be met with nothing
but scornful indifference and passive con-
For the misfortune of all those who indulge
the dangerous practice of blowing their own
trumpet too offensivel}^ is, that after a very
short time they are sure to be found out, and
by none sooner than those who are nearest
Women who have been once deceived in
the object of their adoration are pitiless
judges. Men are much more lenient, and
often will derive amusement from the idiosyn-
cracies of a friend.
But a wife never forgives her lord and
master for bragging and boasting, once she
discovers that he is an adept at these accom-
plishments. She rushes from one extreme to
another, and instead of regarding the unfortu-
nate trumpeter as a prodigy of valour, very
THE MAN WHO JILOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 47
quickly gets to looks upon liim as a hypocrite,
a humbug and an impostor.
Woe be to that man if hereafter he attempt
to play the very feeblest and most mournful
notes upon his cherished instrument. As
the years pass, it runs a terrible chance of
getting rusty from disuse, and even when he
does snatch some rare opportunity of practis-
ing upon it, his tunes no longer sound as they
did. The chirpiness has gone from them never
IV.— THE DANGEEOUS WOMAN.
Somp: ten or fifteen years ago, the dangerous
woman was not nearly so frequently met with
in the hunting field as she is at present. She
has multiplied in an alarming degree.
Formerly, ladies who rode to hounds and
who went as hard as men were the excep-
tion rather than the rule, and their staid
lemale relations of a past generation looked
upon them as utterly unsexed and wholly
Now all this is changed. A great revolu-
tion has taken place in public opinion, and
the growing popularity of the chase is
rendered conspicuous by nothing so much
as by the increased number of fair Dianas
who join in our world-famed national amuse-
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 49
ment. Prejudice apart, there is no real reason
•why they shouldn't. The exercise is a healthy
and a pleasant one. Nice, quiet women,
country born and bred, possessing a natural
love of sport, and a fair knowledge of it in
all its various branches, are a distinct orna-
ment and addition to the hunting field. They
resemble flowers on a dinner-table, adding to,
rather than detracting from the solid delights
of the dinner itself.
Most of them have ridden since they were
children, and know how to put a horse at a
fence, quite as well, if not better than their
husbands and brothers. Their hands are
lighter, their sympathy more subtle, and
unless they have the bad luck to " get
down " — a misfortune which must happen to
every one at times — they are never in any-
body's way, and can thoroughly hold their
own, even when hounds run hard over a
stifily inclosed country.
But the ladies of whom we are now speak-
50 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
ing are the practised equestriennes, who, alas,
to this day, form but a small contingent, and
we are forced to admit that by far the greater
portion of Amazons who grace the hunting
field with their fair presence, can only be
characterized as dangerous, both to themselves
and their neighbours. They are the best-
natured creatures in the world, brimming over
with fun, good-humour and vitality. They
mean no harm, not they ; but for all that they
are to be shunned and avoided.
Their courage and their ignorance is some-
It is impossible to help giving a grudging
admiration to the one, whilst loudly deploring
the other. Without exaggeration they seem
to know no fear, and to possess no nerves
whatever. With loose seat, dangling reins
and up -raised hand they will drive their horse
in any fashion, either trotting or galloping,
sideways or standing (it makes no difference
to them) at the most formidable obstacle.
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 51
And, wonderful to relate, nine times out of
ten they bundle over somehow ; not grace-
fully or prettily, but still they get to the other
It really seems as if women, in spite of their
physical inferiority and fragile exteriors, often
possess more of that quality called " pluck "
than the lords of creation. This may give
rise to contrary opinions, but the conclusion
has been arrived at in the following manner.
Take a field, say, of some three or four
hundred members. Perhaps three hundred
and seventy of these may be men, the remain-
ing thirty, ladies.
You will probably be able to count the
real hard riders among the former on the
fingers of your two hands, whilst out of the
thirty ladies, certainly half-a-dozen, if not
more, will do their very best to keep with
hounds, and this, too, in spite of the inferior
animals they are often mounted upon. What
becomes of the couraoe of three hundred and
52 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
sixty odd gentlemen who constitute the
remainder of the field ? Taking their lesser
numbers into consideration, the fair sex
certainly show a more gallant front than the
men. True, in most instances, the man, from
his superior strength and physique, will cer-
tainly outdo the woman, but from a more
comprehensive view, the ladies appear to
possess a greater share of nerve.
In what other way is it possible to account
for the presence out hunting of so many dan-
gerous females ? Their inexperience, their
utter want of knowledge, their truly execrable
horsemanship, have not the slightest deterring
influence. Valour soars above such humbh^
considerations, and scoffs at minor diffi-
culties. Oh ! for a little discretion, but that
quality is conspicuous only by its absence.
A popular actress runs down from town for
the day, accompanied by some enamoured
and wealthy youth, who mounts her on his
most perfect performer.
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 53
" Can she hunt ? " " Oh ! dear, yes. Why
not ? " " Has she ever been out before ? "
No, but she has ridden up and down the Eow
scores of times, is not a bit afraid, and sees
no reason why she should not jump fences
just as well as her neighbours.
Her youthful adorer tells her to fear
nothing, to give her horse his head and
follow him. She nods back in reply, clenches
her white teeth, and obeys literally. At the
lirst fence, though it is but a gap, she flies
clean out of the saddle, and is only re-seated,
after a few agonizing seconds, by the shock
occasioned from landing right on the quarters
of her gallant leader.
Does she mind ? Is she intimidated ? Not
On the contrary, she gives a little tri-
umphant laugh at finding she has not tumbled
off altogether, as she certainly was very, very
nearly doing, and bumps and rolls away over
the trying ridge and furrow, forcibly remind'
.'".4 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
ing one of an ornamental jelly, that quivers
and shakes preparatory to a most tremendous
downfall. Her blood is aglow, and she is
getting warmed to the saddle, so that at
the next fence she does better, and is only
pitched on to the horse's neck. By seizing
hold of his mane, liowever, just in the nick
of time, she manages to scramble back
before any very serious mischief is done.
Just think what courage it requires to jump,
when eYery moment you fully expect to be
jumped off. Why, it amounts to positive
For place or people our dangerous woman
has no respect, and has not the faintest
notion of waiting for her turn. She is much
too ignorant of the etiquette of the hunting
Seeing a small cluster of horsemen gather-
ing round a fence, she at once imagines they
are shirking, and with a loud " Look out, I'm
coming ! " charges right into their midst,
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 65
mayhap knocking one or two down, but that
is a matter of no consequence.
Then she flounders wildly over the obstacle,
cannons against the unfortunate gentleman in
front, and all but capsizes him and herself
He looks round wrathfully, with ugly mas-
culine oaths springing to his lips, and sees a
pretty, saucy, flushed face smiUng benign-
antly at him from under a battered pot hat
and a halo of fuzzy flaxen hair considerably
disordered. He recognizes Miss Tottie
Tootlekin of the "Gaiety," famed for the
symmetry of her legs, and the elegance of
her dancing, and stifles his displeasure. Who
can feel angry with so adorable a creature,
even although she does not appear to greatest
advantage when bundling over a fence ? No !
The dear thing has given him too much
pleasure many a time ere now. Her divine
breakdowns still linger in his memory. So
after ascertaining that his horse has not been
56 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
injured, lie reserves the ugly words for
another occasion — one is sure to arise before
long — and smiles back at Miss Tottie in
return. Now, if the dangerous woman were
dangerous only at her fences, it might be pos-
sible by a little diplomacy to avoid her, but
alas ! such is not the case. As long as she is
within twenty yards of you, you are never
safe, and cannot foresee the vagaries which
she may perform.
You very soon learn that it is wiser to yield
her precedence at every obstacle, rather than
expose yourself to the almost absolute cer-
tainty of being jumped upon. But it is
horribly annoying, when you are galloping
after the hounds to secure a start, to find
your horse crossed and recrossed at almost
every stride, until at last you hardly know
how to get out of your tormentor's way.
Neither is it pleasant to be jostled against
a gateway, and have your leg squeezed till
you could scream with tlie pain, anl you do
THE DANGEEOUS WOMAN. 57
not like having the gate itself slammed in
your face, whilst Madame or Mademoiselle
hustles through, regardless of everything and
everybody, and makes not the smallest effort
to keep it open.
Apparently it is beyond your power to
escape altogether from the dangerous woman,
for even whilst trotting quietly along the
sides of the roads, she comes cantering up
from behind and careless of the fact that you
are altogether within your rights, and that
there is no room for her to pass, she will
remorselessly drive your most cherished
hunter on to the various stone heaps, or else
right into the ditch. As for an apology, she
rarely condescends to make one, although she
may have been the means of bringing you
into direst trouble.
Another of the dangerous woman's little
idiosyncracies is, that she possesses as supreme
a disregard for canine as for human life. She
jumps quite as readily upon a hound as upon
58 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTINQ FIELD.
a man, and thinks nothing at all of breaking
the ribs of the best animal in the pack by
riding over him. That is a very minor
" Hurt, is he ? Oh ! I'm awfully sorry,
but it can't signify very much. There are
plenty besides him, and he should not have
got in my way."
Hounds are simply so many speckled dogs
to her, that have no particular value, and
one appears exactly like the other. The
proprietor's legitimate anger, something of
which reaches her ears, seems utterly absurd
and unreasonable. With a contemptuous
shrug of the shoulders, she exclaims :
" Dear me ! What a fuss, to be sure, and
all about nothing. Just as if it mattered ! "
When the huntsman is making a cast, and
requires elbow room, she dashes ruthlessly in
amongst the pack, and scatters them like a
Fortunately, there are a few external signs by
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 59
which the dangerous woman may generally
be distinguished. To begin wdtli, her attire is
nearly always wanting in that quiet, unostenta-
tious neatness which characterizes the thorough
sportswoman. She usually wears a blue,
green, or peculiar coloured habit wdiich does
not fit, and is evidently made by a second or
third rate tailor. The skirt ba2:3 round the
waist, and the body is adorned with showy
brass buttons. Not infrequently she appears
in earrings or brooch, and makes liberal
display of a gold watch chain and a bunch of
charms. Her tie is either a dummy, or else
so execrably tied that it works round under
her ear. It is almost a certainty that her hair
will come down during some period of the
day, and her hat is always crooked, or else
battered in. If hounds run well, her face
grows very red. She is flushed and excited
by the unwonted exercise. Iler reins are
loose, her seat unsteady, and her hunting crop
affords much inconvenience, especially the
60 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
lash, which is perpetually getting entangled
in something or other. The dangerous woman
rarely, if ever, sits square on her horse, with
the left shoulder brought well forward, and
elbows into her side. She goes flopping,
and jogging, and jolting along, in a manner
which, though painful to the beholder, must
be infinitely more so to the unfortunate steed
who is doomed to carry her.
Men as a body regard her with detestation,
and never lose an opportunity of expressing
Every defect is sneered at and magnified.
Not one but has some story to tell against
her, or who owes the dangerous woman a
They resent her presence in the hunting
field, and not without cause. Her ignorance
incenses, and her rashness irritates, until she
cheats herself out of the admiration ever due
The fact is, if the men must be knocked
THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 61
down like ninepins, they would much prefer
the process being performed by one of their
own sex. At least they could then have the
gratification of expressing their sentiments in
forcible language, and allow wounded feeling
to find a natural outlet.
It is a hard case to be forced to bottle it
up, because a wild and dangerous female
chooses to bowl you over and to treat you
without any ceremony whatever.
v.— THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER.
The sporting horse dealer constitutes a feature
of almost every hunting field. He comes out
with the intention of selling his horses, and
keeping that end steadily in view, manages
very successfully to combine business with
pleasure. When pursuing the fox, he honestly
feels that he is enjoying himself, and yet not
neglecting his profession.
Not infrequently he is a gentleman by
birth, specious and plausible, whose apparent
candour puts you off your guard and over-
comes your better judgment. It is as well to
fight shy of him. Your dealings with him
are seldom, if ever, quite satisfactor}^ and you
have no redress. He holds you hard and
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 63
fast to your bargain, and refuses to take back
an unsuitable animal, except at a ruinous
price. In short, the gentleman dealer will
nearly always contrive to get the better of
you in some way or other, whilst, if a quarrel
arises, he invariably manages to have the law
on his side. We dismiss him, since it is not
of him we would speak, but of the regular,
old-fashioned sporting dealer, who gains a
more or less precarious livelihood from his
profession, and who, five times out of six, is a
real good fellow.
If he recommends you an animal which he
has ridden to hounds himself, his recommen-
dation can generally be depended upon. He
knows exactly what a hunter ought to ])e,
and in what requirements he fails. He has a
decided advantage there, for he judges from
personal experience, whereas non-sporting
dealers are either forced to buy from looks
alone or else from hearsay; never a very
reliable method. You need not blame them
61 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
for deceiving you, for are not they themselves
continually being deceived ?
There is no greater mistake than for people
to imagine, as they so constantly do, that
their pet dealer is infallible. Alas ! poor man,
he is frequently taken in, and moreover, per-
petually subjected to very severe losses and
disappointments. Folk in a hunting county
will not buy without a trial with hounds.
They send back the horses lame, coughing, or
so seriously injured as to greatly detract from
their value. The dealer has to bear the risk
of seeing his property depreciated for the sake
of the chance of getting rid of it altogether.
Then, again, he sells what he believes to be a
sound, honest animal at a good profit. The
nag drops down dead, whilst being conveyed
in the train to his future destination, and a
post-mortem examination reveals that he has
been suffering from abscess on the brain, a clot
of blood, aneurism, or a hundred other unsus-
pected causes. Here, again, the dealer has to
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. C5
put up v/itli the loss. Frost too has to be
taken into calculation. If the earth is ice-
bound no one will buy, and there is very
little money to be made when some twenty or
thirty horses are standing week after week in
the stable, eating their heads off. As a rule,
dealers are not nearly so black as they are
painted. There may be a certain proportion
of rogues amongst their ranks, just as there
are in every other walk of life, but at the same
time, honest, respectable ones exist, whose
chief anxiety is to suit their customers and
study their interests. Buyers are often un-
reasonable and almost impossible to please.
If they buy a horse, and he does not happen
to turn out well, they at once abuse the
dealer, and declare they have been done.
Temper, want of condition, sprains, splints
that develop themselves subsequent to the
day of purchase, in fact, every ailment — and
they are many — to which the noble animal is
heir are all laid at the same door ; and liow-
66 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
ever straigiitforward a dealer may be, he
seldom gets the credit of being so. People
are so horribly and ridiculously suspicious,
that they prefer to believe the worst, rather
than the best of one another, and the}^ fail to
see how often they defeat their own ends by
jumping without sufficient grounds at the
conclusion that their neighbour is deliberately
trying to cheat them. Why ! in nine cases
out of ten it is to their neighbour's interest to
treat them well, rather than badly, and self-
interest, as we all know, is the great motive
power which rules the world.
We maintain that, whatever the sporting
horse dealer's faults may be— and as, like the
rest of us, he is only mortal, the presumption
is he has some — he is a truly gallant fellow,
and the harder he rides the more you may
He lives quietly, eats and drinks sparingly,
retires to rest at ten o'clock every night of
his life, rises with the lark, writes all his
THE SPOUTING HOUSE DEALER. G7
business letters, attends to his accounts, and
superintends Lis stable arrangements before
he iroes a-huntin":, and has nerves of iron,
wrists of steel. lie sallies forth on some
gay four or five-year-old. The animal has
probably only been in his stables a couple
of days, and he knows absolutely nothing
about it. He is a tall, muscular young
fellow, with a keen, hawk-like eye, and
long legs that curl themselves well round a
horse and make him yield to their compelling
pressure. It takes a great deal to unseat
him, as the young ones soon find out. Our
friend trots out to covert at a steady pace,
eschewing company. He feels his animal's
mouth and otherwise makes acquaintance
with him. If he is a brute, it does not
take him long to discover the fact, and
he calculates the highest price obtainable,
and where to place him. To keep a bad
horse never pays, yet on the other hand the
cood ones sell themselves. No subtle per-
€8 OUE IEIENU8 IN THE HUNTING PIELH.
suasion or half truths are required in their
Once arrived at the meet the manners of
the young one are quickly ascertained. If
they are nice our sporting dealer allows him
to mix freely with the crowd, riding him with
long reins, and making him bend well to the
bridle hand. His friends and customers
" Ilulloa, H. ! " they exclaim. " AVhat sort
of a horse is that you're on ? Is he a
clipper ? "
II. smiles gently — there is something
singularly childlike about his expression
when he smiles — and says :
" Don't know yet, sir ; but I'll be able to
give you a more satisfactory answer after to-
day. At least," he adds solto voce, " I hope
After a while the hounds find, and 11., who
is averse from revealing his stable secrets to
the whole field before he knows them him-
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 6<)
self, starts olT, taking care to ride a little
wide of the pack, but nevertheless keeping
them well within view. Before long, a fence
comes across his path, and fortunately it is
just such a one as he would wish to meet
with, being a thin buUfmch, with a shallow
ditch on the take-off side, over which a good
horse can jump, and a bad one scramble
without much risk of a fall.
lie gives the " young 'un " a touch of the
spur, and the willing animal cocks his small
spirited ears, and bounds over like an india-
rubber ball. That will do. H. has already
confidence in his steed, and sends him striding
along the green pastures with a vengeance ;
for hounds b}^ this time have settled to the
line, and are running at racing pace over the
sound old turf.
A couple more fences, cleared lightl}^ and
well, prove that his mount knows his business,
and is worth at least a hundred and fifty if
not two hundred guineas. H. now has no
70 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
hesitation in joining the bulk of the liehl.
He is prepared to show them how the
" young 'un " can perform, and not hide his
light under a bushel by riding a solitary line.
At the first check he casts a rapid glance
around and takes in all the bearings of
the t>it nation. A stiff piece of timber, over
four feet in height, divides him from the
calmly expectant crowd, who being on the
right side, and in the same field with the
hounds, look with pleasurable curiosity al
the rash horseman on the wron"".
This, however, is our friend H 's oppor-
tunity ; one which he contrives to make most
days when he has the satisfaction of finding
himself on a decentl}?- good hunter. Per-
sonally he knows no fear, being a man of
dauntless courage, so he sets the young horse
at the stout ash rails, with the determination
of one who will not be denied, and who, by
hook or by crook, intends to get to the other
side. The good beast, feeling this, clears
THE SPOETING HORSE DEALER. 71
them brilliant!}^, and with a foot to spare.
A murmur of approval runs through the
crowd as PL quietly pulls him back into a
walk, and looks to the right and to the left,
with a bland air which seems to say, " Gentle-
men, that's nothing, nothing at all. Wait
until you see us take something really worth
calling a jump."
This little episode is not without result.
Presently, as hounds are still feathering un-
certainly about the ridges and furrows, one
of H."s oldest customers approaches, and
takes a prolonged survey of his animal.
" Niceish horse that you're on to-day," he
" Yes, sir, very," II. replies. " Sort of
horse would carry 3'ou like a bird. See
what loins he has, and what a back. That's
the stamp gentlemen want to get over a
country with, and be carried in safety."
" Very likely, but I'm not requiring a
hunter just now. I'm full."
72 OUR FEIENrS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
" Indeed sir ! More's the pity ; for this is
the nicest youn^ horse I've been on for a loner
time. They are not to be bought every
day. Perhaps you would oblige me by
throwing 3'oiir leg over him, not with a
view to purchasing, but merely to see if
your opinion is the same as mine. lie
gives you a wonderful feel over his fences,
and is as quiet and temperate as a seasoned
After some little further persuasion, the
customer does as desired, and descending from
liis own horse, mounts the young one, whose
attention being concentrated on the hounds,
stands quite submissively during the opera-
tion. His present rider merely intends to
canter him round the field, feeling that
against his better judgment he has weakl}'-
yielded to H.'s solicitations, but hounds sud-
denly take up the scent and fling forward at
a great rate. Before he can change back
they are stealing ahead, and he is bound to
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 73
Stick to his mount, unless he would lose sight
of them altogether.
A brilliant twenty minutes follow over the
very cream of the country. Fences are big,
and towards the end of it men begin to
tumble about like ninepins. A wide bottom
is productive of much " grief," but the
" young 'un " faces it like a lion, and carries
him in grand style.
After all, what does it matter if his stables
are full ? He begins making a variety of
plans as to how he can turn old Eattletrap
into the cow-shed, and run him up a tem-
porary box until the spring, when he will be
turned out to grass ; how he will find a good
home for Glorvina, whose fore legs are daily
getting more and more shaky ; and how if
the worst comes to the worst, he might part
with Slinker, who can never quite be de-
pended upon at either water or timber. In
short, those twenty minutes produce a most
curious revolution in his state of mind, for
74 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTIKG FIELD.
whereas he began by being certain that he
didn't want another horse, he ends by feeling
convinced that he cannot possibly do without
one, and shouki be absolutely culpable if he
did not avail himself of the present oppor-
tunity. " Buy when you can, not when you
must,'' his inward monitor advises.
Meanwhile 11. has had an unusually
pleasant and comfortable ride on his custo-
mer's confidential hunter, and has kept close
behind that Gfentleman all the wav, so as to
pick him up in case of accidents. None
occur, fortunately, and each fence well cleared
adds an extra five-pound note to his property
When at length hounds run into their fox,
and he is asked to put a price upon the
young horse, he looks shrewdly at his cus-
tomer's flushed and beaming face, and replies
without any symptoms of hesitation :
" I can't take a penny less than two
hundred and twenty guineas for him, sir,
even from yo\x. I should ask most people
THE SrOETlNG IIOItSE DEALER. 75
two fifty, but I should like to suit you if I
The customer has been too much delighted
by the horse's performances to make any
demur or haggle over the sum demanded,
and before II. leaves the hunting field, the
good young animal on whom he sallied forth
in the morning has passed out of his pos-
session. Sometimes he wishes he could keep
them a little long^er, but he has no cause to
regret the transaction, having cleared over a
hundred net profit.
This, however, is one of his lucky da3\s,
and it is quite on the cards that a great por-
tion of this hundred will dwindle away in pay-
ing for the unlucky ones, on which occasions
he derives neither pleasure nor remuneration.
But that's the way of the profession. If good
horses did not pay for the bad, trade would
come to a standstill altogether, and leave a
very sorry balance at the banker's at the end
of the year. It makes a thorough hunter
76 OUR I'EIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
come dear, l)ut what's to be clone ? Dealers
Apart from this, our friend H. is entitled
to the very highest praise for the truly
gallant fashion in which he risks his neck on
behalf of his customers. It is he who ascer-
tains for them what an animal is worth, and
many and many a nasty, unpleasant ride
must he have during the process. He has to
put up with kickers, rearers, rank refusers,
curs, brutes of all kinds, to accommodate
himself to hard mouths and light mouths,
rough paces and smooth, fast and slow,
rogues and roarers, in short every species of
animal, good, bad and indifferent.
The great majorit}^ of men who go out
hunting are tilled with self-pride, and think
an immense deal of themselves if they cross
a country successfully on tried performers
wdiom lliey know intimatel}'. Ii. manages
to keep with hounds on the very worst of
nags, and by his patience, courage and line
THE SL'OiaiNG- ILOESE DEALEK. 77
lioriiemansliip frequently succeeds iii con-
vertiiiL!" them into hunters.
Do not let us, then, grudge him his profits
— they are not as large as they seem — and if
any man deserves them, he does. He has to
subsist like the rest of us, but he will not
" do " you intentionally, and if the sporting
horse dealer were to disappear from our
hunting fields he would leave a decided gap,
and prove a very serious loss to most people
who follow hounds. We want him, and
cannot get on without him, whilst his gal-
lantry and courage call forth our highest
admiration. Long may he continue to hunt
and give us the pleasure of witne.sshig his
The humorous dealer is another type fre-
quently met with.
He is an older and a heavier man, who
rides great, fme weight-can iers, and generally
occupies a forward place when hounds run.
By the bright, sparkling and persuasive wit
78 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
of his tongue lie secures many a customerj
who begins by laughing at his jokes, and ends
by buying his horses. He is full of anecdote,
gossip and story, and has the ready tact and
happy knack of suiting his conversation to
his listener. To the elderly gentleman he
talks politics, and reveals any deficiency in
the animal he desires to sell with a peculiarly
magnanimous frankness that produces an
excellent effect. For the youni^er o'eneration
he has always some hun mot read}", or some
choice, very choice tale adapted to their
intellects and taste. With ladies he is simple,
sentimental, cordial, poetical and loftily
philosophical by turns. He is a clever
fellow, who makes a profound study of human
nature, and knows the foibles both of men
and women by heart. His powers of obser-
vation stand him in good stead, and teach
the wisdom and necessity of humouring cus-
tomers. Perhaps he laughs at them behind
their back, but he manages to dissemble his real
THE SPOETING ]10RSE DEALER. 79
opinions on most ordinary occasions. Never-
tlieless, he lias strong instinctive likes and dis-
likes, which could not be otherwise with his
quick brains and ready tongue. He hates a
dullard or a fool, and holds him in supreme
contempt. lie cannot always succeed in con-
cealing his feelings, though he flatters himself
that he does.
Provided a man treats him well, he will
treat him well in return, but if he attempt to
display any reprehensible " cuteness," or be-
haves in an ungentlemanly fashion, then he
feels no compunction in paying him back in
his own coin. If for interest's sake he does
not sell him a downright bad horse, he will
mercilessly castigate him with his tongue,
and humble him to the very dust by a storm
of shrewd, unanswerable remarks full of
worldly wisdom and native wit. Few men
can beat him in argument or repartee. lie
wields those formidable weapons with a
dexterity conferred by long practice and
80 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
much natural ability, and moreover de-
lights in the effect they produce. Nothing
pleases him more than to squash an enemy
who has incurred his righteous wrath, but
it requires a good deal of provocation to
draw him into one of these contests, and it is
only when his probity is doubted, his word
disbelieved, or his feelings wounded that he
shows his claws. What would the British
lion be worth if he were always chained up
in an iron cage, and could not fight on
occasion ? Is a man to be insulted with
impunity, simply because he is a horse
dealer? No, certainly not. He is made of
flesh and blood, that quivers and throbs
under a smarting word, just like everyone
Our humorous friend is a man of consider-
able culture, who takes an interest in all the
leading topics of the day. Moreover, he has
a taste for reading, and gets through a good
many works of miscellaneous fiction. A sen-
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 81
timental novel, ending up with love nnd
matrimony, pleases him immensely, for be-
neath his somewhat rough exterior beats ^
warm and kindly heart, easil}^ touched by
romance. Altoo-ether he is oricfinal and a
character ; differing from ordinary, common-
place humanity, who sometimes fail to under-
stand him. In consequence, he now and
then makes enemies, who dub him forward,
vulgar, pert ; but his friends far outnumber
his foes, and they laud " Old G." up to the
skies, and talk of him as a first-rate " chap."
They laugh immoderately at his witticisms
and caustic observations, and wherever he
happens to be, a little circle of admirers in-
variably surround him, eager to hear the
last good story, and to repeat it to their
comrades. " Old CI." is one of the best-
known men in the hunting field, and on a
dull day when scent is poor and things slack
all round, he seldom fails to enliven the pro-
ceedings. All the same he never loses siMit
83 OUR fEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
of the main chance, and whilst laughing,
jesting and talking, effects many a " deal."
He keeps a good class of horse, and as a rule
treats his customers liberally and well. Eub
him the right side instead of the wrong, and
there is no better fellow in the world than
" Old G." His tongue will only amuse, and
neither offend nor insult, if you possess
sufficient insight to discern that he is not one
of the baker's dozen, turned out so freely by
Nature's mould, but possesses a distinct in-
dividuality of his own.
Then we have the stout and affable dealer,
of the rosy cheeks, blue eyes and benignant
smile, who looks rippling over with the milk
of human kindness. His manners are quite
charming ; so soft, suave and persuasive,
and there is a sort of innocent frankness
about him, which it needs the utmost
moral courage to resist. He carries you
away insensibly. Those unctuous utterances
of his possess an irresistible fascination,
THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 83
and cast a glamour over your clearer judg-
He comes out hunting on a compact
jumping cob, as sensible as a man, and in a
sober way thoroughly enjoys the chase,
though he does not profess to ride hard. He
has a quick eye for a horse, and always has
a useful lot in his stables, and is so courteous
and fair spoken that he can persuade a cus-
tomer into buying almost anything he
chooses. Not until the customer is re-
moved from the magic of his presence
does he remember that he really has
not had much of a trial, and that the
fences jumped were absurdly small.
Other dealers there are many. It would
take us too long to describe the different
types, but taken as a body, all hunting
people owe them a debt of thanks, and
should hold out the hand of friendship
to the men who find them good horses
with which to enjoy their favourite pursuit.
VI.— THE MAN WHO GOES EIRST.
The hunting field is a mimic world, on whose
stage an immense number of different passions
are represented. Pleasure, pain, envy, fear,
malice, mortification, excitement and en-
thusiasm all play their part ; sometimes one,
sometimes the other preponderating, accord-
ing to the nature and temperament of the
individual. No deception is possible.
Every man, whatever his pretensions may
be, soon finds his proper level, and is esti-
mated strictly according to his merits. The
coward is known as a coward, the impostor
as an impostor. They cannot take in their
friends and neighbours by any semblance of
courage, or by any amount of bragging.
Their foibles are pitilessly clear to the sharp
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 85
eyes by which they are surrounded, and he
who fancies himself a hero in the field is
often spoken of with contumely and con-
tempt. One thing is certain — folk are always
more ready to pick holes than to praise.
Human nature finds it much easier to censure
than to laud.
But fond as people undoubtedly are of
placing each other's weaknesses under a
strong magnifying glass, and mercilessly dis-
secting them, there is one man who escapes
the process, and for whose gallantry and
manly courage they have nothing but un-
I speak of the man who goes first. The
man who, whenever hounds run for ten
minutes at a time, is sure to be seen close at
their sterns, performing prodigies of valour
and charging fences, oxers and bullfinches
with a brave indifierence that makes us feel
he is somehow fashioned of stouter stufl'
86 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
His comrades entertain a profound venera-
tion for him. Some few of the younger
generation try vainly to emulate his deeds.
What quality do these youngsters lack, that
so small a proportion can compete with him ?
Do they lose their heads ? Do they want his
experience, his coolness and nerve? Who
knows? Anyhow, no one who sees him in
the hunting field can refrain from acknow-
ledging that he is a dauntless and lion-hearted
fellow, who, unlike the majority of the human
race, does not appear to know the common
sensation of physical fear. Do youth and
a sound constitution confer this advantage ?
Not always ; for sometimes he has left his
best years behind him, and is the father of a
large and annually increasing family.
When hounds run hard, nothing can stop
him. With them he must and will be.
He has an eye like a hawk — bright, quick,
keen, and no sooner does he land into a field
than he immediately determines upon his
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 87
point of exit, and rides straight for it, not
deviating a liair's breadth to the right or to
the left. This power of promptly making up
his mind is invaluable, and makes slow horses
appear fast, bad gallopers good. If he fails
to perceive a gap, or weak place in the fence
ahead, he goes the shortest way, and simply
chances it, taking his risk of what may be on
the other side. Crash ! fly the timbers from a
rotten oxer. Splash! rise the green waters
of an unsuspected pond, into which his horse
has jumped. What cares he ?
With a flounder, a scramble, and a " Come,
get up," he is once more careering over the
springy pastures, urging his good steed to
his speed, in order to make up for lost
Fence after fence he throws behind him,
reckless of consequences, never looking back
unless it be when he has succeeded in clear-
ing an extra wide ditch, to call out some
warning word to his followers, bidding them
88 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD
put on the pace. Many of them are good
men and hard, but they cannot touch their
leader, who in every instance points out the
way and is not to be headed.
It is a brave eight, when they reach some
almost unjumpable place, to see the man who
goes first, whilst others are hesitating and
drawing rein, crash right into the very midst
of it, regardless of danger, and a sorry one
when, as is frequently the case, he and his
horse roll head over heels in horrible con-
fusion of arms, heels and legs. But even then
he is undefeated. He rises from mother earth
with a pale, smiling countenance and a
muddy coat, and is up and away before any-
one has had the heart to follow his example.
" Not hurt, old fellow ? " shout out the
little band after his receding form, as they
proceed to take advantage of the handy gap
His head is swimming, his eyes blinded by
black specks, his neck so stiff he cannot turn
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 89
it, but he calls back, " No ; not a bit. Only
a trifle shaken," So saying he crushes his
battered hat well down over his mud-stained
brow, and without more ado proceeds to
charge some equally formidable obstacle.
The wonder is that he has a single whole
bone left in his body, and yet strange to say,
although he gets a very fair proportion of
falls, he seldom meets with a bad one. The
timorous old roadster crawling along the
roads breaks his leg owing to his horse
putting his foot into a drain. The habitual
shirker smashes three ribs at a gap, where all
he asks of his steed is to walk quietly through
it. The man who goes first has escaped these
and similar disasters. His courage protects
him, and it really seems as if he possessed the
power of communicating his own gallant
spirit to the animals he bestrides. Anyhow,
the dash and determination of the rider
appear shared b}' his hunters. It is the
rarest thin<z in the world to see one of them
90 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
refuse with liim. They probably know that
they must go whether they like it or not, and
so wisely make up their equine minds to the
Our friend sells annually, and therefore
commences the season with an entirely new
lot. But that fact makes not the slightest
difference to him. He very quickly ascertains
what his summer purchases are worth, drafts
those that are bad, and proceeds to put heart
and "jumping powder" into the good. Early
in May he sends his whole stud to the
hammer, asserting that he is not rich enough
to retain favourites. As a rule his horses are
nothing particular to look at. They are
mostly well bred, but lean as greyhounds,
and bear sundry marks and blemishes.
Nevertheless they fetch fabulous prices, and
his sale is always one of the great events of
the London season. People have seen his
hunters going in the field, and are willing to
open their purse-strings wider than their
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 91
wont, in order to secure such extraordinary
Need we say that they are frequently dis-
appointed in the purchases made, and dis-
cover, when too late, that it is the man, and
not the horse, who is extraordinary? They
cannot buy his iron nerve, or his uncon-
querable spirit. If they could, no price would
be too great to pay for them. They are
divine gifts conferred but rarely, and often
thrown away upon the possessor who has it
in his power to be a leader of men, not merely
of the hunting field.
