Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Jamaica for the purpose of subduing a rising of the Maroons. Fortunately this canine importation struck such terror in the hearts of the rebels that they at once laid down their arms and the war came to an end.

However, long before Sedgemoor and the time of the border forays the bloodhound was used in this country. Gratius Faliscus, and Strabo, about the Christian era, mentioned the importation of dogs of this kind from Britain to Gaul, and Oppian immortalises in verse the Agassaeos for their exquisite power of scent and great courage. These big dogs were obtained from Britain for the ignoble purposes of war. Afterwards they came to be used for hunting the stag and other large game, and from them are no doubt descended many of the fine hounds still to be found in the possession of our Gallic cousins.

Dame Juliana Berners, writing in her "Book of St. Albans," published in i486, does not appear to mention the bloodhound, or sleuth hound, but the Lemor or Lymer was probably the same dog, and so called because it ran the line of scent, and not, as it has been asserted, because it was the custom to run it in a leash. Dr. Keyes (1570), mentions bloodhounds as having lips of large size, and ears of no small length. The learned doctor tells us how these

[ocr errors]

hounds ought to be chained up in the daytime in dark places, so that they become bolder and more courageous in following the felon in the "solitary hours of darkness." He likewise describes them as being run in a leash which is held in the hand of the man in charge of the dogs. This was to enable the huntsman, shall I call him, to be up with the hounds when his services would be required. It seems from the same writer, that, in addition to hunting the footsteps of the felon, these dogs were also trained to hunt the cattle that might have been stolen, a purpose for which he says they were much used on the borders. This may have been so or not, most likely the latter, for a drove of stolen cattle would be easy enough to track without the aid of a keen scenting "slough dog," though he might be able to be of assistance in terrorising the thief if he were ambitious to try the strength and powers of his would-be captor.

From that period down to the present time, the bloodhound was mostly kept as a companion, and only occasionally has he been trained to "manhunting," to the terror of the poacher and the evildoer. For the latter purpose, he has proved of f great service, and many stories are told of the extraordinary power a skilful hound may possess, through its faculty in sticking to the original scent, however it may have been crossed and re-crossed by either man or beast. Colonel Huldman mentions the capture of some poachers through the instrumentality of bloodhounds, who hunted the men for fully five miles from the plantation, in which they were committing their depredations. Another case is mentioned, where a sheep-stealer was discovered by similar means, though the hound was not laid on the man's track until his scent was at least six hours old. Another hound is said to have hunted for twenty miles a fellow who was suspected of having cut off the ears of one of his former master's horses, and the scoundrel was captured and treated according to his deserts.

The Field had the following not long ago: "In 1854 Tom Finkle, an old superintendent of police, was stationed at Bedale, in Yorkshire, before the rural force was established. He was the owner of a bloodhound named Voltigeur. Old Tom was fond of company, and at that time sat for manv a night in the public-houses along with the farmers and tradesmen. When he was wanted for anvthing particular at the police station, Mrs. Finkle would let Voltigeur loose with, " Go and fetch master," and, no matter where " master" was, either in Bedale or the neighbourhood, the hound was sure to find him; and the moment Finkle saw Voltigeur, the old superintendent knew he was required at the station.

"In the winter of 1854, or early in 1855, certain burglars broke into a house at Askern, and stole a quantity of silver plate and linen. The burglars, heard by the inmates of the house, had to decamp rather hurriedly, and a messenger was immediately sent to the police station to report the outrage. Old Tom was, as usual, with his companions at the Royal Oak, whilst his wife was in bed. The latter immediately got up and turned Voltigeur loose, with the order, "Go and fetch master." The hound was not long in doing his duty, and Tom, jumping off his seat, said to his friends, "I am wanted at home," and hurried there as quickly as possible. His wife reported the circumstances of the robbery to her husband, who at once called his constable and saddled his horse.

"The two then started off to the scene of the robbery, and after visiting the house and learning all particulars, they went outside. When in the grounds, Finkle said to Voltigeur, "Where are they? Seek 'em," and Voltigeur, putting his nose to the ground, took up the scent and went away at a nice pace, every now and then giving tongue. The night being calm, Voltigeur's voice was heard by many. The hound made out the line of the robbers on to the High-street leading from Boroughbridge to Catterick, and after going about three miles on the High-street he stopped suddenly at a small watercourse that ran under the road. The superintendent dismounted and looked under the bridge, where he found a bundle containing a quantity of linen and silver plate, part of the proceeds of the robbery. He waited there for a time until his man came up, then, remounting, ordered his hound on again. Voltigeur put his nose to the ground, and went back along the same road he had come for about a mile. Then through a gate he made his way to an outbarn and buildings.

"Here the bloodhound became more excited, and was baying and giving tongue freely as his owner and his man got up. The superintendent went to one door, and the constable to the other. The former demanded admittance, but all was still as death, and the doors fast. Tom looked about the buildings and found a crowbar, and was then soon into the barn, where he discovered two men concealed in the straw. They appealed for mercy, and prayed him to keep the dog off, and they would yield themselves up quietly. The prisoners were then secured and searched, and upon them was found the remainder of the stolen property. They were taken to Bedale, locked up for the night, nex t

« ForrigeFortsett »