Knightley William Horlock.

The master of the hounds online

. (page 1 of 40)
Online LibraryKnightley William HorlockThe master of the hounds → online text (page 1 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


^SSS&r QV^\D ^£§£^''




5 /

C/3 ^


QJJ M£) ^£^"

QJJ ^D ^££££

t ^)#H< g







• ' **w ^H^Kc®-





BY " scrutator;'


^ kirn








My dear L6ed,

By the following Tale, in which the characters are
depicted from real life, I have endeavoured to show that Fox-
hunters are not men of one idea only, or of one pursuit ; and
that Masters of Fox-hounds do not, as they have been grossly
misrepresented, live for Fox-hunting alone. As an exemplifica-
tion of the contrary being the fact, I could adduce numerous
instances ; but need go no further than point to your Lordship,
now occupying the first position in the hunting world, as Master
of the Quorn Country, and may affirm, without flattery, that
the encomium bestowed on your great predecessor, the celebrated
Hugo Meynell, may with equal truth be applied to yourself : —
" He was, indeed, as much the rqxmdu of the elite of Grosvenor
Square — as much at home at St. James's — as he was at Quorndon
or at Ashby pastures." However bold and adventurous in the




field, Fox-hunters of the present day, like the knights of old,
are distinguished for their chivalrous devotion to the fair sex,
fully appreciating the agrements of polished society, with due
attention to the other duties of social life ; of which the sceptic
may be satisfied, who will follow the gay Meltonian from the
field to the fireside, when

fifxa tcuq iravo7r\iaig OpaavicapSiav aypevrriQ tKOverai.
In the hope that your Lordship may not consider your kind
patronage ill conferred on this unpretending work,

I have the honour to remain,

Very faithfully yours,

The Author.




It was on the morning of the 1st of November, 18 — (the fox-
hunter's opening day for the season), that a gay party of sports-
men, in their bright scarlet costume, were gathered round the
breakfast table of Mr. Beauchamp, of Bampton House, a
gentleman of high descent, and large landed property, in one of
the midland counties. Bampton House being of large dimen-
sions, many friends were invited the previous evening to dine
and sleep there, in readiness for the ensuing gala day ; accord-
ingly, about half-past nine on that auspicious morning (for
so it proved, although not exactly with " a southerly wind and
a cloudy sky"), a goodly assemblage of choice and daring spirits
thronged the hospitable board of Mr. Beauchamp, all eager to
dispatch their morning meal, and prepare themselves for the
coming fray.

On the sideboard, besides the usual dishes on such occa-
sions, of ham, beef, cold fowls, game, &c, divers bottles of
cherry brandy, Curascoa, and Maraschino, stood invitingly

Of this goodly company, whilst so engaged, we may take
this opportunity of noticing a few of the most distinguished
characters ; and first of all, as standing by fox-hunting etiquette
at the head of his brothers in pink, the Master of the Hounds,
William Beauchamp, now in his twenty- fourth year (living
with his father), to whom the management of the pack was
now entrusted. He was tall in stature, though rather slightly
formed, yet of great activity and strength, and a fearless though
careful rider. He possessed a frank and manly countenance, by

A 2


many called handsome, with a fine curly head of dark hair,
which, of course, in the eyes of the fair sex passed for some-
thing ; and withal, not to dwell too long on a description of his
personal or mental qualities, he was a general favourite with all
classes, high and low, rich and poor ; and to his decided popu-
larity the cause of fox-hunting in that district was undoubtedly
indebted for its progressive influence.

Although young to occupy the position of master of fox-
hounds, he had been brought up from boyhood to the profession,
and initiated by his father into the mysteries of the noble
science, which, truth to say, proved a far more attractive study
than Latin or Greek ; and yet William Beauchamp had made
such progress in the dead languages at the university, that he
took his degree with flying colours, and, as his friend Bob
Conyers used to affirm, he would have been in the first flight,
but for a prolonged liver attack, which at last became so serious,
that he was recommended by his doctor and tutor also to give
up reading, and take again to the saddle ; " and a deuced good
change, too," said Bob, "or there had been a capital fellow

Mr. Beauchamp, the father, was one of the old school —
cheerful, generous, kind-hearted, and much given to hospitality.
In personal appearance he was about the middle height, well
formed, and of a fresh complexion ; he had been one of the
handsomest men of his time ; but when this tale commences,
having nearly reached the age of man, he had become less
elegant in form, and feeling his years, handed over all authority
in the hunting establishment to his only son, between whom
and his father the most affectionate cordiality existed, proceed-
ing from a similarity of disposition and pursuits. One daughter,
Constance, a pretty girl of nineteen, completed the family circle,
Mrs. Beauchamp having been dead some years.

