W3C Fell Fox-Hunting   HUNTS

 

by
A G Bradley

IN Threlkeld churchyard, not far from Keswick and beneath the shadow of Saddleback, is a remarkable cenotaph. Unpretentious enough of a truth in stature and design, but in significance quite unique, I take it, among memorials to the dead. For nowhere else in the three kingdoms do the conditions exist which would make possible the popular erection of such an altar to Diana in a country churchyard, inscribed as here with the names of her departed votaries. Around the four sides of this simple monument are engraved the lines of Gay which head this page, while on its face may be read, "A few friends have combined to raise this stone in loving memory of the under named, who in their generation were noted veterans of the chase, all of whom lie in this churchyard." Then follow the names of some forty local worthies’ statesmen, villagers, farmers, all of whom, as the affixed dates proclaim, have passed away within the last thirty years. The space still remaining apparently awaits the names of their surviving comrades who may be accounted worthy of a place upon this altogether unique roll of honour.

It is perhaps not easy for the reader to picture "a noted veteran of the chase" as other than a resplendent horseman careering over gates and fences, so peradventure it will be strange hearing that scarcely any of these immortalised nimrods of Threlkeld parish, who in life hunted with the Blencathra pack, ever rode to hounds in their life. All that they did was to walk and climb and watch hounds run over a wild rugged mountain country that imparts of itself, to the only type of hunting possible within its bounds, a glamour and fascination all its own, and that its votaries, plain men most of them, feel to the very marrow of their bones. This monument is, in fact, an incidental but felicitous expression of a passion for hunting pure and simple, in which personal achievement, the ego as it were, has virtually no place, and only the achievements of hounds and foxes count. The sportsmen who dwell between Windermere and Keswick, between Eskdale and Shap, do not go out to jump horses or to see horses jump. The noble animal could not travel at all over their country. Nor do they go out to meet their friends or to further their social aspirations or show off their clothes. None of these familiar impulses, which contribute so notoriously to the following of an ordinary hunting-field, have the faintest connection with the Lakeland dalesman's devotion to the chase. The performance of the hounds, individual and collective, the wiles and strategy of the strong mountain foxes, the achievements of the little terriers in their subterranean conflicts with them, here constitute the Alpha and Omega of the sport. Upon all these points, and the many others inseparable from them, the dales-man is more or less of an expert, for they delight him. But then he generally knows every hound in the pack. He is sure to have brought up some as puppies or walked others through various summers. He knows how each was bred, for the genealogy of the kennel to many of these sheep-farmers and the like is as an open book and an ever-abiding interest.

In the style, the voice, the qualities, nay, in the very tricks of the dog of to-day, as he takes his share in hunting a cold drag along the rugged breast of a mountain, they watch again in fancy some famous hound of other days, his ancestor, and invoke for the hundredth time on fell top or by fireside the imperishable name. Fox-hunting is often styled, and not perhaps in these days altogether happily, the most democratic of sports. But fell hunting is most emphatically so in the fullest sense.

Five organised packs share the Lake country between them. The two foremost of these, who watch each other's growing list of victims through the passing season with friendly rivalry, are the Ullswater and Blencathra, kennelled in Patterdale and Threlkeld respectively. The former hunt the country stretching eastward from Grasmere and Thirlmere over the Helvellyn range, and thence over the High Street to Mardale and Shap, the bounds of Lakeland. The Blencathra hunt the Skiddaw and Saddleback range and the district around Keswick generally. The other three packs are the Coniston and the Eskdale, hunting the countries their names indicate, and, lastly, the Melbrake, which works up from Cockermouth into the Buttermere district. This is a rather loose definition of territorial distribution, but sufficient for the purpose here, which is to take a look at one of them, not merely because the writer is familiar with it, but because the modus operandi of the others is practically the same.

The Blencathra enjoy the distinction of the most famous master, the late Mr Crozier, who was in office for over sixty years; while the Ullswater can boast of the most famous fell huntsman of perhaps any day, Joe Bowman, who, after thirty odd years of about the most arduous kind of service in the whole range of British sport, gave up his horn two years ago. John Peel, who died in 1854, and hunted the low country between Skiddaw and Carlisle, became world-famous through the spirited verses of his hunting comrade Woodcock Graves, and their presentation in music to the local public by Mr Metcalfe of Carlisle. Bowman's local reputation was so great that it stirred his followers and admirers to celebrate it in like fashion, and his remarkably faithful portraiture, like that of John Peel, may be seen to-day in Carlisle shop windows as the frontispiece of a song in his honour. It is sung with ardour at convivial gatherings in the dales south of Penrith, where the sentiment of the chase as well as its practical attractions lies deep in the local heart, and finds expression in a whole repertoire of hunting ditties of local note, but to a wider world unknown.

