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papers delicately express it, it was not thought expedient that the hounds should stir out of their kennels. We were the more disappointed at this untoward event as we had been informed that Lord Suffield purposed hunting through April in the Woodlands and on the Forest.
That this Noble Lord's retirement from the Leicestershire country will be a matter of general regret we are far from supposing. Knowing nothing of hunting, or the rules by which it ought to be governed, he threw himself completely into the hands of the Melton men; made his appointments entirely for their convenience; and, acting under their advice, refused to make the slightest cession of coverts to oblige the county proprietors and their friends. Taking up his residence at Lowesby, it was naturally feared that an undue preference would be given to the Harborough country. This was intimated to Lord Suffield when he came down for cub-hunting, and he then said that he purposed hunting three days on one side the country and two on the other, in alternate weeks. Nothing could be fairer than this arrangement, and having kennels and stables both at Billesdon and Quorn it could readily have been done; but looking at the appointments throughout the season, we uniformly find three days devoted to that portion of country south of the Melton and Leicester road, one day to Charnwood Forest, and one to the open country lying north of the Wreke and Soar; and yet, though only half hunting this large tract of country, permission to draw Prestwould, never esteemed a good preserve for foxes or a certain find, was refused to the Marquis of Hastings, though solicited by the proprietor of the place.
During the summer of 1838 we were informed that an era was about to commence in the annals of Leicestershire Fox-hunting; that our past proceedings had been dead slow, but that we were now, as Jonathan says, to go a-head, and with new men, horses, and hounds, to run a career of glory which the neighbouring Masters of Hounds would emulate in vain, and which would make their huntsmen go mad with envy. Even the veteran who presides over the operations of the Belvoir pack was alarmed, and prepared to take lessons from his scientific
younger brethren. Cub-hunting began : what do we see? the hounds, which 'twas said required no hunting, running hare, skirting in every direction, the huntsman blowing his horn, and tearing his heart out with shouting, scarce a hound getting to him; two inexperience Whips looking on as quietly as though 'twere all correct, or, when riding at a hound, turning him the wrong way, and not unfrequently rating him by a wrong name. Oh! said we, for one hour of Will Derry, that Prince of Whippers-in! How would he have rode and slashed from that hawk-like eye and unsparing hand! what skirter or riot running puppy would have escaped cuts which would have lived in remembrance! the very crack of his whip would have said to every hound, get together, hark to Treadwell, into covert!” A fox is found—do we hear anything like music, anything like the crash usual from a high mettled pack just opening on their game? No: an occasional whimper proclaims that it is a find, but the body of the hounds seem as indifferent as though they had no part in the play. The fox breaks; a tally-ho is given ; out comes the huntsman with five couple of hounds. “Where did he go?"“ Through yon hedge by the ash tree.” Thither he gallops, flies over the fence, and the hounds are on the scent.
6 Good heavens,” say we,
“what a fellow for a start! we shall never see him.” We, however, make the best of our way over three or four fields, when we find the hounds at a check: they have been flashed over the scent; they are brought back, the rest of the pack come up, and we have a scurry; but our cub, by the check, has gained ground on us, makes his point to the next wood, finds the earths closed on him, so turns round and makes a circle back to the covert whence he started, ensconces himself in a thick clump of gorse, and is as safe as if he were three feet under ground. When regular hunting began, the hounds had learnt their lesson, and half the pack were always at the heels of the huntsman ; so that when a fox was viewed away he could make his rush with three parts of the pack. The start was always capital, but after the first burst the run was over : ke hounds never worked until they were tired, when they could no longer press their game, so that killing a run fox was out of the question. Hence too the reason why ese hounds had so little music. Always racing, or looking to the huntsman for a lift, their heads never down, they never either sufficiently enjoyed a scent, or else had no time to talk. The silent system may be an excellent thing in its way, but is not to us agreeable : we often longed to send this pack to the Peniten. tiary for a month by way of sickening them of it. How many
heads adorn the door of the Billesdon kennel we cannot say, as Treadwell was determined to have blood any how-probably as great a number as in the preceding season : but the foxes fairly killed after runs during the regular season were, in number, three, one to each pack; but the scratch pack used on the Forest took an undue advantage, and killed a brace; the other fell near the Coplow before the dog pack. If the above be considered a too highly-colored account, no one can deny that never were anticipations of first-rate sport more wofully disappointed than were those respecting the Lambton hounds; and we shall ever be of opinion that they had greatly deteriorated in their own country from what they were when Mr. Ralph Lambton possessed his health and energy unimpaired. There is one consolation attending the result of the new system-we have not to unlearn all our preconceived opinions as regards Fox-hunting, and we have yet the satisfaction of knowing that what Beckford taught and Meynell practised is still worthy our attention.
