Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

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Cole's Lodge made straight for Launde Park Wood. It then seemed



a certainty that he would enter this stronghold of foxes, but when
some quarter of a mile from it hounds swung sharp to the left, and R

racing over the Hog's Back passed the Quakers Spinneys, and cross-
ing the Leicester and Uppingham road, plunged into Wardley Wood,
another grand wood always full of foxes. Here one expected a rest
after forty minutes at top speed over a grand line of country, but
not for a moment did the pace slacken till, after leaving Upping-
ham to the left and the Stoke End Woods to the right, we reached
the valley of the Welland and a check occurred. For the next
ten minutes hounds could only travel slowly, but a hallo forward

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near Thbrpe-by-Water got us on better terms again, and they
ran on down the water meadows close to the river till they came to
Harringworth and crossed under the big Midland Railway viaduct.
He now left the valley and made up for Barroden Heath, where some
cold ploughs again brought hounds to their noses; but they stuck to
him, and getting on to grass again drove along well across Luffenham
Heath into the coverts which lie at the east end of it. This was a
very ticklish time, as there were fresh foxes afoot ; but all went well*
and after five minutes or so our dead-beat fox left the covert and
staggered on almost to Tixover Grange, where hounds running into


view killed him in the road along which he had run for the last 300
yards. From Oakham Pastures to Tixover Grange is nine miles as
the crow flies, but as the run was roughly speaking three parts of a
circle, the distance travelled was between two and three times as
great. After very careful measurement on the map I cannot make
out that fox and hounds ran less than twenty-three miles. The time
was 2 J hrs. For the first forty minutes both pace and country were
the very best. Some of us, including the Master and the huntsman,
were lucky enough to get our second horses at Harringworth. By
making straight through Uppingham they had practically ridden

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the diameter of the circle while we were doing the arc, and had saved
some six or eight miles. I can hardly believe that we ran the same
fox all through, for the pace and country we travelled in the first
forty minutes was enough to kill ninety-nine out of a hundred
foxes; it seems to me probable than our original fox ran on into
Launde Park Wood, and that it was a fresh one that took hounds
sharp to the left for Wardley and the remaining two-thirds of this
wonderful run.

In addition to a lot of other excellent sport, the Cottesmore
have brought off two first-class runs this season. On 5 December
they found a fox in Skeffington Wood, and pointing for Tilton
village they ran him as far as the osier beds, then turning left-
handed they ran to Knowsley; again bearing to the left the next


p)oint was Keythorpe Wood, and holding straight on they crossed
the Leicester and Uppingham road at Finchley Bridge. Leaving
the big woodlands of Loddington and Launde well to the left they
crossed the Hog's Back and the valley beyond near Cole's Lodge,
and killed their fox handsomely in the open, on the high ground
about half-way between Prior's Coppice and Owston Wood. Unlike
most great hunts, the latter part of this run was much the fastest,
and hounds cannot have covered less than sixteen miles.

On Tuesday, 23 January, after a very frosty morning which

caused the meet at Loddington to be postponed till twelve o'clock,

hounds reached Prior's Coppice about 2 p.m. Two foxes were soon

away ; for a few minutes the chase lay in the direction of Braunston

MO. cxxviii. VOL. xxvL—March 1906 T

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village, but then bore left-handed by Haycock's Spinneys and over
the ridge into the valley at Cole's Lodge. Hounds ran well along
the brook to Leigh Lodge, where they were at fault, but a hallo
on the Hog's Back soon put them right, and from there to the finish
they never checked. Right well they ran towards Belton, then
left-handed past the Quakers almost to Wardley Wood, and on by
Ayston to Preston down into the valley and across the brook, over
the great Martinsthorpe Pasture, where we got a view of him as he
crossed the skyline ; then bearing to the right he recrossed the
ridge between Manton Gorse and the village, and almost reached
Wing. Something must have headed him here, for he turned short
back, and passing the station almost retraced his steps to the brook,


where he lay down, and at one moment hounds were all round
him. He was not done, however, and by a supreme effort reached
the gorse a few fields further on. Unfortunately for him there was
no fresh fox to come to his aid, and after knocking him about in
covert with a tremendous cry for a few nrtnutes, hounds forced him
into the open, and killed him close to the village about half a mile
from the covert. A most delightful hunt over a perfect riding
country ; time, about one and a half hours ; distance as hounds ran,
fourteen miles.

