N.Y.) National Temperance Society (New York.

Baily's Magazine of sports and pastimes, Volume 9 online

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have a turn down hill, in order to prevent the wind and water
from entering in stormy weather, and be concealed by thorn-bushes.
The three passages should be over a foot deep, with the main one
longer than the others, and covered in with tiles. In the centre is
the lodging-room. This must be kept especially dry and tho-
roughly drained, since a fox will not kennel in any place not free
from moisture. He may be found in osier-beds, amidst rushes
and other wet resorts, but if his kennel were examined it would
be found to be situated on a small knoll or at the foot of an alder-
bush, high and dry, sheltered, and without a particle of damp
herbage. Years ago, when with the Vine, in the palmy and wcll-
remembered days of an M. F, H., we recollect an osier-bed, sur-
rounded by water, near Hurtsbourne Park, which invariably held a
good fox, and on a non-hunting day we went to find out where and
in what corner of this overflowing morass the gallant fellow was
wont to harbour. Somewhere towards the centre, in a quasi island,
which it seemed almost impossible for him to get at without a
ducking, this ' Hermit of the dale * had most comfortable quarters
amidst the reeds and long sedges, perfectly dry ; and his ' Angelina,
' ever dear,* had a litter there in the following spring, without any
fear of her little family drowning. Old and young have long since
gone the way of all flesh ; for

• Fox — wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long' —

especially with a fellow like Jack Russell after him. Apart from
the central lodging-room should be a niche with a wooden shaft or
chimney, down which the food may be thrown ; the lid on the top
must be on a level with the ground, padlocked, and with a turf to
conceal it. It must be observed that if the food was thrown out on
the ground carelessly, curs would find it out, and the foxes, being
distiurbed, would quit the covert, and no longer use the earth.

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l865*] L* O^^ B£C1CF0RD OP THE W£ST/ 285

Cubs, when young, may at first feed underground ; the old foxes,
however, rarely eat in the day time, and at night take out the food
from the earth, devour it outside, and invariably bury the remamder.
This has been proved by bones of birds and rabbits that have .
been thrown down the shaft lying about on the bank outside the
earth. Rabbits form the staple commodity of their kitchen ; then
birds ; and of all the feathered larder, they the most relish pigeons.
Ducks and fowls seem to be on a par with the peculiarity of eating
the breasts of each before attacking the legs. In fact, they might be
said to be very delicate in their cussim if it were not for their pre-
dilection for excessive putridity. Like aldermen, they eat their game
extremely high, but, unlike them, abjure everything tainted with salt
or spice. The food should be given in the evening, and on particular
days, which they soon learn to know, and come with punctuality
from a distance for the expected meal. When cubs are young they
may be fed three times a week with sops soaked in milk, which they
eat freely, then twice a week ; and when full grown, about October,
one day is sufficient : but the d^ should never be changed, nor the
food given irregularly in time. The advantage of this shall be shown
presently.

It might be supposed that in localities where thfcse precautions are
adopted, an attack on the poultry yard would be prevented ; such,
however, is not the case. When a vixen has laid up her cubs, her
devouring thirst for blood — warm blood — is insatiate. Abandoning
all other nx>d, she will enter a hen-roost or make an onslaught upon
a flock of geese, kill bird after bird, take a bite at the neck, and,
with a mouthful of the breast sufficient to make the blood run freely,
she will lap up the warm stream, and then leave it to feast upon
another. We have had a long experience in these matters, and, as
a rule, the wholesale destruction of which the farmer, or the wife of
the farmer, so loudly complains, takes place at this particular junc-
ture, for which there is no remedy except by remuneration, and to
this the farmer is Biirly entitled.

The daring and appetites of the vixen are remarkable on these
occasions. We will give an instance. A farmer's wife one morning
brought a mangled duck that told its own tale, for the neck and breast
had undergone the usual operation for blood. On observing that had
the ducks been carefully housed the misfortune would not have hap-
pened, the woman replied that the ducks had been shut up in an
outhouse in which there was a small open window more than six
feet from the ground, and that the fox had managed to bring out
the ducks — for he had handled more than one of them — through this
small space. The farm was not hr from a false earth, where a noted
vixen was rearing her young ones, and was being plentifully fed.
Our trusty fox-keeper was placed on the watch. Early the next
morning the vixen returned, leaped clean upon the window-ledge,
and was amongst the bevy of quacking ducks. After a moment her
brush was first seen protruding from the aperture, and then, turning
in an incredibly small space, with a duck, in her mouth, down she

