Page images







“ First let the KENNEL be the huntsman's care."


** Set in the midst of our meridian isle,

By wandering heaths and pensive woods embraced
Withi dewy meads, and downs of open smile,

And winding waters, naturally graced,
Our rural capital is meetly placed.


Newport, the capital of the Isle of Wight, still retains all the characteristics of an old-fashioned English market town, offering in every respect the most marked contrast to its gayer modern rivals : Ventnor and Ryde. Newport has yet, as in the good olden times, its weekly market days, its annual fair, its Town-hall and Corn Exchange, its mayor, burgesses, and corporation. Newport can still show, as we have already seen (what in these rail-road days is yet more rare), its wellappointed four-in-hand stage-coach teams ; its far-famed “ Bugle Hotel,” with a jovial-looking host, a sedate well-dressed old head waiter, pretty chambermaids, and bustling “ boots,” besides all those hangers-on we are wont to remember in days of yore: the former usual idlers and loungers about the “head inn” of an English county town, but now, generally speaking, scattered far and wide by the all-powerful breath of “ steam."

Newport can boast, amongst other antiquities, of its far-famed, historic Castle of Carisbrooke, allowed, alas ! now too rapidly to decayof its venerable old church of St. Thomas, doomed likewise to destruction—but by the more sacrilegious hand of man.* The very mud choking the Medina river-and which prevents half-a-dozen steamers from daily depositing their freights in the very centre of the town--this very accumulation of mud is “ antique,” and so much respected by the good old town of Newport, that rather than remove it, its primitive inhabitants suffer Ryde and Cowes to monopolize all the visitors to the Isle of Wight; and whilst the two latter places are daily increasing in size, importance, and prosperity, old Newport continues to remain (barring its two “ gas” companies) what it was fifty-aye a hundred years ago.

Such was the purport of the observations made during my forenoon stroll, under the auspices of a well qualified cicerone, whilst waiting the

* This venerable old building, which has s'ood so many centuries, and would probably stand as many more, is to be replaced by a modern church. We would ask-is this merely from want of good taste, or is it indeed a job?

return of my companion from Parkhurst Barracks, whither he had sped on a reconnoitring visit to an old friend.

“I have seen Markstone,” said Jones, when we met as agreed on at lunch; “ he is as good a fellow as ever; has offered to propose us as honorary members of his mess, and, what is more, has promised me a mount for to-morrow, when the meet is at the kennel, not above a mile from the town, and I vote that after we have had some grub, we stroll over and have a look at the bow-wows.'

“ With all my heart,” replied I ; - but I must first think of getting something to carry me to-morrow, unless you mean to take me up behind you. Can anything in the way of horseflesh be had in this ancient town?”

Jones, to my great disgust, expressed some doubts on the subject, doubts which were confirmed, when old Edwards, the head ostler of the “ Bugle,” was consulted on this, to me, most interesting subject; old Edwards, however, promised to do his best in my behalf, and with this assurance we started on our projected visit to the “kennel.”

A walk of about a mile, along the picturesque declivity of one side of the valley through which meanders the lazy waters of the Medina, whilst St. George's Downs crown the opposite heights, brought us to Marvel, where under a hill, clothed with gigantic and primeval oaks, lies, snugly nestled, the comfortable abode of Mr. John Harvey, the “secretary” of the Hunt, this being likewise the “ head quarters of the Isle of Wight Hounds. Mr. Harvey was from home ; but we were informed that Quick, the huntsman, was at the stables, and thither we accordingly repaired.

Ahuntsman, generally speaking, does not show to advantage in his “ mufti” dress; Mr. Quick is, however, an unusual exception to this rule.

Apparently between forty and fifty years of age-of a slight figure and light weight—his bright eye indicated promptitude and decision, whilst good temper (equally important as a huntsman's qualification) was legibly written on his countenance, which lit up with pleasure, as he welcomed my friend Jones.

" I've brought my friend here," observed the latter, “to have a look at your sport in the Isle of Wight : he's fresh from chasing Kaffirs, elephants, and hippopotami, at the Cape of Good Hope, and a little foxhunting will no doubt be to him an agreeable change."

" I'm afraid, your honour,” modestly observed Mr. Quick, “that the change will not be for the better in the way of sport ; however, we will do our best-at any rate your honour will not have far to go to-morrow to the meet."

