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Records of the chase and memoirs of celebrated sportsmen : illustrating some of the usages of olden times and comparing them with prevailing customs online

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This Edition de Luxe is limited
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CECIL -kAjijmjIi ,





Made and Printed in Great Britain


THE first edition of this book, a small thick octavo,
appeared in 1854; and in 1877 a second edition, also
in small octavo, "thoroughly revised," was put
forth. The preface to the second edition reads as
follows :

" Since the publication of the first edition
numerous changes in hunting countries have taken
place ; some have been divided and new ones con-
stituted. Many masters of hounds have resigned
fresh ones have been installed, and a sad number
have paid the debt of nature. All the subjects
connected with these events have been carefully in-
vestigated by the Author with scrupulous attention
to accuracy, and he trusts his readers will favour-
ably appreciate his labours."

The Author's additions to this second edition
amount to nearly 10,000 words of small and often
trivial detail ; and the sum effect of them is to
render the book verbose and tedious. In the first
edition Cecil set out to write a conspectus of fox-
hunting, and admirably he succeeded : in the second
edition he lost sight of his original design and, being
anxious only to bring the book up-to-date, ex-
panded it into a voluminous catalogue of masters.
The result is that the second edition is neither
so readable nor, to-day, useful. To prepare a third
edition which should contain the large amount of
historical information concerning the various packs
and their masters that has come to light in recent
years through the publication of monographs and


vi. Foreword

memoirs, would indeed be a labour of Hercules.
It would expand the book to several volumes and
would obliterate all vestiges of Cecil's original
work. The Editor has thought it best, there-
fore, to reproduce Cecil's first edition, confining
his editorial activities to correcting the quotations
from Beckford and Somerville, to comparing the
extracts from The Master of Game with Mr.
Baillie-Grohman's edition of that work and amend-
ing them accordingly, and to expunging some of
the commas with which the first printer had so
liberally besprinkled the book. He has also broken
up most of the longer paragraphs.

With regard to the extracts from The Master of
Game (which Cecil wrongly assigns to Edmund of
Langley), the transcript which our Author used was
faulty at times ; e.g. Cecil has " Duke of Teyne "
for Duke of Guienne ; " hem," the ancient form of
"them," he renders "him"; mote he spells "note,"
lymers " lymes," lodges " logs," rally " relay," etc.
All these things the Editor has corrected from
Mr. Baillie-Grohman's book and has added in foot-
notes the meanings of obsolete words.

It was the Editor's intention at first to add a
number of notes ; but on second thoughts he
decided that to annotate the work would, again, be
to destroy its character. At present it is eminently
readable, and it is to be hoped that in its present
shape it will give pleasure to many who have not
yet made Cecil's acquaintance or have read him so
long ago that this book is to all intents a new one.

Four illustrations from old prints have been


THE great popularity which the Chase has acquired
renders it a subject of vast interest to a large body
of the community ; and I have endeavoured to
embody in these pages such incidents in reference
to its origin, progress, and present state, as, I
humbly conceive, may at once gratify curiosity and
afford amusement.

An account of the habits of the crafty fox, and
the origin of the sagacious, faithful hound, will, I
trust, be perused with interest.

The memoirs of some of the most celebrated
sportsmen whose talent has added grace to the
4 Noble Science* will show the zeal with which our
forefathers entered into the sport ; and the descrip-
tion of some of the most fashionable hunting
countries may serve to entertain the sportsman on a
frosty day, or beguile the time when he makes the
steam-engine his covert hack ; while they will im-
part to the stranger some idea of the country in
which he is about to seek his sylvan pastime.

