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pause to reflect how exaggerated and from squitch or turnips from tares, and ridiculous they would sound to any reason which have already caused the masters of able ear.
several packs of hounds to discontinue He found Mr. Williamson alone in the the public advertisement of their meets. room where Katie was usually ready to Why, then, is fox-hunting, which is genreceive him in hier fresh morning toilet erally regarded as the rich man's or coun. and smile of welcome. The good man try squire's (by no means synonymous wore a puzzled look, and was looking over terms) amusement, still the popular sport his bill with his check-book beside him of the nation ? on the table. He looked up when Lord The reason is to be found, first, in the Erradeen came in, with a countenance manly predilection inherent to our Anglofull of summings up.
Saxon nature for a sport into which the “Yes,” he said, “I am just settling element of danger conspicuously enters; everything, which is never very pleasant. and, secondly, in that it is essentially a You need to be just made of money when democratic sport, wherein the favorite soyou come to London. Katie is away cialistic ideal, “ The greatest happiness this morning by skreigh of day. Oh, yes, for the greatest number,” is in some sort it was
a very sudden resolution! She realized. The red coat — and not it alone, just took it into her little head. And here but the top-boot, or any outward and visi. am I left to pay everything, and follow as ble sign of a fox-hunter- covers a multi. soon as I can. It is breaking up our tude of sins. The law of trespass is pleasant party. But what am I to do? | abolished for the day. The lands of the I tell her she rules me with a rod of most exclusive aristocrat are open to the iron. I hope we'll see a great deal of public, whether mounted or pedestrian; you in autumn, when you come to Auch- and the latter have for some years past nasbeen."
shown a keenness for and appreciation of Walter went back to his rooms with a the sport which, though it sometimes does fire of resentment in his veins, but yet not conduce to its advancement or cona sense of exhilaration quite boyish and summation, is not only remarkable, but ridiculous. Whatever might happen, he also a healthy sign of its continuance in was free. And now what was to be his the future. next step? To play with fire and Julia, But the fact is that fox-hunting — from or to take himself out of harm's way? the cream of the cream of sportsmen de. He almost ran against Underwood as he scribed by “Nimrod,” to the humbler class debated this question, hurrying towards immortalized by "Jorrocks " — spreads
his own door.
a vast amount of pleasure, satisfaction with self and good-will towards others over a wide surface of humanity. All classes enjoy it. The “good man across coun.
try," proud of his skill — prouder still of From The Nineteenth Century.
his reputation, and anxious, sometimes FOX-HUNTING.
too anxious, to retain it – perhaps derives PERHAPS no greater anomaly – no the keenest enjoyment of all, so long as more palpable anachronism — exists than all goes well; but this important proviso fox-hunting in England. Yet it has been shows that his position is not so secure, called, and is, the “national sport.” Why? as regards happiness, as that of his humPopulation increases; the island is filling bler, less ambitious, or less proficient up fast. The limited area unoccupied by brethren. A slight accident, a bad start, human dwellings, machineries, and loco- a sudden turn of the hounds — especially motive facilities of all kinds is still, in if in favor of some distinguished rival on spite of bad seasons, as a rule fertile the other flank — will'send him home with enough to supply some considerable pro- a bitterness of soul unknown to and incaportion of the increasing wants of the pable of realization by those whose hopes nation. Every acre worth cultivating, let are centred on a lesser pinnacle of fame waste land reclaimers say what they will, or bliss, with whom to be absolutely first is cultivated; and impoverished landlords is not a sine quâ non for the enjoyment and tenants alike are less than ever able of a run. to bear the losses inflicted by broken But supposing all does go well. There fences, unhinged gates, and overridden is a burning scent, a good fox, a good wheat, which are the result of the inroads country; he is on a good horse, and has of constantly increasing multitudes of got a good start; then for the next twenty ignorant riders unable to distinguish seeds or thirty minutes (Elysium on earth can
