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SPORTING REMINISCENCES 




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SPORTING 
REMINISCENCES 



LORD GRANVILLE GORDON 



EDITED BY 



F. G. AFLALO 



WITH TWENTY-THREE ILLUSTRATIONS 
IN HALF-TONE, AND FOUR IN PHOTO- 
GRAVURE FROM DRAWINGS BY 
HARINGTON BIRD, J. G. MILLAIS, 
AND ARCHIBALD THORBURN 



LONDON 

GRANT RICHARDS 

NEW YORK 

E. P. BUTTON & CO. 
1902 






/■ 



/J-" 






V 



UNWIN BEOTHEES, THK GRESHAM PBESS, WOKING AND LONDON. 



PREFACE 



Lord Granville Gordon is anxious that this book 
should be prefaced with a statement of how it 
came to be offered to the reading pubHc, and in 
particular of how he was asked to write it in spite 
of his assurance that nothing that he could say 
would possibly have any interest for anybody but 
himself. In this assumption he may or may not 
have been right, but the editor readily pleads guilty 
to the responsibility, believing as he does that the 
author's experiences on more or less trodden ground, 
and also his outspoken opinions on prominent sports 
and sportsmen, often fresh and always free from 
malice, may amuse. The book is not intended to 
instruct. 

It is quite unnecessary to make any pretence of 
introducing the Author to a sporting public that 
already knows him well, for, without pressing the 
comparison further, one might put in his mouth 
(though he would be the last to utter such a senti- 
ment) the words of Milton's Lucifer. In case, how- 
ever, there may be those whom some few words of 

V 



PREFACE 

the author's personality, in addition to his portrait 
on an early page, will help to a better understanding 
of the book, it may be said that he was a younger 
son — that explains so much in some cases — and a 
pioneer. He followed his own line of country 
without waiting to see what Society would think. 
He does so still, and it would never surprise his 
friends to encounter him on a cold morning in 
Pall Mall dressed in the costume that might rather 
be regarded as peculiarly adapted to the laborious 
stalking of the higher fjelds. He was one of the 
first gentlemen "who openly laid against horses, and 
in this book he tells how he came to do so. Also 
he was one of the first gentlemen to ride a bicycle 
in the streets of London, an exploit that made his 
brother, the late Lord Esme, vow that it was 
enough to make generations of dead Gordons turn 
in their graves. Quite twenty years ago, as a third 
instance of the strength of his convictions, he was 
laughed at by fellow-members of the Turf Club for 
openly expressing the oj)inion that golf was a grand 
game. Many of the scoffers may have gone, but 
golf is here still, and shows some signs of staying. 
He is a sportsman and a poet, two enthusiasms 
quite capable of going together. These pages show 
something of his sentiments, though he is anything 
but a communicative subject, and the bare editorial 
admission of having asked him to write the book 
conveys little idea of the unceasing persuasion of an 
extreme reticence. He has shot and fished and hunted 
all over the British Isles, and his experiences of grouse 

vi 



PREFACE 

driving at Lowther, on the occasion of the recent 
visit of the Crown Prince of Germany, have a 
personal interest. His foreign sporting expedi- 
tions inchide his trip to Wyoming with the kite 
Horace Flower, his excursion after reindeer and 
ryper in the Hardanger district of Norway, and 
the unsuccessful ventures in Albania and Sardinia, 
to which he has been persuaded to devote a chapter. 
He has also met some of the leading cricketers 
and golfers and billiard players of the day, and on 
these and other games and sports he has some- 
thing to say. 

It is not for a moment pretended that the book 
breaks new ground for the sportsman. So many 
works issue from the press nowadays detailing the 
magnificent sport to be enjoyed in some remote 
range of mountains in the heart of Asia, and quite 
inaccessible save to the millionaire or to the Indian 
official on short leave, that there may be room for 
yet another amid more homely and more attainable 
scenes. These pages deal far more with the beaten 
than with the unbeaten track, and it was rather 
the writer's unusual opinions than the scenes of 
his journeyings that suggested the possibilities of 
his book. 

In selecting the photographs, those taken by the 
author have been, where necessary, supplemented 
by others, in many cases lent by friends, and equally 
characteristic of the scenes and subjects to which 
reference is made in the text. Some of these are 
by the well-known artist, Mr. C. Reid, of Wishaw. 

vii 



r 



PREFACE 

It remains only to add that the proofs had not 
the advantage of revision by the Author, who was 
at the Antipodes when the book was going through 

the press. 

R G. A. 
Teignmouth, 1902. 



vni 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTEE I. 

PAGE 

LOST IN THE ROCKIES ) AND BAGGING A BIG WAPITI . 3 

CHAPTER II. 

REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY . . . .27 

CHAPTER III. 

THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL . , . , 49 

CHAPTER IV. 

TWO SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED . . .64 

CHAPTER V. 

IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING . . . .96 

CHAPTER VI. 

GROUSE DRIVING . . . . . .114 

CHAPTER VII. 

ON PIGEON SHOOTING AND GLOVE FIGHTS . . . 127 

CHAPTER VIII. 

ON SOME NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES . . . 136 

ix 



COXTEXTS 

CHAPTEE IX. 

PAGE 

ON BILLIAKDS AXD BILLIARD PLAYEES . . 148 

CHAPTEE X. 

DOGS AN"D DOG TEIALS ..... 154 

CHAPTEE XI. 

HOESE AND DOG SHOWS : ARE THEY BENEFICIAL ? . . 168 

CHAPTEE XII. 

WHY I TOOK TO LAYING ..... 177 

CHAPTEE XIII. 

ON THE DECAY OF SPORT IN IRELAND . . . 196 
INDEX ....... 205 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



FULL PAGE. 

THE MOESGAIL STAG 

Drawn by Archibald Thorhurn. 

LORD GRANVILLE GORDON . 

Photo by Vaiidyli. 

A trapper's hut .... 

REINDEER ..... 
Drawn by J. G. Millais. 

A LONG STALK .... 

WADING ..... 

RED GROUSE . . . 

Drawn by A. Thorburn. 

ORMONDE WINNING THE HARDWICKE STAKES 
Drawn by Harington Bird. 





Frontispiece 


To face page 3 




4 




27 




50 




96 




„ 114 




„ 177 



IN THE TEXT. 
DIAGRAM .... 

SNOWED UP ! 

A STREABI IN THE ROCKIES 



7 
11 

13 



XI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 





PAGE 


DONE !...,. 


21 


A LOG CABIN .... 


. 24 


A TROPHY ..... 


.26 


OLE's COTTAGE .... 


. 32 


REMOVING PACKS IN THE SNOW 


. 47 


DIAGRAM ..... 


. 57 


A TAME MOUFFLON .... 


. 92 


THE THIRTY-POUND SALMON 


. 113 


IN THE BUTTS .... 


. 114 


A GOOD RETRIEVER . . . 


. 118 


THE CROWN PRINCE AT LOWTHER . 


. 121 


THE CROWN PRINCE IN HIS BUTT . 


. 123 


A GOOD DOG ..... 


. 156 


DIAGRAM . . . . 


. 161 


A TYPICAL SHEEP-DOG 


. 164 


A CHOW ..... 


. 175 



Xll 



B 





LORD GRANVILLE GORDON. 



Plioto by C. Vandyk. 



LOST IN THE BOOKIES; AND BAGGING 
A BIG WAPITI 

The horrible feeling of helplessness ^vhich over- 
whelms any one lost in even an English wood or 
Scotch deer forest is really unreasonable, since a 
little calm reflection and the climbing of a sa]3ling 
will almost always disclose the lay of the land. I 
have been lost more than once in this second-class 
Avay, in Northamptonshire woods and in the fir 
forests of Aberdeenshire, but such commonplace 
sporting experiences scarcely live in the memory. 
One day in the eighties, however, I was properly 
lost in the Rocky Mountains, and I am never 
likely to forget the sensation of the real thing. 
Old H. F. and I were out after wapiti, a band 
of which, with at any rate one good bull, I spied 
through my glasses on some hilly ground a mile 
or so away on our left. We had shifted camp 
earlier in the afternoon, and as all our available 
men were wanted to put up the tents and unload 
the animals a mile or two further on, there was 

3 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

nothing for it but to go after the wapiti alone. 
H. flatly refused to accompany me, as he Avas 
in imagination already catching large trout in the 
river that we knew ran past the green embank- 
ment of our night's camp. With the customary 
long look at such useful landmarks as the most 
conspicuous heights on all sides, I wheeled my 
horse round almost at right angles to the course 
we were then taking and rode for perhaps three- 
quarters of an hour to the edge of the broken 
ground on which I had spied the waj^iti feeding. 
I had, however, kept well down on the right, so as 
to go up wind on them, and at what seemed the 
most appropriate spot I tethered my horse and 
proceeded on foot, for, in the first iDlace, much of 
the ground became too trying for the animal, and, 
secondly, I never knew at w^hat precise moment 
I might stumble on the game. The letter Z 
roughly indicates the position, as I now know 
it, and I advanced cautiously, keex3ing a sharp 
look-out for the TS^apiti. I had not gone a 
hundred yards when I saw a young bull about as 
far again ahead, but there was, I knew, a better 
beast in the herd that I had seen, so I left this 
one alone rubbing his neck against a tree and 
oblivious of my jDresence. The stalker who goes 
for numbers, irrespective of size, is a butcher, not 
a sportsman, and there is than he no greater 
enemy to sport. There was in this case nothing 
for it but to make a considerable detour and ap- 
proach on a side wind. This I accordingly did, 

4 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

and was soon poking my nose over a mound in 
the full expectation of seeing my wapiti in the 
next hollow. I w^as disappointed in this, however, 
so crept carefully forward to the next crest and 
again peeped over, with as little result. It seemed 
evident that I must still be short of the mark and 
had not gone far enough round, so I retraced my 
steps and made what I intended as another 




A. S]3ot where I left the caravan. 

B. The caravan's destination. 

A. to C. My course when after the wapiti. 

C. Spot where I tethered the liorse. 

D. Spot where I had seen the wapiti. 

crescent detour. What course it actually took. 
Goodness only knows. Several more ridges were 
peered over, and revealed nothing. The wapiti 
had unaccountably disappeared. 

