GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, PRINTERS,
ST. JOHNâ€™S SQUARE.
LIFE OF A FOX,
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
THOMAS SMITH, ESQ.
AUTHOR OF â€œ EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF A HUNTSMAN.â€
WHITTAKER AND CO. AVE MARIA LANE,
Turs little book may be looked upon as a curious
manifestation of the Movement among Foxes,
_The Editor ventures to send it forth, for an agree-
able reminiscence to many who assisted in scenes
which it describes; for some little instruction to
sportsmen who have had less experience than
himself; and for the common entertainment of
all, who like to listen to the way of the world
in the woods.
Hill House, Hambledon,
June 10, 1843.
Â¥ i eae
TO THE RIGHT HON.
CHARLES EARL OF HARDWICKE,
go. Se. Ke.
It is customary in a Dedication to use
the language of fulsome adulation, even in cases
where the writer and the person addressed affect
an equal abhorrence of it. Adopting a more sim-
ple, straightforward course, and one more worthy
of my name, for few foxes have run more straight,
Twill candidly inform your Lordship, that the love
I bear you is much the Same as that borne to my-
self by the most venerable hen now cackling in
your farm-yard, whose half-fledged brood I have
often thinned. But, my Lord, although I openly
acknowledge my aversion to the unfeathered
biped species to which you belong, yet the kinds
and degrees of hatred are various as the cha-
racters of those towards whom we entertain it;
and while some, affecting to treat my persecuted
race a8 noxious vermin, destroy us by day and
by night with snare, trap, gun, and every other
engine which their ingenuity can devise, we have
always found in your Lordship a fair and open
enemy, and one who disdained to have recourse
to the cowardly contrivances above referred
to. It is on this account, my Lord, that I have
done you the honour to dedicate to you the
ollowing narrative of my eventful life.
Many are the happy hours that I have
Spent, some years since, in the neighbourhood
of your Lordshipâ€™s hen-roost. in Hampshire,
and latterly many a tender rabbit, &c. have
I carried home from the plantations and fields
which you now so handsomely preserve for
the use of myself and my kindred at Wimpole ;
this conduct on your part would have ensured
my lasting gratitude, could I forget how fre-
quently I have been driven by hound and horn
from those treacherous coverts. Although, from
the above reasons, there cannot be friendship
between us, there may, I trust there does, exist
some feeling of mutual respect: you and your
brethren are not insensible to those merits in our
species which you affect to depreciate. Fabulists
and other writers, in all languages, have quoted
the sayings and doings of my ancestors, as lessons
of instruction for youth ; while the craft and cun-
ning of your ablest statesmenâ€™ have been, in many
instances, entirely derived from our acknowledged
principles and practice. Our heroism in the en-
durance of a violent and cruel death is equalled
only by our dexterity in avoiding it. It was only
last winter, that a cousin of mine led a gallant
field of two hundred horsemen over thirty miles
of the finest country in England: and whenÂ»at
length overtaken by twenty couple of his enemies,
each one larger and stronger than himself, he died
amid their murderous fangs, without suffering a
yell or cry to escape him! Yet do the poets of
your race celebrate as a hero, one Hector, a timid
biped, who, after a miserable run round the walls
of Troy, suffered himself to be overtaken and
killed by a single opponent!
Such, my Lord, is the justice of historic fame
in this world, wherein thousands of men have
written ; whilst I alone of my tribe have been
endowed with the power of thus using the quills
of that excellent bird, which has been for cen-
turies the favourite object of pursuit amongst the
brave and skilful of my race.
However determined [ still may be to trespass
upon your Lordshipâ€™s preserves, I will do so no
longer upon your time. Our walks in life are
different ; *tis yours to ride, â€™tis mine to run ; â€œtis
yours to pursue, â€™tis mine to be pursued: we
shall meet again in the field, the horn will sound
the alarum, my appearance will be greeted with
a view-halloo, that shall set the blood of hundreds
in motion! Whether after that day of trial I
shall again sit amongst my listening cubs, and
relate to them how many peers, parsons, and
squires lay prostrate on the turf, and were soused
in the brook while pursuing my glorious course,
or whether my brush shall at length adorn
your Lordshipâ€™s hat, fate must decide.
Meanwhile I remain,
Your Lordshipâ€™s obliged Friend,
June 6th, 1843.
DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER.
The fox, the frontispiece, to face the Title.
Pin CUOW Roma FN a ee BS ido ei ER
Plan of an artificial earth,t#o face. . . 2. 1... + - . 7
The fox jumping from the tree, to face. . ...... 70
The huntsman with the hounds running after four foxes,
to face -. Â« 134
Page 4, line 2, for, I was born, read, I am descended from the
ancient family of the Wilys, and was born.
â€” 9,â€”17, for, after each other, read, after one another.
of eviews off
c> s4 =
sade, cralio indy taste x:
A FAITHFUL history of the life of even a Fox
may be not without its interest, for, to the wise,
nothing in nature is mean, and truth is never
insignificant. I was prompted to write this ac-
count of myself by overhearing one day, as I lay
in a covert by the roadside, the following remarks
by one of a party who were passing by on their
return home from hunting a fox, which, as. it
appeared, the hounds had failed to kill.â€”
2 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
â€œ Well, Iâ€™d give a good deal to know what
became of our fox,â€”how was it he could have
beaten us? There is nothing I should like better
than to invite to supper all the foxes that have
escaped from packs by which they have been
respectively hunted to-day, and then persuade
them to declare to what cause they owed their
escape. â€˜To tempt them there should be, rabbits
at top, rabbits at bottom and sides, rabbits cur-
ried, fricaseed, and rabbits dressed in every
imaginable way, by the best French cook.â€
The thought pleased me, and resolving to gra-
tify my own curiosity, I invited all of my friends
who had at any time beaten some pack of repute.
It was a,fine moonlight night, in the middle of
summer, when ten of my guests, besides an
interloper, a stranger to us all, arrived at the
place appointed, beneath an old oak tree in
the New Forest.
For the foundation of my feast, nothing could
be better than the bill of fare projected by the
hospitable hunter ; but as I knew that my friends
would prefer every thing au naturel, I dispensed
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 3
with the services of M. Soyer, and merely added,
for the sake of variety, some fine rats and mice, a
profusion of beetles, and a bird or two for the
few whose taste might be depraved enough to
choose them. Our repast being over, it was
agreed, that for our mutual instruction and enter-
tainment, each in his turn should with scru-
pulous fidelity relate by what arts and stratagems,
or by what effort of strength and courage, he had
eluded and baffled those ruthless disturbers of
our repose, the huntsman and his hounds. I
was first called on to tell the story of my life,
and thus began.
I was born on the 25th day of March, in the year
â€”â€”. Within three or four weeks from that
day of the year every fox of us in this country
is probably brought forth; and it seems espe-
cially designed that the female should thus pro-
duce her only litter in the year at. a season when
our favourite food, young rabbits, are most abun-
dant. The spot in which I first drew breath was
_ 4 breeding-earth, carefully chosen by my mother,
in a well known covert, called Park Coppice, situ-
ated in the centre of the Hampshire Hunt. It
was not until the tenth day after my birth that I
first saw light, or acquired sufficient strength to
crawl with safety to any little distance round our
nest. Had I earlier possessed the use of sight, I
might have strayed beyond my warm shelter, and
e oN f â€˜ 2.
. . ~ -
ee a ee
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 5
for want of sufficient strength to return to it have
perished with cold. Thus Nature goes on to care
for us. I had two brothers and two sisters, and
we all throve and grew rapidly with the nourish-
ment of our motherâ€™s milk alone, until we were
six weeks old, when she began to supply us with
other food, such as rabbits, and. rats and mice,
which she.tore to pieces and divided. amongst us
in equal shares, not however so much to our satis-
faction as to prevent our snarling and quarrelling
with each other thus early over our meals. That
part of the earth where we lodged was between
two and three feet square, with several passages
just large enough for our mother to crawl along :
several of these crossed each other, and of two
that terminated outwards one only was used by
our mother, who stopped up the other for times
of emergency. In these several passages we daily
amused ourselves with chasing each other round
and round. On one occasion, we were inter-
rupted in the midst of our gambols by the sudden
entrance of our mother, who seized us with her
sharp teeth, and carried us to the back of the
a a -
6 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
earth. It seemed that she had been watching
outside, for immediately after this we were alarmed
by a sound hitherto unheard by us. It was the
voice of a man crying out, â€œ Eloo in, Viper! fetch
em out! hie in thereâ€”hie in!â€ The light was
instantly shut out by the intrusion of a dog in a
low and narrow part of the passage, which com-
pelled him to crawl along with his head to the
bottom. Our mother waited for him, where she
had the advantage of higher space, and as he
approached with his head thus low, she fixed her
teeth across the upper part of his nose and pinned
him to the bottom of the passage, where she held
him so that he could not bite her, which he would
have done had she attacked him after he had got
beyond the lower part, when he might have
raised his head up'. Whilst bleeding and howling
1 If this were attended to in making artificial earths, it would
be an advantage to the fox, who might then defend himself better
_ from dogs of every sort : the great point is, to have the entrance
only just sufficiently high for him to get in.
They should be so arranged that the breeding places are
situated higher than the entrances, so that water may run away ;
and when it is necessary to make the earth on level ground, the
_ = =
I OrkS arch. FOX HAR THS.
L ntrance PAUSSADES Marked this TOMI
1 inches high and 1% wide.
Lntercor passages â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€” 12 inches high & 42 wide.
Short pares tmmm 3 /gez long, Yinches high and. 12 wide.
Linds of passages for Creeding places 27 dins. aeross, and
SH 2ins high, centre Of arch.
Breeding places to be higher than the entrances tp Prevent
accumilation of water
GO feel LORY,
â€˜ RE Le
â€˜ â€˜i ; > ao Slee? oe | Py
i i Ni Lt; iit. ie
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 7
with agony, he drew her backwards to the open-
ing, where she let him go. It was in vain that
the man tried to make him go in again, and so he
left the place, declaring his conviction that there
were cubs within, and that he would have them
out another day. He was, however, disappointed,
for our mother that night took us one by one to a
large earth in a neighbouring wood. We were now
two months old, and ceased to draw our motherâ€™s
milk, which we no longer needed, as we were able
to kill a rabbit or pluck the feathers of a fowl,
when she brought it to us, as well as she, _ Some
of these feathers, which in our frolics we had
carried to the mouth of the earth, once betrayed
us to a couple of poachers, who had been lurking
breeding places should be on the surface, and covered over with
earth, so as to form a mound. |
The places for breeding should be formed jn @ circle, in
order that they may be more easily arched, like an oven, with-
out having wood supports. |
The passages should be floored with bricks or flints, to pre- Â°
vent rabbits from digging.
It is desirable to have the low passages not more than seven
inches high, to exclude dogs. Four-inch work at the sides is
sufficient, except for a foot or two at the entrance.
8 THE LIFE OF Â«A FOX,
about the wood, and who noticing them, procured
@ long stick and thrust it into the earth, nearly
breaking the ribs of one of my brothers. When
they pulled it out again, they found the end of it
covered with his hairs, This satisfied them, and
leaving us scrambling and huddling together up to
the back of the earth, they went away, resolving
to come back next day with tools to unearth us,
and expecting, as they said, to sell us for half.a-
. â€œ*Twas a â€™nation pity,â€ added one of them,
â€œwe hadunâ€™t brought my little terrier, Vick; she
would have fetched â€™em out alive in her mouth,
without our having the trouble of digging, though
they was as big as the old â€™un.â€ :
* Mind,â€ said the other, â€œwe beant seen, or
else the squire will gie us notice to keep off.â€
â€˜Their intentions were defeated ; for our mother,
who had been all the time watching their goings
on, anxiously waited for their departure, and no
sooner had night set in, than she again removed us
to a gorse covert hard by, and placed us in a
nicely sheltered spot, where she herself had often
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 9
lain before. Here we were safe from poaching
kidnappers, as it would have been impossible for
them to find us, without being found out them-
selves whilst searching for us, Let every mother
lay up her cubs in gorse, or close and thick
coverts, rather than in large earths, which are
sure to be well known to the fox-taker. We were
now three months old, and living upon young
rabbits and mice, with which such coverts
abound, feeding also upon other food, such
as black-beetles; rabbits, however, were our
favourite food, and if we could find them, we
cared for little else. They are fruitful breeders,
particularly at this season of the year; and a
female has been known to carry two distinct
broods of young at the same time, and to
bring them forth three weeks after each other.
This astonishing fact I have witnessed myself,
and I have heard that the same thing has
â€˜occurred with the female hare, The usual time
of bearing is twenty-eight days. We now began
to venture out of the covert at night-fall, or
even before, being warned by our mother, when-
10 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
ever there was danger, with a peculiar noise
that she made, like â€œkeck, keck ;â€ which we no
sooner heard than we were out of sight in the
covert, where we stayed until all was still again.
As we grew older, we grew more bold and
more cunning; and being four months old,
ventured farther abroad, even in the day time
entering the fields of standing corn, until it was
cut down, when the deeds we did there were
suddenly brought to light.
â€œWhy, John,â€ says the farmer, â€œ there must
be some young foxes hereabouts; look at the
rabbitsâ€™ feet lying about: and whatâ€™s the meaning
of all these white feathers? This comes of not
locking up the fowls oâ€™ nights. Never blame
the foxes, poor craturs; but just go to the
kennel, and tell Foster, the huntsman, as soon
as the corn is off, to bring his hounds.â€ â€œ Very
well, sir.â€™ â€˜ But mind, he aâ€™nt to kill more than
one of em, or else be hanged if ever I takes â€˜care
of another litter.â€
All this was explained to me afterwards, for
at the time I did not understand much about
THE LIFE OF A FOX. ie
it. I only knew that the speaker was a very
nice sort of man, and never doubted that he
meant every thing that is pleasant; although
I must say that his outward looks, the first
time I saw him, did not at all take my fancy.
There appeared to me something so ungainly
and unnatural, something so very absurd, to see
an animal reared up on end, and walking about
on his hind legs; to say nothing of what seemed
his hide, which hung about him in such a loose
and uncouth fashion, as if Nature had been sick
of her job, and refused to finish it.
A few evenings after this I was crossing a
field, and watching some young rabbits, with
which I longed to become more nearly ac-
quainted, when suddenly a large black dog and
an ugly beast called a game-keeper, jumped over
a hedge. I immediately lay flat on the ground,
hoping that I should not be seen; when, how-
ever, I found them coming within a few yards
of me, I started off, closely pursued by the
villanous dog, and seeing that I should soon
be overtaken, turned round, and slipt away
12 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
between his legs. I then made towards the
hedge, and the dog springing after me, I suddenly
turned round again, when he, trying to do the
same, tumbled heels over head, and nearly broke
his precious neck. My comfort was to think
that he was certainly born to be hanged, for he
followed me again as if nothing was the matter,
and soon overtaking me, wearied as I was with
the sport (I think they call it), he seized me on
the back of the neck, and jogged away, with me
in his mouth, to his master, who clapped me
into his enormous pocket, and carried me home.
I was there kept in a dark and. dirty place, where
all sorts of animals had been kept before. ; There
I remained, who by nature am the cleanliest of
animals, with my hairs all clotted with mire
and filthy moisture, and should certainly have
perished of a certain loathsome sickness, had
not another. gamekeeper luckily seen me,. and
told my owner the certain consequence of keep-
ing me so. I was then taken out and put into
a hamper out of doors, ready to be carried by
the night coach to London for sale. After trying
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 13
in vain to gnaw a hole for my escape, I set about
making all the noise I could, which, the night
being still, reached the ears of my mother, who
quickly came and helped me with her teeth to
finish the work which I had nines and so â€œ<
got out and away. |
Having thus suffered for my boldness, I
scarcely ever ventured out of the covert till dark,*
or nearly so; generally, indeed, I remained in
my kennel the whole of the day, unless I had not
been fortunate in procuring food the night before.
I have seen a female fox, when she had young
ones, moving about earlier in the afternoon;
otherwise it is contrary to our habits to do so.