Most people, I think, are even still surprised to hear that John Peel is any tiling more than a legendary hero, and little dream that plenty of sportsmen but recently dead knew him quite well, or, like the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, had actually limited with him. I myself spent an afternoon some years ago in Caldbeck with his aged nephew, who as a lad acted as sort of kennel boy to his uncle. That celebrity, according to this veteran, "was aye drinkin' when he wasna huntin','' a formula that might have been as aptly applied, no doubt, to most of his contemporaries. Peel was a yeoman with land worth, I fancy, about 300 a-year, which, instead of farming like the rest of his kind, he mostly leased. For much of his hunting days he lived in a small five-roomed house outside Caldbeck, and kept his hounds in the out- buildings. A few years ago the house was much the same as in his own day, and may be so still for aught I know to the contrary, with the tiny sitting-room on the left of the narrow hall, where Graves tells us he dashed off the words of the song one night while sitting with his friend, and hummed it to the tune of an "old lilt" which Mrs Peel was crooning over the cradle of a child. Peel hunted merely to amuse himself, and incidentally his cronies. Though working a comparatively low country, and of course riding to his hounds, yet his memory lives, so far as one can dissociate it from the fortuitous renown the song has given him, rather as what is known as a "hound man". Joe Bowman, whose hunting friends and companions maintain, is a yet more remarkable man in this particular than John Peel ever was, has the further merit of a keen sense of the lore and traditions of the chase, even those outside his own long experience. A tenacious memory, good brains, a well-balanced judgment, and unusual narrative powers make these last a great source of edification to his many friends and neighbours of all degrees who look in on him at his cottage in Grisedale, within a bowshot of the kennels. Comparisons, however, if not odious are absurd between the mounted yeoman M.F.H., who hunted a low country when he felt like it, and a huntsman on foot who, regard-less of weather, had duties to confront in high altitudes of an extremely arduous and sometimes perilous nature, a man whom the countryside used to say with pardonable hyperbole could "go blindfold in the middle of the night from Mardale to Grasmere". Beside Joe Bowman's experiences Peel's reminiscent discourse, even over the customary libations of his day, might possibly have seemed somewhat commonplace. But all this leads up to a very interesting letter that the ex-huntsman of the Ullswater pack turned out while emptying a desk of old papers the other day, and as I happened to be on the spot I took a copy of it. It was written to him some twenty-five years ago by Captain Wybergh, a notable Cumbrian sportsman, since dead, and concerned the running powers of ordinary low-country hounds as against fell hounds in their respective countries. Above all it concerned John Peel, and here it is:

"I believe it was in the year 1839 that the Old John Peel and Crozier were having an argument as to the quality of their hounds. My uncle, Captain Wybergh, proposed that each master should bring (I believe) ten hounds, and meet at Isel Hall for a trial. This was done. They found in Isel big wood, and after a good run killed near Bewaldeth. All John Peel's hounds were in at the death, and not one of Crozier's. This fact led to another trial with the same hounds, this time in a fell country. They met near Keswick, and found their fox at Walla Crag. After a good run over this rough country they killed, when all Crozier's hounds were in at the death and not one of Peel’s. I was about ten years old when these trials took place, and have heard it told so many times that I well remember the circumstances."

The head of Ullswater, above which some of the loftiest mountains in the lake country soar their rugged crests to altitudes that through the mysterious atmospheric veil which hangs from our fickle British skies might at times be anything you please, is to my thinking the most inspiring of the inner sanctuaries of Lakeland. However that may be, the Ullswater foxhounds, dur-ing the six months they are kennelled at all, are kennelled here, close to Patterdale Hall, whose owner, Mr William Marshall, is Master, and Joe Bowman's successor, Salkeld, Huntsman. The chief rendezvous for the very few strangers who more or less habitually take a fortnight or so every season with these hounds is Milorests Hotel. For in addition to its very high intrinsic merits, its landlord is among the foremost of local foxhunters, and fairly steeped in everything that pertains to the craft of mountain-hunting. The House is, as it were, in continuous and intimate touch with the kennels. Fixtures are not immutable in this wild country, for weather and other matters often necessitate change of plan, and here you are in every secret. Moreover, whether breakfast has to be at 3.30 or at 6 A.M., it goes through, together with all the preliminary door-rapping, &o,as automatically and easily as if it were an everyday matter. Prior to mid-July, save at Easter and Whitsuntide, Lake-land is virtually empty, and then it is always delightful. The best season for a stranger to adventure this mountain-hunting is the month of April, which may seen strange. But in the first place bad weather, which, frost excepted, matters little in Northamptonshire, matters everything 2000 feet up, where winter storms are virtually unbearable and thick weather is manifestly hopeless. April has always the chance of better things ; and yet more, the lambs are being dropped, and reynard with family cares now thick upon him, poor fellow, cannot resist the tempting morsels. All these packs are kept for use as much as for sport, and they just about contrive by regularly killing cubs to keep the stock of foxes within bounds.

Poison, the only alternative, is out of the question in a country where the sheep-dog is an essential of life, so utility and sport go here felicitously hand in hand. The many artificial troubles that cause anxiety to the friends of fox-hunting in the low country are non-existent. Everybody, high and low, man, woman, and child, is a friend to the sport. The housewife with a raided hen-roost does not anathematise the hunting-folk and their foxes in language only modified by recollections of their damage fund. Her only hope is the hounds. But for them she knows things would be ten time worse, so peradventure she urges her good-man to "go oop t' laake, and get Joe t' fetch t' dogs awver." But in lambing-time much more urgent calls than such futile plaints are made, sometimes genuine "worrying", while often, no doubt, reynard is credited with the work of an evil dog or an accident. So in April hounds may sometimes hunt four days a-week instead of three, occasionally under very urgent stress dividing the little pack of about fifteen couple all told on the Hags, otherwise perhaps ten couple available for work, and despatching them on separate missions. They go on hunting, too, into the second or third week of May, and if thus severely tried at the close of the season have the long summer rest in immediate prospect.

The conditions which stop hunting over a low country in late spring matter nothing on these barren mountains, and though in a dry season scent of course fails, the difficulty is mitigated by meeting still earlier in the morning, and getting on to the drag soon after daybreak. So, though the hunting season begins in November, April, as I have remarked, is the safest month for such outsiders as in this luxurious age are prepared to adventure this somewhat strenuous pastime, in which there are no laurels to be gathered, no stimulus of competition, and which entails a breakfast at any hour from three to six. There are by way of being several thousand men of leisure in this country who may be said to devote a considerable part of their lives and their attention to hounds. It seems a little singular that during an elsewhere non-hunting month there are not a dozen who have the curiosity to compass a moderate railway journey to see hound work under quite unique conditions that would surely delight each and all of them.

The genealogy of this particular pack, though piously recorded and understood in all its ramifications into former ages by Mr "Kit" Farrer of Howtown, the secretary, whose facility in recording a run in print is only surpassed by his ability to keep in sight of it, cannot be touched on here. It is enough that the best strains of all these mountain packs have been periodically blended and enriched from time to time with blood from Wales, the Midlands, and elsewhere. The result is a hardy active hound of about four-and-twenty inches, with a fine nose and, what is almost equally important, a ready tongue. A mute dog is useless in such a country. Just before November, when the season begins, hounds and puppies are gathered into the kennels from those various domiciles where they have been planted for the summer, and enjoyed themselves hugely, making friends for life, and forging thereby links between the hunt and the countryside much more intimate than that created by merely walking puppies. The total expenditure of this pack for last year, as shown by the balance-sheet, it may interest some to know, was 178. This includes, of course, wages of huntsman and whip, who, when the hounds are dispersed in May, hang up their insignia of office and go out to work for wages through the summer, probably at shepherding.

The later the season the earlier the hours, and in April it is usual to get the hounds to the scene of action at some hour between four and six. There is no covert to be drawn here nor foxes to be viewed away. The mode of procedure after "loosing off" is to hunt some valley or mountain-side for the drag of a fox that has returned or is returning to the higher altitudes from his nightly expedition into the lower country. Should this be successful, and after a period of busy silent progress among the rocks, the dead bracken, the turf, and the bog, some hound speaks to a line, and the gradually spreading chorus confirms it with confident and cheerful note that fills the vale. This is probably the prelude to an hour or two of interesting slow hunting slow, perhaps, but much too fast for any ordinary pair of human legs to keep pace with, unless assisted by an occasional check.

