wounded, they will never recover their courage. Glengarry—a name familiar as birch-trees in the Highlands, to history and to most sportsmenwho, at one period, possessed many of these dogs, was in the habit of crossing them, as are other owners who continue to do so in the present day. There is no question, however, but that they act erroneously : that is to say, if they require a race of animals to hunt, chase, kill, or bring to bay a red-deer. The deer-hound is either a deer-hound, or it is a mongrel—there can be no intermediate race. Neither can there be a question but that the animal intended by a higher Power for a particular object, is the fit, proper, and superior one over all others. For instance, cross a greyhound with a Newfoundland dog ; then he may kill a hare, but how ?-why, by chance ; but he will never win a cup at the Altcar. For the same reason, cross a noble deer-hound with a mastiff or a bulldog, as many have done, he may, in some trifling degree, increase some particular quality of the latter, but he will lose many of the fine qualities and sagacities of the former, which are alone to be found in the pure-bred deer-hound.

For instance, Glengarrys had large feet and great ugly heads, and other defects of proportion, which made them unable to run on rocky or hard ground, without soon becoming lame and useless. But were we to write volumes on the interesting subject of this breed of dogs, we should only add, get the pure race, and

will have the true one. Treat them and train them properly, and they will prove the best and only dogs which ought to be used in the noble sport of deer stalking, whether in the open chase or as the means of running a wounded deer and bringing him to bay. They are a great acquisition to any sporting kennel, and even when far away from the Highlands, we know of few more magnificent and faithful companions during a morning's ramble or by a winter's fire side. A few years since, Glenmoriston most kindly sent us two puppies, of the purest breed ; and we were fortunate enough to obtain another, equally pure and as handsome, from the same part of Scotland. Of the dog we have already spoken, he lives as fine a specimen as can be, of his race. The bitch was as beautiful and graceful an animal as could be imagined ; but with the peculiarity which is particularly prominent in these animals, she was not much more than half the size of the dog, but so fleet that we constantly and most unwisely used her to chase the mountain hares, and after a hard day on the hills of Meggernie, when the weather was unusually hot for October, and probably from her youth, she was seized with convulsions, and, much to our regret, her bones lay beneath the sod of her native hills. The third is now in Ireland. She produced nine beautiful puppies by the dog ; but, notwithstanding every care, they all died. These dogs were never kept in kennel, save at night ; during the day they had, as they do now, their entire freedom, and were our constant companions whether riding or walking ; indeed, they had the entrée of every room in the house. Their food was a matter of perfect indifference as to the choice--anything which was to be had from the kitchen, and under this treatment no dogs could possibly thrive better ; indeed, when Glenmoriston saw the dog he had kindly sent as a puppy at two years old, he admitted that he was one of the finest animals he ever beheld. Did space permit of it, we could tell endless tales of their sagacity ; we will, however, only name one with regard to their being excellent water dogs, and then close the subject. For a season we resided at a house, the garden or lawn of which extended to the banks of a tolerably wide river ; on this river we had a small skiff, in which, both summer and winter, we constantly crossed to the opposite bank. On all occasions, whatever the weather, even with snow on the ground, the moment the boat was pushed from the shore, in plunged, not only the deer-hounds, but two smooth greyhounds ; and had we rowed backwards and forwards a dozen times, these animals would follow. On one occasion, we sc

scarcely recollect why, the deer-hound bitch, then not eighteen months old, was sent to a friend who resided at least a mile on the opposite side of the river. On the first night after her departure, we heard a howling under the bed-room window, and on looking out, not only discovered her ladyship, but also from the wetness of her dripping shaggy coat, that she had swam the river at midnight to return home, and this she repeated in the depth of winter, on two successive nights. And in reference to their gentleness, we will simply add, that these fine animals have often been seen stretched before a blazing fire, with an Angola cat literally resting his head between their fore legs.

Having enjoyed a view of the kennel, the mists of the mountains thickened instead of clearing as the day advanced, and not being ourselves particularly robust on that occasion, the Laird kindly suggested we should take a look around his home domain, and defer a sporting excursion to the hills till the following one. As we walked along therefore, careless of the threatening shower, he favoured us with a few details of his neighbouring deer-forest. In addition to his outlying distant forest, if such it may be termed, he has recently appropriated a moderate proportion of the glen entirely as a harbour for deer, of about three miles in length and two in breadth, and it is "prospering charmingly"_these are his own words. Forty or fifty deer may be found there any morning that a sportsman desires a shot ; but they are careful, and very properly so, of destroying too many stags ; hinds therefore, as yet, are alone permitted to be killed ; nevertheless the game book of 1845 scores ten stags. And the tenant who rents a shooting higher up the Glen-we believe, Sir H. Meux-also killed ten last season ; but if we are not mistaken, in this account there numbered two or more hinds. Lord Lovat has also a deer forest joining, or on the opposite side of the Glen to that of Glenmoriston, and he also had good sport during the season of 1845. In fact, not less than thirty to forty stags succumbed to the deadly rifles of these true sportsmen, and doubtless they had some very agreeable pastime, yet the stock increases rather than otherwise.

Of the neighbourhood grouse hills, there are few better in Scotland ; black-cocks are also abundant, as well as mountain hares. Ptarmigan are not wanting, and, in addition to which, there is some first-rate duck shooting in the season. The fishing in the Moriston is very good, both as regards salmon and trout ; and we feel satisfied that no fair sportsman would be refused by Glenmoriston who might desire to throw his fly therein. And now a word of the lake, on the borders of which we stood watching the progress of the Glasgow steamer, which is a most desirable accommodation to those who possess shooting quarters on the line of the so-termed Caledonian Canal. This beautiful lake is twentytwo miles in length ; its breadth-save near Castle Urquhart, where it is broader--being about two miles. Its depth is very great; indeed oppo

[merged small][ocr errors]

site a rock called the “ Horse-shoe,” it has been found to be 140 fathoms. From a neighbouring eminence a full view may be obtained, for it is almost straight from end to end, running cast and west ; and its sides, which are steep, rocky, and wooded, are most pleasing to the eye of the traveller, as well as to the sportsman, for they yield game of all kinds. Many peculiarities are attached to these wide and extensive waters, on which, however, we shall only dwell in reference to their sporting qualities. Owing to their great depth, they never freeze, and, during intense cold weather, a steam rises in the air as from a furnace ; in fact, ice brought from any other place and thrown into Fort Ness would immediately thaw. Yet no water freezes sooner than that from Loch Ness, if taken into the house or from the lake and placed else

Moreover it is considered as remarkably salubrious ; in fact, many come long distances to take advantage of its qualities. And it is a well known fact that during seven years the garrison of Fort Augustus lost not a single man by death- -as was generally supposed, from the quality of the water and the salubrity of the neighbouring mountain air.

The salmon taken from this lake are in season from Christmas till the latter end of September. Trout of great weight, as also pike and eel, are numerous ; and during winter there is endless sport to be secured from the numerous wild mews, wild ducks, and widgeons, which abound there. The surface of the lake is sometimes violently agitated by the wind, which blows furiously between the steep mountains by which it is hemmed in ; and the waves are at times quite Biscayan. Indeed, a curious fact is related of an occurrence which took place on the 1st of November, 1755, at the same period with an earthquake at Lisbon. The waters rose and flowed up the lake from east to west with vast impetuosity, breaking over the banks in waves at least three feet high ; and a heavy boat, laden with wood, was literally carried three times high on shore and then dashed back again by the receding waters till destroyed. At the same period an island on a small lake in Baddanock was literally carried from its base and flung on the main land ; yet at neither the one nor the other place was the agitation felt on the neighbouring shores.

The afternoon having set in dull and gloomy, we passed the remainder of this agreeable day in trying our rifle and pistol at a target placed conveniently for such practice in the park ; and, from the many successful shots which struck the bull's-eye, anticipation was ripe as to the slaughter of red-deer on the following morning. But we soon found out, by practical demonstration, that the nerves and pulse which beat calmly before a wooden mark are at fever heat when the antlers of a hart appear in view ; and the best shots in the kingdom, who might hit the neck of a bottle at one hundred and fifty yards, or a shilling thrown in the air, may not be disheartened should they miss their first red-deer at five-and-twenty paces.

The inspection of an ancient shield carried by the great grandfather of Glenmoriston, namely, “ John a'Chagran, at the battle of Killicrankie, through which was the hole of a musket, as also a pistol-ball, and which ancient relic is verified as actually having been used by that chieftain from the records of those present in the action, and a few remarks from the present chief, as to his being the only one of his race who had never taken part in a military life, closed the light hours of

prowess with

our first day's visit to the glen ; and the shrill notes of the pibroch again informed us it was time to join the family circle in the refectory.