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286 ^OUR BECICFORD Of TH£ WEST.' [ApHl,

came with her bootjr. She must have leaped up over six feet, twisting
in the jump, with the duck in her mouth, and then come out ^ back-
* sifore,* as thev say in the west. Unless the feat had been wit-
nessed, it would have been deemed impossible, and the Omar's wife
have been accused of deceit and extortion. It is this thirst for warm
blood that makes the vixen follow the ewes during lambing time.
They never touch the lamb but devour the reeking after-birth. The
real sheep-stealer and lamb-killer is the custodian sheep-dc^, and the
blame is laid upon the fox. Once more we quote the ^ Foxhunter,
^ rough and ready,' in the poem of Mr. Davies, and a more solid
authority cannot be given : —

' Foul slander that, as ever came V

In malice from the throat of Fame)

Think you, said he, in this wild spot.

Where human aid avails them not,
' * Where, heather bom, no ear is nigh

To note their feeble infant cry 5

Where shelter in the fern ana rocks

Is shared alike by lambs and fox $ .

If once a fox by hunger led.

The blood of lambs had fiercely shed,

That e*er again that fox would stay

His havoc on the helpless prey f

Ah, no ! the beast would soon be found 'tj

The terror of the country round ;

The slayer would destroy by scores,

His victims on the lonely moors ;

And every fanner then might fear

The devastation far and near.*

All that we know on the subject of fox-rearing and feeding was
derived from the gallant and worthy Paul Treby, as the amount of
knowledge we mav possess of the noble science was learnt fix>m the
not less gallant and worthy, and hr more renowned John Russell.

In a former paper was described a peculiar trap adapted for
securing a fox without injury ; and the plan originally devised for
mischief was] cleverly converted by John Blatchford, a skilful fox-
keeper, into a means for obviating the misery of a blank day. He
was a sharp fellow, and all the sharper for not being able to read or
write. In the centre of a large plantation abounding with gorse,
Paul Treby had superintended the construction of a large earth, and
it was on that occasion that Blatchford so fashioned and adapted the
principle of the trap as to secure a fox in the earth at any time. An
iron plate of the width of the main entrance was fixed and balanced
between two pieces of wood at the mouth of the hole, and the plate
or shoe, upon the principle of the old-fashioned stirrup used by
ladies, was made moveable upon a hinge. A short chain with a pad-
lock kept it firmly fixed down ^t the lower end, in order that the
fox might enter without hindrance, and the whole was covered over
and imbedded in earth. The foxes, accustomed to the inclined
plane from the time they were cubs, took no notice of it. The
feeding was regular at stated times, and the food was brought to the
earth every Saturday night. So weU were the old foxes habituated



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1 865-] * OUR BECKFORD OF THE WEST.* 287

to this arrangement that they came from afar for their weekly allow-
ance, and the earth never failed of being used. Thus, in case the
distant country had been drawn blank, on Monday the hounds were
brought to Newton plantation for the chance of their two o'clock
fox. On the Saturday night the plate had been unpadlocked and
nicely balanced, the earth loosened and hollowed out on the inner
side, and the two upper entrances stopped. When the fox went in
the shoe or plate tipped up behind him, the lower end was caught
fast in a groove, and he was safe. When wanted, the earth was
unstopped, a terrier was put in at the lower end, a cheer, and he
was away. He always showed a good run, invariably going right
away for Dartmoor — eight miles. It is not possible to say whether
he would have become wise by experience, for in those days no fox
ever lived before Russell to tell a second tale. The secret of the
Blatchford trap has never before been divulged. Many knew that
there was a mystery, yet they never could understand the certainty
of a find in Newton plantation, and the equal certainty of a good
run. Even the racy and witty John Bulteel, who always affirmed,
in his post-prandial raillery, that Jack Blatchford had worn away his
vitals — he was very thin — from lying down night after night with
a fox in his arms, failed to reach the truth. He was too acute a
sportsman to place credit in the story of a bag, and dear old Paul
Treby held his own counsel and shook his head.

