Hunting Sketches
Anthony Trollope

Hunting Sketches

by Anthony Trollope


The Man who Hunts and Doesn't Like it
The Man who Hunts and Does Like it
The Lady who Rides to Hounds
The Hunting Farmer
The Man who Hunts and Never Jumps
The Hunting Parson
The Master of Hounds
How to Ride to Hounds


It seems to be odd, at first sight, that there should be any such
men as these; but their name and number is legion. If we were to
deduct from the hunting-crowd farmers, and others who hunt
because hunting is brought to their door, of the remainder we
should find that the "men who don't like it" have the
preponderance. It is pretty much the same, I think, with all
amusements. How many men go to balls, to races, to the theatre,
how many women to concerts and races, simply because it is the
thing to do? They have perhaps, a vague idea that they may
ultimately find some joy in the pastime; but, though they do the
thing constantly, they never like it. Of all such men, the
hunting men are perhaps the most to be pitied.

They are easily recognized by any one who cares to scrutinize the
men around him in the hunting field. It is not to be supposed
that all those who, in common parlance, do not ride, are to be
included among the number of hunting men who don't like it. Many
a man who sticks constantly to the roads and lines of
gates, who, from principle, never looks at a fence, is much
attached to hunting. Some of those who have borne great names as
Nimrods in our hunting annals would as life have led a forlorn-
hope as put a horse at a flight of hurdles. But they, too, are
known; and though the nature of their delight is a mystery to
straight-going men, it is manifest enough, that they do like it.
Their theory of hunting is at any rate plain. They have an
acknowledged system, and know what they are doing. But the men
who don't like it, have no system, and never know distinctly what
is their own aim. During some portion of their career they
commonly try to ride hard, and sometimes for a while they will
succeed. In short spurts, while the cherry-brandy prevails, they
often have small successes; but even with the assistance of a
spur in the head they never like it.

Dear old John Leech! What an eye he had for the man who hunts and
doesn't like it ! But for such, as a pictorial chronicler of the
hunting field he would have had no fame. Briggs, I fancy, in his
way did like it. Briggs was a full-blooded, up-apt, awkward,
sanguine man, who was able to like anything, from gin and water
upwards. But with how many a wretched companion of Briggs' are we
not familiar? men as to whom any girl of eighteen would swear
from the form of his visage and the carriage of his legs as he
sits on his horse that he was seeking honour where honour was not
to be found, and looking for pleasure in places where no pleasure
lay for him.

But the man who hunts and doesn't like it, has his moments of
gratification, and finds a source of pride in his penance. In the
summer, hunting does much for him. He does not usually take much
personal care of his horses, as he is probably a town man and his
horses are summered by a keeper of hunting stables; but he talks
of them. He talks of them freely, and the keeper of the hunting
stables is occasionally forced to write to him. And he can run
down to look at his nags, and spend a few hours eating bad mutton
chops, walking about the yards and paddocks, and, bleeding
halfcrowns through the nose. In all this there is a delight which
offers some compensation for his winter misery to our friend who
hunts and doesn't like it.

He finds it pleasant to talk of his horses especially to young
women, with whom, perhaps, the ascertained fact of his winter
employment does give him some credit. It is still something to be
a hunting man even yet, though the multiplicity of railways and
the existing plethora of money has so increased the number of
sportsmen, that to keep a nag or two near some well-known
station, is nearly as common as to die. But the delight of these
martyrs is at the highest in the presence of their tailors; or,
higher still, perhaps, in that of their bootmakers. The hunting
man does receive some honour from him who makes his breeches;
and, with a well-balanced sense of justice, the tailor's foreman
is, I think, more patient, more admiring, more demonstrative in
his assurances, more ready with his bit of chalk, when handling
the knee of the man who doesn't like the work, than he ever is
with the customer who comes to him simply because he wants some
clothes fit for the saddle. The judicious conciliating tradesman
knows that compensation should be given, and he helps to give it.
But the visits to the bootmaker are better still. The tailor
persists in telling his customer how his breeches should be made,
and after what fashion they should be worn; but the bootmaker
will take his orders meekly. If not ruffled by paltry objections
as to the fit of the foot, he will accede to any amount of
instructions as to the legs and tops. And then a new pair of top
boots is a pretty toy; Costly, perhaps, if needed only as a toy,
but very pretty, and more decorative in a gentleman's dressing-
room than any other kind of garment. And top boots, when
multiplied in such a locality, when seen in a phalanx tell such
pleasant lies on their owner's behalf. While your breeches are as
dumb in their retirement as though you had not paid for them,
your conspicuous boots are eloquent with a thousand tongues!
There is pleasure found, no doubt, in this.

As the season draws nigh the delights become vague, and still
more vague; but, nevertheless, there are delights. Getting up at
six o'clock in November to go down to Bletchley by an early train
is not in itself pleasant, but on the opening morning, on the
few first opening mornings, there is a promise about the thing
which invigorates and encourages the early riser. He means to
like it this year if he can. He has still some undefined notion
that his period of pleasure will now come. He has not, as yet,
accepted the adverse verdict which his own nature has given
against him in this matter of hunting, and he gets into his early
tub with acme glow of satisfaction. And afterwards it is nice to
find himself bright with mahogany tops, buff-tinted breeches, and
a pink coat. The ordinary habiliments of an English gentleman are
so sombre that his own eye is gratified, and he feels that he has
placed himself in the vanguard of society by thus shining in his
apparel. And he will ride this year! He is fixed to that purpose.
He will ride straight; and, if possible, he will like it.

But the Ethiop cannot change his skin, nor can any man add a
cubit to his stature. He doesn't like it, and all around him in
the field know how it is with him; he himself knows how it is
with others like himself, and he congregates with his brethren.
The period of his penance has come upon him. He has to pay the
price of those pleasant interviews with his tradesmen. He has to
expiate the false boasts made to his female cousins. That row of
boots cannot be made to shine in his chamber for nothing. The
hounds have found, and the fox is away. Men are fastening on
their flat-topped hats and feeling themselves in their stirrups.
Horses are hot for the run, and the moment for liking it has
come, if only it were possible!

But at moments such as these something has to be done. The man
who doesn't like it, let him dislike it ever so much, Cannot
check his horse and simply ride back to the hunting stables. He
understands that were he to do that, he must throw up his cap at
once and resign. Nor can he trot easily along the roads with the
fat old country gentleman who is out on his rough cob, and who,
looking up to the wind and remembering the position of adjacent
coverts, will give a good guess as to the direction in which the
field will move. No; he must make an effort. The time of his
penance has come, and the penance must be borne. There is a spark
of pluck about him, though unfortunately he has brought it to
bear in a wrong direction. The blood still runs at his heart, and
he resolves that he will ride, if only he could tell which way.

The stout gentleman on the cob has taken the road to the left
with a few companions; but our friend knows that the stout
gentleman has a little game of his own which will not be suitable
for one who intends to ride. Then the crowd in front has divided
itself. Those to the right rush down a hill towards a brook with
a ford. One or two, men whom he hates with an intensity of
envy, have jumped the brook, and have settled to their work.
Twenty or thirty others are hustling themselves through the
water. The time for a judicious start on that side is already
gone. But others, a crowd of others, are facing the big ploughed
field immediately before them. That is the straightest riding,
and with them he goes. Why has the scent lain so hot over the up-
turned heavy ground? Why do they go so fast at this the very
first blush of the morning ? Fortune is always against him, and
the horse is pulling him through the mud as though the brute
meant to drag his arm out of the socket. At the first fence, as
he is steadying himself, a butcher passes him roughly in the jump
and nearly takes away the side of his top boot. He is knocked
half out of his saddle, and in that condition scrambles through.
When he has regained his equilibrium he sees the happy butcher
going into the field beyond. He means to curse the butcher when
he catches him, but the butcher is safe. A field and a half
before him he still sees the tail hounds, and renews his effort.
He has meant to like it to-day, and he will. So he rides at the
next fence boldly, where the butcher has left his mark, and does
it pretty well, with a slight struggle. Why is it that he can
never get over a ditch without some struggle in his saddle, some
scramble with his horse? Why does he curse the poor animal so
constantly, unless it be that he cannot catch the butcher? Now
he rushes at a gate which others have opened for him, but rushes
too late and catches his leg. Mad with pain, he nearly gives it
up, but the spark of pluck is still there, and with throbbing
knee he perseveres. How he hates it! It is all detestable now. He
cannot hold his horse because of his gloves, and he cannot get
them off. The sympathetic beast knows that his master is unhappy,
and makes himself unhappy and troublesome in consequence. Our
friend is still going, riding wildly, but still keeping a grain
of caution for his fences. He has not been down yet, but has
barely saved himself more than once. The ploughs are very deep,
and his horse, though still boring at him, pants heavily. Oh,
that there might come a check, or that the brute of a fox might
happily go to ground ! But no! The ruck of the hunt is far away
from him in front, and the game is running steadily straight for
some well known though still distant protection. But the man who
doesn't like it still sees a red coat before him, and perseveres
in chasing the wearer of it. The solitary red coat becomes
distant, and still more distant from him, but he goes on while he
can yet keep the line in which that red coat has ridden. He must
hurry himself, however, or he will be lost to humanity, and will
be alone. He must hurry himself, but his horse now desires to
hurry no more. So he puts his spurs to the brute savagely, and
then at some little fence, some ignoble ditch, they come down
together in the mud, and the question of any further effort is
saved for the rider. When he arises the red coat is out of sight,
and his own horse is half across the field before him. In such a
position, is it possible that a man should like it ?

About four o'clock in the afternoon, when the other men are
coming in, he turns up at the hunting stables, and nobody asks
him any questions. He may have been doing fairly well for what
anybody knows, and, as he says nothing of himself, his disgrace
is at any rate hidden. Why should he tell that he had been nearly
an hour on foot trying to catch his horse, that he had sat
himself down on a bank and almost cried, and that he had drained
his flask to the last drop before one o'clock ? No one need know
the extent of his miseries. And no one does know how great is the
misery endured by those who hunt regularly, and who do not like it.