“Let's have a look at the stud, Quick, and then,” said Jones, “I dare say you'll have the goodness to show the hounds to my friend, who had a good deal to do with a 'jackal' pack, at the Cape of Good Hope, and had, likewise, the management of a · Bauberry ’hunt* in the East."

At this intimation, Mr. Quick's respectful attentions towards me increased in a much greater ratio than it probably would have done had he been fully aware of the real nature of a “ Bauberry” pack in India -that we there ran into jackals with terriers, coursed foxes with greyhounds, had our best hunting without any hounds at all--and that, as a climax to all these atrocities, I had more recently at the Cape been

* in which the pack is composed of all sorts of mongrels of every size and description.

guilty of hunting by "spoor" instead of scent, and that, with a pack composed of a very mired and doubtful breed of Fingoes, Hottentots, and Bastaards, who managed nevertheless to show tolerable sport, and run occasionally into a Kaffir; but although many a “brush” had my swarthy pack had with this vermin, it was never recorded (although I would have felt loath to confess as much to Mr. Quick), that we had ever carried a single one away.

Had Mr. Quick been aware of all this, and of how complete a novice I was in the art of the chase (I mean as far as relates to the chase of the fox as followed in old England) he most assuredly, with all his good nature and civility, would scarcely have wasted as much deference as he now manifested towards the “ Huntsman ” of a Fingoe pack, or the “Master” of the high sounding “ Bauberry Hunt” of the East.

"I recognize here,” said Jones, as we entered the stables, “one or two of my old friends of last season, and looking uncommonly well too."

“ Yes," replied Mr. Quick, “ there are still my two “stand-byes," little Turpin and old Sweep, both as good as ever, and never been lame, sick, or sorry, a single day. We have,” continued he, “lately had an addition of a couple of new ones to our stud : this bay, a present from Mr. Cotton; and the chesnut mare yonder, which we call Cayenne, seeing she's so uncommon hot, was very handsomely given to us by Mr. Bissett, whom your honour may remember seeing on her, last year, but who, I am sorry to say, is now never out with the hounds."

" But what," inquired Jones, “is the matter with Cayenne's fetlock joint !”

“She was staked at four years old, and although 'tis rather an unsightly thing, she's all the same very safe, and carries our Whip, Bill, uncommon well.”

" What then have you done with Tom Palmer ?” inquired Jones.

** Why,” replied Quick, “ Tom left us last summer; and we have now Bill Drayton, who was Whip to the Cambridge hounds, and the best one we've ever yet had.”

“ 'Tis, I think, a pity,” observed Jones, “ that you change so oftenthis is so difficult a country to get through after hounds, that both hantsman and whip cannot possibly be too well acquainted with it, in order to be able to do as they would wish-justice to the subscribers, to themselves, and to the pack.”.

" But look here, Sir,” added my companion, addressing himself to me, “just examine this old black horse • Sweep ;' he is the very stamp of an old English hunter, and it would do your heart good to see how steadily and safely he goes over the breakneck fences which we have in this part of the world. Drop-leaps, which a man might as well take with a rope round his neck; marshy brooks, dark and ugly looking as the Styx; and banks as big as the Bank of England, with fearful yawners' on the other side-the old fellow makes child's play of all these, and the more there are of them the better he seems to like it.

* He is,” observed Quick, “a capital good old horse ; but little Turpin,'' added he, going up and patting what was apparently the favourite, " is also a rare little horse, as the Captain knows well. Your honour, I dare say, remembers him when he belonged to Mr. Worsley, from whom we bought him for the hunt.” "I do right well," answered Jones ; “I once saw Mr. Worsley take

him a drop-leap, with a fall of some twelve or fourteen feet into a hollow road, which luckily for both man and horse, had a deep sandy bottom. On another occasion, after a run of forty minutes with scarcely a check, I perfectly recollect his flying him like a bird over a very high and stiff fivebarred gate placed on a rise, just above a gully, from beyond which he was obliged to take his spring. Indeed, Quick, you could not have two better or safer horses for your cramped and difficult island work, which I think would severely puzzle some of the best Leicestershire goers."

“Why,” rejoined Quick, “it is not every horse that can get across the island, if he be ridden fair to hounds."

