ePub 版

Captain Evans, Mr. Clifford -0 -one of the most staunch preservers of foxes, as a farmer, this or any other hunt can boast of-numbering in all between fifty and sixty. The hounds were not long in the coverts before they got a fox on his legs, which without much trouble they ran to Shirley's gorse, where they killed him. They returned to Eyford, and, in drawing one of the plantations, fourteen couples of hounds slipt away with a fox, without any but the two whips and five of the field being aware of the circumstance. Jem Hills was not long, however, in detecting that a great portion of the pack was missing; but they had made such good use of their time, that they had reached Talbot's plantations before the direction which they had taken was discovered. The huntsman succeeded in getting up to them, with the ten couples of hounds which were with him, in one of the Guiting woods, where they had come to a check; and, although they just owned a scent over two fields out of the covert, the fox had evidently been gone some time, and was in consequence given up. Whether under such circumstances the whipper-in ought to go on with the hounds or stop them, is a question which demands attention; at all events his duty should be defined. When the majority of the pack go away with a fox, it appears nothing more than reasonable that they should endeavour to kill him; on the other hand, it may be said, that the office of a whipper-in is to keep the hounds to the huntsman's horn. On their first breaking covert it is impossible for the whipper-in to judge how quickly-the huntsman having ascertained the fact he may get to the head, and in that case it would be improper to stop them; likewise in the event of going away on good terms with a fair scent, and having more than half the pack, it seems rather contradictory to reason and the customs usually observed in fox-hunting to attempt to destroy the prospect of a run. Having got the hounds together, they proceeded to Swell village, to draw the osier bed by the turnpike, when a fox jumping up in the midst of them was nearly being killed before he had time to think of the danger he was in; however, by dint of that activity for which the vulpine genus are remarkable, he succeeded in getting clear away, making his point as if for Clifford's Spinnies, but bearing to the right round the outskirts of the village, took his line over the hill, and through a small plantation, when he deviated a little to the left. over a splendid country, bearing again somewhat to the right, over Hinchwick to Seizincote, where they ran into him just before he reached the earths. It was as pretty a forty minutes as the most fastidious could wish to see, at a capital pace; and it is but justice to observe, the hounds were not in the least blown or distressed. Sam Darling, who rode a well-bred clever chestnut horse, was the first man up at the finish, and picked up the fox. He is one of the few jockeys who can ride to hounds, but his nag is so perfect it would be his own fault if he did not keep a good place. The kennel where these hounds are kept is at Heythrope, near Chipping Norton, and is the same which was formerly occupied by his grace the late Duke of Beaufort, when his hounds hunted this country. It will be remembered that the greater part of Heythrope house, which is the property of Lord Shrewsbury, was consumed by fire about the year

1830, in consequence of airing some beds. A sufficient portion of the house, however, remains for the occupation of the huntsman, whippers-in, and other servants connected with the hounds. The kennels are convenient and healthy, but they do not present any particular features for description.

In consequence of the destruction of Heythrope house by fire, as before mentioned, the Duke of Beaufort, being deprived of a residence, gave up hunting the country. It was then that a pack was formed, and denominated the Heythrope Hounds, under the management of Mr. Langston, who shortly gave them up to Mr. Parker; after which Lord Clonbroke took to them, and kept them till the year 1841, when Lord Redesdale became the proprietor. The quiet, gentlemanly, and affable manner in which everything is conducted, renders this one of the most, if not the most, agreeable pack of hounds to hunt with of any I have ever yet met with: the country certainly adds to the agrémens; but let a country be ever so good, if the master of the hounds is overbearing and boisterous, much of the pleasure of fox-hunting is diminished. Lord Redesdale interferes but little in the field, indeed he does not even carry a horn; thus all may be said to devolve on Jem Hills, the huntsman.

Perhaps if I were to express in full terms the high opinion which I entertain of Hill's abilities, I might go beyond what consistency dictates as proper. This much I must declare, that I have never yet seen his superior in his calling. His manner on all occasions with his hounds is precisely what it ought to be: without being boisterous and wild, he is cheery in covert; he is a fine horseman, very quick, and thus in making his casts never throws a chance away; if he did he would not show much sport, much less kill his foxes, in such a country as this. With very frequently a wretched scent there are large fields to interfere with hounds, consequently a man who was slow in casting would be of no use whatever.

Jack Goddard, a son of old Zac (a celebrated whipper-in to Lord Middleton's hounds, in Warwickshire), acts the part of first whip with great efficiency; he is a good horseman, and possessing considerable ambition, which if he has the good sense and discretion to keep within due bounds, will lead him on to reputation. The men are attired in costume similar to that worn by the Duke of Beaufort's-green plush coats; it certainly does not look so well as scarlet, but it has been worn by the servants in this country and in the Badminton Hunt for

many years.

Within reach of Cheltenham is another very celebrated country, hunted by Lord Gifford, generally once a week; this being his lordship's second season in it, and the third of his being a master of fox-hounds. In 1840 he commenced in the Ludlow country, with a very inadequate subscription; a good rough country, and one in which a young master of hounds may acquire much useful knowledge. Lord Ducie, who had kept the hounds for several years, having determined upon giving them up, made an opening for Lord Gifford, who was not long in deciding upon the benefit of a change; much to the disappointment of the Ludlow gentlemen, who were very sorry to lose so good and promising a young sportsman; but the

temptation of a very superior country and a very great increase of subscription were inducements which no man could be justified in foregoing.

The kennels are admirably situated at the entrance to Oakley Park, one mile from Cirencester, and the property of Lord Bathurst; a nobleman who stands unrivalled for his unbouuded liberality and universal consideration of the interests, the pleasures, and the welfare of every person in any way dependent upon him or connected with the neighbourhood in which he resides. The beauties of Oakley Park are well worth contemplating; the woods, which are similar to the far-famed groves of Chantilly, would repay any person for a long ride, even if it were only to visit them; and, what is of the greatest interest to the sportsman, they are well stocked with foxes; indeed, to a master of hounds they are invaluable, especially for cub-hunting.

The kennels were built under the direction of Lord Ducie, and are very extensive; in fact, much more so than is requisite for the number of hounds necessary to hunt three days a week. The stabling, also, is upon a large scale; and as the house adjoining the kennel atfords sufficient accommodation, Lord Gifford contents himself with it as a residence during the hunting season, in preference to occupying one of more aristocratic pretensions at a distance, which would of necessity compel him to sacrifice many considerations, and, to a master of hounds, devoting so much attention as he does to all things relating to the management of every department, would be inconvenient. No man can evince greater zeal than his lordship, nor can a more flattering prospect be open to any one in the anticipation of a brilliant season. Having had to form a pack, it could not be expected that the first two or three seasons would afford sufficient time to make them perfect, but at the termination of last year an augmentation was made from the East Sussex, and since then another purchase has been added from General Wyndham's; consequently, the present pack is rendered very strong. One run which they have had this season is spoken of, by those who were fortunate enough to be out, as quite unprecedented as to pace; it was from Ampney Ridings to Withington Wood; although many first-rate horsemen were out, they acknowledged that the hounds completely outpaced them; on reaching Withington Woods they fell in with Lord Fitzhardinge's pack, somewhat to the surprise of his lordship.

The shew of foxes in Lord Gifford's country is ample; and from the estimation in which he is universally held, there can be no doubt that every effort will be made to maintain the supply.

There is no part of the duties essential to the good order of a pack of hounds which Lord Gifford does not attend to himself; he invariably takes them to covert, and feeds them on his return; consequently, nothing can escape his notice. As a rider to hounds, his lordship is particularly good; he is a nice weight, with sufficient length to ensure a firm and steady seat; however good many of those are who attend him in the field, none of them can get the best of him when there is business to be done. Lord Andover, although riding somewhat more than the average weight of those who aspire to the honours of hard-riding fame, is always well mounted and in the

first rank. The Hon. Captain Berkeley, M.P., is also a very straightforward horseman, and an excellent judge of everything appertaining to hounds and hunting.

The Worcestershire hounds, under the able management of Captain Caudler, are frequently near enough to Cheltenham to afford a day to the inhabitants; in fact, by means of the railway from thence to Birmingham, half the places of meeting are within reach. They are a pack well worth going a considerable distance to attend; every thing connected with them is done in a workmanlike and effective manner, and it is impossible to conceive any master of hounds more truly goodhumoured and jovial than the gallant Captain. One fact speaks volumes in favour of his popularity; before he took to them, fox-hunting in this county was at a very low ebb; the owners of coverts were many of them disinclined to preserve the foxes, the subscriptions were low, and Captain Caudler's predecessor, Mr. Brock, was disgusted with the attempt he made to rescue the concern from the state into which it had fallen, ere sufficient time could elapse for the purpose. The intrepid exertions of the present master have, however, succeeded in the most flattering manner; so much so, that the Worcestershire hounds are now upon an equality with any of the provincial packs. The huntsman, Grant, who formerly lived in the service of Lord Kintore, is admirably calculated for the country; he is an industrious persevering man with hounds, and never absent from his post. Marten, the first whip, came from the Cheshire; and having served with those hounds for some time, under the directions of Joe Maiden, is well qualified for the appointment.