The man who hunts and does like it is an object of keen envy to
the man who hunts and doesn't; but he, too, has his own miseries,
and I am not prepared to say that they are always less
aggravating than those endured by his less ambitious brother in
the field. He, too, when he comes to make up his account, when
he brings his hunting to book and inquires whether his whistle
has been worth its price, is driven to declare that vanity and
vexation of spirit have been the prevailing characteristics of
his hunting life. On how many evenings has he returned contented
with his sport ? How many days has he declared to have been
utterly wasted ? How often have frost and snow, drought and rain,
wind and sunshine, impeded his plans ? for to a hunting man
frost, snow, drought, rain, wind and sunshine, will all come
amiss. Then, when the one run of the season comes, he is not
there! He has been idle and has taken a liberty with the day; or
he has followed other gods and gone with strange hounds. With
sore ears and bitter heart he hears the exaggerated boastings of
his comrades, and almost swears that he will have no more of it.
At the end of the season he tells himself that the season's
amusement has cost him five hundred pounds; that he has had one
good day, three days that were not bad, and that all the rest
have been vanity and vexation of spirit. After all, it may be a
question whether the man who hunts and doesn't like it does not
have the best of it.

When we consider what is endured by the hunting man the wonder is
that any man should like it. In the old days of Squire Western,
and in the old days too since the time of Squire Western, the
old days of thirty years since, the hunting man had his hunting
near to him. He was a country gentleman who considered himself to
be energetic if he went out twice a week, and in doing this he
rarely left his house earlier for that purpose than he would
leave it for others. At certain periods of the year he
if ho went out twice a he rarely left his house than he would
leave it periods of the year he would, perhaps, be out before
dawn; but then the general habits of his life conduced to early
rising; and his distances were short. If he kept a couple of
horses for the purpose he was well mounted, and these horses were
available for other uses. He rode out and home, jogging slowly
along the roads, and was a martyr to no ambition. All that has
been changed now. The man who hunts and likes it, either takes a
small hurting seat away from the comforts of his own home, or he
locates himself miserably at an inn, or he undergoes the
purgatory of daily journeys up and down from London, doing that
for his hunting which no consideration of money-making would
induce him to do for his business. His hunting requires from him
everything, his time, his money, his social hours, his rest, his
sweet morning sleep; nay, his very dinners have to be sacrificed
to this Moloch!

Let us follow him on an ordinary day. His groom comes to his bed-
chamber at seven o'clock, and tells him that it has frozen during
the night. If he be a London man, using the train for his
hunting, he knows nothing of the frost, and does not learn
whether the day be practicable or not till he finds himself down
in the country. But we will suppose our friend to be located in
some hunting district, and accordingly his groom visits him with
tidings. "Is it freezing now?" he asks from under the bedclothes.
And even the man who does like it at such moments almost wishes
that the answer should be plainly in the affirmative. Then
swiftly again to the arms of Morpheus he might take himself, and
ruffle his temper no further on that morning! He desires, at any
rate, a decisive answer. To be or not to be as regards that day's
hurting is what he now wants to know. But that is exactly what
the groom cannot tell him. " It's just a thin crust of frost,
sir, and the s'mometer is a standing at the pint." That is the
answer which the man makes, and on that he has to come to a
decision! For half an hour he lies doubting while his water is
getting cold, and then sends for his man again. The thermometer
is still standing at the point, but the man has tried the crust
with his heel and found it to be very thin. The man who hunts and
likes it scorns his ease, and resolves that he will at any rate
persevere. He tumbles into his tub, and a little before nine
comes out to his breakfast, still doubting sorely whether or no
the day "will do." There he, perhaps, meets one or two others
like himself, and learns that the men who hunt and don't like it
are still warm in their beds. On such mornings as these, and
such mornings are very many, the men who hunt and do not like it
certainly have the best of it. The man who hunts and does like it
takes himself out to some kitchen-garden or neighbouring paddock,
and kicks at the ground himself. Certainly there is a crust, a
very manifest crust. Though he puts up in the country, he has to
go sixteen miles to the meet, and has no means of knowing whether
or no the hounds will go out. " Jorrocks always goes if there's a
chance," says one fellow, speaking of the master. " I don't
know," says our friend; " he's a deal slower at it than he used
to be. For my part, I wish Jorrocks would go; he's getting too
old." Then he bolts a mutton chop and a couple of eggs hurriedly,
and submits himself to be carried off in the trap.

Though he is half an hour late at the meet, no hounds have as yet
come, and he begins to curse his luck. A non-hunting day, a day
that turns out to be no day for hunting purposes, begun in this
way, is of all days the most melancholy. What is a man to do with
himself who has put himself into his boots and breeches, and who
then finds himself, by one o'clock, landed back at his starting-
point without employment ? Who under such circumstances can apply
himself to any salutary employment ? Cigars and stable-talk are
all that remain to him; and it is well for him if he can refrain
from the additional excitement of brandy and water.

But on the present occasion we will not presume that our friend
has fallen into so deep a bathos of misfortune. At twelve o'clock
Tom appears, with the hounds following slowly at his heels; and a
dozen men, angry with impatience, fly at him with assurances that
there has been no sign of frost since ten o'clock. " Ain't there
?" says Tom; " you look at the north sides of the banks, and see
how you'd like it." Some one makes an uncivil remark as to the
north sides of the banks, and wants to know when old Jorrocks is
coming. " The squire 'll be here time enough," says Tom. And then
there takes place that slow walking up and down of the hounds,
which on such mornings always continues for half an hour. Let him
who envies the condition of the man who hunts and likes it,
remember that a cold thaw is going on, that our friend is already
sulky with waiting, that to ride up and down for an hour and a
half at a walking pace on such a morning is not an exhilarating
pastime, and he will understand that the hunting man himself may
have doubts as to the wisdom of his course of action.

But at last Jorrocks is there, and the hounds trot off to cover.
So dull has been everything on this morning that even that is
something, and men begin to make themselves happier in the warmth
of the movement. The hounds go into covert, and a period of
excitement is commenced. Our friend who likes hunting remarks to
his neighbour that the ground is rideable. His neighbour who
doesn't like it quite so well says that he doesn't know. They
remain standing close together on a forest ride for twenty
minutes, but conversation doesn't go beyond that. The man who
doesn't like it has lit a cigar, but the man who does like it
never lights a cigar when hounds are drawing.

And now the welcome music is heard, and a fox has been found. Mr.
Jorrocks, gallopping along the ride with many oaths, implores
those around him to hold their tongues and remain quiet. Why he
should trouble himself to do this, as he knows that no one will
obey his orders, it is difficult to surmise. Or why men should
stand still in the middle of a large wood when they expect a fox
to break, because Mr. Jorrocks swears
at them, is also not to be understood. Our friend pays no
attention to Mr. Jorrocks, but makes for the end of the
ride, going with ears erect, and listening to the distant hounds
as they turn upon the turning fox. As they turn, he returns; and,
splashing through the mud of the now softened ground, through
narrow tracks, with the boughs in his face, listening
always, now hoping, now despairing, speaking to no one, but
following and followed, he makes his way backwards and forwards
through the wood, till at last, weary with wishing and working,
he rests himself in some open spot, and begins to eat his
luncheon. It is now past two, and it would puzzle him to say what
pleasure he has as yet had out of his day's amusement.

But now, while the flask is yet at his mouth, he hears from some
distant corner a sound that tells him that the fox is away. He
ought to have persevered, and then he would have been near them.
As it is, all that labour of riding has been in vain, and he has
before him the double task of finding the line of the hounds and
of catching them when he has found it. He has a crowd of men
around him; but he knows enough of hunting to be aware that the
men who are wrong at such moments are always more numerous than
they who are right. He has to choose for himself, and chooses
quickly, dashing down a ride to the right, while a host of those
who know that he is one of them who like it, follow closely at
his heels, too closely, as he finds at the first fence out of
the woods, when one of his young admirers almost jumps on the top
of him. " Do you want to get into my pocket, sir?" he says,
angrily. The young admirer is snubbed, and, turning away,
attempts to make a line for himself.

But though he has been followed, he has great doubt as to his own
course. To hesitate is to be lost, so he goes on, on rapidly,
looking as he clears every fence for the spot at which he is to
clear the next; but he is by no means certain of his course.
Though he has admirers at his heels who credit him implicitly,
his mind is racked by an agony of ignorance. He has got badly
away, and the hounds are running well, and it is going to be a
good thing; and he will not see it. He has not been in for
anything good this year, and now this is his luck! His eye
travels round over the horizon as he is gallopping, and though he
sees men here and there, he can catch no sign of a hound; nor can
he catch the form of any man who would probably be with them. But
he perseveres, choosing his points as he goes, till the tail of
his followers becomes thinner and thinner. He comes out upon a
road, and makes the pace as good as he can along the soft edge of
it. He sniffs at the wind, knowing that the fox, going at such a
pace as this, must run with it. He tells himself from outward
signs where he is, and uses his dead knowledge to direct him. He
scorns to ask a question as he passes countrymen in his course,
but he would give five guineas to know exactly where the hounds
are at that moment. He has been at it now forty minutes, and is
in despair. His gallant nag rolls a little under him, and he
knows that he has been going too fast. And for what; for what ?
What good has it all done him ? What good will it do him, though
he should kill the beast ? He curses between his teeth, and
everything is vanity and vexation of spirit.

"They've just run into him at Boxall Springs, Mr. Jones," says a
farmer whom he passes on the road. Boxall Springs is only a
quarter of a mile before him, but he wonders how the farmer has
come to know all about it. But on reaching Boxall Springs he
finds that the farmer was right, and that Tom is already breaking
up the fox. "Very good thing, Mr. Jones," says the squire in good
humour. Our friend mutters something
between his teeth and rides away in dudgeon from the triumphant
master. On his road home he hears all about it from everybody. It
seems to him that he alone of all those who are anybody has
missed the run, the run of the season! " And killed him in the
open as you may say," says Smith, who has already twice boasted
in Jones's hearing that he had seen every turn the hounds had
made. " It wasn't in the open," says Jones, reduced in his anger
to diminish as far as may be the triumph of his rival.

