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TUFTS UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
3 9090 014 534 412
Vi/ebster Family Library of VetenYiary Medicine
Curnmings School of Veterinary fvledicine at
200 VVestboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536
F. V. WHITE & Co., 14, Bedford Street, W.C.
COLONEL A. P. F. C. SOMERSET, C.B.,
IN GRATITUDE FOR VERY MANY PLEASANT GALLOPS
ENJOYED WITH HIS
UNRIVALLED PACK OF STAGHOUNDS,
THIS LITTLE BOOK, BY HIS KIND PERMISSION,
IS INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR.
I HAVE an old and battered silver wine funnel in my
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possession, which belonged to my forefathers, who were
all ardent fox-hunters. Many a time have I thought
what tales it could tell if it could only speak, for it
has, doubtless, been present at many a hunting dinner
in the days of yore, when people were more particular
about the condition of port than they are nowadays.
The thoughts it conjures up in my mind are of a very
pleasant nature, and to it is attributed the conception
of this little work.
^ 1/ ../ra
Mr. Goodbery is standing with his back to the fire,
the tails of his well-worn red coat thrown over his arms.
Above him hangs a portrait of Peter Goodbery, his
father, who lived in Foxley Grange before him and
hunted the Foxley Harriers to the day of his death.
The present Mr. Goodbery is one of the old school, and
the sporting instincts of the father have been inherited
by the son. It is natural, therefore, that it should be
our hero's favourite pursuit to follow the hounds.
Mr. Goodbery is a stout gentleman of comfortable
means, and still more comfortable appearance. To be
exact, his income is ^2,500 per annum, derived chiefly
from land. He troubles himself little about business
matters, and has a dread of married life, as he has
seen so many of his companions, jolly good fellows
when single, become rather sober and thoughtful after
entering the lists ; consequently, he is rather apt to
shy off" the fair sex. Although he has been talked to
by his married friends and recommended to follow suit^
he always thinks they are like the fox who lost his
brush, and so he means to keep clear himself.
Foxley Grange is a charming place, with its many
gables and picturesque windows peeping out through
the ivy and westeria. The old house dates back to
early in the sixteenth century, and is built partly
of brick and stone — a roomy house with an old-
6 Huiiting in the Golden Days.
world air pervading it. The gardens, laid out in
the Dutch style, still bear signs of their original
grandeur, although they are now somewhat neglected.
No doubt Court ladies have graced the walks with their
presence, for the villagers speak with veneration of the
quality that once resided within its hospitable portals.
The shape of the beds recalls my lady's flower garden,
and a broken sun-dial covered with lichen and an old
stone seat bearing unmistakable signs of " anno domini "
help to arouse pleasant memories of by-gone days.
On entering the house, the first thing that claims
attention is a magnificent oak staircase, made so wide
and strong that no doubt the architect built it with
a view of allowing enterprising horsemen to ride up
to bed on horse-back, which was a favourite amuse-
ment in the olden days, so 'tis said. The hall is laid
with good stone flags ; opposite the door is a generous
fireplace, where a couple of large logs blaze on the
andirons and make things cheerful at Christmas time —
for our forefathers did a good deal of entertaining in
their halls, where the young folk could make as much
noise as they liked, without disturbing the old people
over the cards and negus.
Then what cellars there are under that house !
Enough room to stow away a regiment of soldiers ; but
put to better account than that, for our ancestors were
a very independent set, and liked to be their own factors.
There are innumerable cupboards, rooms and recesses,
used for pickling, baking, brewing, and the storage of
apples and cheeses, also a large vault-shaped room well
stocked with wine, for it is a very necessary thing to
have ample room for laying down port, as three-bottle
men like their wine to be old and crusted. The kitchen
is well worth a visit, its quaint ingle-nook and hearth
Hunting in the Golden Days. 7
giving an air of home and comfort to the house. Down
the chimney hangs a series of pot hooks, where the iron
saucepan is suspended that contains pot-luck for the
hungry hunter. From a beam across the ceiling there
dangles a row of fine hams in canvas bags, which Mrs.
