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SPORTING WRITERS.

BY NIMROD.

Mr. Radcliffe gives us a hint on the subject of gruel, which may be useful to sportsmen on their return from hunting. If oatmeal cannot be procured, a pint of wheaten flour will answer the purpose; but it should (as also should the oatmeal) be first mixed in cold water, adding the hot afterwards. In fact, no kind of meal will mix with hot water; but the temperature of gruel for a horse should not exceed that of cow's milk, or it will cause him to break out into a

sweat.

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Again, the following passage does much credit to the writer :"The delay of five or ten minutes, which this (the act of administering the gruel) will occasion you, may be well spared, even should you be ever so late, or wet, or cold; remember that, though you have had your sandwich or biscuit to operate as a stay-stomach,' and appease your own natural cravings, your horse has been many hours since he started for the place of meeting in the morning, without anything in the shape of nourishment; all which time he has been subjected to incessant demands upon his strength. Something must supply the vacuum thus created; and if you leave him too long with nothing but the bridle between his teeth, he will inhale wind enough to distend his bowels, and occasion all those symptoms of distress which have not been perceivable till he has regained his stall; his unrelenting spirit having carried him thus far, you are then wonderfully surprised that, after coming home as well as he ever was in his life, he is all at once very ill."

We have now some good remarks on shoeing hunters, with the remarkable one, that such was the superiority of the smith who shod the horses belonging to the Oakley hounds, when the present Duke of Bedford was at their head, that a lost shoe was almost as rare as a broken-down sinew; and this, be it recollected, in a deep and holding soil. On the subject of prevention of over-reaching, by bevelling the inside as well as the outside of the hinder shoes, the directions are the echo of those given by me in my letters on condition. In seven years' experience of this precaution, Mr. Radcliffe had not a single accident in his establishment from over-reaching; and it is only due to that veteran sportsman (though a hare-hunter), Sir John Dashwood King, to say that it was to him that I was indebted for the "wrinkle," which I made public.

On the benefit of hot water to legs after hunting, and the practice of clipping hunters, Mr. Radcliffe expatiates largely, as well as on the food and exercise of hunters when in preparation for work; as also on food immediately after hard work, which he recommends should be only moderately administered. He is, like myself, an advocate for sweating the hunter, as the race-horse is sweated, although not to the same extent, either as to pace or distance; and on the sub

ject of repairing his legs, when appearances indicate that they stand in need of repairing, at the end of a season, he strongly recommends the use of the mercurial charge, the praises of which had already been sung by me.

Chapter VIII. contains some judicious and useful hints to gentlemen who follow hounds, particularly as to the choice of horses for different countries, and the most likely means of keeping them sound and well in their work. His directions for the use of bridles to suit different mouths are also good, and I extract the following passage:-"Much depends upon suiting a bridle to a horse's mouth. The patent Segundo is generally approved for pullers; but what is delight to one is madness to another. I had once a horse absolutely frantic, almost ungovernable, because he had taken a dislike to a plain smooth Pelham, without a joint-a bridle much used in Hants. The horse was so violent during a run with the Oakley, that I was compelled to ask one of those excellent fellows, a Bedfordshire yeoman, to change bridles with me. As soon as the exchange was effected, he became as perfectly temperate as he always was on all other occasions." Then follows this truism-" Not one horse in a hundred has a mouth for a snaffle bridle only, and perhaps one in a thousand is nearer the proportion of those which can go with a loose rein."

Mr. Radcliffe's system of putting horses at their fences is exactly that so strongly advocated by me in my letters on "Riding to Hounds." "For myself," he says, "I am an advocate for putting a horse slowly at most fences, and not more than half speed at any; but, as I have no claim to professorship in this department, without presuming to deny a contrary practice, I will only say that such is the method of those whose style I most admire; and that, in my humble opinion, the expediency of collecting a horse, and slackening instead of accelerating his speed when charging a fence, under a notion (which I take to be erroneous) of providing him with sufficient impetus, is founded upon the following rational principles. Look at deer, cats, greyhounds, any good jumpers you choose to take for an example; watch their voluntary action in taking a leap: they invariably shorten their pace-the deer altogether into a trot, and all others to that degree which enables them to concentrate their powers; they cannot spring from an extended posture."