Constance, although highly accomplished in arts and sciences
feminine, was a superior horsewoman, possessing, with a beau-
tiful seat and hand on horseback, nerve sufficient to mount and
manage the most refractory animal of the genus equine. Her
figure, rather under than over the general standard of women,
was cast in Nature's most perfect mould ; her features regular,
and of the Grecian order, with a profusion of dark, glossy hair,
and finely-arched eyebrows. In society she was rather reserved,
although of deep and affectionate feelings ; but with her friends
and relations joyous and communicative. Utterly devoid of
affectation, she was generally beloved by her neighbours, and


the most particular pet of her father and brother, as well as of
Bob Conyers, to whom I must next introduce my readers.

Bob (as he was usually called) was a bachelor, aged about
forty, tall, stout, of a merry countenance and goodly mien, pas-
sionately devoted to his favourite amusement of fox-hunting :
and it may suffice to say of the individual man, that he had
the entree of nearly every gentleman's house in the county, in
which he was ever greeted with a most welcome reception from
the seniors, and with rapturous glee by the junior members of
the numerous families ; in short, no dinner party was considered
quite complete without the presence of this highly- favoured
son of ISTimrod. He was also greatly patronised by the ladies,
having a good voice and tolerable ear for music, being also a
graceful dancer and cheerful partner in a ball-room ; and in lack
of other occupation during the dead months, that is (in Bob's
vocabulary) the summer season, he was occasionally seen patiently
sitting down at a lady's work-table, with a piece of worsted-
work in hand ! Bob possessed a most versatile genius. He
could discuss • politics with the members of parliament, quote
Latin and Greek with the scholar, divinity with the clergyman,
small talk with the young ladies ; and drink tea and play cards
with the old ones. Shakespeare, Byron, and Moore, his favourite
poets, were ready at his beck and call ; — yet he was a first-rate
sportsman and rider notwithstanding, a capital shot, good
cricketer and billiard player, a formidable opponent with the
gloves, and perfect master of the broad-sword exercise. With
these and a few other accomplishments and embellishments of
mind and person, it was a matter of wonder to all his friends
that Bob remained still in single blessedness, particularly as
his penchant for women and children was so notorious. But
the secret lay here ; — Bob was too poor and considerate to
marry any woman without money, and too proud to marry any
one with.

Opposite to Bob at the breakfast table (and opposite to him
in almost every particular) sat Richard Vernon, the eldest
son of Mr. Vernon, of Leighton Hall, the nearest neighbour,
although not the most agreeable one, to Mr. feeauchamp.
Richard, although at school and college with his son, was the
reverse of William in disposition and feelings ; and the two
young men, although from early acquaintance long and inti-
mately known to each other, could never be considered friends.
Richard was a man of the world — gay and dissipated ; insinu-
ating in manners, agreeable in conversation, and strikingly


from the sea, and the sharp tap of reckless night-
birds that flung themselves at the glasses. It con-
cerned a man called Dowse, once an intimate friend
of Fenwick, now a waterman at Portsmouth, believ-
ing that the guilt of blood is on his head, and find-
ing no rest either at Portsmouth or Gosport Hard.

. . . ( And if anybody was to come to you and
say, " I know the Javva currents/' don't you listen
to him; for those currents is never yet known to
mortal man. Sometimes they're here, sometimes
they're there, but they never runs less than five
knots an hour through and among those islands of
the Eastern Archipelagus. There's reverse currents
in the Gulf of Boni— and that's up north in Celebes
— that no man can explain ; and through all those
Javva passages from the Bali Narrows, Dutch Gut,
and Ombay, which I take it is the safest, they chop
and they change, and they banks the tides fust on
one shore and then on another, till your ship's tore
in two. I've come through the Bali Narrows, stern
first, in the heart o' the south-east monsoon, with a
sou'-sou'-west wind blowing atop of the northerly
flood, and our skipper said he wouldn't do it again,
not for all Jamrach's. You've heard o' Jamrach's,

' Yes ; and was Dowse stationed in the Bali Nar-
rows ? ' I said.