I have described the ground as hilly, but that 
is indeed a feeble and inadequate term for it. I 
found myself, in fact, swallowed up in an ap- 
parently infinite series of ridges and hollows, 

7 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

sprinkled with rocky boulders and littered with 
fallen tree trunks that Noah might have discarded 
as too old for purposes of boat-building. These 
obstacles did not render progress particularly- 
comfortable, while the young generation of fir- 
trees, which had not long started life on their 
own account, were just precocious enough to 
shut out the view of the distant mountains by 
which I had roughly taken my bearings. Excite- 
ment had so far kept me on the move, for I was 
every minute fully expecting to come up with 
the game, and it was not indeed until hollow 
after hollow had been drawn blank that a 
horrible feeling of despair began to possess me. 
No longer did I creep and crawl with the 
stalker's caution ; I ran wildly from ridge to 
ridge and shouted at the top of my voice. I 
would have given my favourite rifle even to 
have seen those wapiti, for a knowledge of their 
whereabouts must have told me my own. 

The horse ! Surely I could have little difficulty 
in finding him ; and his instinct would succeed 
where my memory failed. I had come . . . but 
it was useless trying to think where or how I 
had come. A little more of ineffectual endeavour 
to retrace my steps the way I had come, and I 
sat down on a trunk dead-beat. It was getting on 
for evening by now ; the sun was going down, and 
its rays shot through the skeleton fir trunks. 
Darkness would gather in a little after six, and 
Tom Collins, the cook, would be saying, " Guess 

8 



LOST m THE ROCKIES 

the boss is late ! " I saw it all in my mind's eye, 
and how, a little later, H., who would long ago 
have given me up in his unuttered thoughts for 
lost, -would suggest that Jack should light a 
beacon fire on the rock over the camp to guide 
me in. About seven, perhaps. Jack would make a 
feeble pretence of going to pile logs on the beacon 
fire, and the loud crack of a Winchester would 
startle the men and animals and everything civi- 
lised and uncivilised for miles around. Echo alone 
would ansAver, and ten minutes later a second 
report would ring out, this time startling only 
the horses and leaving the ensuing silence more 
intense by contrast. There might, as they well 
knew, be an answering shot ; equally, there might 
not. If there were none, then Jack would stroll 
quietly back to the silent pipe-smoking group 
round the camp fire and would say, phlegmatically 
enough — 

"Reckon we'd better turn in now and get away 
by the first streak of dawn. He won't stand two 
nights like this, even if he has matches. Tom 
w^ill get some coffee ready while Jim and I round 
the pintos up." 

All this I plainly heard and saw, and indeed 
Jack's remarks brought home to me with a shock 
the painful truth that I had no matches with me. 
I was steaming hot at the moment, but I knew 
quite well that when the sun went dow^n the cold 
would be intense. I had not even a jacket ; it 
was on the horse, and my matchbox was in the 

9 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

ticket pocket. There is a psychological moment in 
all such desperate straits when a man takes his 
fate in his hands and shakes it, if I may so put 
it, by the throat. This " do or die " feeling had 
now come to me. It was not under particularly 
romantic or splendid conditions, but it Avas none 
the less potent on that account. I shook myself 
together and climbed one of the fir-trees. In 
ordinary circumstances fir-trees are not the most 
comfortable vegetables to climb, but I made so 
little account of this one that I was on the swaying 
toj) before I realised how. There "was a terrible 
monotony in the surrounding landscape ; all around 
snow-covered mountains glittered in the sun. 
Away to my right lay an abrupt hill of oidy 
moderate altitude, coming short of the snow-line 
and ^vith a timber forest on its summit. This 
looked to be the nearest high ground, and I came 
to the obvious determination to climb it and look 
out from the top. Once or twice while breasting 
that stee]p ascent I looked around, but there 
^^as nothing to distinguish one vista from the 
next, and the repeated disappointment so unnerved 
me that I vowed to look back no more until the 
top was reached. At last there was no more 
excuse, and it was with something like terror 
that I took stock of the scene below. Away in 
the distance rose the snow ranges of the Big 
Horns. And I felt that the world ^vas wide. 
Listlessly I gazed to the left. Stay ! What was 
that moving object on the hillside opposite, going 

10 



LOST m THE ROCKIES 

in a direction at right angles to that in which I 
had recently tramped ? I got the telescoi3e on this 




y^^f^/ 



'^ 



SNOWED L'P ] 



interesting mark. The telescope and my boots 
(well, sometimes a part of the latter) are the only 

11 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

things I never yet left behind on the hill. The 
telescope revealed wapiti at the first glance. The 
second showed a big and small bull and seven 
cows. I never before or since felt so well disposed 
towards wapiti, so determined not to shoot, w^hat- 
ever temptation might offer, as now, for these 
were certainly the same herd that I liad seen 
before, and there too was the little buck that I 
had last seen — was it a week or a month ago ? — 
rubbing his neck against the bark of a tree. 
The animals were feeding on so slowly and 
deliberately that it required only a rough calcula- 
tion to arrive at the extent of ground they had 
probably covered and to reach the point from 
which they had worked. I had then to arrive at 
the edge of the right timber-line and \vork back 
to the spot where my horse stood tethered. I was 
not long in striking a line for the head of the 
valley, a point to the rear of where the wapiti 
now showed themselves. The way was downhill 
now, and the distance seemed nothing. From an 
elevated knoll at the head of the valley I sa^v all 
that I dared hope to see. In front lay the knoUy 
ground I had wandered in, and a bird's-eye view^ 
of it caused me to appreciate the difficulty with 
which the children of Israel found their way out 
of the wilderness, though they know how to find 
their way round Hyde Park now. Right before 
me ran a purling stream, which, after a course of 
about a quarter of a mile, emerged through the 
thin firs into open ground. It seemed to me that 

12 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

I could not do better than keep the course of this 
stream. 

With a deep feehng of gratitude, I at length 
left the edge of the wood and distinctly traced the 
route our caravan had taken that morning on the 
opposite hill. My satisfaction was still greater 
when I presently found my tethered horse and 
rode, a little later, into camp. We are accustomed 



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B 



A STEEA3I IX THE ROCKIES. 



to return thanks for the sang-froid of the Anglo- 
Saxon. I suppose, indeed, that it is something to 
be proud of. H. barely looked up from the novel 
which he lay reading just outside his tent. Tom 
Collins was ste^ving just such a savoury mess as 
Esau sold his soul for. Jack looked uj) from some 
skins that he ^vas busy dressing and asked briefly — 
"Get him, boss?" 

13 ' 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

And I replied, equally briefly, that the brutes 
had led nie on and lost me in the timber. The 
conversation then turned on other matters, and 
soon languished. Pipes were glowing in the dark- 
ness, and my narrow escape ended in an anti- 
climax. But it might have been otherwise ordered. 

I was lost in the mountains a second time, but 
the conditions did not sufficiently differ from those 
of my first adventure to make the second worth 
the telling. This habit of going astray arose from 
my practice of going out alone, and that in its 
turn was due to the defection of Ira Germaine, my 
hunter, never better than a surly and uncivil brute, 
and with but one accomplishment in life — that of 
spitting raised to the level of a fine art — that I 
was slow to appreciate. About his expectoration 
there were no preliminaries ; none of the orthodox 
clearing of the throat or pursing of the lips. Once 
a second a small particle of moisture would leave 
his mouth and strike the chosen target with un- 
failing accuracy. As a " turn " at a modern music 
hall, where the popular enthusiasm runs high in 
eccentric channels, Germaine's spitting might have 
won laurels ; on me it Avas thrown away. It was 
after getting lost for the second time that I found 
myself tired of going alone, and in future I al'ways 
insisted on the cook, Tom Collins, accompanying me. 
Collins was in most respects an excellent fellow, but 
no good whatever after game. He flatly refused 
to crawl on his stomach after " derned deer " ; if 
they could not Avait till he got up to them, they 

14 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

might "go to li on their own." Yet even such 

unsporting company was infinitely j)!*®^®^"^^!® ^o 
the risk of again facing those awful solitudes with- 
out knowing the way. There is very little mercy 
in Nature where her interference would smooth the 
difficulties in our path. The sun shines, the moon 
gleams, the stars scintillate as brightly for all 
they look on a man dying of thirst in the bush ; 
thousands have moaned in vain for a cup of water 
or a shoAver of rain, and only poets and dreamers, 
whose pleasure or profit have never tempted them 
to stare Nature in the face out of reach of civili- 
sation, can blind themselves to her cruelty. 

About this time Ave had determined somewhat 
suddenly to return home. The resolve mattered 
little to me, for I had bagged heads of every beast 
that has its home in the Rockies. H., however, 
was sick and disheartened. His want of success 
may be j)^it down in some measure to his habit of 
w^earing two hats to keep off the sun, which made 
him more conspicuous to wary game, but more to 
his being a shocking rifle shot. His great fault 
lay in obstinately shooting from the right shoulder 
when all the time he knew his left eye to be the 
stronger. He thus threw on the weaker eye the 
burden of finding the sights and doing the whole 
business, Avith the result that the stronger eye in- 
variably asserted itself and put the other off. Men 
who deA'ote much time to billiards, or similar 
games of skill, are always apt to be left-eyed or 
right-eyed Avithout knoAving it themseh^es. In 

15 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

billiards, for instance, the work is mainly done by 
the eye that looks down the cue. John Roberts 
never knew his own habit of playing with the left 
eye till I told liim of it. W. G. Peall, too, played 
with his left eye, and that is why his chin was 
always so close to the cue. 

If H. was a terrible rifle shot, his man Jack was 
not much better, for his whole aim when he found 
game was apparently to loose off his Winchester rifle 
until the magazine Avas emptied. As the result of 
their combined prowess, H. had so far scored just 
one grizzly bear, and that under circumstances which 
made it obvious that, unless he bagged the bear, the 
bear would unfailingly bag him. This brilliant idea 
seems to have struck H. and his man simultaneously 
the moment they met the bear coming for them, 
w^ith drawn-back lips and protruding teeth, in a 
narrow path in the pine forest. Jack was no flyer 
with his Winchester, but he managed to fire four 
shots out of his magazine by the time H. had emptied 
the two barrels of his -500. Anyhow, the bear lay 
dead. Two bullets had gone through him — one 
through the brain, the other through the forepaw. 
Master and man were equally emphatic in claiming 
the brain shot and repudiating the other. 

When T\^e started out on this trip it had been 
arranged that we should take it in turns to kill 
meat for the camp. Now, the day is lost for the 
man \vlio is told off to shoot meat for camp, for 
he has to shoot the first eatable animal he sees, 
without regard for weight or head, and he has 

16 



LOST IN THE KOCKIES 

moreover to gralloch it and. carry home the hams 
and shoulders. When, therefore, I had performed 
these duties for a fortnight on end, I struck, and 
the result came very close to mutiny and starvation. 

