I. H G..

Hound and horn; or, The life and recollections of George Carter, the great huntsman online

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/ETAT 79.







BY I. H. G.




And at Bungay Suffolk.



THE preface is of no value beyond giving the
author an opportunity of button-holing the reader
before starting, just to warn him that this is not
a " sporting book " in the common sense of the
word, and that he is not and does not aspire to
be a " sporting (?) writer," one of those who claim
to be experts in describing a run, in the story
whereof there is little or no clue about the weather,
the wind, the scent, the line of country, and the
finding and hunting and death of the fox the only
details which interest the real sportsman though
there is a great deal about "that prince of sports-
men," the master, the writer's joy at seeing Lord
and Lady So-and-so in the saddle, and Miss Dinah
on her pony, Daisy charming as ever, &c., &c. This
class of writer aggravates real sportsmen, who look



with silent contempt on the " padding " of which
so-called "account of runs" mainly consists, the
writers whereof take in vain the names of a whole
county - side themselves not knowing a lady or
gentleman in the shire who talk familiarly about
huntsmen and whips as " Charley This," and " Bill
That," and degrade the fox by designating him as
"Reynard," "Charley," "Sly boots," &c., &c.

This kind of "chatter" though vulgar, is harm-
less, and is only alluded to en passant.

Speaking in the first person, I have not aspired
to write any book, nor have I scribbled sensa-
tional nonsense for the public. I have only jotted
down the things I have heard from one of the
finest huntsmen that ever carried a horn, whose
only thought was with his hounds, whose horn was
only touched when required, and who, while he rode
well to the last, and boldly I believe in his former
years (but that was before my acquaintance with him)
looked upon his horse simply as a means of carrying
him up to the hounds, expecting, of course, to be
mounted on an animal capable of so doing while it
wanted little guidance from him. He never once


thought whether there was a fence to be " negotiated "
(that I believe is " Mr. Gent's " expression), or whether
he had simply to ride over the open. In all my hours
with Carter during a period of nineteen years, and we
were much together, he rarely mentioned his horse at
all, unless I happened to call his attention to some
particular animal which he might have ridden, and
then his reply was generally " Oh, yes, 'twere a very
good one, and carried me well for two, three, or more
seasons," as the case might be, but not one word about
" I rode him, or her, over a five-barred gate, or a
double flight of posts and rails, or a brook a quarter
of a mile wide."

Having myself been born and bred in the centre
of the Tedworth Hunt, and being familiar with
every inch of the country, which was " the happy
hunting ground " of George Carter for very many
years of his life, it struck me that many of the
real sportsmen of England might like to read some
of the old man's opinions and recollections of sport,
together with his experiences of old fashions and
new. This book simply professes to be jottings of
the old huntsman's fireside talk to myself, from time


to time, during very many years, and of little events
of which I can speak from personal experience.

In alluding to the dead I have kept before me
the old golden rule, " De mortuis," &c. ; in alluding
to the living, if I have said a word which may
occasion to any one a moment's pain, I trust I may
have the benefit of its being attributed to inad-
vertence, and that the person or persons who may
be aggrieved will consider that my apology has
been tendered before demanded. So now let us
leave the Preface, and get on with






GEORGE CARTER was born of respectable parents
in the village of Bromfield, near Ludlow, Salop, on
November 29th, 1792, and at an early age showed a
true love for the noble science with which his whole
after-life was so closely associated.