Such is the fate, the too frequent fate of the man who hunts and
does like it.


Among those who hunt there are two classes of hunting people who
always like it, and these people are hunting parsons and hunting
ladies. That it should be so is natural enough. In the life and
habits of parsons and ladies there is much that is antagonistic
to hunting, and they who suppress this antagonism do so because
they are Nimrods at heart. But the riding of these horsemen under
difficulties, horsemen and horsewomen, leaves a strong
impression on the casual observer of hunting; for to such an one
it seems that the hardest riding is forthcoming exactly where no
hard riding should be expected. On the present occasion I will,
if you please, confine myself to the lady who rides to hounds,
and will begin with an assertion, which will not be contradicted,
that the number of such ladies is very much on the increase.

Women who ride, as a rule, ride better than men. They, the women,
have always been instructed; whereas men have usually come to
ride without any instruction. They are put upon ponies when they
are all boys, and put themselves upon their fathers' horses as
they become hobbledehoys: and thus they obtain the power of
sticking on to the animal while he gallops and jumps, and even
while he kicks and shies; and, so progressing, they achieve an
amount of horsemanship which answers the purposes of life. But
they do not acquire the art of riding with exactness, as women
do, and rarely have such hands as a woman has on a horse's mouth.
The consequence of this is that women fall less often than men,
and the field is not often thrown into the horror which would
arise were a lady known to be in a ditch with a horse lying on her.

I own that I like to see three or four ladies out in a field, and
I like it the better if I am happy enough to count one or more
of them among my own acquaintances. Their presence tends to
take off from hunting that character of horseyness, of both
fast horseyness and slow horseyness, which has become, not
unnaturally, attached to it, and to bring it within the category
of gentle sports. There used to prevail an idea that the hunting
man was of necessity loud and rough, given to strong drinks, ill
adapted for the poetries of life, and perhaps a little prone to
make money out of his softer friend. It may now be said that this
idea is going out of vogue, and that hunting men are supposed to
have that same feeling with regard to their horses, the same and
no more, which ladies have for their carriage or soldiers for
their swords. Horses are valued simply for the services that they
can render, and are only valued highly when they are known to be
good servants. That a man may hunt without drinking or swearing,
and may possess a nag or two without any propensity to sell it or
them for double their value, is now beginning to be understood.
The oftener that women are to be seen "out," the more will such
improved feelings prevail as to hunting, and the pleasanter will
be the field to men who are not horsey, but who may nevertheless
be good horsemen.

There are two classes of women who ride to hounds, or, rather,
among many possible classifications, there are two to which I
will now call attention. There is the lady who rides, and demands
assistance; and there is the lady who rides, and demands none.
Each always, I may say always, receives all the assistance that
she may require; but the difference between the two, to the men
who ride with them, is very great. It will, of course, be
understood that, as to both these samples of female Nimrods, I
speak of ladies who really ride, not of those who grace the
coverts with, and disappear under the auspices of, their papas or
their grooms when the work begins.

The lady who rides and demands assistance in truth becomes a
nuisance before the run is over, let her beauty be ever so
transcendent, her horsemanship ever- so perfect, and her battery
of general feminine artillery ever so powerful. She is like the
American woman, who is always wanting your place in a railway
carriage, and demanding it, too, without the slightest idea of
paying you for it with thanks; whose study it is to treat you as
though she ignored your existence while she is appropriating your
services. The hunting lady who demands assistance is very
particular about her gates, requiring that aid shall be given to
her with instant speed, but that the man who gives it shall never
allow himself to be hurried as he renders it. And she soon
becomes reproachful, oh, so soon ! It is marvellous to watch the
manner in which a hunting lady will become exacting, troublesome,
and at last imperious, deceived and spoilt by the attention
which she receives. She teaches herself to think at last that a
man is a brute who does not ride as though he were riding as her
servant, and that it becomes her to assume indignation if every
motion around her is not made with some reference to her safety,
to her comfort, or to her success. I have seen women look as
Furies look, and heard them speak as Furies are supposed to
speak, because men before them could not bury themselves and
their horses out of their way at a moment's notice, or because
some pulling animal would still assert himself while they were
there, and not sink into submission and dog-like obedience for
their behoof.

I have now before my eyes one who was pretty, brave, and a good
horse-woman; but how men did hate her! When you were in a line
with her there was no shaking her off. Indeed, you were like
enough to be shaken off yourself, and to be rid of her after that
fashion. But while you were with her you never escaped her at a
single fence, and always felt that you were held to be
trespassing against her in some manner. I shall never forget her
voice, " Pray, take care of that gate." And yet it was a pretty
voice, and elsewhere she was not given to domineering more than is
common to pretty women in general; but she had been taught badly
from the beginning, and she was a pest. It was the same at every
gap. " Might I ask you not to come too near me ? " And yet it was
impossible to escape her. Men could not ride wide of her, for she
would not ride wide of them. She had always some male escort with
her, who did not ride as she rode, and consequently, as she chose
to have the advantage of an escort, of various escorts, she was
always in the company of some who did not feel as much joy in the
presence of a pretty young woman as men should do under all
circumstances. "Might I ask you not to come too near me?" If she
could only have heard the remarks to which this constant little
request of hers gave rise. She is now the mother of children, and
her hunting days are gone, and probably she never makes that
little request. Doubtless that look, made up partly of offence
and partly of female dignity, no longer clouds her brow. But I
fancy that they who knew her of old in the hunting field never
approach her now without fancying that they hear those
reproachful words, and see that powerful look of injured feminine

But there is the hunting lady who rides hard and never asks for
assistance. Perhaps I may be allowed to explain to embryo
Dianas, to the growing huntresses of the present age, that she
who rides and makes no demand receives attention as close as is
ever given to her more imperious sister. And how welcome she is !
What a grace she lends to the day's sport! How pleasant it is to
see her in her pride of place, achieving her mastery over the
difficulties in her way by her own wit, as all men, and all
women also, must really do who intend to ride to hounds; and
doing it all without any sign that the difficulties are too great
for her!

The lady who rides like this is in truth seldom in the way. I
have heard men declare that they would never wish to see a side-
saddle in the field because women are troublesome, and because
they must be treated with attention let the press of the moment
be ever so instant. From this I dissent altogether. The small
amount of courtesy that is needed is more than atoned for by the
grace of her presence, and in fact produces no more impediment in
the hunting-field than in other scenes of life.
But in the hunting-field, as in other scenes, let assistance
never be demanded by a woman. If the lady finds that she cannot
keep a place in the first flight without such demands on the
patience of those around her, let her acknowledge to herself that
the attempt is not in her line, and that it should be abandoned.
If it be the ambition of a hunting lady to ride straight, and
women have very much of this ambition, let her use her eyes but
never her voice; and let her ever have a smile for those who help
her in her little difficulties. Let her never ask any one " to
take care of that gate," or look as though she expected the
profane crowd to keep aloof from her. So shall she win the hearts
of those around her, and go safely through brake and brier, over
ditch and dyke, and meet with a score of knights around her who
will be willing and able to give her eager aid should the chance
of any moment require it.

There are two accusations which the more demure portion of the
world is apt to advance against hunting ladies, or, as I should
better say, against hunting as an amusement for ladies. It leads
to flirting, they say, to flirting of a sort which mothers would
not approve; and it leads to fast habits, to ways and thoughts
which are of the horse horsey, and of the stable, strongly
tinged with the rack and manger. The first of these accusations
is, I think, simply made in ignorance. As girls are brought up
among us now-a-days, they may all flirt, if they have a mind to
do so; and opportunities for flirting are much better and much
more commodious in the ball-room, in the drawing-room, or in the
park, than they are in the hunting-field. Nor is the work in hand
of a nature to create flirting tendencies, as, it must be
admitted, is the nature of the work in hand when the floors are
waxed and the fiddles are going. And this error has sprung from,
or forms part of, another, which is wonderfully common among non
- hunting folk. It is very widely thought by many, who do not, as
a rule, put themselves in opposition to the amusements of the
world, that hunting in itself is a wicked thing; that hunting men
are fast, given to unclean living and bad ways of life; that they
usually go to bed drunk, and that they go about the world roaring
hunting cries, and disturbing the peace of the innocent
generally. With such men, who could wish that wife, sister, or
daughter should associate? But I venture to say that this
opinion, which I believe to be common, is erroneous, and that men
who hunt are not more iniquitous than men who go out fishing, or
play dominoes, or dig in their gardens. Maxima debetur pueris
reverentia, and still more to damsels; but if boys and girls will
never go where they will hear more to injure them than they will
usually do amidst the ordinary conversation of a hunting field,
the maxima reverentia will have been attained.

As to that other charge, let it be at once admitted that the
young lady who has become of the horse horsey has made a fearful,
almost a fatal mistake. And so also has the young man who falls
into the same error. I hardly know to which such phase of
character may be most injurious. It is a pernicious vice, that of
succumbing to the beast that carries you, and making yourself, as
it were, his servant, instead of keeping him ever as yours. I
will not deny that I have known a lady to fall into this vice
from hunting; but so also have I known ladies to marry their
music-masters and to fall in love with their footmen. But not on
that account are we to have no music-masters and no footmen.

Let the hunting lady, however, avoid any touch of this blemish,
remembering that no man ever likes a woman to know as much about
a horse as he thinks he knows himself.