Night is more dear to us than day, and the
tempest suits our plans; for man is then disposed
to keep quiet, and we venture more boldly to
approach his dwellings in search of stray poultry,
which are to be found abroad, not having been
driven into the hen-roost, owing to the neglect
of their owners. |
I resolved to accompany my mother in future
as_much as possible in her excursions, that I
14 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
might profit by her prudence, and observe her
ways. She seldom went abroad till night, though
sometimes she would venture in the dusk of
evening. Upon one occasion I was much amused
with an example of her engaging tricks. It was
a bright moonlight night, when I saw her go
into a field, in which many rabbits and hares were
â€œfeeding. On first seeing her, some of them ran
away for a few yards, some sat up on their hind
legs and gazed at her, and some squatted: close
to the ground. My mother at first trotted on
gently, as if not observing them; she then lay
down and rolled on her back, then got up and
shook herself ; and so she went on till the sim-
ple creatures, cheated by a show of simplicity,
and never dreaming she could be bent on any
thing beyond such harmless diversion, fell to
feeding again, when she quietly leaped amongst
them and carried off an easy prey.
We were now fully able to gain our own sub-
sistence, but not the less would she watch over
our safety. One of my brothers having found a
piece of raw meat had begun to devour it, which
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 15
she observing ran forwards, and as if in anger
drove him away from it. He became sick and
lost all his hairs, owing to poison, which I after-
wards learnt had been put in the meat. It was
fortunate for us that we had left the breeding
earth, for we must otherwise have all been in-
_ fected with the same noisome disease, the mange.
By first smelling it, and then turning away, sheâ€™
taught us in future to avoid any thing of the
kind that had been touched by the human hand.
Thus when we happened to be smelling with
our noses to a bait covered over with leaves,
moss, grass, or fine earth, she would caution us
to let it alone by her manner of looking about,
as if she were alarmed and expected to see our
enemy the keeper. Sometimes the iron trap
would be seen; and then she would lead us to
look at and smell it. Our noses however would
not always be a safeguard, for after the trap
has been laid some days, particularly if washed
by rain, the taint of the evil hand would be
gone, and though we ourselves, thanks to the
watchfulness of. our mother, escaped the danger,
16 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
hundreds of others, led on by hunger, have fallen
into the snare, losing either leg or toes. Baits
for catching stoats and weasels, set upon a stick
some fourteen inches above the ground, we car-
ried away without mischief from the trap below Â°*.
At about six months old we were three parts
grown, I and my brothers being something
larger than our sisters, whose heads were thinner
and more pointed. The white tip of the brush
was not, let me remark, peculiar to either sex
of us. Iand one of my brothers, and also one
of my sisters, had it, whilst the other sister and
the. other brother were altogether without it,
not having a single white hair. That brother
has been known to profit by the exemption,
when on being viewed in the spring of the year
the hounds have been stopped with the remark,
It â€™s a vixen; there is no white on her brush.â€
I have since observed that old male foxes are
of a much lighter colour on the back than are
the old female ones, which are commonly of a
Â° See sketch, â€œ Extracts from the Diary of a Huntsman,â€ p. 211.
THE LIFE OF A FOX. - 17
dark reddish brown; and so it was with my
parents. Our sire never helped â€˜to furnish us
with food, although I have reason to think that
I often saw him prowling about with my mother
at night; instances, however, have been known
where the sire has discharged such an office
after the young had lost their mother. For a
few weeks we went on living a rolicking kind of
life, and fancied ourselves masters of the coverts.
There was a coppice of no more than two years
growth, which enabled me to enjoy the beams
of the sun as I lay in my kennel. Â© This
kind of shelter we all of us choose, especially
when there are no trees of a large growth to
be dripping down upon us in wet weather.
Here as I lay one morning, .early in October,
I was roused from a sound sleep by the noise
of voices, and of dogs rushing towards me.
Away I ran, and had not gone above twenty
yards before I heard the report of a gun, and
instantly received a smart blow on my side, which
nearly knocked me down, breaking however none
of my bones, and causing only a little pain and
18 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
loss of blood. â€œ Ponto!â€”curse that dog; heâ€™s
after him,â€ cried a voice, when the dog turned
back, or else he must certainly have caught me,
as I had only power to run a short distance into
some thick bushes, where I lay down and listened
to the following rebuke.
â€œYou young rascal, how dared you to shoot at
a foxâ€”here, too, above all places? Donâ€™t you
know that this is the very centre of the hunt?
Had you killed him, you would have been a lost
man, an outcast from the society of all good peo-
ple, a branded vulpecide. Who do you think,
that has the slightest regard for his own character,
would have received you after that?â€ â€œI really,â€
_ replied the offending youth, â€œmistook him for
a hare.â€ â€œ Yes, and if you had killed such a
hare, you should have eaten him, and without
currant jelly too.â€
Now, if an humble individual of a fox may
venture to give an opinion upon such a moment-
ous question, I will say that the practice of
destroying our breed, for the purpose of preserv-
ing the quantity of game, is, where it prevails,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 19
equally selfish and short-sighted. For every fox
thus destroyed, hundreds of men are deprived of
a dayâ€™s sport, and sometimes more than that ; and
if none of us were spared, those hundreds of hunt-
ers would become so many keen shooters,â€”how
could the game-preserver then keep up his stock
as he did before? and where would the wealthy
capitalist rent his manor? After this unlucky
adventure, I resolved in future to sleep with one
eye open, and not without reason. I had scarcely
recovered from the injuries which I had suffered,
and had just settled in my kennel one morning
about day break, coiling myself up for the usual
snoose all day, and sticking my nose into the
upper part of the root of my brushâ€”the rea-
son by the bye why the hairs there are gene-
rally seen to be standing on end or turned back-
wardsâ€”when I was startled by the voice of John
Foster, whose name has been mentioned before ;
â€œ Kloo in; e-dhoick, e-dhoickâ€”in-hoick, in-hoick.â€
Disturbed by the unaccustomed sounds, I rose
upon my fore legs, and pricking up my ears
listened for a moment. or two, when I heard the
20 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
rustling of the hounds running straight towards
me, being led on by the scent that was left in
the track of my feet, which parts, especially
when heated by running, seem to leave more
scent than any other part of the body. Thus
the same organ becomes at once the means of
â€˜Inviting pursuit, and of escaping it. Off I went
â€”the awful tongue of an old hound ringing in
my ear, and having about it surely some charm;
for no sooner had he opened than a score or
two others of the pack came rushing from all
sides towards him, and then such a horrible din
as there was behind me. I ranâ€”I flew, I knew
not whitherâ€”I crossed a road in. the woodâ€”and
then such frantic screaming and shouting,â€”
â€œTally Oâ€”tally O,â€ mixed with the blast of
Fosterâ€™s horn, that I was almost mad with fright,
and must have fallen a victim to my savage
pursuers, had not my brothers and sisters been
disturbed by the clamour, and consequently been
the cause of the pack being divided into several
parts, thus enabling me to steal away towards
the opposite side of the wood, where I remained.
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 21
My state was such that I could not be still,
as I ought, and I kept moving backwards and
forwards and away from the cry of the hounds,
which at times hunted us in several packs, then
all together as they crossed each other, and then
again separated. This had gone on for nearly half
an hour when, to my great joy, they all went
away with a frightful yell, leaving the wood and
me miles behind them. I was congratulating myself
on my escape, and listening to hear if they were
returning, when I was startled by the sound of
steps approaching, and a panting, as of some ani-
mal in distress; it was one of my brothers, evidently
more beaten and terrified than myself, and who,
on hearing something move and not knowing it
was I, ran back out of sight in a moment, and I
saw no more of him then. I remained where I
was hidden until I had partly recovered from my
fears, and not hearing the noise of hounds, had
crept into some thick bushes, where I lay quiet,
when to my horror I again heard the holloa of the
huntsman, who seemed to be taking the hounds
round the wood, with now and then the tongue of
22 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
a single hound; then, all on a sudden, the deep
voice of Sawyer, the whipper-in, calling, â€œ'Tally-o !
there he goes; â€™tis a mangy cub!â€ In a minute
every hound was after him, and in full cry
for a quarter of an hour; suddenly the noise
ceased, and the fatal holloa, â€œ Whoop!â€ was often
repeated by the men with â€œTear him boys;
whoop! whoop!â€ And that was the end of my
poor mangy brother. They then, not having seen
any other of us for some time, thought we were
gone to ground, and went away. Happy was I to
hear that horn, which had before caused me such
terror, calling away the hounds, that, to judge
from their loud breathing as they passed near me,
were not loath to go; for it was nearly ten oâ€™clock,
and the heat most oppressive. They were mis-
_ taken in thinking we were all gone away, although
my brother and sisters had taken advantage of the
hounds running in the open, and had gone across
to the gorse covert, from which my unfortunate
brother just killed had often, in consequence of
his mangy state, been driven by our mother.
Again we had to thank that mother for our
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 23
safety, for at the time when we were all nearly
dead with toil and alarm, it seems she took an
opportunity of running across the wood in front
of the hounds, which soon got on her scent,
and followed her as she led them away for some
miles out of the covert. The huntsman then,
convinced that they had got on an old fox, as
soon as the men could stop the hounds, imme-
diately brought them back to the covert where
they had left us, hoping to kill one of us young
It was not till some time after this memorable
day, that we ventured to take up our quarters in
the wood again. Our mother thought it right to
take us away to a covert about two miles distant,
where, as the hounds only hunted cubs at this
early part of the season, there were no young
foxes; consequently, for that time, we were left
undisturbed, and soon began to feel as much at
home as in the covert which we had left. Had
it not been for the shooters, who frequently
came with their spaniels, we should have even
preferred it; and they so frequently moved
24, THE LIFE OF A FOX.
us, that we soon took little notice of them,
except by going from one part of the wood to
the other. Indeed we were rather benefited by
them than otherwise, for we occasionally picked
up a wounded or dead bird, hare, or rabbit, and
after eating as much as we could, we always
buried the remainder, scratching a hole in the
ground with our claws, and covering it over
with earth. Even this made us enemies ; for
when by accident the dogs smelt it, and drew it
out, the keepers immediately told their master
that if they were not allowed to kill the foxes,
there would not be a head of game left.
Constant disturbance after this induced us to
return to the strong gorse where we had pre-
viously been, and which was nearly impenetrable
by shooters ; but we had not been here more
than a few days, when, about ten oâ€™clock in the
morning, towards the end of October, I was
again alarmed by hearing Foster the hunts-
manâ€™s now well-known voice; â€œSawyer, get round
the other side of the covert: if an old fox breaks
away, let him go, stop the hounds, and clap them
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 25
back into the covert again, and then they will get
settled to a cub.â€”In-hoick ! e-dhoick ! e-dhoick !â€
I listened with breathless fear, and soon heard
the rustling of hounds on every side of me, then
a solitary slight whimpering, and Fosterâ€™s cheer,
â€œ Have at him, Truemaid; hoick! hoick !â€ These
to my ears most frightful sounds sent every
hound to the same spot; and I started from my
kennel, and got as fast as I could to the other
side of the gorse. I soon gladly returned, and
meeting an old dog-fox, that at first I mistook
for a hound, dashed away on one side, before the
pack had crossed my line. They ran by me, and
continued following the old fox, till I heard
* Tally-o! gone away;â€ with a smacking of
whips, and â€œhoick back, hoick back ;â€ then for
a few minutes all silent; and then again the
same terrible tongues drove me from my quarters.
They were not in pursuit of me in particular, but
running after either my mother, or one of the rest
or all of us, divided as they were into different lots,
One of these at last got fast on my track, and
away I went straight to the earth where we were
26 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
born; but to my surprise and disappointment I
found it stopped up with a bundle of sticks, and
covered over with fresh earth; for it was not in
that state when I passed by it the night before.
I waited for a few moments, and tried to scratch
an opening; but hearing the hounds hunting
towards me, I returned to the gorse, where they
shortly followed me. Owing to my being smaller
than they were, I could easily run a good pace
in it, where they were obliged to go slowly; and,
running in the most unfrequented tracks, I con-
trived to keep out of their way. At times they
were all quite silent, and could not hunt my scent
at all, owing, probably, to the ground and covert
where the hounds had been running so often being
stained. This dreadful state of things went on for
a length of time, till at last I heard them halloo,
â€œ'Tally-o! tally-o! gone away.â€ Shortly after
this the hounds left the covert, hunting after the
fox which was seen to go away, and which again
happened to be our mother. The men soon
found out their mistake; and as they were some
time absent, they must have had difficulty in
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 27
stopping them, which at first I heard them trying
Meanwhile I had been flattering myself that
I was safe, and that once more I had escaped;
but quickly I heard them coming back very
quietly, as if intending again to hunt me. Pre-
viously to this I had found a rabbitsâ€™ burrow,
into which I crept. I was luckily, as it hap-
pened, too much distressed and too heated to
remain there, and left it, and went to the op-
posite side of the covert. At this time a cold
storm of wind and rain came on, notwithstanding
which an old hound or two got on my line of
scent, and hunted it back the contrary way to
that which I had gone, till they came to the
rabbit burrow, where they stopped, and began
baying and scratching with their feet at the
There can be little doubt that hounds have a
language well understood by each other, and I
never can forget the noise made by the whole
pack, as they all immediately came to the spot ;
the men halloed â€œWhoop! whoop! have at him,
28 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
my lads;â€ and one was ordered to fetch a
terrier, and tools for digging. During the. time
they were at this, 1 stole away from the covert
in another direction, and so saved my life. It
seems they soon found out that I had left the
earth, tried the covert over again, and then went
home, vowing my destruction another day.
This was warning enough to prevent my
remaining longer in or near this covert for the
present. Venturing further abroad, I returned
to that in which I had been disturbed by the
shooters, and there frequently picked up more
wounded birds: I also found, in a field close
by, part of a dead sheep, which a: shepherd
had left for his dog. Some of this I took away
and buried. I was returning for another bit,
when the rough dog, which had just arrived,
suspecting that I had purloined his meat, flew
at me the instant he saw me, with such fury
that he knocked me over and over again without
getting hold of me. He then turned, and was
in the act of securing me with his teeth, when
I griped one of his legs, and bit it through; the
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 29
pain which he suffered prevented him from more
than mumbling me with his teeth; so I got off, .
and made the best of my way to the covert that
I felt next day that, bruised as I was, I
could not have escaped for ten minutes from
a pack of hounds, had they found me; I there-
fore lost no time in reaching a main earth, into
which I got before the earth-stopper had put
to; but I had scarcely done so when he came,
at daylight, and to my great dismay stopped it
up. I remained there all day, and till late at
night, and no one came to open it, and, had
I not contrived to scratch my way out, I know
not how long I might have remained there;
for I have reason to know that many of us
are stopped up in rocky earths and drains for
weeks, and starved to death, owing to the for-
getfulness or sheer cruelty of the stoppers.
I have heard such sad tales asâ€”but just now
it would interrupt my story to tell them.
It so happened, my friends, that for some
time I was not hunted by hounds, and con-
30 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
trived to extend my rambles, till I was ac-
quainted with a great part of the country. Oc-
casionally lying in my kennel, if in an open
covert, and hearing a pack of hounds. in full
cry near, I moved off in an opposite direction,
but sometimes not without being seen by some
of the wide and skirting hunters, who lost their
dayâ€™s sport in riding after me, and halloomg
â€œTally-o!â€ but I always kept quiet in my
kennel when I heard hounds in full cry, if I
happened to be in a strong gorse covert. Thus
passed off the greater part of the first winter of
my life. | !
On one occasion I was lying im rather an
exposed: place by the side of a pit, in the middle
of a field, when I saw a man. pass by on horse-
back, who, on seeing me, stopped, and, after look-
ing a short time, rode on. Till the noise of his
horseâ€™s feet was out of hearing I listened, and
then stole. away, which was most fortunate, for
in the course of a few hours the hounds were
brought to the pit, the man having told the
huntsman where he had seen me, as he thought,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 31
asleep; though we foxes, however it may seem,
are seldom otherwise than wide awake.
When the month of February arrived, I
showed my gallantry by going and visiting an
interesting young friend of mine of the other
sex in a large covert some distance off, and
there, to my chagrin, I met no less than three
One morning we were surprised by hearing the
voice of Foster, drawing the covert with his hounds,
and giving his peculiar â€œ E-dhoick! e-dhoick!
kille-kidâ€”hoick! (probably for Eloo-in-hoick !)â€
It seems that none of us felt very comfortable or
much at home here, and all must have left our
kennel about the same time; for the hounds were
soon divided into several packs, and running in
full cry in different directions. Fortunately those
that were following me were stopped ; at which
I rejoiced not a little, having travelled twenty
â€˜miles the night before, besides my wanderings in
and about the covert. These travellings and wan-
derings are the cause why so many more of us
dog-foxes are killed by hounds in the month of
32 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
February than in any other three months of the
year, â€˜Two dog-foxes, which had come from a
great distance, were killed by the hounds that day.