scarcely ever last longer) he absorbs as / gallantly in the front with himself; but much happiness into his mental and phys. this cannot last. His is the post of adical organization as human nature is capa. vantage as well as of honor, and a slight ble of containing at one time. Such a turn to the right occurring simultaneously man, so launched on his career, is difficult with the apparition of a strong “bullfinch, to catch, impossible to lead, and not very or grown-up, unpleached thorn fence, safe to follow; but I will try to do the black as Erebus, with only one weak place latter for a page or two on paper. He is possible to bore through, which is luckily riding on the left or right of the hounds just in his line, turns these left-hand com(say the left for present purposes), about petitors into humble followers, for at the parallel with their centre, or a little in pace bounds are going they cannot regain rear of them, if they run evenly and do their parallel positions. As time goes on, not tail, and about fifty yards wide of similar accidents occur to the riders on thein. The fields are chiefly grass, and the right, and these, with a fall or two and of good size. The hounds are racing,” a refusal, reduce the front line to twomen heads up and sterns down, with very little only, our friend on the left and one rival cry or music - indicative of a scent rarely on the right. A ploughed field, followed bequeathed by modern foxes. The fences by a grass one, ridge-and-furrow and upare, as a rule, strong, but not high — the bill, makes our friend take a pull at his “ stake and bound” of the grazing coun-horse, for the ridges are against” or tries; but ever and anon a low but strong across him; they are high and old-fashrail on the nearer, or the glimmer of a ioned, and covered with molehills, while post on the farther side, makes our friend the furrows are very deep and "sticky,” communicate silently and mysteriously causing even our skilled friend to roll with his horse a fine-shouldered, strong about rather like a ship at sea, and less quartered animal, almost, if not quite, practised riders to broach-to altogether. thoroughbred - as he approaches the ob- As he labors across this trying ground, stacle, on the necessity of extra care or in-hugging the wind,” so to speak, as creased exertion. It is, as the rider knows, closely as he can, keeping the sails of his an “oxer," i.e., a strongly laid fence, equine craft just full and no more, with a wide ditch, and at an interval of about a tight hold of his head, his anxious eye three or four feet from the latter a strong earnestly scans the sky line, where looms single oak rail secured between stout oak out an obstacle, the most formidable yet posts. Better for him if the ditch is on encountered
- a strong, staken-bound the nearer and this rail on the farther fence leaning towards him, which he inside, as, if his horse jumps short, his de stinctively knows to be garnished on the scending impetus will probably break it, other side with a very wide ditch, whether provided it is not very strong and new, in or not further provided with an ox-rail which case a calamity will probably oc- beyond that, he cannot tell. What he cur; but a collision with such a rail on sees is enough – considering the ground the nearer side.inay lead to risky compli. he has just traversed, and that he must cations of horse and rider in the wide go at the sence up hill — to wish himself ditch and fence above alluded to.
safe over. However, with a sense of reOur friend, however, has an electric or lief, he sees a gleam of daylight in it, telephonic system of intercourse with his which he at first half hopes is a gap, but horse (no whip or spur, mind you) which which turns out to be a good, stiff bit of secures him from such disasters, and he timber nailed between two ash-trees. It sails onwards smoothly his gallant is strong and high, but lower than the horse taking the fences in his stride fence; the “take off” is good, and there and now, the crowd being long ago dis- is apparently no width of ditch beyond. posed of, and his course truly laid for two So, thanking his stars or favorite saint or three fields ahead, he has leisure to in that "timber” is his horse's special acspect his company. Right and left of complishment, he “goes for it." It don't him (no true sportsman ever looks back) improve on acquaintance. Now is the are some half a dozen good men and true time for hands. Often — oh, how often ! going their own line; those on the right - have hands saved the head or the neck! perhaps two hundred yards wide of him, and fortunately his are faultless. Withas none but a tailor will ride the line of out hurry, just' restraining his impatience the hounds, and they on their side allow (he has the eagerness of youth), j'et leavthe same lateral space or interval that he ing him much to himself, he puts his does on his. Those on his left are nearer horse at it in a steady hand canter, dropto him, and so far have done their devoir | ping his hand at the instant the sensible
beast takes off to an inch in the right secures him from such a fate. About one place, and he is safe over without even a hundred yards from the place he “stead. rap.