Few hunting men calculate how much they owe to the hunting
farmer, or recognize the fact that hunting farmers contribute
more than any other class of sportsmen towards the maintenance of
the sport. It is hardly too much to say that hunting would be
impossible if farmers did not hunt. If they were inimical to
hunting, and men so closely concerned must be friends or
enemies, there would be no foxes left alive; and no fox, if
alive, could be kept above ground. Fences would be impracticable,
and damages would be ruinous; and any attempt to maintain the
institution of hunting would be a long warfare in which the
opposing farmer would certainly be the ultimate conqueror. What
right has the hunting man who goes down from London, or across
from Manchester, to ride over the ground which he treats as if it
were his own, and to which he thinks that free access is his
undoubted privilege ? Few men, I fancy, reflect that they have no
such right, and no such privilege, or recollect that the very
scene and area of their exercise, the land that makes hunting
possible to them, is contributed by the farmer. Let any one
remember with what tenacity the exclusive right of entering upon
their small territories is clutched and maintained by all
cultivators in other countries; let him remember the enclosures
of France, the vine and olive terraces of Tuscany, or the
narrowly-watched fields of Lombardy; the little meadows of
Switzerland on which no stranger's foot is allowed to come, or
the Dutch pastures, divided by dykes, and made safe from all
intrusions. Let him talk to the American farmer of English
hunting, and explain to that independent, but somewhat prosaic
husbandman, that in England two or three hundred men claim the
right of access to every man's land during the whole period of
the winter months ! Then, when he thinks of this, will he realize
to himself what it is that the English farmer contributes to
hunting in England ? The French countryman cannot be made to
understand it. You cannot induce him to believe that if he held
land in England, looking to make his rent from tender young
grass-fields and patches of sprouting corn, he would be powerless
to keep out intruders, if those intruders came in the shape of a
rushing squadron of cavalry, and called themselves a hunt. To
him, in accordance with his existing ideas, rural life under such
circumstances would be impossible. A small pan of charcoal, and
an honourable death-bed, would give him relief after his first
experience of such an invasion.

Nor would the English farmer put up with the invasion, if the
English farmer were not himself a hunting man. Many farmers,
doubtless, do not hunt, and they bear it, with more or less
grace; but they are inured to it from their infancy, because it
is in accordance with the habits and pleasures of their own race.
Now and again, in every hunt, some man comes up, who is, indeed,
more frequently a small proprietor new to the glories of
ownership, than a tenant farmer, who determines to vindicate his
rights and oppose the field. He puts up a wire-fence round his
domain, thus fortifying himself, as it were, in his citadel, and
defies the world around him. It is wonderful how great is the
annoyance which one such man may give, and how thoroughly he may
destroy the comfort of the coverts in his neighbourhood. But,
strong as such an one is in his fortress, there are still the
means of fighting him. The farmers around him, if they be hunting
men, make the place too hot to hold him. To them he is a thing
accursed, a man to be spoken of with all evil language, as one
who desires to get more out of his land than Providence, that
is, than an English Providence, has intended. Their own wheat is
exposed, and it is abominable to them that the wheat of another
man should be more sacred than theirs.

All this is not sufficiently remembered by some of us when the
period of the year comes which is trying to the farmer's
heart, when the young clover is growing, and the barley has been
just sown. Farmers, as a rule, do not think very much of their
wheat. When such riding is practicable, of course they like to
see men take the headlands and furrows; but their hearts are not
broken by the tracks of horses across their wheat-fields. I
doubt, indeed, whether wheat is ever much injured by such usage.
But let the thoughtful rider avoid the new-sown barley; and,
above all things, let him give a wide berth to the new-laid
meadows of artificial grasses. They are never large, and may
always be shunned. To them the poaching of numerous horses is
absolute destruction. The surface of such enclosures should be as
smooth as a billiard-table, so that no water may lie in holes;
and, moreover, any young plant cut by a horse's foot is trodden
out of existence. Farmers do see even this done, and live through
it without open warfare; but they should not be put to such
trials of temper or pocket too often.

And now for my friend the hunting farmer in person, the
sportsman whom I always regard as the most indispensable adjunct
to the field, to whom I tender my spare cigar with the most
perfect expression of my good will. His dress is nearly always
the same. He wears a thick black coat, dark brown breeches, and
top boots, very white in colour, or of a very dark mahogany,
according to his taste. The hunting farmer of the old school
generally rides in a chimney-pot hat; but, in this particular,
the younger brethren of the plough are leaving their old habits,
and running into caps, net hats, and other innovations which, I
own, are somewhat distasteful to me. And there is, too, the
ostentatious farmer, who rides in scarlet, signifying thereby
that he subscribes his ten or fifteen guineas to the hunt fund.
But here, in this paper, it is not of him I speak. He is a man
who is so much less the farmer, in that he is the more an
ordinary man of the ordinary world. The farmer whom we have now
before us shall wear the old black coat, and the old black hat,
and the white top boots, rather daubed in their whiteness; and
he shall be the genuine farmer of the old school.

My friend is generally a modest man in the field, seldom much
given to talking unless he be first addressed; and then he
prefers that you shall take upon yourself the chief burden of the
conversation. But on certain hunting subjects he has his opinion,
indeed, a very strong opinion, and if you can drive him from
that, your eloquence must be very great. He is very urgent about
special coverts, and even as to special foxes; and you will often
find smouldering in his bosom, if you dive deep enough to search
for it, a half-smothered fire of indignation against the master
because the country has, according to our friend's views, been
drawn amiss. In such matters the farmer is generally right; but
he is slow to communicate his ideas, and does not recognize the
fact that other men have not the same opportunities for
observation which belong to him. A master, however, who understands
his business will generally consult a farmer; and he
will seldom, I think, or perhaps never, consult any one else.

Always shake hands with your friend the farmer. It puts him at
his ease with you, and he will tell you more willingly after that
ceremony what are his ideas about the wind, and what may be
expected of the day. His day's hunting is to him a solemn thing,
and he gives to it all his serious thought. If any man can
predicate anything of the run of a fox, it is the farmer.

I had almost said that if any one knew anything of scent, it is
the farmer; but of scent I believe that not even the farmer knows
anything. But he knows very much as to the lie of the country,
and should my gentle reader by chance have taken a glass or two
of wine above ordinary over night, the effect of which will
possibly be a temporary distaste to straight riding, no one's
knowledge as to the line of the lanes is so serviceable as that
of the farmer.

As to riding, there is the ambitious farmer and the unambitious
farmer; the farmer who rides hard, that is, ostensibly hard, and
the farmer who is simply content to know where the hounds are,
and to follow them at a distance which shall maintain him in that
knowledge. The ambitious farmer is not the hunting farmer in his
normal condition; he is either one who has an eye to selling his
horse, and, riding with that view, loses for the time his
position as farmer; or he is some exceptional tiller of the soil
who probably is dangerously addicted to hunting as another man is
addicted to drinking; and you may surmise respecting him that
things will not go well with him after a year or two. The friend
of my heart is the farmer who rides, but rides without
sputtering; who never makes a show of it, but still is always
there; who feels it to be no disgrace to avoid a run of fences
when his knowledge tells him that this may be done without danger
of his losing his place. Such an one always sees a run to the
end. Let the pace have been what it may, he is up in time to see
the crowd of hounds hustling for their prey, and to take part in
the buzz of satisfaction which the prosperity of the run has
occasioned. But the farmer never kills his horse, and seldom
rides him even to distress. He is not to be seen loosing his
girths, or looking at the beast's flanks, or examining his legs
to ascertain what mischances may have occurred. He takes it all
easily, as men always take matters of business in which they are
quite at home. At the end of the run he sits mounted as quietly
as he did at the meet, and has none of that appearance of having
done something wonderful, which on such occasions is so very
strong in the faces of the younger portion of the pink brigade.
To the farmer his day's hunting is very pleasant, and by habit is
even very necessary; but it comes in its turn like market-day,
and produces no extraordinary excitement. He does not rejoice
over an hour and ten minutes with a kill in the open, as he
rejoices when he has returned to Parliament the candidate who is
pledged to repeal of the malt-tax; for the farmer of whom we are
speaking now, though he rides with constancy, does not ride with

O fortunati sua si bona norint farmers of England! Who in the
town is the farmer's equal? What is the position which his
brother, his uncle, his cousin holds? He is a shopkeeper, who
never has a holiday, and does not know what to do with it when it
comes to him; to whom the fresh air of heaven is a stranger;
who lives among sugars and oils, and the dust of shoddy, and the
size of new clothing. Should such an one take to hunting once a
week, even after years of toil, men would point their fingers at
him and whisper among themselves that he was as good as ruined.
His friends would tell him of his wife and children; and,
indeed, would tell him truly, for his customers would fly from
him. But nobody grudges the farmer his day's sport! No one thinks
that he is cruel to his children and unjust to his wife because
he keeps a nag for his amusement, and can find a couple of days
in the week to go among his friends. And with what advantages he
does this ! A farmer will do as much with one horse, will see as
much hunting, as an outside member of the hunt will do with
four, and, indeed, often more. He is his own head-groom, and has
no scruple about bringing his horse out twice a week. He asks no
livery-stable keeper what his beast can do, but tries the powers
of the animal himself, and keeps in his breast a correct record.
When the man from London, having taken all he can out of his
first horse, has ridden his second to a stand-still, the farmer
trots up on his stout, compact cob, without a sign of distress.
He knows that the condition of a hunter and a greyhound should
not be the same, and that his horse, to be in good working
health, should carry nearly all the hard flesh that he can put
upon him. How such an one must laugh in his sleeve at the five
hunters of the young swell who, after all, is brought to grief in
the middle of the season, because he has got nothing to ride! A
farmer's horse is never lame, never unfit to go, never throws out
curbs, never breaks down before or behind. Like his master, he is
never showy. He does not paw, and prance, and arch his neck, and
bid the world admire his beauties; but, like his master, he is
useful; and when he is wanted, he can always do his work.

O fortunatus nimium agricola, who has one horse, and that a good
one, in the middle of a hunting country !


The British public who do not hunt believe too much in the
jumping of those who do. It is thought by many among the laity
that the hunting man is always in the air, making clear flights
over five-barred gates, six-foot walls, and double posts and
rails, at none of which would the average hunting man any more
think of riding than he would at a small house. We used to hear
much of the Galway Blazers, and it was supposed that in County
Galway a stiff-built wall six feet high was the sort of thing
that you customarily met from field to field when hunting in that
comfortable county. Such little impediments were the ordinary
food of a real Blazer, who was supposed to add another foot of
stonework and a sod of turf when desirous of making himself
conspicuous in his moments of splendid ambition. Twenty years ago
I rode in Galway now and then, and I found the six-foot walls all
shorn of their glory, and that men whose necks were of any value
were very anxious to have some preliminary knowledge of the
nature of the fabric, whether for instance it might be solid or
built of loose stones, before they trusted themselves to an
encounter with a wall of four feet and a half. And here, in
England, history, that nursing mother of fiction, has given
hunting men honours which they here never fairly earned. The
traditional five-barred gate is, as a rule, used by hunting men
as it was intended to be used by the world at large; that is to
say, they open it; and the double posts and rails which look so
very pretty in the sporting pictures, are thought to be very ugly
things whenever an idea of riding at them presents itself. It is
well that mothers should know, mothers full of fear for their
boys who are beginning, that the necessary jumping of the
hunting field is not after all of so very tremendous a nature;
and it may be well also to explain to them and to others that
many men hunt with great satisfaction to themselves who never by
any chance commit themselves to the peril of a jump, either big
or little.

