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its mangled body, blended with the hoarse whistle of the blast sweeping over the face of the ocean.
The general rule we make is, never to fire till we can plainly distinguish the eye of the bird, when a charge of No. 3 thrown in well forward, will rarely fail.
Could we but follow the sea bird in its northward flight over the pathless ocean, among what grand scenery, into what solitary regions should we be carried. How many thousand miles are travelled over by these little wanderers in their annual migrations, and in how short a time are they borne from the icebergs of Davies' Straits or the dreary regions of the North Pole, to the shores of merry England.
As evening draws on we rather tire of the sport, which although sufficiently exciting to keep up the attention, becomes monotonous after having been followed for a whole day. The contents of our bag will be both numerous and varied, probably one or two of the black, or red throated divers, three or four score of guillemots and puffins, and a few scoters; but beyond these nothing rare. We steer to the shore, and taking a gun on our shoulder, proceed homeward by the coast. The tide is fast rolling in, and the hoarse murmur of the waves as they gradually gain on the beach breaks in upon the silence of the evening, with a monotonous sound. The sun is setting fast, and his fiery orb, as he sinks beneath the waves,
suffuses the whole surface of the sea with a deep crimson blush. The sand is alive with innumerable little insects, which hopping about in every direction, afford abundant food for the stints and other birds that are feeding on the beach. A flock of gulls is hovering and screaming over the carcass of some large fish that has been thrown up by the waves.
Little trips of ring-dotterel and plover dash by us, and as they wing their seaward flight, they sing their wild notes to the silent waste, while rising from a small heap of rocks,“ the curlew blends his melancholy wail with those hoarse sounds the rushing waters pour." The fleet of fishing boats that in the morning lay so idly in the little bay, are now fast scudding out to sea, each anxious to arrive first on the favourite fishing ground.
Long ere we reach home, night has spread her sable mantle over earth and sea, and the little village is buried in repose, -not a sound disturbing the silence of the bay, in which but one or two boats now ride at anchor, rising and falling with the waves. The clear moon is at the full, and save that a slight haze has risen in the offing, every object is visible as day. Though wearied with the day's sport, the lonely quiet of the evening is such, that we cannot turn in, but lighting a cigar, we draw our chair to the open window, and as the scenes of the day crowd upon our mind, we feel that to the real sportsman, whose pursuits are adapted to circumstances, no situation is a void, and no pursuit a blank. Oundle, February, 1842.
MASTERS OF HOUNDS.
EARL SPENCER-SIR CHARLES KNIGHTLEY-MR, MUSTERS-SIR BELLINGHAM GRAHAM
THE DUKE OF GRAFTON.
I was only twice in the field with the present Lord Spencer's hounds when he was Lord Althorpe, but that is sufficient to admit of my mention of him as a master. Nothing particular having occurred on the days in question, I have little to say beyond the fact of his lordship having succeeded Mr. Warde in the Pytchley country in 1808, and giving him a thousand guineas for his hounds. Lord Althorpe was not present when I saw his pack in the field, having dislocated his shoulder in a fall, and I am consequently prevented from alluding to him further in the character of a master of hounds, than by re-echoing the opinion of my brother sportsmen who hunted with him, that it was his anxious wish that .
every thing should be done well. I am sorry that I can say still less of another master of the Pytchley country, I mean Sir Charles Knightley, whom, although I have oftentimes seen him in the field, I never saw whilst he was a master of hounds. As a splendid horseman, he often comes across my mind; neither shall I ever forget the gallant manner in which he crossed his own strong country, nor the opinion he gave of it with relation to crossing it. “If all the bridle gates in it,” said the baronet, "were nailed up, Northamptonshire would be a good country to ride over.” And he meant even more than this. The large fences, without the advantage of the bridle-gates, would have kept the greater part of his field back, and his hounds would have had a better chance to kill their foxes. As for himself, he preferred going over a gate to opening it, when hounds were ruuning.
From the little I know of the present Lord Spencer, as a sportsman, I have reason to believe that, had he persevered in keeping hounds, he would not have made the eminent sportsman that his noble father was. His taste has led him another road,—first, into the thorny mazes of politics instead of into the gorse covers and woodlands of Northamptonshire; and next into the science of agriculture, and the mysterious but interesting history of the animal world, where his attempts to improve upon nature in one class of her productions, have proved eminently successful. His lordship is one of the best breeders of neat cattle, if not of sheep, that England can now boast of.
MR. MUSTERS. It has been said of Shakespere, that he is not to be tried by any code of critical laws, as much as to imply that such a genius as his could “ rise to faults critics dare not mend.” It is with fearful hand then that I venture to comment on the character of Mr. Musters as a master of hounds and a huntsman.
Mr. Musters is now a master of more than thirty-four years' standing, and was last season, as I can speak from experience, as keen as ever in every department of his office. It must not be forgotten that he was a pupil of Mr. Meynell, as well as of his own father, who kept fox-hounds before him, and was a sportsman of a high caste. And what a compliment did Mr. Meynell pay to his pupil in one of the last acts of his sporting career, by making him a present of ten couples of his best old hounds, with which he found good materials for his kennel. The preceptor must have perceived the seeds of excellence in his pupil, aud it is to be lamented that he did not live long enough to see the perfection in the fruit.
Speaking of Mr. Musters as an individual, no man was ever better qualified by nature for all the duties of a master of hounds. His personal appearance, and elegant manners, could not fail in procuring him respect from all who attended his hounds in the field, and sportsmen could not but be delighted with the practical science he displayed. No man ever yet born has been so universally allowed to attach hounds to himself, and obtain command over them in a short time, as the gentleman in question has been able to do; and the well known story of his pack breaking away at the sight of him, as he was crossing the country on his road to’a dinner party, is a striking instance of this extraordinary faculty on his part.
