Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

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killing deer, foxes, and even wolves, there exists ample evidence to
prove. Indeed, I believe I am not far out in stating that quite a
large proportion of the smaller fur-bearing animals, such as silver
foxes, sables, etc., which abound in the northern confines of the
Chinese empire, are taken by Mongolian and Manchu hunters with
the aid of falcons. With one of their trained eagles I once had
quite an exciting five-minutes' adventure. I was walking home on
top of the city wall at Peking, when all of a sudden I felt and heard
a sort of soft, soughing wind overhead, accompanied by a faint tink-
ling ; and there, poised in air, some eight or ten feet above me, was

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the grandest specimen of bird life l had ever seen. That it was an
escaped bird I saw at once, for it had both jesses and rings on its
legs; but this fact was not quite so reassuring as it might be sup-
posed. I am an old traveller, and have mixed much with all sorts
of queer and rough folk, and in the courtyard of a Hyderabad sirdar
I once saw a bearkute, that giant eagle of Central Asia, attack and
demolish a big pariah dog. The absurd ease with which it did this
last, and the awful tearing wounds it inflicted upon the poor beast,
showed only too well what a very nasty customer an eagle would bit
to a man if it but attacked him in real earnest. Backing into the
parapet and with eyes fixed on the bird, I awaited developments:


fortunately, however, these were of anything but a disagreeable
nature. For, flying some fifty yards further on, the bird landed upon
the wall ; but when 1 advanced and came within a few paces of it
away it flew, perching at last on top of one of the great gateways.
Just how to describe it is an impossibility, for it was late in the
evening and quite dark, and I was perhaps more engaged with the
idea of capturing it than anything else.

To revert, however, to the subject of falconry in Japan. The
Japanese appear not to have gone in much for eyesses, for of keeping

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them on hack they seem to have known nothing, and so we may
conclude the majority of birds they possessed were passage-hawks.
Some few of these were apparently imported from China, others
from Korea, but they generally came from the most northerly of the
islands that then went to make up the Japanese empire. Mochi,
that wonderfully effective Japanese equivalent of our bird-lime,
evidently played a leading part in the capture of these passage-hawks,
but nets and traps were also employed for this purpose. As they
always kept their birds weathered in quarters lying in close conjunc-
tion with their household offices, in full view of ever}thing that
went on in them, their hawks were rendered remarkably tame.

This weathering, or tethering of the birds in the open, was
carried out as follows : — Their screen-perches were hurdle-like fenc-
ings made of slender twigs of heather, with a pole of rough timber
running along the top, or perch side, and their block-perches were
more often of stone than wood. That the first were just as effective
as our canvas-screens for the purpose they were meant for there can
be no doubt ; and as for the second they would appear to have been
infinitely superior to our wooden block-perches, for a hawk could
literally manicure its talons upon one of them. Both styles of
perches were easily removable, but under no conditions were they

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ever placed under a roof, the Japanese believing in an altogether
out-of-doors life for their birds.

As regards the tackle they used, it necessarily differed but little
in design from that which has been so long in use in Europe, and it
may also be said in other parts of Asia too, but with them silk was
as often employed as leather for the making of it. Their jesses were
in all essentials identical with ours, but their leashes were always of


silk, and the only way in which their hoods differed from ours was
in the extra amount of finish and ornamentation. Indeed, I feel
sure the now famous Dutch hood is of Japanese design (for the fact
must not be lost sight of that for close on two centuries the Dutch
were the only outside people, with the exception of some few Chinese,
who had any dealings with the Japanese), it being too like it to be
of a distinctly different origin.

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Unlike the Chinese and other people, the Japanese appear not
to have gone in very extensively for rings or bells for their hawks
and falcons, though they were, if anything, more prone than others
CO the decking them out with tassels of silk and other ornamenta-
tions. Apropos of this subject of bells and rings it may interest
people at home to know that the Pekingese, and I believe for the
matter of that other Chinese also, fasten little whistles on the wings
of their favourite pigeons as a safeguard against hawks and other
birds of prey. These whistles are of all shapes, and emit a wonder-
ful variety of sounds, some shrilly penetrating, while others are softly
flute-like. They are mostly made from tiny gourds, grown especially
for the purpose, but some few from reeds, and are fastened to the
outside of the pigeon's wings.