Without attempting to enter into the mystic
details of kennel management or the intricate duties
of the huntsman in the field, we have thrown out a
few hints which may perhaps prove useful to the



GONE AWAY ! Frontispiece

THE DRAW page 64













IX. CHELTENHAM AND V.W.H. . . . . 140


XL HAMPSHIRE ....... 190











WHATEVER period we select to investigate the manners,
customs, and occupations of the human race, we find
that hunting has formed a prominent and interesting
portion of their engagements. There are two conspicu-
ous causes from which the origin of the chase may be
traced one, for the purpose of procuring food ; the
other, that of destroying ferocious or noxious beasts.
The fox is the only one remaining in Great Britain
originally included in the latter category; a classifica-
tion in which it is scarcely consistent to retain him, now
that the pursuit of that animal has become one of our
principal and most popular national amusements.
Hunting is not confined to the civilised portion of man-
kind ; it still continues to be the engagement of the un-
cultivated savage, as >a means of obtaining sustenance.
It is a fact worthy of remark, which we derive from
ancient history, that as the prosperity of any country
has increased, gymnastic exercises and sporting enter-
prises have flourished ; and whenever they were aban-
doned, luxury, idleness, and debauchery obtained a
footing. As evidence of the great estimation in which
he held field sports, Alexander the Great commanded the
renowned Aristotle to write a treatise on the subject,
for which he was compensated with a; large sum of
money from the treasury. During the reign of the
Emperor Severus, who built the Picts Wall in England,
Appianus wrote four books on hunting. Grotius studied
the same subject, more intimately connected with the
sport of coursing. Nemesianus, likewise, wrote some
poems on hunting, and many other classic authors



devoted their talents and labours to a similar purpose.
That our manly sports have been considered worthy
the pens of the most able writers of their respective
ages, cannot be refuted; and their appreciations must
be received as evidence of the importance with which
these sports were regarded.

The manner of conducting field sports has varied very
considerably at different periods, not only with reference
to the customs which have been observed in the pursuit
of animals of the same kind, but, taking into account
the great numbers which in the feudal ages infested
our wilds and forests, and the essential differences in
the habits of those creatures, it was evidently impera-
tive to approach and pursue them with various strata-
gems. The sturdy bristly boar and ferocious wolf
could not be secured on the same terms as the fleet
and bounding deer, or the more cautious, timid hare.
Hunting was an expression evidently not confined to
the pursuit of any particular animals ; every creature,
from the active squirrel to the sullen wild boar, was, if
found in the woods, considered a suitable subject for
exercising the talent and feeding the passion amor
venandi of the hunter. The term hunting in those
days took a wide range; for it was used to signify the
pursuit and destruction, by any means that could be
devised, of any of the wild natives of the woods calcu-
lated for food, or of the ferocious ones whose presence
was dangerous and annoying. But the word in its
present acceptation is confined to chasing animals with

Without being able to describe from personal
experience the customs connected with "La Chasse "
in France, as pursued at the present time, the accounts
with which we are favoured by various friends-, both
orally and in print, savour vastly of those which we
read of in the earliest ages. Whether it be the boar, the
stag, or the wolf, a few hounds only are cast off in
search ; the body of the pack, as we should call it,
being kept in reserve till the game is fairly roused from


his resting-place. This is no doubt a necessary pro-
ceeding with hounds which are kept for the purpose of
hunting various animals, and especially in strong
woods difficult of access to man and horse. Neverthe-
less these practices, no doubt, might be amended, to
what extent I will not presume to state ; but if hounds
were kept to the chase of one kind of animal only,
properly attended by skilful whippers-in, there is no
doubt they would find their game, whether stag, boar,
or wolf, with as much certainty as our hounds do the
fox; and they would unquestionably be steadier in
chase than they are under the present management.
The French custom of destroying the animal with
spears, guns, or swords, whenever opportunity offers,
while the hounds are in pursuit, is precisely similar to
that of the ancients, excepting that before the use of
fire-arms, spears, swords, or bows and arrows were the
weapons of destruction.