We have mentioned the name of Mr. Russell. Of this singular
and egregious sportsman, whose name is public property as the
synonym for hunting excellence, it is difficult to do even common
justice. His status in the hunting world is beyond doubt and cavil,
and has been firmlv established, as a master of hounds and as a hunts-
man, by long ana unvaried success, for nearly ten years over the
quarter of a century. As such reputation has graduated during that
period from the positive to the comparative and superlative degree,
the question of desert may be considered to be settled. His great
and peculiar merit consists in possessing an equal knowledge of the
nature and habits of a fox as of that of the hound ; and having been
associated with, if not trained up by, Mr. Templer, of Stover, whose
mastery over the wild animal, in teaching him to hunt hare and
rabbit, has been related in No. 47 of ' Baily,* it is not surprising
that he has attained his present notoriety of pre-eminence. Space
will only permit a few brief notices of him, who is spoken of in the
Van of * Baily,* as the ' good and great John Russell.*

On the breaking-up of the establishment of Mr. Templer, of
Stover, the large pack went to Lord Portman, and the smaller one,
with the ' Let 'em alones,' were distributed throughout Devonshire.
Sir Henry Carew, Sir Arthur Chichester, Mr. Worth, and others,
had obtained large drafts ; and Mr. Templer reserved a few of the
best for his friend and pupil. These were the first hounds that Mr.
Russell ever possessed ; and with them, having no special district,
he hunted fox wherever he could find one. The fixtures were
irregular, depending upon a probable find 5 but if intelligence was
VOL. IX. — NO. 62. 2 B

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288 ^ OUR BECKFORD OF THE WEST.* [April,

authentic, distance mattered little, and Russell was sent for to kill
a fox, as a parson is sometimes required to lay a ghost. If the ghost
shared a similar fate, be did not appear again. This certainty of a
kill insured preservation, for the fiirmers never resorted to unfair
means within twenty miles of the kennel. The following is a
sampler petition from one who lived on the borders of the forest :

* Sir John Russel,

^ I am your humbl servant George Molton. I shold thank you

* If you plase to com to bentwitching And Hunt them foxes for I
*lorst 2 lambs, i Monday night 2ist Fcbrury. And the other on

* Saturday night 4th March.

* Your humbel Servant,

^George Molton.'

Mr. Arthur Harris, of Hayne, had at that time a pack of high-
bred harriers, with which he occasionally hunted fox on Dartmoor;
and knowing the value of the Tempter hounds, with their prevailing
Beaufort strain, he enlisted the services of his friend Russell to pro-
cure every hound to be had that was bred at Stover. It was also
agreed between them that the hounds bred by each under twentj
inches and a half should so to Mr. Harris, and those above that
standard should belong to Mr. Russell. This arrangement lasted for
a certain time ; but with packs of equal merit — and these were com-
posed, for the most part, of brothers and sisters — ^the sport is not
always even ; it depends upon the second-named element of the

* arma virumque ;* and Mr. Harris frequently deserted his own
hounds for those of his friend, with a fixture perhaps thirty or forty
miles distant Milestones do not exist for youth, and hack legs are
not taken into account. On one occasion, having had a fast chase
from the Springetts with Mr. Russell, with an eleven-o'-clock fox,
killing at Five Oaks, near Okehampton, other hounds were heard
running hard in the distant moorlands. These were the Hayne
hounds, coming towards Five Oaks, and carrying the line of a
chance fox which they had found, from Bratton Clovelly towards
Sourton Tor. The two masters got up at the cross-roads near
Prewley Moor — the hounds were at fiiult. Russell caught hold of
them, held them well forward — for the huntsman was going back
heel, like all west-country dolts — recovered the line, and had a
rattler, with a kill near Lidford. This settled the question. Mr.
Harris, then and there, proposed to join packs with Russell.
The offer was accepted. The hounds, after eating their fox,
were brought on to Five Oaks; and from seventy couple were
drafted down to thirty-eight. It was the affair of a moment.
The pick went to Iddesleigb, and the d^fts returned to Hayne.
These were sought for on all hands, from the predominance
of the Templer blood ; Mr. Tout, of Burrington, bad the choice,
and he never regretted, we believe, making that acquisition to
his kennel. The best of the Hayne lot that went to Mr. Russell
were bred from the Belvoir Rosamond, by Rockwood j Governess,



