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proper person to have the charge of hounds, and, in bringing them along the road, they became terribly riotous, going for pigs, sheep, horses, cattle, birds, deer, and almost everything that moved in front of them. However, in due course the pack arrived at its destination with the loss of only one hound; and, on being asked what he thought of them, the coachman replied that they were the "best hounds he ever saw, for they would hunt everything." At the close of last century Colonel Hardy had a pack of beagles which were taken to the meet and to the kennels again, when possible, in a couple of hampers strapped across the back of a pony. It is said that these hounds, kennelled in a barn prior to hunting next day, were stolen therefrom; hampers, horse, and all disappearing, nor was their whereabouts ever discovered.
"Stonehenge," in "Dogs of the British Isles," gives an interesting account of the late Mr. Crane's rabbit beagles, a Dorsetshire pack, which all round has certainly never been excelled for excellence in the field, and beauty on the show bench. "Idstone," the writer of that article, says :—
"He has seen them on a cold, bad scenting day work up a rabbit and run him in the most extraordinary manner, and although the nature of the ground compelled the pack to run almost in Indian file, and thus to carry a very narrow line of scent, if they threw it up it was but for a moment. Mr. Crane's standard is ojn., and every little hound is absolutely perfect. I saw but one hound at all differing from his companions, a little black-tanned one. This one on the flags we should have drafted, but when we saw him in his work we quite forgave him for being of a conspicuous colour. Giant was perhaps the very best of the pack, a black-white and-tanned dog hound, always at work, and never wrong. He had a capital tongue, and plenty of it. A bitch, Lily, had the most beautiful points. She is nearly all white, as her name implies. Damper, Dutchman, Tyrant, are also all of them beautiful models. The measurement of Damper was: Height, gin.; round the chest, 16in.; across the ears, 12in.; extreme length, 2ft. 4m.; eye to nose, 2-g-in. Mr. Crane's standard is kept up with great difficulty. He has reduced the beagle to a minimum. Many of the mothers do not rear their offspring, and distemper carries them off in troops. Single specimens may occasionally be found excessively dwarfed and proportionately deformed. These hounds would perhaps be wanting in nose or intelligence if they could be produced in sufficient force to form a pack; but Mr. Crane's are all models of symmetry and power, and are as accomplished and as steady as Lord Portsmouth's hounds. The Southover beagles are as small as it is possible to breed them (in sufficient numbers to form a pack) without losing symmetry, nose, intelligence, and strength."
The above was written more than forty years ago, and Mr. Crane died in 1894. He kept his favourite little hounds right up to the time he died, and, so far as can be made out, was one of the very few men of late years who had anything like a substantial pack of hounds which did not go over, say, 10 inches in height. He had produced his in conjunction with Mr R. Snow, Chudleigh, and in the end both owners must have bred a little too much in and in. During a correspondence with Mr. Crane, some two years or so before his decease, he told me he had latterly lost a great many hounds from distemper and other causes, and towards the end his inimitable and diminutive pack had dwindled away, until not more than three or four couples were left, and those of no great merit. Seven couples of old and young hounds died almost at the same time, so it can easily be seen their replacement was impossible.
Had Mr. Crane lived a few years longer, perhaps he would have been able to obtain some new blood, for just now our little rabbit beagle, pocket beagle, dwarf beagle, or whatever you like to call him—and name him anything but a toy—has quite an increasing number of admirers. At the most recent show of the Kennel Club, held in October, 1896, there was the best entry of beagles brought together of late, still, at some of the Sussex shows held a few years back we have seen capital gatherings. Now the extra collection had been attracted at the instance of the Beagle Club, who guaranteed a certain proportion of the prizes. The tiny hounds, such as were classed under 10 inches, shown by Mrs. Chesshyre, of Walford, and by Mr. W. R. Crofton, of Totton, Hampshire, were extremely dainty creatures, well made, full of muscle as a rule, and hardy enough to kill a rabbit or to beat the coverts, for which most of them are used. Such have neither pace nor strength to run down a hare, but are merry hunters; and so long as by inter-breeding they are not allowed to degenerate into toys, with crooked legs, huge round heads, weak faces, and spindle shanks, our really old-fashioned and charming little "royal beagle" may continue to have an increased number of admirers.
At one of the Kennel Club shows, held over twenty years ago at Alexandra Park, Muswell Hill, Mr. G. H. Nutt showed a lovely pack, and treated his many friends with a taste of their quality. The late Mr. E. Sandall ran a trail, and after due law the little hounds were uncoupled. They soon made out the line, and merrily throwing their voices, gave us a pretty bit of hound-work through the shrubberies. Up to within two or three years ago Mr. Nutt kept beagles near Pulborough, both wire haired and smooth, but these were larger than those he had at the London show named. He was master of as neat a little pack as man need desire, which he mostly used to beat the coverts for rabbits and pheasants, instead of employing human labour, which I always considered a little more dangerous for the dog than it would have been for the man.
Greater attention appears to have been given to the beagle in the South of England than elsewhere, and the county of Sussex has usually been noted for them. Indeed, the handsome blue-mottled specimens were at one time known as Sussex beagles; and I fancy that from this county first sprang the variety with a wire-haired coat, not unlike a miniature otter hound or Welsh hound in appearance. Mr. H. P. Cambridge, of Bloxworth, is alluded to by "Stonehenge" as having a pack of 13-inch beagles in which there were some rough hounds. One of the best of these, black, tan, and white in colour, originally came from near Cranbourne. About thirty years ago I saw a peculiar little beagle, some