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have been at a far distant date. His old cognomen of spaniel still attaches to him in certain country districts remote from the railway, and in which old customs and old names die hard. Two years ago, whilst on a visit to Ireland, I repeatedly heard the modern setter dubbed a spaniel, and early in the present century the same dog was quite as often called a spaniel as not. “ Kunopaedia, a practical essay on breaking and training the English spaniel and pointer,” by the late William Dobson, of Eden Hall, Cumberland, was published in 1814, and in this, one of the earliest works of its kind specially devoted to breaking sporting dogs, the word spaniel must be read to mean setter. The instructions given throughout the work are those likely to be useful in training a dog to stand, point, and do his work according to the modern idea of excellence in his line. A history of the setter should, of course, commence at the very earliest portion of his career, but old writers are particularly silent on the point, even more so than when they have attempted to trace the rise and advent of other dogs, those used in the field for hunting, those trained to guard the flocks and the household, or others used as companions, as lap-dogs, for fancy and amusement alone. In Great Britain the domestic dog has for hundreds of years been held in high estimation as a useful addition to the sporting equipage. From time immemorial almost has he been utilised for the purpose of hunting wild animals, both by scent and sight, but when a variety of his kind was first trained to “set,” “couch,” or stand the smell of game, do so without going sufficiently near to alarm and disturb it, and so afford the sportsman accompanied by such a dog an opportunity of killing such game with an arrow from his bow or taking it in his net, history is not very explicit. H. D. Richardson, who, about forty years ago, wrote several little handbooks on country matters, including one about dogs, says that the spaniel was first broken to set partridges and other feathered game as an assistant to the net by Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, in the year 1335. Whether this date be correct or not I
cannot say, for the author does not say where he obtained his information. However, other writers, and perhaps more reliable ones, including Delabere Blaine (1840), say that “Robert Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, as early as 1555, is said to have trained a setter to the net; and that other authorities of antecedent dates notice the sitter, or setter, as a dog used for sporting purposes. It must not, therefore, be concluded that the application of him by Dudley was his advent, although he might not until
That the spaniel was well known earlier than the middle of the sixteenth century, and dogs of a certain kind were used for finding birds, under somewhat similar conditions as are observed to-day, long prior to the introduction of firearms, there is no doubt whatever.
First of all, such dogs as spaniels were trained to find birds at which the falconer flew his hawks. Strutt, in his “Sports and Pastimes,” quotes from a fourteenth century manuscript, in the reign of Edward III., father of the Black Prince. This old writer, and interesting antiquarian, says the spaniel was of use in hawking, “hys crafte is for the perdrich, or partridge, and the quaile; and when taught to couche he is very serviceable to those who take these birds with nets.” This is the earliest allusion I can find to trained dogs so nearly approaching in their work the broken setter and pointer of modern times.
The spaniel must have been a steady, highlytrained dog even then, and this taking of game by nets is, in some localities, unhappily, still practised by the poacher, especially at night time, when a lighted lantern is fixed on the dog's back. The blaze enables the poacher to see his dog, which, standing and drawing up to his game, when sufficiently close, comes to a full stop, and a net is drawn or cast over birds and dogs alike. Five hundred years ago there was some excuse for taking game by means of nets, but with modern firearms, breach-loading guns so quickly loaded and emptied, the net ought to have disappeared entirely. Still, its use is now confined entirely to some few ill-conditioned, grasping hill farmers, or the more sporting-like poacher. There is an engraving (of the early part of the fourteenth century) still preserved in the Royal Library which depicts two ladies and one attendant hawking. Here are two spaniels of that day, odd looking creatures enough, with pendulous ears and long hound-like tails, evidently in the act of going carefully up to some game or other, and the attitude of the huntresses, with their hands raised and carefully poised, gives the idea that they are steadying their dogs with their ancient equivalent of “So ho! careful, good dogs' " The girl carrying her hawk on her hand is drawing the attention of her bird to the action of the dogs. An earlier MS. than this is illustrated by the figure of an archer in the act of shooting a bird on the wing. This is from the Saxon of about the eighth century; the sportsman here is not accompanied by a dog of any kind; but this would scarcely be evidence that a dog of some kind was not used as an assistant by the bird shooter, even at that early date. Such an animal, too, would be the original of our present race of setters though bearing scarcely any resemblance to our modern productions. Naturally for information about the setter one will turn to the earliest book on English dogs, and this was written in Latin as far back as 1570, by the often quoted Johannes Caius, a Doctor of Physic of the University of Cambridge. This valuable and interesting treatise was, six years later, translated into English by Abraham Fleming, and published by Richard Johnes, who sold the book “over against St. Sepulchre's Church without Newgate,” and no doubt it told all that was known about dogs at that time. Still, lovers of the canine race might to their advantage have had a more profuse chronicler, for, though fairly complete as far as it goes, there must have been more to write about dogs, even in the sixteenth century, than Caius put on paper. However, what there is we give, the quotations being made from the reprint published by L. U. Gill, at 170, Strand, London. The first author of a book on English dogs says: