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Kilmarnock, among other claims to notice, is celebrated for its rifleshooting, which takes place every spring, and as much so for its rifles, or rather the maker of those instruments, Mr. Kennedy, who can not only đo that well, but use them afterwards as effectually, and no mistake. This year he carried off, being defeated for the first, nearly all the remainder of the prizes. His guns appear to be finished in a very workmanlike manner, and it would seem that fame is not his only meed. Having been engaged in another branch of business, he is now selling off his stock, intending to confine himself solely to gunmaking. It was with a double rifle he shot at the last meeting.
About seven miles from Kilmarnock, on the road to Edinburgh, stands the thriving village--or, more properly speaking, town--of Galston; and nearly three miles beyond it again, to the South, is Sornbeg, the ancient family residence of Mr. Campbell, the Master of the Ayrshire Fox-hounds. The entire country visible to the traveller in the whole distance from Ayr to this place is a fox-hunting one, having hardly one of those dreadful plantings which obstruct and obscure Stirling, Perth, Forfar, &c. In short the scarcity of these, the total absence of stone walls, and, above all, the prevalence of grass, indicates a country superior to any I had seen in Scotland. I am aware (and I have seen it) what a fine country the Duke of Buccleuch has in Roxburghshire, but it is quite different, and cannot be put in fair comparison. Ayrshire stands so much by dairy produce, that the farmers generally (at least Mr. Campbell told me it was the case in his district) are bound down to keep three parts under grazing. To the total absence of stone walls may be added no great appearance of timber, though one part of the country, near Barskimming, I was informed, is formidable enough in that respect. The fences are mostly thorn hedges, with a gripe or small ditch, and very ugly hedges they are-I mean, to get over or through. Every country looks easier to cross than the easiest will prove on experiment; and doubtless Ayrshire is not to be excepted : it must require a steady horse, and one who knows where to put his feet, or his legs would soon find it out. There are not many brooks. On the whole I should say it was not an over difficult, and certainly a pleasant, country to ride over: the pace on good days must be trying enough.
Approaching Galston from Kilmarnock, “ Loudon's bonnie banks and braes” present themselves in all their charms-scenes easier to enjoy than describe. The Castle is a magnificent structure, embowered in woods and knolls, bounded in the distance by Loudon Hill, a curious. sugar-loaf pinnacle, rising to a considerable height, with a rocky front to the south, and bare of wood. Opposite to Loudon is the Castle of Cessnock, belonging to the Duke of Portland--a curious old mansion, romantically situated--and a little further on, Sornbeg. I met Mr. Campbell almost at his gate ; and had our brother Correspondent Ringwood seen the pointers he had with him, his query, whether any of the right old sort were left yet, would have been answered in the best of all convictions. The huntsman, Burniston, was not at home, and I had fallen on a peculiarly unlucky period. The Ayrshire, not many years established, and not maintained by breeding, are recruited by draft, and their own off-sets were gone, while the reinforcement,
expected as I understood principally from Lord Kelburne, had not joined ; consequently the kennel was not in its usual force, but they had a most workmanlike appearance, and some very fine dogs and bitches among them*. I particularly noticed Foreman from Lord Elcho's, and Rarity from the Cottesmore: there were others too, but having come when I did, I did not press inquiries I otherwise would. There was one thing struck me at once, and that was their handiness. Without even the show of a whip, they “ turned about and did just so” at their master's bidding, and this is the cardinal virtue from which almost all others spring. There were four or five couples of bitches at heat, and some good specimens ; one on a small scale, whose name I regret forgetting. She had been sent to a brother Sportsman among a lot with which he intended hunting hare ; but her present master said that to find her fox, and hunt him, she had no superior : she was a model of proportion. No hounds can be more comfortably put up, or better looked to: there was an air of cheerfulness about all, which put me much in mind of many well-known old places and old times.
I have previously alluded to the country; now it cannot be one which tells over severely on hounds, and, as they only hunt twice a week, they do not require a supernumerary force. Mr. Campbell mentioned one particular feature which is against this general remark: many of their coverts are near or on the courses of the various rivers, which are for the most part broken and rocky; there they frequently meet with casualties, and mostly fatal ones. A grand-nephew of Mr. Campbell was with us in the kennel I should say he was about six or seven years old; he seemed quite up to matters, names, &c., and on as good terms with the Master. He then started off by himself to fish. Thus it runs in the blood, even with those whose avocations deny the practice
Expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret." If I had been unfortunate respecting the hounds, it was otherwise regarding the horses. With the cordiality and courtesy which evidently distinguish Mr. Campbell, while he proffered me the “ cup of kindness, he ordered a horse to be saddled, and extended the ride so as to shew and point out to me some very fine lines of country over which they had come brilliantly, and with a who-whoop to top all, in the last perplexing season ; one, so open and fine was the country, I could ascertain for good twelve miles when shewn it from a rising ground. The huntsman's book I did not see ; but Mr. Campbell read me notes of four or five consecutive days, which shewed what they can do, and the remembrance of which is still fresh and gratifying. To any one who knew the names and places, the report must have been of interest, although they had not been actors therein. Even to me who had neither of these stimulating causes to influence, there was quite enough to shew that they well deserved to live in story.