At an early hour on the following morning, which dawned fresh and fair, an open carriage stood ready at the door to convey us to a convenient point for commencing the sports of the day. For some miles we followed the route of “ Ascanius' up the beautiful glen, which, in various breadths was clothed by dense masses of trees of every kind, growing almost to the very summits of the high and rocky hills ; the river, migrating and roaming, at times dashing with violence from side to side of the deep narrow and rocky channel which in the course of ages it has worn for itself ; at others, escaping thundering and foaming, it encloses some wooded islet or isolated rock, where the aged pine holds undisputed sway, and luxuriating in freedom, shoots its weather-beaten stem into a thousand irregular forms. Nothing can be more wild and luxuriant, nothing more beautiful, than the southern entrance to Glenmoriston. Having arrived, however, at the appointed spot, we were welcomed by keepers, gillies, deer-hounds, and pointers, it being proposed in the first instance to try for blackcock and roe-deer, that abound in the low ground and slopes of the mountains, which here became more open and heathered ; an outlying deer might also, perchance, be met with; as there, unlike their habits in the more open and extensive forests in Scotland, they harbour much in the woods, occasionally feeding on the grass slopes, at other times reposing in the warmth of its sunshine, but on the slightest alarm instantly returning to the deep recesses of their coverts. Glenmoriston, as well as his clansmen of the glen, are, however, thoroughly acquainted with their maneuvres, and the eye and local knowledge of such sportsmen are not easily to be deceived ; so with justice we felt assured that our ignorance in such matters could not be better guided than by attending to their instructions and by following their example. Ğuns were therefore loaded, and rifle-balls rammed home, and we breasted the mountain side. But soon the sport commenced : bang on the right, bang again on the left, a double shot in the centre, told of death among the feathered tribe ; and a hare, endeavouring to escape up the hill side, fell to our unskilful aim. We had scarcely arrived at a thin belt of fir and birch trees, ere a gillie apprised us that red-deer were on foot.

Halt here a wee bit,” said he, “anent this rock, and they'll just be ganging this way.”

We did as he desired, and, a rifle being handed to us, we couched behind a rugged rock, heart-beating and nervous for the coming of these timid and beautiful animals, whom we desired thus cruelly to slaughter for a moment's pleasure. If this thumping of the heart takes place on the expectation of a roe-deer, we remarked, as thus we lay concealed, the thump will break the string asunder when on a similar watch for the nobler game of red-deer. They came, however, true as the gillie had predicted. A shot from the nearest sportsman echoing through the mountains warned us to look out ; and we did so, eyes

and anxiety, when at last four swift and elegant roe deer bounded like lightning across the rocky ground, within thirty yards of our position, and rushed along the hill side towards another small cover at hand. Bad as we admit our shooting qualities to be, we felt at the moment assured that such large objects, and so near, could not be missed notwithstanding the

[ocr errors]


speed to which fear had given additional wings ; indeed, we fancied we already grieved o'er the dead carcass of the beautiful creature so remorselessly slain in the fleeting moment of sporting excitement. We were never more mistaken in our lives ; cool as we attempted to be, careful as we imagined our aim to be, ere the report of our rifle had warned our neighbours of our luck in getting a shot, the ball had struck a stone at least half a yard to the right of the roe, and they fled on unscathed into the cover at hand. This was our first and last chance at a roe that day ; in other respects we did a fair share of the duties of the morning, and certainly yielded to none in the enjoyment we experienced. At midday we halted and assembled the party near a refreshing mountain rivulet ; and though we are by no means an advocate for these gastronomie interruptions to a day's sport, yet we must own a pleasant half-hour's rest, and a trifle of cold grouse, in such a scene and on such occasions, with an afternoon's deer-shooting in prospect, is by no means the most disagreeable moment of one's life. Seated, therefore, on a heathered bank, with a merry group around, in fact, forming one of those pleasing pictures which Landseer or Taylor can far better paint than we can pen, as the smoke from various cigars and pipes curled in wreaths through the clear air, we contemplated the success of the morning. A beautiful roe, still graceful in death, which had fallen to the unerring aim of one of our companions, and which he beheld with much satisfaction ; several mountain hares, blackcocks, and four brace of grouse, lay before us ; and a very pleasing sight it was, and not bad sport late in the season. But fatigue is little thought of with game in tiew, and the whole party were soon prepared for another start.

“We will cross the river,” said our leader, “ and doubtless you will then have a shot at a red deer ; be calm, however, take time, and ere nightfall you may yet tell of something better than a roe.”

We descended to the banks of the stream, in order to cross over by some rocks and large stones, so placed as to admit of a dry passage ; when evident signs and tracts of deer having also recently crossed gave us renewed hopes. Oscar, one of the deer dogs, was nose to the ground and ears erect, pulling hard at the gillie, who with much difficulty prevented his breaking loose. Having reached the opposite shore, we came to a halt, in order to arrange our forces ; and after a little discussion among keepers and foresters, our line of battle was formed ; and we found ourselves in company with one of the laird's sons, a most agreeable and amiable lad, now in India, to whom, should these pages erer meet his eye, we would recall with thanks his courtesy and kindness on that occasion ; the shouts of laughter and humour which enlivened our walk home after this day's sport, when scarcely one of us could have walked a yard farther ; indeed, as regards ourselves, to this hour we believe we have never recovered the fatigue and excitement, which caused us subsequently a sharp attack of fever and indisposition. But to proceed: with our kind conductor we skirted a great portion of the thick wood or covert, our companions also being appointed to favourable localities for the passing of the deer ; and at length we found ourselves fairly ensconced in a thicket, from which we commanded the crossing of two long rides or paths, cut in the recesses of the forest ; and a multitude of beaters being thrown in, Heaven knows where, we awaited the coming of the sovereign of the glen-barring Glenmoriston himself. What


« ForrigeFortsett »