Stores, the housekeeper, has cured at home, for has she
not the chimney where all that appertains to the
mystery of bacon curing is conducted ? What a
comfortable old settle, too, with a high back that
keeps off draughts and makes things cosy. This
is the seat frequented by the gamekeeper or groom,
who, after a long day with their master across country
or through the turnips, may enjoy a meal there by
invitation. All these things were part and parcel ot
country house life when agriculture was in a more
prosperous state than in the present day, and land-
lords were able to live on rents received from their
The reception rooms of the Grange are not exactly
spacious, but there is plenty of room for the dispensa-
tion of English hospitality, and a charming suspicion of
former times still lingers about them, recalling the
days of hair powder, high heels, and ruffles. Strange
tales are told of mysterious noises heard in the
corridors at dead of night — the rustle of silk gowns and
jingle of spurs being described as some of them. An
affrighted guest, who was on a visit to the Grange for a
fortnight, hearing these sounds, packed his box at
break of day, vowing that important business compelled
him to return to town at once. Mr. Goodbery, however,
has never heard any of these noises, although he has
lived in the house all his life, and he attributed them to
the cold pork and pickles his friend had been eating for
supper. No doubt, once in bed, Goodbery sleeps too
8 Hunting in the Golden Days.
soundly to hear anything, for a hard day's ride after
hounds is conducive to peaceful slumber.
Of late years our host has been unable to walk
quite as well as he could wish whilst shooting,
and so has had recourse, good sportsman that he
is, to a shooting cob, " for," says Goodbery, " 1 7 stone
for Shanks's pony is a good deal to carry." When
shooting one day, being mounted as usual, and coming
across some heavy land that lay on the side of a
steep hill, he called on his fellow sportsmen to keep up
in line, forgetting that he was mounted and they on foot.
The poor fellows did their level best to keep the line
with him, upon which he remarked, with a wicked
twinkle in his eye, *' I say, you fellows, this makes you
huff and puff a bit, don't it ? Come on, my lads, keep
in line ! keep in line ! " But to our tale.
Air. Goodbery is going hunting to-day. Not that
this is an unusual event in his life, for he takes
the field about four days a week. This morning he
is expecting Oldwig, a hunting friend, to call for him
on the way to covert, and on looking out of the
window he sees that worthy riding up the drive on
his hunter. Goodbery is blessed with a coachman
who is always on the spot when wanted, and of course is
there to hold the stirrup whilst the guest dismounts,
should he so desire.
"Welcome," exclaims the hearty host in a joyous
voice, " and let me give you something, for the
weather looks somewhat threatening and you know the
old maxim, * He who would the dart of death defy, should
keep the inside wet, the outside dry.' " With these words
he produces two large silver tankards, bearing by their
dents probable evidence that they have been used at an
earlier date in settlement of some difference of opinion.
Hunting in the Golden Days. 9
These he causes to be filled with good nut-brown ale,
for Goodbery believes in moderation early in the morn-
ing, and never drinks anything stronger than ale before
Oldwig remarks that they have no time to waste, and
must be moving if they do not wish to be late ; so
wishing themelves good luck, they are soon on their
way to the meet. Our hero mounts by the aid of a horse-
block, for he is no feather-weight, as we have already
hinted. Oldwig sometimes jocularly remarks to his
friends, " What does it matter to a man like Goodbery
if he weighs more than any one else in the hunt ? He's
g"ot good hands and judgment, a long purse, and to my
mind, his weight rather tends to steady his horses at
their fences than otherwise."
As they jog along to the meet they fall in with
several other sporting people, all bound in the same
direction. Amongst them is Miss Richmond, mounted
on a white Arab and escorted by a negro servant in a
gorgeous livery and riding a similar animal.
" Good morning. Miss," says Oldwig, raising his hat.
^' Glad to see you are going to honour the hunt to-
day with your presence." At which Miss Richmond
smiles and says nothing,
"Might your father be coming out this morning?"
" Yes, papa is coming ; in fact, here he comes," as an
old-fashioned gentleman, mounted on a sporting-looking
chestnut, turns the corner.
" Talk of angels, sure to see them," says Oldwig.
*' Good morning to you, Richmond. How are you ? "
" Well, not quite as well as I might be ; rather a heavy
dinner last night at the Green Dragon, where they pro-
posed the Master's health too often. But no doubt a
lo Huntmg in the Golden Days.
gallop after a good straight-necked fox will soon put me
right. Anyway, Oldwig, I shall look to you to give me
a lead to-day, as my nerves are a little shaken, and I
know you never let them get far away."