I had had reason to be jealous of them, as they
had for the last week or two been tracing and
retracing the woods, in pursuit of a female, inces-
santly each night, until daylight appeared, when
they were obliged, through fatigue, to retire to
I recollect hearing, as I lay that day in a piece
of thick gorse, the following proof of the patience
and good temper of Sawyer, the whipper-in. The
hounds had followed a fox into a wood close by,
haying hunted him some time in close pursuit,
when a jovial sort of person, who constantly rode
after these hounds, saw a fresh fox,â€”being no
other than myself,â€”and began hallooing to the
full extent of his voice. Sawyer immediately rode
up to him, and addressed him thus: â€œ Now, pray
Mr. Wâ€”â€”, donâ€™t ye holloa so, donâ€™t ye holloa;
â€˜tis a fresh fox!â€ But still the person continued
as loud as ever. The same entreaty was repeated
again and again, and still he would halloo, At
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 33
last, Sawyer gave it up as a forlorn hope, and left
him, just remarking, â€œWell, I never seeâ€™d such
an uneasy creature as you be, in all my life.â€ He
then followed the pack, which had by that time
left the cover in pursuit of the first fox, which
they had been running all the time. Yet we foxes
have reason to know that a more determined and
ardent enemy to us, in the shape of a whipper-in,
than this man, never lived. It fortunately hap-
pened for me that the weather now became very
dry ; for I was not unfrequently disturbed by these
hounds, and though the scent was not very good
in this plough country, I was at times much
more distressed after being hunted than on former
occasions, and was often nearly beaten ; for it is not
in our nature to be moving in the heat of the day,
and not being so much inured to it as the hounds
were, I expected to fall a prey to their able hunts-
man, who, when his hounds would not hunt me,
appeared to know where I was gone to; and very
often, when all was silent, and I thought myself
safe, brought them on without hunting, and cross-
ing the line I had come; so that against him
34 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
and his clever whipper-in, I had, notwithstanding
the dry weather, enough to do to save my life,
On one occasion, I had a most severe dayâ€™s
work, for the scent was remarkably good. I was
lying quiet in my kennel, very unwilling to
move, though I heard the hounds running a fox
close to me, which they very soon lost, as they
could not, or would not, hunt it. I thought this
very strange, as by the use of my nose I knew it
to be a good scenting day. It turned out that
the fox was a vixen, which had just laid up her
cubs ; the effect of which generally is, that the
scent: becomes so different, that hounds, old ones
particularly, appear to know it, as if by intuition,
and will not hunt it. As I had not had more notice
of their approach, I thought my best chance of
escape was to be perfectly still,â€”a plan often
adopted by me since on a good scenting day; but
it was of no use, for the huntsman almost rode
upon me in drawing the cover; and I was
obliged to fly when the hounds were close to
me; however, after a long run, I most luckily
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 35
The breeding season for game now came on,
and being still young I frequently was near
being tempted to seize an old bird as she â€˜sat on
her eggs, but the difference in the scent of
the bird prevented me. At length, when I had
been prowling about near a farm yard in which
poultry were kept, one night that I had not
met with other food, I pounced on a hen which
was sitting in a hedge, but the state she was in
gave such an unpleasant taste to her flesh, that
after eating a little I left it, and have never
since touched a bird of any sort when sitting.
She has at that time, indeed, but little flesh on
her bones, and I believe that no old fox will
take one for his own eating, although a female
may sometimes carry one off, when hard pressed
for food for her young. The same instinct which
prevents hounds from hunting a fox with young,
thus prevents much destruction of. birds when
sitting. It seems like a design of Nature, to
save the race of birds that have their nests on
the ground, from being entirely destroyed by our-
selves, or by vermin, such as stoats and weasels.
36 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
Rabbits are too often the perquisites of the
game-keeper, and the iron traps which he sets
with the pretence of catching them are the
destruction of hundreds of us. This might be
prevented if the master would only insist on these
traps not being employed at all, and compel the
use of the wire snare, and of ferrets to get the
rabbits out of their burrows.
Having by this time learnt from my mother
all that she could teach me, I followed her ex-
ample in many things. Amongst them I remarked,
that on a wet and windy night, she almost always
chose, for various reasons, to lie in a gorse covert.
It is generally dry and without droppings from
trees; it is also more quiet and freer from the
roaring of the wind than when near to them.
Besides this, we are not so liable to be disturbed
by the shooters, and though we should be so, are
out of sight. We are also there out of sight of
some of our troublesome feathered neighbours,
the crows, magpies, and jays, who would betray us
when moving abroad during the day-time. They
are always moving with the first appearance of
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 37
daylight, and we. are glad to get out of their
sight as soon as we can and go into our kennel,
lest they should betray us to the keepers, who
are also often abroad at that time. The worst is,
that at times, when we think we have got away
from hounds which are hunting us, these birds,
by making a noise and darting down almost upon
us, as they continue to do where we run along,
point out to the hunters exactly where we are.
It has often happened that I have been betrayed
by an old cock pheasant. No bird has a quicker
eye than he has, and directly he saw me he would
begin kuckupping, and continue to make this
noise as long as I remained near him, obliging
me to move away.
My life during the summer months was one of
almost uninterrupted pleasure. Naturally fixing
my head quarters near the part of the country
where I was bred, I would often ramble by night a
great distance, and frequently remarked with sur-
prise, as I crossed any line that I had taken when
hunted, the wonderful straightness with which I
had pursued it, as it was often in a direction
38 â€˜THE LIFE OF A FOX.
where there were no large woods or earths; but
I recollected that I had the wind for my only
guide, and went as if blown forward by it; so
that I could hear whether the hounds were fol-
lowing me, at a greater distance than if I had
gone against it; and besides this, it was more
difficult for them to smell the scent which was
lodged on the ground over which I had run, when
blown away from their noses, than when blown
One circumstance occurred to check my joy,
namely the loss of my other brother, who had ac-
companied me in one of my midnight rambles into
the adjoining country near Hambledon; and (for
though so long ago as 1828, I well remember it)
we had been induced to swim across some -water
to an island situated in Rookesbury Park, belong-
ing to Mr. Garnier, on which it so happened there ~
was a nest of young swans; and although we did
not venture to touch them, the old ones were so
angry with us for our intrusion, that when we
attempted to quit the island, they would not allow
us to do so; but continued swimming backwards
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 39
and forwards to show their anger. At length, as
daylight was appearing, my poor brother was rash
enough to make a sally, and had nearly swum
across to the land, when, overtaking him, they
commenced an attack, and by flapping their wings
against his head, and keeping him under water,
speedily drowned him, just as a man came up to
see what they were about.
_ They seemed to exult in their prowess, and
whilst they were proudly throwing back their
heads, and rowing in triumph round their victim,
I took an opportunity of crossing the water on
another side, and escaped, resolving never in
swimming to encounter the same risk again.
Nothing worth relating occurred until towards the
beginning of the following winter. It is true that
I was often induced to move and to quit the wood
in which I lay, owing to my being disturbed by the
hounds ; but as they never followed me far, and
were stopped by the whipper-in when I left the
covert, it was evident they came on purpose to hunt
young cubs; I therefore took care to retire to a
gorse covert near. Sutton Common, where none
40 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
were bred, much to the regret of the owner, a
Rev. Baronet, who is one of our greatest friends,
as no keeper of his would dare to destroy a fox
without pain of losing his place. Here I remained
quiet for some months, till one morning I was
waked by the noise of Foster the huntsman; and
shortly afterwards the whimpering of a hound told
me that he was on the scent left by my footsteps
on my way to my kennel, although it was where
I had passed before day, and several hours had
gone by. I was led by the wind that day to
take them over a country seldom if ever gone over
by them before, namely Wolmer Forest, crossing
one or two rivers, from extreme dread of this
huntsman and his powerful pack. Whether it
was the water or the fences that stopped him, I
cannot say, but I suspect it was the latter;
although a few years before nothing could have
done it. The hounds were at times running
without him, and it was in consequence of that
I think that I eventually beat him, and escaped.
In the course of a few days I returned to the
same covert, and had not been there more than
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 4]
fourteen more, when this manâ€™s awful voice
startled me again,
I was soon prepared for another run with a
north-east wind, which might have led me to
take the same line as before ; but that I heard
Sawyer the whipper-in exclaim, â€œTis our old
fox, and he went through the same holes that he
did the last time we found him.â€ He gave the
view-halloo directly afterwards. I felt certain that
they came again thus soon, determined if possible
to kill me; and though frightened a little, I took
care to keep on without stopping to listen, as
I had done before; so that I kept a good dis-
tance ahead of them, and continued my best pace
for many miles, crossing Wolmer Forest into
Sussex. I no longer heard the hounds follow-
ing me, and being much distressed with fatigue,
ran forward to very short distances, and then
turned either to the right or to the left, in order
to baffle my pursuers. At length I came opposite to
some buildings, and seeing a large pile of wood,
crept in amongst it and lay down. After listening
for some time, I heard the cry of a few hounds
42 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
not far off; but the noise ceased just about the
spot where I turned down the road, and all was
silent for some time. At last I heard the voice
of Sawyer the whipper-in, saying he must take
the hounds home to the kennel, if his horse
would enable him; but that the huntsmanâ€™s and
the other whipper-inâ€™s horses were both done ;
and so they were, for they never lived to reach
their stable. |
Having again escaped from that clever hunts-
man Foster and his pack, I at first determined
to remain in this part of Sussex. It was hunted
by Colonel Wyndham, whose hounds I soon had
reason to know were not less fatal than those by
which I had lately been so severely hunted. They
seemed to me to be quicker in their work, and
to keep closer to me when it was a good scenting
day; although when it happened to be otherwise
they could not hunt me so long or so far as the
other pack had done. Once or twice when I
was nearly tired they left me, owing to the scent
being bad, and went to find another fox, when
I believe that Foster and his pack would have
THE LIFE OF A FOx. 43
gone on longer, if not killed me. The pace they
obliged me to go, when hunting me over the
hills, was terribly fast, and very probably the
cause of their not making so much cry when in
pursuit. Indeed they ran almost mute, and at
times got very near to me before I was aware of
This I found was too dangerous a country
for me to remain in; and so when on another
occasion they found me, I ran into the Ham-
bledon country, not far from Stanstead Forest,
where I fortunately escaped, and finding myself
in a wild part near Highdown Wood, did -not
venture to return, feeling sure: that with the
Colonelâ€™s quick pack and blood-like horses, if
they found me on a good scenting day, I must be
beaten by them. However, here was in store for
me as great a trial of my powers; for it seemed
that Mr. Osbaldistonâ€™s hounds were just come
for this part of the season to hunt the country.
One morning I heard Sebrightâ€™s voice cheering
on his pack, which, with a burning scent, were
running a fox like lightning. Suddenly there
44, THE LIFE OF A FOX.
was an awful silence; then Dick Buxtonâ€™s
screech, and the â€œ Whoop!â€ soon followed. Fora
minute or two only I heard a noise, as if hounds
were quarrelling, and that no sooner ended
than Sebright saying, â€œNow, Mr. Smith, this
is the first real good scenting day we have had.â€
I could stop no longer, but stole away, hoping
not to be seen; but, my friends, fancy my
horror, when, on stealing from the gorse on the
open down, and thinking that the rising ground
would screen me, I saw this famed pack, and
first-rate huntsman, within two hundred yards
of me. I stopped for an instant, but scorned to
return into the gorse, so took away across the
hilly downs near Hogâ€™s Lodge, and crossed
the Petersfield road to Portsmouth, over the
open down for two miles, with the pack viewing
me the whole time, except a moment or two,
when I was rounding the tops of the_ hills,
then again they saw, and swung after me down
the steep sides of the hills. I cleared the first
fence adjoining the down, and had scarcely
got fifty yards, when I saw the whole pack
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 45
flying over it after me, and at the next fence
I turned short to the right as soon as I had
cleared it. They were driven a little beyond
it before they turned, which gave me a trifling
advantage. I now continued to gain ground in
advance of the pack, and though they never
once were at fault, or lost the scent for a
minute, and went on several miles across open
downs into Sussex, still I kept on, determined
to save my life.
I had gone full nine miles, as straight as [|
could go, and had just turned for the first time
to the right, and was ascending the top of the
highest point of the down, when, to my great
joy, I saw the hounds stopping, and trying in
vain to recover the scent, which was destroyed by
my having run through a large flock of sheep.
They now could not hunt the scent a step
further, though on the middle of an open down;
and such was the disappointment and chagrin
occasioned by it to Sebright, that he was heard
by a friend of mine to say, that if the *squire
would give him a thousand a year, he would
46 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
not stop to hunt a country, where the scent
was so soon entirely lost; and that, until this
occurred, nothing in the world would have made
him believe that any fox could have run straight
away from such a pack as his, under such ap-
parently favourable circumstances.
I remained till the following season in this
part of the country, in a covert belonging to
Sir J. Jervoise, called the Markwells, when I
was first roused from my slumber by the voice
of another huntsman, Mr. Smith, who at that
time hunted his own hounds, known as the
Hambledon pack. It was about one oâ€™clock in
the afternoon, in the month of December, and
fortunately I prepared myself for a dayâ€™s work,
for sure enough I had it. When I first broke
cover, I took the open, and in running had
the wind in my face for about two miles,
then finding the new pack pressing close to
my heels, I turned short back with the wind,
which most fortunately, as it appeared to me, was
now blowing in a direction straight to a large
earth that I had formerly discovered at Grafham
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 47
Hill in Sussex. The pace had blown the hounds,
and the great change, by turning back, and down
the wind, caused them to stop for a minute or
two; and although I soon heard them again
hunting me, at a pace not quite so fast, their
perseverance induced me to keep on straight
forward. I had already gone for about ten or
twelve miles, when, crossing a grass field near
some buildings, I was startled at hearing the
noise of other hounds close by. It was the
pack in Colonel Wyndhamâ€™s kennel. A view-
halloo, which came from one of his men, made
me continue to get on as fast as I could, and by
the time it was nearly dark, I fortunately reached
the large earth at Grafham Hill. I had not been
there for more than a few minutes, when, lying
with my head near the entrance of the earth, in
order to breathe more freely, I heard the hounds
come up to the spot, and try to get in, on which
I retreated, but no farther than I was obliged to
do, according to the plan I always adopted when
distressed or nearly run down.
The distance I had run, straight ahead from
48 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
where I started, was found to be twenty-seven
miles. One of the four or five men who came
in said that they must have changed their fox
when the hounds ran through these large coverts.
The reply was, that it was scarcely possible,
as they never once broke out of the road and
rides, within which the fox had kept during the
- whole time.
It was now dark, and the hounds had full forty
miles to return to their own kennel. I had rea-
son, however, to know that they stopped that night
half way, at the Drove Kennel; for during the
night I had returned back as far as I could to the
place whence I came, and intended to remain
there; but all the middle of the next day I heard
the sound of the horn which I had so often heard
during the severe run I had had the day before,
and which it appears was blown with the hope
of its being heard by two hounds that were
missed the night before, having come to the
earth and remained some time after the pack had
gone away. On hearing the horn, I soon left my
kennel, and, though very stiff, was obliged to
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 49
make the best use of my legs that I could; for
the pack, on their way home, crossed the line
I had taken in the night, and were soon heard
running in full cry after me. Glad was I to
hear Mr. Smith order his men to stop them; for
I must speedily have fallen to them, had they
only been aware of my weakness. One curious
fact remains to be told, namely, that the two
hounds remained for three days in the part near
where they were left at the earth, and found their
way back to the kennel on the fourth day after-
wards. Now it is true that we foxes easily
retrace our way on all occasions, but it must be
recollected that we are often led straight, by
having in view some point, a main earth, for in-
stance: when that is not the case, on being pur-
sued by the hounds and guided by the wind, we
notice the different points as we pass, and choose
that line in which it appears least likely for us
to be viewed; we thereby without difficulty re-
trace our line the same night, at least for some
distance, unless too exhausted to travel more than
necessary to procure food, when we remain near
50 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
where the hounds have left us. I have done this
for a short time, when the coverts and country
to which I belonged have been much disturbed
by the hounds; but invariably returned the
same night. Now the hound has enough to do
when hunting us, without taking notice of the
country which he passes over; and we must not
assume to ourselves greater sagacity than belongs
to him, for I believe that we are but varieties of
the same kind. I observe amongst our party one
who may have something to say upon that subject
I underwent another severe dayâ€™s work in the
same country with another pack of hounds. In
consequence of finding plenty of rabbits in a
covert near the Waterloo Inn, I remained there
for some time, and my peace was undisturbed,
until I was roused one morning by the strange
but fine voice of Mr. Kingâ€™s huntsman, Squire.