“No," remarked Jones, “nor many men who can ride as fairly to them as you do, Quick ; but I dare say even you were rather puzzled at first.”

“ Why, for that matter," answered Quick, “ I find I can now get on pretty well; but I had had good practice before I came here, seeing that for seventeen years I had hunted in Cornwall and Devonshire, pretty stiffish countries also to get across."

“But perhaps your honour would like now to look at the hounds," said Mr. Quick, addressing himself to me.

I assented, though feeling at the time I was about to tread on what was to me rather terra incognita, for although from earliest youth addicted to the sports of the field, from having chiefly pursued those sports in our distant settlements abroad, I was, and indeed still am, rather a novice in the mysteries of the kennel, and therefore little qualified to judge of the merits or demerits of a pack of English hounds. No man, however, likes to avow his ignorance, more especially in the matter of field sports, particularly to one, who like Mr. Quick, was an acknowledged professor of the craft; and as we followed him to the kennel, I resolved to keep my eyes and ears well open, and my mouth as close as I could.

“First,” quoth the poet (I had read up Somerville for the occasion) :

« First let the KENNEL be the huntsman's care;

Upon some little eminence erect,
And fronting to the ruddy dawn; its courts
On either hand wide opening to receive
The sun's all-cheering beams, when mild he shines,
And gilds the inountain top.............


Let no Corinthian pillars prop the dome
A vain expense, on charitable deeds
Better disposed; for use, not state,
Gracefully plain let each apartment rise.

O'er all let cleanliness preside.” All which instructions, thought I to myself, have here been strictly complied with the morning sun here streams over the verdant valley of the Medina full on the humble building surrounded by tall palisades, where if “cleanliness preside,” “ state” certainly holds but little sway ; but in vain did I look about for “water and shade," which, saith the same authority, “ no less demand thy care.”

“Yes,” said Jones, to whom I made the remark, “ many great improvements might, no doubt, be advantageously made here ; for instance those savoury odours emanating from the drainings of the kennel, and the decomposition of offal which now so powerfully titillate our olfactories, could easily be obliterated by being buried in a covered tank, whose contents, from the natural slope of the ground, might be made greatly available in fertilizing the surrounding fields : still a certain amount of expense would thereby have to be incurred, for which reason probably, --with perhaps some lurking dislike of innovations-(for they are oldfashioned people in the Isle of Wight), things are allowed to remain in statu quo, spite of what saith the bard about banishing

Par off
Each noisome stench, let no offensive smell
Invade the wide enclosure; but admit

The nitrous air, and purifying breeze.' But come along, Quick, let us parade the pack, and see if the bow-wows' look as well as they did at the close of last season.”

There is nothing-save perhaps a flock of sheep—which unless to the eye of a real “connoisseur,” has apparently so much sameness as a pack of hounds ; for whilst to the initiated in “dogology" the huntsinan, as he summonses every one by name, learnedly expatiates on depth of chest, roundness of foot, muscular throat, spare flanks, and well-filled loins—to the uninitiated it appears a mystery how he can possibly distinguish one hound from another, so similar to the casual observer do they all appear, in their all equally well-fitting piebald coats.

Long and interesting was the conversation now kept up between Mr. Quick and my friend, too long indeed for the limited space available in this magazine ; suffice it to say that the pack was pronounced to be in excellent trim-Pantaloon, the leader, was much commended Sportsman, Regent, Hebe, and other crack hounds, met with their due meed of approbation and praise; and after promising to be with him the following morning-time, half-past ten ; place, Marvel Wood, within a hundred yards of where we stood—we took our departure, much pleased with Mr. Quick’s intelligence and civility, as well as with our visit to the Kennel of the “Foxhounds of the Isle of Wight.”





CHAP, XVI. But what of Mr. Snareall? He has not been looking from that window ?-No. True, it was winter time. Scarcely has his small and for-like eye been cast on that glorious picture by the hand of Murillo ; if so, the thought arising from such act has been to consider its probable value, or to wonder how, having such a possession, a man can allow it to remain at the top of his mantel-piece, instead of converting it into stock.

No, be reclined luxuriously ensconced between the cushions of a large arm-chair ; not, however, with the ease or apparent habit of one

« PreviousContinue »