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Title: Riding Recollections, 5th ed.
Author: Whyte-Melville, G. J. (George John), 1821-1878
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Riding Recollections, 5th ed." ***

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Transcriber's Note

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of corrections
is found at the end of the text. Oe ligatures have been expanded.

[Illustration: Frontispiece Page 123.]






  [_All Rights Reserved._]







  CHAPTER I.                                PAGE
  KINDNESS                                     3

  COERCION                                    13

  THE USE OF THE BRIDLE                       34

  THE ABUSE OF THE SPUR                       59

  HAND                                        72

  SEAT                                        94

  VALOUR                                     109

  DISCRETION                                 126

  IRISH HUNTERS                              144

  THOROUGH-BRED HORSES                       163

  RIDING TO FOX-HOUNDS                       180

  RIDING _at_ STAG-HOUNDS                    203

  THE PROVINCES                              220

  THE SHIRES                                 235



  The Dorsetshire farmer's plan of teaching horses to jump timber      8

  "If he should drop his hind legs, _shoot_ yourself off over his
    shoulders in an instant, with a fast hold of the bridle, at which
    tug hard, even though you may not have regained your legs"        32

  "Lastly, when it gets upon Bachelor, or Benedict, or Othello, or
    any other high-flyer with a suggestive name, it sails away close,
    often too close, to the hounds leaving brothers, husbands, even
    admirers, hopelessly in the rear"               (_Frontispiece_) 123

  "Perhaps we find an easy place under a tree, with an overhanging
    branch, and sidle daintily up to it, bending the body and
    lowering the head as we creep through, to the admiration of an
    indiscreet friend on a rash horse who spoils a good hat and
    utters an evil execration, while trying to follow our example"   138

  "When we canter anxiously up to a sign-post where four roads meet,
    with a fresh and eager horse indeed, but not the wildest notion
    towards which point of the compass we should direct his energies,
    we can but stop to listen, take counsel of a countryman, &c."    193

  At bay                                                             208

  "'Come up horse!' and having admonished that faithful servant with
    a dig in the ribs from his horn, blows half-a-dozen shrill blasts
    in quick succession, sticks the instrument, I shudder to confess
    it, in his boot, and proceeds to hustle his old white nag at the
    best pace he can command in the wake of his favourites"          225

  "The King of the Golden Mines"                                     242



As in the choice of a horse and a wife a man must please himself,
ignoring the opinion and advice of friends, so in the governing of each
it is unwise to follow out any fixed system of discipline. Much depends
on temper, education, mutual understanding and surrounding
circumstances. Courage must not be heated to recklessness, caution
should be implied rather than exhibited, and confidence is simply a
question of time and place. It is as difficult to explain by precept or
demonstrate by example how force, balance, and persuasion ought to be
combined in horsemanship, as to teach the art of floating in the water
or swimming on the back. Practice in either case alone makes perfect,
and he is the most apt pupil who brings to his lesson a good opinion of
his own powers and implicit reliance on that which carries him. Trust
the element or the animal and you ride aloft superior to danger; but
with misgiving comes confusion, effort, breathlessness, possibly
collapse and defeat. Morally and physically, there is no creature so
nervous as a man out of his depth.

In offering the following pages to the public, the writer begs
emphatically to disclaim any intention of laying down the law on such a
subject as horsemanship. Every man who wears spurs believes himself more
or less an adept in the art of riding; and it would be the height of
presumption for one who has studied that art as a pleasure and not a
profession to dictate for the ignorant, or enter the lists of argument
with the wise. All he can lay claim to is a certain amount of
experience, the result of many happy hours spent with the noble animal
under him, of some uncomfortable minutes when mutual indiscretion has
caused that position to be reversed.

If the few hints he can offer should prove serviceable to the beginner
he will feel amply rewarded, and will only ask to be kindly remembered
hereafter in the hour of triumph when the tyro of a riding-school has
become the pride of a hunting-field,--judicious, cool, daring, and
skilful--light of hand, firm of seat, thoroughly at home in the saddle,
a very Centaur

    "Encorpsed and demi-natured
    With the brave beast."



In our dealings with the brute creation, it cannot be too much insisted
on that mutual confidence is only to be established by mutual good-will.
The perceptions of the beast must be raised to their highest standard,
and there is no such enemy to intelligence as fear. Reward should be as
the daily food it eats, punishment as the medicine administered on rare
occasions, unwillingly, and but when absolute necessity demands. The
horse is of all domestic animals most susceptible to anything like
discomfort or ill-usage. Its nervous system, sensitive and highly
strung, is capable of daring effort under excitement, but collapses
utterly in any new and strange situation, as if paralysed by
apprehensions of the unknown. Can anything be more helpless than the
young horse you take out hunting the first time he finds himself in a
bog? Compare his frantic struggles and sudden prostration with the
discreet conduct of an Exmoor pony in the same predicament. The one
terrified by unaccustomed danger, and relying instinctively on the speed
that seems his natural refuge, plunges wildly forward, sinks to his
girths, his shoulders, finally unseats his rider, and settles down,
without further exertion, in the stupid apathy of despair.

The other, born and bred in the wild west country, picking its scanty
keep from a foal off the treacherous surface of a Devonshire moor,
either refuses altogether to trust the quagmire, or shortens its stride,
collects its energies, chooses the soundest tufts that afford foothold,
and failing these, flaps its way out on its side, to scramble into
safety with scarce a quiver or a snort. It has been there before! Herein
lies the whole secret. Some day your young one will be as calm, as wise,
as tractable. Alas! that when his discretion has reached its prime his
legs begin to fail!

Therefore cultivate his intellect--I use the word advisedly--even
before you enter on the development of his physical powers. Nature and
good keep will provide for these, but to make him man's willing friend
and partner you must give him the advantage of man's company and man's
instruction. From the day you slip a halter over his ears he should be
encouraged to look to you, like a child, for all his little wants and
simple pleasures. He should come cantering up from the farthest corner
of the paddock when he hears your voice, should ask to have his nose
rubbed, his head stroked, his neck patted, with those honest, pleading
looks which make the confidence of a dumb creature so touching; and
before a roller has been put on his back, or a snaffle in his mouth he
should be convinced that everything you do to him is right, and that it
is impossible for _you_, his best friend, to cause him the least
uneasiness or harm.

I once owned a mare that would push her nose into my pockets in search
of bread and sugar, would lick my face and hands like a dog, or suffer
me to cling to any part of her limbs and body while she stood perfectly
motionless. On one occasion, when I hung in the stirrup after a fall,
she never stirred on rising, till by a succession of laborious and
ludicrous efforts I could swing myself back into the saddle, with my
foot still fast, though hounds were running hard and she loved hunting
dearly in her heart. As a friend remarked at the time, "The little mare
seems very fond of you, or there might have been a bother!"

Now this affection was but the result of petting, sugar, kind and
encouraging words, particularly at her fences, and a rigid abstinence
from abuse of the bridle and the spur. I shall presently have something
to say about both these instruments, but I may remark in the mean time
that many more horses than people suppose will cross a country safely
with a loose rein. The late Colonel William Greenwood, one of the finest
riders in the world, might be seen out hunting with a single
curb-bridle, such as is called "a hard-and-sharp" and commonly used only
in the streets of London or the Park. The present Lord Spencer, of whom
it is enough to say that he hunts one pack of his own hounds in
Northamptonshire, and is always _in the same field with them_, never
seems to have a horse pull, or until it is tired, even lean on his hand.
I have watched both these gentlemen intently to learn their secret, but
I regret to say without avail.

This, however, is not the present question. Long before a bridle is
fitted on the colt's head he should have so thoroughly learned the habit
of obedience, that it has become a second instinct, and to do what is
required of him seems as natural as to eat when he is hungry or lie down
when he wants to sleep.

This result is to be attained in a longer or shorter time, according to
different tempers, but the first and most important step is surely
gained when we have succeeded in winning that affection which nurses and
children call "cupboard love." Like many amiable characters on two legs,
the quadruped is shy of acquaintances but genial with friends. Make him
understand that you are his best and wisest, that all you do conduces to
his comfort and happiness, be careful at first not to deceive or
disappoint him, and you will find his reasoning powers quite strong
enough to grasp the relations of cause and effect.

In a month or six weeks he will come to your call, and follow you about
like a dog. Soon he will let you lift his feet, handle him all over,
pull his tail, and lean your weight on any part of his body, without
alarm or resentment. When thoroughly familiar with your face, your
voice, and the motions of your limbs, you may back him with perfect
safety, and he will move as soberly under you in any place to which he
is accustomed as the oldest horse in your stable.

Do not forget, however, that education should be gradual as moon-rise,
perceptible, not in progress, but result. I recollect one morning riding
to covert with a Dorsetshire farmer whose horses, bred at home, were
celebrated as timber-jumpers even in that most timber-jumping of
countries. I asked him how they arrived at this proficiency without
breaking somebody's neck, and he imparted his plan.

The colt, it seemed, ran loose from a yearling in the owner's
straw-yard, but fed in a lofty out-house, across the door of which was
placed a single tough ashen bar that would not break under a bullock.
This was laid on the ground till the young one had grown thoroughly
accustomed to it, and then raised very gradually to such a height as was
less trouble to jump than clamber over. At three feet the two-year old
thought no more of the obstacle than a girl does of her skipping-rope.
After that, it was heightened an inch every week, and it needs no ready
reckoner to tell us at the end of six months how formidable a leap the
animal voluntarily negotiated three times a day. "It's never put no
higher," continued my informant; "I'm an old man now, and that's good
enough for me."

I should think it was! A horse that can leap five feet of timber in cold
blood is not likely to be pounded, while still unblown, in any part of
England I have yet seen.

[Illustration: Page 8.]

Now the Dorsetshire farmer's system was sound, and based on common
sense. As you bend the twig so grows the tree, therefore prepare your
pupil from the first for the purpose you intend him to serve hereafter.
An Arab foal, as we know, brought up in the Bedouin's tent, like another
child, among the Bedouin's children, is the most docile of its kind, and
I cannot but think that if he lived in our houses and we took as much
notice of him, the horse would prove quite as sagacious as the dog; but
we must never forget that to harshness or intimidation he is the most
sensitive of creatures, and even when in fault should be rather
cautioned than reproved.

An ounce of illustration is worth a pound of argument, and the following
example best conveys the spirit in which our brave and willing servant
should be treated by his lord.

Many years ago, when he hunted the Cottesmore country, Sir Richard
Sutton's hounds had been running hard from Glooston Wood along the
valley under Cranehoe by Slawston to Holt. After thirty minutes or so
over this beautiful, but exceedingly stiff line, their heads went up,
and they came to a check, possibly from their own dash and eagerness,
certainly, at that pace and amongst those fences, _not from being

"Turn 'em, Ben!" exclaimed Sir Richard, with a dirty coat, and Hotspur
in a lather, but determined not to lose a moment in getting after his
fox. "Yes, Sir Richard," answered Morgan, running his horse without a
moment's hesitation at a flight of double-posts and rails, with a ditch
in the middle and one on each side! The good grey, having gone in front
from the find, was perhaps a little blown, and dropping his hind legs in
the farthest ditch, rolled very handsomely into the next field. "It's
not _your_ fault, old man!" said Ben, patting his favourite on the neck
as they rose together in mutual good-will, adding in the same breath,
while he leapt to the saddle, and Tranby acknowledged the line--"Forrard
on, Sir Richard!--Hoic together, hoic! You'll have him directly, my
beauties! He's a Quorn fox, and he'll do you good!"

I had always considered Ben Morgan an unusually fine rider. For the
first time, I began to understand _why_ his horse never failed to carry
him so willingly and so well.

I do not remember whether Dick Webster was out with us that day, but I
am sure if he was he has not forgotten it, and I mention him as another
example of daring horsemanship combined with an imperturbable good
humour, almost verging on buffoonery, which seems to accept the most
dangerous falls as enhancing the fun afforded by a delightful game of
romps. His annual exhibition of prowess at the Islington horse show has
made his shrewd comical face so familiar to the public that his name,
without farther comment, is enough to recall the presence and bearing of
the man--his quips and cranks and merry jests, his shrill whistle and
ready smile, his strong seat and light, skilful hand, but above all his
untiring patience and unfailing kindness with the most restive and
refractory of pupils. Dick, like many other good fellows, is not so
young as he was, but he will probably be an unequalled rider at eighty,
and I am quite sure that if he lives to the age of Methuselah, the
extreme of senile irritability will never provoke him to lose his temper
with a horse.

Presence of mind under difficulties is the one quality that in riding
makes all the difference between getting off with a scramble and going
down with a fall. If unvaried kindness has taught your horse to place
confidence in his rider, he will have his wits about him, and provide
for _your_ safety as for his own. When left to himself, and not flurried
by the fear of punishment, even an inexperienced hunter makes surprising
efforts to keep on his legs, and it is not too much to say that while
his wind lasts, the veteran is almost as difficult to catch tripping as
a cat. I have known horses drop their hind legs on places scarcely
affording foothold for a goat, but in all such feats they have been
ridden by a lover of the animal, who trusts it implicitly, and rules by
kindness rather than fear.

I will not deny that there are cases in which the _suaviter in modo_
must be supplemented by the _fortiter in re_. Still the insubordination
of ignorance is never wholly inexcusable, and great discretion must be
used in repressing even the most violent of outbreaks. If severity is
absolutely required, be sure to temper justice with mercy, remembering
that, in brute natures at least, the more you spare the rod, the less
you spoil the child!



I recollect, in years gone by, an old and pleasant comrade used to
declare that "to be in a rage was almost as contemptible as to be in a
funk!" Doubtless the passion of anger, though less despised than that of
fear, is so far derogatory to the dignity of man that it deprives him
temporarily of reason, the very quality which confers sovereignty over
the brute. When a magician is without his talisman the slaves he used to
rule will do his bidding no longer. When we say of such a one that he
has "lost his head," we no more expect him to steer a judicious course
than a ship that has lost her rudder. Both are the prey of
circumstances--at the mercy of winds and waves. Therefore, however hard
you are compelled to hit, be sure to keep your temper. Strike in perfect
good-humour, and in the right place. Many people cannot encounter
resistance of any kind without anger, even a difference of opinion in
conversation is sufficient to rouse their bile; but such are seldom
winners in argument or in fight. Let them also leave education alone.
Nature never meant them to teach the young idea how to shoot or hunt, or
do anything else!

It is the cold-blooded and sagacious wrestler who takes the prize, the
calm and imperturbable player who wins the game. In all struggles for
supremacy, excitement only produces flurry, and flurry means defeat.

Who ever saw Mr. Anstruther Thompson in a passion, though, like every
other huntsman and master of hounds, he must often have found his temper
sorely tried? And yet, when punishment is absolutely necessary to extort
obedience from the equine rebel, no man can administer it more severely,
either from the saddle or the box. But whether double-thonging a restive
wheeler, or "having it out" with a resolute buck-jumper, the operation
is performed with the same pleasant smile, and when one of the
adversaries preserves calmness and common sense, the fight is soon over,
and the victory gained.

It is not every man, however, who possesses this gentleman's iron
nerve and powerful frame. For most of us, it is well to remember, before
engaging in such contests, that defeat is absolute ruin. We must be
prepared to fight it out to the bitter end, and if we are not sure of
our own firmness, either mental or physical it is well to temporise, and
try to win by diplomacy the terms we dare not wrest by force. If the
latter alternative must needs be accepted, in this as in most stand-up
fights, it will be found that the first blow is half the battle. The
rider should take his horse short by the head and let him have two or
three stingers with a cutting whip--not more--particularly, if on a
thorough-bred one, as low down the flanks as can be reached,
administered without warning, and in quick succession, sitting back as
prepared for the plunge into the air that will inevitably follow,
keeping his horse's head well-up the while to prevent buck-jumping. He
should then turn the animal round and round half-a-dozen times, till it
is confused, and start it off at speed in any direction where there is
room for a gallop. Blown, startled, and intimidated, he will in all
probability find his pupil perfectly amenable to reason when he pulls
up, and should then coax and soothe him into an equable frame of mind
once more. Such, however, is an extreme case. It is far better to avoid
the _ultima ratio_. In equitation, as in matrimony, there should never
arise "_the first quarrel_." Obedience, in horses, ought to be a matter
of habit, contracted so imperceptibly that its acquirement can scarcely
be called a lesson.

This is why the hunting-field is such a good school for leaping. Horses
of every kind are prompted by some unaccountable impulse to follow a
pack of hounds, and the beginner finds himself voluntarily performing
feats of activity and daring, in accordance with the will of his rider,
which no coercion from the latter would have induced him to attempt.
Flushed with success, and if fortunate enough to escape a fall,
confident in his lately-discovered powers, he finds a new pleasure in
their exercise, and, most precious of qualities in a hunter, grows "fond
of jumping."

The same result is to be attained at home, but is far more gradual,
requiring the exercise of much care, patience, and perseverance.

Nevertheless, when we consider the inconvenience created by the vagaries
of young horses in the hunting field, to hounds, sportsmen, ladies,
pedestrians, and their own riders, we must admit that the Irish system
is best, and that a colt, to use the favourite expression, should have
been trained into "an accomplished lepper," before he is asked to carry
a sportsman through a run.

Mr. Rarey, no doubt, thoroughly understood the nature of the animal
with which he had to deal. His system was but a convenient application
of our principle, viz., Judicious coercion, so employed that the brute
obeys the man without knowing why. When forced to the earth, and
compelled to remain there, apparently by the mere volition of a creature
so much smaller and feebler than itself, it seemed to acknowledge some
mysterious and over-mastering power such as the disciples of Mesmer
profess to exercise on their believers, and this, in truth, is the whole
secret of man's dominion over the beasts of the field. It is founded, to
speak practically, on reason in both, the larger share being apportioned
to the weaker frame. If by terror or resentment, the result of
injudicious severity, that reason becomes obscured in the stronger
animal, we have a maniac to deal with, possessing the strength of ten
human beings, over whom we have lost our only shadow of control! Where
is our supremacy then? It existed but in the imagination of the beast,
for which, so long as it never tried to break the bond, a silken thread
was as strong as an iron chain.

Perhaps this is the theory of all government, but with the conduct and
coercion of mankind we have at present nothing to do.

There is a peculiarity in horses that none who spend much time in the
saddle can have failed to notice. It is the readiness with which all
accommodate themselves to a rider who succeeds in subjugating _one_.
Some men possess a faculty, impossible to explain, of establishing a
good understanding from the moment they place themselves in the saddle.
It can hardly be called hand, for I have seen consummate horsemen,
notably Mr. Lovell, of the New Forest, who have lost an arm; nor seat,
or how could Colonel Fraser, late of the 11th Hussars, be one of the
best heavy-weights over such a country as Meath, with a broken and
contracted thigh? Certainly not nerve, for there are few fields too
scanty to furnish examples of men who possess every quality of
horsemanship except daring. What is it then? I cannot tell, but if you
are fortunate enough to possess it, whether you weigh ten stone or
twenty, you will be able to mount yourself fifty pounds cheaper than
anybody else in the market! Be it an impulse of nature, or a result of
education, there is a tendency in every horse to make vigorous efforts
at the shortest notice in obedience to the inclination of a rider's body
or the pressure of his limbs. Such indications are of the utmost service
in an emergency, and to offer them at the happy moment is a crucial test
of horsemanship. Thus races are "snatched out of the fire," as it is
termed, "by riding," and this is the quality that, where judgment,
patience, and knowledge of pace are equal, renders one jockey superior
to the rest. It enables a proficient also to clear those large fences
that, in our grazing districts especially, appear impracticable to the
uninitiated, as if the horse borrowed muscular energy, no less than
mental courage, from the resolution of his rider. On the racecourse and
in the hunting field, Custance, the well-known jockey, possesses this
quality in the highest degree. The same determined strength in the
saddle, that had done him such good service amongst the bullfinches and
"oxers" of his native Rutland, applied at the happy moment, secured on a
great occasion his celebrated victory with King Lud.

There are two kinds of hunters that require coercion in following
hounds, and he is indeed a master of his art who feels equally at home
on each. The one must be _steered_, the other _smuggled_ over a country.
As he is never comfortable but in front, we will take the rash horse

Let us suppose you have not ridden him before, that you like his
appearance, his action, all his qualities except his boundless ambition,
that you are in a practicable country, as seems only fair, and about to
draw a covert affording every prospect of a run. Before you put your
foot in the stirrup be sure to examine his bit--not one groom in a
hundred knows how to bridle a horse properly--and remember that on the
fitting of this important article depends your success, your enjoyment,
perhaps your safety, during the day. Horses, like servants, will never
let their master be happy if they are uncomfortable themselves. See that
your headstall is long enough, so that the pressure may lie on the bars
of the horse's mouth and not crumple up the corners of his lips, like a
gag. The curb-chain will probably be too tight, also the throat-lash; if
so, loosen both, and with your own hands; it is a pleasant way of making
acquaintance, and may perhaps prepossess him in your favour. If he wears
a nose-band it will be time enough to take it off when you find he shows
impatience of the restriction by shaking his head, changing his leg
frequently, or reaching unjustifiably at the rein.

I am prejudiced against the nose-band. I frankly admit a man in a
minority of one _must_ be wrong, but I never rode a horse in my life
that, to my own feeling, did not go more comfortably when I took it off.

Look also to your girths. For a fractious temper they are very
irritating when drawn too tight, while with good shape and a
breast-plate, there is little danger of their not being tight enough.
When these preliminaries have been carefully gone through mount nimbly
to the saddle, and take the first opportunity of feeling your new
friend's mouth and paces in trot, canter, and gallop. Here, too, though
in general it should be avoided for many reasons, social, agricultural,
and personal, a little "larking" is not wholly inexcusable. It will
promote cordiality between man and beast. The latter, as we are
considering him, is sure to be fond of jumping, and to ride him over a
fence or two away from other horses in cold blood will create in his
mind the very desirable impression that you are of a daring spirit,
determined to be in front.

Take him, however, up to his leap as slow as he will permit--if
possible at a trot. Even should he break into a canter and become
impetuous at last, there is no space for a violent rush in three
strides, during which you must hold him in a firm, equable grasp. As he
leaves the ground give him his head, he cannot have "too much rope,"
till he lands again, when, as soon as possible, you should pull him back
to a trot, handling him delicately, soothing him with voice and gesture,
treating the whole affair as the simplest matter of course. Do not bring
him again over the same place, rather take him on for two or three
fields in a line parallel to the hounds. By the time they are put into
covert you will have established a mutual understanding, and found out
how much you _dislike_ one another at the worst! It is well now to avoid
the crowd, but beware of taking up a position by yourself where you may
head the fox! No man can ride in good-humour under a sense of guilt, and
you _must_ be good-humoured with such a mount as you have under you

Exhaust, therefore, all your knowledge of woodcraft to get away on good
terms with the hounds. The wildest romp in a rush of horses is often
perfectly temperate and amenable when called on to cut out the work.
Should you, by ill luck, find yourself behind others in the first field,
avoid, if possible, following any one of them over the first fence. Even
though it be somewhat black and forbidding, choose a fresh place, so
free a horse as yours will jump the more carefully that his attention is
not distracted by a leader, and there is the further consideration,
based on common humanity, that your leader might fall when too late for
you to stop. No man is in so false a position as he who rides over a
friend in the hunting field, except the friend!

Take your own line. If you be not afraid to gallop and the hounds _run
on_, you will probably find it plain sailing till they check. Should a
brook laugh in your face, of no unreasonable dimensions, you may charge
it with confidence, a rash horse usually jumps width, and there will be
plenty of "room to ride" on the far side. It takes but a few feet of
water to decimate a field. I may here observe that, if, as they cross,
you see the hounds leap at it, even though they fall short, you may be
sure the distance from bank to bank is within the compass of a hunter's

At timber, I would not have you quite so confident. When, as in
Leicestershire, it is set fairly in line with the fence and there is a
good take-off, your horse, however impetuous, may leap it with impunity
in his stroke, but should the ground be poached by cattle, or dip as you
come to it, beware of too great hurry. The feat ought then to be
accomplished calmly and collectedly at a trot, the horse taking his
time, so to speak, from the motions of his rider, and jumping, as it is
called, "to his hand." Now when man and horse are at variance on so
important a matter as pace, the one is almost sure to interfere at the
wrong moment, the other to take off too soon or get too close under his
leap; in either case the animal is more likely to rise at a fence than a
rail, and if unsuccessful in clearing it a binder is less dangerous to
flirt with than a bar. Lord Wilton seems to me to ride at timber a turn
slower than usual, Lord Grey a turn faster. Whether father and son
differ in theory I am unable to say, I can only affirm that both are
undeniable in practice. Mr. Fellowes of Shottisham, perhaps the best of
his day, and Mr. Gilmour, _facile princeps_, almost walk up to this kind
of leap; Colonel, now General Pearson, known for so many seasons as "the
flying Captain," charges it like a squadron of Sikh cavalry; Captain
Arthur Smith pulls back to a trot; Lord Carington scarcely shortens the
stride of his gallop. Who shall decide between such professors? Much
depends on circumstances, more perhaps on horses. Assheton Smith used to
throw the reins on a hunter's neck when rising at a gate, and
say,--"Take care of yourself, you brute!"--whereas the celebrated Lord
Jersey, who gave me this information of his old friend's style, held his
own bridle in a vice at such emergencies, and both usually got safe
over! Perhaps the logical deduction from these conflicting examples
should be not to jump timber at all!

But the rash horse is by this time getting tired, and now, if you would
avoid a casualty, you must temper valour with discretion, and ride him
as skilfully as you _can_.

He has probably carried you well and pleasantly during the few happy
moments that intervened between freshness and fatigue; now he is
beginning to pull again, but in a more set and determined manner than at
first. He does not collect himself so readily, and wants to go faster
than ever at his fences, if you would let him. This careless, rushing
style threatens a downfall, and to counteract it will require the
exercise of your utmost skill. Carry his head for him, since he seems to
require it, and endeavour, by main force if necessary, to bring him to
his leaps with his hind legs under him. Half-beaten horses measure
distance with great accuracy, and "lob" over very large places, when
properly ridden. If, notwithstanding all your precautions, he persists
in going on his shoulders, blundering through his places, and labouring
across ridge and furrow like a boat in a heavy sea, take advantage of
the first lane you find, and voting the run nearly over, make up your
mind to view the rest of it in safety from the hard road!

Ride the same horse again at the first opportunity, and, if sound
enough to come out in his turn, a month's open weather will probably
make him a very pleasant mount.

The "slug," a thorough-bred one, we will say, with capital hind-ribs,
lop ears, and a lazy eye, must be managed on a very different system
from the foregoing. You need not be so particular about his bridle, for
the coercion in this case is of impulsion rather than restraint, but I
would advise you to select a useful cutting-whip, stiff and strong
enough to push a gate. Not that you must use it freely--one or two
"reminders" at the right moment, and an occasional flourish, ought to
carry you through the day. Be sure, too, that you strike underhanded,
and not in front of your own body, lest you take his eye off at the
critical moment when your horse is measuring his leap. The best riders
prefer such an instrument to the spurs, as a stimulant to increased pace
and momentary exertion.

You will have little trouble with this kind of hunter while hounds are
drawing. He will seem only too happy to stand still, and you may sit
amongst your friends in the middle ride, smoking, joking, and holding
forth to your heart's content. But, like the fox, you will find your
troubles begin with the cheering holloa of "Gone away!"

On your present mount, instead of avoiding the crowd, I should advise
you to keep in the very midst of the torrent that, pent up in covert,
rushes down the main ride to choke a narrow handgate, and overflow the
adjoining field. Emerging from the jaws of their inconvenient egress,
they will scatter, like a row of beads when the string breaks, and while
the majority incline to right or left, regardless of the line of chase
as compared with that of safety, some half dozen are sure to single
themselves out, and ride straight after the hounds.

Select one of these, a determined horseman, whom you know to be mounted
on an experienced hunter; give him _plenty of room_--fifty yards at
least--and ride his line, nothing doubting, fence for fence, till your
horse's blood is up, and your own too. I cannot enough insist on a
jealous care of your leader's safety, and a little consideration for his
prejudices. The boldest sportsmen are exceedingly touchy about being
ridden over, and not without reason. There is something unpleasantly
suggestive in the bit, and teeth, and tongue of an open mouth at your
ear; while your own horse, quivering high in air, makes the discovery
that he has not allowed margin enough for the yawner under his nose! It
is little less inexcusable to pick a man's pocket than to ride in it;
and no apology can exonerate so flagrant an assault as to land on him
when down. Reflect, also, that a hunter, after the effort to clear his
fence, often loses foothold, particularly over ridge and furrow, in the
second or third stride, and falls at the very moment a follower would
suppose he was safe over. Therefore, do not begin for yourself till your
leader is twenty yards into the next field when you may harden your
heart, set your muscles, and give your horse to understand, by seat and
manner, that it must be in, through, or over.

Beware, however, of hurrying him off his legs. Ride him resolutely,
indeed, but in a short, contracted stride; slower in proportion to the
unwillingness he betrays, so as to hold him in a vice, and squeeze him
up to the brink of his task, when, forbidden to turn from it, he will
probably make his effort in self-defence, and take you somehow to the
other side. Not one hunter in a hundred can jump in good form when going
at speed; it is the perfection of equine prowess, resulting from great
quickness and the confidence of much experience. An arrant refuser
usually puts on the steam of his own accord, like a confirmed rusher,
and wheels to right or left at the last moment, with an activity that,
displayed in a better cause, would be beyond praise. The rider, too, has
more command of his horse, when forced up to the bit in a slow canter,
than at any other pace.

Thoroughbred horses, until their education is complete, are apt to get
very close to their fences, preferring, as it would seem, to go into
them on this side rather than the other. It is not a style that inspires
confidence; yet these crafty, careful creatures are safer than they
seem, and from jumping in a collected form, with their hind-legs under
them, extricate themselves with surprising address from difficulties
that, after a little more tuition, they will never be in. They are
really less afraid of their fences, and consequently less flurried, than
the wilful, impetuous brute that loses its equanimity from the moment it
catches sight of an obstacle, and miscalculating its distance, in sheer
nervousness--most fatal error of all--takes off too soon.

I will now suppose that in the wake of your pilot you have negotiated
two or three fences with some expenditure of nerve and temper, but
without a refusal or a fall. The cutting-whip has been applied, and the
result, perhaps, was disappointing, for it is an uncertain remedy,
though, in my opinion, preferable to the spur. Your horse has shown
great leaping powers in the distances he has covered without the
momentum of speed, and has doubled an on-and-off with a precision not
excelled by your leader himself. If he would but jump in his stride, you
feel you have a hunter under you. Should the country be favourable, now
is the time to teach him this accomplishment, while his limbs are supple
and his spirit roused. If he seems willing to face them, let him take
his fences in his own way; do not force or hurry him, but keep fast hold
of his head without varying the pressure of hand or limb by a
hairsbreadth; the least uncertainty of finger or inequality of seat will
spoil it all. Should the ditch be towards him, he will jump from a
stand, or nearly so, but, to your surprise, will land safe in the next
field. If it is on the far side, he will show more confidence, and will
perhaps swing over the whole with something of an effort in his canter.
A foot or two of extra width may cause him to drop a hind-leg, or even
bring him on his nose;--so much the better! no admonition of yours would
have proved as effectual a warning--he will take good care to cover
distance enough next time. Dispense with your leader now, if you are
pretty close to the hounds, for your horse is gathering confidence with
every stride. He can gallop, of course, and is good through dirt--it is
also understood that he is fit to go; there are not many in a season,
but let us suppose you have dropped into a run; if he carries you well
to the finish, he will be a hunter from to-day.

After some five and twenty minutes, you will find him going with more
dash and freedom, as his neighbours begin to tire. You may now ride him
at timber without scruple, when not too high, but avoid a rail that
looks as if it would break. To find out he may tamper with such an
obstacle is the most dangerous discovery a hunter can make. You should
send him at it pretty quick, lest he get too near to rise, and refuse at
the last moment. He may not do it in the best of form, but whether he
chances it in his gallop, or bucks over like a deer, or hoists himself
sideways all in a heap, with his tail against your hat, at this kind of
fence this kind of horse is most unlikely to fall.

The same may be said of a brook. If he is within a fair distance of the
hounds, and you see by the expression of his ears and crest that he is
watching them with ardent interest, ride him boldly at water should it
be necessary. It is quite possible he may jump it in his stride from
bank to bank, without a moment's hesitation. It is equally possible he
may stop short on the bank, with lowered head and crouching quarters as
if prepared to drink, or dive, or decline. He will do none of these. Sit
still, give him his head, keep close into your saddle, not moving so
much as an eyelash, and it is more than probable that he will jump the
stream standing, and reach the other side, with a scramble and a
flounder at the worst!

If he should drop his hind-legs, _shoot_ yourself off over his shoulders
in an instant, with a fast hold of the bridle, at which tug hard; even
though you may not have regained your legs. A very slight help now will
enable him to extricate himself, but if he is allowed to subside into
the gulf, it may take a team of cart horses to drag him out.

When in the saddle again give him a timely pull; after the struggle you
will be delighted with each other, and have every prospect of going on
triumphantly to the end.

[Illustration: Page 32.]

I have here endeavoured to describe the different methods of coercion
by which two opposite natures may be induced to exert themselves on our
behalf in the chase. Every horse inclines, more or less, to one or other
extreme I have cited as an example. A perfect hunter has preserved the
good qualities of each without the faults, but how many perfect hunters
do any of us ride in our lives? The chestnut is as fast as the wind,
stout and honest, a safe and gallant fencer, but too light a mouth makes
him difficult to handle at blind and cramped places; the bay can leap
like a deer, and climb like a goat, invincible at doubles, and
unrivalled at rails, but, as bold Lord Cardigan said of an equally
accomplished animal, "it takes him a long time to get from one bit of
timber to another!" While the brown, even faster than the chestnut, even
safer than the bay, would be the best, as he is the pleasantest hunter
in the world--only nothing will induce him to go near a brook!

It is only by exertion of a skill that is the embodiment of thought in
action, by application of a science founded on reason, experience and
analogy, that we can approach perfection in our noble four-footed
friend. Common-sense will do much, kindness more, coercion very little,
yet we are not to forget that man is the master; that the hand, however
light, must be strong, the heel, however lively, must be resolute; and
that when persuasion, best of all inducements, seems to fail, we must
not shrink from the timely application of force.



The late Mr. Maxse, celebrated some fifty years ago for a fineness of
hand that enabled him to cross Leicestershire with fewer falls than any
other sportsman of fifteen stone who rode equally straight, used to
profess much comical impatience with the insensibility of his servants
to this useful quality. He was once seen explaining what he meant to his
coachman with a silk-handkerchief passed round a post.

"Pull at it!" said the master. "Does it pull at you?"

"Yes, sir," answered the servant, grinning.

"Slack it off then. Does it pull at you now?"

"No, sir."