After running round the covert a few times, I
found that his quick pack were not to be trifled
with ; I, therefore, went straight away in the
direction of Sussex. They still pressed me on
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 51
through the large coverts there, and I left them
in a wood, their huntsman and his master, Mr.
King, imagining that I had gone to ground in a
wood in Colonel Wyndhamâ€™s country,â€”a mistake
which happened in consequence of my having
crept into an earth that I remembered to have
seen there, but which, when I found that it
was merely a rabbit earth, I left, and went on.
The hounds stopped there, but it was soon dis-
covered that they would not lie, and the delay
caused my escape, for I must otherwise have been
killed. It was a terribly severe day, for I had
been hunted by them more than twenty miles
from the place where they found me. A great
part of the country I ran across was the same
that I had gone over in the previous year, when
hunted by Mr. Smithâ€™s pack, though the distance
was not so far by some miles. The great differ-
ence I observed in these two packs was, that the
present one were rather faster, and could not
be heard so plainly when running: this was in
Some measure made up for by Squireâ€™s voice,
which I so often heard to cry â€œ Whoop !â€
52 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
I was afraid to remain in these parts, so tra-
velled westward, until I reached a wood by the
sea-side, near Southampton ; and there, owing to
the scarcity of rabbits, was obliged to seek other
food, often consisting of dead fish, which I found
on the shore. I had more than once a narrow
escape from being shot by sailors, as they passed
by in a boat at moonlight, and was induced to
leave this part also. Following the sea-shore,
I crossed the Itchen Bridge,â€”for I had not for-
gotten my escape from the swans, and would
never trust myself again in water when it. could
be avoided, and by degrees, as the spring came
on, I got into the New Forest. Fortunately for me,
the system of hunting in that part until near the
middle of May was discontinued by Mr. Codring-
ton, who then hunted it. He was an excellent
Sportsman: and would never take an unfair ad-
vantage of us, but left all to his hounds.
Although I had escaped during the winter
months from other good packs, it was doubtful
that I could have escaped at this season, when the
weather is sometimes very hot; for although, as I
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 53
have observed before, the heat affects the hounds,
it is more usual for them to be moving about in
it than it is for us, and they therefore suffer from
I passed this summer most agreeably, living
much on beetles, with which the forest abounds,
occasionally visiting the sea-shore to seek for
dead fish, and getting a fair supply of rabbits.
The old rabbits frequently laid up their young in
the open parts of a country, in the middle of
fields, or any where far from hedges, pro-
bably to be more out of the way of stoats and
weasels. The number of nests of young rabbits
that a single one of us destroys is so enormous,
that it would seem to many quite incredible.
I got well acquainted with the purlieus of the
forest in my frequent travels; in spite of which
my feet were never tired by treading on hard
flints, as they used to be in upper Hampshire ;
and, strange as it may appear, in that flinty
country I do not recollect ever having had them
cut or made sore by them, even when I was
pursued by the hounds; probably in some mea-
54 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
sure owing to our quickness of sight, and to our
not having to hunt a scent, so that our atten-
tion is not diverted. I believe I owed to these
very flints the salvation of my life, as they obliged
the hounds to go more slowly over them, and
thus afforded me more time. $
The autumn had nearly passed, and being un-
disturbed by hounds, I flattered myself that I
was safe; but my dream soon vanished; for
it appeared that the only reason why they had
not disturbed me was, that they are not allowed
to hunt in the forest so early as is done in
other countries. I was soon alarmed by hearing
at intervals Mr. Codringtonâ€™s deep voice, so unlike
the style of the huntsmen by whom I had been
hunted ih other parts. The hounds appeared
to understand it well enough, and as they soon
spread through the covert adj oining that where
I lay, I stole away to some distance, where I
remained within hearing of them. It was a long
time before they left the first covert, as it hap-
pened to be one in which I had been moving
about when searching for food, and consequently
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 55
these well-nosed hounds got on my scent,â€”there
called â€œthe drag.â€™ This fine old huntsman be-
lieving that a fox was near, persevered for an
unusual length of time in trying to find one, and
owing to one or two hounds occasionally throwing
their tongues, waited in an agony of expectation.
At length being led to the covert which I had
just left, they soon got on the line which I
had taken when I came from my kennel two
hours before, and which they had great difficulty
in hunting. By this time, I thought it right to
leave the wood, where I had stopped. A man
saw me go away, and hallooed loudly, but still
the hounds were not allowed to be brought on;
and they continued a walking pace until they got
to the spot where I had waited, at the extremity
of the wood, and where, though at some distance,
I heard the cry of the hounds following me too
closely to be despised by me as they had hitherto
been. It seemed that they were left entirely to
themselves, for I heard no menâ€™s voices cheering
them on, as in other countries when running
in the same way. .As they continued without
56 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
any stopping, I resorted to the only means then
im my power, and ran through a herd of deer, with
which the forest abounds. This plan succeeded,
and probably saved my life; for when the deer
heard the hounds coming towards them in full
cry, they came straight after me in the line I had
run, and so spoilt the scent which I had left.
I well recollect, a short time after this, over-
hearing, as I lay in my kennel, the following
conversation between two men as they rode by.
â€œ What a pity it is that Mr. Codrington is so
silent when his hounds are hunting their fox.â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t know that; for suppose now you
saw some weasels hunting a rabbit, do you think
they would hunt it better if some fellow was
to keep on hallooing to them?â€ No reply fol-
lowed the question, although I anxiously waited
to hear one. As far as I was concerned, I
regretted that more noise was not made, as it
would have assisted me, and not the hounds.
The silent system is, at all events, a most
dangerous one for the fox before he is found.
I have had some narrow escapes from these
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 57
very hounds being brought to a small covert
or bog in this forest, so silently that they sur-
rounded me before I was aware, and I have
with difficulty got away from them. Indeed
many female foxes have thus been killed heavy
with cub, and in that state incapable of great
exertion. Had these females heard the hunts-
manâ€™s voice in time, they might have moved and
run to earth, or shown in what state they were,
so that the hounds might have been stopped
in time to save their lives. As to the system
of not assisting the hounds, I am sure that every
fox will agree with me in approving it. Give
me. plenty of roads, and dry fallows, or a few
deer or sheep, and even when the scent is good.
I shall not fear to be killed by an unassisted
pack, Without such impediments a pack so
educated would be the most dangerous of all,
and even with them, if in the hands of a judi-
This pack was (alas! that I should say was,
for he is no more,) hunted by a kind-hearted
and excellent man, who has been heard to say,
58 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
at aâ€™ moment when his hounds were running
very hard, and going like Leicestershire,â€”he
being nearly twenty stone,â€”â€œI hope I shall not
see them any more till they have killed.â€ Not-
withstanding the system just described, as many
of my friends have fallen victims to this pack
as to any in this part of the country. Never-
theless here I shall remain for the present, and
not go away until I am fairly driven.
I now, my friends, conclude for the present
the history of my life, only omitting such im-
portant events as may happen to come out in
the course of your own stories; for I must now
call upon you to tell us what you have to say
of yourselves. |
But hold hard there. Who or what art thou,
half-bred thing, that durst be showing thy ill-
breeding with feigning to sleep, or with eating
rabbit, when thou shouldst have listened to the
words of thy betters? Cock-tail, speak.
â€œCall me Cock-tail, half-bred, ill-bred, mongrel
cur; but know that I claim kindred with your
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 59
All, Audacious dog-face !â€
â€œ Honour ye the Cock-tail! Cock-tail had a
grandfather !â€ |
All, â€œImpossible! Never!â€
* Listen, then, to facts; facts are stubborn
things, and if my story do not please, it may
at least surprise you.â€
Ir is known, I believe, that half-bred animals do
not reproduce their kind, and if it were otherwise
innumerable would be such kinds. My motherâ€™s
father was a fox. Her mother was a well-bred terrier
in colour much like your own. She belonged to a
man who lived near Harborough in Leicestershire,
and was valuable to him for her extraordinary
talent in killing rats and mice, as well as for the
use which he occasionally made of her in poach-
ing at night. Wishing to procure a mixed breed
between her and a fox, he took her one night,
at a particular period of the spring, to a certain
spot in a wood which he knew to be much
frequented by foxes, and having fastened her
against a tree left her there till morning. On
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 61
the following night he removed her to a short
distance from the spot where she was left the
night before. After doing the same for several
nights he took her home, and in nine weeks after
that, she produced four young ones, all of which
are now living, and much like a fox. My father
was a brown terrier, and my mother may be seen
at any time, as she is fastened up by a chain in the
inn-yard at Market Harborough. The hair on her
back and sides is thick, and stands nearly upright
like that of a fox. The hairs upon the upper
side of the tail are not so long and full as those
of a fox, but the under part and the sides are
the same: the tips of them are black. Her legs
and feet are black, and the latter are round
like yours, with a little tan colour behind the
knee joint. Her ears are pointed, and when
she is at rest laid back, but when she is roused
pricked up like your own. All these properties
you may behold in me, but not exactly in an â€”
equal degree. The most remarkable difference
between ourselves and you is this ; that neither
my mother nor myself are endued with the
62 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
strong. odour peculiar to the fox. My mother
has never been let loose by the consent of her
keepers, even in the inn-yard, but having once
got loose by accident, when about two years old,
she ran away a long distance, and being followed
into a yard was there secured again. It was
observed when running that she carried her tail
level as I do, like a fox; sometimes it was
crooked, but never upright. It was not so much
curled as mine is.
I lived with my mother, and when I was two
years old, a master of fox-hounds happening to
hear of us, came to see us; and after making
many inquiries, persuaded my owner to let him
take me away with him. I was then placed under
the care of the old feeder of hounds, with orders
that I should be allowed to run about in the
house, with his children for companions. I was
shown to every one as a curious animal, and be-
came a great favourite; but all attempts to tame
me failed, and I never would let a stranger touch
me. My master took me out with his dogs when
he went to shoot rabbits, but found. me wholly
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 63
useless. The sound of the gun and the barking
of the dogs frightened me so much, that I always
ran away into the nearest hedge or wood to hide
myself; and I felt that my fate was sealed when
I heard the old feeder say to my master one day,
â€œ Now Sir I am sure that this here â€˜ vulpâ€™â€ (for
so I was called) â€œwill never be no use at all; for
he is as wild and timorous now he is two years
old as ever he was. We canâ€™t get un to do any-
thing like the terriers; he frisks about like an
eel, so as we canâ€™t touch un at times.â€ Finding
that I had no friend to say a good word for me I
absconded, and when seen at a distance, have often
been mistaken for a fox, and scared by the cry of
Tally-o, Tally-o, and the hounds following me.
That they never caught me, I suppose may be
attributed to my not having the foxâ€™s strong scent.
â€œThy story is marvellous; but I must doubt
its truth, until I see thy mother. I fear that
thou art like other vain creatures, who, knowing
their own unworthiness, would fain connect them-
selves with those who are in any way excellentâ€”
but beware of betraying us.â€
64, THE LIFE OF A FOX.
â€œ Hah! is it so?â€”I am off.â€
â€œHe is gone, and grins defiance! This mongrel
will think nothing of destroying us by the dozen;
but he may suffer for it yet.â€
And now, my friends, as we have heard the
mongrelâ€™s account of himself, let us hear Cravenâ€™s
story. Open thy lips and throw thy tongue
freely ; tell us how many times thou hast beaten
these vexatious hounds, and be not chary of thy
Ir is unnecessary to enter into the ordinary de-
tails of my life, after having heard our friend
who invited us here. Consequently my story will
be a short one. I was born and bred in Saver-
nake Forest, in the Craven Hunt, where my father
and mother had been considered to be of some
importance, having often beaten a famous pack
of hounds in that country. To the best of my
recollection, the first pack of hounds by which I
was hunted belonged to Mr. I. Ward: from them
I had many narrow escapes, which I now, having â€”
since been hunted by other hounds, set down
to their immense size, for although they could
and did hunt me in an extraordinary manner,
66 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
and pursued me closely in the flat country, and
in the forest: yet I found that I left them far
behind when running over the flinty hills which
separate that country from Mr. Ashton Smithâ€™s.
Their steady style of hunting made it difficult
to shake them off elsewhere. I once overheard
a man remark to their master, that they were
larger than any that he had ever seen, especially
as to their heads. The reply at first surprised me.
â€œYes, I like them large, for when once they get
them down in hunting they are so heavy, that
they cannot get them up again.â€ After being
hunted by them under his direction, I was hunted
by them when they belonged to Mr. Horlock,
from whom also I have had some narrow escapes,
principally by running through large woods,
where they soon changed me for another fox. I
recollect once, when lying in a small covert, near
Benham Park, I was startled by hearing the cry of
another but smaller pack of hounds, as I could dis-
tinguish them to be by the sound of their tongues.
Shortly afterwards I saw a fox pass near me,
much distressed, and very soon the fatal â€œ whoopâ€
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 67
was heard. It afterwards appeared that this
gentlemanâ€™s brother had permission to try whether
he could kill with his small pack a fox which
had more than once beaten the large one. The
following season I was surprised one morning,
by hearmg the voices of some different men
with hounds, drawing the wood in which I lay.
I soon moved and went away from the wood;
but was seen by men, who commenced hallooing,
â€œGone away.â€ The hounds were then hunting
another fox in the wood; where they continued all
day without killing him. At length I was found
by them where there was no other fox. They
pursued me for many miles in a most extraordi-
nary way; and such good hunting hounds they
were, that had I not gone down a road where
a flock of sheep had just gone before, unknown
to the huntsmen, I must have been killed. They
there came to a check, and as it was contrary
to Mr. Wyndhamâ€™s system to assist his hounds
by holding them forward, they never got near
me again that day. It was very like the system
described by our friend in the New Forest.
68 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
The following year, I was again surprised by
hearing the voice of another strange huntsman,
before I knew that hounds were just coming into
the wood. However, this notice was sufficient
to prepare me for a start. Soon after I had
moved from my kennel, a single hound threw
his tongue. Mr. Smith gave a very loud cheer,
and every hound appeared at once to be run- -
ning on the scent. This so frightened me that
I lost no time in leaving the covert, and taking
my way straight to the forest, where other foxes
were soon moved by hearing the hounds: I
this time also escaped. Not feeling however quite
safe, I resorted to a plan which had been adopted
by other foxes before. I contrived to crawl up
the side of a large oak tree, by means of some
small branches which grew out of its trunk
near the bottom, and the stems of Ivy which
covered it further up. At a considerable distance
from the ground I found a desirable spot to rest
upon, where the large branches, about which was
a thick patch of the ivy, divided. To this place I
resorted every morning for a long time, and
THE LIFE OF A FOX. Â© 69
thence could frequently see the horrible hounds,
myself lying, as I fancied, in certain safety. One
day, however, as I turned my head towards where
they were hunting a fox in the wood close by,
my attention was so riveted, that I did not |
observe a keeper, who in passing the tree on
the other side had seen me, and was proceeding
towards the hounds just at the moment the fatal
â€œwhoop |â€ was heard,â€”the hounds having killed
the unfortunate fox which they had been hunting.
_ Soon afterwards the keeper told Lady Eliza- -
beth Bruce where I was; it was also communi-
cated to Mr. Smith, who said, that although the
hounds had had a hard dayâ€™s work, the fox should
be dislodged from his extraordinary situation, if
her ladyship wished to see it done. To my hor-
ror, the keeper brought the hounds straight to my
tree, and pointed to the spot where I lay as close
as I could. As soon as they were taken away
to a considerable distance, and out of sight, the
keeper was desired to climb up the tree, and bring
me down. The horror of my situation may be easily
70 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
conceived, as I heard him ascending. I did
not move until I-saw his hand close to me; but
as he was on the point of taking hold of me, I
sprang from my lofty nest. Fortunately dropping
on some branches which projected about half
way down, I broke the fall, which would have
broken my neck, and fell to the ground, from
which I rebounded, I think, some feet. Much
shaken by the fall, but, fortunately, nothing
worse, I soon was on my legs, and away across
the forest straight to the west woods, which were
about three miles distant. When the hounds were
only the distance of half a field, they saw me
enter this immense covert; but, as several foxes
were soon moving, I escaped; and the hounds
were kept running till it was nearly dark. I:
have since heard, that the height from which I
sprang to the ground was afterwards measured,
to decide a bet, and that it was proved to be ex-
actly twenty-seven feet.. It was a strange adven-
ture, but can be attested by many who saw it;
and with this I conclude my story.