Another view of this subject naturally claims our regard. The system of last season having so utterly failed, the hounds being now looked upon as the worst in the neighbourhood, is it possible by a different system to make them a hunting pack? We are not all confident on this point; but supposing a favorable harvest, so that cubhunting could commence early in the woodlands, we think the question might be answered in the affirmative. Our method would be to take them to coverts where we could prevent any hallooing: we should let them find, and do their work without offering them the least assistance; keep them out until they killed, or as long as they would hunt. In a week or two they would rely on themselves, and cease to expect assistance: we then might venture upon an occasional cast, being confident in its correctness, and thus, as the doctors say, restore a more healthy tone to the system. Such a plan requires both patience and judgment, not more, however, than we think are possessed by Mountford, Mr. Errington's huntsman, who we are surprised to find living in the prime
of life unemployed in Leicestershire. Those who recollect what Lord Southampton's hounds were when Mountford first took the management of them, and what they were when that Nobleman left Leicestershire, will of a certainty agree with us that a more scientific huntsman or a better trainer of young hounds than George Mountford does not now exist. He and his hounds 'tis said were slow, and yet we have seen them kill a good dog fox, who ran straight and over a grass country, in seventeen minutes.
Monday.-Met the Belvoir pack at Piper hole; a cold blowing day, wind in the north-east. Went to Melton Spinney, found, and had a run to Buckminster at a moderate pace, and lost. Found a second fox at Sproxton Thorns, with an equally unsatisfactory result.
Wednesday.—Met the Marquis at Hathern Turn. Found in Oakley wood; ran about it for twenty minutes, then down to Garendon Park, and lost. Found a second fox in Long Cliffe gorse; ran towards the Park, then in the direction of Burly, turned back, and lost near Sheepshead.
Thursday, the Marquis had a bye-day at Bunny. Drew Rancliffe wood and the Round hill blank; went to the Highfield gorse, after drawing which for half an hour, a cry from three couple of hounds proclaimed a find : this was succeeded by a death-like stillness. A Gentleman, Mr. Whittaker, who had seen a fox jump up and apparently make no attempt to escape, ran to the spot, and found his worst anticipations realised : a bitch fox had been killed : he looked round and soon discovered seven cubs about three or four days old. These were immediately, by Lord Rancliffe's desire, transferred to Bunny, where wet nurses were procured in the shape of two terrier bitches: one, the smallest of the lot, died in a few hours from cold, but the other six are doing well, and we trust will evince their gratitude to their foster father by shewing sport worthy their education on a future day. We then proceeded amidst a violent storm to the New Wood, which, as well as the new gorse covert, was drawn blank. We now trotted to Stanford Park, soon found, and running across the Park crossed the brook leaving the Blackamoors to the right, thence past Hoton village to Hoton Spinney, turned to Prestwould, and, running in front of the house, went direct to Burton; thence for two miles parallel with the Six Hills road, when, bearing to the right, he made for Walton gorse, where he got safely to ground. The run lasted forty minutes. We had rather a long check at Prestwould: the pace up to that place was severe, and quite fast enough after passing Burton, being over stiff clay, mostly plough and awfully deep.
The Marquis ended a very successful season on the Saturday following As we were not out we can give no account of the day's sport, nor can we state the number of foxes killed ; but we can assert that none have been mobbed and murdered in cold blood : they have all been fairly hunted, or, if accidentally chopped, it has been not by design, but by misadventure. The kind and gentlemanlike deportment of the Marquis of Hastings, the fair way in which he hunts his country, and the excellence of the sport shewn by his beautiful pack, must ever secure to him the warmest feelings of regard from all Sportsmen who hunt with him; and among these we trust will be numbered for years to
CLOSE OF THE SEASON IN THE WEST.
You will be glad to hear that Mr. Tudway has lately been shewing some very fine sport, especially one day from Nettle-bridge Gate. Finding their fox in Asham Wood, they took him best pace towards Stourton, thirty-five minutes of which was as fast as hounds could go. A very hard rider declared he had never ridden to hounds faster in his life. They also had a couple of good things from Lytes Cary and Stourton Inn, killing their fox each day. Nor is it in the field alone that the good people of Somersetshire have been enjoying the noble diversion; for, à Hunt Ball was announced for March the 12th, and a very elegant supper was provided by the Members of the Mendip Hunt, which was attended by all the fashionables of the neighbourhood. The Ball was held at Old Down: Champagne, ices, and all the good things of this world in profusion, were most liberally provided by the Members of the Mendip Hunt. Mr. Tudway made a capital speech, thanking his friends for their attendance, and promising to do everything in his power to shew sport to the gentlemen. Mr. Knatchbull also made a good speech. After the ladies had retired, Mr. Tudway had occasion to address his friends again, when he was received with cheers loud and long, which did not cease till he expressed his fears that the fox might be disturbed by the “halloos” before the hounds were ready for him. Indeed, nothing could have been better arranged, or the spirit of the thing better kept up, than it was on the present occasion.— The hounds met at Chilcompton, close to Old Down, the following morning, and killed a brace of foxes.