Now, if there is one thing that Oldwig likes more
than another it is a little soft solder. As a matter ot
fact, be it whispered, our friend is a bit of a funker,
and a deal better across country after dinner, when the
wine has been freely circulated, than at any other time.
But this is only a detail.
By this time they have arrived at the meet, the
rendezvous being an old-fashioned manor house, snugly
nestling amongst high elm trees. The rooks, flying
high, are quite in a commotion to-day, as they are un-
accustomed to seeing so many red coats about, and fear
for their safety.
The hounds are in a meadow in front of the house^
surrounded by a group of admiring bumpkins. The
majority of the sportsmen are partaking of breakfast.
Let us follow Goodbery and Oldwig, who have just dis-
mounted and are about to enter the house. Within all
is bustle and excitement. The kindly host, with beaming
face, is cutting away at a great side of beef, assisted by
half-a-dozen laughing maids who are further augmented
by a couple of red-waistcoated servants (doubtless pro-
cured from the stable), for the strain on the establish-
ment requires all the power available.
" How are you, Goodbery, my boy ? Take a seat next
to me," shouts the host, with the voice of one who is
accustomed to speak to people out of doors. " Come, what
will you take — rabbit-pie with forced-meat balls, cold
chicken and tongue, pigeon-pie, or a bit of that loin of
pork, fed on the premises, it's rare stuff to stick to your
ribs, my lad."
Hunting in tJie Golden Days. 1 1
Our friends do full justice to the meal, for it must be
remembered that hunting in the time of which I am
writing was different from the sport of to-day. In those
days the fox was sometimes started before sunrise, and
hunted till sundown, when the jovial huntsmen returned
to their dinner, which they made the principal meal of
Several farmers come in and are welcomed in the
same boisterous manner, and after all have satisfied the
inner man they mount their hunters again and take
There is a good field to-day and a large attendance of
What sport, I ask, is there to be equalled to that of
fox-hunting, with its healthy exercise, change of scene,
sociability, and excitement ? Was it not Lord Palmer-
ston who said the finest thing for the inside of a man
was the outside of a horse ? Personally, I don't think he
was far wrong, I don't want to be sour, but very different
is the hunting of the present day of which some young
men think so much, from the sport of our grandfathers,
in the days when railways were unheard of, and every
face was known at a meet. Nowadays many people go
out for the sake of pace and jumping fences rather than
for love of the good old sport of fox-hunting. How
many of our modern sportsmen know the name of one
hound from another, or which are most reliable or throw
their tongue in cover ?
Imagine yourself living at the early part of the
century, when our forefathers set out at daybreak with
their friends and neighbouring squires, having heard of
damage done to hen roosts ; they would unkennel their
hounds and try to get on the drag of the old fox, and
slowly hunt up to where he was sleeping off the effects of
1-2 Hunting in the Golden Days.
his midnight feast. What hound work ! What music
from those old-fashioned, deep-throated packs ! The
huntsmen knew every hound and cheered them on by
their names ; many long runs they had, and surely it was
better sport than running into a fox after twenty minutes,
as with present day hounds, for very few foxes now-
adays will stand up before them longer if there is a
Talking about long runs reminds me of one that took
place in 1793. Here it is, taken from a good old
journal : —
" On the I ith January last an old dog fox was found
in Perrin Wood in the County of Kent, by T. D.
Brockman's hounds. He ran through the following
parishes : — Postdene, Saltwood, Newington, Paddles -
worth, Acrise, Limminge, Eltham, Denton, Barham,
Kingstone, Bishopsbourne, Hard, and Bridge vStreet,
forming a zig-zag of 32 miles, which was run in two
hours and twenty-one minutes to the last-mentioned
place, where the old dog fox was forced to surrender a
life which he endeavoured to preserve by that strength
and agility unequalled by his race."
Many of the packs in the early days were trencher
fed, and on a hunting morning were collected by a man
who went through the villages blowing a horn. I know
an old man who still takes a keen interest in all matters
connected with sport, although he has grown too old
and feeble to do much himself When a boy he man-
aged to persuade his father, rather against the latter's
will, to keep a hound. One morning, when working in
the forge, the old dog, who was lying on the floor, heard
the sound of the horn in the distance.
