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There are many men who can kill a squirrel without touching him with the bullet, i. e., by“ barking him," as it is called ; in other words, sending the ball between the bark and the wood, which gives the squirrel a shock, as he is laid out close to the limb. This, however, is not often done; while drilling their heads almost invariably is to save the skin of the grey, and the bodies of the black, which are as delicate a morsel as can well be; in a curry or fricassee, they beat the best chicken or rabbit. I can very easily imagine that 'twill be fancied, that this is rather loud talking, but 'tis nevertheless a fact; and as regards the eating part, I was as sceptical as any one, but one taste satisfied me that 'twas a pity that I had lost such a good“ bonne bouche" for so many years.
MY FAREWELL FOX-HUN T.
BY RODERICK RANDOM.
With pleasure, a little sobered by the reflection that I was about to enjoy a farewell fox-hunt, I hailed the new-born day. The morning when I arose was grey, and not yet clear ; but a burnislıed line of gold gtreaked the sky from the east, and in a few moments a rolling away of dark clouds from the long range of the Gualty mountains, with the fine blue sky becoming every moment more ethereal, betokened that it was indeed a glorious day.
“Here goes once more," I soliloquized, drawing on niy snow-white doeskins. Stuffing my feet into my well-polished top-boots, slipping my arms through the opes of a scarlet plush waistcoat, and completing
: all by mounting my gay coat to match, behold me accoutred en habit de chasse.
To sec my hunter complete in all points, shoes, &c., and that nothing was deficient in the appointments, or amiss therewith, was the work of a moment. Having given particular directions as to where he should meet me at the covert, I proceeded next to discuss my break
I fast. Masters generally trust too much to their servants in the management of their horses. Of course, this is all very well if you are a man of large fortune, and have a confidential person whose entire business it is to superintend the ménage; but where there is not a servant of this description, the more attention you yourself can pay to that part of your establishment the better. The master's eye fattens the horse" is an old adage; and I am sure there is not a true sportsman who would not feel sorry if he believed the animal, from whose powers he has derived so much gratification, was neglected. Besides, the directions usually given over-night as to sending the hunter in the morning to cover may be mistaken. You are always more confident by a personal inspectiou that there is nothing amiss, than where you have only a servant's word for it, who perhaps has sent your horse before
you with the fore-shoes loose, a rein cracked, or stirrup leather dosed, and is ready to take his oath, when you return to upbraid his neglect (that is, if you do return), that nothing of the kind was the matter in the morning.
I breakfasted certainly with much more composure after seeing all was right, than if I had not done so, and, as the hounds were to meet at eleven, threw myself upon my hack and galloped off
. Whoever has left the Fermoy barracks, and, when crossing the bridge connecting the north and south portions of the town, cast his eyes westward towards the rich woods of Castle IIyde, or in the opposite direction to the busy mills, must acknowledge that on either side he beheld a sweet prospect. The River Blackwater is here of considerable breadth, and the banks present much landscape beauty. Looking up from the bridge, the eye surveys the handsome mansion of Fermoy House, surrounded by its grassy lawn, and girt by a thicklyplanted screen. A hill, richly wooded, rises at the back, and the uniform range of barracks appear commandingly placed, like sentinels for protection, their white walls well defined from the dark shadowings of the trees immediately below. Higher up the stream, lie spread the well-cultivated slopes of Grange, fringed with verdant groves ; and, rising from the river's brink, the tall black woods of Castle Hyde are seen waving their stately boughs in long, sable tresses, like the curls of some gigantic maiden. In the opposite direction the scene is of a more animated, if less picturesque, character. The town is an irregular oval, partly built on a hill, where the chapel raises its ample bulk. Continuing by the heights, stand the walls of a commodious house, which one of the clergymen has erected, and, close by, the imposing coup-d'ail of the recently-completed convent fill up the outline. The angular edifice known to all tyros as the College or Fermoy School is nearly parallel with the latter. The remainder of the town, with its most attractive feature the square, occupies the bank of the river. The ear is filled by the dash and fall of water, for the stream forms at the bridge a mimic cascade, from a weir or dam running through the arches.