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THE LIFE OF A Fox, 71
Now for N orthampton Pytchly. Thou art fami-
liar with these things: thou hast, no doubt, thy
story by heart, and canst go a slapping pace.
RECOLLECT, that when the pace is good, it cannot
last long; and so with my story, for I remember
but little of my very early days. I have had the
good luck to escape from several packs of hounds
which have hunted my country, and am now ar-
rived at a venerable age; indeed, so far advanced â€”
in my teens, that I began to believe myself to be
the oldest fox in the country, until I saw one
who is fastened up by a chain in the back yard
of the Peacock Inn, at Kettering. Having been
there ever since he was a cub, he is known to
be eighteen years old, and he is now full one
fourth shorter than when in his prime of life.
It is not likely that foxes often attain to such an
age, as before that they become infirm; and in
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 73
countries where there are hounds, become an easy
prey to them, and where there are no hounds,
they are killed by the gamekeepers.
The first pack of hounds by which I was hunted
belonged to Mr. Osbaldiston, and a most trim-
ming pack they were; but luckily for me, when
they were going their best pace in pursuit of me,
they sometimes overran the scent, owing to their
great courage, which, in the breeding of them,
seemed to have been more attended to than the
nose. They sometimes ran away for a little while
even from all the fast riders. These however
generally contrived to get up again to them, espe-
cially when at a check; but every momentâ€™s -
delay made more clear to all the necessity of
having best noses.
It may appear strange that I should have
escaped from the different packs, since the Squireâ€™s
left, in so fine a country as this to which I belong,
especially when such expense has been incurred
to procure a strong pack on purpose to destroy us ;
but, luckily for us, the hunters fell into the mis-
take of trying to make what they called a flying
74, THE LIFE OF A FOX.
pack, and to this end getting rid of all those
which they called slow hounds, many of which
were such as would not go the pace without a
good scent, as they would have them do. Such
hounds were always drafted, although, when
there was a good scent, this sort could puzzle
even the fast riders to keep with them. Partly
to this cause, then, I attribute my having
lived to my great age. There are other rea-
sons why fewer foxes are killed than formerly.
In the first place, the country is overrun with
drains, of which thexe are thousands unknown to
the hunters, but known to us. When severely
pressed by the hounds, I have often got into one
of them, and it frequently happened to be in the
middle of an open field, when hounds in chace
of me have run over it; and owing to their mettle
and to their being pressed by hard riders, they
have been urged on beyond it, then held on forward
in every way by the huntsman ; and if, after this,
the drain has been discovered, the scent, owing to
the time lost, has been nearly gone. The entrance
to drains is generally in a low part of the land,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 75
which is chilled by water upon it, and there-
fore may not hold a scent to discover that we
have gone into one.
During the time that that fine old sportsman,
Lord Spencer, hunted this country, there were
nothing like so many of these drains as there are
now, which may in some measure account for
fewer foxes being killed at the present time, than
when Charles King hunted the hounds. I have
heard my old granny say, that the first thing his
lordship thought of and wished to do, was to im-
prove and strengthen his pack in every possible
way. Of late, the pack has been thought to be
of least consideration; and it would seem by the
system adopted, that a fox is to be run down by
men who can ride fast, and that whippers-in are
nearly all that is wanted. For instance, when
I have been pursued by the hounds, if I have
run towards or through any covert, I have fre-
quently been astonished, after passing through
it, and almost before the hounds had arrived at
it, to see one of the whippers-in riding beyond
it, in order to see me go away, which he rarely
76 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
or never could do; and if he did by accident get
in time to see me at all, the consequence was, that
when I saw him I went back again into the covert,
and then, if there was any fresh fox or foxes in it,
they were pretty sure to be changed and hunted,
and I escaped. It generally happened that I had
gone on through the covert before the whipper-in
got round, in time to see, not me, but a fresh fox
go away, to which he would probably halloo on
the hounds, and, not knowing the difference, de-
clare it was the hunted oneâ€™.
I suppose you will now not wonder that
I have lived to so great. an age in this
country. It is. true I have had some narrow
escapes within the last few seasons, particularly
one in the year 1840, when I was found by the
hounds then belonging to Mr. Smith, and in
consequence of beating them, called the Hero
of Waterloo. I attributed my escape to the sys-
tem above described and adopted by the men on
that occasion, when the hounds were hallooed
+ Vide â€œ Extracts from the Diary of a Huntsman.â€
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 77
on to a fresh fox, which the whipper-in Jones
had viewed away on the farther side of Loalland
Wood, at a time when the hounds were hunting
my scent through it, I having gone through and
away from it long before he got there. On looking
back I witnessed, to my regret, Mr. Smithâ€™s dis-
pleasure at the system, which from that time
he insisted should not be continued. However
I was, four days afterwards, lying in a small
wood at Kelmarsh, when the hounds pursued
a fox in full cry, and came straight towards
where I lay. Just before they arrived, I heard
the following words addressed by Mr. Smith
to his whipper-in: â€œWhere are you riding to
before the hounds, when they are running hard ?
Keep behind them in your place. If we cannot
kill our fox without your acting thus, we had
better have a pack of whippers-in, and no hounds
at all.â€ I never heard of or saw the same system
Many other changes took place, which, as
being unlike what we had been used to, were by
no means agreeable to us. One of them was
78 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
the former way of giving up hunting a fox, and
going to find another. On some occasions, when
I have been found and hunted by the hounds, and
fancied that I was safe, as I had done on previous
occasions whenever I could not hear them, I was -
surprised to hear them, after a short time, again
hunting on the line I had come. I was once found
by the hounds in a covert close to Fox Hall, and
after they had pursued me closely for a few
miles, I, in consequence of there being a line
of dry fallows, left them far behind; so that I
had given up all idea of being disturbed again
by them that day, and stopped in Mr. Hopeâ€™s
plantation; I had been but a short time there
when they again approached, but slowly, and
I heard the following words addressed to Mr.
Smith, who was hunting his hounds: â€œ How
much longer shall you go on with this cold
scent? Donâ€™t you think you can find another
fox?â€ The reply was, â€œI shall hunt this as
long as a hound will own the scent. We shall
get up to him by and by, and kill him too.â€
On hearing this it was time to be off. I
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 79
was shortly after seen in the plantation, and
hunted closely by the hounds, which, after
another long check, again got on my scent
in the wood where I was first found. They
hunted me very fast across some of the finest
grass country, and I was obliged to take refuge
in a drain under a road leading to a field,
where fortunately I found another fox, and
succeeded in getting beyond him in his retreat,
It often occurs that the fox which is hunted
and frightened forces his way beyond the fresh
one, and there remains during the operation
of digging, and when the huntsmen come by,
the fresh fox is drawn out, and given to the
hounds. Such was the case now, and so
I escaped, for luckily it was getting late,
and the hounds were taken away immediately,
without their discovering that I was left
behind. I had time to remark that only one
man, who was addressed as his Grace, was with
the hounds at the finish, or indeed for a long
time during the run, nearly all having left at
the time of slow hunting.
80 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
And now, my friends, I have done.
â€œDone! Tell us first what has become of
our friend old King Stumpy. There is a rumour
that he is dead, and I do not perceive any one
here without a brush.â€
Alas! he is no more. He was captured, and
massacred, and died an ignominious death. It
happened, last autumn, that he was found as
usual in Grafton Park one morning, as soon
as it was light, by this new pack, when he had
imprudently glutted himself, and was thinking
again to save his life by immediately running
into a drain, in which he had so often saved
himself before, after a severe dayâ€™s hunting. He
who had been king of the forest, and had for
so many years fairly beaten his enemies, was
now dug out, and devoured by the hounds on
the spot. Oh! the ruthless and unfeeling beasts!
Yet, be it confessed, that we ourselves do some-
times dig out a mouse or so, but it is to eat
him kindly, you know.
Here I intended to finish my story; but as
I am expected to explain how I have escaped
THE LIFE OF A FOX. SI
from every pack by which I have been hunted,
I must add, that having for a long time had
a wish to see that part of the N orthampton
country hunted till last year by the Duke of
Graftonâ€™s hounds, in which the woods were of
immense size, having heard that T. Carter and
his killing pack had left the country, and
thinking it would be a place of greater security
for my old age, I went there last spring, but
had not been long settled in Pucklandâ€™s Woods
before I was disturbed by hearing another pack,
which soon found me out, and pursued me for
some time most closely, till at length they came
to a check. When listening, I heard a person
ride up and use these words to the huntsman:
â€œWell, what are you going to do now? You
had better be doing something; itâ€™s no use stand-
ing still.â€ There was some reply, which I could
not hear. However I discovered that the man
addressed was Taylor the huntsman, and that
the pack was the remainder of that by which
I had first been hunted, when it belonged to
Mr. Osbaldiston. The only difference I could
82 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
observe was, that they were not quite so power-
ful. That they were stout enough I had reason
to know; for although I escaped after their
hunting me for several hours in these large
woods, they afterwards killed another fox without
leaving the covert.
On another day, when I was lying in a large
covert adjoining the Forest of Whittlebury, and
the hounds had been drawing some distance
beyond the spot where I lay, I thought that I
could steal away unseen, and had nearly reached
the outside of the wood, when I was much
annoyed by the noise of a jay, which kept flying
above me as I went on. When I stopped I
heard a man say, â€œThere is a fox moving close
to that jay, Pll be sworn; just look, you will
see him cross that path directly.â€ This talking.
frightened me from the spot, and on my going a
little further and crossing a path, another man
exclaimed, â€œThere he goes; it was a fox
that jay was making such a noise about.â€ He
then gave a loud view-halloo; the hounds
soon came up; and after running some time
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 83
in the forest, I left them following another
The little I had to say is said.
â€œ Come, Dorset, fain would we hear thy story
next. Our thoughts should be open as the
heavens above, and free as the winds that follow
us. We are brethren and fellows in our way
of life, and thou mayâ€™st not doubt that we will
judge thy deeds fairly but kindly.â€
â€œ Justice, then, is fled to lowly beasts, for
men have none of it. Listen to my story, friends ;
a plain and unvarnished one it is, and you shall
have it freely and entirely.â€
I was born in Cranborne Chace, which is in Mr.
Farquharsonâ€™s hunt, and it was here that I first
heard the sound of a huntsmanâ€™s voice, the voice
of old Ben Jennings; and melodious as it might
have been considered by others, it was any thing
but agreeable to my ear, when he used it to
cheer on his hounds, which appeared so well to
understand it. It frequently was the cause of
my leaving this large covert. I returned to it
because the hounds were apt to get on the scent
of another fox. The voice became at last so
familiar to me, that I heeded it not, but rather
found amusement in it, taking little trouble to
be out of hearing of it when the hounds were
hunting me; but another season came, and great
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 85
was the difference. I lay in a favourite covert
called Short Wood, when I was startled by another
voice instead of old Benâ€™s, that of the new hunts-
man, Treadwellâ€™s, clear and beautifulâ€”not so
powerful as that which I had been used to of late,
nor was it â€œvox et preterea nihil ;â€ for his system
was one which soon made me give up listening,
when the hounds were pursuing. I found that I
had now no longer time to wait and hang about
as I had done. I was obliged to get away as fast
as I could, and had enough to do to escape from
the new man, whose coolness and perseverance
frightened me. My first escape was owing to
an imperfect cast which he made when the
hounds had come to a check in a field, where
there was a flock of sheep, for instead of taking
the hounds entirely round and close under the
hedge, beginning at the left hand, he missed
that corner for about fifty yards, where it hap-
pened that I had gone through the fence, and
by the time he had taken them close all round
every where else and held them on forward, time
was lost, and the hounds got on the scent exactly
86 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
opposite. Although it now became slow hunting,
I did not feel safe until I heard him blow his
horn to go home. I believe that this kind of
mistake, or rather neglect, has been frequent
on the part of other huntsmen by whom I have
been hunted. Be that as it may, one or two
escapes from this able man and his pack were
sufficient to induce me to get quickly into another
hunt out of his way. Those escapes may be
attributed to the want of scent, and they will not
seem surprising, if the time be calculated which
was lost at every check, whilst I was going on
without listening as the hare always does. Having
stopped some little time in a strong covert of
gorse in an open down, in Mr. Draxâ€™s country,
south of Blandford, and close adjoining to Lord
Portmanâ€™s, I was one morning annoyed by hear-
ing the voice of Mr. Draxâ€™s huntsman, John Last,
who was drawing the covert with his hounds,
by which I was shortly after surrounded, Being
ignorant of the runs and tracks in the gorse, I
was so pressed by them, that I sprung upon the
top of the gorse, and ran along it for a few yards,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 87
but the hallooing of the hunters soon frightened
me down again. At length I went straight away
across the down in view of all the hunters, and
had not gone more than a hundred yards, before
a large man on a heavy grey horse rode between
me and the covert, and began hallooing in the
most frightful manner, at the same time waving
his hat, as if he was out of his mind; the con-
sequence of which was, that the hounds, which
were hunting me closely out of the covert, im-
mediately they saw and heard him, threw up their
heads and ran wildly after him, expecting to see
me, which fortunately they did not, as I had by
that time just got beyond a small elevation in
the down, which prevented the man also from
seeing me. I turned directly to the left. He
now found out the mischief he had done, by
causing the hounds to lift their heads, and
galloped on still further, hoping to get another
view of me, but in vain, as I had sunk into a
small valley, and he luckily turned the hounds in
a direction opposite to that in which I had gone.
The scene at this time defies description. â€˜ What
88 THE LIFE OF A Fox.
are you at, you crazy old man? you have lost
our fox!â€ and endless execrations were lavished
on him. I believe this circumstance saved my
life; for had it not occurred, the hounds would
have had me in view for three miles across the
downs, and although it was some little time be-
fore they got on my scent again, they came
after me at a most terrific pace, which for-
tunately however was slackened, on their crossing
the road, and having to climb over a wall into
the grounds adjoining some immense woods,
through the whole of which they hunted me
again at a good pace, and straight on for nine
or ten miles, till I was almost exhausted ; luckily
they were stopped when crossing a field where
there was a flock of sheep, no one being there
to assist them. Shortly I heard in a loud voice,
â€œJohn! Where is John?â€ and finding that they
were not likely to get much assistance from the
huntsman, I quietly retraced my steps towards
the place from which I started, but remained
there for a short time only.
I was again lying one morning in a piece of
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 89
gorse near the Down House, when I was waked
by hearing what I thought was the whistle of
the keeper, but which turned out to be that
of Lord Portmanâ€™s huntsman, whose hounds
were all round me before I was aware. The
men on horseback were scattered in all direc-
tions over the down, and it would have
served them right if they had lost their dayâ€™s
sport, which they very nearly did, as I stole
away to a large rabbit earth close by, into which
Unluckily some of the hounds got on my:
scent, and hunted it up to the earth, where
they marked it by stopping and baying. Shortly
after this two or three of the hunters rode up,
and I heard the following words: â€œNot worth
saving: get him out and give him to the hounds;
he canâ€™t run a yard.â€ However, it was decided
that I should have a chance, as they called it;
and a pretty chance it was. I was dug out,
_ put into a sack, and given to the whipper-in,
with orders to turn me out on the down. Some-
thing was said about cutting my ham-strings,
90 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
in order to lame me, and one wished to cut
off my brush; and that it was not done was
a great disappointment to the wretch. I was
turned out at only about a hundred yards from
the pack, but contrived to reach a hedge just as
one of the leading hounds had got close to me,
when I turned short to the left down the narrow
ditch. The hounds all sprang over the fence, and
then, not seeing me there, fortunately turned
first to the right; and before they had found
out that I had gone down the ditch, I had
got out on the other side again, and ran
to a corner, when I turned through it again
into another cross-hedge. By these means I
got clear off, before they had another sight of
me; for they overran my line of scent a little
when they got back on the down on my track,
I well recollect hearing the huntsman calling
loudly to the whipper-in to get on, and head
the fox from going to the woods; but he,
poor thing, was in a state of too much excite-
ment to understand what was meant, and even
if he had understood, it would have been a
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 91
fruitless attempt to stop me from making my
point to reach a wood or place of safety on such
an occasion, even if my first attempts had been
prevented. I may flatter myself that a hundred
witnesses are ready to pronounce it as clever
an escape as was ever effected by a fox in
similar circumstances. For the future they
will not say that a fox cannot run, and con-
demn him to be given to the hounds, merely
for running into an earth.
