« ForrigeFortsett »
Crook-knee'd, and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls ;
It would be interesting to know from what strain of hounds the bard took his model for a description which, save in the crook knees, might avail for our modern bloodhounds.
The endurance of the ancient staghound is crystallised in many stirring legends. One feat is related, where two hounds made a famous chase from Wingfield Park in Northumberland to Annan in Scotland and back—a distance of more than a hundred miles.
For some cause or other the whole pack was at fault soon after the stag started, and the chase was taken up and continued by only a couple of hounds. After being seen at Red Kirks, near Annan in Scotland, the stag doubled and returned to Wingfield Park, closely pursued by the hounds. Almost exhausted, the poor animal made a last expiring effort, leapt the wall of the park, and immediately expired. One of the hounds pursued it to the wall, but being unable to get over, laid down and died; the other was found dead with fatigue at a short distance. The distance run has been variously computed, but by the circuitous route taken, it could not have been less than a hundred miles. The horns of the stag, the largest ever seen in that part of the country, were placed against a tree in the park, and the tree was afterwards known as the Hart's-horn tree.
In comparatively speaking modern times the staghound has emulated these feats. In 1822 a stag turned out before the Earl of Derby's pack at Hayes Common, covered fifty miles in four hours before it was finally set up at Speldhurst in Kent. Tradition adds that twenty horses died in the field-an equine holocaust which is a little beyond the legitimate bounds credibility places on sporting achievements.
However, these reminiscences can only shed a vicarious glamour on the modern staghound, between
whom and the staghound of the past there remains nothing in common. The disbandonment of the Royal buckhounds, on the accession of his present Majesty, broke a connecting link between the sport of to-day and the sport of long ago. Perhaps better so, for the sport of long ago was the chase of the wild deer, and that of to-day, with few exceptions, is that of the carted stag—not a very ennobling pursuit, and one which the force of public opinion was able to terminate in the case of the Royal pack. Albeit those who have studied the subject are wont to declare there is no cruelty in the pastime, except in fertile imaginations.
The following extract about stag - hunting from “Nimrod's” book is so informatory that I give it in its entirety :
A kind of technological dictionary is required to almost all sports of flood and field. Thus, in deer-hunting, what we foxhunters call the “ball” or “pad” of a fox on foot, they term the “slot.” We “drag up” to a fox, they “draw on the slot,” or "walk up a deer.” We “find” or “unkennel ” a fox, they “rouse” or “unharbour” a deer. “A fox runs up and down a cover,” a deer “beats” up or down. With us a fox is “headed” (turned or driven from his point), with them a deer is “blanched." We say a fox “stops or hangs” in cover in a run, they say their game “ sinks." We “recover” our fox, they “fresh find” their deer. We “run into” (kill) our fox, they “set up” the deer. The fox goes “a-clicketing,” the deer goes “to rut.” The fox is “worried," the deer is “broken up." The fox “barks," the deer
bellows." The "billiting” (excrement) of the one is termed the “ feument” or “ feumishing” of the other. The « brush" of the fox is the “single” of the deer. The "mask" of the fox is the “snout or nose” of the deer. The view, the tally.ho, the foil, and the who-whoop are common, I believe, to all ; but “currant jelly” and “sweet sauce" are not in the fox-hunter's vocabulary.
There are at the present day eighteen packs of staghounds in England and three in Ireland. Perhaps the most famous are the Devon and Somerset (50 couples), which hunt the wild deer, and Lord de
Rothschild's (30 couples), and the Ward Union (30 couples), the latter in Ireland, which hunt the carted stag. The New Forest deerhounds claim a long ancestry, and are a strikingly handsome strain. The season for stag-hunting begins on the 12th of August for stags, and at the end of October it is permissible to hunt hinds, and the season ends in April.
The points of the modern staghound are the same as those of the foxhound; the tallest pack in the kingdom is the Devon and Somerset, which ranges from 25 to 26 inches. This pack has killed as many as a hundred stags and hinds in a season, and is probably the only one left to provide the sport in the form our forefathers enjoyed it, which was second to none of all the forms of chase across country.
THE IRISH WOLF-HOUND
The Irish wolf-hound (anciently called the wolf-dog, Irish grehound, or Irish greyhound) enjoys the distinction of being the largest hunting dog in the United Kingdom, and suffers the inconvenience of having nothing to hunt. Its ancestry has been the cause of considerable argument and dispute of recent years, but that it is a "resuscitated” breed admits of no doubt. The honour of its restoration to a place of dignity in the roll of British dogs is due to a few enthusiasts, who set themselves to work to “recover" the practically extinct breed—notably Captain Graham of Dursley. It was in 1863 that he first turned his attention to the matter, instituted inquiries, made researches, and satisfied himself that three distinct strains of the ancient hound, though much deteriorated, still existed—namely, those of Sir J. Power of Kilfane, Mr. Baker of Ballytobin, and Mr. Mahoney of Dromore. From bitches obtained from two of these kennels, from a cross between the deerhound and the Great Dane, from a dash of borzoi blood (the noted Karotai), and from an out-cross with a huge shaggy dog, stated to be a Thibetan mastiff (though I doubt the description being correct, having seen a photograph of the dog in question), the modern breed has been literally built up.