A large proportion of the gentlemen and
ladies who pursue the fox are very much
given to drawing the long bow, and to en-
larging on their own performances directly
the dangers of the day are well over. Seated
before a blazing fire, or with their legs com-
fortably stowed away under the mahogany, it
is an exceedingly gratifying thing to say, " I
did this and that. Did you see me ? "
92 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
But the man who goes first is as remark-
able for his modesty as for his courage. He
never talks of what he has done, perhaps
because he knows that there is no occasion
for him to glorify his deeds by self-encomium.
They are patent to all the world, and require
not the laudation of Number One. To listen
to him, you would think that every soul out
hunting had seen the run better than himself.
He never enters into a discussion as to where
so-and-so was at a given period of the day's
amusement, and if asked who broke down the
big bit of timber which let in all the field, or
who showed the way first, over that awkward,
treacherous-banked brook, invariably says he
can't remember, though he knows quite well
it was himself.
No one is so keen a sportsman, nor so
good a fellow as the man who goes first.
Although no doubt he is not exempt from
those emulative feelings shared by most hard-
riding men, he will always stop to pick up a
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 93
fallen friend, and even lose his place of honour
in order to catch and bring back that friend's
He does not speak much out hunting, being
too intent on the proceedings of the hounds
to indulge freely in the pastime, known as
" coffee-housing." Nevertheless the ladies all
unite in worshipping him, and are his most
devoted admirers. They think more of a
word from him than of an hour's conversation
with an ordinary individual. For where is
the woman, young or old, who does not
prostrate herself before the shrine of courage
and who does not entertain a profound
reverence for its possessor ? So great is the
enthusiasm excited by our friend in the
female breast, that every now and again,
some rash and infatuated young person will
take it into her head to constitute him pilot.
Woe be to that young person. Half a dozen
fences soon prove the temerity of her resolu-
tion. In hunting parlance she is quickly
94 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTINO FIELD,
*' choked off," and gives up the attempt to
follow so desperate a leader with a sigh,
realizing the danger to which she exposes
herself in endeavouring to do as he does.
But he heeds not the fair sex. Sport is his
bride and his passion. Next to hunting he
places salmon-fishing, and after salmon fishing-
shooting. The chase of the " thief of the
world " comes, however, a long way first in
He is the Master's right-hand man, being
indefatigable in getting up poultry, wire
funds, &c. The huntsman treats him with
peculiar respect, and nearh^ always accepts
his opinion as to which way the hunted fox
has gone. Indeed, few people get so near a
view of Master Eeynard.
A large number of the field repose such
unlimited confidence in the man who goes
first that they cannot even conceive of his
being thrown out or taking a wrong turn.
They follow his movements with sheepish
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 95
obsequiousness, and are perfectl}^ content to
hunt liim, without either hounds, fox, or
huntsman. He has been known to lead a
numerous continn;ent for three or four miles
over a stiff line of country, just for the joke
of the thing, knowing all the time that the
pack had run to ground in an entirely oppo-
site direction. When he pulled up and his
astonished followers suddenly exclaimed,
" Where are the hounds ? " with a quiet smile
of appreciation for their sportsman-like pro-
pensities he answered demurely :
" The hounds ! Oh ! they're at Grange-
cross, trying to bolt their fox from a drain.
I thought you knew."
" Then, what the dickens did you mean by
leading us this dance ? "
" Dance, gentlemen ! May I not be per-
mitted to qualify my young horse for our
county steeplechases ? "
But even such a manoeuvre as this cannot
succeed in freeing him altogether from his
96 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
train of blind admirers. They consider it
more honour and glory to be in the same
field with him than with the hounds. He is
their fox, their sport, their everything. Such
adulation is flattering, but it has its draw-
backs. The truth is, the man who goes fir.st
is regarded as the hero of his particular
Hunt, whether he like it or not. He cannot
escape from the celebrity earned by his
gallant and fearless conduct. Are we foolish
to hold him in such esteem ? to look up to a
person because he jumps more and bigger
fences than we do ourselves ? The answer is,
Our friend may not be intellectual, he may
be slow of wit, dull of conversation, feeble at
repartee, but for all that he is fashioned of
the stuff of which heroes are made. He
would lead his men on some desperate charge
were he a soldier, just as coolly as he rides
at a double oxer ; or if a sailor, die fighting
at his ^uns as calmly and bravely as he bores
THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 97
the way through some apparently impene-
So lon<T as our huntinc^ fields continue to
produce such men as these, no one can say
that the sons of England have become effete.
The gallant spirit is still there which has
enabled them to win so much fame in the
past, and will yet win them fame in the
For the man who goes first out hunting is
no mere weakling, but a fine, determined
fellow, full of manly qualities and vigorous
vitality which any national emergency would
call into life. One thing is certain. Where-
ever he may be, he will always gain the
applause of his fellow men and exercise a
powerful influence over them.
YII.— THE YENEEABLE DANDY.
Dear old fellow ! How often have we not
smiled at, and laughed over his little foibles
and vanities, and loved him at heart, much
in the same w^ay as we love Thackeray's
immortal Major Pendennis. His artifices
are so innocent, the small deceptions that he
practises so thoroughly guileless and trans-
parent that they fail to irritate as artifice and
deceit generally do.
Seen from an appropriate distance, he may
indeed recall Keats' celebrated line — " A thing
of beauty is a joy for ever," but on nearer
inspection, his exquisitely glossy, black wig,
worn low on each side of the ears, proclaims
itself unmistakably to be an artificial cover-
irg ; whilst the carefully curled whiskers and
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 99
moustache of which he is so proud, recall to
our minds sundry advertisements that daily
greet our eyes in the newspapers anent
*' Nuda Veritas," " Mexican Eenewer," and so
Granted that art and not Nature has pro-
duced the captivating results centred in the
person of our venerable Dandy, shall we
admire him au}^ the less on that account?
No, certainly not.
Few people can deny that his jetty wig is
a beautiful thing in its way, fashioned most
cunningly and artistically. Those two little
touches of roun-e on either cheek-bone have a
pleasing effect, although they are perfectly
patent to the beholder. Black and red go
well together, and the contrast between our
old buck's complexion and his hair reminds us
of some pretty, fresh country lass.
Nor can it be gainsaid that the two
dazzling rows of false teeth which gleam so
brilliantly from beneath his stiff, military
100 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
moustache, are decidedly pleasanter to look at
than one or two irregular yellow stumps,
taking precarious hold, like mouldy tomb-
stones in a deserted churcli3"ard. Yes, when
we look at our venerable friend, we can for-
give all his little simple contrivances to ap-
pear young and boyish ; for, at least they im-
pose upon nobody but himself, and if they
render his child-like spirit happy, so much
the better. The weaknesses in which he
indulges are mostly harmless. They neither
hurt nor offend his neighbours, and the pre-
sumption is that they arise from an inordi-
nate desire to please and to secure golden
Poor old Dandy ! By all means keep up
thy illusions, so long as they afford thee any
satisfaction. Many of us in our hearts can
even feel a certain sympathy for them, since
the process of getting bald, and wrinkled,
and aged, and seeing others pass us in life's
race, is not agreeable to the majority. Few
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 101
people like leaving tlieir youth and good
looks behind them, or seeing the pitiless
years stamping themselves upon brow, and
face, and form.
All women hate it, and most men, and so
they try to remain juvenile as long as they
can, and take first to one cosmetic, then to
another, in the vam hope of putting off the
evil day, or at least preventing their friends
and neighbours from guessing that it has al-
ready arrived. And they Hatter themselves
they succeed, only they don't. Human
beings are seldom lenient to each other's age,
and have a pitilessly correct way of scoring
up dates. Births, deaths and marriages serve
as excellent pegs for the memory.
When the venerable Dandy first rises of a
morning, he has a bad quarter of an hour.
What horrible tales does not the glass tell ;
what ghastly seams and furrows it reveals !
From brow to chin he sees nothing but a
mass of wrinkles that deepen day by day.
102 OUK FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
But the mysteries of the toilet once gone
through, and no man — not even the old
gentleman's valet — is acquainted with their
subtle entirety, he descends upon the world
at large, a different creature, and airs him-
self in the sunshine like a bird of gay, if
How erect he sits in his saddle, after the
difficulty of getting there is once overcome,
and he rides happily off to the meet,
conscious that he is well-dressed and looking
his best. He struggles gallantly with his
seventy summers, and fights Old Age inch by
inch, retiring with a brave front, although
worsted periodically in the combat. He
draws in the small of his back, and inflates
his padded chest as he passes a couple of
pretty young ladies, seated in a sniart pony-
trap, drawn by a quick-stepping, hogmaned
pony. The}^ obtain a fine view of his lovely
teeth, accompanied by an irresistible smile,
as, bowing at the shrine of youth and beauty,
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 103
he takes off his hat with an elaborate flourish.
What a sheen there is on that same hat !
All the " Mashers " of the hunt are dying to
find out who his hatter is, and where he
dwells. Such secrets as these, however, our
venerable friend never reveals. Time after
time have they invited him to dinner and
primed him with old port — his favourite
beverage — but althougli he grows very cha.tty
under its influence, he continually diverts the
conversation wlien it reaches too personal or
inquisitive a point. He keeps his own
counsel and makes no confidences on such
The whole county covet his receipt for boot
varnish. It is both their envy and their ad-
miration. But although numerous attempts
have been made to induce him to part with
the information, not a single endeavour has
ever succeeded. Eumour says that he himself
concocts the precious fluid and will not even
allow his valet to witness the operation, for
104 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
fear of being betraj^ed. However that may
be, no one else's boots are so well turned out
as his, or possess so smooth a polish or such
delicately rose-tinted tops. Added to this,
the flexibility, softness and spotless purity of
his leathers drive all the gentlemen's t^entle-
men to despair. Labour as they will, they
cannot produce the same results. Their lemon
juice, their various acids, their pipeclay and
breeches powder are just so much waste of
Whether they like it or not, the younger
generation are forced to admit that the
venerable Dandy is the best-dressed man in
the whole hunting-field. His ties are irre-
proachable, his pins miracles of neatness and
sporting art, his coats fit without a crease,
his waistcoats are quite unique, and as for his
buttonholes they are simply perfection. But
as he is beautiful, so he is prudent. Our
dear and respected friend never sallies forth
to the chase without a large white mackin-
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 105
tosh carefully rolled up and strapped to his
There are some things about him which
fairly pass the comprehension of his fellow
sportsmen. For instance, not a soul out
hunting can conceive how, when every one
else is splashed with mud from top to toe, he
manages to appear at the very end of the day
with scarcely a stain ! If they have occasion
to gallop down a road at full speed, receiv-
ing many a shower-bath in the process, there
he is cool, neat and smiling.
Other people's horses bespatter them with
dirt, he never seems to receive a clod.
Their eyes get bunged up with the gritty
compound thrown from the heels of the
animal in front, his apparently never do. In
fine weather his appearance completely defies
change. Hat, gloves, breeches, boots, wig,
whiskers and complexion are all as carefully
preserved when hounds go home to their
kennels as when they met. How he manages
106 OUR EEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
it is a problem •which has puzzled even the
very wisest heads of the Hunt, and one
which they are totally unable to solve.
Needless to say, the venerable Dandy never
jumps. A fence might interfere sadly with
his " make up," and the risk of discovery is
too great. Fancy his feelings, if his lovely
wig were to be caught in the thorny embrace
of some ugly bullfinch, and left behind. Ugh !
the very thought sends a cold shudder down
his spine. If such a thing as that were to
happen really, then the sooner death came the
better. He could never survive his shame.
But our friend wisely avoids the chance of
this or any similar catastrophe. He puts dis-
cretion before valour, and contents himself
with a line of gates, or if they happen to fail,
he sticks perseveringly to the roads.
Here he finds plenty of compan}^ people, in
fact, of excellent pretensions, booted and
spurred, and clad in pink. But sometimes
these gentlemen are in too much of a hurry
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 107
for liim. They have no objection to tearing
along the hard macadam, being valiant enough
when those horrid dansjerous fences are re-
moved from vision. Dandy, however, has
long ago discovered that a quiet and sedate
trot suits his stays and his teeth better than a
more violent pace. Galloping shakes him
and disarrays his person. Consequently, he
not unfrequently finds himself in the society
of the second horsemen, who pilot him cun-
ningly about. His manners are very con-
descendingf and affable. He knows how to
converse with those occupying a lower grade,
at the same time maintaining his dignity. No
one ever takes liberties with him, for what-
ever his faults may be, he is a thorough
gentleman. Even his foibles are those of his
His great delight is to get hold of some
nervous young lady — especially if she is nice
looking — who protests she hates the very
sight of a fence. How prettily and tenderly
lOS OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
lie soothes her fears, with what a manly
courage tries to point out that they are un-
founded, and how kindly he insists on her
taking a sip from his flask, amorously ap-
plying his own lips after those of the fair.
The dear old fellow is never so happy as
when buzzing about the ladies and over-
whelming them with delicate attentions. He
has a courtly grace, an old-fashioned,
chivalrous manner towards the sex, which
the}'' appreciate, and which they deplore as
being out of date now-a-days. He hovers
round a pretty woman, much as a blue-bottle
hovers round a jam pot, and gets on quite
confidential terms before some envious but
rough-mannered youth has even received a nod.
The young fellows affect to despise him and
some of them treat him with scant courtesy,
but nevertheless they are a little bit jealous
of his social successes, and wonder " How the
devil the women can put up with that old
fool." Perhaps, after all, the latter are the
THE VENERABLE DANDY, 10!)
best judges of those subtle qualities that go to
make up a gentleman, and the majority
show a decided partiality for the venerable
If he only says " a fine morning," or " a
cold one," they will always smile back at him
in return, and make some playful remark
agreeable to the old fellow's vanity.
Thoroughly happy is he on a bright, sun-
shiny day. Then, like a butterfly, he spreads
his wings, and the spirit within him soars on
high. Fine overhead, dry underfoot, he asks
for nothing more, and flits about, showering
his little polite speeches on all those with
whom he comes in contact. It does not take
much to content him. He is an easily satisfied,
guileless creature, who still retains a large
capacity of enjoyment, which advancing years
cannot suppress altogether.
The spiteful say of him that he never by
any chance has an original idea. Well ! how
many people are there who have, except in
110 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
the deceptive recesses of their own imagina-
tion ? What they mistake for originality is
generally only repetition. An idea is almost
as scarce as a nugget of gold, but luckily
most people get on fairly well without
possessing any very large stock on which to
Dandy passes muster with the crowd, and
is a pleasant-spoken, harmless, good-natured
old beau, who desires nothing better in this
world than to live and let live. His philo-
sophy may not be profound, but it is of a very
useful, work-a-day description.
What if the men do laugh at him now and
again, and he is unpleasantly conscious of the
fact. He has the consolation of knowiii"?
that their wives and sisters always take his
part, and stick up for him in his absence.
They realize that in spite of sundry little
conceits and affectations, he possesses a
simple, kindly nature, whose very craving
for admiration is childlike and innocent.
THE VENEKAELE DANDY. Ill
They may see, but forgive his faults, and
even ^vhile they smile at, love the venerable
Dandy, who is so ready to pay them compli-
ments, and as far as lies in his power to
render himself asrreeable.
Such is the brilliant side of the picture.
Alas ! that there should be another.
Why will the winds blow, and the rain
descend to stamp as fraudulent an amiable
old gentleman's harmless attempts to improve
upon Nature ? Nature is not always kind,
and often requires assistance, which, however,
she not unfrequently resists.
If the morning be very wet, Dandy consults
his barometer, and does not attempt to face
the elements. He cannot enjoy fox huntino-
in bad weather, and therefore wisely makes
up his mind to stop at home. But our
cUmate is variable, and there are many days
in winter when it is impossible to tell whether
it will rain or not, and when even the
meteorological report in the newspaper is
112 OUE FEIEXDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD.
thoroughly misguiding, and calculated to
convey a wrong impression.
Those are miserable and unfortunate days
for our Dandy.
He is thoroughly wretched once the deluge
commences. True, his big white mackintosh
almost entirely protects his frame, but as the
wet raindrops chase each other down his cold
face, he has a horrible conviction that his
finely pencilled eyebrows, his carefully rouged
cheeks, his cleverly dyed whiskers are fading
away, washed into parti-coloured smudges,
and leaving exposed to vision grey hairs,
yellow crow's-feet and unsightly wrinkles.
His first act on reaching home is to look in
the looking-glass, and there he sees his worst
fears confirmed. Twenty years are added to
his age since he started at morn. His cheeks
are grimed with black, owing to the inky
rivulets that have trickled from eyebrows and
whiskers, his collar is stained the same sable
hue, and the hair of his wig hangs down
THE VENERABLE DANDY. 113
in lanky wisps, through which any one can
detect the silvery foundation on which it
Alack ! alack ! these are cruel and dis-
astrous days, which make him vow he will
give up hunting altogether, and endeavour to
resign himself to growing old with a good
But he will never grow old really. He is a
boy at heart, and always will remain so,
whilst the instinct which makes him seek to
conceal the ravages of Time is too strong to
He fights a desperate battle with advancing
years, and when at length he feels his days
are numbered, remains true to the character-
istics which have distinguished him through
life. He calls the wife of his bosom to his
side, and with feeble voice and flickering
smile says— "Wife, put it in all the news-
papers, and — and — be tender as to my age."