I now made the best of my way straight to
the large woods which I had passed through
when hunted by the other pack, and luckily
made good use of my time, for they came
after me as if their feet had been winged,
neither road nor wall delaying them. I had
enough to do to keep out of their way through
these large woods, which they traversed nearly
as fast as if in the open country. At the extre-
mity of the woods, to my surprise, I met the
noble master of the pack, who had succeeded
in getting to that point before me, the result
of which was that I turned back into the covert
92 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
before he saw me, and caused a slight check,
after which they again approached me, just as
I had reached the wall which surrounded the
wood, at the top of the hill looking into the
vale, where I descended, and looking back, saw
the hounds for a short time again at a check,
owing to that high ground being slightly covered
with snow. I dreaded lest they should take
the hounds on beyond the snow towards the
vale where I was; but they soon turned back,
and I heard no more. It was nearly three
oâ€™clock, which some think time to go homeward,
rather than from home, as would have been
the case if they had followed me, when probably
I should not have lived to tell my tale. The
scent in the vale is always so much greater than
on the hills from which they had hunted me,
that I must have fallen a prey to this pack.
Although we are endowed with so large a
share of wisdom, it is not all-sufficient; or
else we should be aware that when pursued
by hounds, and nearly beaten by them, it
must be all but certain death to us to run
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 93
from a bad scenting country into a good
Having now openly defeated the enemies who
had conspired against me, I remained in the
vale until I was tempted to move into a finer
and fairer country. Great changes are going
on in the hunting of the country which I left;
and should we ever meet again, there may be
much for me to tell. For the present I have
â€œWe now look to thee, Warwick, to give
us something good; thy country has produced
one of the most extraordinary men that ever
lived. He knew all the wiles of the wiliest crea-
ture that walks the earth. Dost thou think
that Shakespeare would have been a good hunts-
man ?â€ |
â€œ By the faith of a fox, I should have been
most loath to try him. Did he possess the fol-
lowing qualities: boldness, perseverance, activity,
enterprise, temper, and decision? Had he a
keen perception of relative place? Had he a
good eye and ear? If he had all these, and
94, THE LIFE OF A FOX.
more, then might Shakespeare have been an
â€œIt is little that I have seen in this country,
and I have little to tell; but I will at once
proceed and state to what cause I attribute my
escape on one or two occasions lately.â€
In the month of March last I was lying in a
strong gorse covert, not far from Nuneham, when
after hearing the voice of Stephens, the huntsman
to the Atherstone hounds, I heard the following
remarks, by one sportsman to another, both
being on horseback, and waiting close to where
I was in my kennel.
â€œ Well, I do hate that silent system; had
Robert not been so sparing of his voice, or had
he only given one blast of his horn, when he
began drawing the small spinney just now, the
hounds would not have chopped that vixen in cub;
for vixens in that state are unable to run far, and
are unapt to move, till pressed to do so by the
approach of danger. She probably had been so
96 THE LIFE OF A FOX,
much used to see the keeper and his dogs pass,
that, not hearing the huntsmanâ€™s voice or horn,
she was taken by surprise when the hounds
got round her; if she had moved before, she
might have been seen, and the hounds stopped in
time to save her. No doubt she had been there
some weeks before, and, in consequence of having
a good friend at the great house, not being ever
disturbed, she believed that she was safe.â€
I would not venture to listen any longer, for I
heard the same hounds running another fox in
the gorse close by me. It appeared that there
was also another besides, making altogether three
ofus. Finding this to be the case, and thinking
to he very cunning, I took an early opportunity
of quitting the covert; and had scarcely got
across two fields, before I saw a multitude of
men on horseback riding along the road in a
parallel direction to that which I was going. They
had seen me leave the covert, without waiting for
the hounds, which they ought to have known
were running still after another fox; however,
when they found that the hounds were not run-
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 97
ning after the same fox that they were themselves,
they began hallooing, and the hounds were shortly
afterwards brought and got on my scent. Of
course I returned to the covert, for I had no
notion of being thus hunted by men, and wished
to let the gentlemen know that I would not go
unless I chose to do so, let them halloo as they
would. I therefore punished them by running
for nearly three quarters of an hour longer in the
covert. This brought them a little to their senses,
and they gave me room to make another attempt.
Not liking to remain in such close quarters with
this sticking pack, I seized an opportunity, and
went away on the side of the covert opposite to
that which I had first attempted, and though I
was viewed away by several men, it happened
that they were able this time to hold their horses
and their tongues until I had got fairly away,
when they certainly did halloo, so that about half
the pack came to them. The whipper-in was sent
to stop them, and as soon as the huntsman had
got a few more he also came to them; but not
having quite three parts of the pack he did not
98 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
go on with them, but stopped and blew his horn
for the others which he had left. Some of them
shortly after came, but seeing him stopping where
he was, did not appear to be in any haste, pos-
sibly because they were aware that they had left
a fox in the covert; but, from his stopping, it
might not have appeared to them that a fox had
gone on, or they would not have taken it so
To this, then, do I attribute my escape ; for,
though they did hunt me for a mile or so, the
time was lost, and so too, of course, the scent ;
this, added to the impatience shown by the men
who were out, settled the business for me. An
accident which had lately occurred to Stephen,
the huntsman, by which his foot was injured, pre-
vented him, I conclude, from being every moment
close to the hounds, when these men were 80
anxious to get on, and the huntsmanâ€™s presence
was so absolutely necessary to prevent their doing
mischief, However, I had no reason to regret it,
for I went straight across a fine country; though
it was reported that I had returned to the covert,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 99
which was not likely; I may add, on this
occasion, that I went to the coverts at Comb,
to which place they also came to find another
fox. They did not cross the line I had
come, but passed through part of a large
covert where I had stopped, without drawing
it, expecting to find a fox at the other end
of it. |
Seeing this, I slipped back behind them, and
was stealing away, as I thought, undiscovered
(no uncommon thing for me to do), but, un-
luckily, a man in a red coat had stopped back,
as if on purpose to see any fox that might be
left behind; and as soon as I was out of sight
he gave a loud view-halloo, by repeating which
he brought the hounds after a short time on
to the line of my scent. This caused me to.
lose no time, and having now a good start, I
ran straight through all those large woods until
I got to the end of that near the railway, when
I turned to the right;. and after stopping in
an outside covert for some time, thinking that
I had escaped, I heard the hounds hunting
100 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
very slowly, till they were quite silent. But I
was soon after surprised to hear the huntsman
taking them across the wood where I was, and
instantly left it in a direction opposite to that
where I had seen all the hunters ride; conse-
quently only a few followed with the hounds
when they hunted me across the river and railway
into the open, beyond Coventry. They ran me
back to near the side of the river, when they were
taken to the other side, which happening to be
towards Leamington, I remained in that part, and
had got so far as Upton Wood. I was found
there a few days afterwards, by the new huntsman
of the Warwickshire hounds and that pack. Hav-
ing previously heard that they had learned much
from Carter, the Duke of Graftonâ€™s late hunts-
man, under whom he had been whipper-in, and
that he had been doing much mischief amongst
us, I lost no time in leaving this large covert, and
was soon followed by the pack, which hunted me
at a fair pace, until they had followed me part
of the way across a dry fallow field. As my
good luck would have it, there was also another
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 101
fallow in the direction which I had gone, straight
beyond. It seems that Stephen, the huntsman,
made one or two casts with his hounds across
each of these fallow fields, without success.
In his anxiety not to lose, I suppose he forgot
that if the hounds could not hunt scent over one
fallow they could not over another. He omitted
to hold the hounds on, and across the next field
of wheat beyond it, and took them back towards
the covert where I came from, and thus it was
that I escaped; for after some remark was made
to him on the subject, he directly took the hounds
back to the field beyond the fallow; they there
got on my line of scent, and after hunting slowly
for a couple of miles, fortunately for me gave it
up; otherwise, the line I had taken was so good
that I might have fallen a victim to this persever-
ing and promising young huntsman. After a
little more experience, he will be a dangerous
enemy of ours.
â€œ Now, Chester, tell us how ein go on in thy
part of the world, and how thou hast contrived to
escape from that famous hunting pack of hounds,
102 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
which we are told belonged to the late Mr. Cod-
rington. â€˜Tell us, moreover, is it a good hunts-
man they have to hunt them >â€
As foxes are scarce in our country, I alone could
be found to travel here, and having been hunted
only one season, I am, from my own experience,
but ill qualified to reply to your question, as
to the huntsman. I have as yet escaped from
being hunted by him, but I do hear that he is
in all respects most excellent. Unfortunately for
him, but fortunately for us, he was lately dis-
abled by the fracture of a bone of his leg; and
consequently could not come with the hounds
when they hunted the last week in the Nampt-
wich country. For reasons to be given hereafter,
I had rarely lain in coverts of late, and had
preferred lying in hedge-rows. I happened, how-
ever, to be lying in a covert one day, when I
104 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
heard the voice of a man who was hunting
hounds which turned out to be Mr. Whiteâ€™s, and
as they were close to me before I heard them,
my only chance was to leave the covert imme-
diately; but in the first field I was met by some
men on horseback who frightened me_ back
again. I was not seen by the hounds, which
ran out of the wood on my scent as far as I had
gone, but were turned back, not without a little
loss of time, which was a favourable occurrence
for me. I went straight through the wood and
away on the opposite side, and soon found that
they were after me. I kept on, but not in a
straight line, which rather puzzled the gentleman
whoÂ«was hunting them. They came at length
to a final check, and could hunt no farther. I
thought that if Marden had been hunting them,
there was one cast which he would have made, and
that was to the left of the field where they lost
the â€˜scent; for although each of the other sides
were tried by casting the hounds that way twice
over, they were never taken once round beyond
the field to the left; and to this I attribute my
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 105
escape, for I was nearly beaten, and it appeared
that the pack which I found such difficulty in
shaking off and defeating, by turning so short
as I had done during the run, was that which
belonged to the late Mr. Codrington. It. is
stated that they killed every fox that they hunted
during eight following weeks. They are said
not to be compared for beauty to the former
pack, which is reported to have been a magni-
ficent one; but â€œhandsome is that handsome
Now, my friends, I will tell you why I prefer
hedge-rows and out of the way places to fix on
for a kennel. Listen to a matter of fact, but a
melancholy story of what took place in a part
of the country where I was bred. It happened
when in a favourite little covert near Namptwich,
that I was attracted by the scent of a bait which
was placed under a large iron trap, carefully
covered over with some light grass and moss;
on attempting to remove these, I unfortunately
struck the trap, which went off and caught me
by the foot. Need I describe the agony I en-
106 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
dured, confined as I was by the mangled foot?
Day-light appeared, when, nearly exhausted
with pain, I made a desperate effort with my
other fore-foot, and succeeded in pulling out
the peg that confined to the ground the chain
of the trap, which I dragged away for some
distance. I then lay down overcome with pain,
and in this deplorable condition remained for
two or three days and nights. The foot being
now as it were benumbed, and almost insensible,
I in order to save my life fairly bit it off with
my teeth, and thus released myself from the trap.
Not long after this had occurred a more tragical
affair took place in this very same covert. In the
early part of the month of March in the present
year eighteen hundred and forty-three, I was lying,
as was my custom, in a thick and broad hedge,
when late in the day I was much frightened by
the approach of the hounds, passing near me
rather quickly, to my great relief, for it appeared
that they had not found a fox all day. They
immediately begun drawing the covert, and shortly
afterwards a fox was seen with an iron trap fast
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 107
to his fore leg, which was broken above the knee.
In the course of a few minutes the fatal â€œwhoopâ€
was heard, the signal of his death.
During the tumult which ensued amongst the
gentlemen who had been hunting, an_ honest
farmer, whose land surrounded the covert, came
up, and stated that a short time before he
had found in a field close by a large trap
exactly of the same sort, which had in it two
of a foxâ€™s toes. They belonged to the foot
which I parted with myself. It is impossible
to describe the sensation created by this addi-
tional circumstance; but it caused amongst
other remarks the following, which reached my
ears: â€œThese acts of shocking cruelty were
scarcely ever heard of in this part, till game
became an article of traffic to the landlord, and
shooting on his land began to be let to strangers
who have no interest whatever in the welfare of
the country where it lies. Nothing conduces to
that welfare more than brilliant sport afforded
by a pack of hounds; as it leads others, as well
as those who own estates, to become residents
108 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
in the country. Noblemen and gentlemen have
now lost their good old English feelings, and
instead of inviting their friends for the sport,
they let their shooting, or sell their game in the
market. It frequently happens that the persons
to whom the shooting is let, are men who are
engaged in business and reside in large towns.
They are consequently ignorant of the tricks
and cruelties of their keepers during their ab-
sence, and unaware of the disappointment these
keepers create to hundreds of gentlemen who
reside in the country, who keep large establish-
ments of horses for the express purpose of hunt-
ing, and whose money might otherwise be spent
inâ€˜more questionable ways in town or elsewhere.â€
I have heard the following lines recited by one
who said, that they ought to be put up over
the mantel-piece of every farmer in the king-
â€œ Attend, ye farmers, to this tale,
And when ye mend the broken rail,
Reflect with pleasure on a sport
That lures your landlord from the court,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 109
To dwell and spend his rents among
The country folk from whom they sprung ;
And should his steed with trampling feet
Be urged across your tender wheat,
That steed, perchance, by you was bred,
And yours the corn by which heâ€™s fed,
Ah ! then restrain your rising ire,
Nor rashly curse the hunting squire.â€ â€” Warburton.
â€œSo, Devonian, tell us thy history, for me-
thinks â€™twill be something strange.â€
My story must needs be a short one. In my
own country I am called â€œThe Bold Dragoon,â€
and as every name either has or ought to have
a particular meaning, I am so called in con-
sequence of having once been in the possession
of a certain captain of dragoons, who lived in
the far West. These are my facts. I was
born and bred in a wild part of Devonshire, and
when a year old fell into the possession of
_ a keeper. To state exactly how such a thing
happened, might sometimes be inconvenient,
as in hunting countries a man scarcely dares
to confess the crime of capturing a fox, for
lucre at least, But here the keeper, thinking
me remarkable for size and strength, car-
THE LIFE OF A FOX. lll
ried me to Captain Tâ€”â€”y, who sent me off
immediately as a present to Mr. G. Templar,
the master of a pack of small fox-hounds at
Stover in Devonshire, and I was carried into
a dark and gloomy place, which had been
at first intended for a large stable, and was
above seventy feet in length, and nearly the
same in breadth. Here I was let loose, and
looking about me in my fright, what should I
see but at least twenty other foxes, all coiled
up in the snug holes which they had made
for themselves. Besides these there were others
out of sight. They all took much care to hide
themselves when any man came in. As soon
as he who had brought me there had left
the place, they all came round me. I soon
learnt for what purpose I was brought hither,
for it appeared that each of them had been
separately hunted by this gentlemanâ€™s hounds,
which he had brought under such command,
that they scarcely ever killed the fox they
hunted; for when hunting up to him, if a
rider was near enough to make his voice heard,
112 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
and he rated or spoke to them, they would only
bay at him till he was again captured, placed
in a bag, and carried home again.
It rarely happened that not the master nor
huntsman, nor the reverend friend who called
himself first whipper-in, were up at the time,
as they were generally mounted on thorough-
bred horses, which they well knew how to ride.
For myself, it is a well-known fact, that I
have been turned out and hunted by these
hounds eighteen times, though I have striven
hard to get away. On no occasion was I in-
jured by the hounds, and I must do my possessor
justice by stating that he thoroughly under-
stands the nature of all the animals that he had
The extraordinary distance which we ran,
when. hunted by these hounds, may be attributed
to our perfect ignorance of the country where
we were turned out, which also accounts for
our not oftener running at once to the imprac-
ticable parts which abound here, and in which
no horses could have followed the hounds. In
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 113
consequence of our knowing none of the coverts,
we often ran straight across Dartmoor, where
the scent was so good, that the pace at which
we were followed by the hounds made it often
most severe work for us; and it became almost
a relief to be taken up and replaced in the
bag, which was carried for that purpose, and
reconveyed toâ€™ our gloomy prison, where we
were well supplied with rabbits and other food.
â€˜s The various habits of our race were most
apparent. Some would keep quiet in their
kennels, which were holes made by them
in the ground, or where loose stones had
been removed from the bottom of the wall
which surrounded our prison, watching what
was going on; whilst others were constantly
moving about, as if in search of some outlet
for escape. One, whose activityâ€™ was extra-
ordinary, had chosen for his place of rest a
hole in the wall, being the opening intended
for a window, which had been stopped up on
the outside. It was full eight feet from the
ground, and it was surprising, even to us, to
114 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
see him run, with the greatest ease, up the
perpendicular wall, as he daily did, aided by
the roughness of the surface alone.
