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horses rose; much attention was devoted to breeding them, and we hear, even in those days, of four hundred and five hundred guineas being paid for a hunter. The hard riders were a trial to the old-fashioned followers of the hunt, who delighted in what is called the science of hunting. Mr. Meynell did his best to call them to order, and he maintained discipline by pleasantries at their expense. In describing the state of affairs in the hunting field he used to say, 'First out of covert comes Cecil Forester, then the fox, and lastly my hounds.'
Although he devoted his life to the improvement of fox hounds, Mr. Meynell appears to have been more than an eighteenth-century fox-hunting squire. He was a man of cultivated mind and a fair violinist. He sat in the House of Commons as member for Lichfield, Lymington, and Stafford, being altogether seventeen years in Parliament. He moved in London society. He was acquainted with Dr. Johnson, and Boswell records him as saying that “the chief advantage of London is that a man is always so near his borrow.' He was naturally an accomplished horseman. As to diet, he was fastidious, and carried this to the verge of eccentricity. His only breakfast on hunting mornings was a pound of veal reduced to a teacupful of broth. In his flask he carried a little tincture of rhubarb, which he was in the habit of declaring was an excellent stomachic. The practice of carrying luncheon into the hunting field is of much more modern date, and has had, perhaps, something to do with the diminution of wine that is drunk after a day's hunting. Our grandfathers appear to have come home so empty and exhausted that they had to fortify themselves with liquor in order to swallow and digest their dinner. Nowadays a long day's hunting is not necessarily followed by a long night of carousing.
Mr. Meynell died in 1808 at his house in Chapel Street, Mayfair, aged apparently 81 years. A few years before his death he sold his hounds and his house, Quorndon Hall, to Lord Sefton. He went on hunting till near the end of his life.
After Mr. Meynell's hounds became famous we hear several other påcks spoken of as celebrated for their excellence, among them Lord Fitzwilliam's, Mr. Noel's (who hunted over the present Cottesmore country, perhaps the finest of any in England), and the Duke of Beaufort's. Many old family packs were turned into fox hounds about the middle of the eighteenth century.
At Badminton the legend exists that the superiority of fox-hunting to stag-hunting was discovered by accident in 1762. The fifth Duke of Beaufort was passing with his hounds through Silk Wood, when a fox jumped up in front of the pack, faced the open country, and gave such a run that the young Duke henceforth gave up stag-hunting.
About the same time the Earls of Berkeley turned their attention to fox-hunting. Frederick Augustus, the fifth Earl, hunted over a huge tract of country which extended from Gloucestershire to Middlesex. He had four sets of kennels—at Berkeley Castle, in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Middlesex. His limits were Bristol in the west and the suburbs of London in the east. His son, Mr. Grantley Berkeley, had often been told by the old huntsman how they had killed their fox in Kensington Gardens. Where this fox had been found is not recorded, but the growth of London is vividly impressed upon us when we know that as late as 1798 the park-keepers used to shoot foxes in Kensington Gardens. The yellow coats which are still worn by the servants of the Old Berkeley hunt are the family liveries of the Berkeleys, which were retained when a portion of the country was made over to the Old Berkeley Club.
It was long the custom for hunt servants to wear the liveries of their master, and the origin of the scarlet coat which is now associated with fox-hunting is shrouded in obscurity. Several historians of hunting have made researches, without result. There is an obviously absurd legend that Henry II. ordained that fox-hunters should wear pink,' and this has often been repeated; but no plausible explanation has ever been offered, nor can a date be assigned to the origin of the fashion. The red evening coat in which fox-hunters dine may be traced to the Meltonian dandies, who ever since Melton became the capital of the Shires' have set a fashion in matters of hunting costume. The older fox-hunters were content to sit down to dinner in the same pink coats that they had ridden in during the day.
Among the earliest and keenest fox-hunters were the Dukes of Grafton. The second Duke hunted in the present Grafton country, and kept a second pack at Croydon. On hunting mornings he used to go down from London. The delays at the Westminster ferry annoyed him so seriously that he conceived the project of building a bridge there. It is owing to his efforts that the Bill for Westminster Bridge was passed in 1736. When foxes were scarce on the Surrey
hills he carried one with him in a lamper, trapped in Whittlebury Forest, of which his family were hereditary rangers. The Duke always believed that, when these foxes eluded his hounds in Surrey, they made their way back to their home in Whittlebury Forest, and he had them marked to verify this theory. Augustus Henry, the third Duke and statesman, inherited his grandfather's tastes and blamed himself for preferring fox-hunting to politics. He will be remembered by those who have read The Letters of Junius.' Besides the Grafton country he hunted a portion of Suffolk, and the late Lord Albemarle, as a small boy, had seen him at Euston on his thoroughbred horse “in a peach-coloured
single-breasted coat extending below the knee, leather • breeches, and long topless boots, then only worn by bishops and butchers. On his head was a small gold-laced threecornered hat. In the hunting field he was a terrible disciplinarian, and the wretch who uttered a sound when the pack was being cast never escaped rebuke. His nephew, General William Fitzroy, used to describe how on one of these occasions an old gentleman happened to cough. The Duke rode up to him, and taking off his gold-laced hat said to him in a voice in which politeness and passion strove for mastery, 'Sir, I wish to heaven your cold was better.'
