« AnteriorContinuar »
keepers, agricultural labourers, &c. &c. The laurels and shrubs around the mansion are drawn blank, but a little excitement is occasioned by the venial transgressions of some of the young hounds, who, in their ardour for blood, make free with a few incautious hares. The underwhip, ambitious of his prowess in the art of punishment, and wanting the guidance of an experienced master, rides at the offenders, pursuing them with uplifted lash into the midst of the hounds, as they are coming away at the end of the shrubbery; here he lets fall his thong, and it alights on an innocent victim. "Never heed them," says the old keeper, who is aware that such usage only causes hounds to be more riotous and wild, and who, with becoming serenity-for he is a good-humoured specimen of his class, and an old servant-picks up the mangled carcases, and entrusting them to his boy, directs him "to carry them to the hall :"" they will make excellent soup; and there are plenty more in the well-stocked preserves!" All the home plantations proving blank, a move is made to Fairlawn Coppice, a hanging wood of twenty acres, on the boundary of the estate; at the bottom is an osier bed which adjoins the brook, and it is a favourite resort of pheasants and foxes, The covert is approached with caution, lest any disturbance should alarm a good wild fox, and occasion him to decamp without adhering to the more punctilious ceremony of being "at home" to receive his visitors. The whippers-in take their stations one on each side the copse, close to the hedge, and near the brook, which gives them a commanding view of the osier-bed and the meadows, in the event of the fox taking that line. The field are all awaiting in anxious suspense, in close column, at the upper corner of the covert. The hounds are no sooner thrown in, than pheasants are seen whirling about in all directions, and the scent is so good that a young hound or two cannot restrain their ecstasy without a light whimper, as the gaudy birds run under their noses. A challenge from an old hound, which cannot be mistaken, soon proclaims the welcome tidings-the fox is found. The willing pack rush to their accomplished leader, and a chorus of enchanting notes vibrates through the air. Neither the master nor the whips experience the slightest difficulty in getting the hounds together; they have nothing to do but to sit as still as possible, keeping their eyes and ears open; for the scent is exquisite, and Charley soon discovers his only hope of safety is in flight. Having made a tour of the covert, he slinks along the osier-bed, where he finds the brook opposed to his intended course; but he has not quite made up his mind to a cold bath. At this moment he is viewed by the whippers-in, but they dare not speak, fearing to head him back among the hounds who are rushing through the underwood with indomitable vigour. Not liking to face the brook, he turns up the covert again, narrowly escaping the jaws of death, but avoiding with wonderful activity several hounds which are meeting him. With a piano "Tally-ho! back," the head whip gives the first intimation of having viewed the fox, and the same halloo serves to turn the leading hounds, which would otherwise dash out at the corner of the osier-bed, in the expectation that their game had left. Two aspiring gentlemen, anxious for a start, are seen walking their horses silently along the outside of the covert; but the owner of the estate entreats them to desist, fearing they may, however cautious, head the fox. The request is courteously, although reluctantly, complied with. The hounds are again rattling the fox round the covert with determined resolution; he again reaches the osier-bed; he finds the hounds are
near him, and stealthily creeping down the bank, crosses the stream: he is well over. "Tally-ho! gone away," screams the under-whip at the highest pitch of his juvenile voice, and he incontinently gathers up his horse, with the intention of charging the water; but a moment's consideration reminds him that he must for a short time remain where he is at all events till the hounds are all over; besides, he perceives the leading hounds, bringing the scent along the margin of the brook, and dash past the point where the fox had crossed. A crack of the whip, with a "Hark back, hark back," sets that to rights, and the first whip having taking the initiative at the brook, with a touch on his horn caps the hounds which have crossed the stream upon the scent. They settle down in earnest; for there is no crowd of horsemen to molest them: and we will now leave them running breast high, while the important movements of the field are introduced. The order which has always prevailed in this hunt restrains incautious riders from surrounding the coverts at critical times, and thereby heading the foxes; they all remain in one place till it is known that the fox is away. It is soon ascertained that he was, and over the brook too, to the great gratification of some, and mortification of others, while a few unwilling to believe it are incredulous. The riding