** Father," said the boy, ** shall I let Trueman out ? "
"You go on with your work," was the father's reply,
Hunting in the Golden Days. 13
** and let the hound bide. It costs enough to fill his belly
now without a' hunting."
Presently the horn sounded again, this time nearer.
There was a crash and a sound of broken glass ; the
old hound had jumped through a lattice window.
*' Blame it," said the father, " it would have been
cheaper to let old Trueman a' gone a' hunting than a'
Yes, times were different then. We now hear of
the golden farmer and wonder what sort of a man he
could have been. An innkeeper at Bagshot changed
the name of his sign from Golden Farmer to
Jolly Farmer to make it more comprehensible to the
uninitiated. In the days of which I am writing, wheat
fetched ^40 a load, and a farmer could afford to send
his corn to market with a team of six horses with good
harness and bells. I once remarked to a present-day
farmer what a good old custom it was to have bells
on the horses, and asked him why he did not have
them on his teams.
" Why, lor, sir," he replied, *' I wouldn't do it for
something. If my landlord saw me doing that, he'd
think I was making a fortune, and would raise my rent
So much for his landlord !
But I am digressing from my story. The hounds are
now in cover, their merry music proclaiming the pleasure
the exercise affords them. Dr. Viles, an impatient
little man, rides up on his flea-bitten grey, with a lean
head and neck, and asks the Squire if he thinks they
will find in this spinney. He does not wait for an
answer, but rides off to another corner of the cover, and
asks a similar question of another sportsman, and again
rides off before an answer can be returned. But his
14 Hunting in the Golden Days.
character is well known ; there is no harm in him, and
most of his friends know that no answer is required.
He is an open-hearted little man, and many of his
patients have heard him speak against medicine,
although it is his calling. " What you want," he would
say, *' is plenty of horse exercise and a little dieting.
Don't take too much medicine ; it only wears out the
stomach. When I first began to practise I used to be
much fonder of prescribing draughts and pills than
I am now. But as we grow older we grow wiser, and
we begin to learn something when we get one leg in the
By the silence in covert it is clear that there is a
blank draw, so the hounds are taken off to Jobblin's
Wood, about half a mile away. Here they are more
fortunate, for almost as soon as they get into cover, they
proclaim they have found their fox. Away tear
the heavy weights, Goodbery and Oldwig included, for
is it not half the battle to get well away ? Crack goes
the top rail as a blundering three-year-old gives
the timid ones a chance. The hounds are running
very keen on a strong scent, and although the field are
not mounted on such mettle as is to be found in the
highflying country of Leicestershire, yet they are on
good, useful horses, made, perhaps, more for endurance
than pace, and most of them safe conveyances into the
bargain. " When you get over forty, however sporting
you may be," Goodbery is fond of saying, " the
less falls you have the better, although in my time I
have had my share, and more, too, for the matter of
Up comes our host of the Manor House, mounted on
a cocktailed bay, that looks a hunter all over, and
worthy of the noble-looking man who bestrides him.
Hunting in the Golden Days. 15
" I think they are making for Tilling's Wood," says
he ; " let us get on, or we shall lose the best part of it."
They cross a magnificent park, where sheep are
grazing amongst the fine oak trees. The hounds run
close up to the mansion, as though blaster Reynard had
half a mind to stop and seek the kindly shelter of its
portals. But no, away they stream across the grass,
jump the park railings into the coach road to an open,
breezy common, where they are at fault : but only for a
moment, for hark ! a leading hound owns to it. Jack,
the huntsman, cheers them on, and they are again away
in full cry. Goodbery, in moments like these, feels that
he could stand up in his stirrups and shout at the top
of his voice, so great is the pleasure and excitement of
the chase. But no doubt had he done so, he would be
taken for a lunatic, which, under the circumstances,
would perhaps have been a reasonable verdict for any
onlooker to have arrived at.