The nag which I got on was the horse I mentioned as having been fresh when most others were in trouble in the run to the Craig of Ben Beoch. He is an Irish horse of the best description--a dark
* The drafts in kennel were principally from Lord Elcho, Mr. Musters, Mr. Lloyd Mostyn,
and some from Lord Lonsdale.
chesnut with light mane and tail, and, with vast substance, shews a deal of good breeding. I never rode a nicer nag. Though Mr. Campbell's horses are principally grazed, there were four or five in the house, and he was riding a very well bred one of his own rearing, which he said was the most useful horse he had: he was always in the gig or saddle, or with the hounds, and as constantly fresh and well: he is a bony brown horse, with all shapes for work and action strongly developed, and looked, though plain, all over the hunter. If I recollect right, he is got by Albany, a son of Smolensko, who got some good hunting stock in Ayrshire.
In the first field were eight or nine horses—some thorough-bred, some near it, and one or two Irish ones. One of these last I had seen a likeness of in one of the most truly sporting apartments I ever had the happiness to set foot in : he has carried Mr. Campbell ten consecutive seasons without a mistake. He is a compact horse, with gre power, added to corresponding lightness and freedom in action. A very hunting-like thorough-bred horse with white legs, whom his owner said was something superior, and bred by himself, appeared too evidently lame, and badly so: all sorts of causes had been assigned for it; great as the mortification apparently will be, I fear the mind must be made up for navicular, and no mistake. This horse would be any man's horse in any country. A grey horse was shewn me as possessing eminently the best qualities of a hunter. He should, such being the case, do the trick in all countries. A chesnut horse, very powerful, and seemingly thorough-bred, recovering from the effects of a blister, is one lately purchased, which his master has high hopes from: he was a horse of distinction at Cambridge, and, though he has been amiss, is expected to come again to the mark. In short, Mr. Campbell has a very useful clever stud, and, as he is certainly over-horsed, will have some to dispose of: any man wanting a seasoned made horse might do worse than take a look at them.
I should imagine the Ayrshire must be a very pleasant pack to hunt with ; their Members are not only select, but even first-rate ; and I evidently saw that about the Master which must cast a mellowing mantle even over disappointment. If any one who ever hunted with the ate Mr. Hanbury and the Puckeridge should cast his eyes over these lines, he will fully understand and appreciate what I mean. As a general Sportsman, Mr. Campbell is too generally known in Scotland for any comment of mine to be other than ill-timed and misplaced. All I shall observe is--and I cannot refrain from it—that I shall not easily forget the reception I met with from this genuine Sportsman, whose pointers, greyhounds, &c. are all in the best keeping, taking the word in all its senses. -The date of 1680 is over the door-way of Sornbeg. I never sat down in but one such other room as its parlor, and I never hoped or expected to have had such a gratification again : and he must be of different mould than fox-hunters generally are who would not have his feelings and spirit gratified by the sterling hospitality I experienced in it.
The day I was at Sornbeg was rather a sharp go for a shaken old one out of work, for, with all ins and outs, I managed to reach Paisley that night; and, as good as my bed was, I could have slept soundly in
But I was up and off to Hawkhead, Lord Kelburne's, on foot, at eight next morning. I did about eight miles of the yesterday's work by means of that primitive vehicle. Coaches will not go by country seats to please us; and although I could have got a horse at Paisley, I would in nine instances out of ten sooner walk than ride a hack, in the full acceptation of that unhappy term. The natives say it is three miles from the muslin-town to Hawkhead: I fear they are not as honest as in the part of Perthshire I am domiciled in, and do not give in the bittock. I never perambulated such short three miles.
