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COMMENCEMENT OF THE HUNTING SEASON.

BY RABY.

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Scent-The Herefordshire Hounds - The Vale of White Horse - The Craven-Death

of Sir John Cope-The Old Berkshire Hounds-Close of the Year, &c. We have now arrived at the end of the second month of the hunting season, and I am sorry I cannot congratulate the followers of the chase upon the goodness of the season up to this time, or on the amount of sport shown. It certainly has been an open season, but then the want of rain has been severely felt, and the scent has been execrable ; indeed, I know not of any one pack that has shown a succession of sport : all complain on the same head-want of scent. In Dorsetshire, Mr. Farquharson's huntsman, Treadwell, declares he never remembers so bad a year of scent; and the same report I have heard from other packs. In Herefordshire, the order of the day has been—a bad scent out of covert, and none in since the leaves began to fall; the oak leaves form a perfect carpet, and the wind keeps them dry and moving ; added to this the banks of the hedges break away under your horse from the dryness, and the paths are so hard under, that a horse slides about as in a frost. Yet under all these disadvantages, I am happy to say that fox-hunting is flourishing in this county under the fostering hand of that scientific and energetic sportsman, Lord Gifford, and the thanks of the county at large are due to him for the great trouble and anxiety he undergoes to promote the noble science in this certainly second-rate country. There certainly is a very great improvement in this country of late; one instance I may name: that of foxes being preserved at Whitfield, which is of very great consequence to Lord Gifford's hunt; added to this, the owner of these coverts, Mr. Clive, has again taken to hunting, and when the hounds last met at Whitfield they found plenty of foxes, and the owner seemed as well pleased at it as his lordship. I am delighted to have it in my power to add that Mr. Thomas--for many years master of the Herefordshire hounds—is enabled to get out again, which after the severe accident he met with last season his friends never expected, his only way of getting about till after cub-hunting this season being in his gig ; now he has two clever low cobs, on which he is able to get out with the hounds. Lord Gifford commenced the season well; in nine days' cub-hunting he killed three brace and a-half of foxes, and ran one brace to ground. There is a good supply of foxes in most parts of the Herefordshire country, though I heard of one blank day lately from Berrington, which ought not to occur where so many coverts abound, and where there is every facility for preserving the wily animal. I remember, some years back, these coverts were drawn blank, when the keeper asked the huntsman to take the hounds to a small island in the centre of a large sheet of water near the mansion. By means of a boat the huntsman and hounds reached the desired spot, when up jumped a brace of foxes, and as readily took to the water as though they had been otters, followed by the whole pack. Whether they ever again resorted to this spot I know not ; but, presuming that they came ashore to procure a tender rabbit, they must have had a cold bath twice every night, which probably contributed to their stoutness ; it being well known that the cold bath accelerates the motion of the blood, and gives vigour to the constitution.

Lord Gifford opened the ball with a fine day's sport. A very large field met the hounds at the Callow, drew the Nockrell and Heywood blank, then trotted on to the Belmont coverts, and found a fox in the fish-pool coppice; the hounds rattled him through that and over the Abergavenny-road, going close at his brush over the grass land straight to Hereford, close to which they ran him, and back again to Belmont in double-quick pace, through the park, and on for Prior's Rough, through that, and to ground in Wye Banks ; time twenty-seven minutes

- very fast. Drew on to the Mill Wood, found a fox directly, and away he went to Eaton Bishop, crossing the road at the Bowling.green, and away as if for Whitfield ; but, turning now to his right, he went through Allensmore over the large enclosures, and, just skirting Cordmore Gorse, away to the Nockrell, and over the Dewsall Bottoms; he then crossed the Hereford and Ross Road, and away over the country to the far end of Netherwood, and over the hill to Holm Lacy, through the grass drive, and into Bolston's Wood, where the hounds knocked liim about merrily, and drove him over the Deer Park through Widow's Wood, and along the bottoms as if for Dinedor ; but, turning here, he made for Williams's Wood and the Hopleys, where Lord Gifford stopped the hounds (as the horses were all beaten), alas ! in the same field with their fox—which, however, he did not know till afterwards-who had laid down in a gorse ditch, all but dead. The scent was flashy throughout, and towards the latter part of the run very bad indeed. The pace from Eaton Bishop up to the Nockrell very good. The falls over Allensmore were numerous, and several remained in the boggy brook for some time. Mr. Clive rode well, and got two falls. Mr. Vevers, on" Venice," went beautifully ; also Mr. Giles, on “ Willersley,” which horse he has

” sold well, on account of this good run, to Mr. Bailey.

The Vale of White Horse hounds did not begin their cub-hunting so early as most packs, probably owing to the absence of Mr. Villebois, in Scotland. The late huntsman to these hounds, Dinniconıb, having gono to the Puckeridge at the end of last season, his place has been supplied by Boothroyd, from the Donnington country, who has lately shown two excellent runs, one from Flaxland Wood to Tockenham, over the brook there, and on towards Bittlesea, and back again to Grittenhan, where the fox was lost. Time, thirty-five minutes-very fast.

December 11th.—These hounds met at Ampney Park, where a large field assembled to meet them, including many of the fair sex. A fox was found, and quickly killed. The hounds then went for Ready Token, near which place, in a turnip field, they got on the line of a fox, and went away for Barnsley ; then turned to Arlington, through Bibury Grove, over the Coln road, and away over the stone wall country towards Northleach, near which place the hounds ran into their fox, after a fast hunting run of one hour and five minutes. A serious accident happened to Mr. Lovell, of Wroughton House, whilst hunting with these hounds on Thursday, the 18th. He was so severely kicked in the leg by a horse, that the bone is broken, I believe, in two places. It really is quite lamentable to think that persons are to be put to so much pain,

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and laid up for many weeks, owing to the carelessness (to say the least of it) of men who come out to meet hounds with kicking horses. If they persist in riding such dangerous animals, why not have some mark appended to the button of the coat—as a piece of white ribbon, or a label pinned to the back of the coat, He, or she, kicks,” after the example of that good sportsman, Mr. Coke, in the Quorn country, when mounted on his famous horse “ Advance,” which was dangerous in a crowd ; and hence the necessity of a label, “ He kicks.” If others who come out on kicking horses would “ go and do likewise,” we should not hear of so many sad accidents. It was only last month that a valuable hunter, a fine chesnut mare, was out with the Essex hounds, and being kicked by another vicious horse just above the knee, the leg was so dreadfully smashed that the poor animal was obliged to be killed on the spot. I know of no greater nuisance than horse-jockeys riding young horses with hounds ; they are for ever on the move-riding here, and riding there, regardless of every one and every thing, except their own consequence : hence a horse gets kicked, or å favourite hound (of far more value than the animal that does the nuischief) gets killed. I really think masters of hounds are only doing their duty, when they insist on the riders of these young horses, and also the riders of known vicious horses, keeping wide of the hounds, and also of the field.

The Craven hounds had excellent sport during the cub-hunting, killing ten brace of cubs, besides running others to ground ; since that timo the scent has failed, and the sport has been of a second-rate character, nor will it be mended till there has been a good soak of rain. Clarke, late first whipper-in, is the newly appointed huntsman in Ben Foote's place, who hunted this pack for so many seasons. Clarke, by his quiet, obliging manner, and great civility, has gained many friends, and will

, no doubt, show sport when the cheerless and cold country he hunts will allow his hounds a chance of getting near their fox in a run. At all times the Craven country has been considered one of the worst scenting countries in England, and it certainly has this season quite kept up its character ; however, I hope, as the season advances, that much sport is in store for this very excellent pack of hounds, and that it may be of such a character as to obtain a place in the pages of this magazine. I am sorry to add that Mr. Montague, so often out with these hounds, and late master of the South Berks hounds, met with so severe a fall last month with Mr. Wheble's hounds, as to render confinement to the house absolutely necessary ; but I hope, from what I hear, that this excellent and cheery sportsman will soon be up and at it again.

The death of Sir John Cope, at the advanced age of eighty-four, has cast a gloom over the neighbourhood of Bramshill. He was one of the staunchest supporters of the chase, one of the best of the old English gentlemen, and of the representatives of the liberal owners of the baronial halls of this country. All who were in the position of friend, guest, acquaintance, or domestic, will bear testimony to his free and hospitable disposition, his hearty welcome, and his attentive care. Sir John kept a pack of foxhounds for a great number of years, and only gave them up the season before last, when he was succeeded by Mr. Wheble. Bramshill House, the seat of the late baronet, is said to have been the commencement of a royal palace in the reign of James I., the original plan never being completed. The most interesting portion of its contents is the tapestry, representing the story of Decius.

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That well-appointed and excellent pack of hounds, “ The Old Berkshire," have this season attacked friend Reynard and his family, vi et armis, having up to Christmas killed twenty-six brace of foxes. The first public meet of the season was Tubney Kennels, where a good field was in attendance to do justice to the good cheer provided by Mr. Morrell, the master of the hounds, and also to look over the pack, and to partake of the sport of the day. On this occasion every one found something to cheer the inner man: ample provision was made for high and low, rich and poor. The doors of Tubney Lodge were thrown open, and a goodly array of sportsmen soon sat down to the well-spread tables. At the top of the middle table sat “ the master,” supported on one side by Lord Valentia, and on the other by Henry Elwes, Esq. Every one having feasted to their hearts' content, the hounds made their appearance, with Jones and the whippers-in. This was a signal for moving, and a fox was quickly found at Mr. Elwes's covert, Brick-kiln Coppice. He went away by Marcham Park to Frilford Heath, by Oakleigh to Tubney Wood, then back again to Marcham, and was killed near the village.

Oct. 31st. — These hounds met at the Rose and Crown, Pusey. The gorse was drawn blank. A fox was found at Buckland Ash-bed ; he went away at once straight for Hatford, then across the main road to Stanford in the Vale, to a drain, from which he was quickly poked out by the master ; then away to Park Island, going over Rosy Brook and the Ock Brook, and over the fine grass country to Goosey, and across the road by Farringdon station, over the railway and straight away for Kingston spinnies, where the first check occurred, and which

soon made right; then away across the canal, with his head straight for Uffington Wood, but turning for Kingstone Lisle, and over the Wantage road, he made for the Ridge-way, on the Wiltshire downs, where he was headed by a shepherd boy, and was finally pulled down at the Blowing Stone, after a splendid run over the finest part of the Berkshire Vale. First burst to the drain at Stanford, fifteen minutes ; from the bolting to the death, thirty-five minutes.

These hounds had another good day's sport on the 17th of December. The meet was Tubney Kennels. A very large field assembled on this day, to meet Mr. Morrell, as it was generally known that his latelymarried elegant and accomplished bride would appear at the fixture, and see the hounds throw off

. Nor was the field disappointed. At eleven o'clock Mr. and Mrs. Morrell rode up, the latter riding a splendid thorough-bred mare. They were warmly greeted, and joy and pleasure seemed depicted on every countenance. After some little time the hounds were thrown into Tubney Wood, and found a fox, which made several attempts to break away, but was headed in all directions by the horse and foot people, so he was given up, and after a few small coverts were drawn, and luncheon partaken of at Marcham Park and Tubney, the hounds were thrown into Appleton Common, and found their fox exactly at three o'clock. He went away, without dwelling a moment, for Moor Common, and on for Longworth Lodge, leaving Kingston to the left and Longworth village to the right, and away then for Hinton. The honnds had been running hard up to this point for thirty minutes, when the first check occurred, near Hinton Lodge. At this moment an unfortunate halloo was given by a gentleman's servant, and the hounds were brought to it; but he had been deceived as to the animal-it being

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a cur dog, and not a fox. Owing to this the fox escaped ; and it is to be hoped he still lives to show as good a run on some future occasion.

19th-Coxwell Wood. A good day in the woodlands. After running for some time in Buscot and Coleshill the hounds divided, one part of the pack going away with Jones, and the other with Mr. Elwes : each lot ran to opposite sides of Buscot, and each lot killed their fox.

An excellent picture of the Old Berkshire Hounds has lately been painted by Mr. Goode, of Oxford, with Jones the huntsman, and Boorer and Stacey, the whips. This picture is to be engraved as soon as a sufficient number of subscribers have added their names to the list, which is now lying at Messrs. Wyatt and Son's in the High Strect, Oxford. The picture has been painted for Mr. Morrell.

I know not when I have seen a pack of hounds that come up to the Old Berkshire in appearance, both in the kennel and in the field ; and the condition in which they appear at the covert side is a striking proof of Jones's excellent kennel management. The entry for this season is as fine a one as can be met with ; and as the young hounds have all entered kindly to their work, I subjoin a list of them :

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Bachelor Bobadil Bosphorus Dangerous Daunter Denmark. Diligent Fatima.. Fatal Forester Frantic Freeman Furbelow.. Festive.. Flourisher Labourer.. Lictor Lucifer Potentate. Relish ... Rifleman. Rival Rocket.. Ruthful Rutland Sailor Sophy.. Sentiment Saffron Splendour Streamer.. Trinket Trumpeter Warfare Whirlwind

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