And there is much excellent good sense in the mode of riding
adopted by such gentlemen. Some men ride for hunting, some for
jumping, and some for exercise; some, no doubt, for all three of
these things. Given a man with a desire for the latter, no taste
for the second, and some partiality for the first, and he cannot
do better than ride in the manner I am describing. He may be sure
that he will not find himself alone; and he may be sure also that
he will incur none of that ridicule which the non-hunting man is
disposed to think must be attached to such a pursuit. But the man
who hunts and never jumps, who deliberately makes up his mind
that he will amuse himself after that fashion, must always
remember his resolve, and be true to the conduct which he has
laid down for himself. He must jump not at all. He must not jump
a little, when some spurt or spirit may move him, or he will
infallibly find himself in trouble. There was an old Duke of
Beaufort who was a keen and practical sportsman, a master of
hounds, and a known Nimrod on the face of the earth; but he was a
man who hunted and never jumped. His experience was perfect, and
he was always true to his resolution. Nothing ever tempted him to
cross the smallest fence. He used to say of a neighbour of his,
who was not so constant, " Jones is an ass. Look at him now.
There he is, and he can't get out. Jones doesn't like jumping,
but he jumps a little, and I see him pounded every day. I never
jump at all, and I'm always free to go where I like." The Duke
was certainly right, and Jones was certainly wrong. To get into a
field, and then to have no way of getting out of it, is very
uncomfortable. As long as you are on the road you have a way open
before you to every spot on the world's surface, open, or
capable of being opened; or even if incapable of being opened,
not positively detrimental to you as long as you are on the right
side. But that feeling of a prison under the open air is very
terrible, and is rendered almost agonizing by the prisoner's
consciousness that his position is the result of his own
imprudent temerity, of an audacity which falls short of any
efficacious purpose. When hounds are running, the hunting man
should always, at any rate, be able to ride on, to ride in some
direction, even though it be in a wrong direction. He can then
flatter himself that he is riding wide and making a line for
himself. But to be entrapped into a field without any power of
getting out of it; to see the red backs of the forward men
becoming smaller and smaller in the distance, till the last speck
disappears over some hedge; to see the fence before you and know
that it is too much for you; to ride round and round in an agony
of despair which is by no means mute, and at last to give
sixpence to some boy to conduct you back into the road; that is
wretched: that is real unhappiness. I am, therefore, very
persistent in my advice to the man who purposes to hunt without
jumping. Let him not jump at all. To jump, but only to jump a
little, is fatal. Let him think of Jones.

The man who hunts and doesn't jump, presuming him not to be a
duke or any man greatly established as a Nimrod in the hunting
world, generally comes out in
a black coat and a hat, so that he may not be specially
conspicuous in his deviations from the line of the running. He
began his hunting probably in search of exercise, but has
gradually come to add a peculiar amusement to that pursuit; and
of a certain phase of hunting he at last learns more than most of
those who ride closest to the hounds. He becomes wonderfully
skillful in surmising the line which a fox may probably take, and
in keeping himself upon roads parallel to the ruck of the
horsemen. He is studious of the wind, and knows to a point of the
compass whence it is blowing. He is intimately conversant with
every covert in the country; and, beyond this, is acquainted with
every earth in which foxes have had their nurseries, or are
likely to locate them. He remembers the drains on the different
farms in which the hunted animal may possible take refuge, and
has a memory even for rabbit-holes. His eye becomes accustomed to
distinguish the form of a moving horseman over half-a-dozen
fields; and let him see but a cap of any leading man, and he will
know which way to turn himself. His knowledge of the country is
correct to a marvel. While the man who rides straight is
altogether ignorant of his whereabouts, and will not even
distinguish the woods through which he has ridden scores of
times, the man who rides and never jumps always knows where he is
with the utmost accuracy. Where parish is divided from parish and
farm from farm, has been a study to him; and he has learned the
purpose and bearing of every lane. He is never thrown out, and
knows the nearest way from every point to point. If there be a
line of gates across from one road to another he will use them,
but he will commit himself to a line of gates on the land of no
farmer who uses padlocks.

As he trots along the road, occasionally breaking into a gallop
when he perceives from some sign known to him that the hunt is
turning from him, he is generally accompanied by two or three
unfortunates who have lost their way and have straggled from the
hounds; and to them he is a guide, philosopher, and friend. He is
good-natured for the moment, and patronizes the lost ones. He
informs them that they are at last in the right way, and consoles
them by assurances that they have lost nothing.

"The fox broke, you know, from the sharp corner of Granby-wood,"
he says; " the only spot that the crowd had left for him. I saw
him come out, standing on the bridge in the road. Then he ran up-
wind as far as Green's barn." " Of course he did," says one of
the unfortunates who thinks he remembers something of a barn in
the early part of the performance. "I was with the three or four
first as far as that." "There were twenty men before the hounds
there," says our man of the road, who is not without a grain of
sarcasm, and can use it when he is strong on his own ground.
"Well, he turned there, and ran back very near the corner; but he
was headed by a sheep-dog, luckily, and went to the left across
the brook." "Ah, that's where I lost them," says one unfortunate.
" I was with them miles beyond that," says another. "There were
five or six men rode the brook," continues our philosopher, who
names the four or five, not mentioning the unfortunate who had
spoken last as having been among the number. "Well; then he went
across by Ashby Grange, and tried the drain at the back of the
farmyard, but Bootle had had it stopped. A fox got in there one
day last March, and Bootle always stops it since that. So he had
to go on, and he crossed the turnpike close by Ashby Church. I
saw him cross, and the hounds were then full five minutes behind
him. He went through Frolic Wood, but he didn't hang a minute,
and right up the pastures to Morley Hall." "That's where I was
thrown out," says the unfortunate who had boasted before, and who
is still disposed to boast a little. But our philosopher assures
him that he has not in truth been near Morley Hall; and when the
unfortunate one makes an attempt to argue, puts him down
thoroughly. " All I can say is, you couldn't have been there and
be here too at this moment. Morley Hall is a mile and a half to
our right, and now they're coming round to the Linney. He'll go
into the little wood there, and as there isn't as much as a
nutshell open for him, they'll kill him there. It'll have been a
tidy little thing, but not very fast. I've hardly been out of a
trot yet, but we may as well move on now." Then he breaks into an
easy canter by the side of the road, while the unfortunates, who
have been rolling among the heavy-ploughed ground in the early
part of the day, make vain efforts to ride by his side. They keep
him, however, in sight, and are comforted; for he is a man with a
character, and knows what he is about. He will never be utterly
lost, and as long as they can remain in his company they will not
be subjected to that dreadful feeling of absolute failure which
comes upon an inexperienced sportsman when he finds himself quite
alone, and does not know which way to turn himself.

A man will not learn to ride after this fashion in a day, nor yet
in a year. Of all fashions of hunting it requires, perhaps, the
most patience, the keenest observation, the strongest memory, and
the greatest efforts of intellect. But the power, when achieved,
has its triumph; it has its respect, and it has its admirers. Our
friend, while he was guiding the unfortunates on the road, knew
his position, and rode for a while as though he were a chief of
men. He was the chief of men there. He was doing what he knew how
to do, and was not failing. He had made no boasts which stern
facts would afterwards disprove. And when he rode up slowly to
the wood-side, having from a distance heard the huntsman's whoop
that told him of the fox's fate, he found that he had been right
in every particular. No one at that moment knows the line they
have all ridden as well as he knows it. But now, among the crowd,
when men are turning their horses' heads to the wind, and loud
questions are being asked, and false answers are being given, and
the ambitious men are congratulating themselves on their deeds,
he sits by listening in sardonic silence. "Twelve miles of ground
!" he says to himself, repeating the words of some valiant
youngster; " if it's eight, I'll eat it." And then when he
hears, for he is all ear as well as all eye, when he hears a
slight boast from one of his late unfortunate companions, a first
small blast of the trumpet which will become loud anon if it be
not checked, he smiles inwardly, and moralizes on the weakness of
human nature. But the man who never jumps is not usually of a
benevolent nature, and it is almost certain that he will make up
a little story against the boaster.

Such is the amusement of the man who rides and never jumps.
Attached to every hunt there will be always one or two such men.
Their evidence is generally reliable; their knowledge of the
country is not to be doubted; they seldom come to any severe
trouble; and have usually made for themselves a very wide circle
of hunting acquaintances by whom they are quietly respected. But
I think that men regard them as they do the chaplain on board a
man-of-war, or as they would regard a herald on a field of
battle. When men are assembled for fighting, the man who
notoriously does not fight must feel himself to be somewhat lower
than his brethren around him, and must be so esteemed by others.