I turned the corner of the square, and cantered up the hill, which commands a full view of the town and locality. A new feature was introduced in the scene by this more extended survey, which, as I have taken this opportunity of describing & place endeared to me by all the ties of home, childoood, parents, and friends, will not deter mo a moment to insert. Where the northern bank breasts the stream, arises an undulating hill, crowned by a modern residence. Woods and grey limestone rocks extend, and shut out the horizon Facing these, a bolu, jutting mass of shelving cliff starts forth in strong relief from the blue sky, and, bending gracefully into the stream, flowers and shrubs lie scattered at the base. Adown the rugged sides trees wave their branches, as if to admire their shadows
“Floating many a rood;" while on the bare, pinnacled top rise the decayed walls of a remarkable castle. Nearly one-half has fallen before the might of Cromwell, who destroyed during his reign of terror almost all the strongholds of Ireland. Cairn's gloomy brow, with the strange heaps on its top, was soon skirted. My excellent little roadster held on his course unwearied, and, after performing the three miles in some twelve or fifteen minutes, I rattled through the streets of Rathcormac, kept straight by Lord R.'s demesne-wall, and soon the stately dwelling, now in the possession of the worthy parent of my quondam schoolfellow E. R., appeared in sight.
At the gate of this truly-princely residence were evident symptoms of sportsmen on the alert. Led horses, some closely sheeted, were parading up and down; the stable of the adjoining hotel was thronged ; and a regular field-day was expected. I rode with my friend, Doctor E. B., to see what was detaining the Lord of the Manor. I know of no residence in Ireland which presents such a specimen of domestic architecture as K. The hall is s!iperior to anything I have seen, ercept perhaps Lord Belmore's, in the north. Of course I am aware there are much larger habitations (Mitchelstown Castle, for instance); but I confine myself to country mansions, not palaces. The numerous apartments are in excellent proportion, and suitably fitted up. I hope the present worthy possessor may long continue to occupy them. Having succeeded in getting our numbers in motion, we proceeded to the covers of Bally Glissan.
With what eager joy at again experiencing the flush, the glow, the heart-stir of the chase, did I turn from off the Cork mail.coach road up the narrow one leading to the cover! In front of the unoccupied mansion were a joyous group of Nimrods already met, and ranging different parts of the lawn the steeds of those who had not yet arrived. My groom soon espied me, and, leading my hunter, drew girths and smoothed his mane, receiving the animal I rode; and, baving mounted, I mingled in the scarlet mob.
There are few places which present so interesting a spectacle as a crowded cover-side. It is almost worth one's while to ride any moderate distance to behold the meet alone. IIere you see whole squadrons of cavalry such as no service in the world can boast of. The fiery and impetuous spirit, flashing eye, and snorting nostril tells with what eagerness the noble hunter pants for the pursuit. Around are congregated most of the wealth and station in the neighbourhood. The more wealthy or distingué drive up in their vehicles, and astonish the vulgar by the correctness of their costume, undisturbed by any exertion since they left their valets, flashing with bright steel and dazzling with scarlet and jet blacking, bestride their splendid hunters, and await the find. What a crowd is here! steeds of every hue and colour-brown, black, bay, dun, chesnut, sorrel, grey of all possible shades. Each courser is distinguished by some peculiarity of shape, some variation of appearance. Other sportsmen, who may be seen slowly approximating to the scene of action, as though fearful of distressing their horses, are those who ride their hunters to covert, and having but one horse at their disposal, are desirous of making the most of him. A number are resting in the stables and under the sheds, and many are employed in altering the position of their saddles, from perhaps leaning on their horse's shoulder, or being too far back, and seem like so many grooms, drawing girths, smoothing saddle-cloths, and adjusting bridles with the greatest skill.
After a usual preliminary preceeding, not confined to the Union Hunt, called a collection-i.e., forking-out 2s. each—we proceeded to the covert where the dogs were thrown in. The instinct with which the hound seeks his prey is one of the most interesting performances which every day's hunting experience developes. Close and compact
they range, not a dozen yards from the huntsman, until within the precincts of the tenement in which their nature tells them their prey is to be found. Then how rapid their movements ! how wide their beat! how scrutinizing their search! No thorny brake, no wooded dell escapes them unvisited ; they leave not a foot's pace untried, but scan
“Every hollow and dingle and dell.” Each moment you behold them crossing and recrossing, with anxiety in their glances and decision in their movements ; now snuffing round this furze.bank, and anon breaking through this apparently impenctrable barrier with the agility of a squirrel. One trots up a path with his nose to the soil, and is met by another who shares in the labour of investigation. No portion of the wide wood escapes them. A hare suddenly darts across their path. A young dog perhaps flies at poor Puss, but “ Have a care, now! have a care!” of the huntsman causes no further notice to be taken, and the regular business is proceeded on without the least interruption. Hark! A sharp, and at first as if uncertain cry breaks the hush of the covert, and again the shrill cry is repeated. "Say so, Rattler, my darling,” shouts the huntsman, feeling confidence from the reliance which, from experience, he knows may be placed on his favourite hound. Other voices swell the chorus,
" Louder yet the clamour grows,” and the melody of the many notes comes thrilling on the ear. Thc generous steeds paw the ground, the excitement is communicated to the riders. They long to behold the fox breaking cover, and can scarce control their impatience. A fox well found has been justly said to be worth all the runs with harriers which ever occurred, and though I am partial to hare-hunting when not over-well mounted, I would not give up the sport of this day for all the beagles that were ever set going by a so-ho! What can be more soul-thrilling and inspiring than having sly Reynard roused from his lair, forced to leave his thorny home with the wild fern, heath blossoms, and foxglove of his couch, and dance away to the melodious music of the loud-tongued pack and the joyous bursts of the hunting-horn ?
