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records as having been practically greyhound fanciers. The dog was a favourite form of tribute, and often selected for inclusion in State gifts of honour, in the same way that horses were. As was natural, the peers followed the fashion of princes, and these dogs came to be accounted the privileged luxuries of the highest, and forbidden to the vulgar. It remained a very select dog until quite a recent period. A hawk on fist and a greyhound gamboling ahead were outward and visible signs of rank, reputation, respectability, and riches. There was a heavy tax levied on the dogs, and so recently as fifty years ago a license to keep one cost three times as much as it does to-day. Their mere possession conferred something of the distinction that a motor car does in this year of grace : it implied that the owner was of the select, and probably a landed proprietor. Even so late as the reign of William IV. no one with an income of less than £100 a year in landed property was allowed to course the hare.
A curious side-light on the breed is contained in a Government proclamation published at Sidney, New South Wales, exactly a hundred years ago, ordering the destruction of all dogs "except greyhounds and sheep-dogs," thus showing that they were amongst the first dogs to be exported to the Antipodes in the days when the white population of Australia numbered about as many thousands as you have fingers on one hand. “Down-under” is a grand place for coursing nowadays, and the kangaroo-hound is beholden to the greyhound for its ancestry.
There are many varieties of the greyhound familythe English, Irish, Scotch, Russian, Turkish or Grecian, Italian, Persian, Afghan, Rampur, and Indian, not to mention others that are closely kin if they are not of the same kind. They vary according to their habitat
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and the uses to which they are put, or have been diverted to, from the Irish greyhound or wolf-dog, gigantic and big of bone, to the shaggy, tufted-tailed Russian, the delicate, satin-skinned Italian, the Turkish, Persian, and Afghan, with their long fringed ears, the sleek Rampur variety, and the hairless one of Southern India. I can imagine nothing more interesting in its way than a show of greyhounds from all corners of the earth, including the allied breeds : the “gazehounds” or dogs that chase by sight, and catch with speed, and not with wearing down the quarry. But that is quite outside the scope of this article, which has only to do with our English greyhounds, which are perhaps the most familiar dog to the eye, and the most easily recognised by that large class of our fellow-subjects who do not know a St. Bernard from a mastiff, or even a beagle from an eagle!
Whilst the greyhound is very properly only recognised in connection with coursing, the fact remains that there is a show-bench greyhound, which is considered somewhat of an exotic by coursing-folk,-a Prince Florizel of greyhounds, so to speak,—who is valued more for his exquisite technical points and proportions than for his capabilities in the coursing field. And in a book like this, which treats more of the physical perfection of the dog than of its duties, it is of the show-bench variety that I must make particular mention, after dealing briefly with the coursing hound.
Coursing has always been a favourite pursuit, from the days of Queen Elizabeth more particularly, in whose reign the then Duke of Norfolk drew up a set of rules and regulations on which our modern ones are based. But it was not until 1776 that the sport was brought to an exact science, when Lord Orford estab
lished the first coursing club at Swaffham, in Norfolk. He was a greyhound enthusiast, and in his endeavours to improve the breed tried every cross from a lurcher to an Italian greyhound, and finally a bulldog, from the progeny of which, after seven removes, he was able to get “the small ear, the rat tail, the fine, thin, silky coat,
together with that innate courage which the high-bred greyhound should possess, preferring death to relinquishing the chase.” When we look at our modern bulldog, and estimate his fleetness, it is difficult to realise that his blood runs in the veins of our Waterloo Cup winners ! Lord Orford kept a kennel of fifty brace of greyhounds, and it was a strict rule of his never to draft a whelp until he had given it a fair trial, and convinced himself he was not parting with a “dark dog." He met his death—if I say “ appropriately enough,” it is in a classic spirit—from a fall from his piebald pony, which he had insisted on mounting, although extremely ill, in order to witness what proved to be the victory of his famous bitch Czarina in a coursing match. No sooner was it decided than he fell from his saddle and expired. An old book says, “ His lordship's memory is introduced as a toast at most coursing meetings as father and patron of the sport."
The aforesaid Czarina—a very famous hound in her day — was sold for 50 guineas after Lord Orford's death to the sporting Colonel Thornton, who was a great friend of the Prince Regent, and used to hunt his beagles over the Brighton downs, which no doubt provided many a good course, after a hare. The bitch's name is almost the first one recorded in the long roll of fliers in the field, which may be said to begin with herself and her son Snowball (a black dog, I am assured), and work up to such household names in these modern days as Master M'Grath, Fullerton, and Fearless Footsteps, which won the Waterloo Cup, the first three and the second four times. Fullerton was bought as a puppy for nearly £900, and won more than twice that amount in stakes for his master.
The National Coursing Club governs the coursing world. The 167 coursing meetings, many of which extend to two and three days, which took place last year in the United Kingdom, and gave sport on 255 days (Mr. J. W. Bourne informs me), were conducted under its rules and sanction. They find their apex at the annual meeting at Altcar, where the Waterloo Cup forms the blue ribbon of the leash, with the lesser distinctions of the Purse and Plate. The cup is com
peted for by sixty-four subscribers at £25 each, matched against each other in pairs until the winner works out his salvation in his sixth or final course. The courses are decided by the following points :
1. Speed-one, two, or three points, according to the superiority shown by one competitor over the other.
2. The Go-by, where one greyhound starts a clear length behind his opponent, and yet passes him, and gets a clear length ahead of him. If in a straight run this counts two points ; if on the outer circle, three points.
3. The Turn is where the hare is brought round at not less than a right angle from her previous linevalued at one point.
4. The Wrench is where the hare is bent from her line at less than a right angle, and counts half a point.
5. The Kill, which counts two points, is estimated by whether the greyhound killing does so by its own superior dash and skill, or whether he picks the hare up through any little accidental circumstance, or she is turned into his mouth, as it were, by the opposing greyhound. It may actually occur that no points are awarded for a kill.
6. The Trip is an unsuccessful effort to kill, in which the hare is thrown off her legs, or where a greyhound catches her, but cannot hold his hare. It counts one point.
These are the broad rules of scoring, but there are innumerable provisos, and the award is in the sole discretion of the judge, who decides all courses upon one uniform principle—that the greyhound which does the most towards killing the hare, during the continuance of the course, is to be declared the winner. The actual kill is quite a minor consideration in a well-contested course between two clever greyhounds. And this is the unique charm of coursing.