I feel some difficulty in dealing with the character I am now
about to describe. The world at large is very prone to condemn
the hunting parson, regarding him as a man who is false to his
profession; and, for myself, I am not prepared to say that the
world is wrong. Had my pastors and masters, my father and mother,
together with the other outward circumstances of my early life,
made a clergyman of me, I think that I should not have hunted, or
at least, I hope that I might have abstained; and yet, for the
life of me, I cannot see the reason against it, or tell any man
why a clergyman should not ride to hounds. In discussing the
subject, and I often do discuss it, the argument against the
practice which is finally adopted, the argument which is intended
to be conclusive, simply amounts to this, that a parish
clergyman who does his duty cannot find the time. But that
argument might be used with much more truth against other men of
business, against those to whose hunting the world takes no
exception. Indeed, of all men, the ordinary parish clergyman, is,
perhaps, the least liable to such censure. He lives in the
country, and can hunt cheaper and with less sacrifice of time
than other men. His professional occupation does not absorb all
his hours, and he is too often an idle man, whether he hunt or
whether he do not. Nor is it desirable that any man should work
always and never play. I think it is certainly the fact that a
clergyman may hunt twice a week with less objection in regard to
his time than any other man who has to earn his bread by his
profession. Indeed, this is so manifestly the case, that I am
sure that the argument in question, though it is the one which is
always intended to be conclusive, does not in the least convey
the objection which is really felt. The truth is, that a large
and most respectable section of the world still regards hunting
as wicked. It is supposed to be like the Cider Cellars or the
Haymarket at twelve o'clock at night. The old ladies know that
the young men go to these wicked places, and hope that no great
harm is done; but it would be dreadful to think that clergymen
should so degrade themselves. Now I wish I could make the old
ladies understand that hunting is not wicked.

But although that expressed plea as to the want of time really
amounts to nothing, and although the unexpressed feeling of old
ladies as to the wickedness of hunting does not in truth amount
to much, I will not say that there is no other impediment in the
way of a hunting parson. Indeed, there have come up of late years
so many impediments in the way of any amusement on the part of
clergymen, that we must almost presume them to be divested at
their consecration of all human attributes except hunger and
thirst. In my younger days, and I am not as yet very old, an
elderly clergyman might play his rubber of whist whilst his
younger reverend brother was dancing a quadrille; and they might
do this without any risk of a rebuke from a bishop, or any
probability that their neighbours would look askance at them.
Such recreations are now unclerical in the highest degree, or if
not in the highest, they are only one degree less so than
hunting. The theatre was especially a respectable clerical
resource, and we may still occasionally see heads of colleges in
the stalls, or perhaps a dean, or some rector, unambitious of
further promotion. But should a young curate show himself in the
pit, he would be but a lost sheep of the house of Israel. And
latterly there went forth, at any rate in one diocese, a firman
against cricket ! Novels, too, are forbidden; though the fact
that they may be enjoyed in solitude saves the clergy from
absolute ignorance as to that branch of our national literature.
All this is hard upon men who, let them struggle as they may to
love the asceticisms of a religious life, are only men; and it
has a strong tendency to keep out of the Church that very
class, the younger sons of country gentlemen, whom all Churchmen
should wish to see enter it. Young men who think of the matter
when the time for taking orders is coming near, do not feel
themselves qualified to rival St. Paul in their lives; and they
who have not thought of it find themselves to be cruelly used
when they are expected to make the attempt.

But of all the amusements which a layman may follow and a
clergyman may not, hunting is thought to be by much the worst.
There is a savour of wickedness about it in the eyes of the old
ladies which almost takes it out of their list of innocent
amusements even for laymen. By the term old ladies it will be
understood, perhaps, that I do not allude simply to matrons and
spinsters who may be over the age of sixty, but to that most
respectable portion of the world which has taught itself to abhor
the pomps and vanities. Pomps and vanities are undoubtedly bad,
and should be abhorred; but it behooves those who thus take upon
themselves the duties of censors to be sure that the practices
abhorred are in truth real pomps and actual vanities, not pomps
and vanities of the imagination. Now as to hunting, I maintain
that it is of itself the most innocent amusement going, and that
it has none of that Cider-Cellar flavour with which the old
ladies think that it is so savoury. Hunting is done by a crowd;
but men who meet together to do wicked things meet in small
parties. Men cannot gamble in the hunting-field, and drinking
there is more difficult than in almost any other scene of life.
Anonyma, as we were told the other day, may show herself; but if
so, she rides alone. The young man must be a brazen sinner, too
far gone for hunting to hurt him, who will ride with Anonyma in
the field. I know no vice which hunting either produces or
renders probable, except the vice of extravagance; and to that,
if a man be that way given, every pursuit in life will equally
lead him A seat for a Metropolitan borough, or a love of
ortolans, or a taste even for new boots will ruin a man who puts
himself in the way of ruin. The same may be said of hunting, the
same and no more.

But not the less is the general feeling very strong against the
hunting parson; and not the less will it remain so in spite of
anything that I may say. Under these circumstances our friend the
hunting parson usually rides as though he were more or less under
a cloud. The cloud is not to be seen in a melancholy brow or a
shamed demeanour; for the hunting parson will have lived down
those feelings, and is generally too forcible a man to allow
himself to be subjected to such annoyances; nor is the cloud to
be found in any gentle tardiness of his motions, or an attempt at
suppressed riding; for the hunting parson generally rides hard.
Unless he loved hunting much he would not be there. But the cloud
is to be perceived and heard in the manner in which he speaks of
himself and his own doings. He is never natural in his self-talk
as is any other man. He either flies at his own cloth at once,
marring some false apology for his presence, telling you that he
is there just to see the hounds, and hinting to you his own know
ledge that he has no business to ride after them; or else he
drops his profession altogether, and speaks to you in a tone
which makes you feel that you would not dare to speak to him
about his parish. You can talk to the banker about his banking,
the brewer about his brewing, the farmer about his barley, or the
landlord about his land; but to a hunting parson of this latter
class, you may not say a word about his church.

There are three modes in which a hunting parson may dress himself
for hunting, the variations having reference solely to the
nether man. As regards the upper man there can never be a
difference. A chimney-pot hat, a white neckerchief, somewhat
broad in its folds and strong with plentiful starch, a stout
black coat, cut rather shorter than is common with clergymen, and
a modest, darksome waistcoat that shall attract no
attention, these are all matters of course. But the observer, if
he will allow his eye to descend below these upper garments, will
perceive that the clergyman may be comfortable and bold in
breeches, or he may be uncomfortable and semi-decorous in black
trowsers. And there is another mode of dress open to him, which I
can assure my readers is not an unknown costume, a tertium quid,
by which semi-decorum and comfort are combined. The hunting
breeches are put on first, and the black trowsers are drawn over

But in whatever garb the hunting parson may ride, he almost
invariably rides well, and always enjoys the sport. If he did
not, what would tempt him to run counter, as he does, to his
bishop and the old ladies ? And though, when the hounds are first
dashing out of covert, and when the sputtering is beginning and
the eager impetuosity of the young is driving men three at a time
into the same gap, when that wild excitement of a fox just away
is at its height, and ordinary sportsmen are rushing for
places, though at these moments the hunting parson may be able
to restrain himself, and to declare by his momentary tranquillity
that he is only there to see the hounds, he will ever be found,
seeing the hounds also, when many of that eager crowd have lagged
behind, altogether out of sight of the last tail of them. He will
drop into the running, as it were out of the clouds, when the
select few have settled down steadily to their steady work; and
the select few will never look upon him as one who, after that,
is likely to fall out of their number. He goes on certainly to
the kill, and then retires a little out of the circle, as though
he had trotted in at that spot from his ordinary parochial
occupations, just to see the hounds.

For myself I own that I like the hunting parson. I generally find
him to be about the pleasantest man in the field, with the most
to say for himself, whether the talk be of hunting, of politics,
of literature, or of the country. He is never a hunting man
unalloyed, unadulterated, and unmixed, a class of man which is
perhaps of all classes the most tedious and heavy in hand. The
tallow-chandler who can talk only of candles, or the barrister
who can talk only of his briefs, is very bad; but the hunting man
who can talk only of his runs, is, I think, worse even than the
unadulterated tallow-chandler, or the barrister unmixed. Let me
pause for a moment here to beg young sportsmen not to fall into
this terrible mistake. Such bores in the field are, alas, too
common; but the hunting parson never sins after that fashion.
Though a keen sportsman, he is something else besides a
sportsman, and for that reason, if for no other, is always a
welcome addition to the crowd.

But still I must confess at the end of this paper, as I hinted
also at the beginning of it, that the hunting parson seems to
have made a mistake. He is kicking against the pricks, and
running counter to that section of the world which should be his
section. He is making himself to stink in the nostrils of his
bishop, and is becoming a stumbling-block, and a rock of offence
to his brethren. It is bootless for him to argue, as I have here
argued, that his amusement is in itself innocent, and that some
open-air recreation is necessary to him. Grant him that the
bishops and old ladies are wrong and that he is right in
principle, and still he will not be justified. Whatever may be
our walk in life, no man can walk well who does not walk with the
esteem of his fellows. Now those little walks by the covert
sides, those pleasant little walks of which I am writing, are
not, unfortunately, held to be estimable, or good for themselves,
by English clergymen in general.


The master of hounds best known by modern description is the
master of the Jorrocks type. Now, as I take it, this is not the
type best known by English sportsmen, nor do the Jorrocks ana,
good though they be, give any fair picture of such a master of
hounds as ordinarily presides over the hunt in English counties.
Mr. Jorrocks comes into a hunt when no one else can be found to
undertake the work; when, in want of any one better, the
subscribers hire his services as those of an upper
servant; when, in fact, the hunt is at a low ebb, and is
struggling for existence. Mr. Jorrocks with his carpet-bag then
makes his appearance, driving the hardest bargain that he can,
purposing to do the country at the lowest possible figure,
followed by a short train of most undesirable nags, with
reference to which the wonder is that Mr. Jorrocks should be able
to induce any hunting servant to trust his neck to their custody.
Mr. Jorrocks knows his work, and is generally a most laborious
man. Hunting is his profession, but it is one by which he can
barely exist. He hopes to sell a horse or two during the season,
and in this way adds something of the trade of a dealer to his
other trade. But his office is thankless, ill-paid, closely
watched, and subject to all manner of indignities. Men suspect
him, and the best of those who ride with him will hardly treat
him as their equal. He is accepted as a disagreeable necessity,
and is dismissed as soon as the country can do better for itself.
Any hunt that has subjected itself to Mr. Jorrocks knows that it
is in disgrace, and will pass its itinerant master on to some
other district as soon as it can suit itself with a proper master
of the good old English sort.