Poor old Dandy !
114 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
Why should not we be tender to him also,
and dwell rather on his simplicity, his inofien-
siveness and unvarying good nature, than on
his little vanities and conceits ?
If it pleased him to fancy that, because he
padded his coats, swelled out his chest, dyed
his whiskers, wore a wig, and rouged his
yellow cheeks, it made him appear gay and
juvenile, why should not we fall in with
his mood and favour the delusion?
Alone, in the sanctity of his own chamber,
depend upon it he has had many a bad
moment, when the words of the Preacher
were sufficient chastisement for any eccentri-
cities in which he chose to indulge.
If we had not a little folly amongst us,
something to laugh at, and something to cry
at, what an insufferable world this would be
— a world of Pharisees and Prigs.
VIIL— THE FARMER.
Not one in twenty of those who follow the
fox take into sufficient consideration the
enormous debt of gratitude which they owe
to the farmer. The majority of people seem
to think that when they ride over his wheat,
force open his gates and break down his
fences, they have a perfect right to do so,
and the proprietor has no business whatever
Now, this is not only a very unsportsman-
like, but also a very erroneous view of the
It cannot be too emphatically stated that
without the consent and co-operation of the
farmers, hunting could not exist for even a
single day. They have the power to strike
116 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
its death-knell at any moment, and it is solely
owing to their goodwill and courtesy that the
Chase continues to flourish. Folks should
bear this fact in mind, and abstain as much
as possible from inflicting unnecessary
If all were to combine, a great deal might
be done, especially as heedlessness is generally
at the bottom of the mischief. In the ardour
of a good run the hard-riding gentry, and
even those who are not particularly keen
about being with the hounds, will continually
let young stock escape from their field, little
thinking how much time and trouble it takes
to drive them back again ; and few sportsmen
hesitate to gallop over growing crops, in spite
of the master's remonstrances.
These things should not be. They are
opposed to fair play, common sense, and
above all, to self-interest. In return for
what the farmer has to put up with, every
one should studv his wishes, even at the
THE FARMER. 117
expense of losing his or her place, which,
after all, is not a very serious misfortune.
A certain proportion of farmers, luckily for
them, possess independent means, and in spite
of bad times and the prevailing agricultural
depression, are able to keep a horse or two
and hunt pretty regularly. They enjoy the
sport as much, if not more than most people,
and when hounds travel over their land are
always the first to show the way across it, or
to Uft gates from hinges with a magnanimous
disregard for consequences. No better fellow
lives, and he is the life and soul of fox-hunting.
Even if every fence on his property were
broken down, he would scorn to utter a com-
plaint to the authorities. He is a thorough
sportsman, keen as mustard. Although his
poultry dwindle, his lambs disappear, and he
suffers in a variety of different ways, he never
says a word ; and in the covert close by his
house there is always a litter of foxes to be
118 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
He, and others like liim are a pillar of
strength to the Hunt. All through the
summer he walks a goodly number of
puppies, and keeps them entirely at his
own expense. The cups which from time to
time he has won with them are treasured
as family heirlooms, and shine on the oak
mantelpiece of his best parlour. In the
field no one is more popular or more
respected. It is a pleasure to see his bright
rosy countenance, on which health and good
humour are legibly written. The fair sex find
in him a staunch champion ; for he possesses
a spirit of chivalry fast dying out among the
gentlemen of the nineteenth century. It is
his honest voice that invariably shouts, " Make
wa}^ for the lady," and if by any chance he sees
her unfairly deprived of her turn at the fence
his anger breaks loose immediately and vents
itself in an indignant " Shame ! " which earns
him many a smile of gratitude.
In short, he is the pink of courtesy, and
THE FAEMER. 119
there are noble lords whose manners are not
equal to his. And when hounds run, how
well he goes, how straight he rides, even al-
thousfh his horses are often a trifle under-bred
and over-paced. But he makes up for these
deficiencies by a thorough knowledge of the
country, and by never being afraid to go the
Every fence within a radius of several
miles is familiar to him, and he can lead you
in a bee line down to the only place where
the brook is fordable, or the unjumpable
Now and again he picks up a young horse
cheap, and makes him ; riding him in daunt-
less fashion, regardless of tumbles, till he
knows his business thoroughly. He is a
capital man to buy from, as his animals have
been well ridden, and he is content to take a
smaller profit than a dealer. But as a rule the
dealer knows every farmer in the county who
purchases or breeds young horses, and the
120 OUIl FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
opportunities of acquiring a decent hunter
without the intervention of a third party are
daily becoming scarcer as the demand in-
The hard-riding farmer is so familiar to us
all that to dwell further on his merits ap-
pears superfluous. Every time we go out
hunting we can witness them and admire
But there is another class of farmer who
also contributes greatly to the sport and
whose virtues are liable to be overlooked,
from the mere fact of their belonmnof to a
passive rather than to an active order. We
allude to those who don't hunt, and who care
nothin2^ for the chase. These men are some-
times abused, and in nearly every instance
most undeservedly. We are as much indebted
to them as to their fox-loving-brethren, indeed
rather more so ; for the latter get consider-
able compensation for the depreciation of
their propertv, in the shape of amusement,
THE FARMER. 121
whilst the former derive no satisfaction what-
ever from allowing their fields to be scampered
over by two or three hundred thoughtless and
careless people, who do not take even ordi-
nary precautions to avoid inflicting damage
on the owner.
Is it any wonder if they grumble a little at
times ? If we were in their place should not
we grumble also, and resent the oft-recurring
intrusion as a nuisance and a personal in-
They have no sporting tastes, and only ask
to be left alone — to live and let live ; and in
their hearts would rejoice if hunting were
done away with altogether. They look upon
it as an oppression of the poor by the rich,
an ostentatious display of wealth, unwise and
unseemly in the depressed condition of the
country. They are all for liberty and equality,
and think every man should be king of his
own domain. Some years ago, when times
were good, they neither liked nor disliked
122 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD.
hunting. Their feehngs were neutral and
their pockets were not perceptibly affected
one way or the other. At least, they bore
the strain better. But in these days, ideas
have undergone a revolution. The prospects
of farming are so bad that every sixpence
has become of consequence, and that lean
fleshless maiden. Economy, turns much other-
wise healthy blood to gall. It is easy enough
to be good-natured as long as you have plenty
of money. Nothing renders a man so surly
as the lack of it. Landlords complain of the
quantity of wire now used by tenants on
their farms. They forget that wire is about
the cheapest form of fencing procurable. If
they don't like it, why don't they furnish
timber to put up rails in its place ? Strange
that the idea does not seem to strike them ! It
is unreasonable to expect a man who does not
hunt himself, and whose proclivities are dis-
inclined to the Chase, not to consult his
own interest in the important matter of
THE FARMER. 123
pounds, shillings and pence. Why should
the farmer who never gets on to a horse from
one year to another, pay for people to come
galloping over his land ? If they needs must
gallop over it let them make good any
damage inflicted. Nothing can be simpler.
This is fair enough, and yet how seldom do
we hear the non-sporting farmer's side of the
question discussed in an open, equitable
manner. If he makes the smallest remon-
strance, he is generally dubbed " a cross-
grained old brute." As often as not he is a
very hardly-used individual, naturally some-
what aggrieved at finding his property little
respected, and himself treated as a perfect
nonentity. A few considerate words, a
judicious payment now and again, when the
Hunt is manifestly in the wrong, and above
all, some acknowledgment from its more in-
fluential members, would go far to allay the
feeling of soreness often engendered. Gentle-
men are very foolish who fail to conciliate
124 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTINQ FIELD.
the farmers, for they are their best friends,
and to convert them into enemies is a terrible
mistake. The wonder is, not that an occa-
sional farmer now and again should warn
people off his land, but that the whole body
do not join in a hue and cry against hunting.
They are a long-suffering race, and in these
days have many difficulties to contend with.
Therefore those who follow the fox should
never lose an opportunity of proving their
gratitude for the generosity which alone
permits them to pursue their favourite
When a gate has been shivered to pieces,
a fence badly broken down, they should not
wait for a formal complaint to be lodged, but
should club together among themselves to
repair the loss as speedily as possible. Such
actions, if done spontaneously, would go a
long way towards maintaining amicable re-
lations. The meanness of the rich is answer-
able for a good deal of the existing discon-
THE FARMER. 125
tent. The British farmer is a splendid fellow,
taking him all round, and his growl is fre-
quently worse than his bite. Let courtesy be
met with courtesy, instead of, as it often is, by
rudeness and indifference. Let generosity on
the one side call forth generosity on the
other, and above all let the policy of field and
master be one of conciliation towards the
class of men who thoroughly deserve to be
treated with kindness and consideration in
return for their sacrifices made on behalf of
fox-hunting. A soft answer turneth away
wrath, and an angry man armed with a pitch-
fork is more easily disarmed by pleasant
speech and a disposition to listen to his griev-
ances, than by a volley of indignant oaths,
whose only result is that both parties lose
their temper and come to an open breach,
certainly to the disadvantage of Nimrod.
We should remember that the land is not
ours to do what we like with, and that a
stout, elderly farmer having a dozen young
126 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD.
children all tearing at his purse-strings,
cannot be expected to look upon fox-hunting
with the same enthusiasm as a rich young
man who has plenty of money to spend, and
nobody to spend it on but himself.
Different circumstances give rise to very
different notions, and poverty quickly
slackens zeal. When you begin to say to
yourself, " It will cost me half-a-crown to
have that gap made up," and the same half-
crown is wanted to pa}^ for a dozen various
things, the question comes quite naturally,
" Why should I allow that gap to be made ?
Nobody even says. Thank you, for the pains I
am put to." Farmers, as a bod}^ will not
stop fox-hunting so long as they can afford
to support it, and matters are conducted in a
fair and gentlemanly way. And if times
change, the people assuming the upper hand
claim the land as their own, and pooh
pooh a sport in which they do not join, it
will be unfair to lav the blame at the farmer's
THE FARMER. 127
door. Only when that day comes, England
may take a back seat among the nations.
Her children will miss the nursery ground
in which their finest qualities, " pluck," dash,
and gallantry have been fostered, and sink to
the level of the soft, effeminate foreigner, who
regards le sport as a species of madness.
Meanwhile, let us thank the farmers for the
good times they have given us in the past, and
still hope that the friendliness and concilia-
tion on either side, those good times may
continue in the future. What a terrible
revolution would be worked in English
country life if each county could not produce
its pack of hounds. Think of the boredom of
the men, the regrets of the women. Acci-
dents there must always be, but fox-hunting
compensates for them all by the health, the
exhilaration, and cordial good-fellowship that
it brings. So, three cheers for our best friend,
IX.— THE "FUNK-STICK."
Of all the people who come out hunting, no
one is so sincerely to be pitied as the " Funk-
stick." In every respect he is a most miser-
able man, full of abject fears of which he is
horribly ashamed, yet which he cannot
conquer or conceal by any effort. Constitu-
tional timidity renders him a perfect martyr.
Only the unfortunate wretch himself knows
the agonies of mind which he endures — the
doubts, the terrors, the dismal forebodings of
imaginary danger, worse even than actual
disaster. Why he hunts is a mystery ; since,
far from giving pleasure,the chase affords him
nothing but pain. The only solution of the
problem seems to be that years and custom
have made him a complete slave to habit, and
THE "PUNK-STICK." 129
he has not sufficient moral courage to break
away from the chains by which he is bound.
Besides, he has no other resources, and hunt-
iniT is a means of killing^ time. Yet what
tortures tlie poor man undergoes. He wakes
early in the morning with an oppressive
feeling that something very unpleasant is
going to happen during the day, and before
his eyes are thoroughly open he remembers
with a sinking spirit what that something is.
Hounds meet at the kennels, after not
having been able to hunt for over a week
on account of severe frost, which has now
disappeared. He feels like a man who, having
obtained a short reprieve, is suddenly in-
formed that his last hour is come.
Good heavens ! how abominably fresh the
horses will be, after standing idle in their
stable for so long. No amount of talking
ever can persuade the factotum who presides
over his equine department to give them
enough work. It is useless trying to impress
130 OUK FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
upon him that four hour's daily exercise is
but just sufficient to keep an animal in good
health. And now he will have to suffer from
the vacraries of his steeds. The mere thouirht
He had decided over night to ride a recent
purchase, a beautiful blood mare, but that
was after dinner. In the morning he repents
this determination, and feels that nothing
shall induce him to get on her back until he
knows a great deal more about her. She is
certain to kick him off, or buck, or shy, or
indulge in some equally alarming antic. He
knows beforehand that his groom will receive
the message contemptuously, but he cannot
help it. For a time he struggles against his
fears, but in the end he has to succumb to
them, and sends out word to say that he has
changed his mind, and will hunt Eochester, a
confidential animal approaching his twentieth
year, instead of Queen Bess.
The reply is that Eochester has been out
THE "FUNK-STICK." 131
exercising, and owing to the slipperly state of
the ground it would be unadvisable to hunt a
horse whose forelegs are shaky and liable at
any moment to give way altogether. The
"Funk-stick" is quite aware of this fact
without hearing it repeated ; but what is he
to do ? It is easier for him to buy a new hunter
than to summon up courage to ride a fresh
one, and of all his stud, Eochester is the
animal he feels least afraid of. So Eochester,
in spite of having been fed and watered, is
saddled and our hero starts in fear and
trembling. It is a gusty morning, and a cold
north-east wind comes sweeping over the
uplands. The old horse, not liking the
sharp air, after his warm stable, rounds his
back a bit, going down the first hill from
Oh ! what an agonizing pang shoots knife-
like through the heart of his rider ! That
gentleman feels positively ill with apprehen-
sion, and from moment to moment anticipates
132 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
some frightful calamity. He is far too
uneasy to enter into conversation with any
of the numerous acquaintances who overtake
him. If the truth were known he is down-
right afraid to let his animal break into a
canter. The awful shadow of " what might
happen " weighs upon his spirit like a ton of
lead. He cannot shake off its depressing
influence. His nerves quiver, his teeth
chatter, but not from the cold alone. Other
causes tend to produce this result, though his
pallid cheek flushes red with shame as he puts
a name to them. He is too anxious to be
able to talk, and the only remark he can
jerk out to his friends as they pass by is :
" Awfully bad going to-day. The ground
is in a most dangerous condition."
" Nonsense, my good fellow ! " they laugh
back in reply ; " you'll soon forget all about
it when hounds run. It's more slippery on
the roads than anywhere else. Come, hurry
up or you'll be late."
THE "FUNK-STICK." 133
He shakes his head and gives a melancholy
smile. If anything were to prevent his
hunting that day he knows he should not be
sorry. It's all very well for other people to
" hurry up," but how can he ? Were he to do
so, Eochester might whisk his tail, cock his
ears, or misdemean himself generally. Such
danger is too great to be lightly incurred.
By immense caution he hopes to be able to
His troublesome heart goes thump, thump
against his ribs, when at length he is forced
to quit the safe and friendly road and strike
across a line of bridle-gates and fields. The
latter are dotted with horsemen and women
on their way out to covert, and at sight of
them and of the fresh green pastures,
Eochester distends his nostrils, snorts, and
oh, dear ! oh, dear ! proceeds to give a little
playful bound into the air. Our hero im-
mediately commences hauling frantically at his
head, and in an agonized voice cries out with
134 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
stentorian lungs : " Quiet, horse ! oli, do, do
be quiet ! "
Every one explodes with laughter, and
even Eochester seems to feel a contempt for
his rider, for unheeding this beseeching
appeal, he snatches at the bit, breaks into
a canter, and out of pure light-heartedness,
gives another flourish of his heels.
Tears start to the wretched " Funk-
stick's " eyes ; he is so desperately frightened.
His first instinct is to dismount and walk
home, but people surround him on all sides.
Surreptitiously he manages to wipe away
the signs of his weakness and blows his
nose with great energy and determination.
Arrived at the meet, things do not im-
prove. Neither does his courage, which
by this time has reached a very low ebb.
That old brute Eochester refuses to stand
still for a second. He sidles about, paws the
ground and edges up to the hounds in a
most alarming and disagreeable fashion. In
THE "FUNK-STICK." ]35
fact, he keeps his unhappy rider in a con-
stant state of trepidation. The "What
might happen," is rapidly being magnified
into the " What will and must happen."
By this time the poor " Funk-stick " is so
nervous that he is reduced to a state of al-
most absolute silence. He has no longer any
spirit or inclination to converse, and is not a
good enough actor to dissemble how much he
suffers. His craven fear renders him more
or less callous of appearances. It dominates
his whole nature and crushes every other
emotion by its overwhelming strength.
He cruelly disappoints those ladies of his
acquaintance who do not know him inti-
mately. Meeting him^in a country house or
at a dinner party, they may have voted him
a cheery, pleasant fellow ; for off a horse he
is a completely different man. Out hunting,
they ask themselves what on earth has come
to him ? He seems to avoid their society, has
not a word to say for himself and only just
136 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD,
escapes being downright rude. How could
they ever have fancied he was nice, and
capable of being converted into a husband ?