It now remains for me to explain how I am
here and at liberty. We were one day surprised
by the entrance of our feeder, who brought in
several hampers, in which we were all taken to
be turned out in the adjoining woods, there to
shift for ourselves.
So you see that although I cannot boast of
having beaten a pack of hounds, according to
the tenor of the invitation, I have run away
from them altogether, and am here to do you
service, by proving the error of the arch enemy,
inâ€™ thinking it absolutely necessary for his
hounds to devour the animal they have been
hunting, that their ardour in the chase may be
increased. I have been sorely hunted by them,
my friends, and not until they had won the day,
and run up to their object, did they relaxâ€”
not till then were they satisfied.
Again I would ask, why should our enemy
wish to slaughter us, when seeking refuge in
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 115
an earth, up to which his hounds have hunted?
seeing that those hounds so plainly show their
contentment with having succeeded, and done
all that was required of them.
All, â€œBravo! bravo! well said, thou bold
â€œNow, Berkshire, we pray thee tell us
whether thou dost like a royal neighbourhood ;
whether thou art safer, and whether thy treat-
ment there is preferable to our own. â€˜Tell us all
that thou canst, as thou livest. nearer to those
parts than most of us do.â€
On that score, my friends, I have not much to
boast of; but having heard that the fair Queen
had taken to herself a consort who rejoiced in
the chace, I resolved to visit the royal forest.
Soon I found that foxes here existed only in
name. Some day in December I was lying in
Windsor Forest about three oâ€™clock in the after-
noon, when I was disturbed by the voice of
Sir J. Copeâ€™s huntsman, Shirley, who was taking
the hounds through the forest to find a fox.
Though so late, he was most persevering, and
appeared determined to learn whether or not
within the purlieus of the forest there was a fox
left alive by the keepers. Seeing this I lost no
time; but when stealing away was viewed by
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 117
some of the hunters. The hounds soon followed
me, and though it was a bad scenting day, I
narrowly escaped. I saw enough of them to
convince me that they were not to be trifled
with, and that a tolerable scent would tax all
my powers to beat them.
It was some years ago that I was lying in
a covert at Billingbeare, when I was startled by
Shirleyâ€™s voice. I soon got away from the covert,
thinking that I was not seen, but I was mistaken.
A view-halloo was given, and the hounds were
soon on my scent. I went the best pace I could
straight towards and through the large woods at
Shottisbrook, and onwards in the direction of
Maidenhead Thicket, where I passed through the
middle of a small village. As the hounds had not
been seen or heard, no one was looking out, and
consequently no one saw me, although I passed
through a cottage garden; and it behoves me to
state, that I probably owed my safety to nothing
more dignified than a pig-sty attached to that
garden, and which neutralized the scent ; for the
hounds soon afterwards hunting so far, were
118 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
unable to hunt farther. It was supposed by the
huntsman that I had taken refuge in some of
the buildings, and a search was made; when a
sportsman who was present expressed his sur-
prise to a gentleman well known in the hunt,
that they did not first hold on the hounds be-
yond the village, and make that good first; they
would then have seen whether I had gone on
or not, and if not it would have been time to
come back and try all those places. This hint
was taken, but too late to gain by it, for the
scent, which the hounds had got on again, was
now so cold that they could hunt me but slowly,
instead of going at the pace they had hitherto
gone, and which must have been the death of
me had it been continued but a short time longer.
I went straight on for several miles, until I
reached the Thames near Cookham. I did not
like to cross it, and returned to Bisham Wood ;
by which time, owing to my stopping about in
a part of the wood, the hounds had got very
near to me, when it luckily grew nearly dark;
and though I was seen by them at not more than
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 119
five hundred yards distance, they were stopped
and taken home, and I narrowly escaped from
one of the most dashing. packs in the kingdom.
It is to be hoped by us in this part, that his
Royal Highness Prince Albert will have his com-
mands obeyed by the keepers in Windsor Forest,
and that this pack of hounds will not be driven
elsewhere to find a fox, I now remained for a
short time in a very thick covert, called Pigeon-
House Coppice, through which I passed when
hunted by the hounds.
There is a tragical story connected with this
covert. The hounds many years since had met,
and the gentlemen were all assembled, when the
keeper who had the care of the coverts made his
appearance, and producing a sack in which there
was a fox, told them that unless they gave him
a certain sum of money for it to turn out and
hunt, he would shoot him before their eyes. This
atrocious threat made them all quite furious,
and they refused to give him any thing; on which
this monster in the shape of man immediately
laid the sack which contained the fox on the
120 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
ground, and according to his threat shot him
dead. The rage which was felt by all present it
is impossible to describe. They did not put him
in his own sack and throw him into a pond close
â€œrr by; but he was soundly horsewhipped and in-
stantly discharged from his place.
A much better feeling towards us now exists
in this part of the country, and I have no longer
a dread of being shot. But it is my intention to
return to my old country, near Billingbeare and
Shottesbrook, as I hear that the keepers there
receive strict orders never to destroy one of us.
This is the more handsome on the part of the
occupier of the latter place, as he is not a fox-
hunter himself. No doubt I shall be suffered to lie
in the coverts of the former, though I find much
of my food at Shottesbrook, where the coverts are
so thin and hollow, that I could not remain there
during the day without many chances of being
disturbed by the keeperâ€™s dogs. I hope at some
future time to be able to tell you that the breed
' of foxes in those parts, and in the royal purlieus,
has so increased that it has been unnecessary for
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 12]
me to risk my life very often with Sir J. Copeâ€™s
fine pack of hounds. It is reported that he in-
tends to pay more frequent visits to these parts in
future, in consequence of having given up the
distant part of the country.
â€œ And now, Sandy, tell us what is going on north
of Tweed. Be there any hounds there? It is
reported that foxes there are shot like rabbits.
The mountains, it seems, are not to be rode over,
and so no fox-hunting; is it so?â€
Ler me at once undeceive you upon one point.
It is not the mountains there, but the hounds,
that are hard to be rode over, and that on account
of the scent. We have, however, noble lords and
others, who can and do keep with the hounds,
except on the steepest parts of Cheviot. In the
next place, let me pray of you not to believe the
slanderers, who say that we are so unmercifully
slaughtered. No, my friends, it is not so. We
have patrons as good as, if not better than you
have in the South. One gentleman alone has
lately raised, at his own expense, for our sole use,
a score of coverts, which was the only thing re-
quired, as both sides of Tweed, Berwickshire, and
Northumberland, are as fine country as can be
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 123
desired, and, unfortunately for us, as good scent-
ing as any in the kingdom.
It is supposed that, when people can fly thither
by steam, it will become the Melton of the
North ; but I hope the idea will end, as it began,
in smoke. You, my southern friends, appear to
think that we do not go the very fast pace that
you do, and that the hounds by which we are
hunted are not equally as good as those in
your country ; but in this, too, you are much
mistaken. So good is the scent there, that,
if it were not for the drains, which are now so
general in the cultivated parts, the hounds, at
the awful pace they go, would in a very short
time kill nearly every one of us. Then the hunts-
men are not to be despised; on the contrary,
we have to contend with one who, with the
following qualifications, is near perfection,â€”the
eye of an eagle, fine temper, boldness, enterprise,
coolness, perseverance, intelligence, and, above
all, decision. This is the rare man with whom,
and with whose pack, we have to contend. I am
proud to say that I have been hunted by, and -
124 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
escaped from him, on a good scenting day too, by
taking refuge in the crevice of a rock, after one of
the fastest runs possible for five miles. It began
thus :â€”One morning early last season, when lying
in a covert, called Bushen Glen, I was startled by
hearing a man riding quickly by. He then sud-
denly stopped, and addressed these few words to
the whipper-in, who brought the hounds.
â€œ How long have you been here ?â€
â€œ Just come, my lord.â€
â€œ1s Mr. Smith here ?â€
â€œ Not yet, my lord.â€
â€œ Well, I never was so thoroughly drenched ;
never rode twenty-four miles in such a deluge;
80, by Jove, I canâ€™t wait. Give me my horse.â€
No sooner done, than â€œCover hoick!â€ reached
my astonished ears, and I instantly left my ken-
nel, prepared for a start. In a few minutes, I was
stealing away, and after clearing the wall and run-
ning in the open moor, I passed near the gentle-
man, I suppose, who was expected, and whe, on
seeing me, said not a word. I therefore, thinking
I was unseen, did not turn back to the covert,
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 125
but, laying my ears well back on my poll, took
straight away across the moor, and just had a
glimpse of the hounds and their noble huntsman,
Lord Elcho, topping the wall at the same time.
My flight, however, was too rapid to allow time
for much curiosity. This was enough to make
me go my best pace straight across the moor for
four miles, and then a mile or two beyond, over
fields, till I reached a hanging covert on a steep
by the side of the Whiteadder River, at which
time the hounds were not more than four hundred
yards from me. Although they did not see me,
they ran the whole way as if they really did.
Here, although there was soon another fox or
two moving, they still went on with my scent;
for with the most unerring judgment this hunts-
man kept the pack from changing, till at length
I crossed the river, and over the moor on the
other side to a place of refuge, a crevice in
a rock, for I could not go farther. The gen-
tlemen rode up, and I heard these words:
â€œWell, I never saw a finer run. During the
first four miles the tail hounds never got to
126 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
the head at all, though not one hundred yards
behind those that were leading when they first
On other occasions I have saved my life in
a similar way, but a circumstance occurred
which almost made me resolve never again to
resort to a drain. I was one night crossing a
farm, not many miles from Dunse, when I heard
cries as of a fox in distress, and on going to
the spot whence the noise proceeded, I discovered
that two of my brethren were confined in a stone
drain, where they had been several days without
food, and were nearly starved. I used every exer-
tion in my power to scratch away the stones which
had been placed to stop up the entrance, in order
to prevent a fox going into it, as Lord Elchoâ€™s
hounds were .to meet near it next day. For-
tunately Mr. Wilson, the owner of the land,
passed that way, and saw that the ground and
stones had been lately disturbed by me, when
he removed them, and saw the two foxes, one
of which was found dead shortly after. He
ascertained that his man had stopped them in
THE LIFE OF A FOX, 127
nine days before, and that he forgot to open the
I once crossed the Tweed at a dangerous part,
thinking that I should, by so doing, leave the
hounds and all behind. Not so; for the hunts-
man was not to be stopped, but swam his
horse, as two or three others did, across the
river; Treadwell, Mr. Robertsonâ€™s huntsman,
taking the lead. Having thus crossed the river
without gaining my point, and running in a ring
of several miles, I recrossed the river at a spot
where it was impossible for horses to cross; so
that, being-a long way round, the hounds were
stopped, and it was agreed that I was drowned in
Having seen some part of the country on the
English side of the Tweed, I determined to
cross back to it; and after being there a short
time only, and lying in a field of large turnips,
not uncommon in this part, I was awakened
by hearing a loud voice: Â« Treadwell, I wish
you would draw the hounds through this turnip
field. It is a very likely place to find a fox.â€
128 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
This order was obeyed with the utmost silence ;
- but fortunately, having had the previous notice,
I was off and away as fast as my legs could
carry me, and was not seen, owing to the height
of the turnips, until I reached the next field.
The hounds soon got on my scent, and pursued
me closely, for about twenty-five minutes, so
extremely fast, that I began to think I had
changed my country for the worse. Indepen-
dently of their great speed, I could not hear
them, as I did those by which I had been
hunted on the other side of Tweed. I reached
in safety a small covert, in passing through
which it appeared that the hounds got on the
scent of another fox, which turned out to be
a cub, and so I escaped; for although an old
sportsman saw me after I left the covert,
going apparently much distressed, and evidently
the hunted fox'; yet the hounds were not
allowed. to be taken from that which they
were running, which it appeared they some
1 See â€œ Extracts from the Diary of a Huntsman,â€ p. 155.
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 129
time afterwards killed, scarcely having left the
I had one or two more escapes from this deter-
mined huntsman and _ his killing pack, which
escapes I attributed to my good luck in having
been hunted by them on bad Scenting days,
and also in taking refuge in drains. Learning
that many of my friends had been killed by
them, I was induced to move into Roxburghshire,
the country hunted by the Duke of Buccleuchâ€™s
hounds, and adjoining the two hunts before
described to you. There I had not been long,
before I was found in a small covert by the
Dukeâ€™s pack, as. Williams, the huntsman, calls
it, though he seems to do just what he likes
with it. Be that as it may, he knew pretty well
where to find me, and it was done in a few
minutes. The hills form a part of the country
that he surpasses most men in riding across ;
and after running over them for some time -
towards the Cheviot, the blue tops of which
seemed at the time to be higher than the clouds,
the hounds came to a check, owing, as it was
130 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
thought, to my having overtaken some cattle,
and to too much delay in holding on the hounds ;
and I escaped.
- It appeared to me that these hounds had at the
time rather too much flesh, though shortly after-
wards the fault was mended; for I never was
pressed more by any pack in my life. Every
hound seemed to go as if he had the leading
scent. All came nearly abreast for several fields,
and they were close to me when I again took
refuge in a drain. The extraordinary scent just
described induces me to relate the events of that
day from the beginning. A remark was made,
before the hounds had thrown off, by an old
sportsman, as follows. It happened that several
coverts were drawn by the hounds without their
finding a fox, although it was notorious that
foxes had been on every former day most abun-
dant there; on hearing this, the gentleman said,
Â«J have often observed that on good scenting
days foxes are not to be found, even where they
are known to abound as they do here.â€
â€œ How do you account for that >â€? was asked.
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 13]
â€œProbably on these good scenting days foxes
lie under ground, or in places not disturbed by
hounds ; for as they live by the use of their noses,
they cannot but know their danger of being
hunted on such days.â€
The hounds were taken on some distance
towards another covert, but on passing by a
small piece of gorse, not half an acre across, they
were taken quietly to it,.and in a short time
killed a fox which had not moved from his kennel.
This created some amusement at the expense of
a gentleman, who had stated his belief that it
was a good scenting day, and some one said,
â€œ Now what do you think ?â€
â€œWhy that I am now more sure of it: for if
this fox had moved under the circumstances,
when the hounds were so close to him, the scent
being a good one, would have made it almost
certain death; and so his best chance of escape
was to lie still; but he has been too cun-
_ Rather more than the hallooing usual when a
132 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
dead fox is given to hounds took place ; and the
three men appeared to be trying who could often-
est repeat, â€œTally-o!â€ The hounds were again
taken on towards the next large covert; and no
sooner were they in it than they all threw their
tongues and ran as if close to a fox, which was not
the case; for it happened to be my own scent, and
I having heard the dreadful hallooing before de-
scribed, and knowing it to be a good scenting day,
had moved away some time before the hounds
had reached the covert; although the crash they
made there seemed as if close tome. I then ran
as described before, straight to a drain about
three or four miles off; but although I had so
good*a start they nearly overtook me before I
reached it. Waiting near the entrance I over-
heard the following remarks :â€”
Â«â€œ How very unlucky, just as the hounds were
running into him. Such a swift pace they came â€”
he could not have stood it five minutes longer.â€
I then distinctly heard the gentleman alluded
to before exclaim, â€œ Well! I shall not be surprised
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 133
if there are half-a-dozen foxes in this drain; some-
where they must be.â€
Then another voice,â€”â€œ Well, Will, what do you
think now of Mr. Smithâ€™s foresay, as to its being
a good scenting day?â€
â€œ My lord, he was right; I never, in all my
life, saw the hounds run so fast ;â€”faster they
could not go.â€ He suddenly turned towards the
man who ought to have stopped the drain,â€”
â€œ Hoot, mon, how is this? The earthâ€™s open at
yer vary ain door?â€
â€œ Will, where â€™s the terrier >â€
â€œ Got none, my lord.â€
â€œ Was ever the like? Seventeen years I have
hunted with these hounds, and though every
field in this country is full of drains, they have
never had a terrier that was worth hanging. Jack,
go and fetch the farmerâ€™s terrier; be off like a
shot! How can they expect to save their poultry,
if they do not put gratings to their drains ? With-
out them, it is impossible for hounds to kill their
Having by this time recovered my breath, I
134 - (HE LIFE OF A FOX.
began to move away from the entrance, when,
to my surprise, I found that there were no less
than three foxes in the drain beside myself; hav-
ing with great difficulty forced myself past the
first I came against, and whilst waiting anxiously
the result, we were all much frightened by sud-
denly seeing a glimpse of light some distance up
the drain beyond us. The men had dug a hole
through the top of the drain at that spot; and
shortly after this we heard them trying to force
a rough terrier, of the real Mackerson breed,
to enter; they at length succeeded; when he
immediately came down straight towards us.