One night, towards the close of our trip, we were 
smoking the piiDe of peace beside the blazing logs, 
and I thus addressed the despondent comrade of my 
wanderings — 

" Look here, old chap, if you follow the stream 
for about two miles down, you will come to a water- 
fall, and to the riglit of that again you will see a 
plain crossed by a canon. Keep that canon on your 
right until it disappears from view, and you will 
find another and larger plain, and that should give 
you wapiti and buffalo." 

I saw that Jack was pricking up his ears in a 
last flare-ux3 of enthusiasm, and calmly pro- 
ceeded — 

" When at first I saw those wapiti yesterday 
afternoon I mistook them for antelope. They were 
so far away that I could not make out the horns. 
I soon saw, however, that they carried too much 
throat for antelope. Now, you be off at break of 
day and bring in a fine head or two ! " 

I had got all the heads I wanted, and should have 
liked nothing better than for the poor old fellow 
to get at least one good trophy before going back 
home. I had not referred to this subject earlier 
in the evening because of the presence in our camp 
of an uninvited visitor. Invitations are in fact 
regarded as superfluous in the Rockies ; and the 

17 c 



SPORXmG REMINISCENCES 

neAV-comer was an impertinent, good-for-nothing 
blackguard, with the South German type of face 
and lank, straight hair. None of our fellows said 
much to him, nor did he say much to us, and the 
only remark that I remember addressing personally 
to him -was to beg that he would mind where he 
spat. This Hank — whether Hank Something, or 
Something Hank, I know not— picked up odd jobs 
driving cattle on the ranches, and he had now found 
his Avay here, with another of the same kidney, on 
what they were pleased to call a skin-hunting 
expedition. They had camped on the banks of the 
stream near by, and Hank had strolled into our 
camp and sat himself unbidden down to supper. 
Well, it was the custom of the land, and we bowed 
to it ; but it was a relief when, having satisfied his 
hunger, he unobtrusively left us. 

Tom Collins ^vas early astir next morning making 
up the camp fire, for the fact is we all wanted H. 
to get a good wajiiti, the men quite as much as 
myself. H. and Jack went off, and I loafed around 
and caught a few trout while Collins washed up, 
after which we set out together for the head, skin, 
and meat of a wapiti that I had killed the evening 
before. As we were back in camp before sunset, I 
settled down in ]3eace with a well-thumbed edition 
of "Vanity Fair," a companion that had satisfied 
me these six weeks and that was to accompany me 
on many other sporting expeditions. I fully hoped 
and expected that H. and Jack would come across 
so much game as to make them very late in 

18 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

returning, and I prepared to wait uj) for them. 
My astonishment was therefore considerable when 
I beheld the two of them strolling into camp Tvhile 
it wanted yet an hour to sunset. They looked 
sullen, and it ^vas obvious that their quest had 
failed. My inquiry as to their luck was met by H. 
with a curt condemnation of America and all things 
American. Diplomacy suggested silence ; let the 
other side open the case ! It did, under the thawing 
influence of coffee, blacktail deer steak, and curried 
tinned prawns, and this is the tale we heard. 

" We followed your instructions," said H., " and 
reached the far end of the caiion about ten o'clock. 
Then we saw before us the plain and the game, 
just as you had foretold, and Avith the aid of the 
glasses we xDroceeded to select a band that appeared 
to have some fine heads in its midst. These 
animals were feeding in a place where the ground 
was clearly favourable to stalking, and everything 
promised well. We tied up our horses and began 
the approach, and soon we descried two splendid 
bulls right under us. We crawled to a ridge less 
than a hundred yards from the game. I was to 
take the left-hand bull and fire first. Jack was to 
wait and then take the one on the right. Noise- 
lessly I got up to the ridge, poked my nose quietly 
over, and, with infinite precautions against noise, 
slid the rifle along till the bull gave me a 
perfect broadside. I was just squeezing off, when 
the other wapiti looked apprehensive and began 
bunching up as though alarmed, though we could 

19 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

not have approached more cautiously. Suddenly a 
wild ' Hullo ! ' sounded from somewhere behind us, 

and there on a rock stood that Hank who 

came into supper last night. 

" ' It's a free country ! ' says he ; and without 
more ado he up with his Winchester and blazed 
away at the wapiti, all in full gallop by no\v, until 
his magazine ran out. Of course he hit nothing. 
Jack swore. I merely remarked that I was sick 

of this d d country and that "we had better get 

back to camp. And — that's all ! " 

It was, surely enough, and the silence that fell 
on the camp was broken only by the grim 
^vhistling (by Jack) of "A Hot Time in the Old 
Town To-night ! " For some reason or other I 
looked at him, but his eyes were dreamily fixed 
on the fire, and as he beat a tattoo with his long- 
knife on a XDewter plate his face wore a peaceful ex- 
pression, which seemed to say, " Yes, he bluffed us 
and ^won that hand, but he might lose the next unless 
he has a royal flush and a revolver to back it ! " 

Nothing would induce H. to try his luck again on 
the morro\v. No more of it for him ! He would 
pack and then . . . home ! Seeing that his deter- 
mination was irrevocable, I asked whether he would 
mind Jack coming out for the day with me, as the 
wind was right to hold them our Avay, and I might 
get a shot at the same beasts. He gladly acquiesced, 
and Jack nodded his own approval of the arrange- 
ment. We turned in fairly early, and from Hank 
we had no visit that night. 

20 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

I always liked Jack, a handsome, cheery, reckless 
fello^v, al^ways Tvilling and handy, able to find his 
way back to camp, too, on the blackest of nights. 
His had been a chequered career, for he had 
started life as cabin-boy on the City of Boston, and 
soon after he left her she went down in the Atlantic 
with all hands. Then Jack drifted west and took 




DONE ! 

to killing meat for the stores and ranches during 
summer and autumn. In winter time he trapped 
beavers. 

We were off with the dawn, and this time we 
made up our minds not to turn along the edge of 
the canon, but to keep it at right angles and push 
on straight for a mile or so until we came to good 

21 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

spying ground commanding the level country beyond 
the ridge. It seemed to us that the wind should have 
taken the \vapiti in that direction. The sun burst 
forth to cheer our hearts and warm our hands and 
feet half an hour before we got to the ridge. The 
view that opened out before us when we reached the 
ridge was a superb transformation from winter to 
summer, for the sun had soon licked up the snow, 
and what ^ve now saw was an undulating valley 
v^ith long golden grass, on which, no doubt, j)astured 
the many game animals that roamed in the 
neighbourhood. Along the bed of the valley mean- 
dered a silver thread of water, w^hile on the opposite 
hill sparse firs broke the sky-line, and massed to 
form a wood at the sunmiit. 

KnoAving well that nothing short of going down 
wind on a recently skinned grizzly moves a Cayuse 
pony, we left our animals merely standing with the 
reins dropped over their heads and crept to the ridge. 
I soon had the glass on some wapiti, with but one 
bull, a splendid fellow, in their midst, grazing on 
the other bank of the stream some miles away. 
Jack then planned that we should tether the ponies, 
cross the stream somewhat higher up, and go down 
on the game from the other side, following the edge 
of the timber. 

"You see," he exj)lained, "if he gets away 
wounded into that timber, he'll do for us, sure ! " 

In this apparently practical plan of campaign I 
acquiesced, and w^hen \ve had covered what seemed 
to be about three-quarters of the intervening space 

22 



LOST IN THE ROCKIES 

we took observations from a knoll that ought, we 
thought, to command their feeding grounds. There 
they were, sure enough, the grand bull and another 
with but one horn. The second had j)robably been 
lying down when we first sighted them. They were 
all feeding unsuspectingly, so we were soon off the 
knoll again and pressing on above them. The hillocks 
in patches made it first-rate stalking ground, and 
all of a sudden Jack stopped short, stood on tiptoe 
and craned his neck forward. For a second, per- 
haps, he stood motionless in that strained attitude, 
then fell back and motioned me Avith his finger to a 
mound just before us. I grasped his meaning, and 
crawled up the mound, meanwhile nipping the loose 
cover off my rifle. 

"Take the one-horned bull after I fire," I whis- 
pered, at the same time sliding the rifle along the 
top. There was no time to lose, for the animals 
^vere up now and gazing j)ast us at some object 
behind. I had covered the big bull, and ^vas just 
pressing the trigger, when . . . bang ! The big bull 
staggered and jumped, and at the same moment a 
voice behind me bawled out — 

" It's a free country I " 

In a flash it struck me that Hank had j)layed the 
same trick again, but I never took my eyes off the 
big bull. He was standing again now, but the cows 
had bunched up, and one of them stood right 
between me and the prize. Bang again ! and this 
time the intervening cow fell dead. Now my '4.50 
rang out, and the big bull gave a terrific leap 

23 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

and galloped off. And now, for the first time, 
Jack fired, iDresuniably at the one-horned bull, 
though I happened to be looking in its direction 
and never even saw the dirt fly up. At the same 
time I seized rifle and glass and dashed forward 
in the direction taken by my vanishing bull. A 




A LOG CABIN. 



hundred yards or so ahead I again came to rising 
ground, and there, some little distance further on, I 
saw the band of wapiti walking slowly, as it yvere 
reluctantly, away, and then stopping and looking 
back. A glance through the glass assured me that 
the big bull was not of the party, though the one- 
horned fellow was there right enough. At what, 

24 



LOST IN THE llOCKIES 

then, were they looking back in that curious way? 
A sudden hope was soon confirmed by the sight of 
the big bull staggering round the edge of a hillock, 
and I soon had the glass on him. His tongue was 
hanging out ; he Tvas in woeful plight, and as 
good as dead ; yet the excitement of the moment 
(let me be frank) left no room for the thought 
of pity that came later. All I had now to do 
w^as to drop back out of sight and make a detour 
to get closer. Stiff and wounded he might be, 
yet I well knew that to miss and scare him might 
result in sending him miles yet, probably into 
the forest, where pursuit ^vould be hopeless. I 
made a pad of the rifle cover, laid it on a stone, 
slid the rifle along it, and aimed carefully behind 
the shoulder. And down to earth crashed the big 
head that has for many years now looked peace- 
fully down from the wall of my dining-room. 

" Bravo, boss ! " came Jack's encouraging voice, 
as I stood over my prize. 

" Confound that Hank ! " was my reply, " he 
nearly lost me this ; indeed, I am pretty sure he 
hit the beast before I even fired. See, here's his 
bullet mark far back." 