' No, he was not at Bali, but much more east o'


them passages, aiid that's Flores Strait, at the east
end o' Flores. It's all on the way south to Australia
when you're running through that Eastern Archi-
pelagus. Sometimes you go through Bali Narrows
if you're full-powered, and sometimes through Flores
Strait, so as to stand south at once, and fetch round
Timor, keeping well clear o' the Sahul Bank. Else-
ways, if you aren't full-powered, why it stands to
reason you go round by the Ombay Passage, keeping
careful to the north side. You understand that, sir ? '

I was not full-powered, and judged it safer to keep
to the north side — of Silence.

' And on Flores Strait, in the fairway between
Adonare Island and the mainland, they put Dowse
in charge of a screw-pile Light called the Wurlee
Light. It's less than a mile across the head of
Flores Strait. Then it opens out to ten or twelve
mile for Solor Strait, and then it narrows again to
a three-mile gut, with a topplin' flamin' volcano by
it. That's old Loby Toby by Loby Toby Strait, and
if you keep his Light and the Wurlee Light in a line
you won't take much harm, not on the darkest night.
That's what Dowse told me, and I can well believe
him, knowing these seas myself ; but you must ever
be mindful of the currents. And there they put
Dowse, since he was the only man that that Dutch
government which owns Flores could find that
would go to Wurlee and tend a fixed Light.
Mostly they uses Dutch and Italians; Englishmen


of the other "beauties, threatening to kick Dick out of the

" ' Harkee, Markham .' ' said Dick ; ' that you can't do — so
don't try that game ; but as breakfast is half over, and we have
ten miles to covert, I will give you twenty minutes to dress
and finish your breakfast, and not a minute beyond that time
will I wait.' The Captain, relieved of his difficulties, soon,
made his appearance down stairs ; and here he comes, with his
well-curled locks and white scented handkerchief in hand, as if
he were entering a ball-room. Confound the fellow ! say I,
and all such nondescripts ; begad, if a fox smelt half as strong
as he does, hounds would never be off the line. There, now he
is in his element, making fine speeches about nothing to Con-
stance. How charming — how bewitching she looks in her
riding costume ! a perfect Diana ! and all that sort of trash ;
but there is one comfort, Will, Con has too much good sense to
be taken now with such confounded flummery. A year ago
she thought differently, until I took the liberty of opening her
eyes a little to the Captain's true character \ but, saving his
epaulettes, and being heir-expectant to a baronetcy, Yernon is
a much more dangerous man with young girls than the life-
guardsman, for both are playing the same game. Dick is a
devilish handsome fellow, with lots of small talk and soft sawder,
and such winning, flattering ways with women, that, by Jove !
Will, he is a dangerous fellow, and not to be sneezed at ! "

" Perhaps not, Bob ; but what is he to me ? Constance, I
know, views him in his proper light, and has known him now
too many years to fall in love with him \ moreover, her pen-
chant lies in another direction."

"It was not of Constance I was then thinking," replied
Bob, " but of another young pet of mine, Blanche Douglas."

" Well, Bob, and what of her I "

" Only that Markham and Yernon, both being hard up for
cash, are laying pretty close siege to the heiress already ; and
she is so young, artless, and warm-hearted, that I am terribly
afraid — and it keeps me awake some nights in thinking — that
Yernon bids fair to win the prize, if a certain shy, diffident
voung fellow, called Will Beauchamp, does not come to the

" Pshaw, Bob ! you know I am not a ladies' man, and, like
yourself, will never marry any girl for her money. Besides, I
should be obliged to plead my cause in a parody on the words
of the ' Pirate's Serenade ' —


' Forgive my rough mode, unaccustomed to sue,
I woo not, perhaps, as your soft dandies do ;
My voice has been tuned to the cry of the hounds,
When vriih shrill notes and screeches the coppice resounds.'' "

"Well, Will Beauchamp — and yet I'll warrant that any
woman of sense would prefer an honest, plain-sailing, plain-
spoken fellow, like yourself, to all the dandies in Christendom."

" No, no, Bob — women like and value all those little atten-
tions and soft whisperings, which Will Beauchamp has neither
the time nor the inclination to bestow ; for a false tongue, in
man or hound, is my abomination, and I will never condescend
to natter man, woman, or child."