Like everything else, both foxhounds and fox-hunting have
probably changed a good deal in the last hundred years. From all

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one can gather, and from the evidence of contemporary paintings,
the foxhound of the present day is both stronger and faster, and
hunts with more dash and drive, than his ancestor, and will therefore
kill his fox considerably quicker on a good scenting day ; but on the
other hand he has not so fine a scent and is not so good at line
hunting, so cannot stick to him as long on a bad scenting day.
These alterations in the foxhound are due to artificial selection and
breeding, and to the striving of most Masters to attain a type of
great beauty and of great speed and staying powers, all of which
the modern high-class foxhound most undoubtedly possesses.

These aims and objects have been greatly encouraged by the
Peterborough Hound Show, where make and shape is, of course,


everything, and no notice can be taken of hunting qualities. I had
a very interesting conversation a few months ago with a friend who
now hunts the wild boar in the forests of Central France with a pack
of English foxhounds.

He told me that the French hound was very like the English
hound of a hundred or more years ago, that he had a splendid
nose and was a wonderful line hunter, but that the superior size,
courage, and drive of the modern English hound made him an
infinitely better animal for the very rough work of boar-hunting.

The fox being a wild animal and only affected by the laws of
nature, is probably no better and no worse than he was a hundred or
a thousand years ago; he is, however, subject to circumstances,

T 2

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and where he has a nice comfortable billet with plenty to eat and
is seldom disturbed, he is apt to put on a good deal too much
weight, and to be in no condition to afford a fine run. The foxes
of the Wardley, Stoke End, and Allexton district are notoriously
difficult to kill ; there are plenty of them, and they are hunted
almost every Saturday by either the Cotte
Hounds, so they are as fit as Grand Natio
terrible amount of catching.

Whether the sport is now as good as, or
it is impossible to prove and futile to argue
who love it, do our best to help it and keep it

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Once upon a time the Motor Union of Western India promoted a
Reliability Trial for touring cars from Delhi to Bombay. This event
came off between 26th December, 1904, and 2nd January, 1905.
Strangely enough (at first sight) it attracted far more than local
interest, inasmuch as entries were forthcoming not only from all
parts of India, from the Punjab, from the Calcutta side, from
Southern India and Ceylon, but also from Europe. Apart alto-
gether from the value of the prizes, which was by no means incon-
siderable, it appears that Western manufacturers were at last in some
degree alive to the possibilities of the Indian trade. In fact, out
of thirty-four entries no fewer than twelve came from Europe.
Now, whatever else the results of these motor trials showed, apart
from all the squabbling and bickering that followed the award, they
taught the fact, and brought it home to every motor man who
participated, that here was a new land for himself and his machine,
in which to besport themselves. It taught us, that all other func-
tions of a motor-life being fulfilled, there remained one purpose, one
object yet in view — " the exploration of this amazing " India.

My good fortune led me to enter my Wolseley, brought me to
Delhi for the start, and to Bombay for the finish. No matter what
troubles and worry and bother I met with on that thousand miles of
road, I shall never forget and never regret any of my experiences.
Last year, in this magazine, I was permitted to detail a motor tour

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in Ceylon, and in the summary to that article I recommended the
jaded European motorist to bring himself and his car and explore
some of the relatively little known parts of that " Pearl of the
East." Now our little island is almost crowded with motors of
all sizes, one or two owners of which have confessed to me that
they were first attracted to this beauty-spot by the photographs that
accompanied my plea for their presence. Hence, if in the course
of the few following notes on the Indian road I can impress on
European owners the immediate desirability of transferring them-
selves, bag, baggage, and car, to the '* Shiny," I shall die my motor
death in peace, feeling that I have done my duty to my fellow
automobilists. I would urge them to come over to " that new land
which is the old," instead of fooling away their time down on the
Riviera or other places where folk congregate in wintry weather.
« « ♦ « *