It is of such a master as this, a master of the good old English
sort, and not of an itinerant contractor for hunting, that I
here intend to speak. Such a master is usually an old resident in
the county which he hunts; one of those country noblemen or
gentlemen whose parks are the glory of our English landscape, and
whose names are to be found in the pages of our county records;
or if not that, he is one who, with a view to hunting, has
brought his family and fortune into a new district, and has found
a ready place as a country gentleman among new neighbours. It has
been said that no one should become a member of Parliament unless
he be a man of fortune. I hold such a rule to be much more true
with reference to a master of hounds. For his own sake this
should be so, and much more so for the sake of those over whom he
has to preside. It is a position in which no man can be popular
without wealth, and it is a position which no man should seek to
fill unless he be prepared to spend his money for the
gratification of others. It has been said of masters of hounds
that they must always have their hands in their pockets, and must
always have a guinea to find there; and nothing can be truer than
this if successful hunting is to be expected. Men have hunted
countries, doubtless, on economical principles, and the sport has
been carried on from year to year; but under such circumstances
it is ever dwindling and becoming frightfully less. The foxes
disappear, and when found almost instantly sink below ground.
Distant coverts, which are ever the best because less frequently
drawn, are deserted, for distance of course adds greatly to
expense. The farmers round the centre of the county become
sullen, and those beyond are indifferent; and so, from bad to
worse, the famine goes on till the hunt has perished of atrophy.
Grease to the wheels, plentiful grease to the wheels, is needed
in all machinery; but I know of no machinery in which everrunning
grease is so necessary as in the machinery of hunting.

Of such masters as I am now describing there are two sorts, of
which, however, the one is going rapidly and, I think, happily
out of fashion. There is the master of hounds who takes a
subscription, and the master who takes none. Of the latter class
of sportsman, of the imperial head of a country who looks upon
the coverts of all his neighbours as being almost his own
property, there are, I believe, but few left. Nor is such
imperialism fitted for the present age. In the days of old of
which we read so often, the days of Squire Western, when fox-
hunting was still young among us, this was the fashion in which
all hunts were maintained. Any country gentleman who liked the
sport kept a small pack of hounds, and rode over his own lands or
the lands of such of his neighbours as had no similar
establishments of their own. We never hear of Squire Western that
he hunted the county, or that he went far afield to his meets.
His tenants joined him, and by degrees men came to his hunt from
greater distances around him. As the necessity for space
increased, increasing from increase of hunting ambition, the
richer and more ambitious squires began to undertake the
management of wider areas, and so our hunting districts were
formed. But with such extension of area there came, of course,
necessity of extended expenditure, and so the fashion of
subscription lists arose. There have remained some few great
Nimrods who have chosen to be magnanimous and to pay for
everything, despising the contributions of their followers. Such
a one was the late Earl Fitzhardinge, and after such manner in,
as I believe, the Berkeley hunt still conducted. But it need
hardly be explained, that as hunting is now conducted in England,
such a system is neither fair nor palatable. It is not fair that
so great a cost for the amusement of other men should fall upon
any one man's pocket; nor is it palatable to others that such
unlimited power should be placed in any one man's hands. The
ordinary master of subscription hounds is no doubt autocratic,
but he is not autocratic with all the power of tyranny which
belongs to the despot who rules without taxation. I doubt whether
any master of a subscription pack would advertise his meets for
eleven, with an understanding that the hounds were never to move
till twelve, when he intended to be present in person. Such was
the case with Lord Fitzhardinge, and I do not know that it was
generally thought that he carried his power too far. And I think,
too, that gentlemen feel that they ride with more pleasure when
they themselves contribute to the cost of their own amusement.

Our master of hounds shall be a country gentleman who takes a
subscription, and who therefore, on becoming autocratic, makes
himself answerable to certain general rules for the management of
his autocracy. He shall hunt not less, let us say, than three
days a week; but though not less, it will be expected probably
that he will hunt oftener. That is, he will advertise three days
and throw a byeday in for the benefit of his own immediate
neighbourhood; and these byedays, it must be known, are the cream
of hunting, for there is no crowd, and the foxes break sooner and
run straighter. And he will be punctual to his time, giving
quarter to none and asking none himself. He will draw fairly
through the day, and indulge no caprices as to coverts. The laws,
indeed, are never written, but they exist and are understood; and
when they be too recklessly disobeyed, the master of hounds falls
from his high place and retires into private life, generally
with a broken heart. In the hunting field, as in all other
communities, republics, and governments, the power of the purse
is everything. As long as that be retained, the despotism of the
master is tempered and his rule will be beneficent.

Five hundred pounds a day is about the sum which a master should
demand for hunting an average country, that is, so many times
five hundred pounds a year as he may hunt days in the week. If
four days a week be required of him, two thousand a year will be
little enough. But as a rule, I think masters are generally
supposed to charge only for the advertised days, and to give the
byedays out of their own pocket. Nor must it be thought that the
money so subscribed will leave the master free of expense. As I
have said before, he should be a rich man. Whatever be the
subscription paid to him, he must go beyond it, very much beyond
it, or there will grow up against him a feeling that he is mean,
and that feeling will rob him of all his comfort. Hunting men in
England wish to pay for their own amusement; but they desire that
more shall be spent than they pay. And in this there is a rough
justice, that roughness of justice which pervades our English
institutions. To a master of hounds is given a place of great
influence, and into his hands is confided an authority the
possession of which among his fellow-sportsmen is very pleasant
to him. For this he is expected to pay, and he does pay for it. A
Lord Mayor is, I take it, much in the same category. He has a
salary as Lord Mayor, but if he do not spend more than that on
his office he becomes a byword for stinginess among Lord Mayors
To be Lord Mayor is his whistle, and he pays for it.

For myself, if I found myself called upon to pay for one whistle
or the other, I would sooner be a master of hounds than a Lord
Mayor. The power is certainly more perfect, and the situation, I
think, more splendid. The master of hounds has no aldermen, no
common council, no liverymen. As long as he fairly performs his
part of the compact, he is altogether without control. He is not
unlike the captain of a man-of-war; but, unlike the captain of a
man-of-war, he carries no sailing orders. He is free to go where
he lists, and is hardly expected to tell any one whither he
goeth. He is enveloped in a mystery which, to the young, adds
greatly to his grandeur; and he is one of those who, in spite of
the democratic tenderness of the age, may still be said to go
about as a king among men. No one contradicts him. No one speaks
evil of him to his face; and men tremble when they have whispered
anything of some half-drawn covert, of some unstopped earth, some
fox that should not have escaped, and, looking round, see that
the master is within earshot. He is flattered, too, if that be of
any avail to him. How he is flattered ! What may be done in this
way to Lord Mayors by common councilmen who like Mansion-house
crumbs, I do not know; but kennel crumbs must be very sweet to a
large class of sportsmen. Indeed, they are so sweet that almost
every man will condescend to flatter the master of hounds. And
ladies too, all the pretty girls delight to be spoken to by the
master ! He needs no introduction, but is free to sip all the
sweets that come. Who will not kiss the toe of his boots, or
refuse to be blessed by the sunshine of his smile ?

But there are heavy duties, deep responsibilities, and much true
heart-felt anxiety to stand as makeweight against all these
sweets. The master of hounds, even though he take no part in the
actual work of hunting his own pack, has always his hands full of
work. He is always learning, and always called upon to act on his
knowledge suddenly. A Lord Mayor may sit at the Mansionhouse, I
think, without knowing much of the law. He may do so without
discovery of his ignorance. But the master of hounds who does not
know his business is seen through at once. To say what that
business is would take a paper longer than this, and the precept
writer by no means considers himself equal to such a task. But it
is multifarious, and demands a special intellect for itself. The
master should have an eye like an eagle's, an ear like a thief's,
and a heart like a dog's that can be either soft or ruthless as
occasion may require. How he should love his foxes, and with what
pertinacity he should kill them! How he should rejoice when his
skill has assisted in giving the choice men of his hunt a run
that they can remember for the next six years ! And how heavy
should be his heart within him when he trudges home with them,
weary after a blank day, to the misery of which his incompetency
has, perhaps, contributed ! A master of hounds should be an
anxious man; so anxious that the privilege of talking to pretty
girls should be of little service to him.

One word I will say as to the manners of a master of hounds, and
then I will have done. He should be an urbane man, but not too
urbane; and he should certainly be capable of great austerity. It
used to be said that no captain of a man-of-war could hold his
own without swearing. I will not quite say the same of a master
of hounds, or the old ladies who think hunting to be wicked will
have a handle against me. But I will declare that if any man
could be justified in swearing, it would be a master of hounds.
The troubles of the captain are as nothing to his. The captain
has the ultimate power of the sword, or at any rate of the
fetter, in his hands, while the master has but his own tongue to
trust, his tongue and a certain influence which his position
gives him. The master who can make that influence suffice without
swearing is indeed a great man. Now-a-days swearing is so
distasteful to the world at large, that great efforts are made to
rule without it, and some such efforts are successful; but any
man who has hunted for the last twenty years will bear me out in
saying that hard words in a master's mouth used to be considered
indispensable. Now and then a little irony is tried. "I wonder,
sir, how much you'd take to go home ?" I once heard a master ask
of a red-coated stranger who was certainly more often among the
hounds than he need have been. "Nothing on earth, sir, while you
carry on as you are doing just at present," said the stranger.
The master accepted the compliment, and the stranger sinned no

There are some positions among mankind which are so peculiarly
blessed that the owners of them seem to have been specially
selected by Providence for happiness on earth in a degree
sufficient to raise the malice and envy of all the world around.
An English country gentleman with ten thousand a year must have
been so selected. Members of Parliament with seats for counties
have been exalted after the same unjust fashion. Popular masters
of old-established hunts sin against their fellows in the same
way. But when it comes to a man to fill up all these positions in
England, envy and malice must be dead in the land if he be left
alive to enjoy their fruition.


Now attend me, Diana and the Nymphs, Pan, Orion, and the Satyrs,
for I have a task in hand which may hardly be accomplished
without some divine aid. And the lesson I would teach is one as
to which even gods must differ, and no two men will ever hold
exactly the same opinion. Indeed, no written lesson, no spoken
words, no lectures, be they ever so often repeated, will teach
any man to ride to hounds. The art must come of nature and of
experience; and Orion, were he here, could only tell the tyro of
some few blunders which he may avoid, or give him a hint or two
as to the manner in which he should begin.