ies” his horse almost to a hand canter till A glorious sea of grass is now before within half a dozen strides of the brook, him.
when he sits down in his saddle, and lets Quocunque adspicias, nihil est nisi gramen
him go at it full speed. The gallant beast aër!
knows what this means, and also by cock
ing his ears, snatching at the bridle, and A smooth and gradual slope with compar. snorting impaiiently, shows his master atively small fences leads down to the that he is aware of what is before him. conventional line of willows which fore. Through the combination of his own shadows the inevitable brook, without accurate judgment and his master's fine which neither in fact nor story can a good handling, be takes off exactly at the right run with hounds occur. Now it is that distance, describes an entrancing parabour hero shows himself a consummate ola in the air, communicating to his rider master of his art. The ploughed and as near an approach to the sensation of ridge-and-furrow fields, above alluded to, Aying as morial man can experience, and followed by the extra exertion of the tim- lands with a foot to spare on the other ber jump at the top of the hill, have rather side of the most dreaded and historically taken the “puff” out of his gallant young disastrous impediment in the whole coun. horse, and besides from the same causes try — a good eighteen feet of open water. the hounds by this time have got rather And now, perhaps, our friend realizes the better of him. In short, they are a the full measure of his condensed happi. good field ahead of him, and going as fastness, not unmixed with selfishness; as
This would the eager and excit. perhaps he would own, while he gallops able novice aye, not only he, but some along the flat meadow, not forgetting to who ought to know better — think the pat his horse, especially as he hears a right time to recover the lost ground, and faint“swish” from the water, already one "put the steam on” down the hill. O hundred yards in his rear; the result, fool! Does the engine-driver_"put the as he knows, of the total immersion of steam on” at the top of Shap Fell? He his nearest follower, which, as he also shuts it off - saves it: the inclin loes knows, will probably bar the way to many the work for him without it. Our friend more, for a "brook with a man in it” is a does the same; pulls his horse together, frightful example, an objectionable and and for some distance goes no saster than fear-inspiring spectacle to men and horses the natural stride of his horse takes him alike, and there is not a bridge for miles. down the hill. Consequently the lungs, As for proffering assistance, I fear it with nothing to do, refill with air, and the never enters his head. He don't know horse is himself again; whereas, if he who it is, and mortal and imminent peril had been hurried just at that moment, he on the part of a dear friend would alone would have “gone to pieces "in two fields. induce him to forego the advantage of his Half a mile or so farther on, having by present position, and he knows there are increase of pace and careful observation plenty behind too glad of the opportunity, of the leading hounds, resulting in judi- as occasionally with soldiers in a battle, cious nicks, recovered his position on the of retiring from the fray in aid of a disa. flank of the pack, he finds himself ap- bled comrade. So he sails on in glory, proaching the brook. He may know it the hounds running, if anything, straighter io be a big place, or be ignorant of its and faster than ever. That very morn. proportions; but, in either case, his tacing, perchance, he was full of care, wortics are the same. He picks out a spotried by letters from lawyers and stewards, where no broken banks appear, and ine duns, announcements of farms thrown grass is visible on the other side, and upon his hands; and, if an M. P., of a where, if any, there may be a stunted certain contest at the coming election. bush or two on his side of it; there he | Where are all these now? Ask of the knows the bank is sound, for there is winds! They are vanished. His whole nothing more depressing than what may system is steeped in delight; there is not happen, though mounted on the best