The huntsman may sometimes see fit to keep as near the tail of his hounds as possible. But the hunt followers, familiar with every crag, ridge, and hollow of the mountains, and well versed in the wiles of foxes, make for the high points where experience suggests the greatest likelihood of seeing most of the fun, if fun there is to be. Some may have already got high up, climbed, that is to say, one or two thousand feet, with a view to the more probable line of a fox and the command of two valleys. Others with different opinions, or perhaps not wholly uninfluenced by a greater burden of years, take the valley and the slighter but still reasonable prospect it holds out. Perchance fortune favours them, and they see the greater part of the drag which the more adventurous lose.

The field, if you may so designate a dozen followers, are apt to break up into groups. Inequalities in physical power, as well as difference of opinion when there is so much room for it, are inevitable. Moreover, such division is rather desirable. For in these deep valleys, radiating like the fingers of a hand from the parent mountain or range, fox and hounds take very little time on occasions to get out of sight and hearing; so different posts of observation, as it were, which can shout or signal to each other, are more than useful. Many a fox is thus viewed by some solitary high-perched sentinel, who has left the hounds at fault in the adjoining dale and already placed a wall a thousand feet high between them. And a dalesman can halloa a fox to some purpose and "talk" to a hound with a stentorian vigour that makes the hills and valleys ring again.

These early hours upon the heights are undeniably pleasanter upon a sunlit morning than in the raw, chill, and keen breath of a lowering dawn, when the higher mountain-tops streaked with snow streaks which in truth develop on a near acquaintance into drifts ten feet deep bury their heads in the clouds. But there is something weird and impressive in the sound of hounds running, and the faint note of the horn, all fading away into these sombre cloud-capped snowy heights till all is still but the thunder of the ghylls, the piping of the becks from below, and the hoarse cry of ravens swung out from their harried solitudes. For yourself, you may perhaps be left lamenting as regards your primary intentions on the crest of St Sundays or at the head of Deepdale. The fox who has a vixen and cubs in Dove Crag or in the screes by Nethermost Cave has no mind to run conventional courses at such an anxious time, but to carry the hounds clean out of the country and harm's way. He may face the still wintry cloud-capped summits of Helvellyn or of Dollywaggon or of Fairfield, with the hounds now running on a fair scent behind him, and head for Dunmail Raise and Thirlemere. He may be killed out there, or not improbably get clear away. Just possibly he may be forced to return, but the chances of the latter are not worth a two hours' wait. Some one perhaps appears to have heard the faint echo of a holloa from the shrouded mountain-tops bespeaking a fox viewed over, and somebody else says it is old Tom, who got forward there before the hounds left the kennels, and so in this case proved his sagacity. But all the company will not be left. There will be hardy souls, still in their early prime will even now be over the high mountains with huntsman and whip at a pace very different from that of the ordinary mountain walk. They may see things happen over there beyond the cloudcaps, and perhaps have a stirring tale to tell say at the luncheon-table, by which time our active day is some ten hours' old, and all, including the bounds, or most of them, will be home. Or again they may have made their long venture for nothing nothing in a mere hunting sense, that is to say, and with that limitation the less adventurous detach-ment may claim to have seen the most, and had the best of it generally. But more often than not the fox will stick to his own country.

It might be fancied that the drag would certainly terminate in an earth or holt. But these mountain foxes seem shy of going to ground till pressed to a greater extremity, and even then are frequently bolted by the terriers. They usually stay above ground, amid rocks or screes, till the near approach of the hounds, and sometimes lie extraordinarily close on some shelf or bink till actually sprung under the dogs' noses. Occasionally, indeed, they baffle them altogether by their cunning wiles, aided by an indifferent scent, and turn on their tracks to the lower valleys again, and start some ploughman vainly holloaing to perplexed men and hounds that are three miles up into the mountains and far out of range and hearing. That mysterious quality scent is yet more mysterious on these barren mountains than on the grass and fallow of the lowlands good on a rising, bad on a falling barometer is the creed of many of the dalesmen. But often there are fine runs which, by judicious shifting of position from height to height, aided by that long experience which most of the locals possess, can be viewed practically from start to finish in short, from a drag to a chase, from a chase to a view, from a view to a kill in the morning, as the famous Cumbrian song has it.

It is pretty to watch from below the hounds pick up the drag on some open hillside, first one speaking to it and then another, and the rest rallying to the cry. There will often, however, be quite a long spell of hunting and no little intermittent music on but a small patch of ground, say two or three acres of dead bracken, rock, and turf. A good deal, too, of independent casting and many false starts before the hounds finally hit off the true line and get away. There is no more hesitation then in the manner in which they stream along the mountain foot, making the cliffs above ring with the fine clamour of their music. It is naturally less often that the little company behind them are lucky enough to see the hounds run their fox into view, race him down, and roll him over. But a brilliant April morning, with a stout fox, a few years ago, always comes back to me, and his mask upon the wall above me, as I write, gives point, perhaps, to the remembrance.

