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all events, I know it is so with foxhounds. Whether, after a generation or two bred in such countries, a pack might not be kept up as with us, if in a climate similar to ours, I am not prepared to say: but hounds taken from here degenerating so much and so shortly seems to more than indicate they were not in point of ancestry originally of foreign extraction. There is one peeuliarity in the foxhound that does not exist in any other dog that I know of. I never saw (what in dog language is termed) “a whole coloured one;” nor have I ever heard of an entire black, brown, liver-coloured, fawn, red, or mouse-coloured foxhound. All but white I have seen, the same with black-and-tan, also brown; but still there was with the white some slight mark of colour in some part, and in the others the feet, legs, or throat more or less showed white. This is not the case with pointer, setter, spaniel, greyhound, or the original bloodhound or Talbot—thus, I consider, showing the fox-hound to be of mixed breed. In point of action, in his canter or when running hard, he stands alone: perhaps the greyhound is the most similar to him in this particular: there is a beautiful race-horse-like stride with the foxhound shown by no other dog living, the greyhound excepted. The setter sweeps over the ground very handsomely; but there is a dwell in his action in no way indicative of the speed of the foxhound, nor does he possess it. Many pointers go in good style, but there is a hurry in their movement not racing like: there is a certain determination even in the canter of the former that the others in no shape evince. With every respect for the pointer, when a good one, his general demeanour is currish when seen by the side of the dog of all dogs. There is a kind of gravity, an apparent air of conscious superiority and importance in all the demeanour of the foxhound, that no other dog exhibits. The Newfoundland and the bloodhound are each soberly enough conducted in their manner and habits; but, then, where is the dash of the foxhound, that we can see even in his quietest moments and movements he shows ready to exhibit, the moment proper occasion rouses him. In point of gameness and high courage the foxhound yields to no animal of his species: he does not show it by the ferocity of the bulldog, who will seize any inoffensive animal if set on ; neither has he the same peculiarity of endurance under absolute torture as has the other. His high spirit, when compared with the bull-dog's, is like that of the soldier compared with the prize-fighter: no fatigue, no surmountable impediment, can stop his career in pursuit of his game; and though not classed among fighting dogs, if he begins he will fight desperately ; many will not tamely submit to correction even from those they know; and unless a stranger was very well versed in dog language, with a voice and manner to awe hounds, on entering a kennel alone, he would find, perhaps at the cost of his life, that foxhounds can be even ferocious at times, or if unusual liberties are taken with them; in fact, I strongly suspect that if a man was strongly scented with fox odour, and hounds got on his (drag I must, I suppose, call it), if they ran into him they would pull him down; and if they did while their blood was up, they would certainly kill, and, if unchecked, eat him. Jo
In speed, either the greyhound or lurcher have a decided advantage over the hound; but how it would be in a five-mile run is, I believe, unknown, never having been tried; nor could it be, for we can invent no excitement to induce the greyhound to exert himself for so long a distance. But the speed a foxhound can, or rather has been induced t) exhibit, was shown by Merkin running a drag over the Beacon course at Newmarket in (if my memory is correct) seven minutes and one, two, or three seconds—I think (claiming the like reservation as to memory) about the same time as was occupied by Violante and Bramworm: be it remembered Merkin ran a drag. Could a fox have been kept in her view, I think it fair to conclude this greater excitement would have made her do it in still less time. The same course was also done by Mr. Barry's couple of hounds in a few seconds over eight minutes—a great falling off certainly from the astonishing feat of Merkin's. Still, this was fair racing time: I think something over that of Hambletonian and Diamond in their match. It is quite probable, had time been the object in this match, either horse could have done the distance in less; but, in justice to the hounds, we must recollect the pace mentioned is only the pace they went, which in no way proves that it was the greatest they could have exhibited. The average height of foxhounds, taking the packs of the United Kingdom throughout, I think I may set down as twenty-three inches dogs; twenty-one, bitches; or perhaps a shade under that. I should say the height I have mentioned is for most countries pretty near what would be found the most useful. The largest true-bred foxhound I ever saw measured twenty-eight inches: he looked a giant. Colour is a matter of taste; and that which any master of foxhounds prefers will usually predominate. If I may be permitted to mention my own predilection, it certainly is a good share of black markings relieved with tan. I cannot but fancy them generally a