water space in it for the absorption of another jumper in your stable, to find yourself and sensation. Talk of opium! of hashish! him, through the breaking, down of a they cannot supply such voluptuous entreacherous undermined bank in the very trancement as a run like this! act of jumping the brook, subsiding qui- “ Taking stock” again of his company, etly into the water. The bush at least he is rather glad to see (for he is not an utterly selfish fellow) that the man on the alternately, but rather breathlessly, as right has also got safely over the big Ravager and Ruthless make occasional brook, and is going well; but there is ab- recaptures of the fox, requiring strong solutely no one else in sight. It is clear coercive measures before they yield posthat unless a “check" of some duration session. “ Who has a knife?” They occurs, or the scent sbould die away, or can hardly hear themselves speak; and á the fox should deviate from his hitherto fumbling in the pocket, rather than the straight course, these two cannot be over. voice, conveys the inquiry. Our friend taken, or even approached. No such ca. has; and placing his foot on the fox's lamity — for in this case it would be a neck, contrives to circumcise and pull off calamity – takes place; and the bounds, the brush pretty artistically. He hands it now evincing that peculiar savage eager to his companion, and wisely deciding ness which denotes the vindictive mood to make no post-mortem surgical efforts known as “running for blood,” hold on on the head, holds the stiff corpse aloft their way across a splendid grass country for one moment only– the hounds are for some two miles further with undimin-bounding and snapping, and the situation ished speed. Then an excited rustic is is getting serious - and hurls it with a seen waving his hat as he runs to open a final "Whoohoop!” and. “Tear him!” gate for our friend on the left, exclaiming, which latter exhortation is instantly and as the latter gallops through with hurried literally followed, among the now absobut sincere thanks, “ He's close afore lutely uncontrollable canine mob. And 'em; they'll have him soon!” And sure now both, rather happy to find themenough, a field or two further the sight of selves unbitten, form themselves on the a dark brown object slowly toiling up a spot, and deservedly, into a small mutuallong pasture field by the side of a high admiration society, for they are the sole straggling thorn fence causes our now survivors out of perhaps three hundred beaming rider to rise in his stirrups and people, and ecstatically compare notes on shout, for the information and encourage this long-to-be-remembered run. Mean. ment of his companion on the right, while the huntsman first, and the rest of “Yonder he goes !” The hounds, though the field by degrees and at long intervals, apparently too intent on their work to no come straggling up from remote bridges tice this ejaculation, seem nevertheless to and roads. It has not been a run favor. somewhat appreciate its import, for their able to the “point rider," who sometimes leaders appear to press forward with a arrives at the point” before the fox himpanting, bloodshot impatience ominous self, for it has been quite straight, meas. of the end. Yet a few more fields, and uring on the map six miles from point to over the crown of the hill the dark brown point, and the time, from the wholloa object is to be seen in slow rolling pro- away” to the kill, exactly thirty minutes. gression close before them. And now And here, leaving our two friends to * from scent to view,” with a final crash of receive the congratulations (not all of hound-clamor followed by dead silence, as them quite sincere) of an admiring and fox and hounds together involve them- envious field, and to apologize to the selves in a confused entangled ball or huntsman for the burried obsequies of the beap in the middle of a splendid pasture fox, whereby his brush and head - the only two fields from the wood which had latter still contended for by some of the been the fox's point from the first; and more insatiable hounds, and a half-gnawed many a violated heproost and widowed pad or two are by this time the only evi. gander is avenged !