Mr. Codrington in the New Forest has been shewing most famous sport, better than has been known in the Forest for many seasons.
Mr. Wyndham, I regret to hear, has been doing little or nothing in the shape of sport.
The report that Sir J. Mills retires is, I am sorry to think, but too true: a wilful destruction of foxes is the cause. He finished the season at Rookley, near Stockbridge, with a good day's sport : it is a pity to think that a man so fond of hounds should not be in a better country. The Gentlemen of his Hunt intend to invite him to a dinner, and present him with a piece of plate as a mark of their approbation for the kind and handsome manner in which he has hunted the country, and for the sport he has shewn them during the time he has been Master of Hounds.
Mr. Drax, in Dorsetshire, also retires from the Charborough country: his hounds are not yet disposed of.
Sir M. Ridley, I hear, has had very good sport indeed, and, notwithstanding five weeks hard frost, has, if I remember right, killed twenty-two brace of foxes.
The Craven hounds have had a capital season, one of the best ever remembered: they have up to this time killed thirty-seven brace of foxes, besides running to ground and whipping off from vixens : this, for a cold-scenting country like the Craven, and a country, with scarcely any grass, is a very large number. The Craven hounds are fine and well shaped, the standard for the dogs being a little under
twenty-four inches, and the bitches between twenty-two and twentythree inches: they have suffered very much from the Distemper, and have lost several
The Craven hounds, by-thebye, are the same that formed the H. H., the old Craven being sold to go into the Ilampshire country in the place of these hounds, which belong to Mr. F. Villebois, and were brought into the Craven kennels by him. Mr. Villebois is, I need scarcely say, a first-rate Sportsman, and rides up to his hounds as well as ever: indeed, for those who, like Mr. Villebois, are fond of hounds and scientific hunting, the Craven is a good country to see them work, though it is cheerless and does not hold a good scent. Foote, the huntsman, is a most civil obliging man—a beautiful horseman, and one of the best huntsmen, I take it, ever remembered in the Craven country: he is at home alike in the kennel and in the field. He began his career at eleven years old with Mr. Farquharson, and has been with hounds ever since: he was for some time with Mr. Drake. He has a finc entry of young ones, though some seasons have found him with finer. He has a good draft to dispose of.
The foxes in this Hunt are not so plentiful as they generally are, especially, I hear, in the neighbourhood of Ilsley. Let us hope that those persons who are such decided enemies to the fox will consider the handsome manner in which this pack is conducted, and for the future allow “the beautiful fox's blood to be spilt by the fox-hound alone."
I will now pass on to the kennel. First and foremost, I affirm that it will puzzle any one to shew a finer pack. Look at Vulcan, Valiant, and Vanquisher-three of the finest hounds of one litter I ever saw in my life. Of the three, Vanquisher is most to my mind. Hannibal and Hotspur are very fine specimens of the fox-hound, nor must Melody, Blameless, and Crazy be overlooked amongst the bitches. Linguist, too, must, I am sure, be able both to hunt and race: I think I should not be wrong in judging him to be one of the fastest in the pack; his speed must be very great. April 15, 1839.
We are under the necessity of postponing the list of Mr. F. Villebois's hounds till the next Number.
Our Correspondent strongly recommends Mr. Coate's Balls, proved to be so efficacious in the cure of the Distemper by that well-known Sportsman, the Rev. H. F. Yeatman, of Stock House, near Blandford, Dorset.-See vol. xvi. Second Series, p. 307.
PORTRAIT OF VALIANT. Engraved by J. H. ENGLEHEART from a Painting by F. C. TURNER.
VALIANT, the property of Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, is well known in the Royal Hunt, and continues in the same high estimation with His Lordship as when purchased three years ago for his especial riding. He possesses pluck, and speed, and power equal to any hounds, and his temper is so excellent that he may be ridden with a silken thread : indeed he preserves in every respect the high character he obtained when in Lord Lonsdale's Hunt. We can only say of VALIANT, there may be better in the field, but he must be a tarnation good ’un” to beat him.