Poor " Funk stick ! " If only they could
look down into the depths of his shifting
quicksand of a heart — a thing as lightly
ruffled as a blade of grass by every passing
wind — and were aware of the torturing fears
disturbing it, no doubt their compassion
would be aroused and they would pity rather
than blame its unhappy owner.
Unhappy truly, for he is the possessor of
a peculiarly sensitive nature and despises his
own cowardice, even whilst he succumbs to
it. The efforts he makes to conceal this
terrible infirmity are as pathetic as they are
futile. He will talk ever so bravely when an
absolutely unjumpable country lies before
him, and he knows that the whole Field will
be forced to fall back on a line of gates. He
rides up then in a tremendous hurry and
pushes through with the first half-dozen,
THE "FUNK-STICK." 137
looking complacently round when a check
occurs, as much as to say, " Ha, ha ! who is
up ? " He does his very best to make a show
of gallantry when he is perfectly certain that
no calls will be made upon his courage.
If he gets hold of a sympathetic listener, he
will tell him quite gravely that he is only
prevented from jumping owing to having
sprained a muscle in his thigh, which causes
exquisite agony ; or that he has knocked his
knee very badly against a gate-post and in-
jured the cartilage ; or run a thorn into his
great toe, or a variety of different excuses.
He is seldom at a loss to explain how he
would if he could, but doesn't because he
mayn't. He tries hard to keep up a sem-
blance of valour, but only complete strangers
are deceived by his statements.
His form is known to a nicety, and if the
truth must be told, many of his comrades in
the hunting field look upon him with pro-
found contempt. To see him turn away
138 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING HELD.
from a fence when half-a-dozen women and
children have been over it, is certainly not
calculated to inspire much respect for his
manliness or courage. He is, indeed, a real
object of pity.
Unluckily the " Funk-stick " possesses a
There are always a large number of people
who fluctuate between the borderland of
bravery and cow^ardice, and to whom ex-
ample is extremely contagious. Their at-
titude is determined by their' environments,
and, like sheep, they follow the leader.
Now, when our friend " Funk-stick " enters
a field, and not seeing an easy egress, at once
begins calling out, " Don't go there ; don't
go there. I know that place of old, and
it's a most horrible one to jump," a very
numerous contingent scuttle off in his foot-
steps, not even waiting to see if he speaks
the truth. Their anxiety has been aroused,
and they prefer to avoid the danger rather
THE "FUNK-STICK." 139
than face it. In truth, it is a comical sight to
see the whole of the " Funk-stick " division
stopped by some little, insignificant gap, and
to witness the cautious way in which, after
many peeps and much hesitation, the bravest
member will proceed to dismount, clear all
the thorns away, then walk over on foot,
dragging his horse behind him, to an accom-
panying chorus of " Bravas ! Bravas ! " He
has shown them the thino- can be done, and
some even pluck up sufficient spirit to
follow his example on horseback. Time
seems of no importance to this gallant
brigade when they come to a fence. They
plant themselves before it with a species of
dogged patience, and would wait all day
rather than have to jump it. They bore,
and creep, and crawl and scramble, but
they have a rooted objection to a bond
fide leap. Very few venture on so desperate
But if they lose precious moments at their
140 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
fences, the rush they make for a road is some-
thing truly magnificent. An avalanche let
loose is a joke to them, and our " Funk-
stick," suddenly turned brave, heads the
cavalcade. Nevertheless, he derives little
enjoyment from these wild gallops over the
macadam. His conscience accuses him all
the while, and scoffs at his timidity. It leaves
him no peace, for craven fear, such as his,
brings its own punishment.
As a matter of fact, the pains he endures
are something inconceivable, whilst the efforts
he makes, the resolutions he forms to master
his nervousness are quite pitiable ; for they
never lead to any improvement. The truth
is, he can't help himself : it all comes to
He has been born with a shrinking, easily
frightened nature, and it cleaves to him even
in manhood. How gladly would he change
it if he could ; but he can't. The mysterious
laws which govern the universe are too
THE "FUNK-STICK." 141
strong for him. His mother may have
received a shock before his birth, his
nurse may have frightened him in early
childhood by stories of ghosts and super-
natural beings. There are always a hundred
outside causes to account for the result.
Timorous the " Funk-stick " was brought
into the world, and timorous he will go out
of it, dreading death even more than he
dreads a big fence, and yielding up his
feeble life in an agony of apprehension.
Poor man ! poor " Funk-stick ! "
Is it generous, or even fair, to despise him
as much as we only too often do ?
He, like the rest of us, is but a creature of
chance, of circumstance, and above all of
evolution. How can it affect his stronger-
nerved brethren if he prefers gates to hedges,
roads to fields ? Surely every one may hunt
in the manner that pleases him or her best,
without being abused and turned into thinly-
142 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
No doubt, a man worthy of tlie name
should possess his fair share of c?ourage ; but
if he hasn't got it — and man^^ haven't — is it
his fault ?
No, certainly not. He did not elect to be
born a coward of his own free-will, but had
no choice in the matter. As a rule, the
" Funk-stick " will escape unkind criticism
if he has but the good sense to hold his
tongue and makes no attempt to magnif}^ his
own indifferent performances. If he is
humble, and does not pretend to any mock
heroism, then the majority of his fellow-
sportsmen will let him off easily enough.
They are seldom venomous unless roused by
petty trickery and imposture.
" But if he is not only a " Funk-stick," but
an impudent braggart into the bargain, then
woe be to him. He will meet with merciless
scorn, scathing ridicule, and infinite contempt.
Even the fair sex will turn against him, for if
there is one thin"f that British men and
THE "FUNK-STICK." 143
women hate more than another, that thing
It is fatal to make out you ride well when
you don't, to boast when you have absolutely
nothing to boast about, and to glorify your-
self into a lion when you are only a very,
very weakly little mouse.
X.— THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
We cannot help admiring the man who goes
first, in spite of his courage being sometimes
dashed with a touch of brutahty ; but the
Good Samaritan commands a still higher
regard. Our hearts swell with love and
gratitude whenever we think of him, and of
his numerous acts of self-sacrifice. How often
has he not helped us out of an emergency, or
come to the rescue when we are in serious
difficulties? He is literally brimming over
with the milk of human kindness, and there
is nothing on earth that he will not do to
assist a fellow-creature.
Other men go wild about sport, and when
hounds are running hard become so infected
by the enthusiasm of the passing hour as to
THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 145
appear dead to all external sentiments ; but
he would let hounds, fox, huntsman go to the
dogs rather than lose an opportunity of help-
ing suffering humanity. If we fall at a fence,
it is invariably the Good Samaritan who picks
us up. If our horse gallops wildly off, he
pursues him for miles, and never rests until
he brings him back to his owner ; and if the
unlucky steed tumbles into a deep ditch, and
cannot be extricated except by rope and
spade, he cheerfully gives up his day's
pleasuring and sticks to you like a man and
a Briton. He trots off to find labourers, sets
everybody to work, gives the right instruc-
tions in the midst of a Babel of tongues, and
of contrary opinions, and will not hear of
leaving you until everything is well, and the
animal saved from his perilous position. If
he fancies you are hurt, he will ride all the
way home with, and take almost as much
care of you as a mother does of a child. In
more serious cases, he gallops on ahead to
146 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
fetch the doctor, and has everything prepared
before your arrivah He is the kindest, the
best, and most unselfish fellow in the world,
and never seems to think of himself ; all his
thoughts and energies are concentrated on
aiding other people.
• Does he meet with gratitude ? Alas ! not
much. Who does in this world ? He
deserves immense credit, and, comparatively
speaking, gets very little.
The fact is his many good actions are per- .
formed so quietly and unostentatiously, he
regards them so entirely as a matter of course,
that after a while folks adopt the same
opinion. They see no reason whatever why
he should not be allowed to open gates for
the whole field, and let everybody pass
through, if it pleases him. Of course, he
wouldn't do so if he didn't like it ; they
would not, and they judge him by them-
selves — a very common way of jumping at
conclusions. On the same principle, if he
THE GOOD SAMAEITAN, 147
cliooses to dismount at every awkward fence
that proves a " stopper " and tear away tlie
binders until an easy passage is made, there
can be no possible reason why they should
not take advantage of his good-nature with-
out necessarily being obliged to wait and
help him to re-mount. Tlicy did not ask
him to get down ; he did it of his own
All the same very few people go out
hunting who, either directly or indirectly, do
not profit by the presence of the Good
Samaritan. He is the least aggressive or in-
trusive of men, yet whenever a little timely
assistance is required be seems, as it were, to
drop from the clouds.
The ladies regard him with peculiar ten-
derness, and he inspires quite a fraternal
sentiment amongst their ranks. He is not a
person to flirt with, but he is a person always
to apply to in case of need. His staidness
and solidity give a wonderful sense of pro-
148 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
tection. They feel safe and well cared for
when riding about with him.
They know that if their girths want tighten-
ing, or their stirrup shortening, and they
appeal to their husbands and brothers, grumpy
words are likely to be the result. It is no
light matter to ask most men to help a female
in distress. She feels the aid is given grudg-
ingly, and a black mark, so to speak, is scored
up against her in the future, as a bother and
But the Good Samaritan has no black
marks. He never thinks that he is wasting
his time, losing his place or falling to the
rear, when it is within his power to adminis-
ter to the wants of others. Such reflections
do not cross his mind. He is only too happy
to be of use, and gives his services in a
generous, ungrudging and uncalculating
With the farmers he is most popular, and
justly so, for they have a rare friend in him.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 149
He is always the first to cry out " 'Ware
wheat," and to check the too impetuous
ardour of the iield, when galloping helter-
skelter over some poor man's growing crops.
He shows his forethought and consideration
in a hundred different ways, and always
has the acrriculturist's interest at heart.
Would that his example were more fre-
quently followed by those who profess to
be good sportsmen, but who think of
nothing save their own personal amusement,
and whose sole idea is to out-do their com-
If some rough young colt escapes from the
hovel in which it has taken shelter, our Good
Samaritan, heedless that the chase is sweep-
ing on, will at once ride after it, and drive it
back again ; or he will stand, cracking his
whip, in order to prevent a flock of sheep
from getting through a gateway, quite un-
moved by the sight of all his comrades, ahs-
tening ahead with feverish speed.
150 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
When the lambing season comes round, it
is no uncommon thing for him to dismount
from his horse, pick up some poor, frightened
little wanderer in his arms, and restore it to
the bleating and anxious mother, who dares
not approach within a certain distance of
those terrifying hounds.
If any stranger comes out hunting, having
forgotten his sandwich case and flask, our
friend immediately offers him the contents of
his own, and insists on his going shares, even
if he does not empty them entirely.
" But, my dear sir, I am depriving you,"
remonstrates the stranger feebly.
" Pooh, pooh, what does that matter ? "
comes the generous answer. " Never mind
The virtues of the Good Samaritan are
more than ever conspicuous at a fence. It
is impossible to abstain from recognizing
them. When others are bustling, shoving,
swearing, he remains perfectly calm, is never
THE GOOD SAMAEITAN. 151
in a hurry, consequently never jealous nor
unfair like a large proportion of hunting
people. If he sees anyone battling with a
fractious steed, even although he be but a
rough rider in everybody's way, he will
always yield his place with a benevolent
courtes}^, admirable in its total self-abnega-
tion. And even when folks who have not
the excuse of an unmanacfeable horse take
mean advantage of his good nature, as they
frequently do, the only reproof they elicit is
a " Go on, go on, I can wait, and apparently
He rides his animals with care, and as one
who loves them. He could no more bully
and abuse them, as some men do, than 11}'.
Indeed, few thinors excite his anoer more than
to see a poor brute hit fiercely over the head,
or jobbed viciously in the mouth, simply
because, with the best will in the world, it
may happen to have made some slight mistake
over a fence. His honest face grows red
152 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
with indignation at the sight, and although
not given to judging his neighbours severely,
he turns away, feeling an instinctive dis-
like for the rider, in whom his swift per-
ceptions tell him some manl}^ element is
When any casualty occurs the Good
Samaritan is always to the fore, irrespective
of class or persons. A groom, riding a wild
young horse, tears through a blind ditch, and
rolls head-over-heels, breaking three ribs in
his fall. The man lies motionless on the
ground, his limbs doubled up in a horrible
tortuous manner, and looks like one from
whom the life has departed. The foremost
horsemen draw rein, glance at him com-
miseratingly, and exclaim, " Ah, poor fel-
low ! He's Mr. So-and-so's groom," then
ride off, as if fearful of being detained.
Of course if they were wanted they would
stop ; but no doubt there are plenty of
people to look after him, and, moreover,
THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 153
hounds have just picked up the line, and
appear as if they were settling to their work
Such reasoning as this does not hold jjood
with our kind hearted Samaritan. To him a
man with three broken ribs is a man, whether
he be a poor groom or a rich duke. In truth,
he would rather help the former, for if his
grace were to fall only too many friends
would immediately rush to his assistance,
whereas plain John Smith is passed by a
score of cavaliers who all leave it to some one
else to pick him up.
So our friend dismounts from his horse,
raises the fallen man's shoulders, rests them
against his knee, gives the sulferer a drop of
brandy out of his flask, and, aided by three
stout kindly farmers, proceeds to carry him
on a hurdle to the nearest cottage, where
they tenderly deposit their semi-conscious
burden on an old horse-hair couch. This
done, he rides off in search of a medical man,
154 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
and makes arrangements about procuring a
trap. He thinks nothing whatever of giving
up his day's sport, and all his energies are
absorbed in trying to ease the wounded man,
and, if possible, to save him pain. And
though John Smith is only a groom occupy-
ing a humble sphere in life, he has a heart,
and is much more touched b}^ and grateful
for kindness than man}^ a fine gentleman, who
looks upon it as his right and his due, and
forgets the services rendered directly he
regains his health.
But the Good Samaritan never expects
thanks. They make him feel shy and un-
comfortable, for to do good comes naturally
to him. It is a heaven-born instinct, and in
gratifying it he only follows the promptings
of his nature. He possesses a fine-fibred and
chivalrous disposition, which renders him a
veritable King Arthur of the hunting field.
He has not a mean or ignoble thought. His
great tender heart is easily moved to pity,
THE GOOD SAMAKITAN. 155
and suffering in any form never fails to
appeal to it All his strength he places at
the service of the weak, deeming it a strong
man's part to protect women and children,
youths and dumb animals, instead of profit-
ing by their feebleness to display his superior
What matters it if the kindliness of his
spirit prevents him from riding very hard, or
if he is giving up places when he ought to be
stealing them, making way instead of pushing
forward, quietly effacing himself in lieu of
struggling with his neighbours at a gate-
Others may jump fences that he has not
even seen. They may have been with hounds,
occupying a glorious position in the van,
whilst he was plodding away in the rear
picking up cripples. They have the honour
of seeing the fox dismembered, and he is trot-
ting about, shutting farmers' gates and other-
wise attending to their property.
156 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
What of that ?
Whether he be first or last, he is the finest
gentleman in the whole of the hunting field,
and those who laugh at him are not worthy
to tie his shoe-strings.
He is better than ourselves, less selfish,
more charitable and gracious, so naturally we
find it a little hard to praise his superior
Nevertheless, after our own unworthy
fashion, we are grateful for the kindnesses
received at his hands. In times of misfor-
tune, such as overtake us all, the hunting field
would seem but a very sorry place without
the Good Samaritan.
When the hard riders pass us by with a
careless " Not hurt, are you ? " he files to the
rescue. When our boon companions look
another way, for fear we may expect them to
stop, he comes galloping up, his kind face
working with solicitude.
Oh, Good Samaritan ! Oh, dear, biir-
THE GOOD SAMA.RITAN. 157
hearted fellow, let us give 3'ou your due, and
reverence you as a being made of infinitely
finer materials than the great commonplace
majority of the human race.
XI.— THE HOSPITABLE MAN.
The hospitable man is alwaj^s a popular one,
since nothing appeals so surely to people's
favour as plying them with plenty to eat and
to drink. This he understands thoroughly,
and is profuse in his invitations, showering
them with great impartiality on the numerous
acquaintances, masculine and feminine, he
makes in the hunting field.
He himself is a regular hon viveur, with a
keen appreciation of all good things apper-
taining to the culinary art. True, the in-
creasing rotundity of his waistcoat, whose
line of beauty grows yearly more and more
curved, now and again affords subject for
serious reflection ; but he has a happy knack
of evading disagreeable thought, and putting
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 159
it off to another day. He thoroughly enjoys
the various deUcacies which he forces upon
his guests, and sets a highly contagious ex-
ample by the hearty manner in which he
attacks the dishes, as much as to say, " These
things are not meant to look at, but to eat.
Therefore, fire away, and don't stand on
His great delight is when the hounds meet
at his house. This is always the signal for a
feast ; and directly the fixture is publicly an-
nounced, he goes among his friends, as happy
as an old hen cackling over her eggs, and
says to each one in a mysterious and con-
fidential whisper, full of pride and self-impor-
tance, " Look here, my dear fellow, what do
you think ? The hounds are at my place
next Saturday. Now mind and come early.