determined high-couraged killing sort. The fawn or lemon-pied strike me as looking like staghounds, and, like a yellow-chestnut horse, carry a soft look with them. The brown-pied, with lighter brown shaded off, is a good colour; but I fancy a little pointer-looking, and, I must hold, small round markings no little in the same way; but, if the shape, make, and indications of speed and endurance are right, the colour must be very objectionable indeed, or the master over fastidious, if a hound is rejected for colour only. I must, however, mention a hound I once saw, whom I really would have objected to from colour only : he was black, with the exception of white half-way up his fore-legs, and up to his thighs behind, and his face entirely white before the ears; he was, in short, marked like the bald-faced horses we often see in a cart: he was, notwithstanding, a choice favourite. Without, however, being prejudiced by admiration of the foxhound, I think we may fairly say that, taking his perfect shape, style of going, speed, endurance, and courage altogether, we may rank him at the very head of all the canine species. We now come to the harrier and beagle—terms (most improperly) indiscriminately used to designate any pack of hounds that hunt hare. It is true, they are all hare-hunting dogs; but by no means all harriers or all beagles, for there are packs of harehounds that differ as much in look, size, sharpe, and attributes, as does the cocker differ from the terrier: all these will own a scent, and run in pursuit of game; but hunting a hare does not make a dog a harrier. Though we technically say we are going-out with the harriers, it is immediately understood that the game will be the hare: what the dog may be is quite another matter. There are two descriptions of persons who keep harehounds, or constantly follow them : these two have diametrically opposite tastes as regards hare-hunting. The true and legitimate hare-hunter must, to be satisfied, see a hare followed in all her doubles, and would as soon think of “lifting” his hounds as he would the horse he rides. Provided the hare is hunted every yard of ground she runs over, he cares little how long the chase may last; in fact, with him the longer the chase the longer the pleasures of it last : he makes it, in fact, the very reverse of the fox-chase. There is another class of hare-hunters who make their chase as much like fox-hunting as the nature and habits of the game pursued will admit. I fear I should be of the latter class, if only harehounds could be got at. I look with no disrespect on the direct hare-hunter— quite the reverse; and admit that, so far as the pleasure of hunting is confined to admiration of the working of the pack only, the harehunter enjoys the chase in its greatest perfection; but I am free to confess that I, like numbers of my brother fox-hunters, should not be content with this only, without some other attendant stimuli that we find in crossing country at first-rate pace. Perhaps, to avoid the criticism of more orthodox sportsmen, we may as well not specify what these stimuli are. Such opposite tastes must, of course, require different means whereby to gratify them. Those means chiefly consist in the hounds employed for the purpose, which must differ as much in their qualifications as do the different duties required of them. The close linehunting southern hound, or true old-fashioned beagle, would want speed to please the fast man ; while the dash of the dwarf foxhound would electrify, indeed disgust the lover of saddle-flap ears and veritable dewlaps. Each kills his hare, but quite in a different way. The latter would hunt her through all her intricate doubles with most admirable patience, astonishing instinct, and all but certain success. The first could not, indeed would not, have patience to do this; but his superior speed renders it unnecessary that he should : he drives Madam Puss at a pace that prevents her having time for all the circumbendibuses she puts in practice before the slow hounds, with whom she practises very extraordinary vagaries that the speedy hounds put an end to very quickly; and she finds that fly she must, or die if she lingers. True hare-hunters may say, this is not giving the fair exercise of the cunning Nature has given her for her safety. Do we leave earths open to the fox for his 2 We give him the chance of beating the hounds, if he can, by his speed, stoutness, and any device they give him time to make use of: he gets no further favour than this. It may be said the fox is stouter than the hare. No doubt he is; but against this the hare has greater speed, and possesses a very great natural advantage in not leaving so strong a scent; and, moreover, reversing the case of the fox, as he tires, and then you Want a turn E