Fox-hunting is an amusement almost exclusively
confined to this nation. To identify the precise period
when it was first conducted according to the prevailing
system of the present century, would be an impossi-
bility, and indeed it is quite evident that it has under-
gone many gradations and changes. We have authentic
testimony that William the Conqueror brought with
him to these shores an inordinate appetite for the
chase, and the laws which he established in order to
pursue his pleasure, by dispossessing the poor peasants
of their abodes in the New Forest to render that wide
tract of land an arena for royal amusement, were such
as a tyrant ruler only would have attempted; but
hunting foxes formed no part of his diversion. This
regal prerogative, although modified, existed during a
period of nearly 800 years; for it was only during the
enlightened reign of our amiable and beloved Queen
that the rights and privileges of the forest were
abandoned by the Crown. The death of the Conqueror's
successor, William Rufus, by the discharge of an arrow
levelled at a stag in the aforesaid forest, is a circum-


stance so universally known that it would not be
worthy of remark except for the purpose of comparing
the deer-stalking of the present times with the kind of
hunting, as it was termed, when those primitive
weapons/ the bow and arrow were made use of. The
invention of fire-arms, and the numerous improve-
ments that have been introduced, render the rifle in
practised hands a most unerring implement; armed
with which, the amusement of deerstalking still main-
tains its supremacy with Royalty.

The early annals of the chase are imperfect in detail,
but still we have quite sufficient authority for the con-
viction that it was pretty generally followed as an amuse-
ment by sovereigns and the nobles of England from the
reign of the Conqueror to the present time. As feudal
usages passed away, as the sunshine of civilisation
gained ascendancy, as landed property became more
generally diffused and independence assumed a footing,
hunting, which was previously enjoyed exclusively by
royalty, the nobility and their retainers, gradually
became an amusement for all classes.

I have met with a very old and curious treatise on
hunting, in the possession of a gentleman of ancient
family, for many years residing in Herefordshire, and a
true lover of sporting. The book, although the leaves
are of vellum, encased in oak boards, by the ravages of
time is slightly mutilated that is, the title-page is
wanting; but I have no doubt it is the production of
Edmund de Langley, one of the sons of Edward the
Third, Earl of Cambridge and afterwards Duke of
York.* The writing is well executed, and it may no
doubt be received as one of the best authorities descrip-
tive of the chase as it was followed during the period
when the book was composed. It would be difficult to
assign a precise date to this work; it is sufficient to
state that it must have been written about the close of

* * Cecil ' is wrong here. * The Master of Game ' was compiled by
Edward, second Duke of York, grandson of Edward III, and son of
Edmund of Langley. [ED.]


the fourteenth century, prior to the invention of the art
of printing. Many of the customs relative to the treat-
ment of hounds and the observances in the field, which
are mentioned in the work, continue in practice. The
numerous abbreviations, together with curiously formed
characters, render it difficult to decipher, especially as
several of the terms made use of are nearly obsolete ;
but as I feel assured a few extracts from such a quaint
and scarce work will be received with interest by the
lovers of research into ancient customs, I make a selec-
tion of the most remarkable passages, somewhat
modernized, to render it more easy of perusal. The
dedication commences thus :

" Unto the wise, excellent, and Christian Prince,
Henry the Fourth, by the aforesaid grace King of
England and of France, Prince of Wales, Duke of
Guienne, of Lancaster, and of Cornwall, and Earl of
Chester, I your own in every humble wise attempt to
make a simple book, which I recommend and submit
to your noble and wise correction. The which book, if
it like to your aforesaid lordship, shall be called and
named the Maister of Game, and for this cause. For
the matter that this book treateth of what in every
season of the year is most desirable, and to my thinking
to every gentle heart the most honest and most disport-
ful of all games, that is to say hunting. For if it be so
that hawking with gentle hawks for the heron be noble
and commendable, it lasteth but seldom, at the most
not passing half-a-year. And if men find game enough
from May to Lammas to hawk at, then might they not
find hawks to hawk with. But of hunting there is no
season of all the year that game may not be in every
good country right well found, and eke hounds to
enchase it. And since this book shall be all of hunting,
which is so noble a game, and eke lasting through all
the year to divers beasts, me thinketh that I may well
call it Maister of Game."