" Guess, boss, " said the imperturbable Jack, " guess 
by the rules of gunnery, or forestry, or whatever 
they call it, he's Hank's beast . . . but . . . then . . . 
I kinder reckon Hank ^^on't claim ! " 

I looked quickly up at him, this not being my 
first trip out west, but he was busy filling his pipe. 

" You see, boss," he added, after lighting it with 

25 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

marked deliberation, "pussons can't afford after all 

to be so d d free in this country ! " 

There was a little sequel that is just worth tell- 
ing. That night, after we had got back to camp 
and had our supper. Hank's partner came some- 
what excitedly into camp and wanted to know if 
any one had seen his friend. We all shook our 
heads, and he then suggested that we should 
institute a search party next day. Some one rudely 
advised that he should do his own searching. 

Then it was that he looked pointedly at Jack 
and said that, as Hank had followed us, Jack ought 
to know something about him. Jack rose rather 
lazily, rifle in hand, and said, very quietly — 

" Look here, Mr. Whatever-your-name-is, if your 
pard has been follering pussons about, maybe he's 
f oUered the wrong lot. Now, clear ! " This he 
promptly did, and next day ^ve moved home. 



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hBIJ^I^ 


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1 


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"'^^H 


^H 


[k ^ 


I^^B 




1^1 


pH 


..JM 


^H 


11 


Bfll 






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26 



II 

BEINDEER AND TBOUT IN NOBWAY 

There are few sportsmen, given the opportunities, 
who do not at one time or other find their way 
to Norway. That land will in all probability con- 
tinue to attract them until either the game is shot 
out or the eternally revised and tinkered game laws 
make the country worthless as a playground for 
the foreigner. Of the latter discouragement there 
is every chance at no distant future ; the former 
would seem, yet far off. The fact of much wild life 
surviving in Scandinavia which has long since been 
exterminated in most parts of Europe is an an- 
achronism for which the inclemency of the climate 
may be held in great measure accountable. Even 
during August and September the visitor may, as 
will be seen from my own humble experience, be 
subjected to hardships and discomforts that would 
taboo the country in the eyes of many sportsmen 
to whom comfort is a necessary condition of their 
holiday. 

Those who " do " Norway from the deck-chairs 

27 



SPOUTING REMINISCENCES 

of " personally-conducted " steam yachts can have 
very little grasp of the hard climbing and rough 
living that go to the successful pursuit of elk and 
reindeer, trout and ryper, and these hardships will, 
in such a climate, always prove sufficient of a 
deterrent to ensure the survival of wild animals 
north of the sixtieth parallel long after the rifle 
has rusted in more genial latitudes. The very 
abundance of birds and beasts of prey — gluttons, 
wild cats, wolves, lynxes, and the largest predatory 
ha^vks and o%vls — as set forth in the official returns 
of Government premiums paid for their destruction, 
is strong evidence of the wealth of game animals on 
which in the ordinary course these creatures must 
prey. As for the angler's prospects, it should be 
borne in mind that, while most of the salmon rivers 
are hopelessly monopolised by native or foreign 
agents or syndicates, there must long be j)ractically 
free and very admirable trout fishing. 

It Avas in the middle of August a few years ago 
that I embarked on the Venus — I have not permitted 
myself the usual irony of the " good ship *' — bound 
for Stavanger and Bergen. The outward voyage was 
fortunately as short as it Avas beastly, with all the 
horrors incidental to a small boat in rough weather, 
and I willingly pass over its commonplace discom- 
forts and commence my narrative with our arrival at 
Bergen after the too brief stretch of beautiful fjord 
scenery between that port and Stavanger. The first 
experience Avhich a. fellow-passenger and myself had 
of Norway was not wholly encouraging, for, in a 

28 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORAYAY 

frantic and long baffled quest of the customs, we 
tersely addressed ourselves to the first chance Avay- 
farer in the neighbourhood of the quays, hoping that 
he might understand so much English, with the one 
word, " Customs ! " 

" Manners ferst, ye'd better stoodie ! " came from 
this blue-jerseyed gentleman, who then turned on 
his heel and left us aghast. 

At length, ho^^ever, we found the Customs, and 
there I had to pay duty on three boxes of stores, 
in the choice of which, as later experience showed, 
were many sins of both omission and commission. 
Least of all this imposition did I resent the two 
shillings per bottle charged on my whiskey, ^vhich 
was certainly worth that, and more, in excess of 
the native article. 

That first evening I inspected the stock, and 
particularly the flies, of an excellent tackle shop, 
kept, if I remember rightly, by a man named Craig 
Milne, as well as one or two of the very poor 
local music halls, and I had to be out at 5.30 next 
morning to catch the boat for Eide. This meant 
more fjord travelling, and here, let me say, with- 
out any intentional disrespect, that when you have 
seen one fjord, you have ^practically seen them all 
— the same ranges of mountains, one topping the 
other, away to the horizon ; the same short and 
scrubby trees ; the same little wooden houses in 
the same green clearings. Variety is hardly the 
charm of Norwegian scenery. 

It was ten that night when we reached Vik, or 

29 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Eideford — these are only two names so far as I 
could make out, for the same spot — and we at 
once repaired to the largest and most comfortable 
hotel that I saw in the country, kept by the 
brothers Naesheim. The cooking was good, and 
the Scotch whiskey so excellent that I regretted 
for the first time having brought mine and paid 
duty on it. The only indictment which I had to 
bring against the hotel Tvas the fact of the sheets 
going only half-way down the bed, which was, 
moreover, constructed on some simple principle 
that precluded the homely process known as "tuck- 
ing up." This I afterwards found to be general 
throughout such parts of Norway as I stayed in ; 
still the arrangement was peculiarly distressing to 
one \vhose repose, like mine, is continually broken 
by the remembrance of past crimes. 

It Avas late next morning when I awoke, and 
still later when Nils, who was to combine the 
functions of chef and interpreter, joined me. There 
were the ponies to be shoed and stores to be 
sorted, for we Avere taking with us only enough 
for one ^veek and leaving Nil's son to journey 
back^vards and forwards with the mails and such 
further stores as should from time to time be 
required. At length Mve got ofP, and our road ran, 
as do so many roads in Norway, beside a good- 
looking salmon river with the invariable clear 
water of these snow-fed streams. At last the 
river broadened to a lake — some of the lakes 
thereabouts are so small that you hardly know 

30 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

where the river ends and the lake begins — and at 
the head of the lake we had to take the ponies 
out of their little carts and put the pack-saddles 
on them, for ^ve ^vere no^v to leave the beaten 
track. This adjusting of pack-saddles has to be 
done somewhat nicely, as the total burden must 
not exceed 160 lbs., and this again must be almost 
accurately divided into two loads of 80 lbs. each. 
Our path no^v marched with a roaring stream that 
dashed between narrow, lofty banks, and on all 
sides, as far as eye could reach, grew the infinitely 
puny and monotonous dwarf birches that now 
struck the keynote of the vegetation. The only 
really conspicuous feature in the scene was the 
number of wooden ^vindlasses fitted with enormous 
lengths of wire, their purpose being the convey- 
ance of hay and other material from the heights 
down to the valleys beneath. 

For the next hour and a half ^ve were trudging 
over steep ground, our first halt being at a typical 
little Norwegian village, in one cottage of which 
dwelt Ole, my stalker that w^as to be. The village 
nestled so close to the sheer side of the mountain 
that one cottage seemed piled on the other, and 
a very curious effect was obtained, particularly 
after a fall of rain, by the local practice of cover- 
ing the roofs Avith birch bark and a coating of 
earth. The earth was full of grass seeds, which 
sprouted with the least moisture, so that the 
cottages looked for all the world as if they were 
surmounted by hayfields. Nor was this picturesque 

31 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

appearance their only virtue, for I was given to 
understand that a roof thus protected would go 
fifty years without wanting repairs. 

Ole was up on the hills when we arrived, but we 
were received by his venerable mother, a lady aged 
ninety-t^vo and bearing an alinost family likeness to 
the late George Carter, huntsman to the Fitzwilliam. 
His wife soon joined the party, and after shaking us 




OLE S COTTAGE 



affectionately by the hand, forthwith proceeded to 
make cofPee. The interior of her little dwelling was 
irreproachably clean, though once again my bed had 
the inevitable short sheets. On one wall of my room 
were some homespun mats, presumably intended for 
sale to tourists ; on another hung three remarkable 
prints, one representing an infant in the arms of a 
lady, a second depicting a winged person about to 

32 




^-u 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

quit a sorrowing crowd of kneeling relatives and 
creditors and soar into the clouds, and a third pur- 
porting to set forth the "Fashions of Bergen." In 
this restful company I soon fell asleep, which was 
as Avell, for we would have to be stirring early next 
morning if we were to get through our long march. 
The ascent was very steep for the first hour, the 
ponies having to zigzag in order to get on at all. 
Then followed an hour's march along more level 
ground, wdiere the scenery was very beautiful, 
shoTving us wooded glens and miniature cascades, 
tvith continual peeps into the valley we had left. 
Once through the pass, w^e took leave of tree life, 
and henceforth rugged and broken ground stretched 
before us to the not distant horizon. Four hours 
after leaving Ole's cottage we came upon a dairy 
shanty where, during three months of the year, they 
make a cheese that is in some request locally, and 
here we rested for an hour and drank milk. Soon 
after midday, however, always keej)ing before us 
the considerable distance of the day's goal, we took 
the road again, and no^w followed the least pictur- 
esque and most wearisome part of the whole march. 
The monotony of some Scandinavian scenery is 
maddening to any eyes but those that first opened 
on such wastes. Mile after mile, hour after hour, 
of sameness ! You turn a corner with some hope 
of a change where the hills meet the plain, and you 
find another endless plain stretching ahead of you. 
The herbage looks, at any rate to the casual 
observer, good enough to support thousands of 

33 D 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

sheep in summer time, yet there is so little sign of 
life that the land might be accursed. 

Towards seven in the evening we drew near 
Sandhaus, our destination for the night, and that 
evening for the first time I saw old tracks of rein- 
deer. The small size of the hut alarmed me no 
less than the sight of a large and motley company 
gathered about the door, three Norwegian gentlemen 
out " sporting," with their six gillies and three dogs, 
not to mention a native lady, a sister of the lady 
who owned the hut, who had joined our caravan 
in the last stage. I hardly thought that so many 
could find accommodation in a building of such 
modest pretensions, but Nils, who knew more of 
such things, urged me forward, and the result was 
that I spent a very jovial evening. The way in 
w^hich Norwegian peasants can stow themselves in 
small space is nothing short of marvellous. The 
three gents were very amiable and civil, and talked 
their best English for my benefit ; and I shared a 
small room with a Mr. Grann, a Bergen consul 
who rents a number of sporting rights, and from 
whom, in fact, O. takes Hansbu, where I was on 
my way to shoot. They were just down from 
Hansbu, and had much to say of the glorious fish- 
ing they had left there. This was encouraging. 