You will see how much respected I am by the
aristocracy. Get up half-an-hour sooner than
usual ; you won't regret it. Do you know
what I am going to do now the thing is
160 OUH FRIENDS IN THE HQNriXa FIELD.
settled ? I am going to run up to town on
Thursday ; yes, actually give up a day's
hunting, on purpose to buy a piece of good
Scotch beef at my friend Mr. Cocks', in
Jermyn Street. The meat you get here is not
eatable. It's so infernally tough."
" But what a lot of trouble," suggests his
companion, who would not forego a day's
hunting for all the beef in the world. " It
hardly seems worth it.'
" Ah ! don't speak to me of the trouble, as
long as the things are good. Do you think
I would ask my friends inside my house and
give them bad meat ? No, certainly not. I
should be ashamed of myself. I pay a shil-
ling a pound to Mr. Cocks for my beef. A
shilling a pound is a great deal, but then it's
of very different quality from what you can
buy here ; it positively melts in your mouth."
And the old fellow smacks his lips in antici-
pation. Then he sidles up to his listener,
gives him a friendly nudge, and, with a
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 161
knowing wink, adds, •' Now mind you come
early, for tliere'll be a bottle or two of my
famous port out on Saturday. That's the
sort of jumping-powder to put heart into a
man. After half-a-dozen glasses, I'd ride at the
biggest fence ever planted in this country."
Thus the kind, garrulous fellow runs on,
and will take no denial. His feelings are
terribly hurt if any one attempts to make an
excuse, and nearly all his acquaintances are
entrapped beforehand into promising that
they will enter his hospitable doors on the
morning of the meet.
When the important -day arrives — for he
looks upon hounds meeting at his house as
one of the greatest events of the year — from
an early hour he is in a state of fuss and
bustle, going down into the cellar with his
butler, and reverently bringing up one dirt-
encrusted bottle after another, paying re-
peated visits to the kitchen, and personally
superintending every arrangement for the
162 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
forthcoming festivity. By half-past ten o'clock
all is ready, and with a species of proud rap-
ture he looks at the long dining-table, en-
larged to its full size, and literally laden with
At one end a hu2:e round of the celebrated
Scotch beef, so familiar by repute to the
whole Hunt, occupies a prominent position,
and looks sufficient to feed a regiment of
hungry soldiers. At the other, an enormous
cold roast turkey, bursting with stuffing and
garnished with sausages, ornaments the board.
The side dishes consist of chicken, ham,
tongue, sandwiches, mutton pies, biscuits,
plum cake, ginger-bread nuts, &c., &c.
Bottles of wine, soda and seltzer water are
freely dotted about in between. The only
pity is that people have come to hunt and not
to eat. This thought flashes regretfully across
the provider's brain.
Meantime folks begin to arrive, and the
master of the house, his jolly, rubicund face
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 163
beaming with hospitality, stands at the front
door, and invites, entreats and implores every
fresh-comer to enter and partake of the good
cheer within, Nothin"' vexes him more than
if they refuse, asserting that they are not
" God bless my soul ! " he bursts forth.
" If you can't eat, you can drink, surely.
Take my word for it, I'll not poison you.
Everybody in the county can tell you what
sort of stuff my old port is."
•'Thank you, thank you, my good friend,
but I never indulge at this hour of the
The hospitable man looks after the ab-
stainer in disgust as he rides away, and
behind his grizzled moustache murmurs in-
dignantly, " D d fool ! "
He meets with several vexations. Amongst
others, it grieves him deeply to see how little
the Scotch beef and similar substantial
dainties are appreciated.
164 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
" Dear me ! dear me ! " he exclaims in tones
of real concern. "What's the matter with
you fellows ? There the things are, and
why the devil can't you eat them ? Do you
suppose they are only to be looked at ? "
It is useless for the guests to try and ex-
plain that they have but very recently
swallowed an excellent breakfast, and are
totally unable to get up another appetite so
soon. The old fellow presses, urges and in-
sists, and all with such genuine kindliness,
that finally they yield to the force of cir-
cumstances, and allow an enormous helping
of underdone meat to be heaped upon their
plate. To please their host they take a
mouthful or two, are informed that they are
eating Mr. Cocks' prime Scotch beef at a
shilling a pound, and with a sigh of resigna-
tion gulp it down by the aid of a glass of
sherry or cherry brandy, then beat a hasty
retreat into the open air.
The entertainer, thanks to the excellence of
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 165
his own port, has by this time become ex-
ceedingly cheery and loquacious. With in-
finite reluctance, he allows one relay of
friends to depart, then goes out into the
garden in search of another batch, who,
whether they like it or not, are stuffed with
eatables and drinkables, similarly to their
predecessors. The gentlemen don't come very
much to the front on these occasions. The
hospitable man pityingly sums them up as
" poor feeders ; " but amongst the farmers he
finds many a kindred spirit. Fresh from a
long jog to covert, and maybe an early ride
round their farm in addition, several of them
play an excellent knife and fork, and attack
the Scotch beef with a will. This cheers the
cockles of their host's expansive heart, and
he watches them eat with unfeigned pleasure.
He feels at last that he is not throwing his
pearls before swine, but offering them to
people capable of appreciating their good
166 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
" Capital piece of beef that, eli, Brown ? "
he says, smiling benignly.
" Furst rate, sir," is the reply. " I never
tasted a better. It's a pleasure to put a tooth
'' Aha ! Brown, you're a man who knows
what's what, and can do justice to a good bit
of meat when it's set before him."
" I hope so, sir. I should be very un-
grateful if I couldn't. But this is regular
prime ; tender, juicy, and fine -fibred. We
don't get meat like that in these parts."
" You're right there. I bought it in
London, of my friend Mr. Cocks in Jermyn
Whereupon, for about the twentieth time,
he repeats the story of how, whenever hounds
meet at his house, he makes a point of
running up to town and paying Mr. Cocks'
establishment a visit.
" I never mind the expense," he concludes,
with honest pride. " I never let that stand
THE HOSPiTAiiLE MAN. 167
in the way on occasions like tlie present. I
like to give my friends the best of everything,
and then if they aren't satisfied, why it ain't
my fault, eh ? "
Messrs. Brown and Co. make a hearty
meal, not forgetting to do full justice to the
liquor. They linger round the well- spread
board until hounds are on the point of
throwing off, when at length they reluctantly
tear themselves away. The hospitable man
then proceeds to mount, though he experi-
ences some little difficulty in introducing the
point of his toe into the stirrup. It is by no
means easy to stand still on one leg, and a
curious haze, no doubt owing to the transition
from a warm room to the cold atmosphere,
obscures his eyesight. But these are only
trifles, scarce worth mentioning, except very
incidentally. lie is in excellent spirits, and
feels full of valour. He moves among the
crowd with a sense of richly-deserved self-
satisfaction, conscious that they have been
168 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
royall}^ entertained, and can find nothing to
complain of. His reputation for hospitality,
for Scotch beef and old wine has been fully
sustained. Strangers have seen how richly it
is deserved, and witnessed the generous prin-
ciples on which his establishment is conducted.
His worst enemy could not accuse him of
being niggardly or mean. This knowledge
makes his heart swell with triumph.
The very foot people have been treated to
bread, cheese and beer ad libitum. When
they touch their hats respectfully, he cannot
help feeling that the compliment is merited.
How is it possible to prevent a man from
being aware of his own amiable qualities,
and considerino^ them entitled to recoefnition ?
Every now and again the good old fellow
asks his friends to dinner. On these gala
nights it behoves them to be very careful,
for he plies them with so much vintage wine,
such marvellous selections of brown sherry,
delicate claret and enticing port, that they
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 169
are only too apt to sufTer from the effects next
morning, and rise from tlieir couch with a
splitting headache. As for their host, he is
seemingly inured, for he eats, drinks, and
mixes his liquors in a fashion which puts the
younger generation to shame. They can't
compete with him. At such times he grows
very jovial and racy in his conversation.
Peals of laughter issue from the dining-room.
His after-dinner stories have the reputation
of being surprisingly witty and excessively
naughty, and are greeted with salvos of
applause. All the young fellows eagerly
accept an invitation from him to dine and
sleep the night. They are sure of an
amusing evening, free from all stiffness and
ceremony, and the hospitable man has a
peculiarly gracious manner, which makes
everybody feel at home in his presence. He
prefers to entertain, rather than be enter-
tained, disliking long cold drives of many
miles along country roads, and not caring
170 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
to quit his own snug rooms and warm fire-
In tlie hunting field he is a cheery,
gregarious old soul, ever ready for a laugh,
though, if the truth must be told, he is
fonder of one at somebody else's expense
than at his own. He likes to hear the latest
gossip, and takes an intense interest in the
doings and sayings of his neighbours. His
cook and his cellar are never-failing sources
of conversation. They play an important
part in his life, for as he shrewdly observes,
"Horses disappoint, friends annoy, but a
good meal and a good bottle of wine are
things that a man can alwa^'s fall back upon
It is impossible to help liking him ; he is
such a kindly, generous, sociable creature.
He does not bother his head about politics
or the Eastern Question, and cares nothing
for the encroachments of science on religion,
the evils of over-population, or any of the
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 171
moving topics of the day. They occasion no
disturbance in his equable and well-balanced
mind, and he. studies the menu of a morning
with far more interest than he does the
He haSj however, one wery pressing trouble.
From time to time certain twinges of gout
remind him that all flesh is mortal. His
doctor recommends a simpler diet and total
abstention from alcoholic drinks. The
consequence is they have had a desperate
" Darned idiot ! " he growls to some bosom
friend, of whose sympathy he feels certain
beforehand. " Just as if life would be worth
living without a good sound bottle of wine a
day. That doctor of mine is of no use ; I
shall leave him. He takes my guineas, does
me no good, and talks nonsense into the
bargain. What confidence can one place in
a fellow like that? The man's a fool, and
what's more, he don't understand my consti-
172 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
tution a bit. When a person has got gout
his system wants building up ; it's the
greatest mistake in the world to lower it.
Gout comes almost entirely from poverty of
Few things vex the hospitable man more
than, after an absence from home, to hear on
his return that the hounds have run near his
" What ! " he exclaims, " you killed in my
field — the field below my house — and nobody
went in ! How's that ? I must make
inquiries. Are people to be starved because
I happen to be away ? It makes me mad
to think of it. I feel positively ashamed.
My servants — they have orders to ask every-
body in. Why was it not done ? People
will say I am stingy — that I only enter-
tain when I am there myself," and so on,
It is real hard work to pacify him and to
make him believe that no one for an instant
THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 173
doubted his hospitality, especially after the
many conspicuous proofs which he has given
" Ah," he says with a sigh, " the thing is
done, and it's no use talking, but I shall take
good care it don't happen again. Those lazy
fellows of mine ouofht to have brousfht out
trays with the wine directly they heard the
hounds. It did not matter how far they had
Our friend is exceedingly partial to the fair
sex, and they look upon him with great
favour in return. His hearty, kindly manner
sets them at their ease, and many a sip out
of his flask do they enjoy on a cold, frosty
morning. It delights him to see them smack
their rosy lips and cry with a pretty air of
affectation, "Oh, how strong ! You bad, bad
man ! How can you possibly drink such
intoxicating stuff ? "
He gives a knowing wink in return and
says gravely, " My dear, you are quite right.
174 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
I can't take much, any more than you can,
but what little I have I like good."
So he goes through life ; hunting, eating
and drinking, without any enemies, and with
a vast number of friends ; some like him for
himself, others for what they can get out of
him, for, alas, disinterested affection is rare
And when, one fine day, he succumbs to a
fit of apoplexy, brought on by too full a habit
of bod3% he is missed by the whole Hunt, who
exclaim, " Ah, poor old chap, he wasn't half
a bad sort in his way ! "
Comrades of the hunting field, if you and I
meet with any higher praise than this when
our turn comes to jump our last fence, and
feel the spring of a good horse under us for
the last time, we may consider ourselves
lucky. " Not a bad sort in his way " is high
eulogy from the survivors, who are seldom
given to enthusiasm.
XII.— THE JEALOUS WOMAN".
The jealous woman is not a nice person at
any time, but she is rather less so in the
hunting field than in any other place ;
perhaps because her peculiar failing is there
rendered patent- to the whole world. She
cannot keep it sufficiently under control to
prevent people who possess ordinary powers
of observation from finding it out, or from
noticing how unfairly she rides. Her spirit
of emulation passes the customary bounds of
politeness, and is too strong not to be resented
As a rule she is perfectly unconscious of
the ridicule which her jealousy evokes, and
would be very much surprised and very much
annoyed if the comments of her fellow-sports-
176 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD.
men came to her ears. She is under the
impression that she is the " observed of all
observers," and immensely admired. Her
vanity even prevents her from seeing that the
men are not as civil as they might be, and
avoid her whenever they decently can.
The truth is, she treats -them with such
scant courtesy that they think there is no
harm in paying her back in her own coin.
They cease to regard her as a lady, and cannot
associate her with anything either feminine or
gentle. She is in their eyes that most odious
of all creatures extant, an unsexed woman.
So with all her pushing and shoving, bustling
and cramming, she gains very little.
The gentlemen view her with a dislike
bordering on disgust, and are unsparing in
their criticisms. Quite unaware of the senti-
ments they entertain towards her, she endea-
vours over and over again to beguile them
into conversation, and when hounds are not
running, tries her utmost to ingratiate herself
THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 177
in their favour, but her efforts in this direction
are seldom crowned by success. The men
hold obstinately aloof, refuse to smile at her
witticisms or show any approval of her smart
sayings. For she has a sharp tongue, and
can demolish another women's reputation
rather better than her neighbours. She is
clever, caustic and amusing, has a nice figure,
and is good-looking into the bargain ; and
yet the male sex, with all these points in her
favour, cannot forgive her for usurping their
place at every fence they come to, and for
seizing an unfair advantage over them on
every possible occasion. Such conduct blots
out all charm, and creates a feeling of anger
and resentment in the masculine breast.
Being a woman, they have not even the
satisfaction of swearing at her, which adds
insult to injury.
Ladies may ride as hard as anybody else, and
yet ride in a feminine fashion, and not get in the
way. The dangerous woman is bad enough,
178 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNIING FIELD.
but the jealous one is a thousand times worse.
The former errs chiefly through ignorance
and an exuberance of animal spirits that pro-
duces an intoxicating effect ; but the latter
can plead no such excuse. She knows quite
well what she is about, and offends deliber-
ately, altogether ignoring the precept of "Do
as thou wouldst be done by." AVhen under
the influence of the insane passion that
masters her, she is no longer mistress of
herself, and will commit every species of
absurdity. She will ride a desperate finish in
a ploughed fi.eld up to her horse's hocks, whilst
hounds have actually never left the covert,
and are still hunting busily inside, simply
because she happens to catch sight of a
female skirt fluttering ahead. With elbows
squared, and arms, hands, legs at work, she
imagines that she is doing great things, cal-
culated to rouse the enthusiasm of the whole
She never hears the laughter of the by-
THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 179
standers, or sees the contemptuous smiles that
wreathe every face. A mad struggle for
supremacy rages within her breast. It is
as if a devil had taken possession of her
and converted her into an irresponsible
She gallops madly down a road, bespatter-
ing her feminine rivals with mud, never
dreams of apologizing, and does not draw
rein until she has far outstripped them.
Then she looks round triumphantly, her face
all flushed and heated, and w^earing an
expression of satisfaction, which seems to
say, " There ! I am first. It's not a bit of
use your trying to get before me, for I
shan't put up wdth such an indignity for a
minute. You must see how much better I
can ride than you, so what is the good of
your trying to compete ? "
Most women conflne their jealousy exclu-
sively to members of their own sex, but there
are some, though happily they are in the
180 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD,
minority, who extend it even to the men, and
who cannot endure to see more than one or
two of the very hardest riders of the whole
hunt in front of them. Their poor horses are
dreadfully to be pitied, for they treat them
with a harshness and a want of consideration
that borders on downright cruelty. The
animal is regarded as a mere machine, a
galloping and jumping piece of mechanism,
which must never get out of order, and
must go as long as the rider chooses, with-
out respect to health, humour, or fatigue.
Such people are not fit to have horses.
They hit them, they urge them, they let
heavy gates slam on their sensitive quarters,
in order to slink through, and they gallop
them up hill and down, through bogs and
over plough, and don't once pause to take
a very necessary pull. To get on, on, on
at all hazards is the only thing they care
for, and this they call horsemanship and
riding to hounds. Ugh !
THE JEALOUS AVOMAN. 181
Poor, noble steed ! The more generous he
is, the greater is the advantage taken of him.
A jealous woman is not worthy of a good
horse. She should always ride a sluggard,
since pity, mercy, tenderness, every feminine
attribute are mero*ed in the frantic desire to
occupy a prominent place, and let no other
female get ahead. Ambition is turned to
striving, courage to mean emulation ; good
sense flies, and envy, hatred and malice reign
in its place.