Enumerating the different beasts of venery which
were hunted in those days when our author wrote his
book, we find the following treated of :

" The hare, the herte, the bukke, the roo, the wild


boore, the wolf, the ffox, the gray (or badger), the cat,
the martin, and the otir."

The prevalence of superstition must have been con-
siderable; in the description of the gray, commonly
called the badger, the following strange observation
appears :

" Men say that if a child that had never worn shoes,
and the first shoes that he should wear were made of
the gray's skin, that child should heal horses of the
farcy if he should ride upon them ; but thereof I make
no affirmation."

Hunting he earnestly recommends as an antidote for
all the evils of mind and body, in which most authors
on the mysteries and science of wood-craft, whether
ancient or modern, fully concur. In those times, when
the science of medicine was very little understood or
practised, every healthy exercise calculated to invigor-
ate the body was of the utmost importance ; and
although the devotees of Hygeia might have performed
many exploits in their hunting excursions widely
different from those of the present day, the same object
was accomplished. The fashion of the sport matters
but little, so that the benefits appertaining thereto are
secured. Upon this subject we glean the following
remarks :

" Now shall I prove that the hunter, that is a good
hunter, may not be idle nor dreaming, nor may not
have evil imaginations, nor be after any evil works ;
for the next day before that he shall go on hunting, he
shall lie him down in his bed, and he shall not think
but for to sleep, and for to do his office well and
beseemly as a good hunter should do. And he shall not
have to think but on the deeds and needs that he is
ordained to do. And he lies not idle, for he hath to
imagine to rise early well to do his office, without think-
ing of other things sins or evil deeds."

Following up the advantages of an active life, to
divert men's minds from sinful cogitations, the ancient
author continues :



Wherefore I say that such an hunter is not idle : he
may have no evil thoughts, nor may do no idle works ;
wherefore he must go into Paradise. For by many
other reasons which were long to write may I prove
these things, but it sufficeth me ; for any man that hath
good reason knoweth well that I say the high truth.
Now will I prove how hunters live in the world most
joyful of any other men : for when the hunter riseth in
the morning, and seeth the fair and sweet morning, and
clear weather and bright, and heareth the song of the
small fowls which sing so sweetly with great melody,
and full of love, each in his language, after that he
learn eth of his own kind. And when the sun has arisen
he shall see the fresh dew upon the small twigs and
grass, and the sun which by his virtue shall make them
shine. And that is great joy and liking unto the
hunter's heart. After when he shall go to his quest, or
searching, and shall see or meet with the hart anon,
without great seeking, and shall harbour him well and
readily within a little compass ; it is great joy and liking
to the hunter."

The excitement occasioned upon laying the hounds
on the scent, is thus curiously expressed :

* "Then hath the hunter great joy when he beginneth
to sue, and hath sued but a little. And he shall hire
others to start the hart afore him. And shall well
know that it is right ; and his hounds that shall be that
day finders shall come to the lair or to the fues t and
shall there be uncoupled, and all they shall run, and
enchase. Then hath the hunter great joy and liking.
After he leapeth on horseback if he be of estate, and
else on foot, with great haste, for to follow his> hounds.
And then shall he see the hart pass before him, and he
shall halloo, and rout mightily; and he shall see which
hounds come in the van chase, and in the middle chase,
and which be skirters. And then when all his hounds
be passed afore him, then shall he ride after them, and

* This passage is somewhat different in Mr. Baillie-Grohman's
edition of ' The Master of Game/ which is a version of M. S. Cott.
Vesp, B. xii., in the British Museum. [ED.]

fFues, royes = track, line.