After many hours before the hounds he brought them down Glenridding from the Swirrel Edge of Helvellyn, by Keppel Cove, at racing-pace, within fifty yards of his brush. From an ideal situation across the narrow glen above the lead mine, for a mile at least, we had a perfect view of this exhilarating finish. It was along the green slope of the opposite hill, and as the chase swept along, it picked up all the affrighted sheep in its track, who raced panic-stricken side by side with their hereditary foe in his dire extremity, till, losing their wind or regaining their senses, they fell away to the right or left amid a clatter of loose stones and let the pursuing hounds pass through them. A last dash for life, I remember, was made by this gallant fox. For turning of a sudden sharp up the hause, he bravely breasted it, and, gathering his failing strength, leaped the wall at the top, which bothered the tired hounds for a few seconds longer. This brief advantage, however, availed him nothing, and he died three hundred yards beyond it on the moor. And the occasion may be seized for taking note that fell hounds do not tear and eat their foxes.

With a contrary wind, or again when the streams and ghylls are sounding loud, it is not always easy to hear hounds running, and, moreover, when they are travelling straight up a mountain, they are almost mute, for the obvious reason that they have no breath to spare. If you listen long enough, so a common saying has it, you can always hear hounds, even if they are asleep in their kennels at home, as any one may prove who will! It is sometimes difficult, too, to see them among distant screes and crags, though most fell hunters carry binoculars, and scurrying sheep will often serve to mark the line of the hounds when they have been lost for a time from view.

If even April is sometimes formidable, the winter in these high latitudes furnishes many a thrilling tale to the fireside memories of a mountain hunt. Every season there will be some storms that few men and dogs could face for long on the high fell and live. Hounds, to be sure, rarely succumb, but terriers do so constantly. On the 14th of this very last April that well-known local sportsman, Kit Farrer, was returning alone from hunting with two of them about midday, driven down by one of those bitter, penetrating, blinding sleet-storms that are worse for the moment than any Canadian snow. He was descending from the High Street to Howtown on Ullswater, and one of the little dogs which stayed behind perished on the hill. The other its owner carried under his coat, despite which precaution it died in his arms coming down the dale. Some years ago, about 1901, Bowman and the rest were stopped hunting one February about noon in Mardale by one of these fearful tempests. Leaving the hounds to come in at their leisure, the veteran huntsman, then about fifty, but still in the perfection of physical vigour, started over the High Street range for Patterdale in the face of the blizzard with a couple of the terriers. He was soon compelled to take them up, and carry one under each arm, but after a time he grew so stiff and numb that one had to be dropped to save the other, and incidentally himself ! This first dog was subsequently found dead where he left it. Determined to save the other, he stuck to it, not venturing to put it down to rest himself, he told me in describing the affair soon afterwards, as he was too stiff and frozen to have picked it up again. As it turned out, he just managed to get home with the terrier alive, but was in such a condition himself that he had to keep his bed for several days, the only occasion, local tradition has it, that such a concession was ever made by this hardy veteran. It may be fairly assumed that nineteen middle-aged men out of twenty would have perished in thus crossing a ridge in this temperate island clime of ours, only 2000 feet high, and that too in broad daylight.

The terriers of these mountain packs are of the smallest wire-haired type, and are bred mainly from local strains that have justified themselves at this particular work. The stiffer their hair the more resistance they can offer to killing storms. A silky coat of the Bedlington texture, for instance, is of no use at all. The death roll among the terriers is not of course due only to weather, for they are sometimes killed in their underground encounters with foxes, or in the ardour of their subterranean adventures drop down into some hole or cranny from which there is no escape. Some of the holts in the cliffs where the fell fox harbours are such as these little dogs could tell gruesome tales of, if they could speak. There is a little fellow, for instance, blinking mildly at us as if he wouldn't hurt a mouse, who spent many days and nights not long ago in the heart of a gloomy precipice overlooking Blea water in Mardale. Sometimes hounds get thus imprisoned. But "binking" is a much more common trouble with them, as well as with foxes, particularly when young. In an old note of my own, relating to many years back, I see that Bowman spent the last day of the season, which was as late as June 2, extricating six hounds that had got binked on Castle Crag in Mardale.