If some similarly-constituted individual —
for there are jealous men as well as jealous
women — attempts to take her turn, she is the
first to cry out in tones of severe indignation,
" Don't cut in, sir. Now, sir, what are you
doing ? " or words to that effect. But she
thinks nothing of doing so herself. In truth,
it is her usual practice. The fact is, she is
not a true sportswoman. Her love of the
chase is not a genuine, but a spurious passion.
It is the competition of one person riding
182 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
against another that rouses her to enthusiasm,
and not the beautiful sight of a pack of well-
bred fox-hounds flashing like a streak of
silver over the green pastures in pursuit of
Little cares she for either fox or hounds.
" Who was first, second and third ? Did you
see where I was, and how well I rode ? " are
the sole thoughts occupying her mind.
Everything else is as nought in comparison.
She has neither a kindly nor generous nature.
When other women get falls and meet M'ith
accidents, though she pretends to condole, in
her heart she rejoices at their misfortunes.
She seems to imagine that in avoiding similar
disasters she is possessed of superior skill and
She can be pleasant enough to the ladies
w^ho don't " go." They are not in her way,
and don't offend her susceptibilities ; but
those who ride hard inspire sentiment of
such extreme hostility, that she has the
THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 183
greatest difllculty in concealing them. Her
artificial politeness and vinagery - sweet
speeches deceive no one. They are too
laboured, and lack sincerity. Genuine kind-
liness is felt to be wanting. Everybody
laughs at the jealous woman behind her
back, and she has hardly a single friend,
male or female, in the whole hunt. Cold
civility or disdainful tolerance greets her
on all sides.
If only she could divest herself of a certain
uneasy consciousness, which makes her
erroneously suppose that people take a vital
interest in her performances, and never
weary of discussing them, she would enjoy
the chase a great deal more than she does at
present. But she can't realize the very
simple fact that nobody cares twopence
whether she be first or last, jumps or doesn't
jump, and that she is not the central point of
attention, on which two or three hundred
pairs of eyes are continually riveted. Folks
184 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD.
as a rule have enough to do looking after
themselves, without looking after her, and in
the majority of cases are taken up with their
own doings, not those of their neighbours.
Number One is of such paramount import-
ance to the jealous woman, that s=he can't
understand how it is the interesting numeral
does not prove equally so to her companions.
If anything goes wrong out hunting, her
horse refuses, or she gets left behind,
indignant at occupying a backward position,
she prefers to come straight home, and is
ready to cry with vexation and mortification.
All her pleasure for the day is gone. She
can't reconcile herself to the humiliation of
riding about with the shirkers and roadsters.
For these reasons she seldom derives any real
enjoyment from a day's hunting. So many
things have to go right, and even if they do,
there is nearly always a drawback, in the
shape of some other hard-riding woman,
perhaps younger and with more nerve, who
THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 185
throws down the gauntlet. It is impossible
to be happy under such conditions. Her
philosophy is not sufficient to enable her to
see how very immaterial it is whether Brown,
Jones, or Robinson holds the proud position
of heading the hard-riding division. The
triumphs of the chase are very fleeting, and
often depend quite as much upon the horse
as upon the rider, and yet she hankers after
them with an inordinate eagerness, amounting
to positive folly.
Out of the saddle, the jealous woman is not
unfrequently a pleasant and lady -like person,
both conversible and intelligent ; but in it
she assumes a different character altogether,
and appears completely to lose her head. Or
does her real nature come to the surface,
thanks to the savage excitement occasioned
Anyhow, the desire for distinction, which in
a moderate degree may be regarded as a
virtue, becomes in her case a foolish and
186 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
absorbing passion which makes her appear
in the most unfavourable hght.
It destroys her feminine quahties, and
reduces her to the level of a very inferior
Moreover, it renders her a target for jeers,
jests and sneers of every description.
If she only knew the truth, she might
perhaps be brought to realize that in return
for an indifferent, " Oh, ah ! yes, she goes
very hard," this is all she gains.
She alienates her friends, and as the years
pass becomes more and more isolated, until
at last, when her turn comes to meet with a
bad accident, the voice of public opinion
exclaims : " What ! nearly dead ! Concussion
of the brain — picked up insensible ! Ah,
well, serves her right. She always would
ride so infernally jealous."
What is the result ? Her craving for
admiration and pre-eminence ends in " serves
THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 187
Misguided woman ! Before this harsh
verdict is passed upon you can't you amend
your ways ? It is not difficult. It is only
to get into your head that nobody cares
two straws Mdiat you do and what 3'ou don't
do in the hunting field, except yourself. You
are just as much an insignificant atom there
as in the great big world. And whether the
atom jumps this bullfinch or that, shirks one
place, avoids another, passes a fellow atom,
or is passed by it in return, what matters it ?
A month — a year hence, and will not all your
keen "rivalry appear very petty and very
XIII.— THE BOEE.
Of all the people we meet in the hunting
field, if we were honestly to examine our
feelings, the one we most dislike is probabty
the bore — the fellow whose words go in at
one ear and out at the other, and who never
has the sense or tact to perceive that his
long-winded and interminable stories are
infinitely wearisome to the listener.
And the worst of it is, there are so many
bores about. The genus is so horribly
common, and wherever men are gathered
together, there they exist in numbers.
You fly from one only to fall headlong into
the arms of another, and get involved in a
second tedious narrative before you have
time to shake off the unpleasant impression
THE BORE. 1S9
produced by the first. On probing into the
depths of human nature, many rare virtues
and agreeable quaUties are often discoverable ;
but the hardest thing of all to find is
originality — that little fruitful germ of varia-
tion, removed from the vulgar type, which is
closely allied to genius.
The bore has not a particle of originality
in his whole composition. If he had he
would be a character and not a bore.
As it is, he is prosy and dull and common-
place to a degree almost past conception. If
he ivould only hold his tongue ; but, good
Heavens ! how the man talks. His jaws are
never at rest. The subject of conversation
he chooses is nearly always himself, or his
immediate belongings. Though interesting,
no doubt, to him, these topics are not equally
so to you. The difficulty is to concentrate
one's attention sufficiently to appear decently
civil. You are seized by an irresistible in-
clination to listen to what the people all
190 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
about you are saying, and you feel un-
pleasantly conscious that your absent
" exactly's, just so's and indeed's," lack ttie
genuine ring of honest sympathy. The
whole time that the unconscious bore is
holding forth with great volubility and
complacency, your entire energies are
devoted to pondering over the best means
of effecting an escape without doing violence
to his susceptibilities. You wait breathlessly
for a pause, which never seems to come.
With the best will in the world, it is im-
possible to derive any pleasure from a con-
versation that is so entirely one-sided. No
matter how it may have been started, the
bore always works back to himself and his
ideas, and utterly refuses to listen to yours.
He is much too egotistical to allow of any
reciprocity. If through some strange chance
he asks a neighbour after his health, he does
not wait to hear the reply, but immediately
begins a long tirade about his own.
THE BORE. 191
" Ah, my good sir, that was precisely what
happened in my case. You remember the
day I got that bad fall over timber ? I have
never recovered from the effects. I feel them
constantly. The muscles of my back have
been permanently injured. Eheumatism set
in, and even now, every time there is a
change in the weather, I can't tell you what
agonies I suffer. I don't suppose anyone is
such a martyr as I am. These east winds
kill me. They pinch me up, take away my
appetite, and upset my liver altogether.
Cartwright ordered me to take podophyllin
and taraxacum, but what's the good of that ?
One can't go on taking those sort of messes
all one's life. Eh, what ? you suffer too ?
Oh, ah ! yes, very likely, very likely. By-the-
by, did I tell you about my chestnut mare ? "
So he runs on, and won't hearken to you
when you try to put in a small word in
return, and try to relate your experiences
and your ailments.
192 OUR FEIEXDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
The bore is a tremendous hand at dun-
ning. He is always getting up penny-
readings and entertainments for his par-
ticular village, to which he expects all his ac-
quaintances to subscribe. Now it is a church
to be restored, anon a stained window to be
set up, again, a testimonial to some parish
authority whom you know nothing about.
But rather than get inveigled into a conver-
sation, you give him half-a-sovereign or a
sovereign as the case may be, and fight shy
of him for the rest of the season.
But if there is one time more than any
other when you pray heart and soul to avoid
falling into the clutches of the bore, that
time is when hounds are busy drawing a
covert. At such seasons, he literally button-
holes you, and rambling on in his usual
prosy manner, marches you up and down,
up and down, until you are reduced to a
state of white heat, and mentally apostro
phize your companion whenever a whimper
THE BORE. 193
proceeds from the pack. You find yourself
compelled to listen to some long uninterest-
ing narrative, instead of being able to dash
off in pursuit the instant the fox breaks
away. And so you probably lose your start
and your temper both together, and use more
forcible language than is desirable.
The majority of bores are grumblers as
well. Finding fault is an amusement which
gives their tongues a fine opportunity of
wagging at other people's expense. When-
ever sport is poor, they are the first to cry
out, though by no means the hardest to
ride. Nothing is rightly managed in their
estimation. They are persuaded that if
they had the direction of affairs each day
would be productive of a brilliant run ;
but as they haven't, everything is in a
state of muddle and confusion. To begin
with, hounds are always too fat or too
lean, too slack or too keen, too noisy or
too mute. If they go fast,* they ought to go
19 i OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
slow ; if they go slow they ought to go
fast. But the grumbler's peculiar scapegoat
is the huntsman. That unfortunate indi-
vidual, whether justly or unjustly, invari-
ably comes in for condemnation. Epithet
after epithet is heaped upon his devoted
head. He is a blockhead, an idiot, a fool.
Words fail to describe his shortcomings
and crass stupidity. He can't hunt, he
can't ride, he don't even know the run of
a fox. He's as slow as an old woman, and
as conceited as a young one.
Neither does the master escape censure.
Indeed, indirectly he bears the brunt of the
" He mounts the men badly. Their horses
are a positive disgrace to the hunt. He has
no notion of keeping the field in order, and
always contrives to go to the wrong covert
at the wrong time."
In short, the grumbler is ne^er satisfied.
To express approbation would detract from
THE EOEE. 196
his dignity, at all events in his own estima-
tion. No matter how good the sport, he
invariably considers that it ought and would
have been batter had his precious advice
only been adopted at the critical moment
when hounds threw up their heads and came
to the first check. He is ever ready to
tender counsel ; and one of his peculiarities
consists in the extreme indignation he dis-
plays when he finds it ignored. For he is
always convinced that he knows which way
the hunted fox has gone, when the field and
huntsman remain in iirnorance as to its
whereabouts. The grumbling bore is for-
tunate in one respect. He entertains a re-
markably good opinion of himself, which
nothing can shake.
As to arguing with him — it is perfectly
useless. Just so much waste of breath, for he
is essentially an obstinate man, and a narrow-
minded one to boot. What he thinks, others
must think, therefore discussion is to be
196 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
avoided, since he will talk his opponent's
head off without giving him a chance to put
in the most modest little word.
This is what renders his society so weari-
some and uninteresting. Most people very
naturally like to have their say and when
they have listened patiently to somebody
else's, feel that they are more or less entitled
to express an opinion. But our friend proses
and grumbles on without intermission, steadily
adhering to his own pet subjects of conversa-
tion and entirely ignoring j^ours. Such
egotism is disgusting and makes the heart
contract with a sense of personal injury.
After he has told you all the ins and outs
of his constitution, his stable and domestic
experiences, it would be a relief to mention
your own, but when you enter into details he
hardly listens. This conduct is both provo-
king and irritating. The British sense of fair
play is outraged. Whenever you meet him
the same thing occurs. He is always full of
THE BORE. 197
himself, or else of some fresli grievance. A
new one is a luxury and he does not forsake
it until it is worn quite threadbare. His
relations with the Hunt are somewhat
strained, as can easily be imagined. He and
the master are not exactly on the best of
terms. The master is not to blame ; for to
keep the grumbling bore in a good humour
is a task beyond the powers of any ordinary
mortal. The greatest diplomatist could not
succeed in averting an occasional storm.
Those who know our friend intimately, have
long since given up the attempt of pleasing
him in despair, and declare he is never so
happy as when finding fault. Altogether, he
is far from being a cheerful companion, and
the major portion of his fellow-sportsmen act
with considerable discretion in giving him a
wide berth, and in confining themselves to
meteorological platitudes when forced for
civility's sake to converse.
But the bore is an extremely dense indivi-
IPS OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
dual, and being endowed by nature with a
very thick skin, does not notice fine shades of
manner, or perceive when his absence is more
desirable than his company. His want of
sensitiveness often stands him in good stead,
for not unfrequently he meets with a rebuff,
which, however, he disdains to accept as
New-comers are to be pitied ; for as a rule
they fall a prey to him just like so many flies
to a spider. It takes them some little time
to find him out, and until that event occurs,
they listen with a certain deference to his
long tirades against the Hunt, the country,
the master and the Hunt servants. They are
even somewhat impressed at first by criticisms
which seem to imply superior knowledge on
the part of the critic and look up to him as
an enlightened sportsman, whose oracular
utterances command attention.
But this stage of hero-worship soon passes
and before long they see their quondam friend
THE BORE. 1!)0
revealed in liis true light. Stripped of all
glamour, lie appears as an inveterate grumbler
and an unmitigated bore. A person to be
shunned and avoided, and strongly discour-
aged whenever an outbreak of garrulity seems
" By Jove ! here he comes," they exclaim.
" For Heaven's sake, let's escape whilst there
is still time." And so saying they stick spurs
into their horses and gallop off as hard as
they can lay legs to the ground, or else dodge
round the nearest covert, or seek refuge in
its muddy rides. Anywhere to avoid the
inveterate grumbler, who ambles on ready to
pounce upon the first victim who unwarily
crosses his path.
He does not care one jot about the indivi-
dual. All he wants is some target against
which to rattle the small shot of his tongue.
For he dearly loves the sound of it. As for
sense, humour, interest, they are utterly de-
ficient. He strings a quantity of words
200 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
together, which come dribbling out in an
uninterrupted flow like water from a spout,
but the stream is thin. He, however, is
charmed with the result, and it never strikes
him that his listener is not equally so.
For the bore is as egotistical as he is tire-
some, and although there are a few people
kind enough to sacrifice themselves for his
benefit and who pretend to listen to his re-
marks, the majority of men and women are
profoundly wearied by them.
For to bore modern society is the one fault
most difficult to forgive, in spite of its com-
monness. Instinctively our spirits rise up in
arms against the man whose long, prosy
stories almost send us to sleep and are utterly
destitute of point ; stories that go rambling
on for ever and ever. Dulness is an unpar-
donable sin, and even those who may not
happen to be bright and witty themselves
can appreciate these excellent qualities in
THE BORE. 201
For humour is the salt of life. Without it
the world would be but a sorry place to dwell
in. We like what is cheerful and pleasant,
and whether in the hunting field or anywhere
else our term on earth is too short to en-
courage the bores and grumblers. We can-
not beguile ourselves into the belief that they
are good fellows, when halfan-hour's conver-
sation with them gives us a regular fit of the
blues and makes us look at everything
through a pair of black spectacles. Even if
our particular Hunt has faults, we do not
always want to hear them dinned into our
ears, and above all we object to being bored.
The process is one against which human
nature rises up in revolt. .
XIV— THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS
Nerve and scent are two things equally in-
definable. They are here to-day and gone
to-morrow. No one knows the exact condi-
tions on which they depend ; though since the
first institution of hunting, many have sought
to ascertain what qualities of temperament
and weather are essential to their existence.
Up till now the mystery remains a mystery,
and the problem seems as far off solution as
Sometimes on the most promising looking
of mornings a fox won't run a yard, turning
and twisting in every direction in covert, and
completely baffling his pursuers. He may be
a strong old patriarch, fit to show his white-
tagged brush to the whole field. But no ! he
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 203
declines to do anything of the sort and is
viciously sworn at as an unenterprising brute.
On other occasions, when, as far as it is
possible to judge, the conditions do not appear
nearly so favourable — when it blows a perfect
hurricane, accompanied by furious storms of
sleet and snow, the little red rover literally
revels in a scamper, stoutly defies the elements
and leads those who have been bold enough
to face them a pretty dance.
As for men, ihey are as deceptive as foxes
every bit. A hue physique has nothing to
do with nerve — at least it fails to ensure its
presence. You see some great, big, healthy
man wdth rosy cheeks, the limbs of a giant,
and the digestion of an ostrich, and you say to
yourself, " Fortunate mortal ! Surely he does
not know the meaning of the word fear."
But you are mistaken. He clings soberly to
the roads and gates, and rarely jumps except
under disagreeably high pressure. In short
he objects to the process and considers it far
204 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
too dangerous to be pleasant. He hunts to
enjoy himself and not to commit suicide in a
delicate fashion which shall afford his friends
no apprehensions as to the state of his im-
mortal soul. It is wiser policy to take care
of that valuable orcran on earth. So reasons
the giant. On the other hand some long,
lank, frail-looking individual whose appear-
ance certainly leads you to suppose that he
has already one foot in the grave, goes like
a demon, and repeatedly charges impossible
fences which no living horse can clear. This
fact creates but few misgivings. He is pre-
pared every day he goes out to take innu-
merable falls and regards anything under
half-a-dozen as quite an insignificant number,
not worth talking about. For a time he goes
on gaily ; tumbhng and picking himself up,
being reprimanded by the master for con-
stantly over-riding and periodically killing
his hounds, and eliciting divided abuse, con-
demnation and praise from the field in
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE, 205
general. One calls him a fool, another pro-
nounces him a " d d young idiot,'' and a
third has no words to express his admiration
for such magnificent courage. The majority,
however, are convinced he is a madman, and
take a spiteful delight in prophesying that he
will soon come to what they call his bearings.