I did not know Mr. Musters as a master of hounds, until I saw him in Northamptonshire, where he was very badly supported by the squires of the country, in spite of which, he showed the best of sport. Then he was used still worse in his own country, where his hounds were poisoned by some dastardly scoundrels, which imposed upon him the necessity of having the survivors muzzled on their road to cover! a sight that I should not have believed, twenty years back, would ever have been presented to English eyes.
As a master, there are many of past and present days, who have done the whole thing, as the term is, in better style than he has done it, but none more effectually in a real sportsman's eyes. He was, as I have already said, cradled in a kennel, having actually performed the part of an amateur whipper-in to his father, who hunted parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire for at least fifteen years; and when he sold his pack to the late Sir Harry Harpur, the celebrated Shaw, who hunted them, was heard to say, that Mr. Musters-or rather Mr. John Musters as he was then called—was often of more use to him when a difficulty occurred, than both his whippers-in. In fact, he was as regularly educated for hunting hounds, as a churchman is for the church, and has given the lie to the generally correct assertion that no gen. tleman ever can make a truly good huntsman, which may be accounted by the following reasons. First, because, having other pursuits and avocations, they are precluded from giving their time and attention to acquire a thorough knowledge of the system, which the servant, who has no other calls on his time and attention, is enabled to do; and, secondly, that their over anxiety to excel, and to stand high in the estimation of their field, creates a degree of excitement not experienced by the servant, but generally fatal to the gentleman who undertakes to hunt hounds.
I am ready to admit, that of all the huntsmen, gentle and simple, that I have seen at work, Mr. Musters has pleased me most. The perfect command he has of his hounds; his quiet yet cheering manner of hunting them, his apparently instinctive knowledge of the run of his. foxes, his judicious casts, and his musical and cheering dog language, form the beau ideal of his profession in my eyes. Then where has there ever been a finer horseman, or one with a better eye to a country?
I am not aware of Mr. Musters ever having sold hounds for the immense prices at which some packs have been sold, although I remember Mr. Assheton Smith purchasing his entire kennel in 1814. The sale of his stud at that period by Messrs. Tattersall, I well recollect, and the style of horse of which it was composed may be imagined, by the fact of fourteen horses, two or three of which were hacks, fetching the large sum of two thousand guineas,-better than £150 per head!
During my visit of six weeks to Mr. Musters, some dozen years back, he had a very killing pack of hounds in his kennel, although rather below the mark as to number, for the severe work he gave them. He was at that time also very well assisted by Tom Smith (Lord Middleton's late huntsman), and Will Derry, (Lord Chesterfield's present huntsman,—to stag-hounds, alas !) both of whom whipped in to him. When I visited him at his seat, in Nottinghamshire, the year before last; I thought he was deficient in one more good hand in the field, which ought not to be the case now, when he is twelve years older than when Smith and Derry were ready to do his bidding. I was also sorry to see him one day draw a deal of country belonging to a master of fox-hounds, without even a touch of a fox-the result, not of the noble owner's wishes, but of his head keeper's determination to kill foxes, and this on the strength of his own estimation of his great excellence as a keeper, which rendered it a matter of indifference to him, whether he pleased his employer or not, another being always at hand.
Combining the character of sportsman with that of social man, it would be difficult to find a master-piece to Mr. Musters, or one better qualified for the station he has so long filled, of master of a pack of fox-hounds. Of his ability as a huntsman, not a word more need be said, and I shall conclude my notice of him, with my best wishes for a long and happy life to himself, and all like him, at the same time summing it up, as the lawyers say, in the following words, applied to him by myself, on a former occasion. “ There was a time when he could have leaped, hopped, ridden, fought, danced, played cricket, fished, swum, shot, played tennis, and skated with any man in Europe."
SIR BELLINGHAM GRAHAM. It pleases me to put my friends into good company; I shall therefore introduce another great artist to my
readers. Of all the celebrated men who have hunted the Quorn country, none did the whole thing better than Sir Bellingham Graham did it, and in proof of its being expected that he would do it well, he had the largest subscription to his hounds of any one that ever received assistance towards expenses, from the hands of their brother sportsmen. If my memory Serves me, it was a little over four thousand pounds. It is to be lamented, however, that instead of having thrown away his time, in hunting other inferior countries, Sir Bellingham was for so short a period in Leicestershire, for he only hunted it during the seasons of 1821, and 1822.
But let us look further back to Sir Bellingham Graham as a master. His first appearance was in the year 1815, when he succeeded Mr. Musters in the Badsworth country, which he hunted two seasons. He then succeeded Mr. Osbaldeston in the Atherstone country, and that was the first in which I hunted with him. In 1820 he took possession of the Pytchley country, on Sir Charles Knightley giving it up, and thence he went to Quorn, From Quorn he took what was then called the Shiffnal, now the Albrighton country, and finished his career as a master in Shropshire—in each of which three last-named countries I had the pleasure to hunt with him. And it was a pleasure to any real sportsman (to hunt with Sir Bellingham Graham, because he did the thing throughout in a thorough sportsmanlike style, as fox-hunting ought to be done. From the moment he got upon his hunter, until he killed or lost his fox, he was intent and earnest in his pursuit, and without unnecessary harshness, but the result of his sportsmanlike conduct was, that no man kept his field in such order. Indeed I have heard this compliment paid to him by many of his Melton friends, who gave it as their opinion, that he was in this