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(Photograph by Whitetnan, Port of Spain, Trinidad)



Of uU the islands of the West Indies, horse-racing thrives only
in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, and St. Lucia. Each
island has its own Jockey Club, or Turf Club, or Racing Association.
In Jamaica there are four distinct associations, in Grenada two, in
Trinidad two of any importance, though there are one or two minor
ones ; in Barbados one, and one also in St. Lucia. They are practically
limited liability companies — at least, in Jamaica they are — eachwitn
a committee making its own rules, and electing its stewards, j"^S^'
starter, clerk of the course, etc., for each meeting. English Jock^)
Club rules are adhered to in the main, with certain additions an
alterations to suit the local conditions. The decision of the loca
stewards is final, there being no body like our Jockey Club whic
governs the rules of racing and to which appeals can be made.

The '* roar of the ring *' is unknown in these Isles of the y^^^ '
*' Even money the field ! " '* Two to one bar one ! " and '' Four to
one bar two ! " would be Greek to the average West Indian. *^^ \,
content with his Totalisator or Pari-Mutuel, and he ** backs his fancy
for a win only, as place-betting is as unknown as the bookmaker.

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The jockeys are, with one or two exceptions, coloured ; and
they ride more with their heels than their heads. All the courses
are circular, and vary from six and a half furlongs to a mile and a
quarter in circumference.

Jamaica, as possessing the best class of horses, stands foremost.
As I have already stated, there are four racing associations in
Jamaica, of which the Kingston Race Stand Company is the oldest-
Two meetings of two days each are held under its auspices, in
August and December, the latter being the principal fixture. The
public have free access to the course, which has an excellent grand

{Pkotofjraph by A. Duperly and Sons, Kingston, Jamaica)

stand. The newly-formed Jamaica Jockey Club holds two meetings,
one at Easter and the other on November g and 10, at Cumberland
Pen, an enclosed course with capital going. The Jamaica Turf
Club holds a meeting at Kingston on Whit-Monday. They rent
the Kingston Race Stand Company's premises. There is also a
small meeting at Montego Bay, in the middle of August, under the
auspices of the St. James Jockey Club.

The majority of the races are handicaps open to horses of all
ages and heights, and the original weights hold good, despite

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non-acceptances. In weight-for-age races the English Jockey Club
scale is used ; there is also an allowance of 4 lb. for every half-inch
under 14.2 hands. The penalties are 3 lb. for first win, 7 lb. for
the second win, and 10 lb. for the third, though these weights are some-
times altered to 31b., 5 lb., and 7 lb. respectively. At the December
meeting of the Kingston Race Stand Club there are two two-year-
old races for horses bred in the island, weight for age and penalties,
the distance being one mile. The Governor also gives a cup at
this meeting.

Jamaican horses are faster, of greater stamina, and better-
looking than any in the other islands. They are the progeny of


{Photograph by Jacobsen, Port of Spain^ Trinidad)

imported English sires, and generally of imported English mares,
all thoroughbred. These animals are severely handicapped in
the other islands-, having to give 141b. to Creole horses (by
Creole is meant horses and ponies foaled in the West Indies,
and British Guiana, barring Jamaica). Jamaican ponies and half-
bred Jamaican horses allow Creoles 7 lb. The principal owners
in Jamaica are Mr. E. Verley, Mr. J. V. Calder, Mr. A. Henrique,
and Mr. Leahong, who train their own horses.

