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“ DEAR CREATURES, WE CAN'T DO WITHOUT 'EM.” 37 in an open carriage of any sort ? The Hon. Mrs. A. wears such a dress in her britzka — why should not Miss Bobbinet wear the same in a hired gig ?
But though, from the Countess to the counter-girl, they must go fast, I give them full credit for not believing, or rather thinking, whether they go: eight miles an hour or fifteen, that horses suffer from it. Ladies are a bad judge of pace : they know if they are going fast, but do not know how fast they are going. "Women are d—d bad judges of pace, my good fellow," said a friend of mine to me, whose pretty and really amiable little wife had spent in two months in London the annual amount of their income.
In the hope of in some degree diverting the anger of ladies from what I have written, I do cheerfully and confidently assert my belief, that though horses unquestionably suffer much in their service, it in almost all cases proceeds from their want of knowledge of what occasions distress and suffering to them. Women, of all created beings, are in every sense of the word the most single-minded, and least selfish. Man will rarely sacrifice his interest or comfort for Woman ; Woman constantly does her's for Man: it seems one of the attributes of her nature to sacrifice self for others: yet from thoughtlessness will the same fair being keep her servants and horses waiting in the most inclement night, while wasting, or worse than wasting, her time in listening to the persiflage of some coxcomb she inwardly despises. · Some years since I was taken to a party by the rather giddy wife of a friend of mine, who always indulged her in furnishing her carriage with as fine a pair of horses as any woman in London drove: her carriage was ordered at one, intending to escape
38 « HE JESTS AT SCARS THAT NEVER FELT," ETC. supper: it came; I informed her of it: " she was engaged the next quadrille:" it was danced, and her partner handed her down to supper: dancing was resumed; three, four o'clock came : then my fair friend, enveloped in cashmeres without number, came forth: the vestibule, staircase, and hall were warm as art could make them; but in passing from the door to the carriage, she remarked that this exposure to the cold was dreadful. It never occurred to her that her horses and servants had been shivering at that door for three hours. Now I am quite ready to admit that a delicate female and horses and servants are quite different things; that use accustoms the one to what would be death to the other; still, they all have feelings; and apportion the degree of hardship to the powers of endurance of each, and each will have the same share of suffering. Leave the horses and servants exposed to a freezing snow-storm, and the lady to a cold room without fire, they would probably suffer equally; and in retributive justice such punishment ought to be inflicted on her to teach her what she thus unthinkingly inflicts on others. But she has probably never been exposed to real suffering of any sort, consequently cannot feel for what she never felt: she is in the position of the Princess, who, hearing that many of her father's subjects were starving, declared that rather than absolutely starve she would eat bread and cheese.
The Lady to whom I allude has unremittingly accused me of cruelty, because I have as unremittingly followed my sporting propensities. That there is more or less of cruelty in all sports, or at least in most of them, no man of sense will dispute; that is, when sporting is carried on
THE SPORTSMAN AT CONFESSION. 39 merely as a source of amusement. The Huntsman, the Jockey, the Steeple-chase Rider, the Bull-baiter, and Dog-fighter-even the Gentleman, if he is merely a“ bookless sauntering youth, proud of the scut that dignifies his cap” — will all deny that there is a particle of cruelty in any of their several occupations; while the man of sense will candidly admit the charge, but may very justifiably add, that if we do not let a selfish thirst for amusement benumb or obliterate our feelings of humanity, the great source of amusement arising from sporting, and also the great advantages a large portion of the community derive from it, overbalance the trifling cruelty we inflict in its pursuit: and this is the only true state of the case. No man can attempt to deny that to turn out a stag merely for the pleasure of hunting him is gratifying ourselves at the expense of a harmless animal; it would be folly to deny it: still I hunted seven seasons with stag-hounds, and must allow I never thought of anything but keeping as near to the hounds as a sportsman ought to be. Foxes are vermin, some will say, therefore we ought to kill them: “So where's the cruelty ?” This is all nonsense. If there is any cruelty in hunting, whether it be the fox or the hare, the thing is the same; and for this reason a gun would be a quicker mode of ridding ourselves of the one and of possessing the other. It is always bad policy to pertinaciously defend a bad cause, or to attempt to controvert that which in itself is incontrovertible. Let us allow therefore, like honest fellows, that there is some cruelty even in fox-hunting, but that it is so born with those of the right sort, and is so fascinating in its pursuit, that death would almost be preferable to resigning it. Then fill a bumper to fox-hunting, 40
A SUBJECT FOR MAZEPPA'S PUNISHMENT.
and I will be as vociferous in the three times three, and again, again, again, as the loudest of you all.
That fox or stag hunting is the frequent cause of a great deal of cruelty and suffering to horses is quite clear; that is, when they get into certain hands. I have some years since seen the Hon. Mr. P. with his horse spurred from shoulder to flank, and that because, from want of common sense and judgment in the early part of the day, he had beaten a good horse before it was half over. If this is not cruelty I do not know what is. Depend upon it the man who would be guilty of it towards his horse would be equally the brute to his wife or child. God forbid he should ever have the one or the other! Let no man tell me that enthusiasm in the chạse is an excuse for premeditated and wanton cruelty. I maintain it to be wanton cruelty to butcher a good horse, when the only plea we can produce for so doing is a wish to see more of the end of the run, as if a man could never see another during his life. I can assert from experience and observation — and have had no small share of the former, or want of opportunity for the latter in these matters — that I never knew one of these real butchering riders in the field who was not a brute in all his relative connections with society. Let it not be supposed that I mean in any way to infer that riding straight to hounds necessarily involves cruelty to a hunter; quite the contrary. I am perfectly satisfied, and I am sure the best judges in these matters will agree with me, that the man who rides straightest to hounds, generally speaking, distresses his horse the least: he keeps near enough to watch the leading hound, or couple or two of
"HOC AGE.” hounds, by which he is enabled often to avail himself of sound ground instead of heavy, and perhaps cuts off the whole angle of a fifty or sixty-acre field. If hounds throw up their noses for only half a minute, he can give his horse the full benefit of that half minute; and half a minute, aye ten seconds, is an age to a horse all but blown. When they hit it off, he is off with them; they don't gain an inch on him: he has no ground to make up, for he is ready to take his place. Long may he keep it both here and in his chase through life!
In riding to hounds, I always adopted one plan, which I generally found succeed tolerably well, and for the perusal of very young sportsmen, and still greater snobs than myself, I here offer it as hints to such, but of course to such only. If you wish to see the end of a run, always make your horse your first consideration. I mean by this, that, whatever fences you may have to take, whatever description of ground you may have to ride over, or whatever may be the pace you find it necessary to go, always to the best of your judgment and ability make him do all this with the least possible expenditure of his animal powers and spirits; and ever keep in mind, that in the beginning of a run you never know where it may end, or how great a proportion of these powers and spirits may be called for. A horse is not like a steam-engine, for which, if you let all the steam off, you can take in fresh coke and water. Young hands are apt to forget this. The moment hounds are put into covert, throw away your cigar, if fancy or fashion has induced you to take one; and at once pro tem. give all your acquaintance the cut direct, and attend to your business in other words, the hounds. If you are