" And who ever thought you would, Mr. Will 1 none of
your friends, I'll engage ; aud least of all Bob Conyers : and
that's the reason I want you to tell Blanche Douglas that she
must not think of marrying either Markham or "Vernon ; a
hint from you, Beauchamp, will be enough ; she will take your
advice ; for, to my knowledge, your opinions are highly
regarded by the heiress."

" There you are mistaken, Bob ; women in affairs of that
kind will run riot and have their own way ; and the more I
were to disparage Markham or Yernon, the more should I be
favouring their cause, and be looked upon as an impertinent
puppy into the bargain, for presuming to dictate to the young
lady in the choice of a husband."

" Well, Beauchamp, perhaps you are right ; for young
ladies, like young fillies, are ticklish animals to handle, and will
bolt sometimes in the contrary direction you wish them to go.
It will not do, perhaps, for you to touch on this subject ; but as
I have dandled her on my knee when a child, she shall know a
bit of my mind at all events."

" Only with one proviso, Bob — that you never allude to me
in any way, direct or indirect, or I will never forgive you."

" Yery well, Beauchamp ; that you are a confounded sensi-
tive fellow, I know full well ; but I know this also, which you
don't seem to know yourself, that you think deeply sometimes
of Blanche, and there is a peculiar expression about your eyes,
and hers also, when talking together, which has struck me more
than once."

" Fancy, Bob, fancy ! only a rather wide stretch of your
discursive imagination ; but I am wedded already, and here
comes Charley with my family."

" Ay, and as handsome a lot as ever the sun shone on ; so


now to horse, Will ; but I shall meet you to-morrow, at Har-
court's, I hope 1 "

" Perhaps you may, as Constance goes, and has accepted for
two, which means, I believe, herself and me."

While William Beauchamp and Conyers had been discussing
these matters, sotto voce, in a bay window at the extreme end of
the room, other visitors had been thronging in, to pay their
respects to the old squire and the ladies ; and sherry, with fine
sparkling October, was freely circulated amongst the strangers
and farmers on the lawn j when, on the appearance of the
hounds, all eyes were at once directed towards them.

" Ah, Beauchamp ! " exclaimed Sir Francis ; " there is a
sight worth riding a hundred miles to view ; a splendid pack
indeed ! we can't beat you in Leicestershire at that game.
Magnificent animals ! but I should think a trifle too big for
our fences, where a smaller hound can creep through."

" Well, perhaps it may be as you say," replied Mr. Beau-
champ, " although our hounds go at their fences like greyhounds ;
they are too highly bred for creeping where they can jump ;
and in our stiff vale country, with high banks and double
ditches, and the lands, after heavy rain, half under water, I
think small hounds would never do the work ours do — at least,
not in their style ; and with fox-hounds, style, in my opinion,
is everything."

" Right, my old friend, you are quite right ; style is the thing
with fox-hounds. Harriers may hunt a fox to death, but they
can't finish him off in the same style as fox-hounds."

"Well, then there is another reason why I prefer large
hounds (not heavy, lumbering, throaty brutes, whose heads are
so heavy that, when once down, they can't get them up again),
but with clean heads and necks, and straight, muscular limbs,
active and lightsome as tigers ; they have power and strength
to work over our heavy country, and come cheerfully home
after the hardest day, with courage unabated, and sterns well
up. Besides, every man has not the brains to breed a big,
clever hound ; and I dislike little men, little women, little
horses, and little hounds, although they are all very well in
their way, but? not to my taste."

"Well, Beauchamp," replied Sir Francis, "you have suc-
ceeded to the utmost of your wishes, for I never yet saw so fine
and handsome a pack of fox-hounds as that now before me, and
if they can go the pace, they are quite perfection."


" That you will see also by-and-by, Burnett, if the scent

" Come, then, let us mount and away, for I see your son is
already in the saddle, and anxious to begin."