According to his own account he used, while quite
a boy, to " mouch " from school, to run with a pack of
harriers in the neighbourhood whenever the oppor-
tunity offered. These repeated acts of truantry,
coming to the ears of the home-rulers, and not meet-
ing with their approval, caused such a disruption in
the family circles, that young George left his father's
house, and took service with Mr. Forrester of Elmley,
to look after horses, make himself generally useful
about the stables, with the chance of an occasional
mount as whip to the harriers ; and after some time



he looked after the pack altogether. This was his first

We find him next at Mickletown, about the age of
twenty, where he had the management of a pack of
harriers, kept by the Kev. Mr. Graves, and after about
two years' service with this gentleman he laid by the
horn for a time, and took to farming. But his heart
was still in hunting, and, finding his new occupation
not so profitable as he supposed, he again found service
in the saddle, donning the red coat and cap in
preference to the green, and became whip to the
Warwickshire, with Mr. Shirley as " master/' and Jack
Wood as " huntsman." This was about the year 1823.
What may have been his reason for leaving this service
is of little consequence, but about 1825 he again
returned to harriers kept by Mr. West ; and in 1827
he entered the service of his Grace the Duke of
Grafton, as whip, under Ned Rose. Here he con-
tinued till 1831, when he got his promotion by going
to the Honourable Grantley Berkeley, who at that
time hunted the Oakley. This was his first appear-
ance as huntsman. In 1833 he once more returned
to the Duke of Grafton, and here he carried the horn
in his Grace's country.

A continued service of twelve years with such a
pack and in such a country soon established his


reputation, and on his Grace's hounds being sold in
1842 the Squire of Tedworth secured the lot, with
the understanding that George Carter was to come
with them, or, as it is said he expressed it, "He
bought the hounds and George Carter." As Mr.
Assheton Smith hunted his own hounds four days a
week, the remaining two were assigned to George
Carter with a third pack, and every Wednesday
throughout the season found him in Wherwell Wood,
which he rented of the Vine, and on Saturday he
was at the extreme southern side, or rather a part
which Mr. Smith secured from the New Forest Hunt.
This country extended from Speerywell to Clarendon
Park, or beyond it.

It was said of Mr. Assheton Smith, that his great
ambition was to have it recorded of him that he had
hunted hounds at eighty years of age, but this he never
accomplished. About two years before his death,
finding himself no longer able to do so much in the
saddle, he presented one pack to the Craven, cut his
own hunting days with the Tedworth down to four in
the week, and left the entire management to George
Carter. On the death of Mr. Assheton Smith, the
hounds were left in the country, and a committee of
management was formed, with the Marquis of
Ailesbury as master, and in 1865, when the old



huntsman had attained to the age of seventy-three
years, and it being considered by the committee that
the post was becoming too arduous for him, George
Carter was persuaded to retire, though rather against
his will, when he took up his residence in the village
of Milton, in Pewsey Vale. But still the same love
of the old sport burned bright within him, and the
hearty greetings which always awaited him at the
coverside, whenever he came out with the old pack,
or with any other pack in the neighbourhood, showed
how he still carried with him the respect and esteem
of all, from the highest to the lowest.

As a huntsman, whether in the kennel or in the
field, George Carter has never been surpassed. Of a
fine commanding figure, which he carried upright as
a dart almost to the last, whether he were on foot or
In the saddle; with a sedate and rather stern ex-
pression of countenance, till his face lighted up with
a smile ; with a wonderful rich cheery voice, and with
a manner noted for its courtesy, he showed that he was
a man who never forgot himself by taking a liberty
and one with whom no one but a fool or a madman
would venture on an impertinent familiarity. George
Carter stood as it were alone, or at least one of that
very rare class called "nature's gentlemen." He was
twice married and had a numerous family; three


of his sons have followed the same line of life as
himself; George, well known with the Fitzwilliam,
John, who has tried his fortunes with various packs
abroad, and Charles, the youngest, who, it is to be
hoped, will tread in his father's footsteps.

As the whole of George Carter's life may be gathered
in reading what follows in his Recollections, little more
need be said here. Those recollections speak of his
doings in the various countries in which he hunted,
and as he was a man of the strictest integrity, of the
most simple modesty, and of a most wonderful memory,
there was with him no dressing up tales of his per-
formances, no exaggeration, but a true and unvarnished
account. As one, who while he won his bread and
earned his livelihood by hunting, dearly loved the sport
for hunting's sake and nothing else, we have brought
the old man down to the end of his professional career,
and it was after his relinquishing the horn and retiring
into private life, that these Recollections of his former
days have been gathered from his own mouth, and now
sent forth to the public by one who, of somewhat
kindred spirit, treasured every one of his kind old
mentor's words, and would scorn to be aught but a
faithful scribe to so faithful a narrator.


IF any one were to ask me, "How long have you
known George Carter?" the natural answer to the
inquiry would be, "Since the beginning of 1846,"
which was the date of my first coming back to reside
in the home of my first childhood and within the limits
of the Tedworth Hunt. It was about four years pre-
vious to this that George came to Mr. Assheton Smith's,
but at that time he acted as kennel-huntsman, and
had his own two regular days, with the third pack ;
and as one of those days in every week (Wednesday)
was invariably Wherwell Wood, and *the other
(Saturday) on the extreme south part of the country
that was rented, or at least hunted, by the Tedworth
pack, though belonging to the New Forest country,
I had but little opportunity of making any very
intimate acquaintance with the great huntsman, whose
memoirs or recollections I am now endeavouring to


commit to paper, and it was only on some chance
occasion when Mr. Assheton Smith was prevented from
hunting, that Carter carried the horn with either of the
Squire's special packs on the other days of the week.
Still one occasionally went to the kennels, or came
across the huntsman in some way or other, or it
might be that Mr. Smith would come ottt "a gentle-
man," as I believe he expressed it, and hand over
the hunting of his own pack, for the day, to
George Carter.

But after a while old age began to tell on the Squire
of Tedworth, and though he fought against the attacks
of time most manfully, and was very anxious, as was
reported, to have it handed down to posterity that he
had hunted his own hounds at fourscore, for once the
sturdy will of Mr. Assheton Smith had to give in ; and
some two years previous to his death, having disposed
of the third pack, or rather presented them to the
Craven Hunt, he cut down his own days of hunting to
four, and gave up the horn to George Carter.

From that time till 1865, George Carter acted
regularly as huntsman, and in that capacity one had
a better opportunity of becoming acquainted with him
in every part of the Tedworth country ; but still it was
not till a much later period, when he retired from active
life, that I formed what may be truly called a strong and


lasting friendship with the dear old man, which never
was broken for an hour, and which only grew and
increased with time.

Grand and upright as his figure was in the saddle,
cheery and musical as was his voice, dignified as was
his manner, he never forgot that he was a servant, and
combined dignity with a most respectful deportment.
But all this was as nothing to what I found him to be
in his private life, and it was after his retirement that
I first really began to know George Carter, and to
appreciate the society of one, who, while he possessed
every kind of knowledge of the noble science, and was
.never surpassed either as kennel or field huntsman, was
utterly without conceit, and remarkable for his quiet,
unassuming manner. It was a matter of great con-
gratulation to myself that George Carter should have
fixed upon Milton as his place of residence, and it was
not long after his arrival, and his getting himself settled
down in his new quarters, that I paid him the first formal
visit ; and, as was very natural, our conversation soon
turned upon hounds and hunting. But this was not
as I found, " all serene" at starting. The old man for
old he was (seventy- three) could not quite understand
his being " turned out," as he expressed it. And there
was naturally some little jealousy at seeing " Jack,"
who has been his pupil from a boy, usurping the place


at Tedworth which he still felt competent to fill.
Nor did this feeling altogether die away for some
time ; and for more than one season after his appoint-
ment as huntsman I observed that Jack Fricker did
not often return home from the Oare Hill side of the
country through Milton ; and I always fancied there
was not the best possible feeling towards him from my
old friend. Now, I won't take credit for a moment
for anything which might have occurred in after years,
but I am thankful to say this feeling gradually dis-
appeared, and I believe the present huntsman of the
Tedworth never after this felt more pleasure than
when he could come home by Milton, and stop, if
only for a few moments, just to let "Master" as
I believe he always addressed him know what he
had done.

As the hunting season came round, after his coming
to reside at Milton, I hoped that George Carter would
have occasionally come out with the old pack, as he
had a " tidy cottage," as he expressed it, with stabling,
&c., about six acres of meadow land, and he had
also a very nice easy galloway kind of horse, which
had been sent to him by his son Andrew ; but at first
it was no go with him, and if I remember right, it was
not till the second year of his being at Milton that
I could prevail on him to show his face at the covert


side. The ice once broken, it was all right ; and after
that, as he generally had a nice easy horse of his own
or a mount from some one of his friends, I always
looked for a ride to covert on a Tuesday and possibly
Thursday morning, with dear old George Carter ; and
proud I felt at seeing the greetings on all sides, as we
appeared together at the meet. The red coat and
cap were, after a time, but not at first, as will be seen,
once more in the right place; and it was a question
whether they most became the old man, or he them.
His seat in the saddle was as good as ever, and his
voice had lost nothing of its rich and musical note ; but
it was in the evening of a hunting or non-hunting day,
during the season, that I always looked forward to my
chat with old Carter. During the summer I saw him
every day and all day, as it might happen ; but as the
days drew in and hounds were out, I rarely missed
that last hour or so before going in for the evening
meal ; and six o'clock, or thereabouts, regularly found
me in old George Carter's snug parlour, just to have
a talk of hunting, or something connected with it;
and then I gathered the incidents of his former life,
as they came from his own lips. It is to those pleasant
half-hours that I can now look back with satisfaction ;
and the only regret is that they are days that can
never come again.


With the hope, then, that the recollections of the
old huntsman may not be altogether thrown away
on a rising generation, and that this may help
occasionally to pass away an hour that might hang
heavily, let us see how they may best be presented
to the reader.


IT was in the year 1865 that George Carter having
retired from active life, and at the age of seventy- three
thinking perhaps the duties of huntsman to a four days'
a week pack rather greater than he could manage, said
good-bye to the kennels at Tedworth, and sought in the
quiet little village of Milton a home for his latter years.
There was a very comfortable house, quite sufficient for
his own wants and that of his family, with stabling,
sheds, yards, &c., adjoining, and about six acres of good
pasture land attached, which had a short time previously
been bought by a very well-known and respected char-
acter in the Tedworth Hunt, one Mr. Caleb Symonds,
who had for many years held the office of head game-
keeper, and afterwards park keeper, or verderer, as I
always chose to designate him, to the Marquis of Ailes-
bury, at Savernake Forest. The forest used, within
my recollection, to be hunted by the Craven, and I have
heard George Carter say that Mr. Smith had offered old
Lord Ailesbury, the father of the present and late


marquis, one of whom was then Earl Bruce, and the
other Lord Ernest Bruce, five hundred a year to hunt it.
The late marquis, however, would not upset the old
arrangement, and so it was not till after Mr. Smith's
death that Savernake, or Marlborough Forest, as it is
generally called, with all that side of the country,
came into the Tedworth Hunt. 1 Mrs. Smith, it must
be remembered, gave the hounds to the country,
so that it might still continue to be hunted. And
so it was that a committee was formed for manage-
ment, with Lord Ailesbury as chairman, and nominal
master of the hounds. Carter and Caleb Symonds
were well known to each other, and it was very
natural that when the retired huntsman was looking
about for a home, and the verderer had a place to
suit him standing empty, that the two should soon
come to terms, and so it was that George Carter
came to live at Milton. His family consisted of Mrs.
Carter his second wife, three daughters and his
youngest son Charley, a smart little fellow of about
fourteen and a splendid rider. The rest of his family,
and there were very many of them, were all away, and
as it is said, " out in the world." Here then old George

1 I have not entered into any detail of arrangement as to how the
forest, &c., has been hunted by the Tedworth hounds, as this is a
matter with which the general public have nothing to do.


Carter "kennelled himself," as he expressed it. And
here, too, about six o'clock in the evening during the
winter months, after his tea, he used to get into his
easy chair on one side of the fire the hearth swept
up, the room put tidy, and the lamp lighted and on
the opposite side of the fire stood another easy chair,
empty. Gentle reader, have you ever seen a fire ? or
do you know what a good fire is ? Possibly you think
you do. I have certainly seen many in Wiltshire, in
the old farm-houses, years ago, when the fire was of
wood, great. " flocks " burnt on the hearth on dogs,
and the chimney corner was a warm and comfortable
spot. None of your carpeted best parlours, or what-
ever you may call them, with a little fiddle-faddle
stove or grate, that throws out little heat and plenty
of smoke if the wind is anywhere but in one quarter,
and that never the right one. Well, George Carter
did burn his fire in a grate, it is true, but it was
generally of wood, and he or his family knew how the
fire should be made up, and if it was not properly
made up well, the old huntsman 'perhaps, had not
forgotten altogether how to " rate."

We will fancy, then, a cold evening in December,
or, at all events, in the winter, room cheery, fire
burning bright, old huntsman sitting in his easy chair,
Mrs. Carter, " a nice tidy 'ooman," (I always like to


quote my old friend's own words), at needlework at
the table, girls doing something about the house,
Charley, well, not in mischief, when comes a knock
with a stick or whip-handle against the door ; with a
" Yoi-doit there ! " " Come in, sir, here's yerr kennel
waiting for ye." And with a cheery greeting from
the old man, and a smile of recognition, all round,
" the kennel," or the easy chair, on the opposite side
of the fire, becomes tenanted, and then we know what
will quickly follow. We will suppose it to have been
a hunting day, when the writer of these memoirs
should have been out with the hounds and the old
huntsman, for some reason or other, not having been
out. The first question, of course after the greeting
all round, comes from the old man, " Well, sir, I beg
y'r pardon " ; now, reader, please to remark this, I am
going to stick to George Carter's words or expressions,
all through. I have said he was never wanting in respect
to any one ; he was a man of great dignity of manner,
but with it he combined that happy knack of never
forgetting himself, especially when he was, as he said,
" talking to a gentleman." He never took a liberty with
any one, and no one ever dared to try it on with him.
He was truly one of " nature's gentlemen," even if he
was, as he said, " only a servant." This was his own
way of putting it. So now to work.


"WELL, sir, I beg y'r pardon, what have ye done

" Oh ! a very fair day's sport, old friend. We found
a fox just beyond Pomfrey's Gorse, brought him across
the bottom towards the middle ride, knocked him about
a bit in the further quarter, till at last we brought him
out, as I thought, for Clench Common : but he turned
away across the open for the top of Oare Hill, and then
all along the down for Huish Hill and Copher Wood,
and then sunk the hill, for you know where. Who-
whoop, and no blood ! "

O.H. " Now, sir, I beg y'r pardon ; you see that fox
kept creeping about till he gets the ground foiled, and
then he slipt away with a side wind, sir, as may be so,
(and up comes the poker, and with it the O.H. seems to
point out the line). Well, sir, when he got to the top o'
Oare Hill, he know'd the earth, in the bottom under


Gopher Wood, and so that took him up-wind ; and if
that earth had been ' Put-too' l as it ought to have
been, you'd ha' ' caught him' before he could ha* got
back to the West Woods. Oh dear, dear, I do know
all about it, and so I ought, for I've a-hunted all
my life, and if I hadn't I shouldn't ha' been here
now. Ahem ! " (N.B. This is intended to represent
a peculiar clearing of the throat, and one of the old
man's peculiarities.)

Now, gentle reader, having established a kind of
precedent in the huntsman's parlour, and the easy chairs
or kennels, or what not, we will suppose ourselves there
on any evening in the winter, and to the best of my
ability I will give some of the recollections as they come
across me. Let it not be considered a want of good
taste if George Carter did not consider the late Mr.
Assheton Smith quite such a demi-god as some people
might suppose him or wish him to have been. The old
Squire of Tedworth had doubtless many good points of
character, and kept up a splendid establishment at his
own expense for everybody who cared for hunting to
enjoy; but George Carter lived with him for over

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