Smoke the pipe of peace or the weed of satisfaction, all you
unfortunates in England. Imagine for a while that there is the
usual thick fog outside, in the motor house the water in your engine
is freezing, and to-morrow you will find your cylinder heads cracked.
Or think of yourself driving over the usual wretched, greasy road,
with the rain coming down in torrents, as it only can in England.
Imagine yourself suddenly pulled up, when travelling at your usual
speed of say nineteen and a half miles an hour, by an irate officer of
the law, and see yourself a few days later mulcted in heavy fines,
your licence endorsed for the last time, and your motor career ended
for a long period. Then, as the master changed the scene when
he took his audience such a short distance as to France, what
time King Henry V. invaded that fair land —

. . . with imagined wing our swift scene flies,

In motion of no less cderity

Than that of thought. . . .

Play with your fancies : and in them behold

yourself at Delhi on Christmas Day.

You will get up with the sun — that is to say, at about seven
o'clock — and you will have to help to prepare the car ; you may even
have to polish the brasswork, for unless you are early in this open
garage you will find all the coolies already engaged elsewhere on the
score or more of motors that have arrived for the trials. There is
hoar frost on the ground and it is mighty cold, but the sky is as
blue as the Mediterranean, and the air has all that crispness that is
so characteristic of Northern India in the cold weather ; so you must
stamp about and swing your arms or work hard if you are going to
keep warm. By-and-by you can have breakfast before a blazing
wood fire, and after that I will take you out in a small car through

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the bazaar to seethe sights. First we will spin along the " Ridge,"
and get a bird's-eye view of all the city with its minarets and towers
glistening in the sunshine. Note especially the golden cross on the
little English church. Famous it is, you remember, because the
mutineers never got the range of it, try as they would. Afar off you
see the Jutnma River, with its broad bed spanned by a thread, which
you shall know later is the bridge. Look the other side, that is
where the Durbar Camp was pitched, and away to the right is the
Viceroy's house ; but that was a poor show compared with the Motor
Durbar of 1904-5. Now, along to the right, past the Tower and the
Club, we will go into the town, escaping the big red Fiat car by a





paint's thickness as she comes humming under the Cashmere Gate.

Next I will take you into the bazaars, where the big cars cannot go,

along the crowded Chandi Chowk, and up to the Jumma Musjik;

but after exploring the latter you will agree with me there are finer ^f

mosques in the world. You will, perhaps, remember the little mosque

at Sidi Okba, the one Domini loved so well far away out in the

"Garden of Allah." How much more impressive was that age- \ ^

stricken little House of God ! Whilst for sheer size there is the big • j

mosque at Damascus, with the three towers, all ready for the descent

of the Prophet and his party. No, we will leave the Jumma Musjik :

it is too white and glaring ; we will drop down to the Fort. This of

course is impressive, if only on account of its frowning walls ; but,




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all the same, one feels rather sorry for the poor devils who have to
live in it in the hot weather, for Delhi then is nearer the other place
than to Paradise.

But all this time I am forgetting the road, which is what we
came out for to see. So this Christmas afternoon we will accept an
invitation and ride in Mr. S. F. Edge's big Napier, leaving behind
our snorting little Bazaar car ready for its run to-morrow, for as you
say —

Fetid and foul are the city streets,

O, let me once more feel

The ample wind in my shoulder parts.

