Obrázky na stránke

went to his bed ; and the “ operations of the Raby pack” were published in a volume at the end of every season.

The manners and deportment of the Duke of Cleveland were such as are just suited to a master of hounds, and he was so extremely popular with the farmers—as indeed with all his field - that his country swarmed with foxes. Of his zeal in the pursuit of them, I will only repeat the following anecdote from my Yorkshire Tour, Previously to my visit to his Grace, I was staying with Sir Bellingham Graham, at Norton Conyers, and at three o'clock in the evening of a hard day, and in the last week of November too, and when the greater part of the field had retired, Sir Bellingham thus addressed the duke, at that time Lord Darlington. “Well, my lord, I think it is time to go home, and your road is mine." "My road," said the duke,“ is through that wood," pointing to Heslelt wood, two miles in a contrary direction. To Heslelt wood we went, found a capital fox, had a beautiful burst of twenty-four minutes, and then hunted him into Snape park, where the hounds were stopped at the end of one hour and twenty minutes, the last hour in the dark. “We want the lamps lit,” said I to his grace, as he was cramming his horse at a fence, without knowing on which side the ditch was, or seeing a white gate, which I espied close to us. “I think we do," replied his grace, but he disdained quitting his line for the gate, and succeeded in getting over the fence, with a long drop into a turnpike road.

The Raby kennel was, until the two last seasons of their being kept, always strong in hounds, divided into a large and small pack. The former had the character of being a little slack in their work, about the period of my hunting with them, but I am ready to admit that I saw nothing to induce me to think them so. Their large size would naturally make them appear to disadvantage, in comparison with the other pack, as far as the point in question is concerned ; and if we may judge from the very small price the Duke of Cleveland's hounds fetched, when he gave them up, when it may be imagined, from the short state of the kennel very large drafts must have been made, that there was truth in the charge of slackness, increased perhaps in after years, as the noble owner of them himself become slacker. But old age will beat us all; and if the Duke of Cleveland became slack withhis hounds, it was not until long after his medical advisers advised him to desist from following them at all. I know from undoubted authority, (that of his grace's intimate friend, Mr. Wharton), that only two years back, he was seen with the brush of a good fox in his hand, in the midst of his pack, at the end of a run of fifteen miles !

Take his grace as a master of hounds, and an owner of race horses, he must claim to be ranked amongst the most celebrated sportsmen that England has ever seen; aud in the latter department of sporting, which, however inferior to fox-hunting, is better suited to declining

years, he was as keen as he ever was, to the last few months of his life.

We always expect to see the well-graced actor, advance in excellence towards the closing scenes of the part he is called upon to perform; and such slould more especially be the case in real life. A report got abroad, finding its way into more than one of our periodicals, and not, to my knowledge, contradicted, stating that on his grace giving up his hounds, he had all the gorse covers on his own property, within the limits of the Raby hunt, destroyed. Had I been the Duke of Cleveland I would not have done this. I would rather have invited some good sportsman to take to the country, and follow an example, with this one exception—so very worthy of imitation, as his own indisputably was, in every thing relating to the duties and operations of an English master of fox-hounds.

In private life, the duke has been conspicuous for many qualities that do honour to our nature, and such as would render it a contradiction to attribute the destruction of his covers to a selfish motive. Independantly of his grace having been one of the most agreeable companions in the social hour, as indeed in all others, that I have ever come across in life, he had the character of being a most kind master to his servants, who have grown old in his service, and one of the most liberal landlords in Great Britain.

The conspicuous men in the Raby country when I was in it, were the noble owner of the pack, especially when on liis celebrated grey horse Panegyrick, Sir Bellingham Graham, Messrs. Milbanke, John Monson, Claridge, Trotter, Newton, &c.

MR. RALPH LAMBTON. I now come to a man who, as a master of hounds and a gentleman, began as he ended and ended as he began, perfect in every tling relating to his station; and, as a friend of mine has designated him, "an epitome of the sportsman and the gentleman." And what is the result? Why the sympathy of the entire fox-hunting world for the cause of his retiring from that station which he so ably filled ; as well as for his sufferings on the bed of sickness, to which he has been so long confined; and what increases that sympathy, is the fact that his sufferings have been occasioned by falls in his endeavours to promote that sport which his hounds so long afforded.

I professed myself a great admirer of Mr. Ralph Lambton's hounds, at the period of my first seeing them-namely, the season of 1827comparing them, as I then did, in style and character with Mr. Osbaldeston's pack of that day. In symmetry and show of high breeding, they could scarcely, at that time, have been excelled—at all events, by not more than two or three contemporary packs; and their having been under the eye of so good a judge as their owner for thirty-five years, without any intermission, added to their having been of that

In fact I saw,

moderate standard of height, which is favourable to symmetrical form, entitled them to the high character I gave them. And this character was strengthened by what I saw of them in their work. what tew men can say they ever did see; I saw these hounds run into their fox in a body, at the end of two hours' hard running—their first fox having been changed at the end of the first hour-having fairly run away from a field of a hundred and fifty horsemen, only sixteen of which at all knew whither the hounds were gone, during the last half hour or more. Could I have used my pencil I would have sketched them as I saw them, running along the bottom of a large grass field, within one of that in which their fox died, with their heads up and their sterns down, and at an awful pace, with their gallant master by their side, on his famous one-eyed horse Beanstalk, in an ecstacy of delight at what lie clearly saw was about to be the finish to the day. This, I repeat, was a scene not often witnessed by the most constant followers of hounds, for I speak without fear of contradiction, when I assert, that from the first to the last of this two hours' run, not five minutes relief were allowed to the pack who performed this wonderful feat, by checks. In fact there were but two, the first only a momentary one, occasioned by the impetuosity of one of the field, and the other equally short, when we changed our fox, at the end of the first hour !

Having mentioned the foregoing fact, in proof of the good condition, as well as steadiness on the line, of Mr. Lambton's pack, at the period to which I allude, I am called upon to notice a striking peculiarity in the system of their owner, in his kennel. The Lambton hounds never ate flesh on the day previous to their hunting. And I have one more circuinstance to allude to. It will be recollected that, in an account I gave of a few days' hunting with these houuds in Leicestershire, after they became the property of Lord Sefton, I did not join in the rather general condemnation of them, although I admitted their having fallen off in their appearance since I had seen them five years previouslyattributing the cause of it to an excusable, if not probable, slackness their late owner, whose health had been gradually giving way. But the very fact of their having been sold for more money than ever hounds were before sold, together with the large number of foxes killed by them in the season previous to Lord Suffield purchasing them, at once showed that their general character and reputation had not been much worsted, inasmuch as, popular as their owner was, some tongues would have pronounced their imperfections to the sporting world ; and the additional fact of their having had in the last season,* under the self same huntsman, if not the best, nearly the best season of


hounds south or north of Tweed, bears me out in all I said respecting them.

(To be continued.)

That of 1840.j

« PredošláPokračovať »