Crossing a few low-water meadows with a nice little
brook, that heavy weights can all manage and chat over
during their dinner, the sportsmen mount a steep
hill. On arriving at the top, they find that the fox
has run along the ridge till he has reached a large
plantation, where he hopes to baffle his pursuers. The
hounds, however, are bent on having his blood, they vow
he shall die ; but it is not all over yet, for having got his
wind outside this plantation he makes another gallant bid
for life by sinking the hill and crossing the country that
lies below. Some heavy ploughs here have to be encoun-
tered which find out the weak places in the horses. Next
comes a nice jump for a clever hunter, a bank with a
ditch on the take-off and landing side, where a couple
of horsemen bite the dust, but they are soon up again
and seem more eager than ever to show it was only a
1 6 Hunting in the Golden Days.
mistake, and that they could do much bigger things and
not come to grief.
Some of these little doubles are very tricky and need
some doing. There was a good old sporting farmer
in Hertfordshire who had one constructed on his farm
so as to be seen from his dining room. In this way
he often managed to have some good sport when
the hounds were running in his neighbourhood.
There were always two or three riders caught in the
trap if the fox led them over it ; indeed, our friend
was often heard to declare that it furnished quite a
diversion for his wife and daughters, who might other-
wise have found the country monotonous during the
dull and dreary winter months.
Every run must have an end ; after crossing a
couple of ploughed fields, Master Reynard turns round
and gallantly faces the pack who shortly demolish him.
Jack, the huntsman, is soon dismounted and, holding the
fox aloft, he performs the obsequies, surrounded by the
A FEAV weeks after the foregoing events, Footit, the
butler, enters the room and hands Mr. Goodbery, on an
old silver salver, an important-looking envelope, bearing
a large red seal with the crest of a mailed arm and
sword. Letters, in those days, were greater rarities
than in the present day, and Mr. Goodbery hastily
opens the envelope, withdraws the contents, and reads
as follows : —
'' Buckskin Hall,
"December 17th, 17 — .
" My dear Goodbery, — We are having our usual
Christmas gathering this year on the 24th, and are
looking forward to seeing you. No ceremony. You will
meet with the same party as hitherto. Get here as early
as you can, as you know we dine at five, and bring your
appetite with you. All news till we meet.
" Your sincere old friend,
From this moment Mr. Goodbery is in a fever of
excitement, and at once communicates the contents of
the letter to Mrs. Stores, his housekeeper, who is busily
engaged the whole day looking out suitable clothes
for her master's visit to Buckskin Hall. The gold
eye-glass and snuff-box, though not in general use,
are produced for the occasion. " Who can tell,"
1 8 Hunting in the Golden Days.
says Mrs. Stores, " but that there will be young bucks
with whom he will have to contend, and it is as well
to carry on these occasions as many guns as possible."
Still it must be admitted at the same time that
Mrs. Stores has a great horror of Goodbery's visits,
for she well knows the traps laid by widows for
wealthy bachelors, and has no liking for the idea of
having a mistress to lord it over her where she has been
in sole control for close on a quarter of a century.
However, the necessary preparations are completed at
last, and the family coach is ordered out for the
A grand old carriage it is, hung on a perch with
ample hammer-cloth, with a strong flavour inside of
must and moths, the coat-of-arms emblazoned on the
panels, and a pistol-case behind as a warning to gentle-
men of the road that weapons are carried in case of
need. There are doubtless many good sportsmen in the
present day who drive mail-phaetons hung upon a perch,
but do not know the original cause of construction of
that old-fashioned part of the vehicle. It was con-
structed for the purpose of keeping the pole from oscil-
lating too freely and thereby damaging the right leg of
The coachman is dressed in his best livery, his
flowing skirts, well-curled white wig, and flesh-coloured
stockings giving an air of importance to the equipage.
Everything is got ready in good time, for the pair of
heavy shires, although they look capable of drawing a
laden wagon, must go at their own pace, for the roads
are heavy and the journey long.
Mr. Goodbery's trunk is safely strapped on the pon-
derous coach, his footmen mount behind, and the two
good horses are at length fairly on their journey.
Hunting in the Golden Days. 19
It is lovely weather for a trip of this kind, especially
with so pleasant an object for its destination. Mr.
Goodbery is pitched about like a parched pea on a
drum, as the heavy carriage ploughs through the deep
They soon reach the summit of a hill, whence they
command a view of the surrounding scenery. On the
top of this hill is erected a gibbet, where the remains of
a highwayman hang in chains, the creaking of the rusty