As another march of three hours only Avould 
bring us to our destination, we took things easy 
next day, and I stayed back to see my new friends 
off, Grann going in search of reindeer and the 
other two after ryper. I caught myself secretly 

84 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

marvelling over the kit of the ryper shooters, their 
guns old. and rusty, their clothes little suited to 
the wear and tear of such rough sport, until I 
remembered suddenly what an unwashed blackguard 
I must look myself. 

We got through the last stage of our long and 
uneventful journey in a downj)our of rain, and at 
length we meandered down a small pass that 
brought us abruptly on the Castle of Hansbu. The 
Castle ! Could even Sir Walter Scott have made 
much of it? As in other mediaeval edifices of the 
same period, its walls were of unhewn stone, with 
windows to admit the light and a hole in the 
ceiling of the entrance hall to receive the generous 
smoke of the j)iled brushwood that burned in an 
old-fashioned stove. The ground covered by the 
Castle was roughly a square measuring eight-and- 
a-half yards each way, and beneath it ran a pretty 
river full of splendid but fickle trout that rose 
freely to the fly when the weather and temperature 
were favourable to such artistic overtures, and as 
freely to the worm when, as was more often the 
case, they were not. The interior of the Castle 
could at least boast the virtue of simplicity. The 
flooring of the entrance hall ^vas what the architect 
found there on choosing the site ! On the right was 
an apartment which combined in itself the functions 
of dining-room, sitting-room, and chief bedroom, 
an arrangement by which the chief occupant was 
spared much unnecessary running about. On the 
left was a corresponding chamber that served as 

85 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

kitchen and servants' quarters, the cooking being 
accompKshed on a small spirit stove. Such, in fine, 
was the Castle. 

The next morning — as season is of some interest 
to sportsmen, I mention that it was August 22nd 
— T started off in search of reindeer \vith Ole, and 
a strange sight he looked, his trousers girded up 
into knickerbockers ^th the aid of long garters, 
his hand proudly grasping an antiquated musket 
that looked too innocent to alarm even a self- 
respecting caged bird. Touching this musket. Nils 
respectfully corrected my first impressions, assuring 
me that in its owner's hands the piece was capable 
of terrific execution. That day, at any rate, it 
had no chance, for, though we came on numerous 
tracks of reindeer, beasts we sa^w none. I did not 
find it particularly hard walking over the springy 
reindeer moss, though the stones ^vere bad in places 
and played the mischief with the nails in my boots. 
I should, in fact, call it ideal stalking ground, with 
plenty of broken ground and no abrupt climbing. 
My only mistake was having brought the '450 
instead of the Lee-Metford — only half the weight. 
As I carried my own rifle on these occasions, 
this would in future be a consideration. 

We were out early again on the Monday, and 
^walked for a couple of hours in a south-easterly 
direction over some stony, hilly country, which 
brought us to a height that overlooked the 
Blaanoten Flat, a favourite tract of reindeer ground. 
After spying some time through the telescope, I 

36 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

made out two reindeer feeding on a grassy slope 
about half a mile distant. Seeing that they car- 
ried horns, I wrongly assumed that they must be 
bucks, for I had not yet grown accustomed to the 
fact that the hinds carry antlers as imposing as 
those of average red deer stags. I also realised, 
perhaps for the first time, since trophies and 
drawings impress these things indifferently, the 
curious formation of these reindeer antlers, with 
the conspicuous "plough" in front, then the for- 
ward tines, and most of the points close together 
at the tops. My subsequent conviction was that 
these first animals were hinds. Ole could not, or 
would not, see them, but I insisted on a stalk, 
and we reached the spot where they undoubtedly 
should have been, only to find them gone. Think- 
ing that they must have fed on, we worked up 
the valley, and as there was still no sign of them, 
we turned up the hill to the right and returned 
along the top. Here, in some broken ground, we 
came right on top of them just over a knoll, 
and, needless to say, they were out of shot before 
our rifles could be got in position, though Ole's 
patriarchal blunderbuss sent a parting benediction 
their way. I afterwards found, with no great satis- 
faction, that this was his invariable practice in 
such cases. They had fed up the hill instead of 
keeping along the valley, as by all rule and pre- 
cedent they should have done — that is the worst 
of animals that do not play the game as laid 
down in sporting books — and ^vere in fact not 

37 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

t^vo hundred yards from where I had first seen 
them. 

After hmch we again spied the flat, and I saw 
a herd in the distance, almost on the sky-line. 
This time Ole was so good as to see them too, 
and we got up within a hundred and fifty yards 
of them. They were lying down, one big fellow 
slightly apart from the rest, and on him I got 
the rifle and waited patiently till he should get up. 
This he at last did, and I had the satisfaction of 
bagging a fine buck. My first bullet went, as we 
afterwards found, right through the centre of his 
body, but it took a lot of running and two more 
bullets to lay him lo^v. Ole's parting shot on the 
present occasion dropped a calf. (I resented these 
parting shots, which were against all my notions 
of the sport, but as I should not be long enough 
in the country to reform my stalker's sporting 
code, I held my peace.) 

The reindeer are finer animals than red deer, 
their coat being particularly soft. Ole's skill in 
skinning and cutting them up compelled my ad- 
miration more than his shooting, for it took him 
only a very few minutes with his short-bladed 
Norwegian knife to skin the shoulders and haunches 
and remove every particle of eatable meat. His 
next act was to scoop out a hollow in the stones ; 
into this went skin and meat, and the head, still 
attached to the skin, was drawn back to cover the 
meat, which, in one of these improvised cairns, will 
remain fresh and good for weeks in cool weather. 

38 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

Next day we were out again, the wind blow- 
ing fresh from the south, and we spied a small 
herd before lunch. Ole blazed at an ill-starred 
cow, and I missed a bull at about 180 yards. 
(The sight of my Lee-Metford has to be taken 
very full at 100 yards, and I expect I went under 
him.) Besides his skinning abilities, I found that 
Ole was excellent at " going in " at deer, a virtue 
ignored by many Scotch stalkers, some of whom 
I have seen go absolutely off their head when 
within 200 yards of deer. They would crawl and 
cringe and crouch in burns (and they would bur- 
row in rabbit earths if there were any), and at 
last they say, " Shoot ! " and, if you miss, they let 
you know on whom rests the blame. 

In the afternoon we again sighted our friends 
of the morning, and I brought one down at 80 
yards, which, to my great disgust, proved to be a 
well-grown cow. We " cairned " her all the same. 

Next morning we found that the wind had gone 
round to the north-east — a hopeless wind for the 
stalker thereabouts — so I decided on making a trip 
to a neighbouring river that I had been advised 
to look at with a view to securing the rights 
for another season. I took the shot gun and, 
w^alking over, got six ryper, three of them just 
like our Scotch grouse, except for their white 
wings, and the other three (grey ryper) like our 
ptarmigan. I also found the cry of the cock bird 
to be identical with that of our grouse ; and as 
to measurements, I found that one was 17 inches 

39 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

from the tip of its beak to the end of its tail 
and 13 inches at its greatest girth, which cannot 
be regarded as appreciably different from the 
similar dimensions of our own bird. 

I now saw an interesting and to me novel 
sight, in the shape of an enormous herd of tame 
reindeer, on the other side of the river in the 
Bjornboten district, and these I watched for some 
time. Some of the bucks' heads were clean, though 
all the wild heads that came under my notice at 
that season had the velvet on. I was rather annoyed 
to find the man in charge of these beasts netting 
the river, which had been represented to me as 
preserved. I sent a special message to him, how- 
ever, begging that he ^vould continue netting, as 
I did not know w^ho had the sporting rights, for 
which, all the same, I should certainly never pay. 
And he, not to be outdone in politeness, sent back 
w^ord to say that he found my annoyance fully 
justified in the circumstances. He also thought, 
however, that he had a perfect right to net that 
water if he chose, but he would now desist from 
doing so. Anyhow, my men borrowed his pony to 
fetch the reindeer meat from the cairns, and while 
they were gone I fished the Blaanoten lake with- 
out success, though Nils had caught a handsome 
four-pouhder on the worm the previous Sunday. 

Next day was again cold and raw, the northerly 
wind still ruining stalking prospects, and in vain 
we spied various flats ^vith unw^riteable names. I, 
however, learnt a new method of stalking that, 

40 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

after several hours of futile clambering and crouch- 
ing, appealed to my somewhat depressed sense of 
humour. We found a native, that is to say, sit- 
ting under a rock on a point that commanded a 
vast tract of reindeer country. In his lap were 
an old gun and a pair of binoculars, and there 
he simply intended waiting until the deer should 
stalk him. 

The 29th of August found us still reviling the 
same unpropitious wind, and there Avas in addi- 
tion a drenching Scotch mist on the hills, in which 
it was impossible to see fifty yards ahead. As 
the temperature softened towards evening, I took 
a fly rod down to the river and caught three 
brace of trout — one a little over, and the rest a 
little under, a pound ^veight ; and I found that 
they rose for a few minutes only at about half- 
past five. Next afternoon I did considerably better, 
my best three fish averaging three pounds each. 
It was, however, too late for the fly on that river, 
and the worm did all the best work. 

That evening, too, I had a visitor to dinner, a 
Finn or Lapp — some imcertainty attaches in my 
diary as to which land proudly claimed this object 
— who was herding a flock of a thousand tame 
reindeer in the vicinity. His legs were short and 
his physiognomy that of a Chinaman, but what 
most impressed itself on my memory was the way 
in which he wrapped his feet in mountain grasses, 
a quantity of which he carried with him for the 
purpose, in lieu of stockings. He had the most 

41 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

covetable dog I ever saw, a powerful animal, dark 
in coat, like a Cho^v, only better built. It had a 
sharp nose, prick ears, and a tail that curled up 
over the back. Without this faithful ally the man 
could not have controlled the movements of a 
couple of reindeer ; with its co-operation he could 
keep a thousand under his eye. Such are the uses 
of the " inferior " brutes. 