Let it be understood that I am speaking of fox-hunting, and let
the young beginner always remember that in hunting the fox a pack
of hounds is needed. The huntsman, with his servants, and all the
scarlet-coated horsemen in the field, can do nothing towards the
end for which they are assembled without hounds. He who as yet
knows nothing of hunting will imagine that I am laughing at him
in saying this; but, after a while, he will know how needful it
is to bear in mind the caution I here give him, and will see how
frequently men seem to forget that a fox cannot be hunted without
hounds. A fox is seen to break from the covert, and men ride
after it; the first man, probably, being some cunning sinner, who
would fain get off alone if it were possible, and steal a march
upon the field. But in this case one knave makes many fools; and
men will rush, and ride along the track of the game, as though
they could hunt it, and will destroy the scent before the hounds
are on it, following, in their ignorance, the footsteps of the
cunning sinner. Let me beg my young friend not to be found among
this odious crowd of marplots. His business is to ride to hounds;
and let him do so from the beginning of the run, persevering
through it all, taking no mean advantages, and allowing himself
to be betrayed into as few mistakes as possible; but let him not
begin before the beginning. If he could know all that is inside
the breast of that mean man who commenced the scurry, the cunning
man who desires to steal a march, my young friend would not wish
to emulate him. With nine-tenths of the men who flutter away
after this ill fashion there is no design of their own in their
so riding. They simply wish to get away, and in their impatience
forget the little fact that a pack of hounds is necessary for the
hunting of a fox.

I have found myself compelled to begin with this preliminary
caution, as all riding to hounds hangs on the fact in question.
Men cannot ride to hounds if the hounds be not there. They may
ride one after another, and that, indeed, suffices for many a
keen sportsman; but I am now addressing the youth who is
ambitious of riding to hounds. But though I have thus begun,
striking first at the very root of the matter, I must go back
with my pupil into the covert before I carry him on through the
run. In riding to hounds there is much to do before the straight
work commences. Indeed, the straight work is, for the man, the
easiest work, or the work, I should say, which may be done with
the least previous knowledge. Then the horse, with his qualities,
comes into play; and if he be up to his business in skill,
condition, and bottom, a man may go well by simply keeping with
others who go well also. Straight riding, however, is the
exception and not the rule. It comes sometimes, and is the cream
of hunting when it does come; but it does not come as often as
the enthusiastic beginner will have taught himself to expect.

But now we will go back to the covert, and into the covert if it
be a large one. I will speak of three kinds of coverts, the
gorse, the wood, and the forest. There are others, but none other
so distinct as to require reference. As regards the gorse covert,
which of all is the most delightful, you, my disciple, need only
be careful to keep in the crowd when it is being drawn. You must
understand that if the plantation which you see before you, and
which is the fox's home and homestead, be surrounded, the owner
of it will never leave it. A fox will run back from a child among
a pack of hounds, so much more terrible is to him the human race
even than the canine. The object of all men of course is that the
fox shall go, and from a gorse covert of five acres he must go
very quickly or die among the hounds. It will not be long before
he starts if there be space left for him to creep out, as he will
hope, unobserved. Unobserved he will not be, for the accustomed
eye of some whip or servant will have seen him from a corner. But
if stray horsemen roaming round the gorse give him no room for
such hope, he will not go. All which is so plainly intelligible,
that you, my friend, will not fail to understand why you are
required to remain with the crowd. And with simple gorse coverts
there is no strong temptation to move about. They are drawn
quickly, and though there be a scramble for places when the fox
has broken, the whole thing is in so small a compass that there
is no difficulty in getting away with the hounds. In finding your
right place, and keeping it when it is found, you may have
difficulty; but in going away from a gorse the field will be open
for you, and when the hounds are well out and upon the scent,
then remember your Latin; Occupet extremum scabies.

But for one fox found in a gorse you will, in ordinary countries,
see five found in woods; and as to the place and conduct of a
hunting man while woods are being drawn, there is room for much
doubt. I presume that you intend to ride one horse throughout the
day, and that you wish to see all the hunting that may come in
your way. This being so, it will be your study to economize your
animal's power, and to keep him fresh for the run when it comes.
You will hardly assist your object in this respect by seeing the
wood drawn, and galloping up and down the rides as the fox
crosses and recrosses from one side of it to another. Such rides
are deep with mud, and become deeper as the work goes on; and
foxes are very obstinate, running, if the covert be thick, often
for an hour together without an attempt at breaking, and being
driven back when they do attempt by the horsemen whom they see on
all sides of them. It is very possible to continue at this work,
seeing the hounds hunt, with your ears rather than your
eyes, till your nag has nearly done his day's work. He will
still carry you perhaps throughout a good run, but he will not do
so with that elasticity which you will love; and then, after
that, the journey home is, it is occasionally something almost
too frightful to be contemplated. You can, therefore, if it so
please you, station yourself with other patient long-suffering,
mindful men at some corner, or at some central point amidst the
rides, biding your time, consoling yourself with cigars, and not
swearing at the vile perfidious, unfoxlike fox more frequently
than you can help. For the fox on such occasions will be abused
with all the calumnious epithets which the ingenuity of angry men
can devise, because he is exercising that ingenuity the
possession of which on his part is the foundation of fox-hunting.
There you will remain, nursing your horse, listening to chaff,
and hoping. But even when the fox does go, your difficulties may
be but beginning.

It is possible he may have gone on your side of the wood; but
much more probable that he should have taken the other. He loves
not that crowd that has been abusing him, and steals away from
some silent distant corner. You, who are a beginner, hear nothing
of his going; and when you rush off, as you will do with others,
you will hardly know at first why the rush is made. But some one
with older eyes and more experienced ears has seen signs and
heard sounds, and knows that the fox is away. Then, my friend,
you have your place to win, and it may be that the distance shall
be too great to allow of your winning it. Nothing but experience
will guide you safely through these difficulties.

In drawing forests or woodlands your course is much clearer.
There is no question, then, of standing still and waiting with
patience, tobacco, and chaff for the coming start. The area to be
drawn is too large to admit of waiting, and your only duty is to
stay as close to the hounds as your ears and eyes will
permit, remembering always that your ears should serve you much
more often than your eyes. And in woodland hunting that which you
thus see and hear is likely to be your amusement for the day.
There is "ample room and verge enough" to run a fox down without
any visit to the open country, and by degrees, as a true love of
hunting comes upon you in place of a love of riding, you will
learn to think that a day among the woodlands is a day not badly
spent. At first, when after an hour and a half the fox has been
hunted to his death, or has succeeded in finding some friendly
hole, you will be wondering when the fun is going to begin. Ah
me! how often have I gone through all the fun, have seen the fun
finished, and then have wondered when it was going to begin; and
that, too, in other things besides hunting !

But at present the fun shall not be finished, and we will go back
to the wood from which the fox is just breaking. You, my pupil,
shall have been patient, and your patience shall be rewarded by a
good start. On the present occasion I will give you the exquisite
delight of knowing that you are there, at the spot, as the hounds
come out of the covert. Your success, or want of success,
throughout the run will depend on the way in which you may now
select to go over the three or four first fields. It is not
difficult to keep with hounds if you can get well away with them,
and be with them when they settle to their running. In a long and
fast run your horse may, of course, fail you. That must depend on
his power and his condition. But, presuming your horse to be able
to go, keeping with hounds is not difficult when you are once
free from the thick throng of the riders. And that thick throng
soon makes itself thin. The difficulty is in the start, and you
will almost be offended when I suggest to you what those
difficulties are, and suggest also that such as they are even
they may overcome you. You have to choose your line of riding. Do
not let your horse choose it for you instead of choosing it for
yourself. He will probably make such attempts, and it is not at
all improbable that you should let him have his way. Your horse
will be as anxious to go as you are, but his anxiety will carry
him after some other special horse on which he has fixed his
eyes. The rider of that horse may not be the guide that you would
select. But some human guide you must select. Not at first will
you, not at first does any man, choose for himself with serene
precision of confident judgment the line which he will take. You
will be flurried, anxious, self-diffident, conscious of your own
ignorance, and desirous of a leader. Many of those men who are
with you will have objects at heart very different from your
object. Some will ride for certain points, thinking that they can
foretell the run of the fox. They may be right; but you, in your
new ambition, are not solicitous to ride away to some other
covert because the fox may, perchance, be going there. Some are
thinking of the roads. Others are remembering that brook which is
before them, and riding wide for a ford. With none such, as I
presume, do you wish to place yourself. Let the hounds be your
mark; and if, as may often be the case, you cannot see them, then
see the huntsman; or, if you cannot see him, follow, at any rate,
some one who does. If you can even do this as a beginner, you
will not do badly.

But, whenever it be possible, let the hounds themselves be your
mark, and endeavour to remember that the leading hounds are those
which should guide you. A single hound who turns when he is
heading the pack should teach you to turn also. Of all the hounds
you see there in the open, probably not one-third are hunting.
The others are doing as you do, following where their guides lead
them. It is for you to follow the real guide, and not the
followers, if only you can keep the real guide in view. To keep
the whole pack in view and to ride among them is easy enough when
the scent is slack and the pace is slow. At such times let me
counsel you to retire somewhat from the crowd, giving place to
those eager men who are breaking the huntsman's heart. When the
hounds have come nearer to their fox, and the pace is again good,
then they will retire and make room for you.

Not behind hounds, but alongside of them, if only you can
achieve such position, it should be your honour and glory to
place yourself; and you should go so far wide of them as in no
way to impede them or disturb them, or even to remind them of
your presence. If thus you live with them, turning as they turn,
but never turning among them, keeping your distance, but losing
no yard, and can do this for seven miles over a grass country in
forty-five minutes, then you can ride to hounds better than
nineteen men out of every twenty that you have seen at the meet,
and will have enjoyed the keenest pleasure that hunting, or
perhaps, I may say, that any other amusement, can give you.


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