This generally means a desire to see him
"funk" like themselves and no longer put
them to shame by his gallant deeds. The
truth is, jealousy and blame are curiously
allied in the minds of most people. A jealous
person will generally remark severely on the
doings of those he professes to despise, but in
reality envies ; whilst an indifferent one holds
his tongue and is not put out because so-and-
so has the audacity to jump right under his
nose, when personally he may have the desire
but not the courage to follow his example.
Oddly enough, in most instances, the pre-
dictions of the malicious prove correct. Our
friend does come to his bearinsfs — that is to
206 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
say, after riding for a time as if lie bore a
charmed life, the day arrives when he gets
a nasty fall and hurts himself badly. He has
often hurt himself before, but always slightly.
On the present occasion his horse rolls heavily
over him, struggles, plunges, and leaves him
lying on the ground with a broken leg and
several severe contusions. He suffers agonies
on the homeward drive. The fly is jolty, its
springs deficient and every yard of the road
seems patched with stones, which increase his
pain a thousand-fold. He grows dizzy and
once or twice is on the point of fainting.
Three months elapse before lie is sufficiently
recovered to take the saddle again. During
the long weary weeks which he has been
forced to spend in bed or lying full length on
the sofa, his memory is haunted by the shock,
the fall, and those brief but agonizing mo-
ments, when the horse rolled backwards and
forwards over him and he fully expected to
be killed. Impossible to wipe out the recol-
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 207
lection. It is pliotograplied on his brain in
dark, unlovely colours, and althougli lie
would give all the world to iret rid of the
disagreeable impression, stamped so strongly
on his mind, he can't.
The season is drawino^ to a close when he
reappears in the hunting field, looking fright-
fully pale, fragile and emaciated. Every one
pities him and he has a most legitimate
excuse for merely hacking about and not
riding as of yore. He comes out on a quiet
cob expressly purchased for the purpose — a
creature guaranteed not to cock its ears,
whisk its tail or even blink its eye uncom-
fortably. Jogging sedately along the roads,
or — as he gets better — popping over an oc-
casional gap, our invalid is much astonished
to find what a relief it is to be on the sick list
and not expected to perform feats of valour.
He feels as if a load had been removed from
his shoulders, leaving him a free man, who
no longer, every time he goes out hunting, is
208 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
weighted by a crushing sense of obligation.
For be it known, reputation is not the glitter-
ing jewel that it seems. It has its drawbacks
in the hunting field as everywhere else, since
fame is easier to acquire in the first instance,
than to sustain. A single gallant action is
frequently sufficient to bring renown, but it
entails a long series of efforts to prevent that
action from being forgotten. Therefore a
hard-rider must continually be on his mettle.
There is no greater mistake than thinking,
"I can rest on my laurels." Other people
win fresh ones and yours soon become old
and faded if you do not exert yourself.
Meanwhile our poor young friend is con-
scious of a subtle alteration in his mental
condition. He begins to find himself looking
critically at the fences, examining their top-
binders, and for the first time thinking how
uncommonly wide and ugly the ditches
appear. Luckily no one, not even his bosom
friends, are aware of the daily increasing
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 209
dread of danger gro\Ying up within his breast,
like some foul and poisonous fungus. The
season drags to an end, as far as he is con-
cerned, and his fame remains untarnished.
The bubble is expanding, but has not yet
burst. His comrades expect nothing from
him. They unite in saying, " Poor fellow !
how ill he looks. He really ought not to
come out hunting. If he'd only give his leg
a chance, it would be all right for next
Alas ! throughout the summer that unfor-
tunate downfall still lingers in his thoughts.
The impression, though not so acute, refuses
to fade. It rests in the background of his
mind, rising to the surface whenever matters
equine are discussed. Often at night he
dreams of four brown heels flourishing before
his eyes, and in fancy feels once more that sleek
but heavy body pinning him to the ground,
causing a strangely dead sensation to creep
up his right leg. Nevertheless, when winter
210 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
approaches, the injured Hmb has grown per-
fectly well, and he repairs as usual to his
accustomed hunting quarters, trying to de-
ceive himself into the belief that he is very
keen. On the way down the country seems
to him desperately blind — much more so than
in ordinary seasons. The very look of it is
enough to frighten one, but the strong will
that in years past has carried him over so
many formidable fences now resolves to keep
his fears secret. Unhappy man ! In spite of
good resolutions he cannot succeed altogether
in acting up to them.
Before long it begins to be whispered
amongst his former companions of the chase
—those gallant and select spirits who give
prestige to every hunt — that Z is not
going quite so hard as usual. The first man
states the fact with considerable hesitation.
He feels that it is equivalent to taking Z 's
character away — a kind of public confession
that he has dropped from grace and retreated
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 211
into the despised ranks of " the moh I " But
the answer comes decisive from half-a-dozen
pairs of stern, masculine lips. " Oh ! yes,
we've noticed it. We've noticed it for some
time. Didn't you remark how he shirked
that big bottom on the opening day, when we
ran as fast as hounds could race from Cross-
trees to Lockthorpe ? There was no excuse.
Poor Z , I'm afraid he's settled." This
half-mournfully, half-complacently. They
exult in the thought that they themselves
remain WTZsettled, yet inwardly wonder when
their turn will come, and whether it will
produce the same result.
In process of time rumours of his failing
nerve reach Z 's ears. He is frightfully
annoyed by them, little guessing that they
are already spread amongst all the field.
Their effect is to make him feel under a
cloud and to goad him to renewed exertion.
For the next week or ten days he puts on a
tremendous spurt, and almost rides up to
212 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
his old form. But just when his nerve seems
really about to improve, he gets another spill
which, although unattended by any evil
consequences, once more wakes the old fears
into life. He cannot help it. He knows
they are ridiculous, unworthy indeed of a
man, but still they gain the ascendancy.
Struggle as he may he fails to conquer them.
They fasten on him like a tormenting
creditor appearing at the most inconvenient
Meanwhile his stud-groom, from whom he
is particularly anxious to conceal any
symptoms of degeneracy, is perfectly aware
of what is taking place. One after another
Z brings the old favourite hunters home
that he has ridden for years, with the same
pitiful tale. They pull, they refuse ; they refuse,
they pull. There is no longer any satisfac-
tion to be derived from them. Past virtues
are swallowed up by present shortcomings
and all their good points have disappeared.
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 213
The pride of Z 's stable is a thorough-
bred chestnut mare, a beauty to look at, and
perfect- in every respect, at least so her master
has always declared until now. He has
ridden her for four seasons and, marvellous
to relate, she has never put him down through
her own fault. She is an extraordinary fencer,
big and bold, who does not know what it is
to turn her head, and her only fault when
hounds run hard is a ver}^ pardonable one.
She must and will be with them. This year
Z affirms that she pulls his arms off.
The fact is, he is afraid to let her go.
" It's very odd, Wilkinson," he says to his
head man in tones of confidential injury,
" but I can't hold Queen Bee. I don't know
w^hat's come to her. She's a different animal
altogether from what she was in the early
part of last season."
"Indeed, sir," responds Wilkinson diplo-
matically. " I am sorry to hear that, for the
mare is fit and well."
214 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
He is a man of tact, and, making a pretty-
shrewd guess at what is amiss, smothers a
smile. Z is a kind master, and he has a
" I tell you, Wilkinson," continues Z
unsuspiciously, " that it's an infernally un-
pleasant thing going out hunting and feeling
yourself being run away with at every fence."
" No doubt it is, sir. The mare hasn't
done much work as yet, and perhaps she's
a bit above herself. We must send her out
oftener, that's all. You can ride her second
'oss on Thursday if you Uke. She'll have
settled down by then."
" Yes, I think I will," says Z . " After
all, there's no pleasure in riding a pull-
ing, tearing brute who never leaves you
" How would it be to put a stronger bit on
her, sir ? " suggests Wilkinson in a most
respectful and sympathetic manner.
Z catches at the idea.
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 215
"By all means," he replies. "I believe
a stronger bit would just make all the
So the next time the mare goes out orders
are issued to this effect. When the day
arrives, after many inward struggles, Z
decides to rides as first horse an animal lent
him on trial by a neighbouring dealer ; his
intention being to mount Queen Bee as soon
as she has quieted down a bit. Owing
to a mistake on the part of the mare's
strapper, she is sent to the meet with her
ordinary bridle, whilst about half a ton of
steel is placed in the mouth of the stranger.
Fortunately Z knows nothing of this,
ind when he gets on the mare, being under
the impression that she is restrained by a
powerful lever against which she finds it im-
possible to pull, allows her to stride along at
her will, with the result of holding her per-
" Well, sir ; how have you got on ? " iu-
216 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
quires Wilkinson curiously, when his master
comes riding into the stable yard.
'' First rate. I never was carried better
in my life. Queen Bee is quite in her old
"Come, that's all right," answers the
gratified Wilkinson, going to the mare's head
while Z dismounts.
In the twinkling of an eye he perceives
that his orders have not been carried out
regarding the bit. He deserves great credit,
for, in this delicate situation, he has the ex-
treme good sense to refrain from mentioning
" Did she pull you at all, sir ? " he asks,
looking as sober as a judge.
" No, not an ounce. Eemember, Wilkin-
son, always to put that bit on to Queen Bee
in future. It suits her down to the ground."
" Yes, sir," says Wilkinson ; but as his
master walks away he shakes his head and
looks after him with a regretful sigh. " Ah ! "
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 217
he soliloquizes, " I've had my suspicions for
a long time, but now the whole thing is as
clear as the nose on one's face. The mare's
no more in fault nor me. What we wants
this season is what we had a little too much
of afore the guvnor got that unlucky spill
and broke his leg. He's a-losing of his nerve,
more's the pity — more's the pity, for at one
time a gallanter gentleman never went out
hunting, though every now and again he was
a little too rough on his 'osses," So saying
Wilkinson delivers the beautiful Queen Bee
to her particular strapper, whilst he hurries
off to personally superintend the mixing of her
Another person who quickly learns poor
Z 's secret is the dealer with whom he is
accustomed to deal. In olden days never was
a customer so easy to satisfy. If only horses
could gallop Z soon taught them to
jump. It was as if he infused into their
hearts something of his own gallant spirit.
218 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
But now it is almost impossible to suit liim.
He has grown fastidious to a degree. The
truth is, he hardly knows what he wants, or
rather he wants so much that no single
animal can combine all the requisite qualities.
It must gallop, it must jump, it must stay, be
smooth in its paces, have perfect manners,
neither kick, buck, nor do anything disagree-
able, whilst its age shall not be less than five
nor more than seven. Meanwhile poor Z
has such a nervous horror of riding a new
horse, that he will not try one sufficiently to
discover its merits. On the other hand, he
grows sharper and sharper at finding out its de-
merits. If the animal goes boldly at his fences,
he calls him a rushing, teaiing brute ; if after
being pulled up, he declines to jump, Z
declares he is a rank refuser, and if the steady-
going beast is so docile as to take no notice of
the electric current of fear, communicated from
his rider's hands to the corners of his sensitive
mouth, he is dubbed either a sluggard or a
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 219
cur. In short, Z wants a wonder. A
few exist, but they are very hard to find, and
even money cannot purchase them the very
moment they are wanted.
Z requires his ideal hunter to be fleet
as the wind, yet not to pull an ounce ; bold
as a lion, yet to go lamb -like at his fences,
and to possess a courageous and generous
nature, which, however, indulges in no in-
convenient light-heartedness. Where is such
a horse to be found ? Z chops and
changes, with the result that he outwears the
dealer's patience, and at the end is decidedly
worse off, both in money and horseflesh, than
he was at the beginning. His friendly dealer
does his best to please him. No efforts are
wanting on his part, for Z has not only
been a good customer for many years, but
also a first-rate advertisement. Indirectly he
has put many hundred pounds into his
pocket. He begins by sending him sound
fresh young horses of the class he has bought
'220 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
up till now. They certainly require a little
making, but hitherto Z has never failed
to turn them into brilliant hunters. Next, he
tries him with something older and steadier,
without giving any greater satisfaction ; and
at last, in despair, falls back upon a regular
old gentleman's quadruped, strong, plain,
underbred, but guaranteed absolutely sober
of conduct. A year ago Z would not
have had such a hippopotamus at a gift. He
might have called him an ornament to an
omnibus, but certainly not to the hunting-
field. Now he declares him to be a really
comfortable mount, and eventually purchases
old Sobersides for a sum about three times
So Z goes on from bad to worse.
Every year his nerve becomes shakier, until
at last he almost gives up jumping altogether.
The process is subtle, but he traces its com-
mencement to that disastrous fall, which to
this day he has never forgotten. Ten years
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 221
from the time he first enlered the county and
took field, master, huntsman by storm, he is
reduced to the necessity of being accom-
panied by a groom, whose duty it is to
precede his master over every gap, and prove
to him by ocular demonstration that it
contains no lurking danger.
Shall we give a final view of poor Z ?
One day, when hounds were running very
hard, he came across a diminutive ditch. The
fence had almost completely disappeared
owing to the number of horses which had
passed over it. Z happened to be at the
very tail of an attenuated line of sportsmen,
for the pace was great, and many steeds had
succumbed to it.
" Hey ! " he called out to his groom, who
was a little behind, " you go first, and give
me a lead."
The man did as desired, and waited for his
master to follow. Whereupon Z took a
tremendous pull at the reins, leant timorously
222 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD.
forward in the saddle, hunched his shoulders,
rounded his back, and in fear and trembling
set his horse at the gap. That sagacious
animal, however, probably possessing a
delicate perception of his rider's frame of
mind, refused. Z pretended to whack
him — he was in much too great a fright to
do so really — but Sobersides opposed the
castigation, light as it was, with dogged
obstinacy. The fact was, Z had got
hold of him so tight by the head, that he
could not see where he was going. Then
Z vented his wrath upon the human
animal. It was considerably safer, and did
not expose him to the risk of being un-
" Here, you d d fool," he exclaimed
irritably to his groom, "what's the good
of standing there grinning, just as if there
were anything to grin at. Come, jump back
again, and get on this brute of mine, whilst I
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 223
The man immediately obeyed orders, and
lo ! to Z 's surprise, Sobersides popped
over the gap without demur.
But now, what had come to Patrician?
The horse seemed to have taken leave of his
senses, for he proved even more refractory
than Sobersides. He not only firmly declined
to jump, but got on his hind legs and showed
the most abominable temper. It was more
than Z could stand. Every moment he
thought he should be crushed to death. At
the first lull, he slipped from the saddle in a
"What the devil is the matter with the
brute ? " he asked indignantly of the groom,
who promptly rejoined his master.
" I think if you would give 'im 'is 'ead, sir,"
suggested the man. " 'Ee's a 'oss as likes to
go very free at his fences."
" Give him his head ! What do you mean ?
He might have jumped over and over again
had he liked. Do you suppose I don't know
224 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD,
when a horse shows temper ? To-morrow
morning he shall be packed off to the place
he came from."
" It's a'most a pity, sir. 'Ee's a good 'oss,
a very good 'oss. If you'd try 'im
"Try him again. Not I. Not for ten
thousand pounds. I've had enough of the
beast. The fact is, he ain't my sort."
Whether our friend Z ever succeeded
in getting over that gap, history does not tell,
but when his mortified companion reached
home he lost no time in communicatins^ the
humiliating tale to Wilkinson.
That worthy pursed up his lips.
" Look here, John," he said, " don't you
put yourself about. It isn't your fault, or
Patrician's either, we all know that. He's as
good a hunter as ever looked through a
bridle, but when a gentleman 'as lost his
nerve as completely as our guvnor, why, then,
in my hopinion, it's time for him to give up
THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 225
hunting. It's first this one wrong, then that,
until I declare a man has no pride left in his
'osses. I'm a plain, 'ard-working fellow, but
if I could present my master with ten pound
worth of nerve-powder, why, I'd do it to-
And now the question comes, why does
courage evaporate with some, whilst others
may hunt and tumble to the end of a long-
life, and never lose their nerve ?
Z is not to be sneered at. He was not
responsible for the change that took place
within him, and for a long time valiantly
battled with his fears. That eventually he
succumbed to them was his misfortune
rather than his fault. No " funk-stick " he,
from birth, yet in some mysterious fashion a
single nasty accident threw his whole ner-
vous system out of gear. The inquiring
mind cries out, " Why, why ? Oh ! give me
the reason ? "
But answer there is none. Only we agree
226 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD,
with Wilkinson, that when a man has lost his
nerve so completely as Z , it is wiser for
him to retire from the chase. There is no
Cfreater mistake than letting? what ought to
be a pleasure degenerate into pain, and sub-
mitting to the yoke, simply through force of
habit. Say boldly, " My nerve is gone. I'm
giving up hunting," and nobody will care in
the least. There are always plenty to take
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