September, which we regard in England as so 
lovely a month, opened w^ith cold winds, and for 
the first fe^v days I got no stalking and very few 
trout. I wandered around watching such domestic 
animals as there were about the premises, and one 
singular fact I noticed, and that was the extent to 
which the herds gave salt to their sheep, sprinkling 
it on the stones, from which they would then lick 
it off. This they did with evident relish, and they 
became in consequence much tamer and less timid 
than our sheep at home. J was also interested to 
see how the horses would continually sneak around 
for a lick, and this made me reflect at the time 
whether perhaps we ought to put more salt in our 
stables at home, instead of trusting to the indirect 
supply of minerals out of the fodder. 

The temperature went up on the fifth of the 
month, and I got a brace of j)tarmigan and some 
good trout of a pound and over, the latter out of 
a pool in the Bjornboten river. It was not, how- 
ever, until the 7th, or after nearly a fortnight's 
interval, that I again got reindeer. Having on 
that day spied Blaanoten flat without result, we 

42 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

made a detour by way of Bremerhof and crossed 
into the hilly ground that lies north of Hansbu, 
clambering among the valleys till I was sick of 
it. I was, in fact, on the point of suggesting an 
adjournment for lunch to a neighbouring burn, 
where we should get pure water, when, of a sudden, 
reindeer horns loomed over a knoll not eighty 
yards away. We lay quite still on the stones, 
while an old cow, the owner of the said horns, 
surveyed us in leisurely fashion and then trotted 
off. It was evident that others were close at 
hand, and we soon came on a fair buck standing 
broadside on, some 160 or 170 yards away. I took 
a sitting shot, which must have hit him pretty 
hard, for he wheeled sharp round and went away 
up the hill, tail cocked, and with an action that 
ought to have taken first prize in any trotting 
competition. I fired a second barrel, and Ole and 
I ran forward to the hilltop. At first my buck 
was nowhere to be seen, when I suddenly espied 
a pair of horns down in a hollow on the left. We 
crept and crawled in that direction, and the moment 
he jumped up to quit I was ready and finished 
him. My first bullet, we found, had entered where 
the heart ought to have been, but had glanced off 
a rib or something and had in consequence come 
out again a few inches farther on. Next day Ave 
stalked two bucks, but somehow missed them, and 
our only beast was a cow. I wished to spare her, 
but Ole insisted on our having the meat, so I 
dropped her in her tracks. 

43 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Another week was now to go by Avithout my 
getting a shot at reindeer — this seems about the 
proportion of sporting to blank days thereabouts, 
and I mention this for the benefit of any one with 
only limited time — and . during the interval the 
coming autumn vs^eather gave us a most disagree- 
able foretaste of its quality. All the sport I had 
was confined to a ryper or two and a few trout of 
two and three pounds and as red as salmon. The 
weather was grey and wolfish ; the sun hid itself 
for days together ; the snow blocked up the door- 
way, and the wet came through the roof at nights, 
making a lagoon of the hall that had so far been 
carpeted \vith dried trouts' tails and the heads of 
grouse and quarters of venison. All this is sport ! 
Just when there seemed an early chance of our 
being snowed up, my men noticed with gratitude 
that the wind was shifting to a w^armer quarter, 
and the only difference that I then marked was 
that it brought the snow up in greater quantities. 

Matters having improved slightly on the six- 
teenth, Tve again got reindeer. The day opened 
with more than one failure, owing to our omit- 
ting to locate the beasts correctly. The fact is, I 
do not care about sitting down in soft snow, and 
the telescope cannot be used to good purpose in 
any other position. Ole therefore miscalculated the 
whereabouts of the herds, and on one occasion we 
came up only in time to see them, about 400 yards 
away, jumping into a little lake, swimming across 
it, and, without waiting to shake themselves dry, 

44 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

galloping full tilt up the opposite banks and over 
a hill. It was, for all the world, like Totnes races 
in the old days, when the Dart still behaved like 
a river. 

After this disappointment we did a deal of 
tramping — north, south, east, west — all without 
result, until at last we saw more deer feeding up 
under the cliff on our left, and among them a fair 
buck. The wind was swirling down the gorge, 
right on to them, and they got it the moment 
we came in vie^w. Just beloTV the not very large 
buck I had singled out were more deer, and as 
there was only a moment to act in, I of course 
did the ^vrong thing, opening fire on the young 
buck, which was just starting to run. A big buck 
now came in sight close to him, and at this I 
sent t^vo quite futile bullets. Away ^vent the herd 
helter-skelter, vrhen suddenly the young buck, at 
which I had fired a single cartridge, swerved away 
to the right, and we caught him labouring up the 
cliffs, Avhere another shot finished his career. Yet 
I might, had I done the right thing and "svaited 
for a certain shot at the big buck, liave had one 
of the best heads I ever saw in the country. 

More days of snow and blizzard follo^ved, and 
I began to think seriously of the return journey. 
We did try to find deer, but the slipj)ing and 
floundering in the deej) snow was little to my 
taste, though Ole minded such conditions not at 
all. My last two buck I got on September 19th, 
and one of them had a splendid head. To get the 

45 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

shots I had to sit quite still in the snow for just 
one hour, watching the herd until the big buck 
stood up for the shot. The day was warm, how- 
ever, and this entailed no great inconvenience. 

A week later, there being no more sport w^orth 
mentioning in the interval, we started on the 
return march, all downhill this time, and I mar- 
velled continually at the performances of the 
native ponies over frozen snow. One of these, 
named " Tam " — he carried the late Duke of 
Hamilton when he was out here some years ago 
with Lord Rendlesham — was almost uncanny, so 
accurately did he guess at hidden dangers, and 
scarcely less "wonderful "was the intelligence with 
which he responded to certain brief cabalistic 
warnings grunted by his floundering master. On 
our way do"wn "we stayed at a hut belonging to a 
Lapp herd. This individual was not more than 
five feet high, and he had the squeaky voice so 
general among those people. I w^as much taken 
with his suit of reindeer skin, a complete outfit, 
worn black with grease and use, and enabling him, 
so Ole assured me, to wade waist-high through a 
river and come out bone-dry the other side. 

The last stage of our journey to Ole's cottage, 
which had been a stiff clamber for us a month 
earlier, was now a correspondingly steep and 
slippery descent, and the men hung on the ponies' 
tails as a sort of drag, an arrangement thoroughly 
appreciated by those intelligent beasts. We spent 
a night at Ole's cottage and next morning reached 

46 



REINDEER AND TROUT IN NORWAY 

the village of Hjolmo, which lies at the head of 
a lake. Here the packs came off and the ponies 
were once more harnessed to their little carts. 

When we came to Vik, I found Mr. Grann and 
a friend of his fishing for salmon in the river, 
and one of them had just caught a li-pounder, 
full of spawn and black as ink. I understood 
that this was a very sporting water and that the 




EEJIOVIXG PACKS IN THE SXOW. 



then tenant, Dr. Mackenzie, had on one occasion 
caught no fewer than eleven fish in a couple of 
hours. 

The hotels on the return journey were decidedly 
depressing, for the tourist season was over, and, 
as the last of the Mohicans, I had to shout down 
many echoing corridors before I discovered the 
living apartments of those left in charge. 

47 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

The trip ended with an unexpectedly delightful 
crossing in the Venus, the North Sea behaving 
on this occasion in a manner that even the most 
bilious could scarcely criticise. Not until I had 
nearly reached Newcastle \vas the one reason for 
my comparatively j)oor bag made clear to me. A 
veteran sportsman, ^vho had hunted much in 
Norway, \vas travelling by the same boat, and he 
told me that he never went out after reindeer 
without a track dog, such as they use for elk as 
w^ell. He saw^ deer, with this assistance, every 
day he was out, and he bagged ten good heads. 
And I made up my mind never again to seek 
reindeer without a thoroughly good hound for 
my companion. 

It may be, however, that I shall not again 
scramble over the harsh fjelds or throw the fly 
(or worm !) over the tumbling snow w^aters. I am 
not sure indeed that there is any longer the 
inducement, seeing how the peasant legislature 
annually bestirs itself to boycott the foreigner, 
to whom Norway owes greatly needed money, 
handicapping him more and more in favour of 
the home-bred poacher. 

Still, Norway had, even has, its charms. Here 
is no luxury of English shootings, not even the 
comparative comfort of Highland forest lodges ; 
but very fair shooting and fishing is to be had 
by him who will work for it, and if Nature is a 
little fickle in a Norwegian August, she is also, 
on days when her mood is kind, at her very best. 

48 



Ill 

THE BIG STAG AT MOBSGAIL 

Perhaps the reader has had enough of stalking. 
He has been with me and the taciturn Ole over 
snow-covered fjelds after reindeer and with the 
more conmaunicative Jack after Rocky Mountain 
w^apiti. Yet I would fain recall just one memory 
of stalking in the old country, and the fact of 
my success on the day in question having been 
due to no skill of my own, but wholly to the 
extraordinary perception of McDonald, my stalker, 
makes me the more anxious to set down the day's 
doings, in view^ of an aspersion that I may have 
too generally cast on Scotch stalkers in my praise 
of the Norwegian. 

I had taken a deer forest, called Morsgail, in 
the Lewes Islands, where there were both grouse 
and deer. One evening I was plodding homeward 
with McDonald, the best stalker I ever was out 
with, and he was telling me of a specially fine 
head in the forest. 

"You will always know him," he said, "because 

49 E 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

up at the cup two points stick out ahint, like a 
big carving fark. But," he added, ruefully shaking 
his head, " I have nae seen him for a gude long 
time, and it's maybe he comes from Harris." 

McDonald had the usual conviction that a stag, 
however far he may roam in quest of wives or 
provender, always returns in summer to the corrie 
where he was born and where he first learnt to 
dread man, and he therefore concluded that the 
big stag was but a wanderer that had merely 
strolled over the march to sample such cranberries 
as might grow amid the rocks of Morsgail. 

I had killed a fair stag that afternoon, and, as 
the ground at Morsgail is too boggy for ponies, 
two gillies ^vere, as usual, carrying the carcass in 
a straight line for home. We had told them that 
they might go straight over the hill, for w^e had 
been on the ground that morning ^without seeing 
anything on it. McDonald and I ^valked along 
beside the delightful brawling burn that took us 
round to the left. I mind w^ell that the hour -was 
five in the afternoon, and McDonald was still 
mumbling about the big stag and another, scarce 
inferior to it, that he had seen, and his account 
was interlarded with racy imprecations on the 
men of Harris for keeping as many good beasts 
as possible to themselves. Of a sudden I chanced 
to look up and saw the hillside dotted with deer. 