Independently of the attraction of an excellent pack of fox-hounds, the county of Worcester presents many inducements for either a temporary or permanent residence. It boasts of good society, beautiful scenery, and a county-town of first-rate character; a man must be difficult to please who cannot make himself contented with what is to be procured in the neighbourhood. Most of the noblemen and gentlemen subscribe to and hunt with Captain Caudler's hounds, including Lord Littleton (the Lord-lieutenant of the county), Lord Ward, Lord Sandys, Sir Offley Wakeman, Mr. Skey, the Hon. and Rev. -Talbot, and many others, including a host of wealthy farmers, with whom Worcestershire abounds.

In consequence of Mr. Giles, of Ledbury, giving up his hounds, those have acquired an accession of country by part of that which Mr. Giles formerly hunted, lying in the vicinity of Corse Lawn; in fact it belongs to Lord Fitzhardinge, but as it lies wide, his lordship has transferred the privilege of drawing the coverts to Captain Caudler, which he formerly awarded to Mr. Giles; the Worcestershire country is, therefore, of considerable extent.

The accommodations which are afforded to sportsmen are of a most unlimited character. In the first place there is plenty of society and amusement to occupy those days or hours which are not devoted to the chase, rendering it agreeable to such men as seek those amuse ments; hotels, boarding-houses, and lodging-houses, are to be found of all kinds; and the very important consideration of stabling cannot be surpassed. It is the practice with many gentlemen to

keep their horses entirely at livery, the stable-keeper finding a man to go to covert when wanted; and several, having such good confidence in the care taken of their steeds, leave them in the same hands through the summer. The principal livery-stables are kept by Humphries, Ballinger, and Griffiths, the latter of whom keeps many horses on job, including hunters; and when it is remarked that he horses Mr. Penrose, the most determined horseman in Cheltenham, (of whom more anon), it is unnecessary to state that he selects the right sort of nags. Chapman, the dealer, buys many very good hunters; and as Smart, of Cricklade, is within a short distance, no man need stand still for want of horse-flesh, if he have but the needful and a heart to give a liberal price. I have no hesitation in stating that Smart buys and sells in the course of the year more hunters than Anderson, Elmore, or any other man in England; and as all his customers are pleased with his mode of doing business, no greater proof can be wanting of his judgment and integrity.

The livery-stables appear, even at this early period of the season, to enjoy their full complement of horses; in fact, the numerous field which were in attendance on Lord Fitzhardinge's hounds, at Puzedown, bore evidence of the town being pretty well filled, and among them are many who go exceedingly steadily and well with hounds, and are, moreover, first-rate judges of hunting. Colonel Hardinge, Mr. Price Lewis, and Mr. Bennett, have been in the habit of passing the winter seasons in Cheltenham for several years; and Mr. Penrose has distinguished himself the last two years in a manner which speaks highly for the Emerald Isles, from whence he comes. Although by no means a light weight-14st. 7lb. on his horse-he is invariably with the hounds; the manner in which he holds his horses by their heads, his steady seat, his perfect quietness, and more especially the absence of every particle of conceit, which, with such attributes, is generally attendant upon other men, entitle him to the most honourable distinction: neither is he ever heard to boast of his pretensions; indeed, on the other han.., he will more frequently disclaim the right to any exordiums that may be passed on his merits. As I have previously observed, he jobs his horses from Griffiths; and as each speaks in the highest terms of the other, no better evidence can be wanting that each performs his part.

A very great convenience and a source of much information have been afforded to the visitors of Cheltenham, by the publication of maps, descriptive of the places of meeting of the hounds which hunt in the neighbourhood, particularly Lords Fitzhardinge's, Redesdale's, and Gifford's, and the Worcestershire (Captain Caudler's); being bound in a convenient size to carry in the waistcoat pocket, they are a guide to covert and to the road home after hunting; and having an index describing the distances from the principal towns, they are a source of convenience which, for the benefit of the sporting world, would be most acceptable if extended to every hunt in the kingdom-a plan which miglit readily be accomplished if each hunt would come forward to supply the required information and defray the expenses of engraving the plates, which, individually, could not be important.

No country can boast of a more independent, hospitable set of men

« 上一頁繼續 »