The way to the stables, kennel, &c.—they all lie very compactwas easily made out. In this instance, the Master being engaged in his senatorial duties, I had to apply to the man, Knight, for admission ; and he did it in all ways and under such evidently regular and everyday system as shews him to be quite au fait to his duties. He has the management of the whole concern, horses and all, and they are all well worthy of the pains taken, and the honest but subdued pride as plainly shewn in the exhibition. It is out of the question to say another word : there was not so far a screw loose, though in such a fine stud of hunters, just after the season, there was a little tightening and oiling up of the screws, of course. But all departments were well arranged, and their duties as well put in practice.
Knight shewed me the hounds first. Like the Duke of Buccleuch's, they are divided into two packs, great and small-in common sense, and for deeper reasons, a far better arrangement than dog and bitch separately. No two battalions of a regiment can be well better-sized from flank to centre. They are remarkably level. There is a great deal of the Lambton and Cleveland blood among them, His Lordship not breeding much himself: what little he has tried, however, might well induce him to do more. I observed nothing particular about the kennels, except that they practise the cold-water system in an open bath, similar to those at the Duke of Buccleuch's and Lord Elcho's. The hounds are evidently under excellent kennel command. Knight made a kind of apology for their not looking quite as bright as he could wish : there was no occasion for it; and if there had, in the first place, they had not been yet dressed, and consequently were in their old coats; and secondly, they had just come from a long walk, in a burning hot dusty day, on roads well powdered with coal-dust. I could not get a correct list; and, to give it the mildest term, it would be unfair and useless to submit any other, however recent. It must be obvious to any one who will take the trouble to bestow a thought on the matter, that a person situated as I was can at the very
best only attempt å sketch or outline as it were, and that it would take as many days as I had, I may almost say, minutes for the basis of, or any reasonable pretension to present, a picture, or furnish a portrait. Doubtless, to an eye accustomed for many years to view such matters minutely, from an interest as yet undiminished, and which has also prompted to attend to and remember the judgment and remarks of many who have been universally held good authority on the subject, the most striking specimens will manifest themselves. But I have before said, that they were very level : now I do not mean to apply
that term solely to height; they deserve it as to their other indications. Even were it otherwise, such off-hand opinions cannot be conclusive; and although I will plainly assume that the following remarks are not founded in anything approaching to error, they must not be taken as meant to be dogmatical, and still less with a bias to anything in the shape of criticism.
In such feeling, I do not think that any one would pass by Champion, and Cavendish, Consequence, Credible, Charity, Pantomime, Music, Magical, Lollypop, &c.; but there were two hounds particularly pleased my notion, and those were Pilot and Pleader, whom I found to be half-brothers, out of a celebrated and favorite old bitch, Purity, and that the former was one of a litter of five, all the same stamp; and although only one-year hunters, that they were as remarkable for their working qualities and fondness for their own game. This litter- viz. Pilot, Pilgrim, Pillager, Prodigal, and Purity-Knight got together ; and one may go through many kennels before he will see such another. Every eye forms its own style; and so various are they, and to such an extent are fox-hounds now bred, that, although intrinsically the same, they differ in externals so much that they do not seem to belong to the same class.
I had a striking instance of this laid before my eyes in my visit to the Linlithgow kennel. The prevailing rage of the present day is motion, and to increase “ the pace" to the highest pressure the ambition of almost all. Now in breeding, many combine length with the idea of speed, and cannot get them greyhound-shaped enough. I will admit that the deeper in the brisket, the more room for the lungs, and that no dog is the worse for running fine to the flank, provided he be round-ribbed and strong across the loin ; but many of these long-sided ones are flat-sided, than which nothing more destroys symmetry; and the better a hound is coupled, the more work will he stand. Though abhorring a fubsy truss-made harrier-looking stamp, I cannot say I admire these over great slashing hounds; and even as to speed, I am convinced they are not the fastest. The litter I above mentioned come as near to my idea of what a fox-hound should be as any I ever saw : from scalp to stern it would tax the ingenuity of fastidiousness to point out what they should not have; and they are an ornament and a plume of feathers in the cap of the Hawkhead establishment, as indeed they would be anywhere else.
There was a particularly fine young badger-pied hound, lately from Lord Lonsdale's, whose name (my notes being necessarily in pencil) is erased. I have not seen a hound so much resembling the stamp and color of the Old Pytchley, in Charles King's time, for many a long year.
Altogether, I received no small pleasure in looking over this wellappointed kennel, and would deem it no trouble going all the distance merely to have seen those five descendants of old Purity.
I have the same to say of the Stables. Here were fifteen hunters, all but two thorough-bred, many entire, and all able to carry from thirteen to fourteen stone, and some more.--Four hacks, two of which are thorough-bred, are a treat to look at; one of them unique. This pocket Hercules--for so he is as a full blood horse-is a dark brown