Not a little alarmed, and each of us struggling
and striving to get away first, out we all bolted,
with the terrier close at our heels. The scene
which followed, it is almost impossible to de-
scribe. The first fox was pursued by the
greatest number of hounds, and, as I came se-
cond, the next greatest number followed me; and
so after us they came ; but our sally was so sud-
den that we fortunately had gained the start of
them by some ten or twenty yards.
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THE LIFE OF A FOX. 135
I think I still hear the voice of old Will, crying
out, â€œ Every hound has got a fox!â€ As I jumped
over the fence, he was still holding his whip in
the air, undecided which of the four lots (into
which the hounds had divided) he should follow.
So good was the scent on that day, that although
only about four couples of hounds followed me, I
went straight to another drain; and, strange to
say, there found another of the same party as
before, which accounted for the two first lots of
hounds leaving a short time before they ran up to
the earth. Here our lives were again in danger ;
and, hearing the men again digging at some dis-
tance, I profited by whatâ€™ had passed, and pushed
beyond it. My unfortunate fellow was again
forced out by the same terrier, and fell a victim
to our foes ; who, not suspecting that another fox
was in the earth; again left me. |
â€œ Well, Will, do you recollect the foresay about
there being half-a-dozen foxes in the last drain hf
â€œJ do, my lord; and now the gentlemanâ€™s
foresays have all been fulfilled from beginning to
136 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
During the time they were waiting for the ter-
rier at the last drain, and doubting whether he
could be found, a farmer was filling in the stones
at the entrance of the drain, and being asked what
he was about, he answered,â€”* Why, if the terrier
donâ€™t come, we will starve the fox to death, which
is easy to do in this drain. He has had mony
fowls; about forty I ken.â€
â€œ Whatâ€™s that?â€ said the Southron. â€œ Pretty
sort of encouragement for a gentleman to spend
so much money in the country in keeping hounds.
Why the Duke pays more money to the farmers
in one week, than all the poultry in the hunt
would sell for in a twelvemonth ; to say nothing
of all.that is spent in it by the gentlemen who
hunt. If there were no foxes, there would be no
â€œ Vary true, vary true,â€ was the reply; â€œ but
Mr. Williams is raather too close fisted, when he
pays a bittee oâ€™ the Dukeâ€™s siller.â€
The worst part of the story, as relates to our-
selves, remains to be told, namely, that when they
left, a hard bargain was going on for the purchase
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 137
of the terrier which had driven us out of our
retreat, and he was to be taken to the kennel for
the same employment when required, which, sure
enough, was often the case. Luckily for me,
he was not with the hounds a short time after,
when I was again found by this pack, as I lay in
a wood, near Fleurs, belonging to the Duke of
Roxburgh, who, though no fox-hunter, is one of
our best friends, and gives his keepers strict orders
never to destroy us. But for the absence of this
terrier I must have been in jeopardy that day; for,
having heard the hounds running after another
fox, I was just stepping away to a drain, close to
the Tweed, in a contrary direction, not before I
was seen, and a few hounds got on my scent,
which they followed until they reached the drain
where I was. On being told of which, old Will,
the huntsman, brought the rest of the hounds to
the spot, determined to get me out. Tools were
procured, and several attempts were made, but in
vain. Some half-bred terriers were then sent for,
but they would not venture near me, nor could
they a second time be urged to go in. Other
138 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
fruitless attempts were made, anda great part of
the morning was lost in this way by a throng of
hunters, and amongst them the noble: master of
the pack. Whilst this was going on, and they
were looking at and admiring the beauties of the
stately river, a large salmon leaped clean out of
the water, as if on purpose to amuse or to tantalize
them. Whereupon, a gentleman present asked
his Grace if it would give him pleasure to have a
throw with a fly for such a fish. His fit reply
might well be a source of satisfaction and pleasure
to all who hunt in countries where his Grace has
â€œTo tell the truth, I care little for that kind
of* sport; but, as to the other, I am never per-
fectly happy unless I have on a red coat.â€
All at length left the place, exceedingly annoyed
that the terrier, the hero of the former day, had
not been with them. Probably the bargain for
him was not completed, and, consequently, I
Wishing to return to my old haunts, I had
got as far as a covert, called the Hursel, belong-
THE LIFE OF A FOX: 139
ing to Lord Hume, where I had not been long
when one day I heard two reports, which turned
out to be from the keeperâ€™s gun, discharged
at two innocent young fox-hound puppies, thus
deliberately butchered for having strayed by
chance from the hospitable home of the kind mis-
tress whose pets they were, and whose gentle
care and caresses they had so often enjoyed. You
will not be surprised, when I tell you that our
race appears to be almost extinct about these
After this tragical event, I lost no â€˜time, but
went to the farthest covert belonging to this
estate, and nearly surrounded by Lord Elchoâ€™s
country. I hoped to be there as far as pos-
sible from danger, and thought myself secure, as
the outside covert was kept quiet, and scarcely
disturbed even by the hounds of the Duke in
whose hunt it is retained. It is suspected that
the keeper kills all of us foxes that he can in that
part, because no hounds hunt it enough. He says,
that all the foxes in Lord Elchoâ€™s country come
there to be quiet. Be that as it may, the last time
140 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
the hounds found me there, they had before
drawn all the other woods, and only found one
fox, and that a mangy one. I was disturbed first
by hearing old Will cheering his hounds, as if he
had just seen a fox, giving his cheer thus, â€œ Hooi-
here, here, here!â€ which, in any other country,
would pass for a view-halloo,
After listening and expecting to hear the
hounds in full cry, I found it was only his cus-
tomary cry in drawing a whin covert, parti-
cularly when he wished his hounds to get into
it. I noticed that they did not attend to the
halloo so readily when a fox was really seen.
Notwithstanding this, they understood their
huritsmanâ€™s system well enough to make it no
safe thing to be hunted by them. I soon left
the covert, and when they had pursued me
for some miles, and were getting nearer to
me, they suddenly came to a check; on look-
ing back, I saw the huntsman almost imme-
diately take them away beyond the next large.
field, rather to the left of where my line was
hitherto pointing; I suppose either because there
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 141
was a flock of sheep in that field, or because
he thought I had gone to a covert in that direc-
tion. If the hounds had had their time, they
would have hit off the scent to the right of
the field. The upshot was, that I, thinking that
they had given me up, took the first oppor-
tunity of getting out of sight, not because I
was tired and beaten, as some suppose must
always be the case when we seek such places
of refuge; which they soon ascertained was the
case, for nearly as soon as the hounds had hunted
up to the drain on one side of the road, I started
off on the other; and though they had as good a
start with me as they could wish for, I contrived
to run away from them, owing to the scent not
being good enough for hounds to kill a stout fox
without assistance; and probably to the hunts-
man repeating his former mistake in making an
injudicious forward cast, when not wanted. He
did not now venture to hold the hounds for-
ward and across the line I came, or else they
would have got on the scent, as I returned
nearly the same way, which was ascertained by a
142 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
hunter on his return home, a man having seen
Having escaped from this lively pack of
hounds, I did not venture to remain in this
part ; but at once took up my abode near Foulden,
where I was again found by Lord Elcho and
his pack, though I fancied I had selected an
out of the way spot near the river: Whiteadder,
with which part I was well acquainted, as
his lordship has reason to know and to regret.
After they had hunted me some time, finding
myself distressed, I was induced to return to
my old haunts, creeping along a narrow track,
by the side of the steep and rocky bank which
overhung the river, the height of which, where
I passed, was nearly a hundred feet. Several
of these high-couraged hounds, in attempting
to follow me, lost their footing, fell to. the bottom,
and were killed. It was only strange that a
single hound escaped ; and though I certainly did
not intend to assist in preventing their destruc-
tion, yet such happened to be the case; for
having waited, when in my narrow track, for
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 143
some time, and thinking myself safe, I heard
the piercing ery of a hound, which I then be-
lieved was following me. I ran straight along
the. top of the.precipice, and was seen by the
whipper-in and some of the hounds, and the
noise they instantly made by hallooing a view
with all their might, assisted by his lordship
blowing his horn, attracted the notice of the
other hounds, or they would otherwise have
followed on the line to certain destruction. . I
attribute my escape to the powerful effect this
event had on the feelings of the owner of the
pack. Lest I should again lead them back to
the same spot, he immediately took them off my
scent and sent them home, and I flattered my-
self that we should never again see these hounds
run to find a fox in this part of the country;
for the anguish created in his lordshipâ€™s mind it
is impossible for me to describe, although it may
be easily imagined.
However, all my hopes of living a quiet life
here were destroyed. . A great friend of his lord-
shipâ€™s, and of ours, Mr. Wilkie, of Foulden, near
144 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
where this occurred, and on whose rabbits I
sometimes subsisted, immediately took measures
to prevent the same calamity from happening
again; and although it was hitherto pronounced
an impossibility, he has, as far as I at present
can judge of it, succeeded. It was managed by
cutting away my narrow track at the edge of
the rock which overhung the river. To do this
required much labour and risk; but it was
effected by suspending a ladder, which was
fastened by strong ropes to stakes driven in the
ground some distance above. I need not say
that I watched the work with no great satisfac-
tion; and as I saw the foundation of my once
favorite track fall into the river below, when they
gradually broke it away, it made my heart ache.
I felt that I must now either stay and be killed,
or move into another country. I decided on the
Although I vowed, in an. hour of distress,
when first hunted by the hounds there, never to
run the risk of them again if I escaped, | re-
crossed the Tweed into England, and have taken
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 145
up my quarters on one of the highest parts of
the Cheviot Hills, hoping to find a safe retreat
from them. There are, however, dangers to be
dreaded there, as well as in every country where
hounds are not kept to hunt us: but the system
of destruction to be dreaded by me is one that
1s adopted on mountainous parts alone. The
shepherds of the mountains, on certain days,
gather together against us, armed with guns,
and aided by dogs of all sorts, from the grey-
hound to the colly. The sagacity and docility
of the latter are very astonishing; but the saga-
city of an old dog of the fox-hound sort is
superior to that of every other. The colly dog:
is taught by man what to do, whilst the old
fox-hound teaches his master. Had it not. been
for the sagacity of the hound, I should have
been spared many a perilous run. The shep-
herds pretend that the breed of the mountain
fox is of a different kind from our own, and that
the head of the male is larger. For my own part,
I believe the animals to be of the same kind as
ourselves, and to be merely larger altogether ;
146 THER LIFE OF A FOX.
for I have sometimes met one in my rambles.
Their superior size may be accounted for as
follows: having been born or bred in the whole-
some air upon the mountains, where food, such
as rabbits, is probably scarce, they find and
fatten upon sheep which from various accidents
die there. Having once got a taste for such
food, it is not surprising that they will take a
lamb, or attack an old one which has fallen
through illness or neglect. Anxious as I am
to protect my own race, I cannot blame the
shepherds for waging war against the transgres-
sors; as it is known that when once a fox has
taken to such a habit he seldom gives it up
but with his life. Felons are to be found every
where; but, as to ourselves, the following facts
will prove that the generality of us are not
guilty of charges frequently laid upon us. On
the first day of February last, being the last
day of pheasant shooting, I was lying in a thick
plantation, in the middle of a park, at Lady
Kirk, on the other side of the Tweed, and which
covered a space of ground not more than a
THE LIFE OF A FOX. 147
quarter of an acre, when a party were shooting
not far off, and I suddenly heard one of them
exclaim, â€œ Look out, there goes a fox; he jumped
up close by me. There he goes, straight away.
I wish the hounds were here.â€
In the course of an hour after this, I was again
startled by hearing, â€œ Tally-o! tally-o! there goes
another fox! Donâ€™t mistake him for a hare, and
shoot him; heâ€™s close to you, in the clump be-
tween!â€ And then again the same loud voice,
â€” There he goes, right across the park; what a
fine fellow he is!â€
It shortly afterwards became my turn to exhibit.
They came to the clump where I was, and a man Â°
who went in beyond directly called out, â€œThere
goes a hen pheasant; there go two, three!â€ and
so on. He had just cried out, â€œThat makes
thirteen hen pheasants!â€ when a spaniel rushed
into the thick bushes, and obliged me to face the
whole party. A glorious cheering they gave me;
and when they had expressed their surprise and
satisfaction, the keeper assured them of his belief,
that there were as many pheasants left as had
148 THE LIFE OF A FOX.
been there at the beginning of the season, except-
ing those that had been shot by sportsmen. Now
if I, or any of us, were so much given to destroy
game as we are reported to be, there would not
have been a pheasant left alive in a weekâ€™s time
from the beginning of the season, whereas it was
now nearly the end of it. This fortunately oc-
curred in the presence of several persons, who
saw allthree of us. No less than five other foxes,
from the same park, have been killed by Lord
Elcho and his pack this season.
Hoping that I have given you all sufficient
encouragement to induce you to make us a visit
~ in the north, I conclude my story.
One more friend was about to begin his story.
Whether he was from York, Lincoln, Notting-
ham, or Bedfordshire, was not ascertained, for on
a sudden we were startled by the cawing of an
old crow and the screams of a jay, which, added
to the chatterings of a couple of magpies, warned
us that daylight was appearing; and I was reluc-
tantly obliged to request that his story might be
deferred to some future time, should we ever meet
again, when we might all have more to relate
concerning the inexhaustible subject of our lives.
Chanticleer now clapped admiring wings, and
sang out a loud applause. This excited the
particular notice of one of our party, who ex-
claimed, â€œIâ€™ll go round and have a sly bite at
his tail, for "tis a quiet retired place, and no one
â€œTake heed,â€ said I, â€œthat thou bring us not
Soon afterwards we were again interrupted by
the clamour of those tell-tale birds; for it seems
that our friend was returning without his intended
booty, having been seen by the keeper, who fast
approached towards us. Therefore, hastily bid-
ding adieu until we should meet again, we all
returned to our favorite coverts.
Gruzert & Rivineton, Printers, St. Johnâ€™s Square, London.
Also recently published by the same Author,
DIARY OF A HUNTSMAN.
By T. SMITH, Esa.
LATE MASTER OF THE PYTCHLY HOUNDS.
In 8vo, with Lithographic Illustrations, drawn on Stone by the
Second and Cheap Edition. Price 10s. 6d.
â€œ Every man, we say it advisedly, whether master of hounds,
one who rides up to them, the huntsman, the whips, nay, the very
earth-stoppers and feeders, all may derive information and in-
struction from this book, which is from no less an authority than
Thomas Smith. Smith, undoubtedly, is a common enough name;
and it so happens that there have been two Thomas Smiths,
whcse names are immortalised as out-and-out fox-hunters, There
was Thomas (Asheton) Smith, who used to hunt the Quorn, and
Thomas Smithâ€”the man with whom we have just now to doâ€”
who was for some years master of the Craven.
â€œThis gentleman has put his admirable instructionsâ€”for such
they really areâ€”into the modest form of â€˜Extracts from the
Diary of a Huntsman ;â€™ but with all this modesty there is not a
chapter that may not be well and profitably read. Above all, the
feeling that obviously pervades the work cannot be too strongly
inculeated. The writer is most anxious to restore a love of the
good old sport of fox-hunting, in preference to the absurd modern
fancy for mere hard-riding, in defiance of sport and every thing
else but the personal vanity of a few puppies, who have no brains
to lose even if they should happen to break their heads,â€â€”
â€œ This work, which we must premise is invaluable to a sports-
man, has just come under our notice, and realises all we have
heard of its intrinsic worth ; for without the frippery of studied
composition, the author treats his subjects with the hand of a
master, and in a style at once short, sharp, and decisive,â€â€”Bellâ€™s
Life in London.
â€œ The value of this work must be increased by the authorâ€™s
great success in our country. It is full of original matter. The
hunting terms, and a sketch of a cast when hounds are at check,
and also pictures of a fresh and tired fox, &c., are most valuable.â€
Â¢ SS teens
i Stree bays
i ittedasigitied inaiteesatay oa le Soca
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TargetNamespace.1: Expecting namespace 'http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/digital/metadata/ufdc2/', but the target namespace of the schema document is 'http://digital.uflib.ufl.edu/metadata/ufdc2/'.
The element type "div" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "