Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

or else hayle and pull them perforce out of theyr lurking angles, darke dongeons, and close caues ; or at the least through cocened feare drive them out of theire hollow harbours, in so much that they are compelled to prepare speedie flyte, and being desirous of the next (albeit not the safest) refuge, are otherwise taken and intrapped with snayres and nettes layde over holes to the same purpose. But these be the least in that kynde called Sagax.” Here, though quaintly written, is a description of the use a fox terrier ought to be put to at the present day, although setting nets before a fox earth would scarcely be called legitimate sport in the twentieth century. Still, if a net is not used for foxes, its equivalent a sack is often, even now, found useful when the “badger or graye” be sought.

What Gervase Markham wrote about terriers early in 1600 is not of much account, for, however learned that great man might be, he was after all a mere“ bookmaker," as his numerous works plainly testify. Not satisfied by giving us elegant disquisitions on hunting, archery, and other sports, he wrote, and filled volume after volume descriptive of military tactics, housewifery, heraldry, &c., and wound up by composing poems, and posing as a dramatist.

Nicholas Cox's well-known book, “The Gentleman's Recreation," published in 1667, supplies less information about terriers than one would have expected. He describes them as of two sorts—one with legs more or less crooked, with short coats; the others, straighter on their legs, and with long jackets. Possibly the first-named were the ordinary turn-spits, or, may be, some bold breeder of the Dandie Dinmont will lay claim to them as the original progenitors of that variety of vermin terrier. Anyhow, whatever these . crooked-legged dogs were, the long-coated ones

“with shaggy hair like water spaniels” were said to be the better workers, because they could both chase their game above ground and drive it from the earths, as occasion required. Other authors have followed much in the same strain ; indeed, the general description of the terrier about this time appears to have been copied by one writer after another without acknowledgment, and without taking any trouble to ascertain the truth of the original statement. Nicholas Cox, especially, seems to have been a great offender in this respect—not only where he deals with dogs, but where he treats of the fishes likewise.

The writer who suggested that terriers could be bred from a cross between a "mongrel mastiff and

a beagle was Blome, who, following the example of Cox, some years after the latter's publicationviz., in 1686—rendered himself famous by the appearance of his “The Gentleman's Recreation." Whether a man who would suggest the production of suitable terriers by the above cross was the proper person to deal with sports and dogs from a practical point of view is surely to be doubted. He bore but a sorry character in his lifetime, for it was said he "was esteemed as a most impudent person;

he gets a livelihood by bold practices

originally a ruler of books and paper, who had since practised for divers years progging tricks, in employing necessitous persons to write in several arts."

Blome's description may, however, be interesting to the curious, so here it is.

" The terrier is a very small dog, used for hunting the fox and the badger, his business being to go into the earths and bay them--that is to keep them in an angle (a fox's earth having divers) whilst they are dug out, for by their baying or barking is known whereabouts the fox is, that he may be the better dug out. And for this use the terrier is very serviceable, being of an admirable scent to find out. A couple of terriers are commonly used, in order that a fresh one may be put in to relieve that which first went under ground."

ܙܙ

There is nothing wrong in the above, nor is there in the following extract from the same author :

Everybody that is a fox hunter is of opinion that he hath a good breed, and some will say that the terrier is a peculiar species of itself. I shall not say anything to the affirmative or negative of the point.” Blome concludes by writing that the cross already mentioned “generally proves good; the result thereof hath courage and a thick skin as participating of the cur, and is mouthed for the beagle."

Whatever was the case during the seventeenth century, there is no doubt that now the "terrier is a peculiar species of itself,” careful and judicious selection during a series of generations having made it as much so as any other quadruped we possess.

In the “ Compleate Sportsman” (1718), Jacobs mentions two sorts of terriers, which he describes pretty much as Nicholas Cox had done before him, so a repetition thereof need not be made here. In fact, with the country over-run, as it was in those days, with four-footed vermin, which destroyed the poultry and played sad havoc with the flocks, dogs of one kind or another to keep down the marauders were simply a necessity; and a terrier small enough to drag the fox from his earth or

kill him therein was found the most useful for the purpose. So long as he could do this, appearance and colour were little taken into consideration.

About 1760, Daniel, in his “ Field Sports,” goes a little out of the beaten track in writing on the terriers of his day, and his description must be taken as a correct one, made from the animals themselves, of which it has been said that he kept a considerable number. “ There are two sorts of terriers," said he, "the one rough, short-legged, long-backed, very strong, and most commonly of a black or yellowish colour, mixed with white; the other is smooth-haired and beautifully formed, having a shorter body and more sprightly appearance, is generally of a reddish brown colour, or black with tanned legs. Both these sorts are the determined foe of all the vermin kind, and in their encounters with the badger very frequently meet with severe treatment, which they sustain with great courage, and a thorough-bred, well-trained terrier often proves more than a match for his opponent.”

Perhaps, as a matter of completeness, before dealing, as it were, collectively with the authorities, and the various sporting publications which saw the light during the first fifteen years of the past century, attention may specially be given the

Cynographia Britannica," written by

to

« ForrigeFortsett »