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others of theirs. Lord Wodehouse can ride well to hounds without riding over them, and Mr. Mytton (who was often with us last year, and has been latterly with us this week) is his “ father's son.” I was going to pay him a, compliment, but I think, as a fox-hunter, he will scarcely need a greater than this.
From Ashby St. Ledgers we ran a ring through Bragborough to Welton. The weather was more than the Pytchley could contend against ; though towards the afternoon the scent improved materiallythis was on the 26th, and consequently drawing near to the end of the month. At Welton we found a fresh fox, who went merrily away over Simond's farm for the country about Staverton ; but the temptation of an open drain on the road was too much for him, and he balked us of a very pretty run. The bump of locality must have been strongly developed in this fox, for he went quite the shortest way, and hesitated not a moment to avail himself of the shelter. After d-g and damming the drain, so that the waters flowed in upon the “varmint,” we succeeded in bolting him; and of course ran into him in about one field-we measure by fields, as the Germans by hours. Mr. Payne's knowledge of hydrostatics was proved to be great upon this occasion, and if I excuse his field for neglect or idleness in assisting him, it is that they felt their incompetency to contrive or execute better than himself. Unfortunately there was no terrier out ; and Mr. Payne's unavoidable absence in London, the night before, fully accounts for the omission. “When the cat is away, the mice will play.”
Saturday, the 27th of February, was, of course, a wind up to this month's sport
The moon is expected to change soon, so we hope for a change of weather too. On this morning nothing could be more unpropitious than appearances : twenty times between ten and eleven o'clock did I try to make an impression upon my friend's lawn with a stick and the heel of my boot ; happily for the gardener, without effect. The wind from the north east was piercingly cold, and it was after eleven when I started for Lilburne in a dog-cart. How hard and crisp the road sounded beneath the mare's feet ; while the groom, a man of inquiring mind, jumped off at the hills to dig his boots into what he hoped might be mud at the side of the road. He only jarred his feet, and might have worn the soles off before he made any impression.
The fields proved, upon closer inspection, to be not much better.
“ Quatit ungula campum” should have been reversed : “quatit ungulas campus" wont scan, and poets care more about that than telling the truth. So far from shaking the fields, the fields had decidedly the best of it, and shook the horses. When Virgil wrote that line, he had in his eye an open winter or a wet summer. However, Mr. Payne had braved the elements, doubtless, with the hope of the weather softening towards mid-day. About one o'clock Phæbus put in a very mild appearance, something like a poached egg in pea-soup ; and we trotted off, a large party considering the day, to try the favourite gorse.
Meanwhile, two gentlemen-farmers, they would have called themselves, had “improved the occasion,” as Poundtext says ; for there is a publichouse at Lilburne, where a “most villanous sweet" compound is dispensed under the name of “old ale.” First, I hold the word “gentlemanfarmer” to be a contradiction in terms—there is no such possibility. If good behaviour and respectability of condition can make a farmer a gentleman, we are as well off as any county ; and no class have more right to enjoy the sports of the field as far as their means and avocations will allow. But that a parcel of idle uneducated fellows (assuming a superiority over the more respectable cultivators of the soil because they pretend to have more time or money) should be permitted to exhibit their ruffianism by riding up against gentlemen, and into the middle of hounds on a cold scent, for the sake of securing a fall or two extra, is not to be expected.
We found at Lilburne, and went away, over the finest line of country in England, to Hillmorton gorse. On such a day, of course no pace could be expected ; notwithstanding which, we managed to dispose of our drunken friends for a time. In trotting through a large grass field, the only apparent obstacle to getting safely out was a low flight of rails ; but to persons with their senses about them, a mound of earth thrown up on the other side would have suggested some inquiry as to the nature of the ground. Within ten yards of this place there rushed from the crowd this “par nobile fratrum," anxious to distinguish themselves by jumping first into the middle of the hounds. It was with no little anxiety that Mr. Payne must have watched this deliberate assault upon his pack ; and it was with no little pleasure, I confess, that I saw them both, over the rails, suddenly disappear without coming to light again. The ditch was a nasty one : the earth thrown up made it worse ; and a steep drop, like the grassy side of a gravel pit, received this brace of heroes. They had only had about four falls each up to this point, so they were very well able to bear the fifth. One it quite shut up, and took the steel out of the other very considerably. He was only drunk, not disorderly, for the rest of the day.
After leaving Hillmorton, we crossed the Old Street Road again, to Lilburne : one fox was well a-head of us; but we found, I believe, another, and killed him near the cover. Hence, we trotted off to Stanford, and, having found, ran within a mile of Misterton ; but the scent had been getting worse, and we were compelled reluctantly to give up our fox. On our road we passed the house of a most respectable and hospitable farmer, and an excellent horseman ; and it is almost impossible to persuade oneself that the ruffians, who nearly broke their necks in the morning, can have any right to consider themselves in the same condition of life as Mr. Hipwell, or many like him whom I could name, if I thought it interesting to you. Before quitting the subject of Stanford, let me say a word more in favour of Mr. Payne's hounds. Their behaviour on this day was most admirable ; under every disadvantage they worked most beautifully (it is in slow things men see hounds work), and it would be thought impossible for hounds to run through Stanford without riot, the place is so alive with hares-luck I do not wish to the Pytchley. Luck is all very well where there's no other chance of sport to pin your faith upon : but give our master a clear field and open weather, and another season will make this country the perfection of hunting.
I hope Lord Gage is not suffering much from a rather severe fall which he got, and by which one of the ligaments or muscles of the shoulder was injured. Captain Dawson, too, was unfortunate, having a horse out so badly staked as to be obliged to be killed ; not the horse he was riding upon, though that is but equivocal satisfaction.
INTERCEPTED CORRESPONDENCE FROM NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.
Horsedealers have, somehow or other, a very questionable character : like lawyers, they may have many temptations to dishonesty ; but I scarcely think that implies a necessity for following the suggestions of opportunity. Admitting the truth of the general prejudice against them, I know that most riding men would prefer dealing with them to buying from or selling to their equals. But I go beyond this (which is a mere matter of convenience, and says nothing in their favour) by stating, not only my conviction that the respectable amongst them may be trusted as far as any other tradesman whose interest sometimes stands in the way of principle, but that in this very county, and in most hunting counties, we have one or two, of whom anecdotes are told which prove at least their disinterestedness.
A friend of mine sold a horse to Mr. Kench, of Dunchurch-the largest dealer in hunters in the midland counties, certainly. Within five minutes of the sale a gentleman begged to have the horse at the original price, ignorant of the bargain which had already taken place. The reply was natural enough. • Five minutes ago I sold the horse to'Kench ; but I will mention the circumstances, and see what he says.” The circumstance of this increased bid was then told to Mr. Kench, with an offer of so much to be off the bargain. The reply was that of more than an honest man ; it was that of a very liberal one. Sir,” said Mr. Kench, “I should not think of taking one shilling to be off,' but am only too happy to let you have your horse again, and that you have an opportunity of getting out at the price you originally paid for him.” The anecdote requires no comment; have you any dealers in your part of the world who do better? We have others of high character, and good judges of horses. Tomline, who sometimes comes amongst us from the Rutland country, an excellent judge of horses, out of condition as well as in ; and Payne, of Market Harboro'. But good men in a country make good dealers, and a heavy demand for nothing but first-rate horses creates the supply.
And now, my dear fellow, I was just going to finish my letter with a few remarks upon a very essential part of the hunting-field ; a part a little looked down upon by sportsmen of the old school, but still very agreeable part of it, and an undoubted support to the noble science-I mean the coffee-room. I find, however, that to do it real justice, to bring out its prominent features, to exhibit the men as they are, and the muffs as they should be, to talk to you about the neat little turnouts which sometimes honour our meets, and the pretty bonnets and prettier faces which preside over pairs of ponies, would occupy more space and time than the end of a letter affords. I must begin with it next time, if I think of it. Snob, too, is still alive and well : he honoured Lilburne ; his chesnut looked all the fresher for the frosty weather, and would be hard to beat with a good man up.
Adieu ; the frost has steadied me; all my good jokes are frozen up in me: there'll be a thaw before next month, and then you shall have something livelier from
Yours, &c., March, 3rd, 1847.
SCRIBBLE. P.S. We have killed about twenty-seven brace of foxes, notwithstanding the long and severe frosts this season.
(To be continued.)
EXTRACTS FROM MY JOURNAL.
" Then say not that our India's sports with England's can't compare,
Whose chiefest aim's to hunt the fox, and chase the timid hare.”