The truth of this assertion is constantly verified in steeple chases, by the numerous falls horses of high character as hunters (for had they not high characters they would not be engaged in those unsportsmanlike exhibitions) experience, and oftentimes at small fences. My experience, however, tells me that when a wide ditch is looked for on the landing side of a fence, a certain impetus from speed is desirable, as also at brooks where the banks are suspected to be unsound; but these are the only exceptions to our author's system of riding slowly at fences.

The following advice to the sportsman when crossing a common, cut up by cart wheels, is well worthy of notice, and hitherto unknown to me. "The best way of crossing ruts," he says, "is to take them invariably on the oblique; if you go straight across, both fore feet get at once entangled in the rut, and the consequence is inevitable;

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but in slanting them, your horse will have one leg to spare, and probably escape with that sort of pick, two of which would go to a fall."

Speaking of fences, our author considers timber preferable to thick hedges, through which it cannot be seen whatever may be on the other side of them. Most riders to hounds, he thinks, are of a different opinion to his, playfully accounting for the preference by the theory of ancient philosophers, who believed one half of danger to consist in the view of it. When riding at gates, caution is given to avoid, if possible, such as open from the horse; as, in the case of his striking them to cause them to fly open, a desperate fall is the result. Chapter IX. expatiates at great length on the science of hunting, together with a description of a run, and several amusing anecdotes, the moral of some of which may be advantageously borne in mind by what is called "the field"-the younger part of it especially. For example: "No one," says the writer, "should ride by the side of a covert before hounds are thrown off, as a very old fox is easily disturbed; and when they are drawing, in taking up a station, which will of course be down wind, remember that it would have been too much for the patience of Job to have had a fox headed at his point of breaking. If hounds are drawing a wood furnished with rides, it is highly desirable that all should be within covert, excepting those placed officially to view a fox away, which might otherwise steal off unseen." It is very easy to put this good advice on paper, but with a field of two hundred, all speculating on a start, it is difficult to enforce the practice of it. The bad practice of hollaing a fox before he is well clear of the covert, is strongly condemned by Mr. R. as the prevention of many runs, by causing foxes to turn back often into the mouths of the pack-at all events to foiled ground. His remarks, indeed, on hollaing on all occasions are good, clearly showing that to the injudicious resorting to them by the field, is the life of many a fox indebted-a sinking one, especially.

On the view halloo, "tally-ho," Mr. Radcliffe bestows a few lines to rescue it from the corruption to which Mr. Smith, in his Diary of a Huntsman, reduced it by writing it "Tally O." I certainly agree with Mr. Radcliffe, that the interjection "ho," should form part of the word, as an exclamation indicative of surprise: and the words "tye-ho" applied to the deer, "so-ho" to the hare, and "to-ho" to the pointer, at once settles the point.

On the matter of drawing covers, our author's opinion coincides with my own as to the propriety of all coverts, except large woodlands, being drawn down wind; and he scouts the idea of forcing a fox to face a certain country by the manner in which he is drawn for and found-giving an instance of the chance of a fine run with a very celebrated pack being destroyed by such an attempt.

When speaking of the strength of kennels, which Mr. Radcliffe computes at from fifty to sixty couples for four days a week, he mentions the startling fact that the "great Meynell," as he calls him, when he first hunted Leicestershire, never took out fewer than one hundred couples of hounds. I have no right to doubt this being a fact; but had it been mentioned on less credible authority-that of a

contemporary of Mr. Meynell-I should have exclaimed, "Credat Judæas, non ego."

On the subject of punishing hounds, Mr. Radcliffe speaks pretty nearly the language of most other masters; still, perhaps, were the editor of the Old Monthly* to come to life again, he might let fly a sharp word or two on reading our author's directions for "coupling the culprit's fore legs under his neck, letting him lie writhing in futile efforts to follow the pack, while the whipper-in remains to administer the lash that 'bites to the quick' behind." But what might he have said to Mr. Smith's (of the Craven) twenty-five couples, fifty in a row, as described by Mr. R., tied up to palings to be flogged "till all hands were tired!" and this for six weeks from daybreak till the afternoon?†

This chapter concludes with a long and well-told description of a fox-chase, at the conclusion of which the writer comments on Mr. Smith's assertion, that there are foxes which when fit to go can beat any hounds. He does not absolutely deny this assertion, but plainly enough insinuates that, provided the hounds are as fit to go as the fox, the boot would be on t'other leg. Both in the kennel and the stable, Mr. Radcliffe is a great stickler for condition, for which I highly esteem him.

