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from whom they passed to the Honourable Edward Petre, recognised by racing men as having won three Legers in succession That gentleman resigning they came into the possession of the late Lord Hawke, in 1827. Very few packs indeed can boast of such a lengthened unbroken continuance. Among them there are successful competitors at the shows, and the blood has been for many years in high repute. This, however, has not been accomplished without considerable difficulty, for the gentlemen and farmers do not appear to be particularly fond of rearing puppies. This is the more remarkable the pack being the property of the members. The distemper, too, has for some years made sad havoc among them, reducing their numbers so extensively as to require considerable assistance from other kennels. Their entry this season consists of eight couples and a-half, of which two couples and a-half are due to Royal, one couple to his brother Romulus, two couple to Statesman, and a single hound to Gambler. The number is made up with two couples from the Duke of Rutland's Stranger, and one hound from his Grace's Falstaff. An analysis of their pedigrees confirms the excellent judgment exercised in the selection. Royal and Romulus are descended from Lord H. Bentinck's Contest. The first named, a black nice sized and white hound, was a great favourite with the late Lord Hawke. Gambler, a black, white, and tan coloured hound of nice proportions, is also related to Contest through Mr. Lane Fox's Guider. Statesman is a son of Lord Poltimore's Archer, a successful candidate at the York Hound Show, where little fault could be found in him except a slight falling away behind his shoulders, but he does not appear to convey that conformation to his progeny. The Belvoir sires, like all helonging to that kennel, are of high lineage; Stranger is related to Singer and Rallywood, and Falstaff is a grandson of Mr. Foljambe's Forester, and goes back to Lord Yarborough's Rallywood.
They have enjoyed a glorious time with the cubs, commencing on the 7th September, at five in the morning, when they found two litters, of which they tasted a brace. The country seems well stocked, especially about Womersley, Elmsal, Stapleton Park, Badsworth, and Fenwick. For some time the ground was hard, and as the weather has been often tempestuous, scent has been precarious.
The Badsworth country appears to have been singularly fortunate in having masters of very high attainments and repute. The first of whom there is any record of was Mr. John Bright, who is said to have been the original founder of the hunt. The precise date is not known, but it was antecedent to the year 1730, as there is a very quaint humorous old song descriptive of a run at that time. It details the customs of our forefathers very clearly, and early rising was one of their accomplishments, as will be gleaned by these extracts:
Then again :
"At five, then, the master arose
The rest half asleep left their beds."
"It was just at the rise of the sun
To Barnsdale's great whin-bed they came,
So famous for many a run,
So crowded for fox-hunters' game."
It was not in those days indecorus for ladies to participate in the hilarious delights of the chase, as Miss Diana Sayle is described on viewing the fox to have delighted the field with a halloo :
"Her voice was so sweet and so shrill."
After a jolly good run, full of incident and fun, the concluding verse expresses how the evening was passed, and that Miss Di Sayle was not forgotten:
"Now to Badsworth's roast beef let us hie,
Where we'll finish the day with delight,
And fuddle our noses all night."
In the March Number, 1750, of The Gentleman's Magazine, in the list of deaths there is the name of "Charles Newby, Esq., of Hooton Roberts, near Rotheram, Yorkshire, the oldest fox-hunter in England." His age, however, is not mentioned, but he was one of the celebrities described in the song.
Mr. Bright's death occurring in 1735, it is rather doubtful whether the country was occupied immediately after that event. Mr. Godfrey Wentworth, in connection with Mr. Wrightson, followed, and the names of Sir Edward Smyth, Bart., Sir Thomas Pilkington, Bart., and Sir Rowland Winn, Bart.; but they could not individually have kept the hounds any great length of time. Another song, written by the Honourable Martin-Bladen Hawke in 1805, identifies the date when the Earl of Darlington hunted the country, which his lordship is said to have done in a truly-magnificent style. Mr. Martin Hawke attained a very high position on the pedestal of Fame for daring deeds of horsemanship, and other sporting achievements. Whether or not he would have excelled so greatly very many of Young England's sons may be somewhat a matter of doubt. It must be by comparison with contemporaries that a man's skill and powers are determined, and I am not altogether prepared to coincide in the opinion that the stars of the last century were quite so brilliant as they are often represented to have been.
On Lord Darlington's retirement, Mr. Masters had the country; but it could only be for a short period, as it was here that excellent sportsman Sir Bellingham Graham made his first essay in 1815; but he only continued two years. Indeed, the Baronet's career as a master of foxhounds, brilliant as it was, was brief, as he disposed of his pack in 1826, when he resigned the Shropshire country. Sir William Gerrard was next in command, followed by Mr. Thomas Bent Hodgson, whose initiation, like that of Sir Bellingham Graham, was in the Badsworth country. This describes the succession of masters to the time of Mr. Petre, which has already been noticed.
It has the character of being a good scenting country, though the ploughed land prevails. One portion of it is divided by a district of limestone, upon which scent seldem lies. Taken as a whole, it is very level, the western side being the most hilly. The fences are numerous, requiring competent hunters to negotiate them. There is one circumstance not to be forgotten, which renders a run very enjoyable-the attendants are not over-numerous, and most of these are sportsmen: as may be attributed to the fact of their being Yorkshiremen.
There are several places within the boundaries of the Badsworth country replete with historical incidents and amusing associations. Half-way between Doncaster and Pontefract is a place called Robin Hood's Well it is by the road-side. The water is most pure; but how long it has been known by its distinctive title must be a matter of suggestion. That it was in repute many ages ago is proclaimed by the circumstance of a dome having been placed over it to preserve its purity by the fourth Earl of Carlisle in the early part ol the last century. The story of Robin Hood and his marvellous exploits in company with Little John is a tale familiar with our earliest memories; and although the name has only been adopted as the hero of a narrative, it is most probable there was some individual whose rambling exploits and devilries were exemplified in connection with his skill in archery in and about Sherwood Forest, extending his trips to Wakefield or Pontefract, where extensive woods and bad roads afforded great facilities for his frolics and depredations. Somewhere near the well bearing his name, Robin Hood is said to have met with and robbed the Bishop of Hereford, and afterwards induced him to dance in his boots; and there is still a spot pointed out where it is declared the exploit took place.
The most convenient place for a visitor to take up his temporary abode is Doncaster, which is also convenient for Lord Fitzwilliam's hounds as well as Lord Galway's. It is is rather surprising that Doncaster is not more generally patronized, for it is an attractive town in appearance, and stabling there is in profusion. Pontefract is nearer to the kennels, being within four miles; but the hotel accommodation is moderate. I have been there once.
ENGRAVED BY E. HACKER, FROM A PAINTING BY Ê. CORBET,
"Sir Roger being at present too old for fox-hunting, to keep himself in action, has disposed of his beagles, and got a pack of stophounds. What these want in speed he endeavours to make amends for by the deepness of their mouths and the variety of their notes, which are suited in such a manner to each other, that the whole cry
makes up a complete concert." And then The Spectator goes ahuuting, "when, as I was at a little distance from the rest of the company, I saw a hare pop out from a small furze-brake almost under my horse's feet. I marked the way she took, which I endeavoured to make the company sensible of by extending my arm, but to no purpose, till Sir Roger, who knows that none of my extraordinary motions are insignificant, rode up to me, and asked if puss was gone that way? Upon my answering Yes, he immediately called in the dogs, and put them upon the scent. As they were going off, I heard one of the country-fellows muttering to his companion, that "'twas a wonder they had not lost all their sport for want of the silent gentleman's crying Stole away!"