shall rout and blow as loud as he may with great joy
and liking. And I assure you that he thinketh to none
other sin, to none other evil. And when the hart shall
be overcome, and shall be at bay, he shall have great
liking; and when the hart is spayed, and dead, he un-
doeth him and maketh his quarry, t and requireth or
rewardeth his hounds, and so he shall have great
liking. And when he cometh home he cometh joyfully,
for his, lord hath given him drink of his good wine at
the quarry. And when he cometh home he shall do off
his clothes, and his shoes, and his hose, and he shall
wash his thighs and his legs and peradventure all his
body. And in the meanwhile he shall order his supper
with worts and of the neck of the hart, and of other
good meats, and of good wine and ale. And when he
hath well eat and drank he shall be glad and well at
ease*. Then shall he go take the air in the evening of
the night, for the great heat that he hath had. And
then shall he go drink, and lie in his bed hi fair fresh
clothes, and sleep well and sadly and stedfastly with-
out any evil thoughts of sins; wherefore I say that
hunters go into Paradise when they die, and live in this
world most joyfully of any other men."

There is a business-like manner diffused throughout
the above remarks which proclaims' our author to have
been a practical man and an enthusiast in the sport
which he describes. He observes that the hounds
should settle to the scent before the horseman rides
after them, a precaution which every sportsman
admires. Many of the customs prevail even at the
present time, not the least conspicuous of which is the
drink of good wine at the breaking up of the quarry,
whether it be fox or stag.

A change of dress and the salutary effects of an
ablution were luxuries, even in those days, duly appre-
ciated. Doubtless they passed their evenings in jovial

At the period when the book in question was written,

t Quarry, curee, kyrre, or quyrreye; the ceremony of giving the
hounds their reward, so called because it was originally given to the
hounds on the hide or cuir of the stag. [ED.]


the hare was considered the most important object of
the chase; a distinction, I imagine, supposed generally
to have been acceded to the stag ; but as the hare is the
more cunning of the two, there is good reason why she
should be honoured with the precedence. The suc-
ceeding passage appears on this subject:

" Ere I speak how the hare shall be hunted it is to
wit that the hare is king of all venery ; for all blowing,
and the fair terms of hunting, come of the seeking and
the finding of her, for certain it is a marvellous beast."

That the hounds were given to riot is a circumstance
not calculated to occasion any astonishment, because
it does not appear that they were confined to the chase
of any particular species of game. The following
directions are given, supposing a hare to be found in a
wood or coppice :

" And then should the horsemen hold them out aside
and somedele tofore, with long rods in their hands to
meet with her, and blow a moot and rechase,* and
halloo and set the hounds in the rights if they see her.
Also for to keep that no hound follows to sheep nor to
other beasts ; and if they do to ascry t him sore and
alight and take him up and lash him well, saying, Ware,
ha, ha, ware, ware, and lash him forth to his fellows."

Blooding or rewarding the hounds was a ceremony
with which considerable importance was connected,
and the performance is directed in the following
manner :

" And when she hath been well chased and well
retrieved, notwithstanding her rusing, squatting, and
reseating, so that by strength at last she be bitten J by
the hounds, whoso is next should start to get her whole

* Rechase or recheat, a note on the horn to call back the hounds.

t Ascry, rate.

Rusing, making a ruse or stratagem.

$ Bitten, taken.


from the hounds, and hold her from the hounds* over
his head high, and blow the death that men may gather
thither. And when they be come, then should she be
stripped, all save the head, and the gall and the paunch
cast away. And all the remainder should be laid on a
great staff, or on a board, whoso hath it, or fm the
earth ; and there should be chopped as small as it might
be, so that it hang together. And when it is so dight
then should one of the berners * take it up -and hold it
as high as he may in his hands.! And when the hounds
have bayed as long as the aforesaid master has lust,
then should the berner, as high as he may, pull every
piece from the other, and cast to every hound his
reward ; and then should the most master blow a mote
and stroke, if so be that he thinketh that the hounds
have done enough, and else he should rest a while if
the hounds were hot, till they are cool, and then lead
to the water to lap."

The performance closely resembles our manner of

Online LibraryCornelius TongueRecords of the chase and memoirs of celebrated sportsmen : illustrating some of the usages of olden times and comparing them with prevailing customs → online text (page 1 of 24)