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bays are closed with ice, the system of spearing fish is carried on with much success after the following plan: The fisherman being previously prepared with a small house from four to eight feet square, mounted on runners to make its removal easy, and so constructed as to exclude all light except what comes up from the ice below, arms himself with an ordinary fish-spear, an axe, and an assortment of small decoy fish, and proceeds to some part of the bay where the water is from three to six feet deep, cuts a hole in the ice, adjusts his house directly over it, and, with his spear in one hand and the line attached to the decoy fish in the other, awaits the coming of his prey. Every object in the water is seen with entire distinctness, though from the exclusion of light in the house above the fisherman is invisible to the fish beneath. The decoy is simply a small wooden fish, loaded sufficiently with lead to cause it to float naturally, and which, by drawing upon the line attached, is made to imitate the motions of a fish playing in the water. Sometimes the fish comes up slowly, as if suspicious that the decoy is not exactly what it appeared, and passes near by, as if to make a more accurate observation; it is then he is struck with unerring aim. Another time a streak is seen to flash across the opening, a quick jerk is felt upon the line, and away goes the decoy beyond all recovery; if, however, the line is not broken, the fish usually returns more slowly, as if to ascertain the cause of his disappointment; he is then easily captured. Let us now turn to the noble science :
Fox-hunting, like all other sublunary pursuits, has undergone a change, and, unquestionably, in many instances, one for the better. The chase can now be carried on with comfort from London or from almost any provincial town; hounds are within the reach of everybody, whether residing in the metropolis or in the provinces; nor is it necessary to be called by candlelight, and to remain out until night has set in, as used to be the case in the days of our forefathers. In bygone times, hunting men lived entirely for the "noble science,' and never thought of coming up to London during the season until frost or snow had given horses, hounds, and foxes a temporary respite. Then were the travelling chariots, the barouches, or britchkas, ordered, and a journey to town commenced. We know many instances of men travelling up from Leicester, Melton, Cheltenham, or Leamington, as fast as four horses could convey them, and, during the night of the day they arrived, finding a thaw set in, they would start at midnight or very early the next morning, so as not to give up a day's hunting. It occasionally happened that when there was a thaw in London it had not extended to the country, so the ardent and impatient Nimrod found himself back at his hunting quarters with no other pursuit, as far as the chase was concerned, except passing a few hours "on the flags" in the nearest kennel. Hunting has not been annihilated by railroads, as was foretold; on the contrary, the rail has proved of the greatest avail to those who always hunted, while it enables hundreds who had never previously seen a pack of hounds to join in this exhilirating and manly sport. It was only last December when, after passing a day at the hospitable house of a gallant general at Leamington, I was leaving by an early train, that I witnessed a sight that surprised me-it was a
special train engaged to convey hounds, huntsmen, men, and hunters from the Spa to Rugby, and bring them back at night. This was going to cover in a luxurious way, for a man might enjoy his cigar while perusing the morning paper. Far different was it from the system pursued when I hunted at Leamington some three-and-thirty years ago, when those who had not good cover hacks had to go ten or sixteen miles to cover in a slow, rickety fly, and to ride their hunters home, sometimes after a long run of an hour.
The English foxhound of the present day may be termed perfect, and great credit is due to those whose judgment in regulating the crosses and the selection of sire and dam have brought the breeding to this pitch of excellence. Not only is every good quality to be regarded, and if possible obtained, but every fault or imperfection to be carefully avoided. Independently of shape, which combines strength with beauty, the highest quality in a foxhound lies not so much in the keenness of his nose, as his being true to the line and a stout runner. should be patient when the scent is cold, or whenever the pack are at fault. The greatest fault a hound can have is skirting, babbling, running mute, or running riot; the lash may cure the latter, but skirting is often innate and incurable. It will be seen, then, that a breeder of the hound has to guard against propensities as well as faults. A celebrated writer (and better authority no man need require) has said: "In modern times the system of hunting is much improved, and so much more attention is paid to the condition of hounds and their style of work that in this enlightened age the master of hounds thinks it a reflection on his judgment if one hound in his pack is detected in a fault." Beckford tells us: "There are necessary points in the shape of a hound that ought always to be attended to; he has much to undergo, and should have strength proportioned to it: Let his legs be straight as arrows, his feet round and not too large, his shoulders back, his breast rather wide than narrow, his chest deep, his back broad, his head small, his neck thin, his tail thick and bushy, and if he carry it well so much the better," The speed of foxhounds has considerably quickened within the last fifty years; and, could old Mr. Beckford come amongst us again, he would be as much surprised at the pace of the present day as he would at the late hours of meeting and the thorough-bred hunters he would meet at the covert side. The hounds of bygone days were much less adapted for speed, but we question whether they had not quite as keen a sense of scent as those of the present time. It is now the fashion to appreciate a run according to its sharpness, and a three hours' chase over a cold scent, with a kill at the end, would be accounted a "dead slow" affair; whilst a burst of five-and-thirty minutes at a racing pace over a grass country without a check, is reported in all the sporting papers as a brilliant run;" the difference being that formerly gentlemen went out for the pleasure of hunting, but now they meet for the purpose of riding.