Among other celebrated fox-hunters of the earlier days must be mentioned Mr. John Warde, who is famous for having kept fox hounds for fifty-seven years, and hunted in at least half a dozen different parts of England. He began on the family estate in Kent, then moved to Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Northamptonshire in turn. He was for eleven years master of the Pytchley. When he retired he sold his pack for a thousand pounds to Lord Althorp, the statesman. Lord Althorp's father and grandfather had kept hounds in magnificent style. When they became fox hounds is not exactly known. John, first Earl Spencer, who died in 1783, was the founder of the Pytchley Hunt and Club. The name is derived from an Elizabethan house now pulled down. The chase books' which are preserved at Althorp comprise twenty-four quarto volumes, bound in green morocco, and go back to the year 1773. The love of hunting, which Lord Althorp inherited, amounted to a passion, and he declared that to see sporting dogs hunt' was the greatest pleasure of life. Many may agree, but few display the energy he showed in gratifying the taste. When he was obliged to attend the House of Commons he used to have relays of horses posted
along the road, and would ride at a gallop, all through the night, from Spencer House to Northamptonshire to hunt with the Pytchley next day,
The Belvoir hounds hold a very proud position among the ancient packs. Their history is intimately connected with that of the Manners family, and successive Dukes of Rutland have maintained them in a ducal fashion. It is to-day generally agreed among authorities that they have reached nearer to perfection than any others, and, all over the country, provincial packs allow their debt to the Belvoir blood which they have imported. The history of the pack is almost unique. For two hundred years it was managed by members of the family of Manners or their deputies; for over two hundred years the pack has not been dispersed. The hounds which now hunt over the Vale of Belvoir are the direct descendants of the old buck hounds of the family which did so in the same country two centuries ago. New blood has, of course, been infused into the pack; but this long, unbroken history has had the effect not only of perfecting the hunting qualities but also of producing a distinctly marked race of fox hound. Every Belvoir hound has a black saddle and tan patches upon the purest white ground. So uniform is the colouring of the pack that the eye can at first sight detect no difference between one hound and the next.
The pack began to hunt foxes in the days of John, third Duke of Rutland, who succeeded to the title in 1721. It was he who migrated from Haddon Hall to Belvoir Castle, and brought his hounds with him. The son of this Duke was the famous Marquis of Granby, whose jolly red face and bald head have appropriately decorated the signboards of so many alehouses. He was the most excellent cavalry leader of his age, and many years' service abroad reduced the time which he devoted to fox-hunting. When he came home his fondness for the bottle and the importunities of his creditors must have interfered with his sport. But Mr. Dale thinks that he acted as field master of the pack. When the third Duke died (1779) the fortunes of the Belvoir hunt somewhat declined, for his grandson and successor, the fourth Duke, was not interested in field sports. The poet Crabbe was his domestic chaplain. He went to Ireland as Lord-Lieutenant, and died three years later, still a young man. Although he neglected the kennels he was a great rider; and he is described as breakfasting off six or seven turkeys’ eggs, washed down with tea and coffee, and then taking rides of forty and fifty miles.
A long minority followed, and the hounds were managed by Sir Carnaby Haggerston and Lord George Cavendish, a son of the fourth Duke of Devonshire. There is preserved at Belvoir an interesting document which gives an idea of the expenses of a pack of fox hounds about this period. It is headed · Fox-Hunt Expence in the Year to October 1786. The total comes to 7751. 108.* Eleven horses were kept, three hunt servants, and a dog-feeder. The huntsman was paid for wages and board 491. 148. Each man had two suits of livery, consisting of a blue kersey coat and scarlet waistcoat. Every two years they had new great coats. The items include rent of coverts, payments to keepers, and . To Mr. Lord for the loss of sheep drove into the river by 'the hounds, 31. 38. The price of oats was on an average 168. a quarter, and straw 208. a load.
The two deputy masters were succeeded (1791) by another, Mr. Perceval, a brother of the Prime Minister. To him is due the excellence which the Belvoir pack ultimately attained. He lived at Croxton Park, made many changes, and devoted himself to improving the pack. The golden age of fox-hunting was beginning. The fifth and sixth Dukes of Rutland enjoyed the benefits of Mr. Perceval's care and system; and the Belvoir pack has from that time ranked among the most celebrated in the country.
There is a sharp contrast between the Vale of Belvoir and its pastures and the Essex ploughlands. But fox-hunting has also flourished in that county, though no historic family pack has been kept within its borders. Sir William Rowley hunted the eastern portion of the county about 1777; a number of changing masters of hounds divided other slices of the county and were no respecters of boundaries. Mr. John Archer, an eccentric sportsman, who arrived with an enormous cavalcade, several outriders, and an escort of men armed with blunderbusses, hunted near Epping at intervals. He travelled in a phaeton, wrapped in a swan's-down-lined coat, the servants and his wife following in chaises and coaches, while hounds and horses, in cloths of scarlet trimmed with silver, brought up the rear.
Later Mr. Thomas William Coke, famous in Norfolk and afterwards
The last balance-sheet of the Quorn Hunt shows an expenditure of 6,2551.