men, galloping down by the side of the covert, perceive the pack streaming away up the opposite bank, and without hesitation simultaneously charge the water: some get in, others over; but there is no harm done, and to those who had taken a cold bath, it has the effect of bracing their nerves, and, if possible, they ride more varmintly than ever. Another half-score, not choosing to feel confident the hounds were over, although their ears might have convinced them, go down to the brook on a tour of observation; they look at the wide and rotten banks; they do not like them, and ride away, no matter where. There is another portion of the field to be accounted for, and a large one too, whose first inquiry is for a bridge or friendly ford; they ascertain that there are two, one nearly a mile on the right, the other about an equal distance on the left. Thither they haste, with all convenient speed, some going to the east, others to the west: it is unnecessary to describe their exploits. The hounds having a good start of the horsemen, with rising ground in their favour nearly the first half mile, are running due south. The fox, catching sight of a woodman, diverges a trifle from his line towards the right. Here, for the first time, the hounds throw up their heads, only for an instant; they are not pressed upon, although the pace becomes less severe as they are running more down wind. But the fox has a point-the Notgrove Woods, and he makes a turn to reach them; this brings him with the wind in his teeth, and the pace becomes desperate. The hounds fairly race him from his point; he turns short to the right, nearly down wind. A slight check is the consequence; but the hounds recover the line unassisted. It is well they do, otherwise they might have been cast forward towards the wood. He is now sinking, and as is usually the case at this crisis, the scent diminishes; but still the hounds stick to him, and in another mile he is viewed threading a hedge-row. He repeats that manœuvre, when a single hound flings at him; but being considerably blown, is unable to hold his prize. Finding the hedge no sanctuary, he madly makes an effort to cross the middle of the field. The pack view him, and with bristles up are raging for his blood; he can struggle no further; the leading hounds gain upon him; he gallantly
turns to meet them, shows his teeth, grins a ghastly, scornful challenge of defiance, wildly snaps at the hound that seizes him, and nobly dies. The shrill "who-whoop" is heard at a distance: the sound is caught by some of the speculators who had selected the western bridge; they rally to the spot, and congratulate themselves at their good fortune in being in time to see the fox broken up-a ceremony somewhat delayed for the material purpose of allowing other stragglers to get up. It pleases many who have never seen a yard of the run. Such sport as this, although it calls none of the huntsman's talent into effect, givea the utmost satisfaction, and the master and his pack are eulogized beyond conception.
I will now endeavour to describe the disappointments of a bad-scenting day, with a first-rate pack of hounds, an experienced master as their huntsman, with effective whippers-in, and all the perfections that can possibly be combined. The scene laid at the same place as the last; and all the little items as before, wind excepted, which is N.W. The shrubberies are drawn. The hounds take no more notice of the numerous hares than of the statues with which the walks are ornamented, nor so much, for they give a glance at them with silent wonder. Fairlawn Coppice is at length drawn. The pheasants rise in great abundance; but not a hound in this pack would be guilty of throwing his tongue at feather. The hounds spread through the covert, and draw it beautifully, but somewhat listlessly. There is a whimper heard, but it is of that doubtful character that it cannot be cheered. It is repeated, when the tongue of old Countess, more confident, is recognized. "Wheugh, Countess! have at him! that must be right!" But the cheer has very little effect. The pack draw to the spot where the old hound spoke, yet cannot respond to the challenge. Still, it must be a fox. With much cheering and encouragement, and drawing the pack over the spot where the last hound spoke, a very indefinite cry is provoked, and that cannot be maintained; for if all the scent in the covert were to be condensed by the most elaborate process of pharmaceutical operations, it would not be detected by the most fastidious lady when concentrated within the folds of a cambric handkerchief. The fox parades about his territory as if holding a levée, and recognizes his elegant visitors with furtive glances. As they meet him in his paths, they are disposed to make more familiar acquaintance with him, coquettishly speaking to him, and, perchance, some two or three joining in their salutations; but he is not disposed to form such intimacy, and moves off to a more sequestered spot, where he may indulge in meditation. This lasts some time; and, however languishingly pleasing it may be both to fox and