In Trinidad there are two racing associations, the Trinidad
Turf Club and the Arima Turf Club. The latter holds a two days'
meeting in August or September of each year on the Arima
savannah. The former and more important club holds two

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meetings of two days each in July and December, on the beautiful
savannah at Queen's Park, Port of Spain. It is difficult to imagine
anything nnore lovely than the look-out from the grand stand : the
wide savannah, bordered by trees which half conceal the white and
delicately-tinted fa9ades of the beautiful West Indian houses ; here
and there, bright spots amidst the green, are splashes of the bright
scarlet flcwers of the flamboyant trees ; then away in front, rising,
it would seem, from the edge of the savannah, are high verdure-clad
hills, the whole surmounted by a sky of wonderful blue.

The class of horses in Trinidad, whilst not so good as in
Jamaica, is nevertheless not to be despised. There are weight-for-

[Photograph by Jacobsen, Port of Spain, Trinidad)

age and weight-for- height races, and handicaps open to all horses.
The Trinidad Turf Club Stakes is generally worth some ;^400,
of which $200 goes to the owner of the second horse. The Club
Handicap is rarely worth less than £250, with $100 for the
second horse. Both these races take place at the December
meeting. A gentleman's ticket admitting to the race stand for two
days costs £1, and ladies are admitted for 5s. The public have free
access to other parts of the course. The principal owners are
Messrs. Borde, G. M. Boyack, E. A. Robinson, and Dr. Farnum.

In Barbados a new Barbados Turf Club has just been
founded, u/jd^;: yyh&^Q authority a two days' meeting is held in

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June and December. The rules and conditions of racing are
practically the same as in Trinidad, and this applies also to Grenada
and St. Lucia. The principal owners are Messrs. D. C. Da Costa
junior, J. Crawford, and E. A. Goodridge.

The jockeys are mostly native, with one or two " Indians,"
and one English jockey, Payne by name, an apprentice from
Alec Taylor's stable. He has raced in Demerara, Trinidad, Grenada,
and St. Lucia, generally getting all the principal mounts. He is
streets ahead of any other jockey. The Governor of the island
generally gives a cup, as also do Mr. Bert de Lamarre (the Colony's

{Photograph by Jacobscn, Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Cup) and Mr. Martinez. The club has its own stand, but other
temporary stands are erected by private individuals and speculators.
The Grenada Race Club and St. Andrew's Racing Club
are the two racing associations of the beautiful Isle of Grenada.
The former has a large and influential membership, and is the
result of the efforts of Mr. E. M. de Freitas. Prizes are given both
for native and imported ponies, and the Governor gives a cup.
They have only one meeting a year, and that generally in May.
There is great rivalry between this club and the St. Andrew's
Racing Club. The old St. Andrew's Club was, prior to
Mr. E. M. de Freitas's famous challenge, the only racing club

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in the island; but it had been defunct some time when in 1904 the
club was reconstituted, and is now, thanks to Mr. H. Astley
Berkeley, the hon. secretary of the club, in a most flourishing

Just a word as to the best time to visit the West Indies : In the
winter, when the raw, damp cold and the choking, blinding fog can
be exchanged for the azure skies, the dry atmosphere, the warmth.

(Photograph by J acobsen. Port of Spain, Trinidad)

the tropical glories of *' those blest isles ** in the Caribbean Sea.
It is a delightful voyage out from Southampton, the morning of
the twelfth day sees one at Barbados, and the next morning at
Trinidad, where cruising yachts are awaiting the arrival of the
English mail, to carry passengers to all the other islands.
Pleasure? Indeed, yes! If you have never been to the West
Indies, there is a treat in store for you.

NO. cxxx. VOL. xxii,— May 1906 P P

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The much-threshed but not completely garnered question of
artificial flies for angling, we may, for convenience, regard from
two broad and utterly opposite standpoints : that of the deceiver,
and that of the attractor. The former professes to — strives to—
imitate nature; the latter relies chiefly upon the presentment of a
gaudy lure, semblant of nothing in creation, or of something un-

The disquisition following, though applying generally to
salmon, grayling, chub, and indeed all fish which feed either wholly
or in part upon insects, is designed mainly for the consideration
of fly-fishers for common trout {Salmo fario).