" Psht ! " was my brief, but suggestive, remark ; 
and if McDonald had been shot he could not 
have fallen either quicker or flatter. We had 

50 




^^ 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

been sheltered from sight by the high bank of the 
stream, and had regarded the day's shooting as 
virtually over ; but the old habit is strong, and 
the very sight of deer made me apostrophise 
McDonald in the manner aforementioned, and my 
remark floored him instantly. 

We soon got the glasses on them, and I could 
see that there were good stags among them, which 
fact I imparted to McDonald. This was quite 
superfluous, by the way, because what he did not 
instantly see about stags was not worth any one's 
while to look for. He studied them long and 
silently, and at last he said — 

" Do ye see a big black beast feeding low down 
and broadside on, almost the lowest beast of the 
lot ? Well, if ye can mak' oot his. far horn, ye will 
see the fark oot from ahint. Yon's the big beast ! '" 

Here was luck, for it was a sj)lendid stag 
indeed, Tvith a solid ruff on the neck that bespoke 
age and strength, and, sure enough, a conspicuous 
fork projecting from the top of the left horn. 

It Tvas then that I looked at my watch and 
then inquiringly at McDonald. It ^v^as five o'clock, 
and it 'would be dark in an hour's time. This had 
evidently occurred to the stalker as well, for he 
stood quietly scratching his black grizzly beard, a 
sure sign of deep thought with him ; and then he 
gazed along the toj) far on to right and left. I 
could not follow his train of thought, but before 
I could question him I saw the heads of the deer 
go up, and knew that they were disturbed. 

53 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

" Aye, it's as I thought," remarked McDonald, 
in oracular fashion. 

"Thought what?" I asked. 

" Why, they've joost got the gillies' wind." 

And then, of course, I recollected that the 
confounded gillies would naturally have taken 
the shortest cut along the top on the far side of 
the deer. No language Avas quite adequate to the 
occasion, though I tried my best ; then dramatically 
vowed that if I had to sleep the night out on the 
moor I would not be done out of the big stag 
that way. McDonald was imperturbable. 

" It's no gude ; they're away now, and the light 
will na hold," said he ; and it w^as impossible to 
deny the strength of his reasoning. He then took 
a long farewell look through the glass at the 
vanishing herd, shut the glass w^ith a snap and 
shouldered the rifle. 

" We'll get awa' airly the marn," Avas his next 
remark. "Mebbe he'll no make Harris the night." 

There was nothing for it but to trudge sadly 
home, and inwardly I felt that I had seen the 
first and last of the big stag, ^vhether from Harris 
or elsewhere, for stags go long distances in the 
night. We ^vere up early next morning, and the 
news of the big stag having been seen had 
evidently leaked out, for the head stalker, Mclvor, 
insisted on accompanying us. I fear that I some- 
times made him terribly jealous of McDonald, 
with whom I always stalked "whenever I reason- 
ably could. McDonald was the best stalker I 

54 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

could wish for ; Mclvor was distinctly bad : the 
nearer he got to deer, the more nervous and 
flurried he became and the slower in his move- 
ments. I have often known stalkers aifected in 
this extraordinary way. I have seen them crawl 
for a quarter of a mile scarce daring to breathe, 
when they could, without risking their chance, 
have walked and whistled. In this way they waste 
valuable time, while the deer move on ; or their 
very caution makes some old hind suspicious, and 
she looks round to see that all is right. The good 
stalker, on the other hand, makes rapidly for a 
knoll and says — 

" Shoot ! You can get no closer." 

Off we went, then. McDonald kej)t the footpath 
—a " footpath " that one had from time to time 
to leave to avoid being bogged — for two or three 
miles beyond the place where we had seen the deer 
the night before, but I left him unhampered by 
advice, for I well knew that he was as keen as 
I, and a great deal better qualified, to find the 
big stag. The last line of hilltops rising up from 
the Harris march rose in front of us before he 
turned off to the left, making straight for some 
rising ground which gave us a good view of the 
great basin that lies sheltered beneath this range 
of hills. In a moment three telescopes were 
searching every nook and cranny within sight. 
Everywhere there were deer, too many of them 
in fact, and we gazed on all sides for many 
minutes without a word being spoken. I made 

55 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

out several stags in different parts, but the 
distance was considerable and I did not see 
anything which looked to me particularly good. 

Mclvor Tvas the first to drop his glass, with 
the remark that there were good beasts there. 
McDonald, however, continued gazing at a certain 
spot. I did not dare ask Avhat he saw there, for 
that is the sure way of falling in your stalker's 
estimation. To "win his good opinion, on the other 
hand, you must find a good stag before he does and 
draTV his attention to it. He may not say much, 
but, like the sailor's parrot, he thinks the more. 

Hopefully, then, I turned my glass in the same 
direction as McDonald's, but could only make out 
some hinds. 

" I'm a'most sure it's him," he said suddenly, 
pointing out a green streak of moss that ran along 
the foot of the mountain due east of where Ave sat. 

"I've been looking there," I replied, some^vhat 
nettled, "but only hinds can I see." 

" Aye, joost hinds and the one big beast." 
Then he added for my further guidance — 

"Follow the burn half-way up the green slope 
till ye come to a grey-like stone. He's lying 
behint yon, but ye'U get a sight o' his horns now 
and again as he moves his head." 

Quickly I turned my glass on the green slope, 
and soon found the grey stone and, after a bit, 
the horns ; but, frankly, I did not think they were 
the same horns we had seen last evening. 

" Are you sure that's he '? " I asked. 

56 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

"Nae sure," was the cautious rejoinder; "but 
we'll be moving." 

Mclvor spoke not a word ; what he thought of 




it all I neither knew nor cared, for my trust in 

McDonald was strong. 

57 



SPORXmG REMINISCENCES 

The above rough diagram "will serve to show 
the lay of the land. The curved lines show the 
direction of the range of hills (the wavy line 
showing the foot of the hills) beneath which, on 
the Morsgail side, lay the basin in which the deer 
were feeding. The ridge terminated abruptly in a 
sort of crow's nest, from which, many a time, I 
have gazed over miles of beautiful country, or sat 
shivering in an October sleet storm waiting for 
deer to move on. The cigar-shaped lake was the 
easterly march to the forest, and the line on the 
right shows the course of the burn at the foot of 
the valley, south of which lay the sacred ground 
of Harris. X^ marks the spot at which McDonald 
descried the horns behind the grey stone ; X^ was 
the spot "sve spied from ; and at Xs happened the 
finale yet to be related. 

Although McDonald had said somewhat peremp- 
torily, "Let's be moving," or words to that effect, 
it was noticeable that he started off in no apparent 
hurry, nor did he quicken his pace as we pro- 
ceeded. As I have, however, said before, the ways 
of McDonald were not to be questioned. As we 
plodded on round the far side of the range, w^ith 
the burn below us, he vouchsafed his reasons for 
the detour. The wind, he pointed out, was from 
the north, and, as the deer were in a position in 
w^hich it was simply impossible to stalk them, all 
we could do \vas to get round to the crow's nest 
and trust to their either moving, or separating, or 
feeding on before evening. It was a two hours' 

58 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

trudge to the crow's nest, and close on t^vo o'clock 
when we got there ; but, before lunching, we made 
a careful and thorough reconnaissance. There 
"were many deer in the basin at our feet, and 
these could hardly be expected to hail with feel- 
ings of satisfaction the apparition of human beings 
on the sky-line. Now, the stag McDonald had seen 
ought to be right below us, unless he had moved, 
and, dodging and crawling, the stalker at length 
plucked me by the sleeve. 

" Aye," he said, " it's him." 

Quickly I got my glass out and peered cautiously 
over a rock. We had less to fear from the deer 
we "were stalking than from others immediately 
under us. Following McDonald's whispered direc- 
tions, I soon spied the stag, up now and feeding 
with a select group of twenty or thirty hinds, and 
my heart gave a bound as I saw that there could 
be no doubt as to its being the same big beast of 
last evening. Plainly I could see the fork jutting 
back from the top antlers, yet, when I had gazed 
at him longingly for some minutes, I swdftly 
realised how long the odds \vere against my ever 
getting a shot at him in such circumstances. 

Straight from Morsgail Lodge blevi^ the keen 
north wind, and its direction was its one redeem- 
ing point in an otherwise desperate situation, since, 
if we were obliged to move them, the deer would 
be more likely to keep up wind and so remain on 
our ground. So in my wisdom I argued ; as things 
turned out, exactly the opposite took place. 

59 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Deer were scattered all over the basin, and it 
was out of the question to attempt to get near 
the big stag where he Avas then grazing. So much 
at any rate I quite understood as I crept quietly 
back to find the stalker placidly smoking. When 
I got back, he crept down and forward for a 
moment and carefully scanned the scene below, 
his object being to see Tvhether any of the animals 
had " got us." Then he looked at me, as much 
as to say, "Ready?" and we crawled up, keeping 
well behind friendly rocks whenever Ave reached 
exposed spots. At the crow's nest we lunched, 
and bitterly cold it "was ; and every now and again 
McDonald \vould absent himself for a few minutes 
to spy out the land and report progress. 

Three o'clock came, and four o'clock came. 
McDonald was beginning to grow restless. He had 
just returned from one of his surveys. His move- 
ments Avere now^ rapid and somewhat mysterious. 
He looked at the sky, at the lake away on our 
right, at Harris. Then he seized the rifle, gave 
some vehement and muttered command to the gillies 
in Gaelic, glanced hesitatingly at Mclvor, as much 
as to say, " I suppose if you will come, you must ! " 
and to me his one word w^as, " Come ! " 

We slipped down towards the pass that led 
from the long lake to the basin. It was obvious 
that some of the deer would see us and others get 
our wind, but McDonald trotted on apparently in- 
different to such a contingency. I even saw "with 
a sidelong glance that they were bunching ; yet on 

60 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

he pressed. At last we reached the shelter of some 
rocks, and down he went, and out came his tele- 
scope. I did the same, and saw deer everywhere, 
a hundred or two of them moving over the shoulder 
to the right, but no sign of the big stag. For a 
moment, as Mr. Franklin once said to the barmaid, 
all glasses were down. Then McDonald had him 
right enough, and in a moment, following his 
advice, I too saw the big one moving slowly on 
in company with some twenty hinds. One of these 
would now and again throw an anxious look back 
in our direction, but the main company seemed in 
no way disturbed. 