hounds, it is by no means calculated to please their lords and masters, many of whom have expended their last anecdote, smoked their last cigar, and are levying contributions on the cases of their friends. The incapacity of the hounds is discussed, and pronounced to be a decided fact. Mr. Smoothface (a second-season hunter) declares he saw the fox not ten yards before the hounds, and they never attempted to hunt. It must be the fault of the bounds. "What a run we had from this place last year!" 66 We, Charles!" exclaims Sam, his younger brother, taking him up sharply; "how can you claim any participation in that run, when you know very well you was one of those who rode down to the brook, but did not ride over it, and never saw a bit of the run?" whereas Sam, on his pony, had formed one of the western division who got over at the bridge. At last,
the fox, tired of walking about the covert, and not quite lost in admiration of his fair visitors, seeing an opportunity, breaks away. He is viewed by the vigilant eye of the master; and, at the sound of his horn, every hound of the pack is out of covert. They are laid on the line with that quickness which can only be accomplished by a professor. They run the scent-if feeling for it step by step can be distinguished by that term-about two fields, when they come to a check. The fox takes it very leisurely. He trots up the side of one hedgerow, down another, passes through an open gateway, or between the bars of a stile, till at length he is met by a shepherd's dog or a pet terrier from the Isle of Skye, who gives him a chevy just to stretch his legs. With surprising perseverance, the hounds pick it up to this point, but can get no further; and their industry and perfections are unheeded. A second fox is found in the Home-park Withy-bed. It lies in the vale; and as long as they are on marshy or meadow land, there is a better scent but the fox chooses to select the uplands, crosses a field or two of plough, and reaches Honeycomb Brake, where, without being at all pressed, he thinks fit to go to ground. This latter is a contretemps, it is true, in no way connected with scent. It is one of Dame Fortune's perplexing vagaries, concocted for the purpose of embarrassing an unhappy mortal when the current of annoyance flows against him; and from such disappointments as these, in conjunction with unpropitious weather, public opinions are frequently unfairly established, with reference to the zeal, talents, and capabilities of masters of hounds.
STATE OF THE ODDS, &c.
SALES OF BLOOD STOCK.
By Messrs. Tattersall, at Hyde Park Corner-On Monday, October 30th:
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN.
Virginia (Virago's dam), by Rowton out of Pucelle; covered by Pyrrhus the
The Reiver, 4 yrs., by Pantaloon out of Phryne
On Monday, November 6th:-
THE PROPERTY OF THE BELGIAN GOVERNMENT.
Tam o'Shanter, ch. h., 8 yrs., by Tam o'Shanter, dam by Performer
The Orphan Boy, br. h., 8 yrs., by Blackdrop (sire of Seahorse), dam by Old Warwick
Walton, ch. h., 10 yrs., by Y. Walton, dam by Brutus, &c.....
Brown Filly, 2 yrs., by Verulam out of Revival...
Master Jack, br. h., 9 yrs., by Hillsborough out of Miss Charlotte.
Master Adam, 3 yrs., by Orlando, dam's pedigree unknown
Gaiety, by Touchstone out of Frederica; covered by Harkaway, Retriever,
Satellite, 3 yrs., by Harkaway out of Sister to Satirist..
Temperate, b. f., 2 yrs., by Cowl out of Temper
Caroline, by Nonsense out of Sister to Dryad; covered by Sir Tatton Sykes 29 Changarnier, 3 yrs., by Epirus out of Grace Darling.
On Monday, November 13th :
THE PROPERTY OF MR. HOWARD.
Almond, 2 yrs., by Nutwith out of Celia.....
On Monday, November 20th :
Nutshell, by Nutwith out of Marmora..
Filbert, 4 yrs., by Nutwith out of Celia
Venus, by Amadis out of Aurora; covered by Pyrrhus the First
Millwood, bk. m., by Sir Hercules out of Miss Betsy; covered by Collingwood
Whirl, br. f., 2 yrs., by Alarm out of Distaffina..
Bay Yearling Filly, by Alarm out of Little Fairy
Crimea (late Hippolyte), ch. yearling f., by Essedarius out of Hinda
Bartholomew is reported to be engaged as Lord Derby's first jockey. The light-weight Wood, once with John Scott, goes to India.
Dabchick died at Newmarket recently, from the effects of castration. The horse had but lately been purchased by Mare, of the Duke of Bedford.
Of the horses included in the following table, Græculus Esuriens and De Clare are in John Scott's stable; the two next, St. Hubert and Oulston, under John Day's care; Flatterer and Frederick with Stevens, Prince of Wales with young John Day, and Westminster (by Touchstone) with William Day; Dockeray has the Polydora colt; while Wild Dayrell is still in private. Business has been very flat; Græculus, Oulston, and the Polydora colt having the best of it. De Clare latterly has been quite in the shade, and the Greek promises well for a continuance of his present exalted position.
Offers at the Corner on the 20th to bet a thousand even that Sebastopol is taken by Christmas Day: no takers.
END OF VOL. XXIV.
Printed by Rogerson and Tuxford, 246, Strand, London.