Chapter X. opens with some judicious and practical observations. on kennel management, assuring us that the feeding of hounds, as regards their condition, is one of the most essential proofs of a huntsman's skill in kennel; adding that favourite axiom of mine, namely, that if all beauty in animals goes in at the mouth, so may it be said does all power. Then our author states one practice of the great Meynell's which is new to me, and I believe now never resorted to; this was the use of dry, unboiled oatmeal for shy-feeding hounds, and which he considered more nourishing and heartening than any other food. I remember seeing some fine bacon hogs at the seat of the late Lord Hill, in Shropshire, thus fed; and his lordship assured me that, with water at their command, it was by much the better plan of any he had tried. The meal was, of course, in this instance, that made from barley.

Mr. Radcliffe recommends the use of the warm bath for hounds, giving a preference to that made of pot liquor; and, in his advocacy of the effects of hot water in cases of inflammation from wounds, &c., asserts that if broken knees of horses are diligently fomented till a whitish film or slough supervenes, it is rarely that they are blemished. On the use of the bath to hounds, however, it may be proper to remark that the practice does not meet with unqualified approval. Some masters, indeed, will not hear of the total immersion.

The following passage on the effect of food on hounds is striking as well as correct. "The great difference which diet will effect in the appearance and condition of hounds renders this point worthy of consideration. The Roman gladiators imagined themselves injured by the slightest deviation, in one meal, from the regimen prescribed;

I here allude to the severe, though rather unjust criticisms of this review, on the first appearance of Beckford's Thoughts on Hunting.

+ Vide Diary of a Huntsman, p. 41.

feeders of fighting cocks are no less strict in their notions of the qua-
lities of food; and let any man who fancies a good belly-full of vic-
tuals is all that can be needed for hounds try, for one fortnight, the
effect of a change from oatmeal to barley-meal of the best kind, or
from good oatmeal to inferior; he will need no further illustration of
the proverb, that 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating,' as far as
can be judged by effects, which in dumb animals are the only attesta-
tions of its excellence. When you see that, in addition to the fulness
of muscle and general appearance of health and condition in a hound,
'His glossy skin,

In lights or shades by Nature's pencil drawn,
Reflects the various tints,'

you may judge that there is nothing amiss in the home department; but if you see him scratching a staring coat, which is nearly threadbare, if not quite out at elbows, eagerly dashing, on his way to covert, at every pool to take a drink, which by hounds of a better regulated ménage would be disdained at such an hour of the morning, rely upon it that

'There's something rotten in the state of Denmark.'"

For summer food, in which a mixture of vegetables is recommended, our author speaks highly of mangel-wurzel, which, he says, boils down to a thick jelly, and forms an agreeable and wholesome addition to broth. Potatoes he condemns as injurious, and also sago,which he was induced to try for its cheapness. Dantzic biscuit, with the usual quantity of meal, he found useful, even to the end of cub hunting; as I believe Mr. Osbaldeston did that made by Smith, of Maidenhead, solely for the use of hounds.

(To be continued.)

SOLITUDE.

BY ROSLYN CAWDOR.

MISANTHROPE! seek not solitude, for there
Thy rugged heart will soften into love:
There is a magic in the mountain air,

There is a spell in forest, glen, and grove,
That doth with tender potency remove
Dark Hate's embittered feelings from the mind!
Would'st thou retain thy nature seek mankind,
And 'midst the peopled city's gaudy glare,
In man's deep baseness food for hatred find!
Oh! 'mid the quiet rapture of green woods,
When the soft moonlight's yellow mist invests
Heath-girded mountains and their fringed crests,
The heart-attuned to gentlest feelings-floods
With love for the whole earth and all its breathing guests!
August, 1843.

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