But to return to the terriers. Sometimes volunteers of adventurous and sporting inclination attach themselves to the pack. One such enterprising tyke held in life the record of the hunt in the matter of the under world. He was the pet of a statesman's wife near Watermellock, and having doubtless some of the right blood in his veins, joined the hounds when-ever they visited his country. On one such occasion, having gone to ground after a fox in the ordinary way of business, the zealous amateur failed to return, and the usual endeavours at rescue, which are always pushed to the utmost, proved of no avail. The few days during which hope of his resurrection might reasonably be cherished passed away, and the little animal, who had lived as a member of the family and slept on the hearth, was numbered with the dead and duly mourned by a sorrowing mistress. Four weeks had elapsed, and the edge of the household's grief had worn off, when one morning a gruesome apparition, without a hair on its body or any flesh on its bones, seemingly blind, and only just able to drag one leg after the other, crawled into the farmhouse kitchen, staggered towards the hearth, and flung itself down on the rug. There was literally nothing but this intimate procedure to identify the miserable wreck with the long-lost terrier, to so pitiful a plight had it been reduced. The dog was saved, however, by careful treatment, and lived for some time afterwards.

Another incident which par-took both of the grim and the humorous may be quoted. In this case a hound and two terriers were the principals, all three being lost underground for several days. Eventually, however, the hound and one terrier arrived together at the kennels the former so fat as to be scarcely recognisable, the latter lean and wretched. The darkest suspicions were entertained by those best able to judge that the missing terrier, who was never recovered, had in fact come up inside the hound, and doubtless his fellow, who had not been allowed to share in the feast, would himself have furnished a second but for the happy release. Sometimes the carcass of a slain fox or the supplies that he has laid up accounts for the tolerable condition in which an absentee returns to earth. Occasionally, too, hounds slip over precipices and maim or kill themselves, and other queer things are apt to happen in this wild country.

Some years ago I remember on a Sunday morning encountering the veteran huntsman, with his head on one side and suffering from a stiff neck, by no means of the familiar type. It seemed that a day or two previously a couple of hounds had jumped on him from a crag above, knocked him down, stunned him for a minute or two, and very nearly rolled him off the narrow terrace on which he was standing.

Under the conditions of hunting that here obtain, it is natural enough that the pack often splits up and gets away after different foxes. Equally inevitable is it that the hounds should occasionally run clean away into a far country and kill or lose their fox beyond the reach of the most active pursuers. Their doings, however, are generally marked by the locals, and all that they know is communicated in due course to headquarters. Single hounds have been known to run and eventually kill their fox. A famous dog called Cleaver, still the frequent subject of eulogistic invocation by the men of Ullswater, once led two or three others after a fox from somewhere near the kennels, the whole way to Ennerdale and Wastwater, and there eventually killed it single-handed. Those who know the Lake country will appreciate the magnitude of this performance. That the great achievement passed into authentic history is wholly due to the fortunate circumstance that the innkeeper at "Wastdale Head, a member of the Eskdale hunt, heard or saw the above mentioned hound hunting on the mountain-side, and got up to him either just before or just after he killed his fox. Taking the hound down to the inn, feeding and harbouring him for the night, as is the custom of the country, he then wrote down on a small piece of paper what he had seen, which was much more than can be set down here. This he rolled up and inserted in a quill, and next morning, fastening the latter securely beneath the dog's ears, turned him loose, whereupon Cleaver heading for home traversed nearly the breadth of Lakeland from west to east, the unconscious bearer of a written testimony to his prowess.

It is natural enough that hounds which are compelled by circumstances and the nature of the country to rely a good deal on themselves, and get comparatively little handling in the field, should contract habits of independence. Many of them, for instance, when scattered in their summer quarters, show no inclination whatever to give up hunting merely because their masters have. It is the commonest thing in this off season, when living more or less at large with their summer hosts, for two or three or more to join forces and take a hunt upon their own account.

Summer visitors in Patterdale have been known to complain grievously that their morning slumbers are seriously broken by the cry of such truant hounds running a drag along the neighbouring hill slopes. There is assuredly no other spot in Britain where such a grievance could be lodged by the summer tourist. There are some perhaps who would say it was well worth being awakened in the small hours to listen to such music.

In regard to the accomplishment of the Lake country packs, the Ullswater and Blencathra will have killed about 60 foxes each by the end of this season, the other packs probably not so many. These figures, of course, exclude cubs, which are eit

BLACK WOOD'S MAGAZINE, Vol. CXCIV
July December 1913

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