We will begin by regarding the position as it might be stated
by one of the '* chuck-and-chance-it " school. This witness depones
that, at the time when most trout are caught — when streams are
voluminous and tinged with fulvous or rufous hues — the water is
in such a state that the fish cannot distinguish anything more than
a general form. The trout perceives something fall on the water,
supposes it to be a fly (or something edible), darts forward to seize
it, under the impulse of appetite, and waits not to scrutinise the
species. After a few casts, the deceptive lure, however neatly
dressed, bears but a very remote resemblance to its pretended proto-
type ; and it is questionable whether a trout, when the water is at all

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discoloured, or ruffled by a breeze, can distinguish the colour of
the fly which he prebends. The old maxim, that ** to catch trout
the flies ought to be dressed exactly in imitation of such natural
insects as are then to be found near the water," has no foundation in
truth ; for most trout are caught by simulated flies which least
resemble such as are found in nature. The prime object is to have
flies formed of materials that are of the least possible weight, and do
not absorb much water; and the smaller they are (generally), pro-
vided the hook will bear the weight of the fish and carry out the gut,
so much the better. Salmon have been killed on a midge, and
trout creeled with a fly — if fly it could be called — formed of the leaf
and yellow blossom of the broom.

Let any angler who puts faith in the maxim above noticed
look at one of his resplendent flies when wet, through a large glass
of rather clouded water in a state of motion, and let him distin-
guish his favourite bits of green, blue, and yellow, if he can ; then
let him show his book of pretended fac-similes to an entomologist,
and it will certainly puzzle the learned savant to decide their

Again, take any standard fly, whether designed as an imitation
of a natural, or a nondescript ** fancy " confection. Take a red-
spinner, a Wickham, a cinnamon, or a grannom. Get a specimen
of one of these from half-a-dozen different shops, and you will have
six marked variants of the same (presumed) article.

Let us put into words the opinions of another infidel, or un-
orthodox practitioner. The anxiety which the great majority of
anglers manifest to obtain possession of the counterfeit of the
particular insect on the water — ransacking their voluminous books
for the nearest resemblance to it, under a notion that nothing
but a near resemblance will take fish — is in general unnecessary and
vain ; any other fly in the wallet being at the moment probably as
good and effective, although having little similarity (or being, indeed,
antithetically dissimilar) to the particular natural insect that is then
out. It is to be contended that if a party of anglers go out
together, on neighbouring streams, or on various portions of the
same stream, being equally skilful, careful, and persevering, they
shall all take fish, nor shall any one of them in a marked degree
surpass the others, although each man may have been obtruding
flies unlike those of his fellows. It may be laid down that to
adopt any specific fly at one season of the year, and to reject it
at another, is to show much more nicety and discrimination than
the fish ordinarily do themselves. The fact is that fish attack
almost everything that has life, or the appearance of life ; a proof
of this being furnished by cutting open the distended stomach of

P P a

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a feeding trout, which will be found to contain every variety of
aliment that the water affords him.

To the postulate above advanced, there may be the exception
of the may-fly, drake, or Ephemera vulgata, at the end of May and
the beginning of June, as regards somq, but not all, waters. Even
then, however, trout have been found to rise at duns, caperers, hare's
ears, quill gnats, yellow sallies, and what not " oddments."

Take a personal experience. Once, late in the may-fly season,
when great numbers of drakes, apparently in almost a lifeless state,
were on the water, the trout, glutted by its abundance, wholly
rejected the artificial presentment of the dainty in question. I put
on a coch-y-bonddu, which was taken freely.

Let us hear another Philistine. This man tells us, in effect,
that most anglers, including old hands, have their pet "killers,"
the pattern of which they sometimes cherish as a profound and
sacred mystery — as an heirloom. They will tell you that they
have found it successful when all other lures have failed. Now,
the fallacy of this argument lies in the fact that hardly any two
sportsmen agree in the choice of their favourites, and that there are
nearly as many of these wonder-workers as there are fishermen.
The truth appears to be that the despised flies have been em-
ployed at times when the fish were not moving, and the one
happening to be in use at the moment they began to sport
achieved a factitious fame. Had the angler kept on with the fly
that in a different period of the day was unsuccessful he would
probably, nay, almost assuredly, have found it to answer as well as
the other; and if his favourite had been in use on the former
occasion it would have been numbered with the '* also ran."