The traveller passing by the village of T-, early in the morning of the 1st of March, 1845, would have seen a long array of tents and béchobas,* snugly pitched under the magnificent mango topent which so oft has sheltered the weary traveller from the rays of the noon-day sun. Picketed round the trees, and lazily munching their provender, stood numerous horses, which, together with the bright-headed spears that leant in clusters against the tents, proclaimed this to be the camp of a hoghunting party. Suddenly, as the streak of light in the east betokens the approach of day, a shout is heard proceeding from one of the tents. In an instant the camp, till now so still, is a scene of bustle and apparent confusion. Strange cries are heard in all directions ; but one shout predominates over all the others : it issues from the throat of my friend B., and sounds uncommonly like “ Coffee.” Presently the neighing steeds are led to the tent-doors, and one by one forth issue the riders. Their long sambur-skin leggings and shocking bad hats would ill become an English hunting field ; but then their spurs and spears are sharp, and they have hearts to use them. First appears that thoroughbred old sportsman, Cd, who, although weight has come with experience, would, from his superior knowledge of the unclean animal’s habits, be likely to prove a tough customer in any field. To him was left the management of the beat ; and little did any one think that morning, that we should so soon be deprived of his assist
Next appears D- —r, on his game little horse Jacky, in company with G, on “ the chesnut -a horse whom I will not attempt to describe, as really I cannot do justice to him. Following them came C-n, D-s, H., and B., on his noted racer, “ Old Tom.”
After some delay, a start is effected for the next stage, which is Timree, eight miles distant. The road lying through jungle, all were on the alert. Two or three miles had been beaten, when suddenly the tallyho is heard, and off go Cd, C- -n, G., and H., after a splendid boar. After some sharp riding, G., who was first, came up with him ; when the brute swerved under the horse's legs, and over they went, horse and man. C -d came to the rescue : the boar charged, but, swerving before he came within spearing distance, tripped up the horse, who gave his rider a severe fall, which stunned him ; and before any assistance could be given, the infuriated animal had ripped C- -d severely in the thigh, calf, and arm. C-d tried to tussle with him ;
* Béchoba, a tent with no pole to it.
+ Tope, a clump of trees.
but the hog seized his hand in his teeth, and held him. By this time C-n had come up, and immediately drove his spear through the boar, where it broke in two. He procured a fresh spear, and finished the brute with another job. This was a very fine boar : his height was forty inches, and his tusks seven inches long. C-d's wounds were bound up, and he was taken on to camp ; from whence he was sent back to Nagpore in a palankeen.
3rd March.—Some antelope and pea-fowl were killed. I joined the party this day from Nagpore, distant thirty miles, which I rode on Dicky, my other horses not having been posted properly.
4th.- We marched for G- -r (ten miles). On the road we put up a hyæna, which we rode and killed with very little trouble, Dgiving him the first spear. After breakfasting at G-r, we posted ourselves on horseback near the hill, which is close to where we pitched, and which swarms with game.
After the coolies had beat a little, a boar was tallyho'd. He charged H., who received him with a spear in the eye. This disgusted him; and the jungle being very thick thereabouts, he easily got away.
While this was going on, Dar, whose horses had cast their shoes, went up the hill to shoot. After walking some distance, he saw & leopard trotting along. Up went his gun, and down went the leopard, with a ball through both shoulders, and he never moved an inch afterwards. Length, six feet eight inches ; height, thirty-two inches ; and a very beautiful skin. This put us in good spirits, and we did ample justice to the excellent dinner provided by that prince of caterers, D-r.
The next day, at three o'clock, we placed ourselves in position as before. After a long delay, a boar managed to break cover without our seeing him.
A cooly, however, pointed out the direction he had taken. He had about half a mile start ; but we rode after him, and viewed him in some bushes. I took the lead on my little grey, Harkaway, and after going some distance at racing pace, came up with the pig ; but just as I was going to stick him, he jumped into a bush, where he laid, perdu, for some seconds ; after which he ran into a nullah, surrounded with bushes. G. and I rode at him here, when he charged my horse on the near side, and ripped him slightly in the chest ; but Harkaway bounded over him, and escaped with a slight hurt. He charged G. in the same manner, who also missed his spear. After this the hog went into the bed of the nullah again ; and on G. and I approaching, he made a desperate charge at G., who received him beautifully on his spear, which remained in him. He tried to make another rush ; but I gave him a thrust in the head : and after another poke from Dhe fell dead into the nullah. Height, thirty-six inches ; tusks, six inches long
6th March.—Marched to Tarss (nine miles). No hog here. B. went out before dinner, and killed a buck and a doe antelopes with one ball
. The next day we were disappointed at finding no hog, but bagged a few florikin and hares.
On the 8th we rode over to , where there is a fine bheer, * which we beat in the afternoon. After some time we drove out a fine young boar,
Bheer, waste land, covered with long grass, and which serves as a preserve for all sorts of game.