Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

fawn (no white should be shown but on just the tip of the stern); the tongue loud, long, deep, and melodious; and the temper courageous and irascible, but remarkably forgiving, and immensely susceptible of kindness. Nevertheless, we have reason to believe that Mr. Berkeley, on more than one occasion, has had to run from “Druid ” when his blood was up. (See Frontispiece for portrait of “ Druid.”)

According to Mr. Apperley, the Duke of Bedford possessed some fine specimens of the modern bloodhound fifteen years ago, and the Lords Yarborough and Fitzwilliam were also famous; the latter nobleman's “ Bellman” being as well known for stud purposes as Mr. Osbaldiston's “Furrier” among foxhounds. He observes, with great probability of correctness, that the bloodhound is identical with the old southern harehound, now almost extinct in England, both being remarkable for adhering to the scent of the animal on which they are first laid. Mr. Jennings of London also possesses a fine breed of the bloodhound.

THE STAGHOUND.

The old English true staghound, which is now nearly if not quite extinct, resembles the bloodhound, but has a lighter cross, probably with the greyhound, and therefore somewhat approaches to the modern lurcher in formation of body, with the head of a southern hound. I believe there were till very lately some of these, nearly thorough-bred, in the pack of the Devon and Somerset staghounds, but even they were more or less crossed with the foxhound. Like the bloodhound and old southern hound, this dog has the peculiarity of keeping to the hunted deer, which is not the case with the fashionable staghound of the day. There is some difficulty, however, in getting at a true description of the old staghound, and as it can only be valuable to the antiquarian, I shall not attempt anything further.

The staghound at present used in Her Majesty's and Baron Rothschild's kennels is merely a larger, and therefore faster, draft of the foxhound of the day. The dogs are about 24 or 25 inches high, and the bitches 22 to 23. They have broad short heads, straight hind legs, well-furnished thighs, full ears, which are not required to be rounded so much as the foxhound's, inasmuch as they do nothing in covert, and sterns feathered like the ordinary foxhound. The endurance of the staghound is very considerable, though from his extra size and weight he cannot compete in this respect with the foxhound of 23 inches; but as he is not required to hunt a second fox, and has not often more than a few miles of road work in going to the meet, he is not wanted to be so capable of long-continued exertion. Even in Somersetshire, where wild red deer are hunted, the staghound is not employed to "unharbour” them, and slow hounds which are nearly pure bloodhounds are used for the purpose.

It is unnecessary, therefore, to describe this hound more minutely, as, by reference to the foxhound, his shape, colour, &c., will be easily ascertained, and the size is given above.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The modern foxhound is one of the most wonderful animals in creation, which is probably owing to the great pains that have been bestowed upon him for the last two or three centuries. Numerous instances have occurred where eight or ten thousand a year have been spent for a long time together upon a fox-hunting establishment, and therefore, when this outlay has been united

[ocr errors]

with the great judgment which has been displayed in the most celebrated kennels of the present century, it can scarcely occasion surprise that the combination has resulted in the most complete success. In breeding cattle and sheep one man has in more than one instance, during his single life, effected a complete revolution in the animal he was engaged in improving; and therefore, when a number of gentlemen combine for one purpose, and spare neither time, money, nor trouble, we ought to expect the fulfilment of their wishes. In no department of rural sports has so much been written as on fox-hunting, and this not only of late years, but for the last three centuries, during which Markham, Somerville, and Beckford may be instanced as examples of truthful as well as clever writing on the subject. Beckford, who wrote in the latter part of the last century, his first letter being dated 1779, is, however, the father of the modern school, and, with slight exceptions, the hound described by him is still that selected by our best masters, though perhaps they carry out his principles to a greater extent than he ever expected they would go. Much has been written, it is true, since his time, but I am not aware that any one has deviated from his description without doing wrong, and therefore, as I like to give credit where credit is due, I shall extract his description entire, as contained in his third letter to his friend.

“You desire to know what kind of hound I would recommend. As you mention not for any particular chase or country, I understand you generally ; and shall answer that I most approve of hounds of the middle size. I believe all animals of that description are strongest, and best able to endure fatigue. In the height as well as the colour of hounds most sportsmen have their prejudices; but in their shape, at least, I think they must all agree. I know sportsmen who boldly affirm that a small hound will oftentimes beat a large one ; that he will climb hills better, and go through cover quicker; whilst others are not less ready to assert that a large hound will make his way in any country, will get better through the dirt than a small one, and that no fence, however high, can stop him. You have now their opinions : and I advise you to adopt that which suits your country best. There is, however, a certain size best adapted for business, which I take to be that between the two extremes, and I will venture to say that such hounds will not suffer themselves to be disgraced in any country. Somerville I find is of the same opinion :

• But here a mean
Observe, nor the large hound prefer, of size
Gigantic; he, in the thick-woven covert,
Painfully tugs, or in the thorny brake,
Torn and embarrassid, bleeds : but, if too small,
The pigmy brood in every furrow swims;
Moil'd in the clogging clay, panting, they lag
Behind inglorious; or else shivering creep,
Benumb’d and faint, beneath the sheltering thorn.
Foxhounds of middle size, active and strong,
Will better answer all thy various ends,
And crown thy pleasing labours with success.'

I perfectly agree with you that to look well they should be all nearly of a size; and I even think that they should all look of the same family,

« AnteriorContinuar »