"Well then, you double-distilled fool, can't you see that your horses
are like that post? If you don't pull at _them_ they won't pull at

Now it seems to me that in riding and driving also, what we want to
teach our horses is, that when we pull at them they are _not_ to pull at
us, and this understanding is only to be attained by a delicacy of
touch, a harmony of intention, and a give-and-take concord, that for
lack of a better we express by the term "hand." Like the fingering of a
pianoforte, this desirable quality seems rather a gift than an
acquirement, and its rarity has no doubt given rise to the multiplicity
of inventions with which man's ingenuity endeavours to supply the want
of manual skill.

It was the theory of a celebrated Yorkshire sportsman, the well-known
Mr. Fairfax, that "Every horse is a hunter if you don't throw him down
with the bridle!" and I have always understood his style of riding was
in perfect accordance with this daring profession of faith. The
instrument, however, though no doubt producing ten falls, where it
prevents one, is in so far a necessary evil, that we are helpless
without it, and when skilfully used in conjunction with legs, knees, and
body by a consummate horseman, would seem to convey the man's intentions
to the beast through some subtle agency, mysterious and almost rapid as
thought. It is impossible to define the nature of that sympathy which
exists between a well-bitted horse and his rider, they seem actuated by
a common impulse, and it is to promote or create this mutual
understanding that so many remarkable conceits, generally painful, have
been dignified with the name of bridles. In the saddle-room of any
hunting-man may be found at least a dozen of these, but you will
probably learn on inquiry, that three or four at most are all he keeps
in use. It must be a stud of strangely-varying mouths and tempers which,
the snaffle, gag, Pelham, and double-bridle are insufficient to humour
and control.

As it seems from the oldest representations known of men on horseback,
to have been the earliest in use, we will take the snaffle first.

This bit, the invention of common-sense going straight to its object,
while lying easily on the tongue and bars of a horse's mouth, and
affording control without pain, is perfection of its kind. It causes no
annoyance and consequently no alarm to the unbroken colt, champing and
churning freely at the new plaything between his jaws; on it the highly
trained charger bears pleasantly and lightly, to "change his
leg,"--"passage"--or "shoulder in," at the slightest inflection of a
rider's hand; the hunter leans against it for support in deep ground;
and the race-horse allows it to hold him together at nearly full-speed
without contracting his stride, or by fighting with the restriction,
wasting any of his gallop in the air. It answers its purpose admirably
_so long as it remains in the proper place_, but not a moment longer.
Directly a horse by sticking out his nose can shift this pressure to his
lips and teeth, it affords no more control than a halter. With head up,
and mouth open, he can go how and where he will. In such a predicament
only an experienced horseman has the skill to give him such an amount of
liberty without license as cajoles him into dropping again to his
bridle, before he breaks away. Once off at speed, with the conviction
that he is master, however ludicrous in appearance, the affair is
serious enough in fact.

Many centuries elapsed, and a good deal of unpleasant riding must have
been endured, before the snaffle was supplemented with a martingale.
Judging from the Elgin Marbles, this useful invention seems to have been
wholly unknown to the Greeks. Though the men's figures are perfect in
seat and attitude through the whole of that spirited frieze which
adorned the Parthenon, not one of their horses carries its head in the
right place. The ancient Greek seems to have relied on strength rather
than cunning, in his dealings with the noble animal, and though he sat
down on it like a workman, must have found considerable difficulty in
guiding his beast the way he wanted to go.

But with a martingale, the most insubordinate soon discover that they
cannot rid themselves of control. It keeps their heads down in a
position that enables the bit to act on the mouth, and if they must
needs pull, obliges them to pull against that most sensitive part called
the bars. There is no escape--bend their necks they must, and to bend
their necks means to acknowledge a master and do homage to the rider's

It is a well-known fact, and I can attest it by my own experience, that
a _twisted_ snaffle with a martingale will hold a runaway when every
other bridle fails; but to guide or stop an animal by the exercise of
bodily strength is not horsemanship, and to saw at its mouth for the
purpose cannot be expected to promote that sympathy of desire and
intention which we understand by the term.

If we look at the sporting prints of our grandfathers and
great-grandfathers, as delineated, early in the present century, we
observe that nine out of every ten hunters were ridden in plain snaffle
bridles, and we ask ourselves if our progenitors bred more docile
beasts, or were these drinkers of port wine, bolder, stronger, and
better horsemen than their descendants. Without entering on the vexed
question of comparative merit in hounds, hunters, pace, country and
sport, at an interval of more than two generations, I think I can find a
reason, and it seems to me simply this.

Most of these hunting pictures are representations of the chase in our
midland counties, notably Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, then only
partially inclosed; boundary fences of large properties were few and far
between, straggling also, and ill-made-up, the high thorn hedges that
now call forth so much bold and so much timid riding, either did not
exist, or were of such tender growth as required protection by a low
rail on each side, and a sportsman, with flying coat-tails, doubling
these obstacles neatly, at his own pace, forms a favourite subject for
the artist of the time. Twenty or thirty horsemen, at most, comprised
the field; in such an expanse of free country there must have been
plenty of room to ride, and we all know how soon a horse becomes
amenable to control on a moor or an open down. The surface too was
undrained, and a few furlongs bring the hardest puller to reason when he
goes in over his fetlocks every stride. Hand and heel are the two great
auxiliaries of the equestrian, but our grandfathers, I imagine, made
less use of the bridle than the spur.

With increased facilities for locomotion, in the improvement of roads
and coaches, hunting, always the English gentleman's favourite pastime,
became a fashion for every one who could afford to keep a horse, and men
thought little of twelve hours spent in the mail on a dark winter's
night in order to meet hounds next day. The numbers attending a
favourite fixture began to multiply, second horses were introduced, so
that long before the use of railways scarlet coats mustered by tens as
to-day by fifties, and the _crowd_, as it is called, became a recognized
impediment to the enjoyments of the day.

Meantime fences were growing in height and thickness; an improved system
of farming subdivided the fields and partitioned them off for pastoral
or agricultural purposes; the hunter was called upon to collect himself,
and jump at short notice, with a frequency that roused his mettle to the
utmost, and this too in a rush of his fellow-creatures, urging,
jostling, crossing him in the first five minutes at every turn.

Under such conditions it became indispensable to have him in perfect
control, and that excellent invention, the double-bridle, came into
general use.

I suppose I need hardly explain to my reader that it loses none of
the advantages belonging to the snaffle, while it gains in the powerful
leverage of the curb a restraint few horses are resolute enough to defy.
In skilful hands, varying, yet harmonising, the manipulation of both, as
a musician plays treble and bass on the pianoforte, it would seem to
connect the rider's thought with the horse's movement, as if an electric
chain passed through wrist, and finger, and mouth, from the head of the
one to the heart of the other. The bearing and touch of this instrument
can be so varied as to admit of a continual change in the degree of
liberty and control, of that give-and-take which is the whole secret of
comfortable progression. While the bridoon or snaffle-rein is tightened,
the horse may stretch his neck to the utmost, without losing that
confidence in the moral support of his rider's hand which is so
encouraging to him if unaccompanied by pain. When the curb is brought
into play, he bends his neck at its pressure to a position that brings
his hind-legs under his own body and his rider's weight, from which
collected form alone can his greatest efforts be made. Have your
curb-bit sufficiently powerful, if not high in the _port_, at any rate
long in the _cheek_, your bridoon as _thick_ as your saddler can be
induced to send it. With the first you bring a horse's head into the
right place, with the second, if smooth and _very_ thick, you keep it
there, in perfect comfort to the animal, and consequently to yourself. A
thin bridoon, and I have seen them mere wires, only cuts, chafes, and
irritates, causing more pain and consequently more resistance, than the
curb itself. I have already mentioned the fineness of Mr. Lovell's hand
(alas! that he has but one), and I was induced by this gentleman to try
a plan of his own invention, which, with his delicate manipulation, he
found to be a success. Instead of the usual bridoon, he rode with a
double strap of leather, exactly the width of a bridle-rein, and twice
its thickness, resting where the snaffle ordinarily lies, on the horse's
tongue and bars. With his touch it answered admirably, with mine,
perhaps because I used the leather more roughly than the metal, it
seemed the severer of the two. But a badly-broken horse, and half the
hunters we ride have scarcely been taught their alphabet, will perhaps
try to avoid the restraint of a curb by throwing his head up at the
critical moment when you want to steady him for a difficulty. If you
have a firm seat, perfectly independent of the bridle,--and do not be
too sure of this, until you have tried the experiment of sitting a leap
with nothing to hold on by--you may call in the assistance of the
running-martingale, slipping your curb-rein, which should be made to
unbuckle, through its rings. Your _curb_, I repeat, contrary to the
usual practice, and _not your snaffle_. I will soon explain why.

The horse has so docile a nature, that he would always rather do right
than wrong, if he can only be taught to distinguish one from the other;
therefore, have all your restrictive power on the same engine. Directly
he gives to your hand, by affording him more liberty you show him that
he has met your wishes, and done what you asked. If you put the
martingale on your bridoon rein you can no longer indicate approval. To
avoid its control he must lean on the discomfort of his curb, and it
puzzles no less than it discourages him, to find that every effort to
please you is met, one way or the other, by restraint. So much for his
convenience; now for your own. I will suppose you are using the common
hunting martingale, attached to the breast-plate of your saddle, not to
its girths. Be careful that the rings are too small to slip over those
of the curb-bit; you will be in an awkward predicament if, after rising
at a fence, your horse in the moment that he tries to extend himself
finds his nose tied down to his knees.

Neither must you shorten it too much at first; rather accustom your
pupil gradually to its restraint, and remember that all horses are not
shaped alike; some are so formed that they must needs carry their heads
higher, and, as you choose to think, in a worse place than others.
Tuition in all its branches cannot be too gradual, and nature, whether
of man or beast, is less easily driven than led. The first consideration
in riding is, no doubt, to make our horses do what we desire; but when
this elementary object has been gained, it is of great importance to our
comfort that they should accept our wishes as their own, persuaded that
they exert themselves voluntarily in the service of their riders. For
this it is essential to use such a bridle as they do not fear to meet,
yet feel unwilling to disobey. Many high-couraged horses, with sensitive
mouths, no uncommon combination, and often united to those propelling
powers in hocks and quarters that are so valuable to a hunter, while
they scorn restraint by the mild influence of the snaffle, fight
tumultuously against the galling restriction of a curb. For these the
scion of a noble family, that has produced many fine riders, invented a
bridle, combining, as its enemies declare, the defects of both, to which
he has given his name.

In England there seems a very general prejudice against the Pelham,
whereas in Ireland we see it in constant use. Like other bridles of a
peculiar nature it is adapted for peculiar horses; and I have myself had
three or four excellent hunters that would not be persuaded to go
comfortably in anything else.

I need hardly explain the construction of a Pelham. It consists of a
single bit, smooth and jointed, like a common snaffle, but prolonged
from the rings on either side to a cheek, having a second rein attached,
which acts, by means of a curb-chain round the lower jaw, in the same
manner, though to a modified extent, as the curb-rein of the usual
hunting double-bridle, to which it bears an outward resemblance, and of
which it seems a mild and feeble imitation. I have never to this day
made out whether or not a keen young sportsman was amusing himself at my
expense, when, looking at my horse's head thus equipped, he asked the
simple question: "Do you find it a good plan to have your snaffle and
curb all in one?" I _did_ find it a good plan with that particular
horse, and at the risk of appearing egotistical I will explain why, by
narrating the circumstances under which I first discovered his merits,
illustrating as they do the special advantages of this unpopular

The animal in question, thoroughbred, and amongst hunters exceedingly
speedy, was unused to jumping when I purchased him, and from his
unaffected delight in their society, I imagine had never seen hounds. He
was active, however, high-couraged, and only too willing to be in front;
but with a nervous, excitable temperament, and every inclination to pull
hard, he had also a highly sensitive mouth. The double-bridle in which
he began his experiences annoyed him sadly; he bounced, fretted, made
himself thoroughly disagreeable, and our first day was a pleasure to
neither of us. Next time I bethought me of putting on a Pelham, and the
effect of its greater liberty seemed so satisfactory that to enhance it,
I took the curb-chain off altogether. I was in the act of pocketing the
links, when a straight-necked fox broke covert, pointing for a beautiful
grass country, and the hounds came pouring out with a burning scent, not
five hundred yards from his brush. I remounted pretty quick, but my
thoroughbred one--in racing language, "a good beginner"--was quicker
yet, and my feet were hardly in the stirrups, ere he had settled to his
stride, and was flying along in rather too close proximity to the pack.
Happily, there was plenty of room, and the hounds ran unusually hard,
for my horse fairly broke away with me in the first field, and although
he allowed me by main force to steady him a little at his fences, during
ten minutes at least I know who was _not_ master! He calmed, however,
before the end of the burst, which was a very brilliant gallop, over a
practicable country, and when I sent him home at two o'clock, I felt
satisfied I had a game, good horse, that would soon make a capital

Now I am persuaded our timely _escapade_ was of the utmost service. It
gave him confidence in his rider's hand; which, with this light Pelham
bridle he found could inflict on him no pain, and only directed him the
way he delighted to go. On his next appearance in the hunting-field, he
was not afraid to submit to a little more restraint, and so by degrees,
though I am bound to admit, the process took more than one season, he
became a steady, temperate conveyance, answering the powerful
conventional double-bridle with no less docility than the most sedate of
his stable companions. We have seen a great deal of fun together since,
but never such a game of romps as our first!

Why are so many brilliant horses difficult to ride? It ought not to be
so. The truest shape entails the truest balance, consequently the
smoothest paces and the best mouth. The fault is neither of form nor
temper, but originates, if truth must be told, in the prejudices of the
breaker, who will not vary his system to meet the requirements of
different pupils. The best hunters have necessarily great power behind
the saddle, causing them to move with their hind-legs so well under
them, that they will not, and indeed cannot lean on the rider's hand.
This the breaker calls "facing their bit," and the shyer they seem of
that instrument, the harder he pulls. Up go their heads to avoid the
pain, till that effort of self-defence becomes a habit, and it takes
weeks of patience and fine horsemanship to undo the effects of
unnecessary ill-usage for an hour.

Eastern horses, being broke from the first in the severest possible
bits, all acquire this trick of throwing their noses in the air; but as
they have never learned to pull, for the Oriental prides himself on
riding with a "finger," you need only give them an easy bridle and a
martingale to make them go quietly and pleasantly, with heads in the
right place, delighted to find control not necessarily accompanied by

And this indeed is the whole object of our numerous inventions. A
light-mouthed horse steered by a good rider, will cross a country safely
and satisfactorily in a Pelham bridle, with a running martingale on the
_lower_ rein. It is only necessary to give him his head at his fences,
that is to say, to let his mouth alone, the moment he leaves the ground.
That the man he carries can hold a horse up, while landing, I believe to
be a fallacy, that he gives him every chance in a difficulty by sitting
well back and not interfering with his efforts to recover himself, I
know to be a fact. The rider cannot keep too quiet till the last moment,
when his own knee touches the ground, then, the sooner he parts company
the better, turning his face towards his horse if possible, so as not to
lose sight of the falling mass, and, above all, holding the bridle in
his hand.

The last precaution cannot be insisted on too strongly. Not to mention
the solecism of being afoot in boots and breeches during a run, and the
cruel tax we inflict on some brother sportsman, who, being too good a
fellow to leave us in the lurch, rides his own horse furlongs out of his
line to go and catch ours, there is the further consideration of
personal safety to life and limb. That is a very false position in which
a man finds himself, when the animal is on its legs again, who cannot
clear his foot from the stirrup, and has let his horse's head go!

I believe too that a tenacious grasp on the reins saves many a broken
collar-bone, as it cants the rider's body round in the act of falling,
so that the cushion of muscle behind it, rather than the point of his
shoulder, is the first place to touch the ground; and no one who has
ever been "pitched into" by a bigger boy at school can have forgotten
that this part of the body takes punishment with the greatest impunity.
But we are wandering from our subject. To hold on like grim death when
down, seems an accomplishment little akin to the contents of a chapter
professing to deal with the skilful use of the bridle.

The horse, except in peculiar cases, such as a stab with a sharp
instrument, shrinks like other animals from pain. If he cannot avoid it
in one way he will in another. When suffering under the pressure of his
bit, he endeavours to escape the annoyance, according to the shape and
setting on of his neck and shoulders, either by throwing his head up to
the level of a rider's eyes, or dashing it down between his own knees.
The latter is by far the most pernicious manoeuvre of the two, and to
counteract it has been constructed the instrument we call "a gag."

This is neither more nor less than another snaffle bit of which the
head-stall and rein, instead of being separately attached to the rings,
are in one piece running through a swivel, so that a leverage is
obtained on the side of the mouth of such power as forces the horse's
head upwards to its proper level. In a gag and snaffle no horse can
continue "boring," as it is termed against his rider's hand; in a gag
and curb he is indeed a hard puller who will attempt to run away.

But with this bridle, adieu to all those delicacies of fingering which
form the great charm of horsemanship, and are indeed the master touches
of the art. A gag cannot be drawn gently through the mouth with hands
parted and lowered on each side so as to "turn and wind a fiery
Pegasus," nor is the bull-headed beast that requires it one on which,
without long and patient tuition, you may hope to "witch the world with
noble horsemanship." It is at best but a schoolmaster, and like the
curbless Pelham in which my horse ran away with me, only a step in the
right direction towards such willing obedience as we require. Something
has been gained when our horse learns we have power to control him; much
when he finds that power exerted for his own advantage.

I would ride mine in a chain-cable if by no other means I could make him
understand that he must submit to my will, hoping always eventually to
substitute for it a silken thread.

All bridles, by whatever names they may be called, are but the
contrivances of a government that depends for authority on concealment
of its weakness. Hard hands will inevitably make hard pullers, but to
the animal intellect a force still untested is a force not lightly to be
defied. The loose rein argues confidence, and even the brute understands
that confidence is an attribute of power.

Change your bridle over and over again, till you find one that suits
your hand, rather, I should say, that suits your horse's mouth. Do not,
however, be too well satisfied with a first essay. He may go
delightfully to-day in a bit that he will learn how to counteract by
to-morrow. Nevertheless, a long step has been made in the right
direction when he has carried you pleasantly if only for an hour. Should
that period have been passed in following hounds, it is worth a whole
week's education under less exciting conditions. A horse becomes best
acquainted with his rider in those situations that call forth most care
and circumspection from both.

Broken ground, fords, morasses, dark nights, all tend to mutual good
understanding, but forty minutes over an inclosed country establishes
the partnership of man and beast on such relations of confidence as much
subsequent indiscretion fails to efface. The same excitement that rouses
his courage seems to sharpen his faculties and clear his brain. It is
wonderful how soon he begins to understand your meaning as conveyed
literally from "hand to mouth," how cautiously he picks his steps
amongst stubs or rabbit-holes, when the loosened rein warns him he must
look out for himself, how boldly he quickens his stride and collects his
energies for the fence he is approaching, when he feels grip and grasp
tighten on back and bridle, conscious that you mean to "catch hold of
his head and send him at it!" while loving you all the better for this
energy of yours that stimulates his own.

And now we come to a question admitting of no little discussion,
inasmuch as those practitioners differ widely who are best capable of
forming an opinion. The advocates of the loose rein, who though
outnumbered at the covert-side, are not always in a minority when the
hounds run, maintain that a hunter never acquits himself so well as
while let completely alone; their adversaries, on the other hand,
protest that the first principle of equitation, is to keep fast hold of
your horse's head at all times and under all circumstances. "You pull
him into his fences," argues Finger. "_You_ will never pull him out of
them," answers Fist. "Get into a bucket and try to lift yourself by the
handles!" rejoins Finger, quoting from an apposite illustration of
Colonel Greenwood's, as accomplished a horseman as his brother, also a
colonel, whose fine handling I have already mentioned. "A horse isn't a
bucket," returns Fist, triumphantly; "why, directly you let his head go
does he stop in a race, refuse a brook, or stumble when tired on the

It is a thousand pities that he cannot tell us which of the two systems
he prefers himself. We may argue from theory, but can only judge by
practice; and must draw our inferences rather from personal experience
than the subtlest reasoning of the schools.

Now if all horses were broke by such masters of the art as General
Lawrenson and Mr. Mackenzie Greaves, riders who combine the strength and
freedom of the hunting field with the scientific exercise of hands and
limbs, as taught in the _haute école_, so obedient would they become to
our gestures, nay, to the inflection of our bodies, that they might be
trusted over the strongest lordship in Leicestershire with their heads
quite loose, or, for that matter, with no bridle at all. But equine
education is usually conducted on a very different system to that of
Monsieur Baucher, or either of the above-named gentlemen. From colthood
horses have been taught to understand, paradoxically enough, that a dead
pull against the jaws means, "Go on, and be hanged to you, till I alter
the pressure as a hint for you to stop."

It certainly seems common sense, that when we tug at a horse's bridle he
should oblige us by coming to a halt, yet, in his fast paces, we find
the pull produces a precisely contrary effect; and for this habit, which
during the process of breaking has become a second nature, we must make
strong allowances, particularly in the hurry and excitement of crossing
a country after a pack of hounds.

It has happened to most of us, no doubt, at some period to have owned a
favourite, whose mouth was so fine, temper so perfect, courage so
reliable, and who had so learned to accommodate pace and action to our
lightest indications, that when thus mounted we felt we could go
tit-tupping over a country with slackened rein and toe in stirrup, as if
cantering in the Park. As we near our fence, a little more forbidding,
perhaps, than common, every stride seems timed like clockwork, and,
unwilling to interfere with such perfect mechanism, we drop our hand,
trusting wholly in the honour of our horse. At the very last stride the
traitor refuses, and whisks round. "_Et tu brute!_" we exclaim--"Are
_you_ also a brute?"--and catching him vigorously by the head, we ram
him again at the obstacle to fly over it like a bird. Early associations
had prevailed, and our stanch friend disappointed us, not from
cowardice, temper, nor incapacity, but only from the influence of an
education based on principles contrary to common sense.

The great art of horsemanship, then, is to find out what the animal
requires of us, and to meet its wishes, even its prejudices, half-way.
Cool with the rash, and daring with the cautious, it is wise to retain
the semblance, at least, of a self-possession superior to casualties,
and equal to any emergency, from a refusal to a fall. Though "give and
take" is the very first principle of handling, too sudden a variation of
pressure has a tendency to confuse and flurry a hunter, whether in the
gallop or when collecting itself for the leap. If you have been holding
a horse hard by the head, to let him go in the last stride is very apt
to make him run into his fence; while, if you have been riding with a
light hand and loosened rein, a "chuck under the chin" at an inopportune
moment distracts his attention, and causes him to drop short. "How did
you get your fall?" is a common question in the hunting-field. If the
partner at one end of the bridle could speak, how often would he answer,
"Through bad riding;" when the partner at the other dishonestly replies,
"The brute didn't jump high enough, or far enough, that was all." It is
well for the most brilliant reputations that the noble animal is
generous as he is brave, and silent as he is wise.

I have already observed there are many more kinds of bridles than those
just mentioned. Major Dwyer's, notably, of which the principle is an
exact fitting of bridoon and curb-bits to the horse's mouth, seems to
give general satisfaction; and Lord Gardner, whose opinion none are
likely to dispute, stamps it with his approval. I confess, however, to a
preference for the old-fashioned double-bridles, such as are called
respectively the Dunchurch, Nos. 1 and 2, being persuaded that these
will meet the requirements of nine horses out of ten that have any
business in the hunting-field. The first, very large, powerful, and of
stronger leverage than the second, should be used with discretion, but,
in good hands, is an instrument against which the most resolute puller,
if he insists on fighting with it, must contend in vain. Thus tackled,
and ridden by such a horseman as Mr. Angerstein, for instance, of
Weeting, in Norfolk, I do not believe there are half-a-dozen hunters in
England that could get the mastery. Whilst living in Northamptonshire I
remember he owned a determined runaway, not inappropriately called "Hard
Bargain," that in this bridle he could turn and twist like a pony. I
have no doubt he has not forgotten the horse, nor a capital run from
Misterton, in which, with his usual kindness, he lent him thus bridled
to a friend.

I have seen horses go very pleasantly in what I believe is called the
half-moon bit, of which the bridoon, having no joint, is shaped so as to
take the curve of the animal's mouth. I have never tried one, but the
idea seems good, as based on the principle of comfort to the horse. When
we can arrive at that essential, combined with power to the rider, we
may congratulate ourselves on possessing the right bridle at last, and
need have no scruple in putting the animal to its best pace, confident
we can stop it at will.

We should never forget that the faster hounds run, the more desirable
is it to have perfect control of our conveyance; and that a hunter of
very moderate speed, easy to turn, and quick on its legs, will cross a
country with more expedition than a race-horse that requires half a
field to "go about;" and that we dare not extend lest, "with too much
way on," he should get completely out of our hand. Once past the gap you
fancied, you will never find a place in the fence you like so well



                "You may ride us,
    With one soft kiss, a thousand furlongs, ere
    With spurs we heat an acre."

Says Hermione, and indeed that gentle lady's illustration equally
applies to an inferior order of beings, from which also man derives much
comfort and delight. It will admit of discussion whether the "armed
heel," with all its terrors, has not, on the race-course at least, lost
more triumphs than it has won.

I have been told that Fordham, who seems to be first past the judges'
chair oftener than any jockey of the day, wholly repudiates "the
tormentors," arguing that they only make a horse shorten his stride, and
"shut up," to use an expressive term, instead of struggling gallantly
home. Judging by analogy, it is easy to conceive that such may be the
case. The tendency of the human frame seems certainly to contract rather
than expand its muscles, with instinctive repugnance at the stab of a
sharp instrument, or even the puncture of a thorn. It is not while
receiving punishment but administering it that the prize-fighter opens
his shoulders and lets out. There is no doubt that many horses,
thoroughbred ones especially, will stop suddenly, even in their gallop,
and resent by kicking an indiscreet application of the spurs. A
determined rider who keeps them screwed in the animal's flanks
eventually gains the victory. But such triumphs of severity and main
force are the last resource of an authority that ought never to be
disputed, as springing less from fear than confidence and good-will.

It cannot be denied that there are many fools in the world, yet,
regarding matters of opinion, the majority are generally right. A
top-boot has an unfinished look without its appendage of shining steel;
and, although some sportmen assure us they dispense with rowels, it is
rare to find one so indifferent to appearances as not to wear spurs.
There must be some good reason for this general adoption of an
instrument that, from the days of chivalry, has been the very stamp and
badge of a superiority which the man on horseback assumes over the man
on foot. Let us weigh the arguments for and against this emblem of
knighthood before we decide. In the riding-school, and particularly for
military purposes, when the dragoon's right hand is required for his
weapon, these aids, as they are called, seem to enhance that pressure of
the leg which acts on the horse's quarters, as the rein on his forehand,
bringing his whole body into the required position. Perhaps if the boot
were totally unarmed much time might be lost in making his pupil
understand the horseman's wishes, but any one who has ridden a perfectly
trained charger knows how much more accurately it answers to the leg
than the heel, and how awkwardly a horse acquits himself that has been
broke in very sharp spurs; every touch causing it to wince and swerve
too far in the required direction, glancing off at a tangent, like a
boat that is over ready in answering her helm. Patience and a light
switch, I believe, would fulfil all the purposes of the spur, even in
the _manége_; but delay is doubtless a drawback, and there are reasons
for going the shortest way on occasion, even if it be not the smoothest
and the best.

It is quite unnecessary, however, and even prejudicial, to have the
rowels long and sharp. Nothing impedes tuition like fear; and fear in
the animal creation is the offspring of pain.

Granted, then, that the spur may be applied advantageously in the
school, let us see how far it is useful on the road or in the

We will start by supposing that you do not possess a really perfect
hack; that desirable animal must, doubtless, exist somewhere, but, like
Pegasus, is more often talked of than seen. Nevertheless, the roadster
that carries you to business or pleasure is a sound, active, useful
beast, with safe, quick action, good shoulders, of course, and a willing
disposition, particularly when turned towards home. How often in a week
do you touch it with the spurs? Once, perhaps, by some bridle-gate,
craftily hung at precisely the angle which prevents your reaching its
latch or hasp. And what is the result of this little display of
vexation? Your hack gets flurried, sticks his nose in the air, refuses
to back, and compels you at last to open the gate with your wrong hand,
rubbing your knee against the post as he pushes through in unseemly
haste, for fear of another prod. When late for dinner, or hurrying home
to outstrip the coming shower, you may fondly imagine that but for "the
persuaders" you would have been drenched to the skin; and, relating your
adventures at the fire-side, will probably declare that "you stuck the
spurs into him the last mile, and came along as hard as he could drive."
But, if you were to visit him in the stable, you would probably find his
flanks untouched, and would, I am sure, be pleased rather than
disappointed at the discovery. Happily, not one man in ten knows _how_
to spur a horse, and the tenth is often the most unwilling to administer
so severe a punishment.

Ladies, however, are not so merciful. Perhaps because they have but one,
they use this stimulant liberally, and without compunction. From their
seat, and shortness of stirrup, every kick tells home. Concealed under a
riding-habit, these vigorous applications are unsuspected by lookers-on;
and the unwary wonder why, in the streets of London or the Park, a
ladies' horse always appears to go in a lighter and livelier form than
that of her male companion. "It's a woman's hand," says the admiring
pedestrian. "Not a bit of it," answers the cynic who knows; "it's a
woman's heel."

But, however sparing you may be of the spurs in lane or bridle-road,
you are tempted to ply them far too freely in the anxiety and excitement
of the hunting-field. Have you ever noticed the appearance of a white
horse at the conclusion of some merry gallop over a strongly fenced
country? The pure conspicuous colour tells sad tales, and the smooth,
thin-skinned flanks are too often stained and plastered with red. Many
bad horsemen spur their horses without meaning it; many worse, mean to
spur their horses at every fence, and _do_.

A Leicestershire notability, of the last generation once dubbed a rival
with the expressive title of "a hard funker;" and the term, so happily
applied, fully rendered what he meant. Of all riders "the hard funker"
is the most unmerciful to his beast; at every turn he uses his spurs
cruelly, not because he is _hard_, but because he _funks_. Let us watch
him crossing a country, observing his style as a warning rather than an

Hesitation and hurry are his principal faults, practised, with much
impartiality, in alternate extremes. Though half-way across a field, he
is still undecided where to get out. This vacillation communicates
itself in electric sympathy to his horse, and both go wavering down to
their fence, without the slightest idea what they mean to do when they
arrive. Some ten strides off the rider makes up his mind, selecting,
probably, an extremely awkward place, for no courage is so desperate as
that which is founded on fear. Want of determination is now supplemented
by excessive haste and, with incessant application of the spurs, his
poor horse is hurried wildly at the leap. That it gets over without
falling, as happens oftener than might be supposed, seems due to
activity in the animal rather than sagacity in the rider, and a strong
instinct of self-preservation in both; but such a process, repeated
again and again during a gallop, even of twenty minutes, tells fearfully
on wind and muscle, nor have many hunters sufficient powers of endurance
to carry these exacting performers through a run.

Still the "h. f." would be nothing without his spurs, and I grant that
to him these instruments are indispensable, if he is to get from one
field to another; but of what use are they to such men as Mr. Gilmour,
Captain Coventry, Sir Frederic Johnston, Captain Boyce, Mr. Hugh
Lowther, and a host more that I could name, who seem to glide over
Leicestershire, and other strongly-fenced countries, as a bird glides
through the air. Day after day, unless accidentally scored in a fall,
you may look in vain for a spur-mark on their horses sides. Shoulders
and quarters, indeed, are reddened by gashes from a hundred thorns; but
the virgin spot, a handsbreadth behind the girths, is pure and stainless
still. Yet not one of the gentlemen I have named will ride without the
instrument he uses so rarely, if at all; and they must cherish,
therefore, some belief in its virtue, when called into play, strong
enough to counterbalance its indisputable disadvantages--notably, the
stabbing of a hunter's side, when its rider's foot is turned outwards by
a stake or grower, and the tearing of its back or quarters in the
struggle and confusion of a fall. There is one excellent reason that,
perhaps, I may have overlooked. It is tiresome to answer the same
question over and over again, and in a field of 200 sportsmen you are
sure to be asked almost as many times, "Why don't you wear spurs?" if
you set appearances at defiance by coming into the hunting-field without

In my personal recollection I can only call to mind one man who
systematically abjured so essential a finish to the horseman's dress and
equipment. This was Mr. Tomline of Leigh Lodge, a Leicestershire farmer
and horse-dealer, well-known some thirty years ago as one of the finest
riders and straightest goers that ever got into a saddle. His costume,
indeed, was not of so careful a nature that want of completeness in any
one particular could spoil the general effect. He _always_ hunted in a
rusty, worn pilot-jacket, drab breeches with strings untied,
brown-topped boots, and a large ill-fitting hat, carrying in his hand a
ground-ash plant, totally useless for opening a gate if he did not
happen to jump it. Yet thus accoutred, and generally on a young one, so
long as his horse's condition lasted, he was sure to be in front, and,
when the fences were rougher than common, with but two or three
companions at most.

I have not yet forgotten the style in which I once saw him coax a
four-year-old to jump a "bottom" under Launde, fortified by a high post
and rail--down-hill--a bad take off--and almost a ravine on the far
side! With his powerful grip and exquisite handling, he seemed to
persuade the pupil that it was as willing as the master.

My own spurs were four inches long, and I was riding the best hunter in
my stable, but I don't think I would have had the same place for fifty

A paradox, like an Irishman's bull, will sometimes convey our meaning
more impressively than a logical statement. It seems paradoxical, yet I
believe it is sound sense to say that no man should arm his heels with
spurs unless he is so good a rider as to be sure they shall not touch
his horse. To punish him with them involuntarily is, of course, like any
other blunder totally inadmissible, but when applied with intention,
they should be used sparingly and only as a last resource. That there
_are_ occasions on which they rouse a horse's energies for a momentary
effort, I am disposed to admit less from my own experience than the
opinion of those for whose practical knowledge in all such matters I
have the greatest respect. Both the Messrs. Coventry, in common with
other first-rate steeple-chase riders, advocate their use on rare
occasions and under peculiar circumstances. Poor Jem Mason never went
hunting without them, and would not, I think, have hesitated to apply
them pretty freely if required, but then these could all spur their
horses in the right place, leaning back the while and altering in no way
the force and bearing of hand or seat. Most men, on the contrary, stoop
forward and let their horses' heads go when engaged in this method of
compulsion, and even if their heels _do_ reach the mark, by no means a
certainty, gain but little with the rowels compared to all they lose
with the reins.

There is no fault in a hunter so annoying to a man whose heart is in
the sport as a tendency _to refuse_. It utterly defeats the timid and
damps the courage of the bold, while even to him who _rides_ that he may
hunt rather than _hunts_ that he may _ride_, it is intensely provoking,
as he is apt to lose by it that start which is so invaluable in a quick
thing, and, when a large field are all struggling for the same object,
so difficult to regain. This perversity of disposition too, is very apt
to be displayed at some fence that will not admit of half-measures, such
as a rail low enough to jump, but too strong to break, or a ditch so
wide and deep that it must not be attempted as a standing leap. In these
cases a vigorous dig with the spurs at the last moment will sometimes
have an excellent effect. But it must not be trusted as an unfailing
remedy. Nearly as many hunters will resent so broad a hint, by stopping
short, and turning restive, as will spring generously forward, and make
a sudden effort in answer to the appeal. For this, as for every other
requirement of equitation, much depends on an insight into his
character, whom an enthusiastic friend of mine designates "the bolder
and wiser animal of the two."

Few men go out hunting with the expectation of encountering more than
one or two falls in the best of runs, although the score sometimes
increases very rapidly, when a good and gallant horse is getting tired
towards the finish. Twenty "croppers" in a season, if he is
well-mounted, seems a high average for the most determined of bruisers,
but a man, whom circumstances impel to ride whatever he can lay hands
on, must take into consideration how he can best rise from the ground
unhurt with no less forethought than he asks his way to the meet or
inquires into the condition of his mount. To such a bold rider the spur
may seem an indispensable article, but he must remember that even if its
application should save him on occasion, which I am not altogether
prepared to admit, the appendage itself is most inconvenient when down.
I cannot remember a single instance of a man's foot remaining fixed in
the stirrup who was riding without spurs. I do not mean to say such a
catastrophe is impossible, but I have good reason to know that the
buckle on the instep, which when brightly polished imparts such a finish
to the lustrous wrinkles of a well-made boot, is extremely apt to catch
in the angle of the stirrup iron, and hold us fast at the very moment
when it is most important to our safety we should be free.

I have headed this chapter "The Abuse of the Spur," because I hold
that implement of horsemanship to be in general most unmercifully
abused, so much so that I believe it would be far better for the
majority of horses, and riders too, if it had never come into vogue. The
perfect equestrian may be trusted indeed with rowels sharp and long as
those that jingle at the Mexican's heels on his boundless prairies, but,
as in the days of chivalry, these ornaments should be won by prowess to
be worn with honour; and I firmly believe that nine out of every ten men
who come out hunting would be better and more safely carried if they
left their spurs at home.



What is it? Intellect, nerve, sympathy, confidence, skill? None of these
can be said to constitute this quality; rather it is a combination of
all, with something superinduced that can only be called a magnetic
affinity between the aggressive spirit of man and the ductile nature of
the beast.

    "He spurred the old horse, and _he held him tight_,
    And leaped him out over the wall,"

says Kingsley, in his stirring ballad of "The Knight's Last Leap at
Alten-ahr;" and Kingsley, an excellent rider himself, thus described
exactly how the animal should have been put at its formidable fence.
Most poets would have let their horse's head go--the loose rein is a
favourite method of making play in literature--and a fatal refusal must
have been the result. The German Knight, however, whose past life seems
to have been no less disreputable than his end was tragic, had not

    "Lived by the saddle for years a score,"

to fail in his horsemanship at the finish, and so, when he came to jump
his last fence, negotiated it with no less skill than daring--grim,
quiet, resolute, strong of seat, and firm of hand. The latter quality
seems, however, much the rarer of the two. For ten men who can stick to
the saddle like Centaurs you will hardly find one gifted with that
nicety of touch which horses so willingly obey, and which, if not
inborn, seems as difficult to acquire by practice as the draughtsman's
eye for outline, or the musician's ear for sound. Attention, reflection,
painstaking, and common sense, can, nevertheless, do much; and, if the
brain will only take the trouble to think, the clumsiest fingers that
ever mismanaged a bridle may be taught in time to humour it like a
silken thread.

I have been told, though I never tried the experiment, that if you take
bold chanticleer from his perch, and, placing his bill on a table, draw
from it a line of chalk by candle-light, the poor dazed fowl makes no
attempt to stir from this imaginary bondage, persuaded that it is
secured by a cord it has not strength enough to break. We should never
get on horseback without remembering this unaccountable illusion; our
control by means of the bridle is, in reality, little more substantial
than the chalk-line that seems to keep the bird in durance. It should be
our first consideration so to manage the rein we handle as never to give
our horse the opportunity of discovering our weakness and his own

How is this to be effected? By letting his head go, and allowing him to
carry us where he will? Certainly not, or we should have no need for the
bridle at all. By pulling at him, then, with main strength, and trying
the muscular power of our arms against that of his shoulders and neck?
Comparing these relative forces again, we are constrained to answer,
Certainly not; the art of control is essentially founded on compromise.
In riding, as in diplomacy, we must always be ready to give an inch that
we may take an ell. The first principle of horsemanship is to make the
animal believe we can rule its wildest mood; the next, to prevent, at
any sacrifice, the submission of this plausible theory to proof. You get
on a horse you have never seen before, improperly bitted, we may fairly
suppose, for few men would think of wasting as many seconds on their
bridle as they devote minutes to their boots and breeches. You infer,
from his wild eye and restless ear that he is "a bit of a romp;" and you
observe, with some concern, that surrounding circumstances, a race, a
review, a coursing-meeting, or a sure find, it matters little which, are
likely to rouse all the tumultuous propensities of his nature. Obviously
it would be exceedingly bad policy to have the slightest
misunderstanding. The stone of Sisyphus gathered impetus less rapidly
than does a horse who is getting the better of his rider; and John
Gilpin was not the first equestrian, by a good many, for whom

    "The trot became a gallop soon,
    In spite of curb and rein."

"I am the owner, I wish I could say the _master_, of the four best
hunters I ever had in my life," wrote one of the finest horsemen in
Europe to a brother proficient in the art; and although so frank an
avowal would have seemed less surprising from an inferior performer, his
friend, who was also in the habit of riding anything, anywhere, and over
everything, doubtless understood perfectly what he meant.

Now in equitation there can be no divided empire; and the horse will
most assuredly be master if the man is not. In the interests of good
government, then, beware how you let your authority literally slip
through your fingers, for, once lost, it will not easily be regained.

Draw your reins gently to an equal length, and ascertain the precise
bearing on your horse's mouth that seems, while he is yet in a walk, to
influence his action without offending his sensitiveness. But this
cannot be accomplished with the hands alone; these members, though
supposed to be the prime agents of control, will do little without the
assistance of legs and knees pressing the sides and flanks of the
animal, so as to urge him against the touch of his bit, from which he
will probably show a tendency to recoil, and, as it is roughly called,
"forcing him into his bridle."

The absence of this leg-power is an incalculable disadvantage to ladies,
and affords the strongest reason, amongst many, why they should be
mounted only on temperate and perfectly broken horses. How much oftener
would they come to grief but that their seat compels them to ride with
such long reins as insure light hands, and that their finer sympathy
seems fully understood and gratefully appreciated by the most
sympathetic of all the brute creation!

The style adopted by good horsewomen, especially in crossing a country,
has in it much to be admired, something, also, to be deprecated and
deplored. They allow their horses plenty of liberty, and certainly
interfere but little with their heads, even at the greatest emergencies;
but their ideas of pace are unreasonably liberal, and they are too apt
to "chance it" at the fences, encouraging with voice and whip the haste
that in the last few strides it is judicious to repress. It seems to me
they are safer in a "bank-and-ditch" country than amongst the high
strong fences of the grazing districts, where a horse must be roused and
held together that he may jump well up in the air, and extend himself
afterwards, so as to cover the wide "uncertainties" he may find on the
landing side. For a bank he is pretty sure to collect himself without
troubling his rider; and this is, perhaps, why Irishmen, as a general
rule, use such light bridles.

Now, a woman cannot possibly bring her horse up to a high
staked-and-bound fence, out of deep ground, with the strength and
resolution of a man, whose very grip in the saddle seems to extort from
the animal its utmost energies. Half measures are fatal in a difficulty,
and, as she seems unable to interfere with good effect she is wise to
let it alone.

We may learn from her, however, one of the most effective secrets of
the whole art, and that is, to ride with long reins. "Always give them
plenty of rope," said poor Jem Mason, when instructing a beginner; and
he certainly practised what he preached. I have seen his hands carried
so high as to be level with his elbows, _but his horse's head was always
in the right place_; and to this must be attributed the fact that, while
he rode to hounds straighter than anybody else, he got comparatively few
falls. A man with long reins not only affords his horse greater liberty
at his fences, but allows him every chance of recovery should he get
into difficulties on landing, the rider not being pulled with a jerk on
the animal's neck and shoulders, so as to throw both of them down, when
they ought to have got off with a scramble.

Let us return to the horse you have lately mounted, not without certain
misgivings that he may be tempted to insubordination under the
excitement of tumult, rivalry, or noise. When you have discovered the
amount of repression, probably very slight, that he accepts without
resentment, at a walk, increase your pace gradually, still with your
legs keeping him well into his bridle, carrying your hands low down on
his withers, and, if you take my advice, with a rein in each. You will
find this method affords you great control of your horse's head, and
enables you, by drawing the bit through his mouth, to counteract any
arrangement on his part for a dead pull, which could have but one
result. Should you, moreover, find it necessary to jump, you can thus
hold him perfectly straight at his fences, so that he must either
decline altogether or go exactly _where you put him_. Young, headstrong
horses are exceedingly apt to swerve from the place selected for them,
and to rise sideways at some strong bit of timber, or impracticable part
of a bullfinch; and this is a most dangerous experiment, causing the
worst kind of falls to which the sportsman is liable.

Riding thus two-handed, you will probably find your new acquaintance
"bends" to you in his canter better than in his trot, and if so, you may
safely push him to a gallop, taking great care, however, not to let him
extend himself too much. When he goes on his shoulders, he becomes a
free agent; so long as his haunches are under him, you can keep him, as
it is called, "in your hand."

There is considerable scope for thought in this exercise of manual
skill, and it is always wise to save labour of body by use of brain.
Take care then, to have your front clear, so that your horse may flatter
himself he is leading his comrades, when he will not give you half so
much trouble to retain him in reasonable bounds. Strategy is here
required no less than tactics, and horsemanship even as regards the
bridle, is quite as much a matter of head as hand. If you are out
hunting, and have got thus far on good terms, you will probably now be
tempted to indulge in a leap. We cannot, unfortunately, select these
obstacles exactly as we wish; it is quite possible your first fence may
be high, strong, and awkward, with every probability of a fall. Take
your horse at it quietly, but resolutely, in a canter, remembering that
the quicker and _shorter_ his strides, while gathering _impetus_, the
greater effort he can make when he makes his spring. Above all, measure
with your eye, and endeavour to show him by the clip of your thighs, and
the sway of your body, exactly where he should take off. On this
important point depends, almost entirely, the success of your leap. Half
a stride means some six or seven feet; to leave the ground that much too
soon adds the width of a fair-sized ditch to his task, and if the sum
total prove too much for him you cannot be surprised at the result. This
is, I think, one of the most important points in horsemanship as applied
to riding across a country. It is a detail in which Lord Wilton
particularly excels, and although so good a huntsman must despise a
compliment to his mere riding, I cannot refrain from mentioning Tom
Firr, as another proficient who possesses this enviable knack in an
extraordinary degree.

Many of us can remember "Cap" Tomline, a professional "rough rider,"
living at or near Billesdon, within the last twenty years, as fine a
horseman as his namesake, whom I have already mentioned, and a somewhat
lighter weight. For one sovereign, "Cap," as we used to call him, was
delighted to ride anybody's horse under any circumstances, over, or into
any kind of fence the owner chose to point out. After going brilliantly
through a run, I have seen him, to my mind most injudiciously, desired
to lark home alongside, while we watched his performance from the road.
He was particularly fond of timber, and notwithstanding that his horse
was usually rash, inexperienced, or bad-tempered, otherwise he would not
have been riding him, I can call to mind very few occasions on which I
saw him down. One unusually open winter, when he hunted five and six
days a week from October to April, he told me he had only fifteen falls,
and that taking the seasons as they came, thirteen was about his
average. Nor was he a very light-weight--spare, lengthy, and muscular,
he turned twelve stone in his hunting clothes, which were by no means of
costly material. Horses rarely refused with him, and though they often
had a scramble for it, as seldom fell, but under his method of riding,
sitting well down in the saddle, with the reins in both hands, they
never took off wrong, and in this lay the great secret of his
superiority. When I knew him he was an exceedingly temperate man; for
many years I believe he drank only water, and he eschewed tobacco in
every form. "The reason you gentlemen have such _bad nerves_," he said
to me, jogging home to Melton one evening in the dusk that always meets
us about Somerby, "is because you smoke so much. It turns your brains to
a kind of vapour!" the inference was startling, I thought, and not
complimentary, but there might be some truth in it nevertheless.

We have put off a great deal of time at our first fence, let us do it
without a fall, if we can.

When a hunter's quarters are under him in taking off, he has them ready
to help him over any unforeseen difficulty that may confront him on the
other side. Should there be a bank from which he can get a purchase for
a second effort, he will poise himself on it lightly as a bird, or
perhaps, dropping his hind-legs only, shoot himself well into the next
field, with that delightful elasticity which, met by a corresponding
action of his rider's loins, imparts to the horseman such sensations of
confidence and dexterity as are felt by some buoyant swimmer, wafted
home on the roll of an incoming wave. Strong hocks and thighs, a mutual
predilection for the chase, a bold heart between the saddle-flaps,
another under the waistcoat, and a pair of light hands, form a
combination that few fences after Christmas are strong enough or blind
enough to put down.

And now please not to forget that soundest of maxims, applicable to all
affairs alike by land or sea--"While she lies her course, let the ship
steer herself." If your horse is going to his own satisfaction, do not
be too particular that he should go entirely to yours. So long as you
can steady him, never mind that he carries his head a little up or a
little down. If he shakes it you know you have got him, and can pull him
off in a hundred yards. Keep your hands quiet and not too low. It is a
well-known fact, of which, however, many draughtsmen seem ignorant, that
the horse in action never puts his fore-feet beyond his nose. You need
only watch the finish of a race to be satisfied of this, and indeed the
Derby winner in his supreme effort is almost as straight as an
old-fashioned frigate, from stem to stern, while a line dropped
perpendicularly from his muzzle would exactly touch the tips of his
toes. Now, if your hands are on each side of your horse's withers, you
make him bend his neck so much as to contract his stride within
three-quarter speed, whereas when you carry them about the level of your
own hips, and nearly as far back, he has enough freedom of head to
extend himself without getting beyond your control, and room besides to
look about him, of which be sure he will avail himself for your mutual

I have ridden hunters that obviously found great pleasure in watching
hounds, and, except to measure their fences, would never take their eyes
off the pack from field to field, so long as we could keep it in sight.
These animals too, were, invariably fine jumpers, free, generous,
light-hearted, and as wise as they were bold.

I heard a very superior performer once remark that he not only rode
every horse differently, but he rode the same horse differently at every

All I can say is, he used to ride them all in the same place, well up
with the hounds, but I think I understand what he meant. He had his
system of course, like every other master of the art, but it admitted of
endless variations according to circumstances and the exigencies of the
case. No man, I conclude, rides so fast at a wall as a brook, though he
takes equal pains with his handling in both cases, if in a different
way, nor would he deny a half-tired animal that support, amounting even
to a dead pull, which might cause a hunter fresh out of his stable to
imagine his utmost exertions were required forthwith. Nevertheless,
whether "lobbing along" through deep ground at the punishing period,
when we wish our fun was over, or fingering a rash one delicately for
his first fence, a stile, we will say, downhill with a bad take-off,
when we could almost wish it had not begun, we equally require such a
combination of skill, science, and sagacity, or rather common-sense, as
goes by the name of "hand." When the player possesses this quality in
perfection it is wonderful how much can be done with the instrument of
which he holds the strings. I remember seeing the Reverend John Bower,
an extraordinarily fine rider of the last generation, hand his horse
over an ugly iron-bound stile, on to some stepping-stones, with a drop
of six or seven feet, into a Leicestershire lane, as calmly as if the
animal had been a lady whom he was taking out for a walk. He pulled it
back into a trot, sitting very close and quiet, with his hand raised two
or three inches above the withers, and I can still recall, as if I had
seen it yesterday, the curve of neck and quarters, as, gently mouthing
the bit, that well-broken hunter poised lightly for its spring, and
landing in the same collected form, picked its way daintily, step by
step, down the declivity, like a cat. There was a large field out, but
though Leicestershire then, as now, had no lack of bold and jealous
riders, who could use heads, hands, and beyond all, their heels, nobody
followed him, and I think the attempt was better left alone.

Another clergyman of our own day, whose name I forbear mentioning,
because I think he would dislike it for professional reasons, has the
finest bridle-hand of any one I know. "_You good man_," I once heard a
foreigner observe to this gentleman, in allusion to his bold style of
riding; "_it no matter if you break your neck!_" And although I cannot
look on the loss of such valuable lives from the same point of view as
this Continental moralist, I may be permitted to regret the present
scarcity of clergymen in the hunting-field. It redounds greatly to their
credit, for we know how many of them deny themselves a harmless pleasure
rather than offend "the weaker brethren," but what a dog in the manger
must the weaker brother be!

I have never heard that these "hunting parsons," as they are called,
neglect the smallest detail of duty to indulge in their favourite sport,
but when they _do_ come out you may be sure to see them in the front
rank. Can it be that the weaker brother is jealous of his pastor's
superiority in the saddle? I hope not. At any rate it seems unfair to
cavil at the enjoyment by another of the pursuit we affect ourselves.
Let us show more even-handed justice, if not more charity, and endeavour
at least to follow the good man's example in the parish, though we are
afraid to ride his line across the fields.

It would be endless to enter on all the different styles of
horsemanship in which fine hands are of the utmost utility. On the
race-course, for instance, it seems to an outsider that the whole
performance of the jockey is merely a dead pull from end to end. But
only watch the lightest urchin that is flung on a two-year-old to
scramble home five furlongs as fast as ever he can come; you will soon
be satisfied that even in these tumultuous flights there is room for the
display of judgment, patience, though briefly tried, and manual skill.
The same art is exercised on the light smooth snaffle, held in tenacious
grasp, that causes the heavily-bitted charger to dance and "passage" in
the school. It differs only in direction and degree. As much dexterity
is required to prevent some playful flyer recently put in training from
breaking out in a game of romps, when he ought to be minding his
business in "the string" as to call forth the well-drilled efforts of a
war-horse, answering wrist and leg with disciplined activity, ready to
"rein back," "pass," "wheel,"--

    "And high curvet that not in vain,
    The sword-sway may descend amain
    On foeman's casque below."

Chifney, the great jockey of his day, wrote an elaborate treatise on
handling, laying down the somewhat untenable position, that even a
racehorse should be held as if with a silken thread.

I have noticed, too, that our best steeplechase riders have particularly
fine hands when crossing a country with hounds; nor does their
professional practice seem to make them over-hasty at their fences, when
there is time to do these with deliberation. I imagine that to ride a
steeplechase well, over a strong line, is the highest possible test of
what we may call "all-round" horsemanship. My own experience in the silk
jacket has been of the slightest; and I confess that, like Falstaff with
his reasons, I never fancied being rattled quite so fast at my fences
"on compulsion."

One of the finest pieces of riding I ever witnessed was in a
steeplechase held at Melton, as long ago as the year 1864, when,
happening to stand near the brook, _eighteen feet of water_, I observed
my friend Captain Coventry come down at it. Choosing sound ground and a
clear place, for it was already beginning to fill with numerous
competitors, he set his horse going, at about a hundred yards from the
brink; in the most masterly manner, increasing the pace resolutely but
gradually, so as not to flurry or cause the animal to change his leg,
nearly to full speed before he took off. I could not have believed it
possible to make a horse go so fast in so collected a form; but with the
rider's strength in the saddle, and perfectly skilful hands, he
accomplished the feat, and got well over, I need hardly say, in his

But, although a fine "bridle-hand," as it is called, proves of such
advantage to the horseman in the hurry-skurry of a steeplechase or a
very quick thing with hounds, its niceties come more readily under the
notice of an observer on the road than in the field. Perhaps the Ride in
Hyde Park is the place of all others where this quality is most
appreciated, and, shall we add? most rarely to be found. A perfect Park
hack, that can walk or canter five miles an hour, no light criterion of
action and balance, should also be so well broke, and so well ridden, as
to change its leg, if asked to do so, at every stride. "With woven
paces," if not "with waving arms," I have seen rider and horse threading
in and out the trees that bisect Rotten Row, without missing _one_, for
half a mile on end; the animal leading with near or off leg, as it
inclined to left or right, guided only by the inflection of the rider's
body, and the touch, too light to be called a pressure, of his knee and
leg. How seldom does one see a horse ridden properly round a corner. He
is usually allowed to turn on his shoulders, with his hind-legs too far
back to be of the slightest assistance if he slips or stumbles, and
should the foothold be greasy, as may happen in London streets, down he
comes flat on his side. Even at a walk, or slow trot, he should be
collected, and his outer flank pressed inwards by his rider's heel, so
that the motive power in hocks and thighs is kept under his own body,
and the weight on his back. In the canter it stands to reason that he
should lead with the inner leg, otherwise it is very possible he may
cross the other over it, and fall like a lump of lead.

I remember seeing the famous Lord Anglesey ride his hack at that pace
nineteen times out of Piccadilly into Albemarle Street, before it turned
the corner exactly to his mind. The handsome old warrior who _looked_ no
less distinguished than he _was_, had, as we know, a cork leg, and its
oscillation no doubt interfered with those niceties of horsemanship in
which he delighted. Nevertheless at the twentieth trial he succeeded,
and a large crowd, collected to watch him, seemed glad of an opportunity
to give their Waterloo hero a hearty cheer as he rode away.

Perhaps the finest pair of hands to be seen amongst the frequenters of
the Park in the present day belong to Mr. Mackenzie Greaves, a retired
cavalry officer of our own service, who, passionately fond of hunting
and everything connected with horses, has lately turned his attention to
the subtleties of the _haute école_, nowhere better understood, by a
select few, than in Paris, where he usually resides. To watch this
gentleman on a horse he has broken in himself, gliding through the
crowd, as if by mere volition, with the smoothness, ease, and rapidity
of a fish arrowing up a stream, makes one quite understand how the myth
of the Centaur originated in the sculpture and poetry of Greece.

In common with General Laurenson, whose name I have already mentioned
as just such another proficient, his system is very similar to that of
Monsieur Baucher, one of the few lovers of the animal either in France
or England, who have so studied its character as to reduce equine
education to a science. Its details are far too elaborate to enter on
here, but one of its first principles, applied in the most elementary
tuition, is never to let the horse recoil from his bridle.

"Drop your hands!" say nine good riders out of ten, when the pupil's
head is thrown up to avoid control. "Not so," replies Baucher. "On the
contrary, tighten and increase your pressure more and more, keeping the
rebel up to his bit with legs and spurs if necessary, till _he_ yields,
not you; then on the instant, rapidly and dexterously, as you would
strike in fly-fishing, give to him, and he will come into your hand!"

I have tried his method myself, in more than one instance, and am
inclined to think it is founded on common sense.

But in all our dealings with him, we should remember that the horse's
mouth is naturally delicate and sensitive though we so often find it
hardened by violence and ill-usage. The amount of force we apply,
therefore, whether small or great, should be measured no less accurately
than the drops of laudanum administered to a patient by the nurse. Reins
are intended for the guidance of the horse, not the support of his
rider, and if you do not feel secure without holding on by something,
rather than pluck at his mouth, accept the ridicule of the position with
its safety, and grasp the mane!

Seriously, you may do worse in a difficulty when your balance is in
danger, and instinct prompts you to restore it, as, if a horse is
struggling out of a bog, has dropped his hind-legs in a brook, or
otherwise come on his nose without actually falling, nothing so impedes
his endeavours to right himself as a tug of the bridle at an inopportune

That instrument should be used for its legitimate purposes alone, and a
strong seat in the saddle is the first essential for a light hand on the



Some people tell you they ride by "balance," others by "grip." I think a
man might as well say he played the fiddle by "finger," or by ear.
Surely in either case a combination of both is required to sustain the
performance with harmony and success. The grip preserves the balance,
which in turn prevents the grip becoming irksome. To depend on the one
alone is to come home very often with a dirty coat, to cling wholly by
the other is to court as much fatigue in a day as ought to serve for a
week. I have more than once compared riding to swimming, it seems to
require the same buoyancy of spirits, the same venture of body, the same
happy combination of confidence, strength, and skill.

The seat a man finds easiest to himself, says the inimitable Mr.
Jorrocks, "will in all humane probability be the easiest to his 'oss!"
and in this, as in every other remark of the humorous grocer, there is
no little wisdom and truth. "If he go smooth, I am,"[95-1] said a
Frenchman, to whom a friend of mine offered a mount, "if he go rough, I
shall not remain!" and doubtless the primary object of getting into a
saddle, is to stay there at our own convenience, so long as
circumstances permit.

     [95-1] _J'y suis._

But what a number of different attitudes do men adopt, in order to
insure this permanent settlement. There is no position, from the tongs
in the fender, to the tailor on his shop-board, into which the
equestrian has not forced his unaccustomed limbs, to avoid involuntary
separation from his beast. The dragoon of fifty years ago was drilled to
ride with a straight leg, and his foot barely resting on the stirrup,
whereas the oriental cavalry soldier, no mean proficient in the
management of horse and weapon, tucks his knees up nearly to his chin,
so that when he rises in the saddle, he towers above his little Arab as
if he were standing rather than sitting on its back. The position, he
argues, gives him a longer reach, and a stronger purchase for the use of
sword and spear. If we are to judge by illuminated copies of Froissart,
and other contemporary chronicles, it would seem that the armour-clad
knight of the olden time, trusting in the depth and security of his
saddle, _rode so long_ as to derive no assistance whatever from his
stirrups, sitting down on his horse as much as possible, in dread, may
be, lest the point of an adversary's lance should hoist him fairly out
of his place over a cantle six inches high, and send him clanging to the
ground, in mail and plate, surcoat, helmet and plumes, with his
lady-love, squires, yeomen, the marshals of the lists, and all his
feudal enemies looking on!

Now the length of stirrup with which a man should ride, and in its
adjustment consists much of the ease, grace, and security of his
position, depends on the conformation of his lower limbs. If his thighs
are long in proportion to his frame, flat and somewhat curved inwards,
he will sit very comfortably at the exact length that raises him clear
of his horse's withers, when he stands up in his stirrups with his feet
home, and the majority of men thus limbed, on the majority of horses,
will find this a good general rule. But when the legs are short and
muscular, the thighs round and thick, the whole frame square and strong,
more like wrestling than dancing, and many very superior riders are of
this figure, the leathers must be pulled up a couple of holes, and the
foot thrust a little more forward, to obtain the necessary security of
seat, at a certain sacrifice of grace and even ease. To look as neat as
one can is a compliment to society, to be safe and comfortable is a duty
to oneself.

Much also depends on the animal we bestride. Horses low in the withers,
and strong behind the saddle, particularly if inclined to "catch hold" a
little, require in all cases rather shorter stirrups than their easier
and truer-shaped stable-companions, nay, the varying roundness of barrel
at different stages of condition affects the attitude of a rider, and
most of us must have remarked, as horse and master get finer drawn
towards the spring, how we let out the stirrups in proportion as we take
in waistbelt, and saddle girths. Men rode well nevertheless, witness the
Elgin marbles, before the invention of this invaluable aid to
horsemanship; and no equestrian can be considered perfect who is unable
in a plunge or leap to stick on his horse bare-backed. Every boy should
be taught to ride without stirrups, but not till he is tall and strong
enough to grasp his pony firmly between his knees. A child of six or
seven might injure itself in the effort, and ten, or eleven, is an early
age enough for our young gentleman to be initiated into the subtleties
of the art. My own idea is that he should begin without reins, so as to
acquire a seat totally independent of his hands, and should never be
trusted with a bridle till it is perfectly immaterial to him whether he
has hold of it or not. Neither should it be restored, after his stirrups
have been taken away, till he has again proved himself independent of
its support. When he has learnt to canter round the school, and sit firm
over a leaping bar, with his feet swinging loose, and his hands in his
pockets, he will have become a better horseman than ninety-nine out of
every hundred who go out hunting. Henceforward you may trust him to take
care of himself, and _swim alone_.

In every art it is well to begin from the very first with the best
method; and I would instil into a pupil, even of the tenderest years,
that although his legs, and especially his knees, are to be applied
firmly to his pony's sides, as affording a security against tumbling
off, it is _from the loins_ that he must really ride, when all is said
and done.

I dare say most of us can remember the mechanical horse exhibited in
Piccadilly some ten or twelve years ago, a German invention, remarkable
for its ingenuity and the wonderful accuracy with which it imitated, in
an exaggerated degree, the kicks, plunges, and other outrages practised
by the most restive of the species to unseat their riders. Shaped in the
truest symmetry, clad in a real horse's skin, with flowing mane and
tail, this automaton represented the live animal in every particular,
but for the pivot on which it turned, a shaft entering the belly below
its girths, and communicating through the floor with the machinery that
set in motion and regulated its astonishing vagaries. On mounting, the
illusion was complete. Its very neck was so constructed with hinges
that, on pulling at the bridle, it gave you its head without changing
the direction of its body, exactly like an unbroken colt as yet
intractable to the bit. At a word from the inventor, spoken in his own
language to his assistants below, this artificial charger committed
every kind of wickedness that could be devised by a fiend in equine
shape. It reared straight on end; it lunged forward with its nose
between its fore-feet, and its tail elevated to a perpendicular, awkward
and ungainly as that of a swan _in reverse_. It lay down on its side; it
rose to its legs with a bounce, and finally, if the rider's strength and
dexterity enabled him still to remain in the saddle, it wheeled round
and round with a velocity that could not fail at last to shoot him out
of his seat on to the floor, humanely spread with mattresses, in
anticipation of this inevitable catastrophe. It is needless to say how
such an exhibition _drew_, with so horse-loving a public as our own. No
gentleman who fancied he could "ride a bit" was satisfied till he had
taken his shilling's worth and the mechanical horse had put him on his
back. But for the mattresses, Piccadilly could have counted more broken
collar-bones than ever did Leicestershire in the blindest and deepest of
its Novembers. Rough-riders from the Life-Guards, Blues, Artillery, and
half the cavalry regiments in the service, came to try conclusions with
the spectre; and, like antagonists of some automaton chess-player,
retired defeated and dismayed.

For this universal failure, one could neither blame the men nor the
military system taught in their schools. It stands to reason that human
wind and muscle must sooner or later succumb to mechanical force. The
inventor himself expressed surprise at the consummate horsemanship
displayed by many of his fallen visitors, and admitted that more than
one rough-rider would have tired out and subjugated any living creature
of real flesh and blood; while the essayists universally declared the
imitation so perfect, that at no period of the struggle could they
believe they were contending with clock-work, rather than the natural
efforts of some wild unbroken colt.

But those who succeeded best, I remarked (and I speak with some little
experience, having myself been indebted to the mattresses in my turn),
were the horsemen who, allowing their loins to play freely, yielding
more or less to every motion of the figure, did not trust exclusively
for firmness of seat to the clasp of their knees and thighs. The mere
balance rider had not a chance, the athlete who stuck on by main force
found himself hurled into the air, with a violence proportioned to his
own stubborn resistance; but the artist who judiciously combined
strength with skill, giving a little _here_ that he might get a stronger
purchase _there_, swaying his body loosely to meet and accompany every
motion, while he kept his legs pressed hard against the saddle,
withstood trick after trick, and shock after shock creditably enough,
till a hint muttered in German that it was time to displace him, put
such mechanism in motion as settled the matter forthwith.

There was one detail, however, to be observed in the equipment of the
mechanical horse that brings us to a question I have heard discussed
amongst the best riders with very decided opinions on either side.

Formerly every saddle used to be made with padding about half an inch
deep, sewn in the front rim of the flap against which a rider rests his
knee, for the purpose, as it would seem, of affording him a stronger
seat with its resistance and support.

Thirty or forty years ago a few noted sportsmen, despising such
adventitious aid, began to adopt the open, or plain-flapped saddle; and,
although not universal, it has now come into general use. It would
certainly, of the two, have been the better adapted to the automaton I
have described, as an inequality of surface was sadly in the way when
the figure in its downward perpendicular, brought the rider's foot
parallel with the point of its shoulders. The man's calf then
necessarily slipped over the padding of his saddle, and it was
impossible for him to get his leg back to its right place in time for a
fresh outbreak when the model rose again to its proper level.

As I would prefer an open saddle for the artificial, so I do for the
natural horse, and I will explain why.

I take it as a general and elementary rule, there is no better position
for a rider than that which brings shoulder, hip, knee, and heel into
one perpendicular line. A man thus placed on his horse cannot but sit
well down with a bend in his back, and in this attitude, the one into
which he would naturally fall, if riding at full speed, he has not only
security of seat, but great command over the animal he bestrides. He
will find, nevertheless, in crossing a country, or otherwise practising
feats of horsemanship requiring the exercise of strength, that to get
his knee an inch or two in advance of the correct line will afford such
leverage as it were for the rest of his body as gives considerable
advantage in any unusual difficulty, such as a drop-leap, for instance,
with which he may have to contend. Now in the plain-flapped saddle, he
can bend his leg as much as he likes, and put it indeed where he will.

This facility, too, is very useful in smuggling through a gap by a tree,
often the most convenient egress, to make use of which, with a little
skill and prudence, is a less hazardous experiment than it looks. A
horse will take good care not to graze his own skin, and the space that
admits of clearing his hips is wide enough for his rider's leg as well,
if he hangs it over the animal's shoulder just where its neck is set on
to the withers. But I would caution him to adopt this attitude carefully
and above all, in good time. He should take his foot out of the stirrup
and make his preparatory arrangements some three or four strides off at
least, so as to accommodate his change of seat to the horse's canter
before rising at the leap, and if he can spare his hand nearest the
tree, so as to "fend it off" a little at the same time, he will be
surprised to find how safely and pleasantly he accomplished a transit
through some awkward and dangerous fence.

But he must beware of delaying this little manoeuvre till the last
moment, when his horse is about to spring. It is then too late, and he
will either find himself so thrown out of his seat as to lose balance
and grip too, or will try to save his leg by shifting it back instead of
_forward_, when much confusion, bad language, and perhaps a broken
knee-pan will be the result.

Amongst other advantages of the open saddle we must not forget that it
is cheaper by twenty shillings, and so sets off the shape of his
forehand as to make a hunter look more valuable by twenty pounds.

Nevertheless, it is still repudiated by some of our finest horsemen,
who allege the sufficient reason that an inch or so of stuffing adds to
their strength and security of seat. This, after all is, the _sine quâ
non_, to which every article of equipment, even the important items of
boots and breeches, should be subservient, and I may here remark that
ease and freedom of dress are indispensable to a man who wishes to ride
across a country not only in comfort, but in safety. I am convinced that
tight, ill-fitting leathers may have broken bones to answer for. Many a
good fellow comes down to breakfast, stiff of gait, as if he were
clothed in buckram, and can we wonder that he is hurt when thus hampered
and constrained, he falls stark and rigid, like a paste-board policeman
in a pantomime.