This question should be practically tested. " But who," you
might demand, *' would think of taking off a fly with which he was
loading his creel, for the purpose of instituting a trial whether some
other might not succeed equally ? "

Well, for purposes of experiment, I have essayed quick-change
movements. Only this spring, fishing a lovely streamlet in South
Devon, I found the trout " going for " a blue upright freely and
boldly. This was my stretcher. In place of it I put up a red-
spinner ; and still they came, Hke bull-dogs. Then, removing both
blue upright and redspinner, I tossed to them a cast composed of
three March browns ; and until the sun began to sink towards the
western heights the fish gaily attacked the March browns. They
were feeding — "sporting" — "on the job."

Once more we hear, in paraphrase, the sentiments of an ex-
pert who has been consulted. This sportsman avers : With trout,
you must be exact (more or less) as to colour, yea, shade ; but in

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making salmon-flies everything depends on the mode in which
the materials are worked up ; the appearance of life, which, from
the manner in which the wings, in particular, are put on, is given
in the motion we communicate by the play of the rod — the humour-
ing. And as to size of trout-flies, save early and late, save in dull
weather and dark water (it is a question of light), small flies are to
be preferred. Large flies attract a fish's attention, perhaps induce
him to rise, while it is the lesser ones that he inclines to mouth.
When a fish rises he is more or less on the feed at that time, and
perhaps at the moment when your fly engages his observation he
is already half-satiated with other food. But supposing him to be
commencing his meal, then, if we can argue from analogy, or judge
by our own appetite — are not several small morsels more tempting
than one large lump ?

Audi alteram partem, briefly. Talk not to me (says '* Verisimilis ")
of the same flies pleasing the trout from Lady Day to Michaelmas,
much less of the futility of dressing your lures in imitation of
nature. These are convenient doctrines for the bungler, the duffer,
the sciolist, the tiro. It is true that in rough weather and agitated
water, in good order after rain, when it is clearing, the colour of
the fly matters less than wont ; but the true angler must be pre-
pared for all weathers and for all waters, in all states ; for cloudless
skies, staring sun, and pellucid streams ; and then, if he has not the
right fly, he may throw his arms off without the chance of a rise,
or cast in his hat to save the precious contents of his book. His
tackle must be of the finest texture, and his collar stained to
harmonise with the element.

As regards the special mode of procedure upon small and rapid
streams, such as the torrential waters of the moorland parts
of Devon, Cutcliffe has laid down the leading principles for all time.

This high authority says : *' As to the point of selection of
the fancied fly, it appears the common belief that the trout are
so extremely fastidious in the choice of their viands that for each
particular meal, occurring at regular intervals, they demand some
peculiarity in their food. . . . This view does certainly apply
in some degree to the art of deceiving trout by artificial flies in
ponds or any such deep and placid water; but as a principle to
rely upon for success on rapid streams, is utterly fallacious, and the
result of an imaginative theory, rather than correct deduction from
observed facts. ... In large and comparatively quiet rivers the
number of trout is proportionately small as compared with the
amount of food to be obtained ; they have there less competition,
less pressure of the necessity to race or struggle for every mouthful.
... To capture such trout, we must make our baits as natural

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as possible; imitate the exact fly which we have just seen one
monster swallow; and avail ourselves of all favourable circum-
stances as regards wind, weather, and water,

"In stilly waters, we should rely upon the deceptive power of
the fly, and judge of the value of flies by their representation and
exactness of similitude to the natural insect. Whereas in rapid
streamlets we should rely mainly on our mode of using the artificial
fly, whose good qualities would consist in the greater conspicuity,
provided such did not so far exceed the likeness of anything natural
and edible as to repel rather than attract and allure the trout."
He sums up pretty much as under : —

Moorland trout, always necessarily in action, always wasting
tissue, and compelled to snatch their food in frequent snacks rather

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 42 of 52)