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HUNTSMEN SOMETIMES PUPPIES. 137 and moderately good in the field, supposing the entire management of the pack was left to him, would during a season show more sport than if his attributes were reversed. If I am wrong in this opinion, I am (as I hope I am on every occasion) open to correction. My reasons for having always held this opinion are, that if the pack are bad in themselves, the best Chase Huntsman on earth cannot make them good; if theyare good (in a general way), the less a Huntsman interferes with them the better. I have known many crack coachmen, whose great fault was driving too much. Mayne, whom I have mentioned as a race-rider, though a most superior horseman, always rode too much: he never could keep quiet in his saddle, but was always doing something with his horse, and sometimes beat him by doing what he considered was assisting him. I have seen many crack Huntsmen who I felt perfectly convinced hunted their hounds too much; in short, wanted to kill their fox by their own sagacity instead of allowing their hounds to do so by theirs, and would all but take them off their noses to get the credit of a knowing cast-a degree of puppyism and arrogance in a Huntsman which I consider quite unpardonable. I shall quote an instance of this kind of thing, and the Huntsman's excuse for it. Hounds were running with a burning scent, but came to a check: a couple or two shortly hit it off; the pack joined, and away they were going, when, to every one's astonishment, the First Whip was sent to get them back, the Huntsman riding, hallooing, and blowing his horn in a different direction.
He made a cast, but not a hound owned the vestige of a scent; so he was forced to try back (hateful at all times to a fox-hunter). Coming to the spot 138
THE SCHOOLMASTER WANTED.
where they were carrying the scent when stopped, they hit it off again, and finally ran in to their fox.
The Huntsman, being required to explain his motive for taking his hounds off their line, said, he thought they must be hunting foul, as no fox should have taken that line of country; his point ought to have been such a covert. On being told that foxes would sometimes follow their own opinions instead of his in such particulars, he merely said, “ If the fox was a fool, it was no fault of his.” So much for Huntsmen relying on their own opinion instead of the sagacity and natural instinct of their hounds! That a great deal of cleverness may be shown by a Huntsman in the field we all know, and that at times he may greatly assist hounds is equally clear; but these aids (to kill a fox fairly) should only be given where from a bad-scenting day, a known bad-scenting country, or a fox having gone away long before he was hit upon, prevents hounds exercising their gift of nose. A sudden change in the atmosphere, a particularly harsh dry piece of ground, are fair excuses for giving lounds a lift, for they are then on unequal terms with their fox. He can make use of his legs to escape; they cannot, in such circumstances, make effectual use of their noses to follow him. Here, by making a judicious cast forward, a Huntsman shows his tact, and here we may allow him to exercise his judgment as to the point he considers his fox is making for; and probably he will be right, except, as our late mentioned friend said, “ the fox is a fool.” Here the sagacity of the Huntsman will probably be greater than that of the hound, a sequitur by no means to be relied on in all cases. The distinctive line between instinct and reason, the most talented have found it
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE SCHOOLMASTER.
very difficult, if not impossible, to define. We are not aware that animals reflect so as to combine circumstances: now, more or less, a Huntsman does or ought to do this, and this tells him where to make his cast. The hound (and the higher bred he is the greater would be the probability of his doing it) would, if left to himself, most likely, on losing all scent, make a short cast or two, and then, not succeeding, would trot quietly home or wherever his fancy led him. I have come in contact with many Huntsmen, and I think I can say that, without exception, I have invariably found the man of the best general information the best Huntsman, whether in the field or kennel. Some excel in the one particular, others in the other, but very few · indeed in both. Still I must adhere to my opinion, that a real good kennel Huntsman requires the most head. The chief requisites of a Huntsman in the field I conceive to be, a perfect knowledge of his country, both as to locality and its scenting qualities; the points for which foxes in a general way make when found in particular places and with particular winds, which will generally be the same except with strange foxes in the clickitting season; and, further, a perfect knowledge of the qualifications of the different hounds in his pack, and consequently how far they are to be trusted. Some hounds, we all know, like some men, will show, or rather commit, little peccadillos when in covert and out of sight: they may, nevertheless, be capital chase hounds, and perfectly steady where they know they are watched; for, reflect or not, they have reflection (or a something else) enough to be quite awake to this. Some hounds are capital finders, and will work through every foot of the thickest covert : others are dandies, and do not like tearing their skins
LOSS OF POWER IS A NATION'S LOSS.
or even coats with thorns or gorse. Some almost invariably take the lead on a fox going away, and, if he is run into in twenty minutes, go for that time like meteors: others, particularly some old hounds, let these flash gentlemen make all the running, and when they find their fox sinking, first make a quotation, “finis coronat opus,” then get to the head, and kill their fox. I am not joking as to the hound making a quotation : I only conclude he makes it inwardly; whereas Balaam's ass held forth loudly and in good set phrase. If so, surely my hound may be allowed a little quiet quotation to himself.
Supposing a Huntsman to possess the requisites I have mentioned, and to be a good horseman, I should say he will do well enough; but to do this he must have no blockhead.
Of the First Whip, I need say no more than that he requires to the full as much, if not more, head in the field than the Huntsman. There is one little addition to his general business that it would be a great advantage to fox-hunting to delegate to him (if we could): he is expected to correct young hounds that run riot either at covert or in chase—why not some young Gentlemen who not unfrequently do the same?
We will now look in at the kennel, by the general appearance of which and its inhabitants a practised eye will at once detect what sort of head conducts the establishment. Poor Power used to say, when acting the part of a Prince in Teddy the Tiler, “ You same to think it's as aisy to make a Prince as a had of mortar.” Of the relative difficulty of making these two articles I am not a judge, never having made a Prince. A hod of mortar I really have manufactured, and therefore can only humbly venture a surmise, that if I was for
“ LITTLE PIGS MAKE THE BEST OF BACON.” 141 tunate enough to be permitted to try, I could manufacture a lot of Princes with less labour, and certainly by a more agreeable process. Of one thing I am certain, it is much easier to make what will do well enough for a Prince than it is to make a pack of foxhounds — at least a good pack.
If a man happens to come into a large property, it: is very easy to say, “ I will have a pack of fox-hounds;" and such he may readily get; that is, he may get thirtyfive or forty couples of dogs, and those fox-hounds; and probably, if he is weak enough to accept them, he may get a great proportion of those given him. He may also get twenty hunters in his stable, and these may be really good ones, if he gives money enough: As to his pack (unless he finds some one giving up a country), at the end of three or four seasons I should like to see how he was getting on; but till then I should excuse myself hunting with him, unless, which God forbid, all the Masters of long-standing packs were to give up hunting. This need not deter any one from feeling confident that by patience, perse verance, and the help of a good head, he will in time get together a good pack of hounds. “We must all make a beginning; and here goes," as the flea said when he gave the elephant his first nibble on his breech, fully intending to pick his bones. I do not mean that forming a pack of fox-hounds amounts quite to this, but the tyro will find it a matter of more difficulty than he probably anticipated. Of all wretches in the shape of dogs, none are more so than sporting dogs when bad ones; a fox-hound or greyhound particularly so: a bad pointer sometimes makes a capital watch-dog. This, by-the-by, brings to my recollection an acquaintance of mine who hunted with