I have already protested against the solecism of saving yourself by the
bridle. It is better, if you _must_ have assistance, to follow the
example of two or three notoriously fine riders and grasp the cantle of
the saddle at the risk of breaking its tree. But in my humble opinion it
is not well to be in the wrong even with Plato, and, notwithstanding
these high authorities, we must consider such habits, however convenient
on occasion, as errors in horsemanship. To a good rider the saddle ought
to be a place of security as easy as an armchair.

I have heard it asserted, usually by persons of lean and wiry frames,
that with short legs and round thighs, it is impossible to acquire a
firm seat on horseback; but in this, as in most matters of skill, I
believe nature can be rendered obedient to education. Few men are so
clumsily shaped but that they may learn to become strong and skilful
riders if they will adopt a good system, and from the first resolve to
sit _in the right place_; this, I think, should be in the very middle of
the saddle, while bending the small of the back inwards, so that the
weight of the body rests on that part of a horse's spine immediately
behind his withers, under which his fore feet are placed, and on which,
it has been ascertained, he can bear the heaviest load. When the animal
stands perfectly still, or when it is extended at full speed, the most
inexperienced horseman seems to fall naturally into the required
position; but to preserve it, even through the regulated paces of the
riding school demands constant effort and attention. The back-board is
here, in my opinion, of great assistance to the beginner, as it forces
him into an attitude that causes him to sit on the right part of his own
person and his horse's back. It compels him also to carry his hands at a
considerable distance off the horse's head, and thus entails also the
desideratum of long reins.

The shortest and surest way, however, of attaining a firm seat on
horseback is, after all, to practise without stirrups on every available
opportunity. Many a valuable lesson may be taken while riding to covert
and nobody but the student be a bit the wiser. Thus to trot and canter
along, for two or three miles on end is no bad training at the beginning
of the season, and even an experienced horseman will be surprised to
find how it gets him down in his saddle, and makes him feel as much at
home there as he did in the previous March.

The late Captain Percy Williams, as brilliant a rider over a country as
ever cheered a hound, and to whom few professional jockeys would have
cared to give five pounds on a race-course, assured me that he
attributed to the above self-denying exercise that strength in the
saddle which used to serve him so well from the distance home. When
quartered at Hounslow with his regiment, the 9th Lancers, like other gay
young light dragoons, he liked to spend all his available time in
London. There were no railroads in those days, and the coaches did not
always suit for time; but he owned a sound, speedy, high-trotting hack,
and on this "bone setter" he travelled backwards and forwards twelve
miles of the great Bath Road, with military regularity, half as many
times a week. He made it a rule to cross the stirrups over his horse's
shoulders the moment he was off the stones at either end, only to be
replaced when he reached his destination. In three months' time, he told
me, he had gained more practical knowledge of horsemanship, and more
muscular power below the waist, than in all the hunting, larking, and
riding-school drill of the previous three years.

Grace is, after all, but the result of repressed strength. The loose
and easy seat that seems to sway so carelessly with every motion, can
tighten itself by instinct to the compression of a vice, and the
"prettiest rider," as they say in Ireland, is probably the one whom a
kicker or buck-jumper would find the most difficult to dislodge. No
doubt in the field, the ride, the parade, or the polo-ground a strong
seat is the first of those many qualities that constitute good
horsemanship. The real adept is not to be unseated by any catastrophe
less conclusive than complete downfall of man and beast; nay, even then
he parts company without confusion, and it may be said of him as of
"William of Deloraine," good at need in a like predicament--

    "Still sate the warrior, saddle fast,
    Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
    Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
    Hurled in a heap lay man and horse."

But I have a strong idea Sir William did not let his bridle go even



"He that would venture nothing must not get on horseback," says a
Spanish proverb, and the same caution seems applicable to most manly
amusements or pursuits. We cannot enter a boat, put on a pair of skates,
take a gun in hand for covert shooting, or even run downstairs in a
hurry without encountering risk; but the amount of peril to which a
horseman subjects himself seems proportioned inversely to the
unconsciousness of it he displays.

"Where there is no fear there is no danger," though a somewhat reckless
aphorism, is more applicable, I think, to the exercise of riding than to
any other venture of neck and limbs. The horse is an animal of
exceedingly nervous temperament, sympathetic too, in the highest degree,
with the hand from which he takes his instructions. Its slightest
vacillation affects him with electric rapidity, but from its steadiness
he derives moral encouragement rather than physical support, and on
those rare occasions when his own is insufficient, he seems to borrow
daring and resolution from his rider.

If the man's heart is in the right place, his horse will seldom fail
him; and were we asked to name the one essential without which it is
impossible to attain thorough proficiency in the saddle, we should not
hesitate to say nerve.

_Nerve_, I repeat, in contradistinction to _pluck_. The latter takes us
into a difficulty, the former brings us out of it. Both are comprised in
the noble quality we call emphatically valour, but while the one is a
brilliant and imposing costume, so is the other an honest wear-and-tear
fabric, equally fit for all weathers, fine and foul.

"You shiver, Colonel--you are afraid," said an insubordinate Major, who
ought to have been put under arrest then and there, to his commanding
officer on the field of Prestonpans. "I _am_ afraid, sir," answered the
Colonel; "and if you were as much afraid as I am, _you would run away_!"

I have often thought this improbable anecdote exemplifies very clearly
that most meritorious of all courage which asserts the dominion of our
will over our senses. The Colonel's answer proves he was full of valour.
He had lots of pluck, but as he was bold enough to admit, a deficiency
of nerve.

Now the field of Diana happily requires but a slight per-centage of
daring and resolution compared with the field of Mars. I heard the late
Sir Francis Head, distinguished as a soldier, a statesman, an author,
and a sportsman, put the matter in a few words, very tersely--and
exceedingly to the point. "Under fire," said he, "there is a
guinea's-worth of danger, but it comes to you. In the hunting-field,
there is only three-ha'p 'orth, but _you go to it_!" In both cases, the
courage required is a mere question of degree, and as in war, so in the
chase, he is most likely to distinguish himself whose daring, not to be
dismayed, is tempered with coolness, whose heart is always stout and
hopeful, while he never loses his head.

Now as I understand the terms pluck and nerve, I conceive the first to
be a moral quality, the result of education, sentiment, self-respect,
and certain high aspirations of the intellect; the second, a gift of
nature dependent on the health, the circulation, and the liver. As
memory to imagination in the student, so is nerve to pluck in the
horseman. Not the more brilliant quality, nor the more captivating, but
sound, lasting, available for all emergencies, and sure to conquer in
the long run.

We will suppose two sportsmen are crossing a country equally well
mounted, and each full of valour to the brim. A, to quote his admiring
friends, "has the pluck of the devil!" B, to use a favourite expression
of the saddle-room, "has a good nerve." Both are bound to come to grief
over some forbidding rails at a corner, the only way out, in the line
hounds are running, and neither has any more idea of declining than had
poor Lord Strathmore on a similar occasion when Jem Mason halloaed to
him, "Eternal misery on this side my lord, and certain death on the
other!" So they harden their hearts, sit down in their saddles, and this
is what happens:--

A's horse, injudiciously sent at the obstacle, _because_ it is awkward,
a turn too fast, slips in taking off, and strikes the top-rail, which
neither bends nor breaks, just below its knees. A flurried snatch at the
bridle pulls its head in the air, and throws the animal skilfully to the
ground at the moment it most requires perfect freedom for a desperate
effort to keep on its legs. Rider and horse roll over in an "imperial
crowner," and rise to their feet looking wildly about them, totally
disconnected, and five or six yards apart.

This is not encouraging for B, who is obliged to follow, inasmuch as
the place only offers room for one at a time, but as soon as his leader
is out of the way, he comes steadily and quietly at the leap. His horse
too, slips in the tracks of its fallen comrade, but as it is going in a
more collected form, it contrives to get its fore-legs over the
impediment, which catches it, however, inside the hocks, so that,
balancing for a moment, it comes heavily on its nose. During these
evolutions, B sits motionless in the saddle, giving the animal complete
liberty of rein. An instinct of self-preservation and a good pair of
shoulders turn the scale at the last moment, and although there is no
denying they "had a squeak for it" in the scramble, B and his horse come
off without a fall.

Now it was pluck that took both these riders into the difficulty, but
nerve that extricated one of them without defeat.

I am not old enough to have seen the famous Mr. Assheton Smith in the
hunting-field, but many of my early Leicestershire friends could
remember him perfectly at his best, when he hunted that fine and
formidable country, with the avowed determination, daily carried out,
_of going into every field with his hounds_!

The expenditure of valour, for it really deserves the name necessary to
carry out such a style of riding can only be appreciated by those who
have tried to keep in a good place during thirty or forty minutes, over
any part of the Quorn and Cottesmore counties lying within six miles of
Billesdon. Where should we be but for the gates? I think I may answer,
neither there nor thereabouts! I have reason to believe the many stories
told of "Tom Smith's" skill and daring are little, if at all,
exaggerated. He seems admitted by all to have been the boldest, as he
was one of the best, horsemen that ever got into a saddle with a
hunting-whip in his hand.

Though subsequently a man of enormous wealth, in the prime of life, he
lived on the allowance, adequate but not extravagant, made him by his
father, and did by no means give those high prices for horses, which, on
the principle that "money makes the mare to go," are believed by many
sportsmen to ensure a place in the front rank. He entertained no fancies
as to size, action, above all, peculiarities in mouths and tempers.
Little or big, sulky, violent, or restive, if a horse could gallop and
jump, he was a hunter the moment he found himself between the legs of
Tom Smith.

There is a namesake of his hunting at present from Melton, who seems to
have taken several leaves out of his book. Captain Arthur Smith, with
every advantage of weight, nerve, skill, seat, and hand, is never away
from the hounds. Moreover, he always likes his horse, and his horse
always seems to like him. This gentleman, too, is blessed with an
imperturbable temper, which I have been given to understand the squire
of Tedworth was _not_.

Instances of Tom Smith's daring are endless. How characteristic was his
request to a farmer near Glengorse, that he would construct such a fence
as should effectually prevent the field from getting away in too close
proximity to his hounds. "I can make you up a stopper," said the
good-natured yeoman, "and welcome; but what be you to do yourself,
Squire, for I know you like well to be with 'em when they run?"

"Never mind me," was the answer, "you do what I ask you. I never saw a
fence in this country I couldn't get over _with a fall_!" and, sure
enough, the first day the hounds found a fox in that well-known covert,
Tom Smith was seen striding along in the wake of his darlings, having
tumbled neck-and-crop over the obstacle he had demanded, in perfect good
humour and content.

If valour then, is a combination of pluck and nerve, he may be called
the most valorous sportsman that ever got upon a horse, while affording
another example of the partiality with which fortune favours the bold,
for although he has had between eighty and ninety falls in a season, he
was never really hurt, I believe, but once in his life.

"That is a _brave_ man!" I have heard Lord Gardner say in good-humoured
derision, pointing to some adventurous sportsman, whose daring so far
exceeded his dexterity as to bring horse and rider into trouble; but his
lordship's own nerve was so undeniable, that like many others, he may
have undervalued a quality of which he could not comprehend the want.

Most hunting-men, I fancy, will agree with me, that of all obstacles we
meet with in crossing a country, timber draws most largely on the
reserve fund of courage hoarded away in that part of a hero's heart
which is nearest his mouth. The highest rails I ever saw attempted were
ridden at by Lord Gardner some years ago, while out with Mr. Tailby's
hounds near the Ram's Head. With a fair holding scent, and the pack
bustling their fox along over the grass, there was no time for
measurement, but I remember perfectly well that being in the same field,
some fifty yards behind him, and casting longing looks at the fence,
totally impracticable in every part, I felt satisfied the corner he made
for was simply an impossibility.

"We had better turn round and go home!" I muttered in my despair.

The leap consisted of four strong rails, higher than a horse's withers,
an approach down hill, a take-off poached by cattle, and a landing into
a deep muddy lane. I can recall at this moment, the beautiful style in
which my leader brought his horse to its effort. Very strong in the
saddle, with the finest hands in the world, leaning far back, and
sitting well down, he seemed to rouse as it were, and concentrate the
energies of the animal for its last half-stride, when, rearing itself
almost perpendicularly, it contrived to get safe over, only breaking the
top rail with a hind leg.

This must have lowered the leap by at least a foot, yet when I came to
it, thus reduced, and "made easy," it was still a formidable obstacle,
and I felt thankful to be on a good jumper.

Of late years I have seen Mr. Powell, who is usually very well mounted,
ride over exceedingly high and forbidding timber so persistently, as to
have earned from that material, the _nom de chasse_ by which he is known
amongst his friends.

But perhaps the late Lord Cardigan, the last of the Brudenells,
afforded in the hunting-field, as in all other scenes of life, the most
striking example of that "pluck" which is totally independent of youth,
health, strength, or any other physical advantage. The courage that in
advanced middle-age governed the steady manoeuvres of Bulganak, and
led the death-ride at Balaclava, burned bright and fierce to the end.
The graceful seat might be less firm, the tall soldier-like figure less
upright, but Mars, one of his last and best hunters, was urged to charge
wood and water by the same bold heart at seventy, that tumbled Langar
into the Uppingham road over the highest gate in Leicestershire at
twenty-six. The foundation of Lord Cardigan's whole character was
valour. He loved it, he prized it, he admired it in others, he was
conscious and proud of it in himself.

So jealous was he of this chivalrous quality, that even in such a matter
of mere amusement as riding across a country, he seemed to attach some
vague sense of disgrace to the avoidance of a leap, however dangerous,
if hounds were running at the time, and was notorious for the
recklessness with which he would plunge into the deepest rivers though
he could not swim a stroke!

This I think is to court _real_ danger for no sufficient object.

Lord Wolverton, than whom no man has ridden straighter and more
enthusiastically to hounds, ever since he left Oxford, once crossed the
Thames in this most perilous fashion, for he, too, has never learnt to
swim, during a run with "the Queen's." "But," said I, protesting
subsequently against such hardihood, "you were risking your life at
every stroke."

"I never thought of that," was the answer, "till I got safe over, and it
was no use bothering about it then."

Lord Cardigan however, seemed well aware of his danger, and, in my own
recollection, had two very narrow escapes from drowning in these
uncalled-for exploits.

The gallant old cavalry officer's death was in keeping with his whole
career. At threescore years and ten he insisted on mounting a dangerous
animal that he would not have permitted any friend to ride. What
happened is still a mystery. The horse came home without him, and he
never spoke again, though he lived till the following day.

But these are sad reflections for so cheerful a subject as daring in
the saddle. Red is our colour, not black, and, happily, in the sport we
love, there are few casualties calling forth more valour than is
required to sustain a bloody nose, a broken collar-bone, or a sound
ducking in a wet ditch. Yet it is extraordinary how many good fellows
riding good horses find themselves defeated in a gallop after hounds,
from indecision and uncertainty, rather than want of courage, when the
emergency actually arises. Though the danger, according to Sir Francis
Head, is about a hap'orth, it might possibly be valued at a penny, and
nobody wants to discover, in his own person, the exact amount. Therefore
are the chivalry of the Midland Counties to be seen on occasion
panic-stricken at the downfall or disappearance of a leader. And a dozen
feet of dirty water will wholly scatter a field of horsemen who would
confront an enemy's fire without the quiver of an eye-lash. Except
timber, of which the risk is obvious, at a glance, nothing frightens the
_half_-hard, so much as a brook. It is difficult, you see, to please
them, the uncertainty of the limpid impediment being little less
forbidding than the certainty of the stiff!

But it does require dash and coolness, pluck and nerve, a certain spice
of something that may fairly be called valour, to charge cheerfully at a
brook when we have no means of ascertaining its width, its depth, or the
soundness of its banks. Horses too are apt to share the misgivings of
their riders, and water-jumping, like a loan to a poor relation, if not
done freely, had better not be done at all.

The fox, and consequently the hounds, as we know, will usually cross at
the narrowest place, but even if we can mark the exact spot, fences, or
the nature of the ground may prevent our getting there. What are we to
do? If we follow a leader, and he drops short, we are irretrievably
defeated, if we make our own selection, the gulf may be as wide as the
Thames. "Send him at it!" says valour, "and take your chance!" Perhaps
it is the best plan after all. There is something in luck, a good deal
in the reach of a horse's stride at a gallop, and if we _do_ get over,
we _rather_ flatter ourselves for the next mile or two that we have
"done the trick!"

To enter on the subject of "hard riding," as it is called, without
honourable mention of the habit and the side-saddle, would in these days
betray both want of observation and politeness; but ladies, though they
seem to court danger no less freely than admiration, possess, I think,
as a general rule, more pluck than nerve. I can recall an instance very
lately, however, in which I saw displayed by one of the gentlest of her
sex, an amount of courage, coolness, and self-possession, that would
have done credit to a hero. This lady, who had not quite succeeded in
clearing a high post-and-rail with a boggy ditch on the landing side,
was down and under her horse. The animal's whole weight rested on her
legs, so as to keep her in such a position, that her head lay between
its fore and hind feet, where the least attempt at a struggle, hemmed in
by those four shining shoes, must have dashed her brains out. She seemed
in no way concerned for her beauty, or her life, but gave judicious
directions to those who rescued her as calmly and courteously as if she
had been pouring out their tea.

The horse, though in that there is nothing unusual, behaved like an
angel, and the fair rider was extricated without very serious injury;
but I thought to myself, as I remounted and rode on, that if a legion of
Amazons could be rendered amenable to discipline they would conquer the

No man, till he has tried the experiment, can conceive how awkward and
powerless one feels in a lady's seat. They themselves affirm that with
the crutch, or second pommel on the near side, they are more secure than
ourselves; but when I see those delicate, fragile forms flying over wood
and water, poised on precipitous banks, above all, crashing through
strong bullfinches, I am struck with admiration at the mysteries of
nature, among which not the least wonderful seems the feminine desire to
excel. And they _do_ excel when resolved they will, even in those sports
and exercises which seem more naturally belonging to the masculine
department. It was but the other day, a boatman in the Channel told me
he saw a lady swimming alone more than half a mile off shore. Now that
the universal rink has brought skating into fashion, the "many-twinkling
feet," that smoothest glide and turn most deftly, are shod with such
dainty boots as never could be worn by the clumsier sex. At lawn-tennis
the winning service is offered by some seductive hoyden in her teens;
and, although in the game of cricket the Graces have as yet been males,
at no distant day we may expect to see the best batsman at the Oval
bowled out, or perhaps caught by a woman!

Yes, the race is in the ascendant. It takes the heaviest fish,--I mean
_real_ fish--with a rod and line. It kills its grouse right and left--in
the moor among the heather. It shoulders a rifle no heavier than a
pea-shooter, but levels the toy so straight that, after some cunning
stalk, a "stag of ten" goes down before the white hand and taper finger,
as becomes his antlers and his sex. Lastly, when it gets upon Bachelor,
or Benedict, or Othello, or any other high-flyer with a suggestive name,
it sails away close, often too close, to the hounds, leaving brothers,
husbands, even admirers hopelessly in the rear.

Now, I hope I am not going to express a sentiment that will offend
their prejudices, and cause young women to call me an old one, but I do
consider that, in these days, ladies who go out hunting _ride a turn too
hard_. Far be it from me to assert that the Field is no place for the
fair; on the contrary, I hold that their presence adds in every respect
to its charms. Neither would I protest against their jumping, and
relegate them to the bridle-roads or lanes. Nothing of the kind. Let the
greatest care be taken in the selection of their horses; let their
saddles and bridles be fitted to such a nicety that sore backs and sore
mouths are equally impossible, and let trustworthy servants be told off
to attend them during the day. Then, with everything in their favour,
over a fair country, fairly fenced, why should they not ride on and take
their pleasure?

But even if their souls disdain to follow a regular pilot (and I may
observe his office requires no little nerve, as they are pretty quick on
to a leader if he gets down), I would entreat them not to try "cutting
out the work," as it is called, but rather to wait and see one rider, at
least, over a leap before they attempt it themselves. It is frightful to
think of a woman landing in a pit, a water-course, or even so deep a
ditch as may cause the horse to roll over her when he falls. With her
less muscular frame she is more easily injured than a man; with her
finer organisation she cannot sustain injury as well. It turns one sick
to think of her dainty head between a horse's hind-legs, or of those
cruel pommels bruising her delicate ribs and bosom. It is at least
twenty to one in _our_ favour every time we fall, whereas with her the
odds are all the other way, and it is almost twenty to one she must be

What said the wisest of kings concerning a fair woman without
discretion? We want no Solomon to remind us that with her courage
roused, her ambition excited, all the rivalry of her nature called into
play, she has nowhere more need of this judicious quality than in the



It has been called the better part of valour, and doubtless, when
wanting, the latter is as likely to sustain irretrievable reverses as a
ship without a rudder, or a horse without a bridle. The two should
always travel together; but it appears to me that we meet the cautious
brother most frequently on our journey through life.

In the chase, however, they seem to share their presence impartially
enough. Valour is very much to the front at the covert side, and shows
again with great certainty after dinner; but discretion becomes
paramount and almost ubiquitous when the hounds run, being called on
indeed to act for us in every field. Sometimes, particularly when
countries are blind early in November, we abandon ourselves so entirely
to its guidance as little by little to lose all our self-reliance, till
at last we feel comfortable nowhere but in the high road; and most of
us, I dare say, can recall occasions on which we have been so utterly
discomfited by an early disappointment (in plain English a fence we were
afraid to jump) as to give in without an effort, although the slightest
dash of valour at the right moment would have carried us triumphantly
out of defeat.

Never mind. Like a French friend of mine, who expresses his
disinclination to our _chasse au renard_ by protesting, "_Monsieur, je
ne cherche pas mes émotions à me casser le cou_," when we are avowedly
in pursuit of pleasure we ought to take it exactly as suits us best.
There are two ends of the string in every run with hounds. Wisdom
pervades each of these, but eschews the various gradations between. In
front rides valour with discretion; in rear, discretion without valour;
and in the middle a tumultuous throng, amongst whom neither quality is
to be recognised. With too little of the one to fly, not enough of the
other to creep, they waver at the fences, hurry at the gaps, get in each
other's way at the gates, and altogether make exceedingly slow progress
compared to their efforts and their excitement.

Valour without discretion, I had almost forgotten to observe, was down
and under his horse at the first difficulty.

We will let the apex of the pyramid alone for the present, taking the
safest and broadest end of the hunt first.

If, then, you have achieved so bad a start that it is impossible to make
up your lee-way, or if you are on a hack with neither power nor
intention to ride in the front rank, be sure you cannot take matters too
coolly should you wish to command the line of chase and see as much as
possible of the fun.

I am supposing the hounds have found a good fox that knows more than
one parish, and are running him with a holding scent. However favourable
your start, and fate is sure to arrange a good one for a man too badly
mounted to avail himself of it, let nothing induce you to keep near the
pack. At a mile off you can survey and anticipate their general
direction, at a quarter that distance you must ride every turn. Do not
be disordered by the brilliancy of the pace should their fox go straight
up wind. If he does not sink it within five minutes he means reaching a
drain, and another five will bring the "who-whoop!" that marks him to
ground. This is an unfailing deduction, but happily the most discreet of
us are apt to forget it. Time after time we are so fooled by the
excitement of our gallop that even experience does not make us wise, and
we enjoy the scurry, exclaiming, "What a pity!" when it is over, as if
we had never been out hunting before. It would be useless to distress
your hack for so short a spin, rather keep wide of the line, if
possible, on high ground, and calculate by the wind, the coverts, and
the general aspect of the country, where a fox is most likely to make
his point.

I have known good runs in the Shires seen fairly, from end to end, by a
lady in a wagonette.

When business really begins, men are apt to express in various ways
their intention of taking part. Some use their eyes, some their heels,
and some their flasks. Do you trust your brains, they will stand you in
better stead than spurs, or spectacles, or even brandy diluted with
curaçoa. Keep your attention fixed on the chase, watch the pack as long
as you can, and when those white specks have vanished into space, depend
on your own skill in woodcraft and knowledge of country to bring you up
with them again. Above all, while they are actually in motion, distrust
the bobbing hats and spots of scarlet that you mark in a distant cluster
behind the hedge. What are they but the field? and the field, if it is
_really_ a run, are pretty sure to be _out of it_.

The first flight you will find very difficult to keep in view. At the
most it consists of six or seven horsemen riding fifty or a hundred
yards apart, and even its followers become so scattered and detached
that in anything like an undulating country they are completely hidden
from observation. If you _do_ catch a glimpse of them, how slow they
seem to travel! and yet, when you nick in presently, heaving flanks, red
faces, and excited voices will tell a very different tale.

Trotting soberly along, then, with ears and eyes wide open, carefully
keeping down wind, not only because the hounds are sure to bend in that
direction, but also that you can thus hear before you see them, and take
measures accordingly, you will have ridden very few miles before you are
gladdened by the cheerful music of the pack, or more probably a twang
from the horn. The scent is rarely so good as to admit of hounds running
for thirty or forty minutes without a check; indeed, on most days they
are likely to be at fault more than once during the lapse of half an
hour, when the huntsman's science will be required to cast them, and, in
some cases, to assist them in losing their fox. Now is your time to
press on with the still undefeated hack. If you are wise you will not
leave the lanes to which I give you the credit of having stuck
religiously from the start. At least, do not think of entering a field
unless the track of an obvious bridle-road leads safely into the next.

A man who never jumps at all can by no possibility be "pounded," whereas
the easiest and safest of gaps into an inclosure may mean a bullfinch
with two ditches at the other end.

Perhaps you will find yourself ahead of every one as the hounds spread,
and stoop and dash forward with a whimper that makes the sweetest of
music in your ears. Perhaps, as they swarm across the very lane in which
you are standing, discretion may calmly open the gate for valour, who
curses him in his heart, wondering what business he has to be there at

There is jealousy even in the hunting-field, though we prefer to call it
keenness, emulation, a fancy for riding our own line, and I fear that
with most of us, in spite of the kindly sympathies and joyous expansion
of the chase, "_ego et præterea nihil_" is the unit about which our
aspirations chiefly revolve.

"What is the use?" I once heard a plaintive voice lamenting behind a
blackthorn, while the hounds were baying over a drain at the finish of a
clipping thirty minutes on the grass. "I've spoilt my hat, I've torn my
coat, I've lamed my horse, I've had two falls, I went first, I'll take
my oath, from end to end, and there's that d--d fellow on the
coffee-coloured pony gets here before me after all!"

There are times, no doubt, when valour must needs yield the palm to

Let us see how this last respectable quality serves us at the other and
nobler extremity of the hunt, for it is there, after all, that our
ambition points, and our wishes chiefly tend.

"Are you a hard rider?" asked an inquiring lady of Mr. Jorrocks.

"The hardest in England," answered that facetious worthy, adding to
himself, "I may say that, for I never goes off the 'ard road if I can
help it."

Now instead of following so cautious an example, let us rather cast
overboard a superfluity of discretion, that would debar us the post of
honour we are fain to occupy, retaining only such a leavening of its
virtue as will steer us safely between the two extremes. While the
hounds are racing before us, with a good scent, in an open country, let
our gallant hunter be freely urged by valour to the front, while at the
same time, discretion holds him hard by the head, lest a too
inconsiderate daring should endanger his rider's neck.

If a man has the luck to be on a good timber-jumper, now is the time to
take advantage freely of its confidential resources. If not pulled
about, and interfered with, a hunter that understands his business leaps
this kind of fence, so long as he is fresh, with ease to himself and
security to his rider. He sees exactly what he has to do, and need not
rise an inch higher, nor fling himself an inch farther than is
absolutely necessary, whereas a hedge induces him to make such exertions
as may cover the uncertainty it conceals. But, on the other hand, the
binder will usually bear tampering with, which the bar will _not_,
therefore _if_ your own courage and your horse's skill tempt you to
negotiate rails, stiles, or even a gate--and this last is _very_ good
form--sound discretion warns you to select the first ten or fifteen
minutes of a run for such exhibitions, but to avoid them religiously,
when the deep ground and the pace have begun to tell.

Assheton Smith himself, though he scouted the idea of ever turning from
anything, had in so far the instinct of self-preservation, that when he
thought his horse likely to fall over such an obstacle, he put him at it
somewhat _a-slant_, so that the animal should get at least one fore-leg
clear, and tumble on to its side, when this accomplished rider was
pretty sure to rise unhurt with the reins in his hand.

Now this diagonal style of jumping, judiciously practised, is not
without its advantages at less dangerous fences than the uncompromising
bit of timber that turns us over. It necessarily increases the width of
a bank, affording the horse more room for foothold, as it decreases the
height and strength of the growers, by taking them the way they lie, and
may, on occasion, save a good hunter from a broken back, the penalty for
dropping both hind legs simultaneously and perpendicularly into some
steep cut ditch he has failed to cover in his stride.

Discretion, you observe, should accompany the hardest riders, and is not
to be laid aside even in the confusion and excitement of a fall.

This must prove a frequent casualty with every man, however
well-mounted, if the hounds show sport and he means to be with them
while they run. It seems a paradox, but the oftener you are down, the
less likely you are to be hurt. Practice soon teaches you to preserve
presence of mind, or, as I may be allowed to call it, discretion, and
when you know exactly where your horse is, you can get away from him
before he crushes you with the weight of his body. A foot or a hand
thrust out at the happy moment, is enough to "fend you off," and your
own person seldom comes to the ground with such force as to do you any
harm, if there is plenty of dirt. In the absence of that essential to
sport, hunters are not distressed, and therefore do not often fall.

If, however, you have undertaken to temper the rashness of a young one
with your own discretion, you must expect occasional reverses; but even
thus, there are many chances in your favour, not the least of which is
your pupil's elasticity. Lithe and agile, he will make such gallant
efforts to save himself as usually obviate the worst consequences of his
mistake. The worn-out, the under-bred, or the distressed horse comes
down like a lump of lead, and neither valour nor discretion are much
help to us then.

From the pace at which hounds cross a country, there is unfortunately
no time to practise that most discreet manoeuvre called "leading
over," when the fence is of so formidable a nature as to threaten
certain discomfiture, yet I have seen a few tall, powerful, active men,
spring off and on their horses with such rapidity as to perform this
feat successfully in all the hurry of a burst. The late Colonel Wyndham,
who, when he commanded the Greys, in which regiment he served at
Waterloo, was said by George the Fourth to be the handsomest man in the
army, possessed with a giant's stature the pliant agility of a
harlequin. A finer rider never got into a saddle. Weighing nineteen
stone, I have seen him in a burst across Leicestershire, go for twenty
minutes with the best of the light-weights, occasionally relieving his
horse by throwing himself off, leaping a fence alongside of it, and
vaulting on again, without checking the animal sufficiently to break its

The lamented Lord Mayo too, whose tall stalwart frame was in keeping
with those intellectual powers that India still recalls in melancholy
pride, was accustomed, on occasion, thus to surmount an obstacle, no
less successfully among the bullfinches of Northamptonshire than the
banks and ditches of Kildare. Perhaps the best rider of his family, and
it is a bold assertion, for when five or six of the brothers are out
hunting, there will always be that number of tall heavy men, answering
to the name of Bourke in the same field with the hounds, Lord Mayo, or
rather Lord Naas (for the best of his sporting career closed with his
succession to the earldom), was no less distinguished for his daring
horsemanship, than his tact in managing a country, and his skill in
hunting a pack of hounds. That he showed less forethought in risking a
valuable life than in conducting the government of an empire, we must
attribute to his personal courage and keen delight in the chase, but
that he humorously deplored the scarcity of discretion amongst its
votaries, the following anecdote, as I had it from himself, sufficiently

While he hunted his own hounds in Kildare, his most constant attendant,
though on foot, was a nondescript character, such as is called "a tight
boy" in Ireland, and nowhere else, belonging to a class that never seem
to do a day's work, nor to eat a plentiful meal, but are always
pleasant, obliging, idle, hungry, thirsty, and supremely happy. Running
ten miles on foot to covert, Mick, as he was called, would never leave
the hounds till they reached their kennels at night. Thus, plodding home
one evening by his lordship's horse, after an unusually long and
fatiguing run, the rider could not help expostulating with the walker on
such a perverse misapplication of strength, energy, and perseverance.
"Why, look at the work you have been doing," said his lordship; "with a
quarter of the labour you might have earned three or four shillings at
least. What a fool you must be, Mick, to neglect your business, and lose
half your potatoes, that you may come out with my hounds!"

Mick reflected a moment, and looked up, "Ah! me lard," replied he, with
such a glance of fun as twinkles nowhere but in the Irish blue of an
Irish eye, "it's truth your lardship's spakin' this night; _'av there
was no fools, there'd be sorra few fox-hunters!_"

Let us return to the question of Discretion, and how we are to combine
it with an amusement that makes fools of us all.

While valour, then, bids us take our fences as they come, discretion
teaches us that each should be accomplished in the manner most suitable
to its peculiar requirements. When a bank offers foothold, and we see
the possibility of dividing a large leap by two, we should pull back to
a trot, and give our horse a hint that he will do well to spring on and
off the obstacle in accordance with a motion of our hand. If, on the
contrary, his effort must be made at a black and forbidding bullfinch,
with the chance of a wide ditch, or even a tough ashen rail, beyond, it
is wise, should we mean having it at all, to catch hold of the bridle
and increase our pace, for the last two or three strides, with such
energy as shall shoot us through the thorns like a harlequin through a
trap-door, leaving the orifice to close up behind, with no more traces
of our transit than are left by a bird!

[Illustration: Page 138.]

Perhaps we find an easy place under a tree, with an overhanging
branch, and sidle daintily up to it, bending the body and lowering the
head as we creep through, to the admiration of an indiscreet friend on a
rash horse who spoils a good hat and utters an evil execration while
trying to follow our example. Or it may be, rejoicing to find ourselves
on arable land, that actually rides light, and yet carries a scent,

    "Solid and tall,
    The rasping wall"

challenges us a quarter of a mile off to face it or go home, for it
offers neither gate nor gap, and seems to meet the sky-line on either
side. I do not know whether others are open to the same deception, but
to my own eye, a wall appears more, and a hedge less, than its real
height at a certain distance off. The former, however, is a most
satisfactory leap when skilfully accomplished, and not half so arduous
as it looks.

"Have it!" says Valour. "Yes, but very slow," replies Discretion. And,
sure enough, we calm the free generous horse into a trot, causing him to
put his very nose over the obstacle before taking off; when bucking into
the air, like a deer, he leaves it behind him with little more effort
than a girl puts to her skipping-rope. The height an experienced
wall-jumper will clear seems scarcely credible. A fence of this
description, which measurement proves to be fully six feet, was jumped
by the well-known Colonel Miles three or four years ago in the Badminton
country without displacing a stone, and although the rider's consummate
horsemanship afforded every chance of success, great credit is due to
the good hunter that could make such an effort with so heavy a man on
its back.

The knack of wall-jumping, however, is soon learned even by the most
inexperienced animals, and I may here observe that I have often been
surprised at the discretion shown by young horses, when ridden close to
hounds, in negotiating fences requiring sagacity and common sense. I am
aware that my opinion is singular, and I only give it as the result,
perhaps exceptional, of my own limited experience; but I must admit that
I have been carried by a pupil, on his first day, over awkward places,
up and down banks, in and out of ravines, or under trees, with a
docility and circumspection I have looked for from the veterans in vain.
Perhaps the old horse knows me as well as I know him, and thinks also
that he knows best. I am bound to say he never fails me when I trust
him, but he likes his head let alone, and insists on having it all his
own way. When his blood is really up, and the hero of a hundred fights
considers it worth while to put forth his strength, I am persuaded he is
even bolder than his junior.

Not only at the fences, however, do we require discretion. There is a
right way and a wrong of traversing every acre of ground that lies
between them. On the grass, we must avoid crossing high ridge-and-furrow
in a direct line; rather let us take it obliquely, or, if the field be
not too large, go all the way round by the headland. For an unaccustomed
horse there is nothing so trying as those up-and-down efforts, that
resemble the lurches of a boat in a heavy sea. A very true-shaped animal
will learn to glide smoothly over them after a season or two, but these
inequalities of surface must always be a tax on wind and muscular powers
at best. The easiest goer in ridge-and-furrow that we have yet seen is a
fox. Surely no other quadruped has nature gifted with so much strength
and symmetry in so small a compass.

Amongst the ploughs, though the fences are happily easier, forethought
and consideration are even more required for ground. After much rain, do
not enter a turnip-field if you can help it, the large, frequent roots
loosen the soil, and your horse will go in up to his hocks; young wheat
also it is well to avoid, if only for reasons purely selfish; but on the
fallows, when you find a _wet_ furrow, lying the right way, put on
steam, splash boldly ahead, and never leave it so long as it serves you
in your line. The same may be said of a foot-path, even though its
guidance should entail the jumping of half-a-dozen stiles. Sound
foothold reduces the size of any leap, and while you are travelling
easily above the ground, the rest of the chase, fox and hounds too, as
well as horses, though in a less degree, are labouring through the mire.

When your course is intersected by narrow water-cuts, for purposes of
irrigation, by covered drains, or deep, grass-grown cart-ruts, it will
be well to traverse them obliquely, so that, if they catch the stride of
his gallop, your horse may only get one foot in at a time. He will then
right himself with a flounder, whereas, if held by both legs, either
before or behind, the result is a rattling fall, very dangerous to his
back in the one case, and to your own neck in the other.

Valour of course insists that a hunter should do what he is bid, but
there are some situations in which the beast's discretion pleads
reasonably enough for some forbearance from its master. If a good horse,
thoroughly experienced in the exigencies of the sport, that you have
ridden a season or two, and flatter yourself you understand,
persistently refuses a fence, depend upon it there is sufficient reason.
The animal may be lame from an injury just received, may have displaced
a joint, broken a tendon, or even ruptured an artery. Perhaps it is so
blown as to feel it must fall in the effort you require. At any rate do
not persevere. Horses have been killed, and men also, through a
sentiment of sheer obstinacy that would not be denied, and humanity
should at least think shame to be out-done in discretion by the brute. A
horse is a wise creature enough, or he could never carry us pleasantly
to hounds. An old friend of mine used to say: "People talk about size
and shape, shoulders, quarters, blood, bone, and muscle, but for my
part, give me a hunter with brains. He has to take care of the biggest
fool of the two, and think for both!"

Discretion, then, is one of the most valuable qualities for an animal
charged with such heavy responsibilities, that bears us happy and
triumphant during the day, and brings us safe home at night. Who would
grudge a journey across St. George's Channel to find this desirable
quality in its highest perfection at Ballinasloe or Cahirmee? for indeed
it is not too much to say that whatever we may think of her natives, the
most discreet and sagacious of our hunters come over from the Emerald



"An' niver laid an iron to the sod!" was a metaphor I once heard used by
an excellent fellow from Limerick, to convey the brilliant manner in
which a certain four-year-old he was describing performed during a
burst, when, his owner told me, he went clean away from all rivals in
his gallop, and flew every wall, bank, and ditch, in his stride.

The expression, translated into English, would seem to imply that he
neither perched on the grass-grown banks, with all four feet at once,
like a cat, nor struck back at them with his hind legs, like a dog; and
perhaps my friend made the more account of this hazardous style of
jumping, that it seemed so foreign to the usual characteristics of the
Irish horse.

For those who have never hunted in Ireland, I must explain that the
country as a general rule is fenced on a primitive system, requiring
little expenditure of capital beyond the labour of a man, or, as he is
there called, "a boy," with a short pipe in his mouth and a spade in his
hand. This light-hearted operative, gay, generous, reckless,
high-spirited, and by no means a free worker, simply throws a bank up
with the soil that he scoops out of the ditch, reversing the process,
and filling the latter by levelling the former, when a passage is
required for carts, or cattle, from one inclosure to the next. I ought
nevertheless to observe, that many landlords, with a munificence for
which I am at a loss to account, go to the expense of erecting massive
pillars of stone, ostensibly gate-posts, at commanding points, between
which supports, however, they seldom seem to hang a gate, though it is
but justice to admit that when they do, the article is usually of iron,
very high, very heavy, and fastened with a strong padlock, though its
object seems less apparent, when we detect within convenient distance on
either side a gap through which one might safely drive a gig.

It is obvious, then, that this kind of fence, at its widest and
deepest, requires considerable activity as well as circumspection on a
horse's part, and forbearance in handling on that of a rider. The animal
must gather itself to spring like a goat, on the crest of the eminence
it has to surmount, with perfect liberty of head and neck, for the
climb, and subsequent effort, that may, or may not be demanded. Neither
man nor beast can foresee what is prepared for them on the landing side,
and a clever Irish hunter brings itself up short in an instant, should
the gulf be too formidable for its powers, balancing on the brink, to
look for a better spot, or even leaping back again into the field from
which it came.

That the Irishman rides with a light bridle and lets it very much alone
is the necessary result. His pace at the fences must be slow, because it
is not a horse's nature, however rash, to rush at a place like the side
of a house; and instinct prompts the animal to collect itself without
restraint from a rider's hand, while any interference during the second
and downward spring would only tend to pull it back into the chasm it is
doing its best to clear.

The efforts by which an Irish hunter surmounts these national
impediments is like that of a hound jumping a wall. The horse leaps to
the top with fore-and-hind feet together, where it dwells, almost
imperceptibly, while shifting the purchase, or "changing," as the
natives call it, in the shortest possible stride, of a few inches at
most, to make the second spring. Every good English hunter will strike
back with his hind legs when surprised into sudden exertion, but only a
proficient bred, or at least, taught in the sister island, can master
the feat described above in such artistic form as leads one to believe
that, like Pegasus, the creature has wings at every heel. No man who has
followed hounds in Meath, Kilkenny, or Kildare will ever forget the
first time, when, to use the vernacular of those delightful countries,
he rode "an accomplished hunter over an intricate lep!"

But the merit is not heaven-born. On the contrary, it seems the result
of patient and judicious tuition, called by Irish breakers "training,"
in which they show much knowledge of character and sound common sense.

In some counties, such as Roscommon and Connemara, the brood mare
indeed, with the foal at her foot, runs wild over extensive districts,
and, finding no gates against which to lean, leaps leisurely from
pasture to pasture, pausing, perhaps, in her transit to crop the sweeter
herbage from some bank on which she is perched. Where mamma goes her
little one dutifully follows, imitating the maternal motions, and as a
charming mother almost always has a charming daughter, so, from its
earliest foalhood, the future hunter acquires an activity, courage, and
sagacity that shall hereafter become the admiration of crowded
hunting-fields in the land of the Saxon far, far away!

But whereas in many parts of Ireland improved agriculture denies space
for the unrestrained vagaries of these early lessons, a judicious system
is adopted that substitutes artificial education for that of nature. "It
is wonderful we don't get more falls," said one of the boldest and best
of lady riders, who during many seasons followed the pilotage of Jem
Mason, and but for failing eye-sight, could sometimes have gone before
him, "when we consider that we all ride half-broken horses," and, no
doubt, on our side of the Channel, the observation contained a great
deal of truth. But in this respect our neighbours show more wisdom. They
seldom bring a pupil into the hunting-field till the elementary
discipline has been gone through that teaches him when he comes to his
fence _what to do with it_. He may be three, he may be four. I have seen
a sportsman in Kilkenny so unassumingly equipped that instead of boots
he wore wisps of straw called, I believe, "_sooghauns_" go in front for
a quarter of an hour on a two-year old! Whatever his age, the colt shows
himself an experienced hunter when it is necessary to leap. Not yet
_mouthed_, with unformed paces and wandering action, he may seem the
merest baby on the road or across a field, but no veteran can be wiser
or steadier when he comes within distance of it, or, as his owner would
say, when he "challenges" his leap, and this enthusiast hardly
over-states the truth in affirming that his pupil "would change on the
edge of a razor, and never let ye know he was off the Queen's high-road,
God bless her, all the time!"

The Irishman, like the Arab, seems to possess a natural insight into the
character of a horse; with many shortcomings as grooms, not the least of
which are want of neatness in stable-management, and rooted dislike to
hard work, except by fits and starts, they cherish extraordinary
affection for their charges, and certainly in their dealings with them
obviously prefer kindness to coercion. I do not think they always
understand feeding judiciously, and many of them have much to learn
about getting horses into condition; but they are unrivalled in teaching
them to jump.

Though seldom practised, there is no better system in all undertakings
than "to begin with the beginning," and an Irish horse-breaker is so
persuaded of this great elementary truth that he never asks the colt to
attempt three feet till it has become thoroughly master of two. With a
cavesson rein, a handful of oats, and a few yards of waste ground behind
the potato-ground or the pig-styes, he will, by dint of skill and
patience, turn the most blundering neophyte into an expert and stylish
fencer in about six weeks. As he widens the ditch of his earthwork, he
necessarily heightens its bank, which his simple tools, the spade and
the pipe, soon raise to six or seven feet. When the young one has
learned to surmount this temperately, but with courage, to change on the
top, and deliver itself handsomely, with the requisite fling and
freedom, on the far side, he considers it sufficiently advanced to take
into the fields, where he leads it forthwith, leaving behind him the
spade, but holding fast to the corn, the cavesson, and the pipe. Here he
soon teaches his colt to wait, quietly grazing, or staring about, while
he climbs the fence he intends it to jump, and almost before the long
rein can be tightened it follows like a dog, to poke its nose in his
hand for the few grains of oats it expects as a reward.

Some breakers drive their pupils from behind, with reins, pulling them
up when they have accomplished the leap; but this is not so good a plan
as necessitating the use of the whip, and having, moreover, a further
disadvantage in accustoming the colt to stop dead short on landing, a
habit productive hereafter of inconvenience to a loose rider taken

When he has taught his horse thus to _walk_ over a country, for two or
three miles on end, the breaker considers it, with reason, thoroughly
trained for leaping, and has no hesitation however low its condition, in
riding it out with the hounds. Who that has hunted in Ireland but can
recall the interest, and indeed amusement, with which he has watched
some mere baby, strangely tackled and uncouthly equipped, sailing along
in the front rank, steered with consummate skill and temper by a
venerable rider who looks sixty on horseback, and at least eighty on
foot. The man's dress is of the shabbiest and most incongruous, his
boots are outrageous, his spurs ill put on, and his hat shows symptoms
of ill-usage in warfare or the chase; but he sits in the saddle like a
workman, and age has no more quenched the courage in his bright Irish
eye, than it has soured the mirth of his temperament, or saddened the
music of his brogue. You know instinctively that he must be a good
fellow and a good sportsman; you cannot follow him for half a mile
without being satisfied that he is a good rider, and you forget, in your
admiration of his beast's performance, your surprise at its obvious
youth, its excessive leanness, and the unusual shabbiness of its
accoutrements. Inspecting these more narrowly, if you can get near
enough, you begin to grudge the sums you have paid Bartley, or Wilkinson
and Kidd, for the neat turn-out you have been taught to consider
indispensable to success. You see that a horse may cross a dangerous
country speedily and in safety, though its saddle be pulpy and
weather-stained, with unequal stirrup-leathers, and only one girth;
though its bridle be a Pelham, _with_ a noseband, and _without_ a
curb-chain, while one rein seems most untrustworthy, and the other, for
want of a buckle, has its ends tied in a knot. And yet, wherever the
hounds go, thither follow this strangely-equipped pair. They arrive at a
seven-foot bank, defended by a wide and, more forbidding still, an
enormously deep ditch on this side and with nothing apparently but blue
sky on the other. While the man utters an exclamation that seems a
threat, a war-cry, and a shout of triumph combined, the horse springs to
the summit, perches like a bird, and disappears buoyantly into space as
if furnished, indeed, with wings, that it need only spread to fly away.
They come to a stone-gap, as it is termed; neither more nor less than a
disused egress, made up with blocks of granite into a wall about five
feet high, and the young one, getting close under it, clears the whole
out of a trot, with the elasticity and the very action of a deer.
Presently some frightful chasm has to be encountered, wide enough for a
brook, deep enough for a ravine, boggy of approach, faced with stone,
and offering about as awkward an appearance as ever defeated a good man
on his best hunter and bade him go to look for a better place.

Our friend in the bad hat, who knows what he is about, rides at this
"yawner" a turn slower than would most Englishmen, and with a lighter
hand on his horse's mouth, though his legs and knees are keeping the
pupil well into its bridle, and, should the latter want to refuse, or
"renage," as they say in Ireland, a disgrace of which it has not the
remotest idea, there is a slip of ground-ash in the man's fingers ready
to administer "a refresher" on its flank. "Did ye draw now?" asks an
Irishman when his friend is describing how he accomplished some
extraordinary feat in leaping, and the expression, derived from an
obsolete custom of sticking the cutting-whip upright in the boot, so
that it has come to mean punishment from that instrument, is nearly
always answered--"I did _not_!" Light as a fairy, our young, but
experienced hunter dances down to the gulf, and leaves it behind with
scarce an effort, while an unwashed hand bestows its caress on the
reeking neck that will hereafter thicken prodigiously in some Saxon
stable on a proper allowance of corn. If you are riding an Irish horse,
you cannot do better than imitate closely every motion of the pair in
front. If not, you will be wise, I think, to turn round and go home.

Presently we will hope, for the sake of the neophyte, whose condition
is by no means on a par with his natural powers, the hounds either kill
their fox, or run him to ground, or lose, or otherwise account for him,
thus affording a few minutes' repose for breathing and conversation.
"It's an intrickate country," observes some brother-sportsman with just
such another mount to the veteran I have endeavoured to describe; "and
will that be the colt by Chitchat out of Donovan's mare? Does he 'lep'
well now?" he adds with much interest. "The beautifullest ever ye see!"
answers his friend, and nobody who has witnessed the young horse's
performances can dispute the justice of such a reply. It is not
difficult to understand that hunters so educated and so ridden in a
country where every leap requires power, courage, and the exercise of
much sagacity, should find little difficulty in surmounting such
obstacles as confront them on this side of the Channel. It is child's
play to fly a Leicestershire fence, even with an additional rail, for a
horse that has been taught his business amongst the precipitous banks
and fathomless ditches of Meath or Kildare. If the ground were always
sound and the hills somewhat levelled, these Irish hunters would find
little to stop them in Leicestershire from going as straight as their
owners dared ride. Practice at walls renders them clever timber-jumpers,
they have usually the spring and confidence that make nothing of a
brook, and their careful habit of preparing for something treacherous on
the landing side of every leap prevents their being taken unawares by
the "oxers" and doubles that form such unwelcome exceptions to the usual
run of impediments throughout the shires. There is something in the
expression of their very ears while we put them at their fences, that
seems to say, "It's a good trick enough, and would take in most horses,
but my mother taught me a thing or two in Connemara, and you don't come
over me!" Unfortunately the Shires, as they are called _par excellence_,
the Vale of Aylesbury, a perfect wilderness of grass, and indeed all the
best hunting districts, ride very deep nine seasons out of ten, so that
the Irish horse, accustomed to a sound lime-stone soil and an unfurrowed
surface in his own green island, being moreover usually much wanting in
condition, feels the added labour, and difference of action required,
severely enough. It is proverbial that a horse equal to fourteen stone
in Ireland is only up to thirteen in Leicestershire, and English
purchasers must calculate accordingly.

But if some prize-taker at the Dublin Horse Show, or other ornament of
that land which her natives call the "first flower of the earth and
first gem of the sea," should disappoint you a little when you ride him
in November from Ranksborough, the Coplow, Crick, Melton-Spinney,
Christmas-Gorse, Great-Wood, or any other favourite covert in one of our
many good hunting countries, do not therefore despond. If he fail in
deep ground, or labour on ridge and furrow, remember he possesses this
inestimable merit that _he can go the shortest way_! Because the fence
in front is large, black, and forbidding, you need not therefore send
him at it a turn faster than usual; he is accustomed to spring _from his
back_, and cover large places out of a trot. If you ride your own line
to hounds, it is no slight advantage thus to have the power of
negotiating awkward corners, without being "committed to them" fifty
yards off, unable to pull up should they prove impracticable; and the
faculty of "jumping at short notice," on this consideration alone, I
conceive to be one of the choicest qualities a hunter can possess. Also,
even in the most favoured and flying of the "grass countries," many
fences require unusual steadiness and circumspection. If they are to be
done at all, they can only be accomplished by creeping, sometimes even
_climbing_ to the wished-for side. The front rank itself will probably
shirk these unaccustomed obstacles with cordial unanimity, leaving them
to be triumphantly disposed of by your new purchase from Kildare. He
pokes out his nose, as if to inspect the depth of a possible interment,
and it is wise to let him manage it all his own way. You give him his
head, and the slightest possible kick in the ribs. With a cringe of his
powerful back and quarters, a vigorous lift that seems to reach
two-thirds of the required distance, a second spring, apparently taken
from a twig weak enough to bend under a bird, that covers the remainder,
a scramble for foothold, a half stride and a snort of satisfaction, the
whole is disposed of, and you are alone with the hounds.

Though, under such circumstances, these seem pretty sure to run to
ground or otherwise disappoint you within half-a-mile, none the less
credit is due to your horse's capabilities, and you vow next season to
have nothing but Irish nags in your stable, resolving for the future to
ride straighter than you have ever done before.

But if you are so well pleased now with your promising Patlander, what
shall you think of him this time next year, when he has had twelve
months of your stud-groom's stable-management, and consumed ten or a
dozen quarters of good English oats? Though you may have bought him as a
six-year old, he will have grown in size and substance, even in height,
and will not only look, but feel up to a stone more weight than you ever
gave him credit for. He can jump when he is blown _now_, but he will
never be blown _then_. Condition will teach him to laugh at the deep
ground, while his fine shoulders and true shape will enable him, after
the necessary practice, to travel across ridge and furrow without a
lurch. He will have turned out a rattling good horse, and you will never
grudge the cheque you wrote, nor the punch you were obliged to drink,
before his late proprietor would let you make him your own.

Gold and whisky, in large quantities and judiciously applied, may no
doubt buy the best horses in Ireland. But a man must know where to look
for them, and even in remote districts, will sometimes be disappointed
to find that the English dealers have forestalled him. Happily, there
are so many good horses, perhaps I should say, so few _rank bad ones_,
bred in the country, that from the very sweepings and leavings of the
market, one need not despair of turning up a trump. A hunter is in so
far like a wife, that experience alone will prove whether he is or is
not good for nothing. Make and shape, in either case, may be perfect,
pedigree unimpeachable, and manners blameless, but who is to answer for
temper, reflection, docility, and the generous staying power that
accepts rough and smooth, ups and downs, good and evil, without a
struggle or a sob? When we have tried them, we find them out, and can
only make the best of our disappointment, if they do not fully come up
to our expectations.

There is many a good hunter, particularly in a rich man's stable, that
never has a chance of proving its value. With three or four, we know
their form to a pound; with a dozen, season after season goes by without
furnishing occasion for the use of all, till some fine scenting day,
after mounting a friend, we are surprised to learn that the flower of
the whole stud has hitherto been esteemed but a moderate animal, only
fit to carry the sandwiches, and bring us home.

I imagine, notwithstanding all we have heard and read concerning the
difficulty of buying Irish horses in their own country, that there are
still scores of them in Cork, Limerick, and other breeding districts, as
yet unpromised and unsold. The scarcity of weight-carriers is
indisputable, but can we find them here? The "light man's horse," to fly
under sixteen stone, is a "black swan" everywhere, and if _not_ "a light
man's horse," that is to say, free, flippant, fast, and well-bred, he
will never give his stalwart rider thorough satisfaction; but in
Ireland, far more plentifully than in England, are still to be found
handsome, clever, hunting-like animals fit to carry thirteen stone, and
capital jumpers at reasonable prices, varying from one to two hundred
pounds. The latter sum, particularly if you had it with you in
_sovereigns_, would in most localities insure the "pick of the basket,"
and ten or twenty of the coins thrown back for luck.

I have heard it objected to Irish hunters, that they are so accustomed
to "double" all their places, as to practise this accomplishment even at
those flying fences of the grazing districts which ought to be taken in
the stride, and that they require fresh tuition before they can be
trusted at the staked-and-bound or the bullfinch, lest, catching their
feet in the growers as in a net, they should be tumbled headlong to the
ground. I can only say that I have been well and safely carried by many
of them on their first appearance in Leicestershire, as in other English
countries, that they seemed intuitively to apprehend the character of
the fences they had to deal with, and that, although being mortal, they
could not always keep on their legs, I cannot remember one of them
giving me a fall _because_ he was an Irish horse!

How many their nationality has saved me, I forbear to count, but I am
persuaded that the careful tuition undergone in youth, and their varied
experience when sufficiently advanced to follow hounds over their native
country, imparts that facility of powerful and safe jumping, which is
one of the most important qualities among the many that constitute a

They possess also the merit of being universally well-bred. This is an
advantage no sportsman will overlook who likes to be near hounds while
they run, but objects to leading, driving, or perhaps _pushing_ his
horse home. Till within a few years, there was literally _no_ cart-horse
blood in Ireland. The "black-drop" of the ponderous Clydesdale remained
positively unknown, and although the Suffolk Punch has been recently
introduced, he cannot yet have sufficiently tainted the pedigrees of the
country, to render us mistrustful of a golden-coated chestnut, with a
round barrel and a strong back.

No, their horses if not quite "clean-bred," as the Irish themselves call
it, are at least of illustrious parentage on both sides a few
generations back, and this high descent cannot but avail them, when
called on for long-continued exertion, particularly at the end of the

Juvenal, hurling his scathing satire against the patricians of his
time, drew from the equine race a metaphor to illustrate the superiority
of merit over birth. However unanswerable in argument, he was, I think,
wrong in his facts. Men and women are to be found of every parentage,
good, bad, and indifferent; but with horses, there is more in race than
in culture, and for the selection of these noble animals at least, I can
imagine no safer guide than the aristocratic maxim, "Blood will tell!"



I have heard it affirmed, though I know not on what authority, that if
we are to believe the hunting records of the last hundred years, in all
runs so severe and protracted as to admit of only one man getting to the
finish, this exceptional person was in _every_ instance, riding an old
horse, a thorough-bred horse, and a horse under fifteen-two!

Perhaps on consideration, this is a less remarkable statement than it
appears. That the survivor was an old horse, means that he had many
years of corn and condition to pull him through; that he was a little
horse, infers he carried a light weight, but that he was a thorough-bred
horse seems to me a reasonable explanation of the whole.

"The thorough-bred ones never stop," is a common saying among
sportsmen, and there are daily instances of some high-born steed who can

    "His sire from the desert, his dam from the north,"

galloping steadily on, calm and vigorous, when the country behind him is
dotted for miles with hunters standing still in every field.

It is obvious that a breed, reared expressly for racing purposes, must
be the fastest of its kind. A colt considered good enough to be "put
through the mill" on Newmarket Heath, or Middleham Moor, whatever may be
his shortcomings in the select company he finds at school, cannot but
seem "a flyer," when in after-life he meets horses, however good, that
have neither been bred nor trained for the purpose of galloping a single
mile at the rate of an express train. While these are at speed he is
only cantering, and we need not therefore be surprised that he can keep
cantering on after they are reduced to a walk.

In the hunting-field, "what kills is the pace." When hounds can make it
good enough they kill their fox, when horses _cannot_ it kills _them_,
and for this reason alone, if for no other, I would always prefer that
my hunters should be quite thorough-bred.

Though undoubtedly the best, I cannot affirm, however, that they are
always the _pleasantest_ mounts; far from it, indeed, just at first,
though subsequent superiority makes amends for the little eccentricities
of gait and temper peculiar to pupils from the racing-stable in their
early youth.

An idle, lurching mover, rather narrow before the saddle, with great
power of back and loins, a habit of bearing on its rider's hand, one
side to its mouth, and a loose neck, hardly inspires a careful man with
the confidence necessary for enjoyment; coming away from Ranksborough,
for instance, down-hill, with the first fence leaning towards him, very
little room, his horse too much extended, going on its shoulders, and
getting the better of him at every stride!

But this is an extreme case, purposely chosen to illustrate at their
worst, the disadvantages of riding a thorough-bred horse.

It is often our own fault, when we buy one of these illustrious
cast-offs, that our purchase so disappoints us after we have got it
home. Many men believe that to carry them through an exhausting run,
such staying powers are required as win under high weights and at long
distances on the turf.

Their selection, therefore, from the racing-stable, is some young one
of undeniably stout blood, that when "asked the question" for the first
time, has been found too slow to put in training. They argue with
considerable show of reason, that it will prove quite speedy enough for
a hunter, but they forget that though a fast horse is by no means
indispensable to the chase, a _quick_ one is most conducive to enjoyment
when we are compelled to jump all sorts of fences out of all sorts of

Now a yearling, quick enough on its legs to promise a turn of speed, is
pretty sure to be esteemed worth training, nor will it be condemned as
useless, till its distance is found to be just short of half-a-mile. In
plain English, when it fails under the strain on wind and frame, of
galloping at its very best, eight hundred and seventy yards, and "fades
to nothing" in the next ten.

Now this collapse is really more a question of speed than stamina. There
is a want of reach or leverage somewhere, that makes its rapid action
too laborious to be lasting, but there is no reason why the animal that
comes short of five furlongs on the trial-ground, should not hold its
own in front, for five miles of a steeple-chase, or fifteen of a run
with hounds.

These, in fact, are the so-called "weeds" that win our cross-country
races, and when we reflect on the pace and distance of the Liverpool,
four miles and three-quarters run in something under eleven minutes, at
anything but feather-weights, and over all sorts of fences, we cannot
but admire the speed, gallantry, and endurance, the essentially _game_
qualities of our English horse. And here I may observe that a good
steeple-chaser, properly sobered and brought into his bridle, is one of
the pleasantest hunters a man can ride, particularly in a flying
country. He is sure to be able to "make haste" in all sorts of ground,
while the smooth, easy stride that wins between the flags is invaluable
through dirt. He does not lose his head and turn foolish, as do many
good useful hunters, when bustled along for a mile or two at something
like racing pace. Very quick over his fences, his style of jumping is no
less conducive to safety than despatch, while his courage is sure to be
undeniable, because the slightest tendency to refuse would have
disqualified him for success in his late profession, wherein also, he
must necessarily have learnt to be a free and brilliant water-jumper.

Indeed you may always take _two_ liberties with a steeple-chase horse
during a run (not more). The first time you squeeze him, he thinks, "Oh!
this is the brook!" and putting on plenty of steam, flings himself as
far as ever he can. The second, he accepts your warning with equal good
will. "All right!" he seems to answer, "This is the brook, coming home!"
but if you try the same game a third time, I cannot undertake to say
what may happen, you will probably puzzle him exceedingly, upset his
temper, and throw him out of gear for the day.

We have travelled a long way, however, from our original subject,
tuition of the thorough-bred for the field, or perhaps I should call it
the task of turning a bad race-horse into a good hunter.

Like every other process of education this requires exceeding
perseverance, and a patience not to be overcome. The irritation of a
moment may undo the lessons of a week, and if the master forgets
himself, you may be sure the pupil will long remember which of the two
was in fault. Never begin a quarrel if it can possibly be avoided,
because, when war is actually declared, you must fight it out to the
bitter end, and if you are beaten, you had better send your horse to
Tattersall's, for you will never be master again.

Stick to him till he does what you require, trusting, nevertheless,
rather to time than violence, and if you can get him at last to obey you
of his own free will, without knowing why, I cannot repeat too often,
you will have won the most conclusive of victories.

When the late Sir Charles Knightley took Sir Marinel out of training,
and brought him down to Pytchley, to teach him the way he should go (and
the way of Sir Charles over a country was that of a bird in the air), he
found the horse restive, ignorant, wilful, and unusually averse to
learning the business of a hunter. The animal, was, however, well worth
a little painstaking, and his owner, a perfect centaur in the saddle,
rode him out for a lesson in jumping the first day the hounds remained
in the kennel. At two o'clock, as his old friend and contemporary, Mr.
John Cooke informed me, he came back, having failed to get the rebel
over a single fence. "But I have told them not to take his saddle off,"
said Sir Charles, sitting down to a cutlet and a glass of Madeira,
"after luncheon I mean to have a turn at him again!"

So the baronet remounted and took the lesson up where he had left off.
Nerve, temper, patience, the strongest seat, and the finest hands in
England, could not but triumph at last, and this thorough-bred pair came
home at dinner-time, having larked over all the stiffest fences in the
country, with perfect unanimity and good will. Sir Marinel, and
Benvolio, also a thorough-bred horse, were by many degrees, Sir Charles
has often told me, the best hunters he ever had.

Shuttlecock too, immortalized in the famous Billesdon-Coplow poem, when

    "Villiers esteemed it a serious bore,
    That no longer could Shuttlecock fly as before,"

was a clean thorough-bred horse, fast enough to have made a good figure
on the race-course, but with a rooted disinclination to jump.

That king of horsemen, the grandfather of the present Lord Jersey, whom
I am proud to remember having seen ride fairly away from a whole
Leicestershire field, over a rough country not far from Melton, at
seventy-three, told me that this horse, though it turned out eventually
one of his safest and boldest fencers, at the end of six weeks' tuition
would not jump the leaping-bar the height of its own knees! His
lordship, however, who was blessed in perfection, with the sweet temper,
as with the personal beauty and gallant bearing of his race, neither
hurried nor ill-used it, and the time spent on the animal's education,
though somewhat wearisome, was not thrown away.

Mr. Gilmour's famous _Vingt-et-un_, the best hunter, he protests, by a
great deal that gentleman ever possessed, was quite thorough-bred.
Seventeen hands high, but formed all over in perfect proportion to this
commanding frame, it may easily be imagined that the power and stride of
so large an animal made light of ordinary obstacles, and I do not
believe, though it may sound an extravagant assertion, there was a fence
in the whole of Leicestershire that could have stopped _Vingt-et-un_ and
his rider, on a good scenting day some few years ago. Such men and such
horses ought never to grow old.

Mr. William Cooke, too, owned a celebrated hunter called Advance, of
stainless pedigree, as was December, so named from being foaled on the
last day of that month, a premature arrival that lost him his year for
racing purposes by twenty-four hours, and transferred the colt to the
hunting-stables. Mr. Cooke rode nothing but this class, nor indeed could
any animal less speedy than a race-horse, sustain the pace he liked to

Whitenose, a beautiful animal that the late Sir Richard Sutton affirmed
was not only the best hunter he ever owned, but that he ever saw or
heard of, and on whose back he is painted in Sir F. Grant's spirited
picture of the Cottesmore Meet, was also quite thorough-bred. When Sir
Richard hunted the Burton country, Whitenose carried him through a run
so severe in pace and of such long duration, that not another horse got
to the end, galloping, his master assured me, steadily on without a
falter, to the last. By the way, he was then of no great age, and nearer
sixteen hands than fifteen-two! This was a very easy horse to ride, and
could literally jump anything he got his nose over. A picture to look
at, with a coat like satin, the eyes of a deer, and the truest action in
his slow as in his fast paces, he has always been my ideal of perfection
in a hunter.

But it would be endless to enumerate the many examples I can recall of
the thorough-bred's superiority in the hunting-field. Those I have
mentioned belong to a by-gone time, but a man need not look very
narrowly into any knot of sportsmen at the present day, particularly
_after_ a sharpish scurry in deep ground, before his eye rests on the
thin tail, and smoothly turned quarters, that need no gaudier blazon to
attest the nobility of their descent.

If you mean, however, to ride a thorough-bred one, and choose to _make_
him yourself, do not feel disappointed that he seems to require more
time and tuition than his lower-born cousins, once and twice removed.

In the first place you will begin by thinking him wanting in courage!
Where the half-bred one, eager, flurried, and excited, rushes wildly at
an unaccustomed difficulty, your calmer gentleman proceeds deliberately
to examine its nature, and consider how he can best accomplish his task.
It is not that he has less valour, but more discretion! In the
monotonous process of training, he has acquired, with other tiresome
tricks, the habit of doing as little as he can, in the different paces,
walk, canter, and gallop, of which he has become so weary. Even the
excitement of hunting till hounds _really_ run, hardly dissipates his
aristocratic lethargy, but only get him in front for one of those
scurries that, perhaps twice in a season turn up a fox in twenty
minutes, and if you _dare_ trust him, you will be surprised at the
brilliant performance of your idle, negligent, wayward young friend. He
bends kindly to the bridle he objected to all the morning, he tucks his
quarters in, and _scours_ through the deep ground like a hare, he slides
over rather than jumps his fences, with the easy swoop of a bird on the
wing, and when everything of meaner race has been disposed of a field or
two behind, he trots up to some high bit of timber, and leaps it
gallantly without a pause, though only yesterday he would have turned
round to kick at it for an hour!

Still, there are many chances against your having such an opportunity
as this. Most days the hounds do _not_ run hard. When they do, you are
perhaps so unfortunate as to lose your start, and finally, should
everything else be in your favour, it is twenty to one you are riding
the wrong horse!

Therefore, the process of educating your young one, must be conducted
on quieter principles, and in a less haphazard way. If you can find a
pack of harriers, and _their master does not object_, there is no better
school for the troublesome or unwilling pupil. But remember, I entreat,
that horsebreaking is prejudicial to sport, and most unwelcome. You are
there on sufferance, take care to interfere with nobody, and above all,
keep wide of the hounds! The great advantage you will find in
harehunting over the wilder pursuit of the fox, is in the circles
described by your game. There is plenty of time to "have it out" with a
refuser, and indeed to turn him backwards and forwards if you please,
over the same leap, without fear of being left behind. The "merry
harriers" are pretty sure to return in a few minutes, and you can begin
again, with as much enthusiasm of man and horse as if you had never been
out of the hunt at all! Whip and spur, I need hardly insist, cannot be
used too sparingly, and anything in the shape of haste or over-anxiety
is prejudicial, but if it induces him to jump in his stride, you may
ride this kind of horse a turn faster at his fences, than any other. You
can trust him not to be in too great a hurry, and it is his nature to
take care of himself. Till he has become thoroughly accustomed to his
new profession, it is well to avoid such places as seem particularly
distasteful and likely to make him rebel. His fine skin will cause him
to be a little shy of thick bullfinches, and his sagacity mistrusts deep
or blind ditches, such as less intelligent animals would run into
without a thought. Rather select rails, or clean upright fences, that he
can compass and understand. Try to imbue him with love for the sport and
confidence in his rider. After a few weeks, he will turn his head from
nothing, and go straighter, as well as faster, and longer than anything
in your stable.

An old Meltonian used to affirm that the first two articles of his
creed for the hunting season were, "a perfectly pure claret, and
thorough-bred horses." Of the former he was unsparing to his friends,
the latter he used freely enough for himself. Certainly no man gave
pleasanter dinners, or was better carried, and one might do worse than
go to Melton with implicit reliance on these twin accessories of the
chase. All opinions must be agreed, I fancy, about the one, but there
are still many prejudices against the other. Heavy men especially
declare they cannot find thorough-bred horses to carry them, forgetting,
it would seem, that size is no more a criterion of strength than haste
is of speed. The bone of a thorough-bred horse is of the closest and
toughest fibre, his muscles are well developed, and his joints elastic.
Do not these advantages infer power, no less than stamina, and in our
own experience have we not all reason to corroborate the old-fashioned
maxim, "It is action that carries weight"? Nimrod, who understood the
subject thoroughly, observes with great truth, that "'Wind' is strength;
when a horse is blown a mountain or a mole-hill are much the same to
him," and no sportsman who has ever scaled a Highland hill to circumvent
a red-deer, or walk up to "a point," will dispute the argument. What a
game animal it is, that without touch of spur, at the mere pleasure and
caprice of a rider, struggles gallantly on till it drops!

There used to be a saying in the Prize Ring, that "Seven pounds will
lick the best man in England." This is but a technical mode of stating
that, _cæteris paribus_, weight means strength. Thirty years ago, it was
a common practice at Melton to weigh hunters after they were put in
condition, and sportsmen often wondered to find how the eye had deceived
them, in the comparative tonnage, so to speak, and consequently, the
horse-power of these different conveyances; the thorough-bred, without
exception, proving far heavier than was supposed.

An athlete, we all know, whether boxer, wrestler, pedestrian, cricketer
or gymnast, looks smaller in his clothes, and larger when he is
stripped. Similarly, on examining in the stable, "the nice little horse"
we admired in the field, it surprises us to find nearly sixteen hands of
height, and six feet of girth, with power to correspond in an animal of
which we thought the only defect was want of size. A thorough-bred one
is invariably a little bigger, and a great deal stronger than he looks.
Of his power to carry weight, those tall, fine men who usually ride so
judiciously and so straight, are not yet sufficiently convinced,
although if you ask any celebrated "welter" to name the best horse he
ever had, he is sure to answer, "Oh! little So-and-so. He wasn't up to
my weight, but he carried me better than anything else in the stable!"
Surely no criterion could be more satisfactory than this!

It may not be out of place to observe here, as an illustration of the
well-known maxim, "Horses can go in all shapes," that of the three
heaviest men I can call to mind who rode perfectly straight to hounds,
the best hunter owned by each was too long in the back. "Sober Robin,"
an extraordinary animal that could carry Mr. Richard Gurney, riding
twenty stone, ahead of all the light-weights, was thus shaped. A famous
bay-horse, nearly as good, belonging to the late Mr. Wood of Brixworth
Hall, an equally heavy man, who when thus mounted, never stopped to open
a gate! had, his owner used to declare, as many vertebræ as a crocodile,
and Colonel Wyndham whose size and superiority in the saddle I have
already mentioned, hesitated a week before he bought his famous black
mare, the most brilliant hunter he ever possessed, because she was at
least three inches too long behind the saddle!

I remember also seeing the late Lord Mayo ride fairly away from a
Pytchley field, no easy task, between Lilbourne and Cold Ashby, on a
horse that except for its enormous depth of girth, arguing unfailing
wind, seemed to have no good points whatever to catch the eye. It was
tall, narrow, plain-headed, with very bad shoulders, and very long legs,
all this to carry at least eighteen stone; but it was nearly, if not
quite, thorough-bred.

We need hardly dwell on the advantages of speed and endurance,
inherited from the Arab, and improved, as we fondly hope, almost to
perfection, through the culture of many generations, while even the fine
temper of the "desert-born" has not been so warped by the tricks of
stable-boys, and the severity of turf-discipline, but that a little
forbearance and kind usage soon restores its natural docility.

In all the qualities of a hunter, the thorough-bred horse, is, I think,
superior to the rest of his kind. You can hardly do better than buy one,
and "make him to your hand," should you be blessed with good nerves, a
fine temper, and a delicate touch, or, wanting these qualities, confide
him to some one so gifted, if you wish to be carried well and
pleasantly, in your love for hunting, perhaps I should rather say, for
the keen and stirring excitement we call "riding to hounds."



"If you want to be near hounds," says an old friend of mine who, for a
life-time, has religiously practised what he preaches, "the method is
simple, and seems only common sense--_keep as close to them as ever you
can_!" but I think, though, with his undaunted nerve, and extraordinary
horsemanship, he seems to find it feasible enough, this plan, for most
people, requires considerable management, and no little modification.

I grant we should never let them slip away from us, and that, in nine
cases out of ten, when defeated by what we choose to call "a bad turn"
it is our own fault. At the same time, there are many occasions on which
a man who keeps his eyes open, and knows how to ride, can save his horse
to some purpose, by travelling inside the pack, and galloping a hundred
yards for their three.

I say _who keeps his eyes open_, because, in order to effect this
economy of speed and distance, it is indispensable to watch their doings
narrowly, and to possess the experience that tells one when they are
_really_ on the line, and when only flinging forward to regain, with the
dash that is a fox-hound's chief characteristic, the scent they have
over-run. Constant observation will alone teach us to distinguish the
hounds that are right; and to turn with them judiciously, is the great
secret of "getting to the end."

We must, therefore, be within convenient distance, and to ensure such
proximity, it is most desirable to get a good start. Let us begin at the
beginning, and consider how this primary essential is to be obtained.

Directly a move is made from the place of meeting, it is well to cut
short all "coffee-house" conversation, even at the risk of neglecting
certain social amenities, and to fix our minds at once on the work in
hand. A good story, though pleasant enough in its way, cannot compare
with a good run, and it is quite possible to lose the one by too earnest
attention to the other.

A few courteous words previously addressed to the huntsman will ensure
his civility during the day; but this is not a happy moment for
imparting to him your opinion on things in general and his own business
in particular. He has many matters to occupy his thoughts, and does not
care to see you in the middle of his favourites on a strange horse. It
is better to keep the second whip between yourself and the hounds,
jogging calmly on, with a pleasant view of their well-filled backs and
handsomely-carried sterns, taking care to pull up, religiously murmuring
the orthodox caution--"Ware horse!" when any one of them requires to
pause for any purpose. You cannot too early impress on the hunt servants
that you are a lover of the animal, most averse to interfering with it
at all times, and especially in the ardour of the chase. If the size and
nature of the covert will admit, you had better go into it with the
hounds, and on this occasion, but no other, I think it is permissible to
make use of the huntsman's pilotage at a respectful distance. Where
there are foxes there is game, where game, riot. A few young hounds must
come out with every pack, and the _rate_ or _cheer_ of your leader will
warn you whether their opening music means a false flourish or a welcome
find. Also where he goes you can safely follow, and need have no
misgivings that the friendly hand-gate for which he is winding down some
tortuous ride will be nailed up.

Besides, though floundering in deep, sloughy woodlands entails
considerable labour on your horse, it is less distressing than that
gallop of a mile or two at speed which endeavours, but usually fails, to
make amends for a bad start; whereas, if you get away on good terms, you
can indulge him with a pull at the first opportunity, and those scenting
days are indeed rare on which hounds run many fields without at least a
hover, if not a check.

Some men take their station outside the covert, down wind, in a
commanding position, so as to hear every turn of the hounds, secure a
front place for the sport, and--head the fox!

But we will suppose all such difficulties overcome; that a little care,
attention, and common sense have enabled you to get away on good terms
with the pack; and that you emerge not a bowshot off, while they stream
across the first field with a dash that brings the mettle to your heart
and the blood to your brain. Do not, therefore, lose your head. It is
the characteristic of good manhood to be physically calm in proportion
to moral excitement. Remember there are two occasions in chase when the
manner of hounds is not to be trusted. On first coming away with their
fox, and immediately before they kill him, the steadiest will lead you
to believe there is a burning scent and that they cannot make a mistake.
Nevertheless, hope for the best, set your horse going, and if, as you
sail over, or crash through, the first fence, you mark the pack driving
eagerly on, drawn to a line at either end by the pace, harden your
heart, and thank your stars. It is all right, you may lay odds, you are
in for a really good thing!

I suppose I need hardly observe that the laws of fox-hunting forbid you
to follow hounds by the very obvious process of galloping in their
track. Nothing makes them so wild, to use the proper term, as "riding on
their line;" and should you be ignorant enough to attempt it, you are
pretty sure to be told _where_ you are driving them, and desired to go
there yourself!

No; you must keep one side or the other, but do not, if you can help
it, let the nature of the obstacles to be encountered bias your choice.
Ride for ground as far as possible when the foothold is good; the fences
will take care of themselves; but let no advantages of sound turf, nor
even open gates, tempt you to stray more than a couple of hundred yards
from the pack. At that distance a bad turn can be remedied, and a good
one gives you leisure to pull back into a trot. Remember, too, that it
is the nature of a fox, and we are now speaking of fox-hunting, to
travel down wind; therefore, as a general rule, keep to leeward of the
hounds. Every bend they make ought to be in your favour; but, on the
other hand should they chance to turn up wind, they will begin to run
very hard, and this is a good reason for never letting them get, so to
speak, out of your reach. I repeat, as a _general rule_, but by no means
without exception. In Leicestershire especially, foxes seem to scorn
this fine old principle, and will make their point with a stiff breeze
blowing in their teeth; but on such occasions they do not usually mean
to go very far, and the gallant veteran, with his white tag, that gives
you the run to be talked of for years, is almost always a wind-sinker
from wold or woodland in an adjoining hunt.

Suppose, however, the day is perfectly calm, and there seems no
sufficient reason to prefer one course to the other, should we go to
right or left? This is a matter in which neither precept nor personal
experience can avail. One man is as sure to do right as the other to do
wrong. There is an intuitive perception, more animal than human, of what
we may call "the line of chase," with which certain sportsmen are gifted
by nature, and which, I believe, would bring them up at critical points
of the finest and longest runs if they came out hunting in a gig. This
faculty, where everything else is equal, causes A to ride better than B,
but is no less difficult to explain than the instinct that guides an
Indian on the prairie or a swallow across the sea. It counsels the lady
in her carriage, or the old coachman piloting her children on their
ponies, it enables the butcher to come up on his hack, the first-flight
man to save his horse, and above all, the huntsman to kill his fox.

The Duke of Beaufort possesses it in an extraordinary degree. When so
crippled by gout, or reduced by suffering as to be unable to keep the
saddle over a fence, he seems, even in strange countries, to see no less
of the sport than in old days, when he could ride into every field with
his hounds. And I do believe that now, in any part of Gloucestershire,
with ten couple of "the badger-pyed" and a horn, he could go out and
kill his fox in a Bath-chair!

Perhaps, however, his may be an extreme case. No man has more
experience, few such a natural aptitude and fondness for the sport. Lord
Worcester, too, like his father, has shown how an educated gentleman,
with abilities equal to all exigencies of a high position that affords
comparatively little leisure for the mere amusements of life, can excel,
in their own profession, men who have been brought up to it from
childhood, whose thoughts and energies, winter and summer, morning,
noon, and night, are concentrated on the business of the chase.

This knack of getting to hounds then--should we consider genius or
talent too strong terms to use for proficiency in field sports--while a
most valuable quality to everybody who comes out hunting, is no less
rare than precious. If we have it we are to be congratulated and our
horses still more, but if, like the generality of men, we have it _not_,
let us consider how far common sense and close attention will supply the
want of a natural gift.

It was said of an old friend of mine, the keenest of the keen, that he
always rode as if he had never seen a run before, and should never see a
run again! This, I believe, is something of the feeling with which we
ought to be possessed, impelling us to take every legitimate advantage
and to throw no possible chance away. It cannot be too often repeated
that judicious choice of ground is the very first essential for success.
Therefore the hunting-field has always been considered so good a school
for cavalry officers. There seems no limit to the endurance of a horse
in travelling over a hard and tolerably level surface, even under heavy
weight, but we all know the fatal effect of a very few yards in a
steam-ploughed field, when the gallant animal sinks to its hocks every
stride. Keep an eye forward then, and shape your course where the
foothold is smooth and sound. In a hilly country choose the sides of the
slopes, above, rather than below, the pack, for, if they turn away from
you, it is harder work to gallop up, than down. In the latter case, and
for this little hint I am indebted to Lord Wilton, do not increase your
speed so as to gain in distance, rather preserve the same regular pace,
so as to save in wind. Descending an incline at an easy canter, and held
well together, your horse is resting almost as if he were standing
still. It is quite time enough when near the bottom to put on a spurt
that will shoot him up the opposite rise.

On the grass, if you _must_ cross ridge-and-furrow, take it a-slant,
your horse will pitch less on his shoulders, and move with greater ease,
while if they lie the right way, by keeping him on the crest, rather
than in the trough of those long parallel rollers, you will ensure firm
ground for his gallop, and a sounder, as well as higher take-off for the
leap, when he comes to his fence.

I need hardly remind you that in all swampy places, rushes may be
trusted implicitly, and experienced hunters seem as well aware of the
fact as their riders. Vegetable growth, indeed, of any kind has a
tendency to suck moisture into its fibres, and consequently to drain,
more or less, the surface in its immediate vicinity. The deep rides of a
woodland are least treacherous at their edges, and the brink of a brook
is most reliable close to some pollard or alder bush, particularly on
the upper side, as Mr. Bromley Davenport knew better than most people,
when he wrote his thrilling lines:--

    "Then steady, my young one! the place I've selected
      Above the dwarf willow, is sound, I'll be bail;
    With your muscular quarters beneath you collected,
      Prepare for a rush like the limited mail!"

But we cannot always be on the grass, nor, happily are any of us
obliged, often in a life time, to ride at the Whissendine!

In ploughed land, choose a wet furrow, for the simple reason that water
would not stand in it unless the bottom were hard, but if you cannot
find one, nor a foot-path, nor a cart-track trampled down into a certain
consistency, remember the fable of the hare and the tortoise, pull your
horse back into a trot, and never fear but that you will be able to make
up your leeway when you arrive at better ground. It is fortunate that
the fences are usually less formidable here than in the pastures, and
will admit of creeping into, and otherwise negotiating, with less
expenditure of power, so you may travel pretty safely, and turn at
pleasure, shorter than the hounds.

There _are_ plough countries, notably in Gloucestershire and Wilts,
that ride light. To them the above remarks in no way apply. Inclosed
with stone walls, if there is anything like a scent, hounds carry such a
head, and run so hard over these districts, that you must simply go as
fast as your horse's pace, and as straight as his courage admits, but if
you have the Duke of Beaufort's dog-pack in front of you, do not be
surprised to find, with their extraordinary dash and enormous stride,
that even on the pick of your stable, ere you can jump into one field
they are half-way across the next.

In hunting, as in everything else, compensation seems the rule of daily
life, and the very brilliancy of the pace affords its own cure. Either
hounds run into their fox, or, should he find room to turn, flash over
the scent, and bring themselves to a check. You will not then regret
having made play while you could, and although no good sportsman, and,
indeed, no kind-hearted man, would overtax the powers of the most
generous animal in creation, still we must remember that we came out for
the purpose of seeing the fun, and unless we can keep near the hounds
while they run we shall lose many beautiful instances of their sagacity
when brought to their noses, and obliged to hunt.

There is no greater treat to a lover of the chase than to watch a pack
of high-bred fox-hounds that have been running hard on pasture, brought
suddenly to a check on the dusty sun-dried fallows. After dashing and
snatching in vain for a furlong or so, they will literally quarter their
ground like pointers, till they recover the line, every yard of which
they make good, with noses down and sterns working as if from the
concentrated energy of all their faculties, till suspicion becomes
certainty, and they lay themselves out once more, in the uncontrolled
ecstasy of pursuit.

Now if you are a mile behind, you miss all these interesting incidents,
and lose, as does your disappointed hunter, more than half the amusement
you both came out to enjoy. The latter too, works twice as hard when
held back in the rear, as when ridden freely and fearlessly in front.
The energy expended in fighting with his rider would itself suffice to
gallop many a furlong and leap many a fence, while the moral effect of
disappointment is most disheartening to a creature of such a
highly-strung nervous organisation. Look at the work done by a
huntsman's horse before the very commencement of some fine run, the
triumphant conclusion of which depends so much on his freshness at the
finish, and yet how rarely does he succumb to the labour of love
imposed; but then he usually leaves the covert in close proximity to his
friends the hounds, every minute of his toil is cheered by their
companionship, and, having no leeway to make up he need not be overpaced
when they are running their hardest, while he finds a moment's leisure
to recover himself when they are hunting their closest and best. In
those long and severe chases, to which, unhappily, two or three horses
may sometimes be sacrificed, the "first flight" are not usually
sufferers. Death from exhaustion is more likely to be inflicted cruelly,
though unwittingly on his faithful friend and comrade, by the
injudicious and hesitating rider, who has neither decision to seize a
commanding position in front, nor self-denial to be satisfied with an
unassuming retirement in rear. His valour and discretion are improperly
mixed, like bad punch, and fatal is the result. A timely pull means
simply the difference between breathlessness and exhaustion, but this
opportune relief is only available for him who knows exactly how far
they brought it, and where the hounds flashed beyond the line of their
fox at a check.

I remember in my youth, alas! long ago, "the old sportsman"--a
character for whom, I fear, we entertained in my day less veneration
than we professed--amongst many inestimable precepts was fond of
propounding the following:--

"Young gentleman, nurse your hunter carefully at the beginning of a run,
and when the others are tired he will enable you to see the end."

[Illustration: Page 193.]

Now with all due deference to the old sportsman, I take leave to differ
with him _in toto_. By nursing one's horse, I conclude he meant riding
him at less than half-speed during that critical ten minutes when hounds
run their very hardest and straightest. If we follow this cautious
advice, who is to solve the important question, "Which way are they
gone?" when we canter anxiously up to a sign-post where four roads meet,
with a fresh and eager horse indeed, but not the wildest notion towards
which point of the compass we should direct his energies? We can but
stop to listen, take counsel of a countryman who unwittingly puts us
wrong, ride to points, speculate on chances, and make up our minds never
to be really on terms with them again!

No, I think on the contrary, the best and most experienced riders adopt
a very different system. On the earliest intimation that hounds are
"away," they may be observed getting after them with all the speed they
can make. Who ever saw Mr. Portman, for instance, trotting across the
first field when his bitches were well out of covert settling on the
line of their fox?--and I only mention his name because it occurs to me
at the moment, and because, notwithstanding the formidable hills of his
wild country and the pace of his flying pack, he is always present at
the finish, to render them assistance if required, as it often must be,
with a sinking fox.

"The first blow is half the battle" in many nobler struggles than a
street-brawl with a cad, and the very speed at which you send your horse
along for a few furlongs, if the ground is at all favourable, enables
you to give him a pull at the earliest opportunity, without fear lest
the whole distant panorama of the hunt should fade into space while you
are considering what to do next.

Not that I mean you to over-mark, or push him for a single stride,
beyond the collected pace at which he travels with ease and comfort to
himself; for remember he is as much your partner as the fairest young
lady ever trusted to your guidance in a ball-room: but I _do_ mean that
you should make as much haste as is compatible with your mutual
enjoyment, and, reflecting on the capricious nature of scent, take the
chance of its failure, to afford you a moment's breathing-time when most

At all periods of a fox-chase, be careful to _anticipate a check_.
Never with more foresight than when flying along in the ecstasy of a
quick thing, on a brilliant hunter. Keep an eye forward, and scan with
close attention every moving object in front. There you observe a flock
of sheep getting into line like cavalry for a charge--that is where the
fox has gone. Or perhaps a man is ploughing half-a-mile further on; in
all probability this object will have headed him, and on the discretion
with which you ride at these critical moments may depend the performance
of the pack, the difference between "a beautiful turn" and "an unlucky
check." The very rush of your gallop alongside them will tempt
high-mettled hounds into the indiscretion of over-running their scent.
Whereas, if you take a pull at your horse, and give them plenty of room,
they will swing to the line, and wheel like a flock of pigeons on the

Always ride, then, to _command_ hounds if you can, but never be tempted,
when in this proud position, to press them, and to spoil your own sport,
with that of every one else.

If so fortunate as to view him, and near enough to distinguish that it
is the hunted fox, think twice before you holloa. More time will be lost
than gained by getting their heads up, if the hounds are still on the
line, and even when at fault, it is questionable whether they do not
derive less assistance than excitement from the human voice. Much
depends on circumstances, much on the nature of the pack. I will not say
you are never to open your mouth, but I think that if the inmates of our
deaf and dumb asylums kept hounds, these would show sport above the
average, and would seldom go home without blood. Noise is by no means a
necessary concomitant of the chase, and a hat held up, or a quiet
whisper to the huntsman, is of more help to him than the loudest and
clearest view-holloa that ever wakened the dead "from the lungs of John
Peel in the morning."

We have hitherto supposed that you are riding a good horse, in a good
place, and have been so fortunate as to meet with none of those reverses
that are nevertheless to be expected on occasion, particularly when
hounds run hard and the ground is deep. The best of hunters may fall,
the boldest of riders be defeated by an impracticable fence. Hills,
bogs, a precipitous ravine, or even an unlucky turn in a wood may place
you at a mile's disadvantage, almost before you have realised your
mistake, and you long for the wings of an eagle, while cursing the
impossibility of taking back so much as a single minute from the past.
It seems so easy to ride a run when it is over!

But do not therefore despair. Pull yourself well together, no less than
your horse. Keep steadily on at a regulated pace, watching the movements
of those who are with the hounds, and ride inside them, every bend. No
fox goes perfectly straight--he must turn sooner or later--and when the
happy moment arrives be ready to back your luck, and _pounce_! But here,
again, I would have your valour tempered with discretion. If your horse
does not see the hounds, be careful how you ride him at such large
places as he would face freely enough in the excitement of their
company. Not one hunter in fifty is really fond of jumping, and we
hardly give them sufficient credit for the good-humour with which they
accept it as a necessity for enjoyment of the sport. Avoid water
especially, unless you have reason to believe the bottom is good, and
you can go in and out. Even under such favourable conditions, look well
to your egress. There is never much difficulty about the entrance, and
do not forget that the middle is often the shallowest, and always the
soundest part of a brook. When tempted therefore to take a horse, that
you know is a bad water-jumper, at this serious obstacle; you are most
likely to succeed, if you only ask him to jump half-way. Should he drop
his hind-legs under the farther bank, he will probably not obtain
foothold to extricate himself, particularly with your weight on his

We are all panic-stricken, and with reason, at the idea of being
submerged, but we might wade through many more brooks than we usually
suppose. I can remember seeing the Rowsham, generally believed to be
bottomless, forded in perfect safety by half-a-dozen of the finest and
heaviest bullocks the Vale of Aylesbury ever fattened into beef. This,
too, close to a hunting-bridge, put there by Baron Rothschild because of
the depth and treacherous nature of the stream!

A hard road, however, though to be avoided religiously when enjoying a
good place with hounds, is an invaluable ally on these occasions of
discomfiture and vexation, if it leads in the same direction as the line
of chase. On its firm, unyielding surface your horse is regaining his
wind with every stride. Should a turnpike-gate bar your progress, chuck
the honest fellow a shilling who swings it back and never mind the
change. We hunt on sufferance; for our own sakes we cannot make the
amusement too popular with the lower classes. The same argument holds
good as to feeing a countryman who assists you in any way when you have
a red coat on your back. Reward him with an open hand. He will go to the
public-house and drink "fox-hunting" amongst his friends. It is
impossible to say how many innocent cubs are preserved by such judicious
liberality to die what Charles Payne calls "a natural death."

And now your quiet perseverance meets its reward. You regain your place
with the hounds and are surprised to find how easily and temperately
your horse, not yet exhausted, covers large flying fences in his stride.
A half-beaten hunter, as I have already observed, will "lob over" high
and wide places if they can be done in a single effort, although
instinct causes him to "cut them very fine," and forbids unnecessary
exertion; but it is "the beginning of the end," and you must not presume
on his game, enduring qualities too long.

The object of your pursuit, however, is also mortal. By the time you
have tired an honest horse in good condition the fox is driven to his
last resources, and even the hounds are less full of fire than when they
brought him away from the covert. I am supposing, of course, that they
have not changed during the run. You may now save many a furlong by
bringing your common sense into play. What would you do if you were a
beaten fox, and where would you go? Certainly not across the middle of
those large pastures where you could be seen by the whole troop of your
enemies without a chance of shelter or repose. No; you would rather lie
down in this deep, overgrown ditch, sneak along the back of that strong,
thick bullfinch, turn short in the high, double hedgerow, and so hiding
yourself from the spiteful crows that would point you out to the
huntsman, try to baffle alike his experienced intelligence and the
natural sagacity of his hounds. Such are but the simplest of the wiles
practised by this most cunning beast of chase. While observing them, you
need no further distress the favourite who has carried you so well than
is necessary to render the assistance required for finishing
satisfactorily with blood; and here your eyes and ears will be far more
useful than the speed and stamina of your horse.

Who-whoop! His labours are now over for the day. Do not keep him
standing half-an-hour in the cold, while you smoke a cigar and enlarge
to sympathising ears on his doings, and yours, and theirs, and those of
everybody concerned. Rather jog gently off as soon as a few compliments
and congratulations have been exchanged, and keep him moving at the rate
of about six miles an hour, so that his muscles may not begin to stiffen
after his violent exertions, till you have got him home. Jump off his
honest back, to walk up and down the hills with him as they come. He
well deserves this courtesy at your hands. If you ever go out shooting
you cannot have forgotten the relief it is to put down your gun for a
minute or two. And even from a selfish point of view, there is good
reason for this forbearance in the ease your own frame experiences with
the change of attitude and exercise. If you can get him a mouthful of
gruel, it will recruit his exhausted vitality, as a basin of soup puts
life into a fainting man; but do not tarry more than five or six minutes
for your own luncheon, while he is sucking it in, and the more tired he
seems, remember, the sooner you ought to get him home.

If he fails altogether, does not attempt to trot, and wavers from side
to side under your weight, put him into the first available shelter, and
make up your mind, however mean the quarters, it is better for him to
stay there all night than in his exhausted condition to be forced back
to his own stable. With thorough ventilation and plenty of coverings,
old sacks, blankets, whatever you can lay hands on, he will take no
harm. Indeed, if you can keep up his circulation there is no better
restorative than the pure cold air that in a cow-shed, or out-house,
finds free admission, to fill his lungs.

You will lose your dinner perhaps. What matter? You may even have to
sleep out in "the worst inn's worst room," unfed, unwashed, and without
a change of clothes. It is no such penance after all, and surely your
first duty is to the gallant generous animal that would never fail _you_
at your need, but would gallop till his heart broke, for your mere
amusement and caprice.

Of all our relations with the dumb creation, there is none in which man
has so entirely the best of it as the one-sided partnership that exists
between the horse and his rider.



I have purposely altered the preposition at the heading of this, because
it treats of a method so entirely different from that which I have tried
to describe in the preceding chapter. At the risk of rousing
animadversion from an experienced and scientific majority, I am prepared
to affirm that there is nearly as much intelligence and knowledge of the
animal required to hunt a deer as a fox, but in following the chase of
the larger and higher-scented quadruped there are no fixed rules to
guide a rider in his course, so that if he allows the hounds to get out
of sight he may gallop over any extent of country till dark, and never
hear tidings of them again. Therefore it has been said, one should ride
_to_ fox-hounds, but _at_ stag-hounds, meaning that with the latter,
skill and science are of little avail to retrieve a mistake.

Deer, both wild and tame, so long as they are fresh, seem perfectly
indifferent whether they run up wind or down, although when exhausted
they turn their heads to the cold air that serves to breathe new life
into their nostrils. Perhaps, if anything, they prefer to feel the
breeze blowing against their sides, but as to this there is no more
certainty than in their choice of ground. Other wild animals go to the
hill; deer will constantly leave it for the vale. I have seen them fly,
straight as an arrow, across a strongly enclosed country, and circle
like hares on an open down. Sometimes they will not run a yard till the
hounds are at their very haunches; sometimes, when closely pressed, they
become stupid with fear, or turn fiercely at bay. "Have we got a good
deer to-day?" is a question usually answered with the utmost confidence,
yet how often the result is disappointment and disgust. Nor is this the
case only in that phase of the sport which may be termed artificial. A
wild stag proudly carrying his "brow, bay, and tray" over Exmoor seems
no less capricious than an astonished hind, enlarged amongst the
brickfields of Hounslow, or the rich pastures that lie outstretched
below Harrow-on-the-Hill. One creature, familiar with every inch of its
native wastes, will often wander aimlessly in a circle before making its
point; the other, not knowing the least where it is bound, will as often
run perfectly straight for miles.

My own experience of "the calf," as it has been ignominiously termed, is
limited to three packs--Mr. Bissett's, who hunts the perfectly wild
animal over the moorlands of Somerset and North Devon; Baron
Rothschild's, in the Vale of Aylesbury; and Lord Wolverton's
blood-hounds, amongst the combes of Dorsetshire and "doubles" of the
Blackmoor Vale. With her Majesty's hounds I have not been out more than
three or four times in my life.

Let us take the noble chase of the West country first, as it is followed
in glorious autumn weather through the fairest scenes that ever haunted
a painter's dream; in Horner woods and Cloutsham Ball, over the grassy
slopes of Exmoor, and across the broad expanse of Brendon, spreading its
rich mantle of purple under skies of gold. We could dwell for pages on
the associations connected with such classical names as
Badgeworthy-water, New-Invention, Mountsey Gate, or wooded Glenthorne,
rearing its garlanded brows above the Severn sea. But we are now
concerned in the practical question, how to keep a place with Mr.
Bissett's six-and-twenty-inch hounds running a "warrantable deer" over
the finest scenting country in the world?

You may ride _at_ them as like a tailor as you please. The ups and
downs of a Devonshire _coombe_ will soon put you in your right place,
and you will be grateful for the most trifling hint that helps you to
spare your horse, and remain on any kind of terms with them, on ground
no less trying to his temper and intelligence than to his wind and
muscular powers.

Till you attempt to gallop alongside you will hardly believe how hard
the hounds are running. They neither carry such a head, nor dash so
eagerly, I might almost say _jealously_, for the scent as if they were
hunting their natural quarry, the fox. This difference I attribute to
the larger size, and consequently stronger odour, of a deer. Every hound
enjoying his full share, none are tempted to rob their comrades of the
mysterious pleasure, and we therefore miss the quick, sharp turns and
the _drive_ that we are accustomed to consider so characteristic of the
fox-hound. They string, too, in long-drawn line, because of the tall,
bushy heather, necessitating great size and power, through which they
must make their way; but, nevertheless, they keep swinging steadily on,
without a check or hover for many a mile of moorland, showing something
of that fierce indomitable perseverance attributed by Byron to the

    "With his long gallop that can tire
    The hound's deep hate and hunter's fire."

If you had a second Eclipse under you, and rode him fairly with them,
yard for yard, you would stop him in less than twenty minutes!

Yet old practitioners, notably that prince of sportsmen the Rev. John
Russell, contrive to see runs of many hours' duration without so
entirely exhausting their horses but that they can travel some twenty
miles home across the moor. Such men as Mr. Granville Somerset, the late
Mr. Dene of Barnstaple, Mr. Bissett himself, though weighing twenty
stone, and a score of others--for in the West good sportsmen are the
rule, not the exception--go well from find to finish of these long,
exhausting chases, yet never trespass too far on the generosity and
endurance of the noble animal that carries them to the end. And why?
Because they take pains, use their heads sagaciously, their hands
skilfully, and their heels scarcely at all. To their experience I am
indebted for the following little hints which I have found serviceable
when embarked on those wide, trackless wastes, brown, endless,
undulating, and spacious as the sea.

There are happily no fences, and the chief obstructions to be defeated,
or rather _negotiated_, are the "combes"--a succession of valleys that
trend upward from the shallow streams to the heathery ridges, narrowing
as they ascend till lost in the level surface of the moor. Never go down
into these until your deer is sinking. So surely as you descend will you
have to climb the opposite rise; rather keep round them towards the top,
watching the hounds while they thread a thousand intricacies of rock,
heather, and scattered copse-wood, so as to meet them when they emerge,
which they will surely do on the upper level, for it is the nature of
their quarry to rise the hill aslant, and seek safety, when pressed, in
its speed across the flat.

A deer descends these declivities one after another as they come, but it
is for the refreshment of a bath in their waters below, and instinct
prompts it to return without delay to higher ground when thus
invigorated. Only if completely beaten and exhausted, does it become so
confused as to attempt scaling a rise in a direct line. The run is over
then, and you may turn your horse's head to the wind, for in a furlong
or two the game will falter and come down again amongst its pursuers to
stand at bay.

[Illustration: Page 208.]

Coast your "combes," therefore, judiciously, and spare your horse; so
shall you cross the heather in thorough enjoyment of the chase till it
leads you perhaps to the grassy swamps of Exmoor, the most plausible
line in the world, over which hounds run their hardest--and now look

If Exmoor were in Leicestershire, it would be called a bog, and cursed
accordingly, but every country has its own peculiarities, and a North
Devon sportsman more especially, on a horse whose dam, or even grandam,
was bred on the moor, seems to flap his way across it with as much
confidence as a bittern or a curlew. Could I discover how he
accomplished this feat I would tell you, but I can only advise you to
ride his line and follow him yard for yard.

There are certain sound tracks and pathways, no doubt, in which a horse
does not sink more than fetlock deep, and Mr. Knight, the lord of the
soil, may be seen, on a large handsome thorough-bred hunter, careering
away as close to the pack as he used to ride in the Vale of Aylesbury,
but for a stranger so to presume would be madness, and if he did not
find himself bogged in half a minute, he would stop his horse in half a

Choose a pilot then, Mr. Granville Somerset we will say, or one of the
gentlemen I have already named, and stick to him religiously till the
welcome heather is brushing your stirrup-irons once more. On Brendon,
you may ride for yourself with perfect confidence in the face of all
beholders, bold and conspicuous as Dunkery Beacon, but on Exmoor you
need not be ashamed to play follow my leader. Only give him room enough
to fall!

As, although a full-grown or warrantable stag is quickly found, the
process of separating it from its companions, called "tufting," is a
long business, lasting for hours, you will be wise to take with you a
feed of corn and a rope halter, the latter of which greatly assists in
serving your horse with the former. You will find it also a good plan to
have your saddles previously well stuffed and repaired, lined with
smooth linen. The weather in August is very hot, and your horse will be
many hours under your weight, therefore it is well to guard against a
sore back. Jump off, too, whenever you have the chance; a hunter cannot
but find it a delightful relief to get rid of twelve or thirteen stone
bumping all day against his spine for a minute or two at a time. I have
remarked, however, with some astonishment that the heavier the rider the
more averse he seems to granting this indulgence, and am forced to
suppose his unwillingness to get down proceeds, as my friend Mr.
Grimston says, from a difficulty in getting up again! This gentleman,
however, who, notwithstanding his great weight, has always ridden
perfectly straight to hounds, over the stiffest of grass countries,
obstinately declines to leave the saddle at any time under less
provocation than a complete turn over by the strength of a gate or

To mention "the Honourable Robert" brings one by an irresistible
association of ideas into the wide pastures of that grassy paradise
which mortals call the Vale of Aylesbury. Here, under the excellent
management of Sir Nathaniel Rothschild, assisted by his brother Mr.
Leopold, the _carted_ deer is hunted on the most favourable terms, and a
sportsman must indeed be prejudiced who will not admit that "ten mile
points" over grass with one of the handsomest packs of hounds in the
world, are most enjoyable; the object of chase, when the fun is over,
returning to Mentmore, like a gentleman, in his own carriage,

Fred Cox is the picture of a huntsman. Mark Howcott, his whip, fears
nothing in the shape of a fence, and will close with a wicked stag, in
or out of water, as readily as a policeman collars a pickpocket! The
horses are superb, and so they ought to be, for the fences that divide
this grazing district into fields of eighty and a hundred acres grow to
the most formidable size and strength. Unless brilliantly mounted
neither masters nor servants could hold the commanding position through
a run that they always seem to desire.

In riding to these hounds, as to all others, it is advisable to avoid
the crowd. Many of the hedgerows are double, with a ditch on each side,
and to wait for your turn amongst a hundred horsemen, some too bold,
some too cautious, would entail such delay as must prove fatal with a
good scent. Happily, there are plenty of gates, and a deer preferring
timber to any other leap, usually selects this convenient mode of
transit. Should they be chained, look for a weak place in the fence,
which, being double, will admit of subdividing your leap by two, and
your chance of a fall by ten.

At first you may be somewhat puzzled on entering a field to find your
way out. I will suppose that in other countries you have been accustomed
to select the easiest place at once in the fence you are approaching,
and to make for it without delay, but across these large fields the
nature of an obstacle deceives your eye. The two contiguous hedges that
form one boundary render it very difficult to determine at a distance
where the easiest place _is_, so you will find it best to follow the
hounds, and take your chance. The deer, like your horse, is a large
quadruped, and, except under unusual circumstances, where one goes the
other can probably follow.

This, I fear, is a sad temptation to ride on the line of hounds. If you
give way to it, let the whole pack be at least two or three hundred
yards in front, and beware, even then, of tail hounds coming up to join
their comrades.

Be careful also, never to jump a fence in your stride, till you see the
pack well into the next field. A deer is very apt to drop lightly over a
wall or upright hedge just high enough to conceal it, and then turn
short at a right angle under this convenient screen. It would be painful
to realise your feelings, poised in air over eight or ten couple of
priceless hounds, with a chorus of remonstrances storming in the rear!
It is no use protesting you "Didn't touch them," you "Didn't mean it,"
you "Never knew they were there." Better ride doggedly on, over the
largest places you can find, and apologise humbly to everybody at the
first check.

When a fox goes down to water he means crossing, not so the deer. If at
all tired, or heated, it may stay there for an hour. On such occasions,
therefore, you can take a pull at your horse and your flask too if you
like, while you look for the best way to the other side. When induced to
leave it, however, the animal seems usually so refreshed by its bath, as
to travel a long distance, and on this, as on many other occasions in
stag-hunting, the run seems only beginning, when you and your horse
consider it ought to be nearly over.

Directly you observe a deer, that has hitherto gone straight, describing
a series of circles, you may think about going home.

It is tired at last, and will give you no more fun for a month. You
should offer assistance to the men, and, even if it be not accepted,
remain, as a matter of courtesy, to see your quarry properly taken, and
sent back to the paddock in its cart.

With all stag-hounds, the same rules would seem to apply. Never care to
view it, and above all, unless expressly requested to do so for a
reason, avoid the solecism of "riding the deer." On the mode in which
this sport is conducted depends the whole difference between a wild
exhilarating pastime and a tame uninteresting parade. Though prejudice
will not allow it is the _real_ thing, we cannot but admit the
excellence of the imitation, and a man must possess a more logical mind,
a less excitable temperament, than is usually allotted to sportsmen, who
can remember, while sailing along with hounds running hard over a flying
country, that he is only "trying to catch what he had already," and has
turned a handsome hairy-coated quadruped out of a box for the mere
purpose of putting it in again when the fun is over!

Follow every turn then, religiously, and with good intent. You came out
expressly to enjoy a gallop, do not allow yourself to be disappointed.
If nerve and horse are good enough, go into every field with them, but,
I intreat you, ride like a sportsman, and give the hounds plenty of

This last injunction more especially applies to that handsome pack of
black-and-tans with which Lord Wolverton, during the last five or six
seasons, has shown extraordinary sport for the amusement of his
neighbours on the uplands of Dorset and in the green pastures that
enrich the valley of the Stour. These blood-hounds, for such they are,
and of the purest breed, stand seven or eight-and-twenty inches, with
limbs and frames proportioned to so gigantic a stature. Their heads are
magnificent, solemn sagacious eyes, pendent jowls, and flapping ears
that brush away the dew. Thanks to his Lordship's care in breeding, and
the freedom with which he has drafted, their feet are round and their
powerful legs symmetrically straight. A spirited and truly artistic
picture of these hounds in chase, sweeping like a whirlwind over the
downs, by Mr. Goddard, the well-known painter, hangs on Lord Wolverton's
staircase in London, and conveys to his guests, particularly after
dinner, so vivid an idea of their picturesque and even sporting
qualities as I cannot hope to represent with humble pen and ink.

One could almost fancy, standing opposite this masterpiece, that one
heard _the cry_. Full, sonorous, and musical, it is not extravagant to
compare these deep-mouthed notes with the peal of an organ in a

Yet they run a tremendous pace. Stride, courage, and _condition_ (the
last essential requiring constant care) enable them to sustain such
speed over the open as can make a good horse look foolish! While,
amongst enclosures, they charge the fences in line, like a squadron of
heavy dragoons.

Yet for all this fire and mettle in chase, they are sad cowards under
pressure from a crowd. A whip cracked hurriedly, a horse galloping in
their track, even an injudicious _rate_, will make the best of them shy
and sulky for half the day. Only by thorough knowledge of his
favourites, and patient deference to their prejudices, has Lord
Wolverton obtained their confidence, and it is wonderful to mark how his
perseverance is rewarded. While he hunts them they are perfectly handy,
and turn like a pack of harriers; but if an outsider attempts to "cap
them on," or otherwise interfere, they decline to acknowledge him from
the first; and should they be left to his guidance, are quite capable of
going straight home at once, with every mark of contempt.

In a run, however, their huntsman is seldom wanting. His lordship has an
extraordinary knack of _galloping_, getting across a field with
surprising quickness on every horse he rides, and is not to be turned by
the fence when he reaches it, so that his hounds are rarely placed in
the awkward position of a pack at fault with no one to look to for
assistance. He has acquired, too, considerable familiarity with the
habits of his game, and has a holy horror of going home without it, so
perseveres, when at a loss, through many a long hour of cold hunting,
slotting, scouring the country for information, and other drawbacks to
enjoyment of his chase. As he says himself, "The worst of a deer is, you
can't leave off when you like. Nobody will believe you if you swear it
went to ground!"

Part of the country in his immediate neighbourhood seems made for
stag-hunting. Large fields, easy slopes, light fences, and light land,
with here and there a hazel copse, bordering a stretch for three or four
miles of level turf, like Launceston Down, or Blandford race-course,
must needs tempt a deer to go straight no less than a horseman, but the
animal, as I have said, is unaccountably capricious, and if we could
search his lordship's diary I believe we should find his best runs have
taken place over a district differing in every respect from the above.

As soon as the leaves are fallen sufficiently to render the Blackmoor
Vale rideable, it is his greatest pleasure to take the blood-hounds down
to those deep, level, and strongly-enclosed pastures, over which,
notwithstanding the size and nature of the fences, he finds his deer
(usually hinds) run remarkably well, and make extraordinary points. Ten
miles, on the ordnance map, is no unusual distance, and is often
accomplished in little more than an hour. For men who enjoy _riding_ I
can conceive no better fun. Not an acre of plough is to be seen. The
enclosures, perhaps, are rather small, but this only necessitates more
jumping, and the fences may well satisfy the hungriest, or as an
Irishman would say, the _thirstiest_, of competitors! They are not,
however, _quite_ so formidable as they look. To accomplish two blind
ditches, with a bank between, and a hedge thereon, requires indeed
discretion in a horse, and cool determination in its rider, but where
these exist the large leap is divided easily by two, and a good man, who
_means going_, is not often to be _pounded_, even in the Blackmoor Vale.

Nothing is _quite_ perfect under the sun, not your own best hunter, nor
your wife's last baby, and the river Stour, winding through them in
every direction, somewhat detracts from the merit of these happiest of
hunting-grounds. A good friend to the deer, and a sad hindrance to its
pursuers, it has spoilt many a fine run; but even with this drawback
there are few districts in any part of England so naturally adapted to
the pleasures of the chase. The population is scanty, the countrymen are
enthusiasts, the farmers the best fellows on earth, the climate seems
unusually favourable; from the kindness and courtesy of Sir Richard
Glynn and Mr. Portman, who pursue the _legitimate_ sport over the same
locality, and his own personal popularity, the normal difficulties of
his undertaking are got over in favour of the noble master, and
everybody seems equally pleased to welcome the green plush coats and the
good grey horses in the midst of the black-and-tans.

If I were sure of a fine morning and a _safe mount_, I would ask for no
keener pleasure than an hour's gallop with Lord Wolverton's blood-hounds
over the Blackmoor Vale.



A distinguished soldier of the present day, formerly as daring and
enthusiastic a rider as ever charged his "oxers" with the certainty of a
fall, was once asked in my hearing by a mild stranger, "Whether he had
been out with the Crawley and Horsham?" if I remember right.

"No, sir!" was the answer, delivered in a tone that somewhat startled
the querist, "I have never hunted with any hounds in my life but the
Quorn and the Pytchley, and I'll take d----d good care I never do!"

Now I fancy that not a few of our "golden youth," who are either born
to it, or have contrived in their own way to get the "silver spoon" into
their mouths, are under the impression that all hunting must necessarily
be dead slow if conducted out of Leicestershire, and that little sport,
with less excitement, is to be obtained in those remote regions which
they contemptuously term the provinces.

There never was a greater fallacy. If we calculate the number of hours
hounds are out of kennel (for we must remember that the Quorn and
Belvoir put two days into one), we shall find, I think, that they run
hard for fewer minutes, in proportion, across the fashionable countries
than in apparently less-favoured districts concealed at sundry
out-of-the-way corners of the kingdom.

Nor is this disparity difficult to understand. Fox-hunting at its best
is a wild sport; the wilder the better. Where coverts are many miles
apart, where the animal must travel for its food, where agriculture is
conducted on primitive principles that do not necessitate the huntsman's
horror, "a man in every field," the fox retains all his savage nature,
and is prepared to run any distance, face every obstacle, rather than
succumb to his relentless enemy, the hound. He has need, and he seems to
know it, of all his courage and all his sagacity, as compelled to fight
alone on his own behalf, without assistance from that invaluable ally,
the crowd.

A score of hard riders, nineteen of whom are jealous, and the twentieth
determined not to be beat, forced on by a hundred comrades all eager for
the view and its stentorian proclamation, may well save the life of any
fox on earth, with scarce an effort from the animal itself. But that
hounds are creatures of habit, and huntsmen in the flying countries
miracles of patience, no less than their masters, not a nose would be
nailed on the kennel-door, after cub-hunting was over, from one end of
the shires to the other.

Nothing surprises me so much as to see a pack of hounds, like the
Belvoir or the Quorn, come up _through_ a crowd of horses and stick to
the line of their fox, or fling gallantly forward to recover it, without
a thought of personal danger or the slightest misgiving that not one man
in ten is master of the two pair of hoofs beneath him, carrying death in
every shoe. Were they not bred for the make-and-shape that gives them
speed no less than for fineness of nose, but especially for that _dash_
which, like all victorious qualities, leaves something to chance, they
could never get a field from the covert. It does happen, however, that,
now and again, a favourable stroke of fortune puts a couple of furlongs
between the hounds and their pursuers. A hundred-acre field of well
saturated grass lies before them, down go their noses, out go their
sterns, and away they scour, at a pace which makes a precious example of
young Rapid on a first-class steeple-chase horse with the wrong bridle
in its mouth.

But how differently is the same sport being carried out in his father's
country, perhaps by the old gentleman's own pack, with which the young
one considers it slow to hunt.

Let us begin at the beginning and try to imagine a good day in the
provinces, about the third week in November, when leaves are thin and
threadbare on the fences, while copse and woodland glisten under subdued
shafts of sunlight in sheets of yellow gold.

What says Mr. Warburton, favoured of Diana and the Muses?

    "The dew-drop is clinging
    To whin-bush and brake,
    The sky-lark is singing,
    Merry hunters, awake!
    Home to the cover,
    Deserted by night,
    The little red rover
    Is bending his flight--"

Could words more stirringly describe the hope and promise, the joy, the
vitality, the buoyant exhilaration of a hunting morning?

So the little red rover, who has travelled half-a-dozen miles for his
supper, returns to find he has "forgotten his latch-key," and curls
himself up in some dry, warm nook amongst the brushwood, at the quietest
corner of a deep, precipitous ravine.

Here, while sleep favours digestion, he makes himself very comfortable,
and dreams, no doubt, of his own pleasures and successes in pursuit of
prey. Presently, about half-past eleven, he wakes with a start, leaps
out of bed, shakes his fur, and stands to listen, a perfect picture,
with one pad raised and his cunning head aslant. Yes, he recognized it
from the first. The "Yooi, wind him, and rouse him!" of old Matthew's
mellow tones, not unknown in a gin-and-water chorus when occasion
warrants the convivial brew, yet clear, healthy, and resonant as the
very roar of Challenger, who has just proclaimed his consciousness of
the drag, some five hours old.

'Tis an experienced rover, and does not hesitate for an instant.
Stealing down the ravine, he twists his agile little body through a
tangled growth of blackthorn and brambles, crosses the stream dry-footed
with a leap, and, creeping through the fence that bounds his stronghold,
peers into the meadow beyond. No smart and busy whip has "clapped
forward" to view and head him. Matthew, indeed, brings out but one, and
swears he could do better without _him_. So the rover puts his sharp
nose straight for the solitude he loves, and whisking his brush
defiantly, resolves to make his point.

He has been gone five minutes when the clamour of the find reaches
his ears, twice that time ere the hounds are fairly out of covert on his
line; so, with a clear head and a bold heart, he has leisure to consider
his tactics and to remember the main earth at Crag's-end in the forest,
twelve miles off as the crow flies.

[Illustration: Page 225.]

Challenger, and Charmer his progeny, crash out of the wood together,
fairly howling with ecstasy as their busy noses meet the rich tufted
herbage, dewy, dank, and tainted with the maddening odour that affords
such uncontrolled enjoyment. "_Harve art_ him, my _lards_!" exclaims old
Matthew, in Doric accents, peculiar to the kennel. "Come up, horse!"
and, having admonished that faithful servant with a dig in the ribs from
his horn, blows half-a-dozen shrill blasts in quick succession, sticks
the instrument, I shudder to confess it, in his boot, and proceeds to
hustle his old white nag at the best pace he can command in the wake of
his favourites. "Dang it! they're off," exclaims a farmer, who had
stationed himself on the crest of the hill, diving, at a gallop, down a
stony darkling lane, overgrown with alder, brambles, honeysuckle, all
the garden produce of uncultivated nature, lush and steaming in decay.
The field, consisting of the Squire, three or four strapping yeomen, a
parson, and a boy on a pony, follow his example, and making a good turn
in the valley, find themselves splashing through a glittering, shallow
streamlet, still in the lane, with the hounds not a bowshot from them on
the right.

"And pace?" inquires young Rapid, when his father describes the run to
him on Christmas-eve. "Of course you had no pace with so good a point?"

"Pace, sir!" answers the indignant parent; "my hounds _run_ because they
can _hunt_. I tell you, they were never off the line for an hour and
three-quarters! Matthew _would_ try to cast them once, and very nearly
lost his fox, but Charmer hit it off on the other side of the combe and
put us right. He's as like old Challenger as he can stick; a deal more
like than _you_ are to _me_."

Young Rapid concedes the point readily, and the Squire continues his
narrative: "I had but eighteen couple out, because of a run the week
before--I'll tell you about it presently,--five-and-thirty minutes on
the hills, and a kill in the open, that lamed half the pack amongst the
flints. You talk of pace--they went fast enough to have settled the best
of you, I'll warrant! but I'm getting off the line--I've not done with
the other yet. I never saw hounds work better. They came away all
together, they hunted their fox like a cluster of bees; swarming over
every field, and every fence, they brought him across Tinglebury Tor,
where it's always as dry as that hearth-stone, through a flock of five
hundred sheep, they rattled him in and out of Combe-Bampton, though the
Lower Woods were alive with riot--hares, roe, fallow-deer, hang it! apes
and peacocks if you like; had old Matthew not been a fool they would
never have hesitated for a moment, and when they ran into him under
Crag's-end, there wasn't a man-jack of them missing. Not one--that's
what I call a pack of hounds!

"The best part of it? So much depends on whether you young fellows go
out to hunt, or to ride. For the first half-hour or so we were never off
the grass--there's not a ploughed field all the way up the valley till
you come to Shifner's allotments, orchard and meadow, meadow and
orchard, fetlock-deep in grass, even at this time of year. Why, it
carries a side-scent, like the heather on a moor! I suppose you'd have
called _that_ the best part. I didn't, though I saw it _well_ from the
lane with Matthew and the rest of us, all but the Vicar, who went into
every field with the hounds--I thought he was rather hard on them
amongst those great blind, tangled fences; but he's such a good fellow,
I hadn't the heart to holloa at him--it's very wrong though, and a man
in his profession ought to know better.

"I can't say they checked exactly in the allotments, but the manure and
rubbish, weeds burning, and whatnot, brought them to their noses. That's
where Matthew made such a fool of himself; but, as I told you, Charmer
put us all right. The fox had crossed into Combe-Bampton and was rising
the hill for the downs.

"I never saw hounds so patient--they could but just hold a line over the
chalk--first one and then another puzzled it out, till they got on
better terms in Hazlewood Hanger, and when they ran down into the valley
again between the cliffs there was a cry it did one's heart good to

"I had a view of him, crossing Parker's Piece, the long strip of waste
land, you know, under Craven Clump; and he seemed as fresh as you are
now--I sat as mute as a mouse, for six-and-thirty noses knew better
where he'd gone than I did, and six-and-thirty-tongues were at work that
never told a lie. The Vicar gave them plenty of room by this time, and
all our horses seemed to have had about enough!

"'I wish we mayn't have changed in the Hanger,' said Matthew,
refreshing the old grey with a side-binder, as they blundered into the
lane, but I knew better--he had run the rides, every yard, and that made
me hope we should have him in hand before long.

"It began to get very interesting, I was near enough to watch each hound
doing his work, eighteen couple, all dogs, three and four season
hunters, for I hadn't a single puppy out. I wish you had been there, my
boy. It was a real lesson in hunting, and I'll tell you what I thought
of them, one by ----. Hulloh! Yes. You'd better ring for coffee--Hanged
if I don't believe you've been fast asleep all the time!"

But such runs as these, though wearisome to a listener, are most
enjoyable for those who can appreciate the steadiness and sagacity of
the hound, no less than the craft and courage of the animal it pursues.
There is an indescribable charm too, in what I may call the _romance_ of
hunting,--the remote scenes we should perhaps never visit for their own
sake, the broken sunlight glinting through copse and gleaming on fern,
the woodland sights, the woodland sounds, the balmy odours of nature,
and all the treats she provides for her votaries, tasted and enjoyed,
with every faculty roused, every sense sharpened in the excitement of
our pursuit. These delights are better known in the provinces than the
shires, and to descend from flights of fancy to practical matters of £
_s._ _d._, we can hunt in the former at comparatively trifling expense.

In the first place, particularly if good horsemen, we need not be
nearly so well-mounted. There are few provincial countries in which a
man who knows how to ride, cannot get from one field to another, by hook
or by crook, with a little creeping and scrambling and blundering, that
come far short of the casualty we deprecate as "a rattling fall!" His
horse must be in good condition of course, and able to gallop; also if
temperate, the more willing at his fences the better, but it is not
indispensable that he should possess the stride and power necessary to
cover some twenty feet of distance, and four or five of height, at every
leap, nor the blood that can alone enable him to repeat the exertion,
over and over again, at three-quarter speed in deep ground. To jump, as
it is called, "from field to field," tries a horse's stamina no less
severely than his courage, while, as I have already observed, there is
no such economy of effort, and even danger, as to make two small fences
out of a large one.

I do not mean to say that there are any parts of England where, if
hounds run hard, a hunter, with a workman on his back, has not enough to
do to live with them, but I do consider that, _cæteris paribus_, a good
rider may smuggle a moderate horse over most of our provincial
countries, whereas he would be helpless on the same animal in
Leicestershire or Northamptonshire. There, on the other hand, an
inferior horseman, bold enough to place implicit confidence in the
first-class hunter he rides, may see a run, from end to end, with
considerable credit and enjoyment, by the simple process of keeping a
good hold of his bridle, while he leaves everything to the horse. But he
must not have learned a single letter of the noble word "Funk." Directly
his heart fails, and he interferes, down they both come, an _imperial
crowner_, and the game is lost!

Many of our provincial districts are also calculated, from their very
nature, to turn out experienced sportsmen no less than accomplished
riders. In large woods, amongst secluded hills, or wild tracts of moor
intersected by impracticable ravines, a lover of the chase is compelled
by force of circumstances to depend on his own eyes, ears, and general
intelligence for his amusement.

He finds no young Rapid to pilot him over the large places, if he
_means going_; no crafty band of second-horsemen to guide him in safety
to the finish, if his ambition is satisfied with a distant and
occasional view of the stirring pageant; no convenient hand-gate in the
corner, no friendly bridge across the stream; above all, no hurrying
cavalcade drawn out for miles, amongst which to hide, and with whom
pleasantly to compare notes hereafter in those self-deceiving moments,

    "Dined, o'er our claret, we talk of the merit,
    Of every choice spirit that rode in the run.
    But here the crowd, Sir, can talk just as loud, Sir,
    As those who were forward enjoying the fun!"

No. In the provinces our young sportsman must make up his mind to take
his own part, to study the coverts drawn, and find out for himself the
points where he can see, hear, and, so to speak, command hounds till
they go away; must learn how to rise the hill with least labour, and
descend it with greatest dispatch, how to thread glen, combe, or dale,
wind in and out of the rugged ravine, plunge through a morass, and make
his way home at night across trackless moor, or open storm-swept down.
By the time he has acquired these accomplishments, the horsemanship will
have come of itself. He will know how to bore where he cannot jump, to
creep where he must not fly, and so manage his horse that the animal
seems to share the intentions and intelligence of its rider.

If he can afford it, and likes to spend a season or two in the shires
for the last superlative polish, let him go and welcome! He will be
taught to get clear of a crowd, to leap timber at short notice, to put
on his boots and breeches, and that is about all there is left for him
to learn!

In the British army, though more than a hundred regiments constitute the
line, each cherishes its own particular title, while applying that
general application indiscriminately to the rest.

I imagine the same illusion affects the provinces, and I should offend
an incalculable number of good fellows and good sportsmen, were I to
describe as _provincial_ establishments, the variety of hunts, north,
south, east, and west, with which I have enjoyed so much good company
and good fun. Each has its own claim to distinction, some have collars,
all have sport.

Grass, I imagine, is the one essential that constitutes pre-eminence in
a hunting country, and for this the shires have always boasted they bear
away the palm, but it will surprise many of my readers to be told that
in the south and west there are districts where this desideratum seems
now more plentiful than in the middle of England. The Blackmoor Vale
still lies almost wholly under pasture, and you may travel to-day forty
miles by rail, through the counties of Dorset and Somerset, in general
terms nearly from Blandford to Bath, without seeing a ploughed field.

What a country might here be made by such an enthusiast as poor "Sam
Reynell," who found Meath without a gorse-covert, and drew between
thirty and forty "sure finds" in it before he died!

Independently of duty, which ought to be our first consideration, there
is also great convenience in hunting from home. We require no large
stud, can choose our meets, and, above all, are indifferent to weather.
A horse comes out so many times in a season; if we don't hunt to-day we
shall next week. Compare this equable frame of mind with the irritation
and impatience of a man who has ten hunters standing at the sign of "The
Hand-in-Pocket," while he inhabits the front parlour, without his books,
deprived of his usual society and occupations, the barometer at set
fair, and the atmosphere affording every indication of a six-weeks'

Let us see in what the charm consists that impels people to encounter
bad food, bad wine, bad lodgings, and above all, protracted boredom, for
a campaign in those historical hunting-grounds, that have always seemed
to constitute the rosiest illusion of a sportsman's dream.



    "Every species of fence every horse doesn't suit,
    What's a good country hunter may here prove a brute,"

Sings that clerical bard who wrote the Billesdon-Coplow poem, from which
I have already quoted; and it would be difficult to explain more tersely
than do these two lines the difference between a fair useful hunter, and
the flyer we call _par excellence_ "a Leicestershire horse!"

Alas! for the favourite unrivalled over Gloucestershire walls, among
Dorsetshire doubles, in the level ploughs of Holderness, or up and down
the wild Derbyshire hills, when called upon to gallop, we will say, from
Ashby pastures to the Coplow, after a week's rain, at Quorn pace, across
Quorn fences, unless he happens to possess with the speed of a
steeple-chaser, the courage of a lion and the activity of a cat! For the
first mile or two "pristinæ virtutis haud immemor" he bears him
gallantly enough, even the unaccustomed rail on the far side of an
"oxer," elicits but a startling exertion, and a loud rattle of horn and
iron against wood, but ere long the slope rises against him, the
ridge-and-furrow checks his stride, a field, dotted with ant-hills as
large as church-hassocks and not unlike them in shape, to catch his toes
and impede his action, changes his smooth easy swing to a laborious
flounder, and presently at a thick bullfinch on the crest of a grassy
ridge, out of ground that takes him in nearly to his hocks, comes the
crisis. Too good a hunter to turn over, he gets his shoulders out and
lets his rider see the fall before it is administered, but down he goes
notwithstanding, very effectually, to rise again after a struggle, his
eye wild, nostril distended, and flanks heaving, thoroughly pumped out!

He is a good horse, but you have brought him into the wrong country, and
this is the result.

It would be a hopeless task to extract from young Rapid's laconic
phrases, and general indifference, any particulars regarding the burst
in which, to give him his due, he has gone brilliantly, or the merits of
the horse that carried him in the first flight without a mistake. He
wastes his time, his money, his talents, but not his words. For him and
his companions, question and answer are cut short somewhat in this

"Did you get away with them from the Punchbowl?"

"Yes, I was among the lucky ones."

"Is, 'The King of the Golden Mines' any use?"

"I fancy he is good enough."

And yet he is reflecting on the merits of Self and Co. with no little
satisfaction, and does not grudge one shilling of the money--a hundred
down, and a bill for two hundred and fifty--that the horse with the
magnificent name cost him last spring.

Their performance, I admit, does them both credit. I will endeavour to
give a rough sketch of the somewhat hazardous amusement that puts him
out of conceit with the sport shown by his father's hounds.

Let us picture to ourselves then, Rapid junior, resplendent in the
whitest of breeches and brightest of boots, with a single-breasted,
square-cut scarlet coat, a sleek hat curly of brim, four feet of cane
hunting-whip in his hand, a flower at his breast, and a toothpick in his
mouth, replaced by an enormous cigar as somebody he doesn't know
suggests they are not likely to find. Though he looks so helpless, and
more than half-asleep, he is wide-awake enough in fact, and dashes the
weed unlighted from his lips, when he spies the huntsman stand up in his
stirrups as though on the watch. There lurks a fund of latent energy
under the placidity of our friend's demeanour, and, as four couple of
hounds come streaming out of cover, he shoots up the bank rather too
near them, to pick his place without hesitation in an ugly bullfinch at
the top. Two of his own kind are making for the same spot at the same
moment, and our young friend shows at such a crisis, that he knows how
to ride. Taking "The King of the Golden Mines," hard by the head, he
changes his aim on the instant, and rams the good horse at four feet of
strong timber, leaning towards him, with an energy not to be denied.
Over they go triumphantly, "The King," half affronted, "catching hold"
with some resentment, as he settles vigorously to his stride. What
matter? most of the pack are already half-way across the next field, for
Leicestershire hounds have an extraordinary knack of flying forward to
overtake their comrades. His father would be delighted with the
performance, and would call it "scoring to cry," but young Rapid does
not trouble himself about such matters. He is only glad to find they are
out of his way, and thinks no more about it, except to rejoice that he
can "put the steam on," without the usual remonstrance from huntsman and

The King can gallop like a race-horse, and is soon at the next leap--a
wide ditch, a high staked-and-bound hedge, coarse, rough and strong,
with a drop and what you please, on the other side. This last treat
proves to be a bowed-out oak-rail, standing four feet from the fence.
"The King," full of courage, and going fast, bounds over the whole with
his hind legs tucked under him like a deer, ready, but not requiring, to
strike back, while two of Rapid's young friends with whom he dined
yesterday, and one he will meet at dinner to-day, fly it in similar
form, nearly alongside. An ugly, overgrown bullfinch, with a miniature
ravine, or, as it is here called, "a bottom," appears at the foot of the
hill they are now descending, and, as there seems only one practicable
place, these four reckless individuals at once begin to race for the
desirable spot. The King's turn of speed serves him again; covering
five- or six-and-twenty feet, he leaps it a length in front of the
nearest horse, and a couple of strides before the other two, while loud
reproachful outcries resound in the rear because of Harmony's narrow
escape--the King's forefoot, missing that priceless bitch by a yard!

Our young gentleman, having got a lead now, begins to ride with more
judgment. He trots up to a stile and pops over in truly artistic form;
better still, he gives the hounds plenty of room on the fallow beyond,
where they have hovered for a moment and put down their noses, holding
his hand up to warn those behind, a "bit of cheek," as they call this
precautionary measure, which he will be made to remember for some days
to come!

He is not such a fool but that he knows, from experience in the old
country, how a little patience at these critical moments makes the whole
difference between a good day's sport and a bad. It would be provoking
to lose the chance of a gallop now, when he has got such a start, and is
riding the best horse in his stable, so he looks anxiously over his
shoulder for the huntsman, who is "coming," and stands fifty yards
aloof, which he considers a liberal allowance, that the hounds may have
space to swing.

To-day there is a good scent and a good fox, a combination that happens
oftener than might be supposed. Harmony, who, notwithstanding her recent
peril, has never been off the line, though the others over-shot it,
scours away at a tangent, with the slightest possible whimper, and her
stern down, the leading hounds wheeling to her like pigeons, and the
whole pack driving forward again, harder than before.

It is a beautiful turn; young Rapid would admire it, no doubt, were his
attention not distracted by the gate out of the field, which is chained
up, and a hurried calculation as to whether it is too high for the King
to attempt.

The solution is obvious. I need hardly say he jumps it gallantly in his
stride. It would never do, you see, to let those other fellows catch
him, and he sails away once more with a stronger lead than at first.
What a hunting panorama opens on his view!--a downward stretch of a
couple of miles, and a gentle rise beyond of more than twice that
distance, consisting wholly of enormous grass fields, dotted here and
there with single trees, and separated by long lines of fences, showing
black and level on that faded expanse of green. The smoke from a
farm-house rises white and thin against the dull sky in the middle
distance, and a taper church-spire points to heaven from behind the
hill, otherwise there is not an object for miles to recall everyday
life; and young Rapid's world consists at this moment of two reeking
pointed ears, with a vision of certain dim shapes, fleeting like shadows
across the open--swift, dusky, and noiseless as a dream.

His blood thrills with excitement, from the crown of his close-cropped
head to his silken-covered heel, but education is stronger than nature,
and he tightens his lips, perhaps to repress a cheer, while he
murmurs--"Over the brook for a hundred! and the King never turned from
water in his life."

Two more fences bring him to the level meadow with its willows. Harmony
is shaking herself on the farther bank, and he has marked with his eye
the spot where he means to take off. A strong pull, a steady hand, the
energy of a mile gallop condensed into a dozen strides, and the stream
passes beneath him like a flash. "It's a _rum_ one!" he murmurs,
standing up in his stirrups to ease the good horse, while one follower
exclaims "Bravo! Rapid. Go along, old man!" as the speaker plunges
overhead; and another, who lands with a scramble, mutters, "D----n him,
I shall never catch him! my horse is done to a turn _now_."

"The King," his owner thinks, is well worth the £350 that has _not_ been
paid. The horse has caught his second wind, and keeps striding on,
strong and full of running, though temperate enough now, and, in such a
country as this, a truly delightful mount.

[Illustration: Page 242.]

There is no denying that our friend is a capital horseman, and bold
as need be. "The King of the Golden Mines," with a _workman_ on his
back, can hardly be defeated by any obstacle that the power and spring
of a quadruped ought to surmount. He has tremendous stride, and no less
courage than his master, so fence after fence is thrown behind the happy
pair with a sensation like flying that seems equally gratifying to both.
The ground is soft but sound enough; the leaps, though large, are fair
and clean. One by one they are covered in light, elastic bounds, of
eighteen or twenty feet, and for a mile, at least, the King scarcely
alters his action, and never changes his leg. Young Rapid would ask no
better fun than to go on like this for a week.

Once he has a narrow escape. The fox having turned short up a hedgerow
after crossing it, the hounds, though running _to kill_, turn _as_
short, for which they deserve the praise there is nobody present to
bestow, and Rapid, charging the fence with considerable freedom, just
misses landing in the middle of the pack. I know it, because he
acknowledged it after dinner, professing, at the same time, devout
thankfulness that master and huntsman were too far off to see. Just such
another turn is made at the next fence, but this time on the near side.
The hounds disappear suddenly, tumbling over each other into the ditch
like a cascade. Peering between his horse's ears, the successful rider
can distinguish only a confused whirl of muddy backs, and legs, and
sterns, seen through a cloud of steam; but smothered growls, with a
certain vibration of the busy cluster, announce that they have got him,
and Rapid so far forgets himself as to venture on a feeble "Who--whoop!"

Before he can leap from the saddle the huntsman comes up followed by two
others, one of whom, pulling out his watch, with a delighted face
repeats frantically, "Seven-and-twenty minutes, and a kill in the open!
_What_ a good gallop! Not the ghost of a check from end to end.
Seven-and-twenty minutes," and so on, over and over again.

While the field straggle in, and the obsequies of this good fox are
properly celebrated, a little enthusiasm would be justifiable enough on
the part of a young gentleman who has "had the best of it"
unquestionably through the whole of so brilliant a scurry. He might be
expected to enlarge volubly, and with excusable self-consciousness, on
the pace, the country, the straight running of the fox, the speed and
gallantry of the hounds; nor could we blame him for praising by
implication his own determined riding in a tribute to "The King of the
Golden Mines."

But such extravagancies are studiously repudiated and repressed by the
school to which young Rapid belongs. All he _does_ say is this--

"I wonder when the second horses will come up? I want some luncheon
before we go and find another fox."

I have already observed that in the shires we put two days into one.
Where seventy or eighty couple of hounds are kept and thirty horses, to
hunt four times a week, with plenty of country, in which you may find a
fox every five minutes, there can be no reason for going home while
light serves; and really good scenting days occur so rarely that we may
well be tempted to make the most of one even with jaded servants and a
half-tired pack of hounds. The field, too, are considerably diminished
by three or four o'clock. One has no second horse, another must get home
to write his letters, and, if within distance of Melton, some hurry back
to play whist. Everything is comparative. With forty or fifty horsemen
left, a huntsman breathes more freely, and these, who are probably
enthusiasts, begin to congratulate themselves that the best of the day
is yet to come. "Let us go and draw Melton Spinney," is a suggestion
that brightens every eye; and the Duke will always draw Melton Spinney
so long as he can see. It is no unusual thing for his hounds to kill,
and, I have been told, they once _found_ their fox by moonlight, so that
it is proverbial all over his country, if you only stop out late enough,
you are sure of a run with the Belvoir at last. And then, whether you
belong to the school of young Rapid or his father, you will equally have
a treat. Are you fond of hounds? Here is a pack that cannot be
surpassed, to delight the most fastidious eye, satisfy the most critical
taste. Do you like to see them _hunt_? Watch how these put their noses
down, tempering energy with patience, yet so bustling and resolute as to
work a bad scent into a good one. Are you an admirer of make-and-shape?
Mark this perfect symmetry of form, bigger, stronger, and tougher than
it looks. Do you understand kennel management and condition? Ask Gillard
why his hounds are never known to tire, and get from him what hints you

Lastly, do you want to gallop and jump, defeat your dearest friends, and
get to the end of your best horse? That is but a moderate scenting-day,
on which the Belvoir will not afford opportunity to do both. If you can
live with them while they run, and see them race into their fox at the
finish, I congratulate you on having science, nerve, all the qualities
of horsemanship, a good hunter, and, above all, a good groom.

These remarks as to pace, stoutness, and sporting qualities, apply also
to the Quorn, the Cottesmore, and the Pytchley. This last, indeed, with
its extensive range of woodlands in Rockingham Forest, possesses the
finest hunting country in England, spacious enough to stand six days a
week in the mildest of winters all the season through. Under the rule of
Lord Spencer, who has brought to bear on his favourite amusement the
talent, energy, and administrative powers that, while they remained in
office, were so serviceable to his party, the Pytchley seems to have
recovered its ancient renown, and the sport provided for the white
collars during the last year or two has been much above the average. His
lordship thoroughly understands the whole management of hounds, in the
kennel and the field, is enthusiastically fond of the pursuit, and,
being a very determined rider as well as an excellent judge of a horse,
is always present in an emergency to observe the cause and take measures
for the remedy. Will Goodall has but little to learn as a huntsman, and,
like his father, the unrivalled Will Goodall of Belvoir celebrity,
places implicit confidence in his hounds. "They can put me right," seems
his maxim, "oftener than I can put them!" If a man wanted to see "a
gallop in the shires" at its best, he should meet the Pytchley some
Saturday in February at Waterloo Gorse, but I am bound to caution him
that he ought to ride a brilliant hunter, and, as young Rapid would say,
"harden his heart" to make strong use of him.

Large grass fields, from fifty to a hundred acres in extent, carrying a
rare scent, are indeed tempting; but to my own taste, though perhaps in
this my reader may not agree with me, they would be more inviting were
they not separated by such forbidding fences. A high black-thorn hedge,
strong enough to hold an elephant, with one, and sometimes two ditches,
fortified, moreover, in many cases, by a rail placed half a horse's
length off to keep out cattle from the thorns, offers, indeed, scope for
all the nobler qualities of man and beast, but while sufficiently
perilous for glory, seems to my mind rather too stiff for pleasure!

And yet I have seen half-a-dozen good men well-mounted live with hounds
over this country for two or three miles on end without a fall, nor do I
believe that in these stiffly fenced grazing grounds the average of
dirty coats is greater than in less difficult-looking districts. It may
be that those who compete are on the best of hunters, and that a horse
finds all his energies roused by the formidable nature of such
obstacles, if he means to face them at all!

And now a word about those casualties which perhaps rather enhance than
damp our ardour in the chase. Mr. Assheton Smith used to say that no man
could be called a good rider who did not _know how to fall_.

Founded on his own exhaustive experience there is much sound wisdom in
this remark. The oftener a man is down, the less likely is he to be
hurt, and although, as the old joke tells us, absence of body as regards
danger seems even preferable to presence of mind, the latter quality is
not without its advantage in the crisis that can no longer be deferred.

I have seen men so flurried when their horses' noses touched the ground
as to fling themselves wildly from the saddle, and meet their own
apprehensions half-way, converting an uncertain scramble into a certain
downfall. Now it should never be forgotten that a horse in difficulties
has the best chance of recovery if the rider sits quiet in the middle of
his saddle and lets the animal's head alone. It is always time enough to
part company when his own knee touches the ground, and as he then knows
exactly _where_ his horse is, he can get out of the way of its impending
body, ere it comes heavily to the earth. If his seat is not strong
enough to admit of such desirable tenacity, let him at least keep a firm
hold of the bridle; that connecting link will, so to speak, "preserve
his communications," and a kick with one foot, or timely roll of his own
person, will take him out of harm's way.

The worst fall a man can get is to be thrown over his horse's head,
with such violence as to lay him senseless till the animal, turning a
somersault, crushes his prostrate body with all the weight of its own.
Such accidents must sometimes happen, of course, but they are not
necessarily of every-day occurrence. By riding with moderate speed at
his fences, and preserving, on all occasions, coolness, good-humour, and
confidence in his partner, a sportsman, even when past his prime, may
cross the severest parts of the Harborough country itself with an
infinitesimal amount of danger to life and limb. Kindness, coercion,
hand, seat, valour, and discretion should be combined in due proportion,
and the mixture, as far as the hunting-field is concerned, will come out
a real _elixir vitæ_ such as the pale Rosicrucian poring over crucible
and alembic sought to compound in vain.

I cannot forbear quoting once more from the gallant soul-stirring lines
of Mr. Bromley Davenport, himself an enthusiast who, to this day, never
seems to remember he has a neck to break!

    "What is time? the effusion of life zoophytic,
      In dreary pursuit of position or gain.
    What is life? the absorption of vapours mephitic,
      The bursting of sunlight on senses and brain.
    Such a life has been mine, though so speedily over,
      Condensing the joys of a century's course,
    From the find, till they ate him near Woodwell-Head Covert,
      In thirty bright minutes from Banksborough Gorse!"

Yes, when all is said and done, perhaps the very acme and perfection of
a _riding_ run, is to be attained within fifteen miles of Melton. A man
who has once been fortunate enough to find himself, for ever so short a
distance, leading

    "The cream of the cream, in the shire of shires,"

will never, I imagine, forget his feelings of triumph and satisfaction
while he occupied so proud a position; nor do I think that, as a matter
of mere amusement and pleasurable excitement, life can offer anything to
compare with a good horse, a good conscience, a good start, and

    "A quick thirty minutes from Banksborough Gorse."



  NOVEMBER, 1877._

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      Directions for Preparing Sauces suitable for the same. By a Cook,
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    CEYLON: being a General Description of the Island, Historical,
      Physical, Statistical. Containing the most Recent Information.
      With Map. By an Officer, late of the Ceylon Rifles. 2 vols. Demy
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    COLONIAL EXPERIENCES; or, Incidents and Reminiscences of Thirty-four
      Years in New Zealand. By an Old Colonist. With a Map. Crown 8vo.
                                                        [_in October._

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    FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW.--First Series, May, 1865, to Dec. 1866. 6 vols.
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      8vo, 7s. 6d.

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      Days," &c. With Illustrations by COLONEL CREALOCKE, C. B. Large
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_Published for the Committee of Council on Education._

    BRONZES. By C. DRURY E. FORTNUM, F.S.A. With numerous Woodcuts.
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    PLAIN WORDS ABOUT WATER. By A. H. CHURCH, M.A., Oxon., Professor of
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    MANUAL OF DESIGN, compiled from the Writings and Addresses of
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      Illustrations.                                   [_In November._



Handsomely printed in 34 vols. Demy 8vo, cloth, £15.

    SARTOR RESARTUS. The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh. With a
      Portrait, 7s. 6d.

    THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. A History. 3 vols., each 9s.

      Supplement of 1872. Portrait and Plates, 9s. The Supplement
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    CRITICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. With Portrait 6 vols., each 9s.



      each 9s.


    LIFE OF JOHN STERLING. With Portrait, 9s.

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    TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GERMAN. 3 vols., each 9s.


      Crown 8vo, with Portrait Illustrations, 7s. 6d.


_In 23 vols., Crown 8vo, cloth, £7 5s._

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    LATTER-DAY PAMPHLETS. 1 vol., 6s.



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_In 37 vols., small Crown 8vo. Price 2s. each vol., bound in cloth; or
in sets of 37 vols. in 18, cloth gilt, for £3 14s._











    WILHELM MEISTER. 3 vols.





_In Demy 8vo._

    THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. With Illustrations by S. L. Fildes, and
      a Portrait engraved by Baker. Cloth, 7s. 6d.

    OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. With Forty Illustrations by Marcus Stone. Cloth,
      £1 1s.

    THE PICKWICK PAPERS. With Forty-three Illustrations by Seymour and
      Phiz. Cloth, £1 1s.

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    SKETCHES BY "BOZ." With Forty Illustrations by George Cruikshank.
      Cloth, £1 1s.

    MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. With Forty Illustrations by Phiz. Cloth, £1 1s.

    DOMBEY AND SON. With Forty Illustrations by Phiz. Cloth, £1 1s.

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    BLEAK HOUSE. With Forty Illustrations by Phiz. Cloth, £1 1s.

    LITTLE DORRIT. With Forty Illustrations by Phiz. Cloth, £1 1s.

    THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP. With Seventy-five Illustrations by George
      Cattermole and H. K. Browne. A New Edition. Uniform with the other
      volumes, £1 1s.

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      Illustrations by G. Cattermole and H. K. Browne. Uniform with the
      other volumes, £1 1s.

    CHRISTMAS BOOKS: Containing--The Christmas Carol; The Cricket on the
      Hearth; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; The Haunted House. With
      all the original Illustrations. Cloth, 12s.

    OLIVER TWIST and TALE OF TWO CITIES. In one volume. Cloth, £1 1s.

    OLIVER TWIST. Separately. With Twenty-four Illustrations by George

    A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Separately. With Sixteen Illustrations by
      Phiz. Cloth, 9s.

[asterism] _The remainder of Dickens's Works were not originally
printed in Demy 8vo._


_In Post 8vo. With the Original Illustrations, 30 vols., cloth, £12._

  PICKWICK PAPERS                            43 Illustrns., 2 vols. 16  0
  NICHOLAS NICKLEBY                          39     "       2 vols. 16  0
  MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT                          40     "       2 vols. 16  0
  OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and REPRINTED PIECES    36     "       2 vols. 16  0
  BARNABY RUDGE and HARD TIMES               36     "       2 vols. 16  0
  BLEAK HOUSE                                40     "       2 vols. 16  0
  LITTLE DORRIT                              40     "       2 vols. 16  0
  DOMBEY AND SON                             38     "       2 vols. 16  0
  DAVID COPPERFIELD                          38     "       2 vols. 16  0
  OUR MUTUAL FRIEND                          40     "       2 vols. 16  0
  SKETCHES BY "BOZ"                          39     "       1 vol.   8  0
  OLIVER TWIST                               24     "       1 vol.   8  0
  CHRISTMAS BOOKS                            17     "       1 vol.   8  0
  A TALE OF TWO CITIES                       16     "       1 vol.   8  0
  GREAT EXPECTATIONS                          8     "       1 vol.   8  0
  PICTURES FROM ITALY and AMERICAN NOTES      8     "       1 vol.   8  0
  UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER                      8     "       1 vol.   8  0
  CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND                  8     "       1 vol.   8  0
  EDWIN DROOD and MISCELLANIES               12     "       1 vol.   8  0
  CHRISTMAS STORIES from "Household Words,"
    &c.                                      16     "       1 vol.   8  0


_In Crown 8vo. In 21 vols., cloth, with Illustrations, £3 9s. 6d._

  PICKWICK PAPERS                             8 Illustrations        3  6
  MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT                           8       "              3  6
  DOMBEY AND SON                              8       "              3  6
  NICHOLAS NICKLEBY                           8       "              3  6
  DAVID COPPERFIELD                           8       "              3  6
  BLEAK HOUSE                                 8       "              3  6
  LITTLE DORRIT                               8       "              3  6
  OUR MUTUAL FRIEND                           8       "              3  6
  BARNABY RUDGE                               8       "              3  6
  OLD CURIOSITY SHOP                          8       "              3  6
  A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND                4       "              3  6
  EDWIN DROOD and OTHER STORIES               8       "              3  6
  CHRISTMAS STORIES, from "Household Words"   8       "              3  0
  TALE OF TWO CITIES                          8       "              3  0
  SKETCHES BY "BOZ"                           8       "              3  0
  AMERICAN NOTES and REPRINTED PIECES         8       "              3  0
  CHRISTMAS BOOKS                             8       "              3  0
  OLIVER TWIST                                8       "              3  0
  GREAT EXPECTATIONS                          8       "              3  0
  HARD TIMES and PICTURES FROM ITALY          8       "              3  0
  UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER                      4       "              3  0
  THE LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS. Uniform with this Edition, with Numerous
    Illustrations. 2 vols. 3s. 6d. each.


_Complete in 30 Volumes. Demy 8vo, 10s. each; or set, £15._

This Edition is printed on a finer paper and in a larger type than has
been employed in any previous edition. The type has been cast especially
for it, and the page is of a size to admit of the introduction of all
the original illustrations.

No such attractive issue has been made of the writings of Mr. Dickens,
which, various as have been the forms of publication adapted to the
demands of an ever widely-increasing popularity, have never yet been
worthily presented in a really handsome library form.

The collection comprises all the minor writings it was Mr. Dickens's
wish to preserve.

    SKETCHES BY "BOZ." With 40 Illustrations by George Cruikshank.

    PICKWICK PAPERS. 2 vols. With 42 Illustrations by Phiz.

    OLIVER TWIST. With 24 Illustrations by Cruikshank.

    NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and REPRINTED PIECES. 2 vols. With Illustrations
      by Cattermole, &c.

    BARNABY RUDGE and HARD TIMES. 2 vols. With Illustrations by
      Cattermole, &c.

    MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    AMERICAN NOTES and PICTURES FROM ITALY, 1 vol. With 8 Illustrations.

    DOMBEY AND SON. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    DAVID COPPERFIELD. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    BLEAK HOUSE. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    LITTLE DORRIT. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz.

    A TALE OF TWO CITIES. With 16 Illustrations by Phiz.

    THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone.

    GREAT EXPECTATIONS. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone.

    OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Marcus Stone.

    CHRISTMAS BOOKS. With 17 Illustrations by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.,
      Maclise, R.A., &c. &c.

    HISTORY OF ENGLAND. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone.

    CHRISTMAS STORIES. (From "Household Words" and "All the Year
      Round.") With 14 Illustrations.

    EDWIN DROOD AND OTHER STORIES. With 12 Illustrations by S. L.


_In Crown 4to vols. Now Publishing in Weekly Penny Numbers and Sixpenny
Monthly Parts. Each Penny Number will contain Two Illustrations._

15 Volumes completed.

    OLIVER TWIST, with 28 Illustrations, cloth, 2s. 6d.; paper, 1s. 6d.

    MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, with 59 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    DAVID COPPERFIELD, with 60 Illustrations and a Portrait, cloth, 4s.;
      paper, 3s.

    BLEAK HOUSE, with 61 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    LITTLE DORRIT, with 58 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    PICKWICK PAPERS, with 56 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    BARNABY RUDGE, with 46 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    A TALE OF TWO CITIES, with 25 Illustrations, cloth, 2s. 6d.; paper,
      1s. 6d.

    OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, with 58 Illustrations, cloth, 4s.; paper, 3s.

    NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, with 59 Illustrations by F. Barnard, cloth, 4s.;
      paper, 3s.

    GREAT EXPECTATIONS, with 26 Illustrations by F. A. Frazer, cloth,
      1s. 6d.; paper, 1s. 9d.

    OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, with 39 Illustrations by Charles Green, cloth,
      4s.; paper, 3s.

    SKETCHES BY "BOZ," with 36 Illustrations by F. Barnard, cloth, 2s.
      6d.; paper, 1s. 9d.

    HARD TIMES, with 20 Illustrations by H. French, cloth, 2s.; paper,
      1s. 6d.

    DOMBEY AND SON, with 61 Illustrations by F. Barnard, cloth, 43.;
      paper, 3s.

    UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER, with 26 Illustrations by E. G. Dalziel,
      cloth, 2s. 6d.; paper, 1s. 9d.

Messrs. CHAPMAN & HALL trust that by this Edition they will be enabled
to place the works of the most popular British Author of the present day
in the hands of all English readers.

The next Volume will be CHRISTMAS BOOKS.


  PICKWICK PAPERS. In Boards. Illustrated. 2s.
  SKETCHES BY BOZ. In Boards. Illustrated. 2s.
  OLIVER TWIST. In Boards. Illustrated. 2s.
  NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. In Boards. Illustrated. 2s.


_Fcap. 8vo, sewed._


  A CHRISTMAS CAROL, with the Original Coloured Plates; being a reprint
      of the Original Edition. Small 8vo, red cloth, gilt edges, 5s.


Some degree of truth has been admitted in the charge not unfrequently
brought against the English, that they are assiduous rather than solid
readers. They give themselves too much to the lighter forms of
literature. Technical Science is almost exclusively restricted to its
professed votaries, and, but for some of the Quarterlies and Monthlies,
very little solid matter would come within the reach of the general

But the circulation enjoyed by many of these very periodicals, and the
increase of the scientific journals, may be taken for sufficient proof
that a taste for more serious subjects of study is now growing. Indeed
there is good reason to believe that if strictly scientific subjects are
not more universally cultivated, it is mainly because they are not
rendered more accessible to the people. Such themes are treated either
too elaborately, or in too forbidding a style, or else brought out in
too costly a form to be easily available to all classes.

With the view of remedying this manifold and increasing inconvenience,
we are glad to be able to take advantage of a comprehensive project
recently set on foot in France, emphatically the land of Popular
Science. The well-known publishers MM. Reinwald and Co., have made
satisfactory arrangements with some of the leading _savants_ of that
country to supply an exhaustive series of works on each and all of the
sciences of the day, treated in a style at once lucid, popular, and
strictly methodic.

The names of MM. P. Broca, Secretary of the Société d'Anthropologie; Ch.
Martins, Montpellier University; C. Vogt, University of Geneva; G. de
Mortillet, Museum of Saint Germain; A. Guillemin, author of "Ciel" and
"Phénomènes de la Physique;" A. Hovelacque, editor of the "Revue de
Linguistique;" Dr. Dally, Dr. Letourneau, and many others, whose
cooperation has already been secured, are a guarantee that their
respective subjects will receive thorough treatment, and will in all
cases be written up to the very latest discoveries, and kept in every
respect fully abreast of the times.

We have, on our part, been fortunate in making such further
arrangements with some of the best writers and recognised authorities
here, as will enable us to present the series in a thoroughly English
dress to the reading public of this country. In so doing we feel
convinced that we are taking the best means of supplying a want that has
long been deeply felt.

The volumes in actual course of execution, or contemplated, will embrace
such subjects as:

  SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE.                     [_Ready._
  BIOLOGY.                           [_In November._
  ANTHROPOLOGY.                      [_In December._
  STATISTICS, &c. &c.

All the volumes, while complete and so far independent in themselves,
will be of uniform appearance, slightly varying, according to the nature
of the subject, in bulk and in price.

When finished they will form a Complete Collection of Standard Works of
Reference on all the physical and mental sciences, thus fully justifying
the general title chosen for the series--"LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY

"This is a translation of the first work of a new French series of
Popular Scientific Works. The high character of the series, and also its
bias, may be inferred from the names of some of its writers, e.g. P.
Broca, Ch. Martins, C. Vogt, &c. The English publishers announce that
the present volume will be followed immediately by others on
Anthropology and Biology. If they are like their precursor, they will be
clear and well written, somewhat polemical, and nobly contemptuous of
opponents.... The translator has done his work throughout with care and
success."--_Athenæum_, Sept. 22, 1877.



_In 17 vols. Demy 8vo. Cloth, 6s. each._


_Fancy boards, 2s. 6d._


_Fancy boards, 2s._


_Also in sets, 27 vols. Cloth, for £4 4s._



_Boards, 2s. 6d., cloth, 3s. 6d._


_Boards, 2s., cloth, 3s._




_Crown 8vo, fancy boards, 2s. each, or 2s. 6d. in cloth._

  UNCLE JOHN. A Novel.
  CERISE. A Tale of the Last Century.
  "BONES AND I;" or, The Skeleton at Home.
  "M., OR N." Similia Similibus Curantur.
  CONTRABAND; or, A Losing Hazard.
  MARKET HARBOROUGH; or, How Mr. Sawyer went to the Shires.
  SARCHEDON. A Legend of the Great Queen.
  SATANELLA. A Story of Punchestown.
  THE TRUE CROSS. A Legend of the Church.
  KATERFELTO. A Story of Exmoor.
  SISTER LOUISE; or, A Story of a Woman's Repentance.


_List of Books, Drawing Examples, Diagrams, Models, Instruments, &c._



_BARTLEY (G. C. T.)_--

      sewed, 1s.

_BENSON (W.)_--

    PRINCIPLES OF THE SCIENCE OF COLOUR. Small 4to, cloth, 15s.

    MANUAL OF THE SCIENCE OF COLOUR. Coloured Frontispiece and
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_BRADLEY (THOMAS)_--_of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich_--

    ELEMENTS OF GEOMETRICAL DRAWING. In Two Parts, with 60 Plates.
      Oblong-folio, half-bound, each part 16s.

    Selections (from the above) of 20 Plates, for the use of the Royal
      Military Academy, Woolwich. Oblong-folio, half-bound, 16s.


    LINEAR PERSPECTIVE. With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth, 7s.

    PRACTICAL GEOMETRY. Post 8vo, cloth, 5s.

    DEFINITIONS OF GEOMETRY. Third Edition. 24mo, sewed, 5d.

_CUBLEY (W. H.)_--

    A SYSTEM OF ELEMENTARY DRAWING. With Illustrations and Examples.
      Imperial 4to, sewed, 8s.


    DRAWING FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. Post 8vo, cloth, 3s.

    MODEL DRAWING. 12mo, cloth, 3s.

    THE AMATEUR HOUSE CARPENTER: A Guide in Building, Making, and
      Repairing. With numerous Illustrations, drawn on Wood by the
      Author. Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d.



_DICKSEE (J. R.)_--

    SCHOOL PERSPECTIVE. 8vo, cloth, 5s.


      OF ORNAMENT. 50 Plates. Small folio, sewed, 5s.; mounted, 18s.

    INTRODUCTION TO DITTO. Fcap. 8vo, 6d.



      (_a_) Forty Numbers, at 1d. each.
      (_b_) Fifty-two Numbers, at 3d. each. The set _b_ includes the
            subjects in _a_.


      Prepared for South Kensington Museum. Post 8vo, sewed, 6d.

_HULME (F. E.)_--

      10s. 6d.





    FREEHAND DRAWING-BOOK. 16mo, cloth, 1s. 6d.


    SYMMETRY OF VEGETATION: Principles to be observed in the delineation
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    HUMAN BODY. Text and Plates reduced from the large Diagrams. 2
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      being a Catalogue with Comparative Descriptions arranged in a
      Tabular Form. Demy 8vo, 3s.


      cloth. Plain, 16s.; coloured, £1 6s.




    MANUAL AND CATECHISM ON COLOUR. Fifth Edition. 24mo, sewed, 9d.


    ELEMENTARY BUILDING CONSTRUCTION. Oblong folio, sewed, 8s.


    DRAWING-BOOK. Oblong, sewed, 3s. 6d.; mounted, 8s.

_WORNUM (R. N.)_--

    THE CHARACTERISTICS OF STYLES: An Introduction to the Study of the
      History of Ornamental Art. Royal 8vo, cloth, 8s.

  WORKMEN. Published at the Request of the Society of Arts. Small 4to,
  cloth, 4s. 6d.

DRAWING FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. Containing 150 Copies. 16mo, cloth, 3s. 6d.

  OF. Ninth Edition. 8vo, 7s.

ELEMENTARY DRAWING COPY-BOOKS, for the use of Children from four years
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  Seven Books in 4to, sewed:

    Book   I. Letters, 8d.
      "   II. Ditto, 8d.
      "  III. Geometrical and Ornamental Forms, 8d.
      "   IV. Objects, 8d.
      "    V. Leaves, 8d.
      "   VI. Birds, Animals, &c., 8d.
      "  VII. Leaves, Flowers, and Sprays, 8d.

    [asterism] Or in Sets of Seven Books, 4s. 6d.

ENGINEER AND MACHINIST DRAWING-BOOK, 16 Parts, 71 Plates. Folio, £1 12s;
  mounted, £3 4s.

  6d. (Postage, 2d.)


SCIENCE DIRECTORY. 12mo, sewed, 2s. (Postage, 3d.)

ART DIRECTORY, 12mo, sewed, 8d. (Postage, 3d.)


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    MECHANICAL STUDIES. By J. B. TRIPON, 15s. per dozen.

    FOLIATED SCROLL FROM THE VATICAN, unmounted, 5d.; mounted, 1s. 3d.

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    LESSONS IN SEPIA, 9s. per dozen, or 1s. each.

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    PETUNIA, mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.

    PELARGONIUM, mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d

    CAMELLIA, mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.


    NASTURTIUM, mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.

    OLEANDER, mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.

    TORRENIA ASIATICA. Mounted, 3s. 9d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.

    PYNE'S LANDSCAPES IN CHROMO-LITHOGRAPHY (6), each, mounted 7s. 6d.;
      or the set, £2 5s.

    COTMAN'S PENCIL LANDSCAPES (set of 9), mounted, 15s.

      "      SEPIA DRAWINGS (set of 5), mounted, £1.

    ALLONGE'S LANDSCAPES IN CHARCOAL (6), at 4s. each, or the set, £1 4s.

    4012. BUNCH OF FRUIT, PEARS, &c., 4s. 6d.

    4013.   "        "    APPLES, 4s. 6d.

    4014.   "        "    WHITE GRAPES AND PLUMS, 4s. 6d.

    4015.   "        "    BLACK GRAPES AND PEACHES, 4s. 6d.

    4016.   "        "    PLUMS, MULBERRIES, &c., 4s. 6d.

    4017. BOUQUET OF FLOWERS, LARGE ROSES, &c., 4s. 6d.

    4018.   "           "     ROSES AND HEARTSEASE, 3s. 6d.

    4019.   "           "     SMALL CAMELLIAS, 3s. 6d.

    4020.   "           "     POPPIES, &c., 3s. 6d.

    4039.   "           "     CHRYSANTHEMUMS, 4s. 6d.

    4040.   "           "     LARGE CAMELLIAS, 4s. 6d.

    4077.   "           "     LILAC AND GERANIUM, 3s. 6d.

    4080.   "           "     CAMELLIA AND ROSE, 3s. 6d.

    4081.   "           "     SMALL CAMELLIAS AND BLUE BELLS, 3s. 6d.

    4082.   "           "     LARGE DAHLIAS, 4s. 6d.

    4083.   "           "     ROSES AND LILIES, 4s. 6d.

    4090.   "           "     ROSES AND SWEET PEAS, 3s. 6d.

    4094.   "           "     LARGE ROSES AND HEARTSEASE, 4s.

    4180.   "           "     LARGE BOUQUET OF LILAC, 6s. 6d.

    4190.   "           "     DAHLIAS AND FUCHSIAS, 6s. 6d.


    *Box of Models, £1 4s.

    A Stand with a universal joint, to show the solid models, &c., £1

    *One wire quadrangle, with a circle and cross within it, and one
      straight wire. One solid cube. One skeleton wire cube. One sphere.
      One cone. One cylinder. One hexagonal prism. £2 2s.

    Skeleton cube in wood, 3s. 6d.

    18-inch Skeleton cube in wood, 12s.

    *Three objects of _form_ in Pottery:

      Indian Jar, }
      Celadon Jar,} 18s. 6d.
      Bottle,     }

    *Five selected Vases in Majolica Ware, £2 11s.

    *Three selected Vases in Earthenware, 18s.

    Imperial Deal Frames, glazed, without sunk rings, 10s.

    *Davidson's Smaller Solid Models, in Box, £2.

    *Davidson's Advanced Drawing Models (10 models), £9.

    *Davidson's Apparatus for Teaching Practical Geometry (22 models),

    *Binn's Models for illustrating the elementary principles of
      orthographic projection as applied to mechanical drawing, in box,
      £1 10s.

    Vulcanite set square, 5s.

    Large compasses with chalk-holder, 5s.

    *Slip, two set squares and T square, 5s.

    *Parkes' case of instruments, containing 6-inch compasses with pen
      and pencil leg, 5s.

    *Prize instrument case, with 6-inch compasses, pen and pencil leg, 2
      small compasses, pen and scale, 18s.

    6-inch compasses with shifting pen and point, 4s. 6d.

    Small compass in case, 1s.

    * Models, &c., entered as sets, cannot be supplied singly.



    TWELVE SHEETS. Prepared for the Committee of Council on Education by
      JOHN DREW, Ph. Dr., F.R.S.A. £2 8s.; on rollers and varnished, £4


    NINE SHEETS. Illustrating a Practical Method of Teaching Botany. By
      Professor HENSLOW, F.L.S. £2; on canvas and rollers, and
      varnished, £3 3s.

      KINGDOM. By Professor OLIVER, F.R.S., F.L.S. 70 Imperial sheets,
      containing examples of dried Plants, representing the different
      Orders. £5 5s. the set.

     Catalogue and Index to Oliver's Diagrams, 1s.


    TEN SHEETS. By WILLIAM J. GLENNY, Professor of Drawing, King's
      College. In sets, £1 1s.


      First Division, containing 16 Imperial Plates, 10s.
      Second Division, containing 16 Imperial Plates, 10s.

      5s. 6d.; unmounted, 2s. 9d.


      4s; mounted on roller and varnished, 7s. 6d.



      This Series consists of 8 Diagrams, highly coloured on stout
      paper, 3 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, price £1 per set;
      mounted on common rollers, £2.

    DIAGRAMS OF THE STEAM-ENGINE. By Professor GOODEVE and Professor

      These Diagrams are on stout paper, 40 inches by 27 inches, highly

      The price per set of 41 Diagrams (52-1/2 Sheets), £6 6s. These
      Diagrams can be supplied varnished and mounted on rollers at 2s.
      6d. extra per Sheet.

    EXAMPLES OF MACHINE DETAILS. A Series of 16 Coloured Diagrams. By
      Professor UNWIN. £2 2s.

      STANISLAS PETTIT. 60 Sheets, £3 5s.; 13s. per dozen.

      unmounted, 5s. 6d.

      also larger Sheets, being more advanced copies, 2s. per dozen.

      dozen; also larger Sheets, being more advanced copies, 2s. per


    ELEVEN SHEETS. Illustrating Human Physiology, Life size and Coloured
      from Nature. Prepared under the direction of JOHN MARSHALL,
      F.R.S., F.R.C.S., &c. Each Sheet, 12s. 6d. On canvas and rollers,
      varnished, £1 1s.













    1. THE SKELETON, Front View.
    2. THE MUSCLES, Front View.
    3. THE SKELETON, Back View.
    4. THE MUSCLES, Back View.
    5. THE SKELETON, Side View.
    6. THE MUSCLES, Side View.
    7. THE FEMALE SKELETON, Front View.

    Each Sheet, 12s. 6d.; on canvas and rollers, varnished, £1 1s.

    Explanatory Key, 1s.


    TEN SHEETS. Illustrating the Classification of Animals. By ROBERT
      PATTERSON. £2.; on canvas and rollers, varnished, £3 10s.

    The same, reduced in size, on Royal paper, in 9 Sheets, uncoloured,


Edited by JOHN MORLEY.

THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW is published on the 1st of every month (the issue
on the 15th being suspended), and a Volume is completed every Six

_The following are among the Contributors_:--

  &c. &c. &c.

THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW _is published at 2s. 6d._



Transcriber's Note

The following typographical errors were corrected.

  Page   Error
   iv    STREET HILL, changed to STREET HILL.
    6    have so thorougly changed to have so thoroughly
   32    accomplished animal. changed to accomplished animal,
   38    insurbordinate changed to insubordinate
   45    of a Pelham changed to of a Pelham.
   49    recover him self changed to recover himself
   80    you half sa changed to you half so
   86    combination of skill changed to combination of skill,
  104    manoeuvre ill changed to manoeuvre till
  112    and the liver changed to and the liver.
  118    "pluck' changed to "pluck"
  120    panicstricken changed to panic-stricken
  160    light man' changed to light man's
  193    Page 193 changed to Page 193.
  208    may turn you changed to may turn your
  Ads 6    £1 4s changed to £1 4s. (below Experiences of a Planter...)
  Ads 6    £1 8s changed to £1 8s. (below The Life and Times of Prince
  Ads 9    [_In November_ changed to [_In November._
  Ads 11   3s. 6d changed to 3s. 6d. (below Struggle for National
  Ads 12   SCHMID (HERMAN changed to SCHMID (HERMAN)
  Ads 15   Civilisation,' changed to Civilisation,"
  Ads 16   [_In November_ changed to [_In November._
  Ads 25   WAS RIGHT changed to WAS RIGHT.
  Ads 28   Sprays, 8d changed to Sprays, 8d.

The following words were inconsistently spelled or hyphenated.

  a-slant / aslant
  black-thorn / blackthorn
  clock-work / clockwork
  down-hill / downhill
  every-day / everyday
  eye-lash / eyelash
  Free-hand / Freehand
  hand-gate / handgate
  head-stall / headstall
  lee-way / leeway
  nose-band / noseband
  race-course / racecourse
  race-horse / racehorse
  steeple-chase / steeplechase
  thorough-bred / thoroughbred

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Riding Recollections, 5th ed." ***

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