in his favour, unluckily for him, the turn is against him, for the nearer his death the stronger is his scent; whereas, with the hare, when she is nearly beat she scarcly leaves any scent; and, again, if we inflict on her contention with even the dwarf foxhound, we take away the greater and finer sensibility of scent possessed by the southern hound or true-bred slow harrier, against whose persevering patience and keen nose she stands even less chance of escape, if in a country much enclosed. On downs I grant we diminish that chance by hunting her with fast hounds; but in such a locality the old slow hounds would never catch, unless they run her from Brighton to Horsham, and wear her out by the day's journey. That the southern hound and the beagle are both derived from the old Talbot, I think cannot admit of a doubt; for they are, both in shape and general features, and many in colour, Talbots in miniature. How their diminished size was brought about is somewhat mysterious, unless it arose from breeding “in-and-in;” for had it arisen from any cross, the leading features of the original stock would, as is the case with the foxhound, have been softened down. Even the Lilliputian lap-dog beagle is still a little Talbot; and a very handsome, or rather pretty animal it is ; and, in comparison to its size, its speed is extraordinary—certainly faster than the old larger southern hound. I must here give an anecdote of one of these sturdy old-fashioned fogies: | was out with a pack of them that I never saw before or since. While trying, I remarked a whole coloured black-and-tan hound remarkably busy. I made an observation to the farmer who acted as huntsman relative to this hound. “Aye,” says he, “it’s ten to one but he finds the hare for us; he always does.” And sure enough he did, and put her up not three yards from him. I, of course, expected to see him make a rush forward. Not he: he stood stock still, and gave a yow-yow that might have been heard half-a-mile. The pack all came up to him, and away they went. I observed my friend, the black-and-tan, just keep with them; but without in any way interesting himself in the chase, as if he thought it was not in his vocation. The first check that occurred, the pack made their cast; my friend stood perfectly still till they came back to him: each hound feathered about for some time, the black-and-tan still preserving his cool imperturbability. At last, as if he meant to say—“Now you have done your best, I will try what can be done,” he set to work. Though sitting on my horse, I clearly heard, when he was near me, the working of his expansive nostrils in snuffing for a scent. At last he stood still as before; and giving his sonorous yow-yow, the pack owned the wellknown omen, “hit it off,” and run into their game; my imperturbable friend leaving them the honour of the kill. The ordinary harrier is clearly related to the foxhound. I should say, perhaps, as an intermediate sort between the southern and the flying dwarf foxhound, he is the best for the common run of countries, and for the amusement of the generality of those hunting with harehounds. But stag, fox, or hare-hunter, choose what game you will, or what description of hound you may, if my good wishes could avail, your chase through life should ever be a joyous one; nor should your prospect be ever marred by “drawing blank.”
Pace—Arrival at Kilsby—The Pytchley hounds—The riding of a Pytchley field— Sport of the season—The North Warwickshire hounds—Immense field at Bilton Grange—Costume—A day with the North Warwickshire—The Atherstone hounds at the covert-side—Mr. Hall's stud—Departure for Birmingham— Railway companions—Birmingham railway—The Sailor's allusion—A lonely evening—A run with Lord Gifford's hounds—Visit to Mr. Pudsey—Old associations—The Shropshire hounds—Acton Burnel—Sir Edward Smythe-Sport with the Shropshire—The Wheatland hounds—Sporting prospects in Shrewsbury—Mr. Frail—The new horse-fair.
In a fast country—which Northamptonshire is universally acknowledged to be—all your movements are of necessity regulated by a corresponding regard to pace: it becomes habitual. Even during the baliny hours of sleep, you are compelled to make the best use of your time. You can afford but a brief period for repose; therefore are you constrained to sleep as fast as possible, as though you had a certain distance to accomplish in your dreams. , Your breakfast must be consumed with due regard to celerity; and you can only allow yourself thirty-five minutes to gallop eight miles to covert, where if you are too late, you might as well have remained at home. An instantaneous find—no hanging in covert—and a quick burst—are incidents of constant occurrence, with which tardy movements are inconvenient.
In my last communication, Ibade my readers good-night as I was about to retire to rest in the hospitable cottage of my friend Mr. Henry Hall, having arrived with him by the express mail-train, at mid night. We had got into the “little hours” before we could gain out dormitories. To make the best use of the time was a matter of some importance, especially to one, like myself, rather inclined to enjoy a sufficient portion of “nature's restorative.” The only alternative was to sleep with all possible diligence, in accordance with other human performances in a fast country. This I did, to the full extent of the expression; at all events, I slept soundly and serenely till summoned to arise, when, having made speedy preparations, I accompanied Mr. Hall to Cold Ashby, where the Pytchley hounds had previously arrived.
On meeting a fresh pack of hounds, the first impulse is, naturally, to look them over, and criticise their appearance. “The ladies” were in waiting. They possess a great deal of character, with all the necessary qualifications for a fashionable and fast pack. I thought them drawn rather fine, which, however, is in this country generally advocated. They proceeded to draw Lord Althorpe's