These Notes on Hunting, primarily written for and dedicated to his grandchildren by Lord North, were only intended for private circulation, but the advice given is so sound and of such a practical character—in fact, just what should be put into the hands of every young sportsman—that they were felt to be worthy of a wider publicity ; and so his Lordship has been prevailed upon to give the necessary permission to publish the Notes in the present form.
In a reduced form I had a few copies printed in the early part of this year, but some of my friends were kind enough to say it was too short, so I have restored the original text, and I now dedicate the little book to you, my dear grandchildren, because I want you to grow up good country gentlemen, doing your duty to your Sovereign, your country and neighbours, rich and poor, and fulfilling all the obligations of your station, and versed in all those pursuits and occupations which make a country life so pleasant and happy, when you have leisure to follow them. Beckford says that Hunting is the soul of a country life, so I want you to grow up sportsmen—not, mind you, sporting men—for there is a vast difference between a sportsman and a sporting man—the latter is generally a very objectionable person.
This raises at once the question—What is sport? Sport is the wit, courage and endurance of man pitted against the instinct, cunning, courage and endurance of the wild animal.
In England, then, hunting, shooting and fishing are legitimate sport.
Wild Stag hunting
Otter hunting and the pursuit of the carted Stag.
As for this last, though I personally agree with Mr. Jorrocks that you might as well " 'unt a hass," I include it in the list of sport because the same qualities are required of man, horse and, to a great extent, of hound, for it as in other hunting, and in game countries, where Fox hunting is next to impossible, it is distinctly desirable. Such packs also afford great pleasure to the residents within their limits, and to those professional gentlemen who cannot afford time to hunt with Fox hounds. They are also the cause of large sums of money being spent in the districts in which they hunt.
To My Grandchildren.
All wild shooting.
But though the pheasant battue requires quick decision and skill in shooting, I rather doubt if it really comes under the head of sport. Still, it is useful in training the mind and eye to quickness of decision and action.
All fly fishing, trolling, and, I suppose, sea fishing.
But what we have to consider here is the grand old national sport of Fox hunting.
Hunting is a science, and you must remember that what is a pleasure and recreation to you, is as serious a matter of business to the Master of the hounds, and his huntsman and his whippers-in, as law is to the lawyer, or surgery to the surgeon.
If you study the science of hunting you will find your pleasure wonderfully increased and you will be able to form a more just opinion of huntsmen and their ways.
The great outlines and rules of hunting remain the same, but the application of them varies with the countries in which hounds hunt. Thus a quick mode is suitable to some countries and a slower mode to others.
It is therefore well to visit other packs occasionally and see what goes on there, and so improve your knowledge of the craft, but for sport, it is far better to stick to one pack, taking the "good and bad" meets as they come. Selecting " good meets " often ends in disappointment.
Study the nature and habits of the fox. Study the points of the hound, so that you may be able to tell a good-shaped hound from an indifferent animal. Study his nature, his habits and various qualities. Some hounds are better at finding a fox, some can carry the line over dry fallows and down hard roads better than others. Study their pedigrees and you will find these qualities are hereditary. Learn their names, watch them at work, and you will find that what to the generality of the field has been a dull day's sport," a good day for hounds," as some call it, has been a most amusing, enjoyable and instructive day for you.
To pick up the above knowledge it is of course necessary frequently to visit the kennel. Huntsmen like people who really take interest in them, to go and see the hounds, and I have often heard them regret so few people come to look at the hounds during the summer months.
By visiting the kennel you will also learn a lot about the interior economy ; the feeding, the doctoring of the hounds, and endless useful knowledge ; and you will be surprised to find how absolutely ignorant nine people out of ten are who go out hunting, and how the most ignorant talk the most.
Your affectionate grandfather,