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1865.] ^ OUR BECKFORD OF THE WEST.* 289

from Sir Tatton Sjrkes, by Climbank, by Comrade, by Splendour ;
and Madcap and Madrigal from George Templer. This was
the origin of that pack of dwarf foxhounds that first tended to
make the name of Russell famous throughout the hunting commu-
nity of England. In the first season of the joint mastership, with
only a thin sprinkling of foxes, out of thirty-two found in coverts,
twenty-eight were killed, after runs more or less good : two were
earthed, and two were lost. In fact, Russell had the inveterate
habit — a happy one — of never missing, and always handling his fox,
till the country people would not believe in the possibility of his ever
losing one by fair means. This fructified largely to the good cause ;
for the small farmers and their wives preserved strictly ; and the
shilling of Jack Russell for hot-stopping to the excellent bucolic,
and the Sunday Testament, with a red shawl from his brother master
to the gudewife— on the spot, shilling and shawl, before the face of
all men and women — did more essential service than the promised
tens and twenties of pounds from the more powerful establishments.
Even at this distant day, a shilling token may be seen hanging round
the neck of a flaxen-headed grandchild, and tne fiided shawl and well-
thumbed Testament, with the * casus belli * written on the fly-leaf,
are preserved in remembrance of the time when ' Mr. Rissell came
* down to HoUacombe brake to chiack that there owld fox of ourn.'

The country that Mr. Russell hunted in in 1827, '28, '29 and *3q,
extended from Torrington to beyond Bodmin, from one covert ex-
tremity to the other extending over seventy miles, with kennels at
Iddesleigh, Hayne, Tetcott, and Pencarrow. The distances ridden
by men, occasionally, in those days were startling. Mr. Harris once
went from Pentillie Castle to the north of Devon, and returning —
116 miles — besides going through a slashing run; and Mr. Russell
repeatedly came from Iddesleigh to Dunmeer Wood, near Bodmin —
47 miles — on the Monday morning. Hacks, deserving of the name,
were at a premium. Melmoth, Landsend by Reveller, out of
Lucinda by OrviUe, Lalage by Anacreon, of Mr. Trelawny,
Georgiana by Young Gohanna, Gazelle, Ladybird, and Lucciola,
by Anacreon, of Mr. Harris, and Jerry by Grainsborough, of Mr.
Phillipps — would have fetched long prices in the present time,
for they could go and stay, up hill and down dale, safe as cats
over the most nefarious or Devonshire roads, till doomsday. No
one, however, went the distances constantly, week after week, all
weathers permitting, like Mr. Trelawny, the present M. F. H. He
never was absent from Chapman's Well in the Tetcott country, and
the 37 miles from Plymouth and back were performed regularly to
meet * the Man.* The prime cut from the skins of these road-
riders would make good saddle-leathers.

Mr. Russell hunted his more distant country, a fortnight at a
time, ever with an unvaried success that made his popularity and
reputation as an M. F. H. and huntsman circulate through castle,
hall, and cottage as a proverb. When the Hayne and Pencarrow
fortnights occurred, all the houses in the neighbourhood were filled to

2 E^ T

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290 * OUR BECKFORD OF THE WEST.* [ApiS,

overflowing — parties were invited for the especial time — ^not a stabk
was to be nad in the neighbouring towns, and the country assumed
an appearance of general festivity. These progresses had more the
character of hunting ovations than that of ordinary fixtures. Neither
let it be supposed that ^ the triumph all and joy ' was confined to the
higher classes. Every small farmer who had a moor pony, for miles
round *the wrckin,' was sure to be at his post; the labourers took
their holiday — work was suspended — a request was made eenerallj
that the meets might not be appointed on a market-day, and on (me
occasion a sale of stock in the immediate neighbourhood was put off
by printed notice until after the Russell fortnight. The last event
may be said to be a proof metallic that worthy Daniel Ward the
auctioneer — ^himself a thorough and hard-riding sportsman — felt a
conviction that a sale held within a few miles of a Russell fixture
would be contrary to the interests of his client. Chapman's Well,
it is true, was shorn of the specialities of Shearsby Inn or Gaddesbj
toll-bar, but the shortcomings of fashion were amply compensated
by the wild and healthy freshness of the hunting element ; whilst for
the ' capotes de Madame Decos tant coquets,' with the well-appointed
pony phaeton, might be seen a congregation of some of the hand-
somest lasses for which old Devonshire is proverbial, all in their
Sunday best, to see ^ Mr. Rissell a fox-hunting,' — possible maids,
willing widows, and proper wives — rare materials — * Bella roba da
* mangiar', e che ci vuol* di piu ?'

About five years since, the north of Devon country being vacant,
and Lord Portsmouth having driven many of his foxes into that
border district, Mr. Russell, with five couple and a half of hounds,
undertook, singly and unassisted, to drive them back. In thirty
days' hunting with this scratch lot he killed over ten brace of foxes
with capital runs, and only missed five. Again people came from
all parts to join in the doings with the eleven hounds, and to hear
once more the well-known scream.

There must be ingredients of unwonted superiority in the com-
position of this consummate sportsman to have given him that
imperial position which he occupies by common consent in the
hunting-field. If this confession of merit came from one class in
particular it mieht be attributed to partiality and favouritism, but
from the ducal Mcltonian and the best judge of hounds in England
(Lord Portsmouth) to the Master of a wayfaring subscription pack
— from the owner of blue mottles and illegitimate staggers down
to the overseer with the parish trencher pack — one and all concur
in an unanimity of opinion on the unrivalled ability of Russell.
Neither let it be supposed that, if not gifted with multitudinous acres,
or having had the luck to discover a Magenta dye, that the small
hounds of his palmv days in 1828 were slack in their appointments
cither in the kennel or in the field. The discipline of his hounds
was complete, their condition excellent, and their handiness in
drawing was a marvel, instances of which shall be given at a future
time, in covert their brilliancy and dash were the theme of general



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l865*] THB BEST HORSS, BTC* 29I

praise, and they had the most musical of tongues — an accessory

equally imperative and dehghtful, which they derived from their

Tcmpler and Beaufort strain. To his other attributes Mr. Russell

added that of an unvaried urbanity and good temper. A cheery word

and a ready hand won the goodwill of the farmer, from whom he never

received a cross hint about riding over wheat, and other trifles ;

and when weather was adverse, or untoward contrarieties intervened,

a fund of humour and an amiable hilarity dispelled the lowering of

impending gloom. ^If there be one quality more precious than another

in the hunting-field it is a kind disposition and the soft word that

turneth away wrath. How rare is a good prophet there to be found

from "whose mouth floweth milk and honey. Let Masters of Hounds

following the Russell example live and learn to amend their ways.

It IS easy to preach, is it not ? — ' Et tu quoque, O Brute ! Eheu !'

When Michael Angelo was called upon to build the temple of

St. Peter at Rome, on ascending the hill above Florence, at his

departure, he turned towards the Duomo, the splendid work of Bru-

nelleschi, and exclaimed, ' Come te se posso, meglio di te mai I' So

likewise it may be said of Russell, that, possibly, there may be found

sportsmen equally good and true, but a better or more consummate

one there never was known to be. May his shadow never be less I

Here's to thee, glorious Jack Russell, aj/af avBpa>Vy in a bumper of

silky '47.

* And here's a hand, my trusty fiere,

And gie*s a han' o* thine,
And weMl tak* a right guid wallie-waught, <

For Auld Lang Syne/



THE BEST HORSE THAT EVER LOOKED THROUGH

A BRIDLE.

By * Argus.'

HoRNCASTLE Fair IS, par excellence^ the greatest mart for horses of
all descriptions, with the exception of those intended for racing pur-
poses, that is to be found in England. It is consequently the resort of
all our chief dealers, and never missed by those of France and Ger-
many. Thousands change hands, and for a week the town is as lively
as £)oncaster or Chester during the race time. It is from this fair have
proceeded those magnificent carriage-horses which duchesses rejoice
in, and for which John Anderson used to obtain such fabulous cheques.
From here have come those long and low dark-brown hacks which
Mr. Rice has educated with so much care, and which he assures
young comets will get them an heiress in three weeks, if they will
but walk them in the Row between twelve and two. From here
have proceeded those glorious hunters, to whom, after having had
patrician manners imparted to them by a Mason, a Darby, a Sheward,
a Chapman, or a Murray, are seen parading before the hunting-
boxes at Melton, between the months of >fovember and March.
Hundreds and hundreds of good horses have been brought up here

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292 THE BEST HORSE [A^P^J

by the Yorkshire and Lincohishire farmers, and readily changed
hands ^ but none of them, I imagine, ever came up to the form of
the one whose histoiy I am about to narrate, and whom I may cm«|
phatically describe as the best horse that ever looked through
bridle.

Well, then ; to Horncastle Fair, in 1836, a Mr. Jackson, living
in the neighbourhood of Thirsk, brought for sale a mealy-brown;
colt by Lottery. He was leggy and narrow, short in his quarters,
and his general appearance led to the idea that he would very pro-
bably gq back to the place from whence he came. One stout,
farmer-looking man, however, with a ruddy complexion, ditto hair,



Online LibraryN.Y.) National Temperance Society (New YorkBaily's Magazine of sports and pastimes, Volume 9 → online text (page 39 of 51)