The breakfast-room was cleared in a trice, and many polite
offers made by Fred Beauchamp, Yernon, and Markham, to lift
Miss Constance on her beautiful bay, which stood' at the hall
door, with Bob Conyers carefully examining the girths and

" Thank you," she said, " for your kind attentions ; but my
friend Mr. Conyers would be highly offended were I to accept
any other hand than his, which was the first to place me on

"Well, Con," said Bob, as he adjusted her habit, after
vaulting her into the saddle, " you look like your father's own
child this morning, and I'll back your seat and management
on horseback against all the riding-school-taught misses in

" Ah, Mr. Conyers," she exclaimed, laughing ; " that is a
little vanity on your part, because you were my instructor."

"Well, Miss Beauchamp," interposed Yernon, "Conyers
may be justly proud of such a highly-finished and graceful

" Thank you, Mr. Yernon, for your compliment ; but fine
speeches are thrown away upon a fox-hunter's daughter, which
I told you once before this morning ; " and lightly touching her
horse with the whip, he sprang instantly away, capering and
kicking, to the consternation of Markham and those near ; but
Constance never moved an inch from her seat, and bounded off,
with Bob at her side, laughing and patting her horse on the
neck, delighted with his gambols.

" By gad, Yernon ! " exclaimed the Captain, " that's a
deuced fine horsewoman, sits like a jockey ; but her horse's
heels were devilish near finding out whether I had any brains
in my head."

* Not many there, I'll answer for," replied Yernon, " and
none to spare ; " saying which, he galloped away to overtake


Miss Beauchamp. The whole cavalcade were now on the move.
Will Beauchamp with the pack, and his two whippers-in, taking
the lead, and close behind them Mr. Beauchamp, Sir Francis
Burnett, and old Sir Lionel Markham, who had only just

"Why, Markham," exclaimed the squire, "we gave you up
as not intending to honour us this morning, and Constance said
she was sure you must be very ill, not to patronise her breakfast
table on our gala day."

" No, Beauchamp ; thank goodness I am hearty and well, but
had some confounded long-winded business letters to write and
post to-day ; and thinking it very doubtful where our Parkwood
fox might lead us, I sat down and answered them at once ; but
they spoilt my appetite for breakfast. However, here we are,
just in the nick of time to see Will's darlings before they dash
into covert. By Jove ! Beauchamp, they are beauties, indeed ;
their coats like satin, and the very acme of condition, ribs well
denned, flanks light, and how gingerly too they step along, like
dandies in cork-heeled boots, heads here, heads there ; by Jove !
sir, there'll be a scent to-day."

" So say I, Markham ; and when once away, they will bid
you and me good bye."

" Never mind, my old friend ; knowledge of country is half
the battle, and we shall, I hope, be there or thereabouts at the
finish. Now then, away they go, slap dash into covert ; one
wave of Will's hand, and not a hound is to be seen outside.
Beautifully done ! Yoic over, my lads, that's all — and away goes
Charley, sneaking along like his namesake, quickly but silently,
to the further end of the covert. Quick, open the gate into the
drive, and now see how they dash, and fly over the stuff — heads
up, too, by Jove ! they wind him — there's a fox on foot, I'll
swear. Hark ! Bounty has found him."

" Hoic ! hoic ! " cries Will. In a minute the chorus is
complete, every tongue proclaiming the glad tidings that a fox
is found.

" By Jove, what a crash ! they are close to his brush — and
now Will's scream, he is over the drive, mark how they dash,
and fling across into the high wood, in their wide-spreading
column, carrying everything before them. Go he must, or die."

"Now, Burnett," cried Mr. Beauchamp, "put in the spurs,
and away to the opposite gate, at the further end of the drive ;
we old fellows will follow."

The Leicestershire man was gone in a moment, and had just


left the wood, when Mr. Beauchamp suddenly exclaimed, " Stop,
Markham, the hounds are at fault, and I hear Charley's holloa
and rate, hark back again. Just as I feared — those coffee-
housing cigar fellows have headed the fox back into covert.
Ay, ay, now they are at him again ; he is still holding to the
outskirts of the wood, but the horsemen prevent his breaking.
Now, Markham, steady a moment, they are turning, and we
shall see them cross the drive before us. Look, yonder he
goes," as at a couple of bounds the fox cleared the drive ; and
with a scream which made the welkin ring, the old squire
rushed to the spot, and, cap in hand, cheered his darlings on
the scent.

"Now, Markham, we must forget Our age, and stick to
him ; this fox means mischief, and will break at the lower end ;

Online LibraryKnightley William HorlockThe master of the hounds → online text (page 1 of 40)