Here, then, is an opportunity, for the genial driver of this great green
monster tells me he wants to give his machine a final run, just to
ease her valves and loosen her sticky parts. Goggles, all the warm
clothes you have got, rugs, and a stop-watch will be all we shall
want. In this land, at this time, there will be no other road users
and no other road interests, as there are no suburban villas round
this town ; and not only that, but the word has gone forth that for a
while the " fire-car " rules the road, so speed and dust will incon-
venience no one but ourselves. Out over the Jumma Bridge and
on to the Agra road, there in front of you lie some 140 miles of dead
straight and level road. Two cars can pass each other easily, and
perhaps at a pinch even three, and in addition at the side is a further
soft bit of road, where the tender-footed camel treks along. On
either side the road is bordered with trees, tamarind and acacia,
and beyond them the cotton fields. Those who have tramped along
those roads with marching troops will tell of the monotony of the
scene where field and sky meet and never an object breaks in on the
evenness of the view. A brazen sky, too, it seems under those con-
ditions ; but now we see that country from the point of view of fifty
miles done in the hour, instead of about three, and the outlook is not
the same. Then, from the snugness of your car you can say to those
who hate the eternity of the Indian road —

Let the valley lanes seem good to those

Who love a guarded way ;
The place of my soul is the wind-scoured down,

Where the red sun burns all day.
And O, the road, the gallant road,

Let me follow and touch my friend —
The great green snake of turf that glides

With never a coil nor bend.

And then this Northern Indian air — how it whips the blood, and
puckers the skin, and makes the whole body tingle with exhilaration!
To one who lives at a constant day-and-night temperature of about

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eighty this means life, fresh life ; for, as Byron says, though he little

knew at the time,

And there is nothing gives a man such spirit,
Leavening his blood as cayenne does a curry,
As going at full speed.

" Are you ready to take the mile ? " shouts the driver ; *' you
shall see 'what she can do," and so he lets her out in a way not
permitted, perhaps, since she won her owner the cup in the Paris-
Vienna Gordon Bennett Race. Oh, it does not matter what the stop-
watch showed, it was a minute and a bit for every mile. *' Haven't
had the clutch in properly yet," shouted the driver as he slowed up


to a camel-cart half a mile away, " too much traffic." Still, sixty
miles an hour or thereabouts means speed. Henley knew a little
about speed, but he ought to have experienced it on an Indian road,
then we could have understood his lines in " The Song of Speed " : —

Speed and the range of God's skies,
Distances, changes, surprises ;
Speed, and the hug of God's winds,
And the play of God's airs ;
Beautiful, whiipsical, wonderful,
Clear, fierce, and clean.
With a thrust at the throat,
And a rush at the nostrils.

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And then home again, with a last rush through the Indian twi-
light to get in before dark, a real Christmas dinner, a game of
Bridge over the Yule log blazing high up the big stone chimney,
and so to bed.

Boxing Day saw some thirty odd cars start out on the road
that we travelled over yesterday. In three or four hours you arrive
in Agra, 140 miles away ; that is to say if you are lucky enough to
be in the big Napier. If you come with me in '* Ambrosine ''
you will take longer, but you will get there all the same. In
either case you will go and see the Taj, more especially as for


that particular night a full moon had been ordered by the ever-
thoughtful secretary. After pondering awhile in the dear old garden
over this — the most marvellous monument to a woman that the
world has ever seen — you can come back and tell me that it is very,
very beautiful ; more beautiful than the alabaster models of it they
sell for a few annas, and I shall believe you. But before you turn in
that night, I would have you note that this day you have motored
over a road as splendid as any Route Nationale you have ever seen.
At distances of about every three hundred yards stood a policeman,
armed with his grandfather's sword or his great-uncle's ancient
musket. Never a pi-dog nor any obstacle did you meet on that

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stretch of road. It was a mighty bunderbastj and in no other
country in the world would such a bunderbast be possible.