While upon the subject of hunting, I cannot refrain from referring to the handsome conduct of the Prince of Wales in presenting his beautiful pack of harriers to the gentlemen and farmers residing in the neighbourhood of Windsor. The gift proves that his Royal High
ness's heart is in the right place, and every lover of manly sports must feel grateful not alone at the prince's liberality, but for his consideration for those who enjoyed a gallop with this favourite pack.
We have digressed; return we to the English hunter, which may be truly designated an indigenous animal, for on no other spot of the earth is such a horse to be found. The stature of the horse is no more absolutely fixed than that of the human body, but the medium height is considered as best for hunters-say fifteen hands two or three inches. Temper and mouth are essential points, for in the absence of either no man can be said to be well mounted. The former not only contributes greatly to the pleasure and safety of the rider, but a horse of a fine temper takes less out of himself than one of a violent nature, especially in a country where there is much fencing. Indeed, fretful horses are proverbially soft, which caused Shakespere to compare them to false friends :
"Hollow men, like horses not at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle;
A hunter should have courage, energy in all his paces, but not too much of what is generally called action; his stride in his gallop should be rather long than otherwise, provided he bring his hinder legs well under his body; and the movement of the forelegs should be round, but by no means high. The test of action, however, in the hunter is in what is termed "dirt," and no animal can be said to be perfect who cannot go well in the heaviest of ground.
A perfect hunter should have a light head, well put on, with a firm but not a long neck; lengthy, and consequently oblique shoulders, a very capacious chest, and great depth of girth; a long muscular forearm, coming well out of the shoulder, the elbow parallel with the body, neither inclining inward nor outward; a short cannon or shank, with large tendons and sinews, forming a flat, not a round leg; an oblique pastern, rather long than short, and an open circular foot; the back of moderate length, with well-developed loins and fillets, and deep ribs, making what is termed by sportsmen a good "spur place." From the oins to the setting-on of the tail the line should be carried on almost straight, or rounded only in a very slight degree. Thus the haunch will be most oblique, and will produce a corresponding obliquity in the thigh-bone, which formation is peculiarly characteristic of the well-bred horse. The dock of the tail should be large, and the buttocks close together. The thighs should be muscalar and long, rather inclining inwards, with large lean hocks, the points appearing to stand somewhat behind the body, which will bring the lower part of the hind-leg or shank under it. The shank, fetlock, and pastern of the hind-leg should exactly resemble those of the fore-leg, as also should the foot.
The legs should appear short, from the great depth of the chest, and well-proportioned substance of the body or middle-piece. Anyone possessing such an animal as we have described, may congratulate himself upon having the beau ideal of a perfect hunter.
Although it has been said that the "chase is the sport of British Kings," it certainly is not true as regards some other potentates, for Frederick the Great of Prussia thus writes: "The chase is one of the most sensual of pleasures, by which the powers of the body are strongly exerted, but those of the mind remain unemployed. It consists in a violent exertion of desire in the pursuit, and the indulgence of a cruel pleasure in the death of the game. It is an exercise which makes the limbs strong, active, and pliable, but leaves the head without improvement. I am convinced that man is more cruel and savage than any beast of prey; we exercise the dominion given over these our fellowcreatures in the most tyrannical manner.
"If we pretend to any superiority over the beasts, it ought certainly to consist in reason; but we commonly find that the most passionate lovers of the chase renounce this privilege, and converse only with their dogs, their horses, and other irrational animals. This renders them wild and unfeeling; and it is highly probable that they cannot be very merciful to the human species. For a man who can in cold blood torture a poor innocent animal, cannot feel much compassion for the distresses of his own species. And besides, can the chase be a proper employment for a thinking mind?
"A Sovereign may undoubtedly be allowed this pleasure, provided he indulges it with moderation, and for the purpose of relaxing his mind from the many serious and often disagreeable exertions he is necessarily engaged in. It would be unjust to deny a Prince every species of recreation. But can a Monarch enjoy a greater pleasure than that arising from a wise and benevolent Government, from the prosperity of his dominions, and from the encouragement and protection of every useful art and science? A Monarch who finds higher pleasures necessary to his happiness is much to be pitied."
Now we quite agree with the King as to the latter part of his remarks: albeit we cannot endorse the former part. The charge of cruelty is mere cant or sheer ignorance; for nothing can be easier to prove that the pursuits of the field are perfectly consistent with humanity. They are natural to man. "By chase our long-lived fathers earned their food," and we, their sons, earn the health and manliness of character the chase bestows. Animal pursues animal throughout the creation: the stoat, for instance, pursues the rabbit for hours, and eventually runs into him; the pike, the tyrant of the water, destroys a large portion of the smaller finny tribe, and is not particular if a duckling falls in his way; foxes luxuriate upon poultry; hawks, in their fell swoop, pounce upon pigeons, or partridges; otters live upon fish; wild cats make sad havoc in a well-pressed covert; spiders get flies within their meshes; dogs kill rats; and the tamest of domestic "tabbies" cause the death of many a beautiful canary, cooing dove, melodious bullfinch, and devoted love bird. Why should man alone
then be debarred from hunting the fox, hare, or rabbit, shooting the gaudy pheasant, and nut-brown partridge, or fishing for the salmon, the pike, or the trout? If hunting, shooting, and fishing were done away with, neither the fox, the hare, the rabbit, game of all sorts, and the denizens of the rivers and streams would be better off than they now are. For the consequence of the abolition of hunting would be the annihilation of the vulpine race as predatory nuisances: the feathered tribe would equally be destroyed, as being the farmer's enemy. In short, were field sports put an end to, vulpicides would flourish, poaching would increase to an alarming extent, for indiscriminate slaughter could not fail to be the result.
There are many anecdotes on record illustrative of the instinctive cunning and sagacity of the fox. Mr. Jesse, in his "Gleanings," gives the following:
"The old Duke of Grafton had his hounds at Croydon, and occasionally had foxes taken in Whittlebury Forest, and sent up in the venison cart to London. The foxes thus brought were carried the next hunting morning in a hamper behind the Duke's carriage, and turned down before the hounds. In the course of this plan, a fox was taken from a coppice in the forest, and forwarded as usual. Sometime after, a fox was caught in the same coppice, whose size and appearance were so strikingly like the one taken at the same spot, that the keepers suspected it was the fox they had been in possession of before, and directed the man who took him to London to inquire whether the fox hunted on such a day had been killed or escaped; the latter having been the case, the suspicion of the keepers was strengthened. Some short time after, a fox was again caught in the same coppice, which those concerned in the taking were assured was the identical fox they had bagged twice before; to be, however, perfectly able to identify their old acquaintance, should another opportunity offer, previous to his third journey to town, he had one ear split, and some holes punched in the other. With these marks, he was despatched to London, was again hunted and escaped, and within a very few weeks was retaken in the same coppice, when his marks justified the keepers' conjectures, in spite of the seeming improbability of the fact. It is with some concern that the conclusion of this singular account is added, which terminates in the death of poor Reynard, who was killed after a very severe chase, bearing upon him the signals of his former escapes, and which ought to have entitled him to that lenity and privilege which was formerly granted to a stag who had beaten his royal pursuers."
I will quote another instance: "A fox which had been frequently hunted in Leicestershire, was always lost at a particular place where the hounds could never recover the scent. This circumstance having excited some curiosity, it was discovered that he jumped upon, and ran along a clipped hedge, at the end of which was an old pollard oak-tree, hollow in the middle; he crept into the hollow and lay concealed until the alarm was over. His retreat, however, being discovered, he was
driven from it and killed,"