dence of his past existence, I will leave Our friend is off his horse in an instant, the record of deeds of high renown, and, and leaving him with outstretched legs having shown the extreme of delight atand quivering tail (no fear of his running tainable by the first-class men or senior away he had been jumping the last few wranglers of fox-hunting, proceed to dem. fences rather “short”), is soon occupied onstrate how happiness likewise attends in laying about the hounds' backs with his those who don't go in for honors — who whip gently and judiciously (it don't do are only too bappy with a “pass,” and for a stranger to be too energetic or dis. what endless sources of joy the hunting. ciplinarian on these rare occasions), and field supplies to all classes of riders. In with the help of his friend, who arrives short, to paraphrase a line of Pope, to only an instant later, and acts with simi
See some strange comfort every sort supply. lar promptitude and judgment, succeeds in clearing a small ring round the dead From the very first I will go to the very fox. " Whoohoop !" they both shout | last; and among these; strange to say, che
very hardest riding often occurs. Whenment or dispensation makes every rider 'I have found myself as I often have contented and happy in his own way. and as may happen through combinations Among these is to be found the “hard” of circumstances to the best of us – rider who devotes his attention entirely to among the very last in a gallop, I have fences, and never looks at the hounds at observed a touching spectacle. Men, all. Consequently, he never sees a run, miles in the rear, seeing nothing of the but is quite satisfied if he jumps a certain hounds, caring nothing for the hounds, number of large fences, and gets a corre. riding possibly in an exactly opposite di- sponding average of falls in the day. The rection to the hounds, yet with firm deter- late Lord Alvanley, seeing one of these mination in their faces, racing at the gentlemen riding furiously at a fence notin fences, crossing each other, jostling and the direction of the hounds, shouted to him cramming in gateways and gaps. These Hi! bi!” and when the surprised and men, I say, are enjoying themselves after somewhat indignant sportsman stopped their manner, as thoroughly as the front his horse, and turned to know what was rank. These men neither give nor take the matter, pointed to another part of the quarter, but ride over and are ridden over fence and added calmly, “ There's a much with equal complacency, without a hound bigger place here!” This man, too, thorin sight or apparent cause for their vio- oughly enjoys himself, gets plenty of exlent exertions and daring enterprises. ercise, and at the same tiine provides For though the post of honor may be good means of livelihood for the local in front, the post of danger is in the surgeon. Then there is the violent rider, mêlée of the rear. Honor to the brave, who would be annoyed if he knew that he then, here as in the front. Here, as in the was generally called the “Squirter," who front, there is perfect equality. Here, gallops, but doesn't jump; though from also, as everywhere in the field, there are his severely cut order of clothing, general the self-assertion, independence, commu- horsiness of appearance, and energetic nistic contempt for private property, and behavior in the saddle, he is apt to impose complete freedom of action which consti- on those who don't know how quiescent tute the main charm of the sport. No ques. and harmless the first fence will imme. tions of precedence here; every man is diately render bim. His favorite field of free to ride where he likes. The chimney. operations is a muddy lane, where he galsweep can go before the duke, and very lops past with squared elbows and defiant often does so. Here, as in the front, prece- aspect, scattering more mud behind him dence at a fence, gap, or gate is settled on than any one horse and man ever before the lines of the
projected or cast back upon an astonished good old plan,
and angered public. Through the gate, That he should take who has the power,
if any, at the end he crams his way, reAnd he should keep who can.
gardless alike of such expressions as
* Take care !” “Where are you coming The late Mr. Surtees, whose “Jorrocks," to?”. - an absurd question, decidedly, “ Sponge,” and “Facey Romford ” are the object being evident - and also very immortal characters, used to say that the properly disregarding and treating with tail of a run where he himself almost al- utter contempt the man (always to be ways rode, was the place for sport; that, found in a gateway) who say's
There is in addition to the ludicrous incidents i no hurry! a gratuitous falsehood, as his there occuring so frequently for his en- own conduct sufficiently proves. In the tertainment, human nature could be stud- open field beyond he rushes like a whirl. ied with the greatest advantage from that wind past any one who may be in front, position. And indeed he was right, for and, so long as gates or only small gaps there is more to study from. And with are in his line, pursues a triumphant what varieties ! the half hard, the wholly course. But he has no root, and in time soft, the turbulent, the quiescent, the of temptation is apt to fall away: that is, practical, the geographical, and the politi. the moment a fence of the slightest magcal or digestion-seeking rider, these men nitude presents itself. Then he fades are to be studied from the rear, because away - disappears, and is no more seen; few of them are ever seen in front; and yet he, like the ephemera, las had his day, nevertheless they return to their homes though a short one, and returns to his justified fully as much in their own opin: well-earned rest contented and happy. ion as he who has in point of fact, and Then there is a character for whom I undoubtedly, "had the best of it” all have always had a sincere respect and through the run. This merciful arrange sympathy — the “hard funker." Than