After Agra, the southern road leads to Gwaiior — that strong-
hold set on a hill — isolated, overawing, frowning on the country
of the plain. Here regal hospitality will be shown you by the
Maharajah Scindia, and you will be a royal guest. But what of the
road ? Its character has changed since we left Agra. It is red
sandstone now, but its surface is still like a billiard table ; it is as
straight as ever, and it leads due south. On either side the country
is seared and serrated ; mostly it is a desert land, and no one would
desire to be lost in it, for then there could not even be a mirage to


cheer the forlorn one and urge him on to new exertions. But the
road goes relentlessly through it all, over hills and down to broad
rivers that are crossed by special ferries or bridges of boats. For
this time only the bunderbast has had them covered axle deep in
rushes, and going across one of these strange bridges, with the boats
swaying about in the stream under the unaccustomed strain, makes
one feel sure that some connection will part, and that self and car
will end up in the river.

And so you will go over yet another 700 miles of this road that
keeps the sun always in your face. In the evening-time you shall think
over it, and at the end you will have difficulty in recalling the names
of the places you have passed through. After Gwaiior it was Goona,
in the shikar country, and on this stretch it was that the panther

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walked across the road right in front of us ; then Maksi, which is
so insignificant a place as to be hardly worth marking on the map-
yet all that day we kept on passing ruined temples and ancient forts,
but there was neither time nor opportunity to stop. You only make
a mental vow to return one day with camera and sketch-book.

Up to now we had always managed to fetch up at night at some
station on the line, and thither would proceed our specia.1 train, in
which we ate and slept. Here again everything had been thought
out, and in the most desert places we were surrounded with luxuries,
even down to such a thing as a Pianola ! But one night we came to
a place that was fifty miles from the railway, and here arrangements
had been made for us to camp. Of course for a good many of the
English competitors it was an experience to be under canvas. But
now they must be envious of Indian camp life. The site selected
was excellent, perched high up on the river banks, and the Nerbudda
river bed was quite half a mile broad. It reminded me of the
jungle home of Diana Harrington, and I almost looked for her
tame panther to come and rub its nose up against my leg. After
that on through Dhulia and down one lot of Ghauts, and over
another lot to Igatpuri, a pretty little hill station 2,000 feet up;
then down more Ghauts to the Kalyan ferry, two cars crossing it at
a time. It took an hour altogether to get over. Now there are
only forty miles in front of you to Bombay, and then behind you lie
883 miles of an Indian road. From Comorin to the Himalayas, if
you span it on the schoolroom map, is about 1,400 miles; so now
you may say that you have come well over half-across India, and
what is more you have seen it, and seen it intimately. Did you
know your amazing England before the advent of the motor-car
taught you the exploration of it ? Shall you not know your India as

What impressions crowd into the mental picture as you go over
this wonderful journey again ! At first it does not seem possible to
sort or sift them in any orderly manner. There exists but a mass
of confused impressions, a mental chaos, that only the wearing of
time will regulate and put in place. Surge up in the memory
impressions of a vast country — mile after mile of it — visions of
mountain scenery, wild, weird, rugged, stage-like in the sharpness
of its definition against the Indian sky. Follow thoughts of folk
one passed at speed, picturesque, untamed, in the outer reaches of
civilisation ; varied again by memories of troops on the march, of
guns rolling along, of columns of wagons following ; thoughts of a
mad rush over the cantonment road of a big military station with the
cheering soldiers all under the impression that it was a speed race;
these jostle with recollections of the evening chaff over the humours

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of the day's run. How, call him Jones, having lost his topee, wore a
white turban, and was presented everywhere as the Rajah of Bhong,
in answer to the many queries as to who the white Maharajah
Sahib was. What potentate is better known now from Indore to
Bombay than the genial and sedate owner of the New Orleans car,
who all unseeking had this honour thrust upon him ? Then one
day the ** traction-engine," as we called the slow but sure Beaufort,
was discovered going downhill on the second speed, her owner
having got bitten with a sudden mania for pace. How just as we
would be turning in, the Alldays, and the ** Allnight," as we called


the little Lenoir, would come romping in. Yes, on that journey
pleasures were frequent, pain was rare. Laugh, and we all laughed;
weep or break down, and you wept alone, but someone came back to
fetch the unfortunate one.

Now what of the future of the motor in India ? In my opinion

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 21 of 52)