“ Vocat ingenti clamore Cithæron, Taygetique canes, domitrisque Epidaurus equorum;
Et vox asscnsu nemorum ingeminata remugit ?” And this is now experienced in full perfection. The covert was admirably adapted to give good effect to ihe onset. The hill above forms an amphitheatre of which the wood represents the arena. We remained in groups on the former until the concert of sweet sounds put us all in motion, when the crys of “ Tally-ho! tally! tally !" caused all to rush to the point, and lo! the fox had gone away, and the hounds were madly pursuing
"Never did I hear Such gallant chiding, for beside the groves, The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seemed all one mutual cry. I happened to be mounted on a superior animal, possessing youth, activity, and that grand desideratum-blood. Yes; wbatever former sportsmen may have thought, I am sure there is not one now-a-days
who will not agree with me in opinion that blood is essential to a hunter. I am aware that a very strong objection has been, perhaps with some still is, entertained against bringing up a thorough-bred to the field; but this is groundless. People may tell me that the thorough-bred never takes properly to bis fences ; that he is never perfectly safe, and in a difficult country is apt to bungle, and make frequent mistakes ; but their argument is not founded upon a proper footing. The mistake has occurred from the circumstance of turning a thorough-bred horse, who has proved unsuited to the course, into a hunter. This is an unfair criterion ; no race-horse can make a safe fencer, when the jumps are posers. The previous training unfits him. The long stride of the course will not do for the gathered rush at the hedge or bank when going with hounds, and from the regular daisyculter, the straight-knee'd racer, you do not feel assured of safely crossing the country. But let the untamed colt be properly instructed. When you are sure of your young thing promising sufficient strength (for that is a necessary requisite in a hunter), let him le taught in the usual way, and, depend upon it, your tuition will be amply rewarded.
“Mr. I.," said my trainer to me ono morning, as I rode out with him to see a young horse of mine take his lesson, " this liorse will be complete when he's perfect in one thing, which no man or beast should be without."
“And what may that be?" I inquired.
The horse I was mounted on, my governor purchased for a mere trifle at the “ Tinkers' fair at Bartlemy,” where he had been struck with his fencing capacities. When I saw him I certainly was not prepossessed much ia his favour. He was a reddish chestnut, with white main and tail, and had a wild look. He was quite equal to my light-weight, not
, a above 10 st. 4 lbs., and in tolerable working condition. In order to sec what he was made of, and if I could make terms with him, my brother Will and I treated ourselves to a steeple-chase by six o'clock next morning, I riding the blood and he on Fencer (a superior horse, who
I unfortunately broke his neck under me afterwards). We struck right through the race course to the old Castle of Grawn, and never was I better carried-but, bless me! here's a digression, and the hounds running all this tine!
The moment the foe was away, and the hounds fairly on the drag, a regular scramble of course ensued among the horsemen. There was a fearful rushing from the heights on which we stationed ourselves to cross the glen, on the opposite side of which the foe made his debut. Most horses pull hard at tlie outset, and I remember mine being perfectly unmanageable at first, and tearing down the stcep covert side, bounding over each furze-bush, as though assisted by wings. A brook well filled with water was at the base, which many of the horses seemed inclined to refuse : mine heeded no obstruction, leaped lightly over, and mingled with the van.
“Hold hard, gentlemen ; hold hard, will ye?" cried the huntsman, almost in dispair, as the hounds, overridden by a numerous group of tear-away gents, now for a moment seemed to pay more regard to their own safety than the destruction of the game. This was only a