All of a sudden — who could tell the quick work- 
ings of that trained mind ! — McDonald jumped up 
as if inspired, rammed the glass into its case, 
grasped the rifle, and started at a sharj) run back 
the very way we had come. Breathless ^ e reached 
the crow's nest, and, as we passed the gillies, he 
uttered some order, and on we pushed along the 
tops nearer and nearer the burn of the Harris 
march. Leaving Mclvor, who had long been blow- 
ing like a broken-winded hunter, McDonald loaded 
the rifle and slipped the cover half-way off it. A 
few moments later I heard a loud roar go up a 
little in front and on the left, while an answering 
roar came from the right. These sounds had the 
effect of making my stalker literally spring in the 
air, and he ran for^vard at a pace that, if I had 
not been in condition, must have left me hopelessly 
behind. A hundred yards further and we were 

61 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

among rocks, and now McDonald was moving. like 
a cat at a sparro^v. Suddenly he bent down and 
bolted for a large boulder about fifteen yards before 
us, and winding up the rifle cover, he laid it on 
the rock and slid the rifle along it. Silently, as 
he stood aside for me, I cocked the weapon, just 
as another roar came up from Harris, followed by 
a stern and sullen reply right in front of us. 
Quietly and proudly the big beast crossed in front 
and stood a bare moment broadside on. It was 
now or never, though the light was bad — it wanted 
only a few minutes to six o'clock — and I was blown 
and shaking like an autumn leaf. 

Bang ! The stag jumped and stood again. 

Bang ! He turned his head and trotted over the 
knoll in front. 

McDonald was off, and I followed limply with 
the rifle and cover. Then I sa^v him stoop as he 
ran along the edge of the ridge ; and he stopped 
and beckoned to me. He held two cartridges in 
his hand, and these he rammed into the rifle. 
Cautiously I peered over the ridge, and there, 
not t^venty yards from me, stood the stag. One 
more report rang out, and next moment I and 
McDonald, w^ith Mclvor and the gillies, who 
seemed to spring from the bowels of the earth, 
were standing over the noble beast close to the 
Harris march that he so often crossed in life. 

Twilight was upon us, and Mclvor waited to 
help the gillies home with the deer, while 
McDonald put me on my road, telling me at 

62 



THE BIG STAG AT MORSGAIL 

length Avhat i)i"ompted him to make that sudden 
and profitable dash back along the ridge. As he 
watched the stag through the glass, it appears he 
saw him turn his head towards Harris and roar, 
then bear to the left. Instantly it flashed on him 
that it might be possible for us to cut the monarch 
off. Every pass "was, of course, known to so good 
a stalker, but how he worked his plans "with such 
precision he alone knew, and no amount of ex- 
planation would have told me. 

I had to trudge the last six miles of bog, mis- 
called road, alone, McDonald branching off to his 
house in the forest, and it "was ten o'clock ere the 
lights in the upper windows of Morsgail Lodge 
welcomed me home. 

Always I shall remember that day, for that 
was the most desperate stalk I ever took part in, 
and the whole success was due to the very remark- 
able quickness and perception of McDonald. 

Always I shall remember that night, and see 
in memory those "welcome lights in the Lodge win- 
dows. For the hand that placed them there is 
still, and the voice that hailed me is silent for 
ever. 



63 



IV 

TWO SPOBTING VENTUBE8 THAT 
FAILED 

Having now shared ^vitli the indulgent reader 
the memories of some moderate successes in three 
very different lands, the less agreeable duty re- 
mains of chronicling a couple of failures, one 
abandoned indeed at the outset, to find sport in 
southern and eastern Europe. So many books and 
articles are written on -where to go for sport with 
rod and gun, the writers' successes take up so 
large, and their failures so small, a proportion of 
these records, that it may be well for me to go off 
the beaten track and devote a few pages to how I 
did not succeed in getting sport in either Sardinia 
or the Albanian highlands. 

It was during the latter days of summer, just 
as I Was puzzling over the choice of some out-of- 
the-way resort for the autunm, that I met an 
artist friend, one who had travelled much in 
eastern Europe, and to him I unburdened myself. 
A projected expedition to Winnipeg after moose 

64 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

had fallen through, for, although a kind friend 
had offered me the loan of his kit, which was 
actually on the spot at Winnipeg itself, every 
berth on every liner was booked for weeks ahead, 
and I lacked the energy to cast about for a 
shakedown in a stokehole. 

" Why," asked my friend, " do you not try the 
Albanian highlands? They swarm with game, and 
no one has ever been there." 

It did not at the moment, though I thought of 
it "when too late, occur to me to ask him how^ on 
earth, if no one had been there, he knew that the 
region was swarming with game. I wish it had. 
Instead, I strolled home with him, and from amid 
the Tv^eapons of to-day and yesterday and the day 
before, from under forage caps, helmets, and 
cuirasses, he brought forth maps and illustrated 
papers, and gave me much advice touching routes, 
and a letter of introduction to the Governor of 
Scutari, and the carrying of a new-pattern revolver, 
and never going ovit without an escort. And his 
descriptions appealed to me in my uncertain mood, 
and so, on the last day but one of September, I 
went. 

Now, I am not going to detain the reader with 
descriptions of the railway journey across Europe, 
from Calais to Milan, of the rudeness of some of 
the railway officials and the politeness of others, 
for in these days of World-Travel and Cook, are 
not all these things written everyw^here, so that he 
Avho runs may read? Nor need I encroach on the 

65 F 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

preserves of Murray and Baedeker with apiDrecia- 
tions of the Cathedral — where, at any rate, they 
keep the statues clean — and galleries of that city. 
Touching the latter, niy regret was, now as always, 
that the old masters should have confined them- 
selves to biblical subjects Avhen their glorious 
colouring might more worthily have been applied 
to modern themes. In the great room of the 
Galleria Brera, for instance, the only secular paint- 
ings rej)resented a lady, by Van Dyck, an old man, 
by Velasquez, some dogs chasing a deer, by Snyders, 
and a very charming group of children dancing 
round a tree, by Francesco Albani. The only other 
painting in the room that interested me was one 
of The Last Supper, by Grisjji, which differed from 
other representations of that episode in that the 
table was not as usual dowered with only meagre 
fare, but groaned under a "wealth of baked pike, 
fried herrings, roast hare, oysters, and real French 
bread. 

The Customs officials showed themselves dis- 
agreeably diligent at the Hungarian frontier, but I 
fortunately bethought me of a Hungarian passport 
^vhich I had obtained from the Austrian Embassy 
at home, and officialdom became at once scrupu- 
lously polite, and no more boxes were opened. 
Then the train ran along beside the blue Adriatic 
and into Trieste, a city paved with gravestones. 
At the offices of the Austrian Lloyd Shij)ping Com- 
pany, where I had to book my passage for Cat- 
taro, I was so fortunate as to meet "with a most 

66 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

obliging gentleman named de Varda, who showed 
me Avhere to get shot cartridges and other neces- 
saries. The only building of interest that I visited 
near Trieste was the famous Palace Miramar, once 
the residence of Duke Maximilian, who afterwards 
crossed the Atlantic to become Emperor of Mexico 
and in due course to get assassinated, after the 
custom of those troublous regions. Among my few 
other pleasant memories of Trieste is a very capital 
-wine called Palugyay. 

My steamer, the Graf W urinhrandt, was crowded 
fore and aft, and I had at first to share my 
cabin with three other passengers. By good luck, 
however, Mr. de Varda introduced me before start- 
ing to Captain Bednartz, Avho was kindness itself, 
and who, after our second stop, at Zara, put me 
in a charming cabin by myself. 

We stopped in all four times : at Pola, the 
Austrian naval station, ^vhere naval officers sat 
sipping coffee outside a cafe alongside the quay ; 
at Zara, where the Tvhole place turned out to see 
the boat come in, and where, although the dark- 
ness was falling, the scene was still w^hat reporters 
would have called " animated " ; at Spalato ; and at 
Ragasa. In such fine weather as then prevailed, 
this is a beautiful trip down the Adriatic, thread- 
ing a course past countless islets, with the grim 
Albanian mountains towering all around. At Cat- 
taro I took leave of the boat, and had to drive 
to Cettigne, the fare for which was twelve florins. 
The road zigzags upwards, and the panoramic 

67 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

views are magnificent. At the village of Njegus, 
originally, I believe, the home of the royal family 
of Montenegro, I saw many fierce-looking men with 
pistols stuck in their belts, and wondered how, 
even thus armed, they contrived to find a living 
in so bare and desolate a country. At length, 
after an hour's halt here to rest the ponies, we 
pushed on, with still more of the corkscrew ascent, 
until, just as it was getting dusk, the summit Tvas 
reached, and we bowled merrily downhill and 
round corners, on the edge of a precipice the 
whole time, and drew up at 8..30 that evening 
before the door of the Cettigne Grand Hotel. 
Here again the local wine was excellent, though 
I learnt that, though it is made on this side, the 
grapes come from the Italian shores of the Adriatic. 
Mr. Shipley, our Charge cT Affaires at the time, 
was most attentive, and had thoughtfully wired 
to Mr. Summa, of the Legation at Scutari, to meet 
me on arriving there. Next morning at six I had 
to leave for Rieka, and I was soon bowling out 
of Cettigne, a place with nothing to rave about. 
Rieka lies at the head of the Lake of Scutari, and 
here a small boat met me and rowed me to the 
steamer, about half a mile distant, and in the 
narrow bow of the steamer I found a table laid 
for two. It was not, I afterwards discovered, and 
only just in time to expi-ess my thanks for the 
compliment, customary to serve fable d'hote on the 
steamer at all, and this was an extra attention on 
the captain's part. There was another passenger 

68 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

on board the boat whom I had for some reason 
or other taken for an Austrian, and whom, as I 
did not suspect him of a knowledge of EngKsh, 
I made no attempt to address. At last, however, 
after we had dined at the same table, and passed 
and repassed one another ^vithout a word, I did 
venture to ask whether he spoke English. He 
did ; and so the ice was broken and a most agree- 
able gentleman he proved to be — the Prince de 
Beam, French Attache at Vienna. The rencontre 
was in every way a fortunate one for me, for M. 
Summa, of the British Legation at Scutari, does 
not speak English, so, when I had made them 
known one to the other, M. Summa insisted on 
the Prince accompanying us, and putting up at 
the Maison Paget, the owner of which, Mr. George 
Paget, was away in South Africa. The prince 
acted in a way as interpreter between us. 

The shores of the lake, between Cattaro and 
Scutari, looked so barren that not even an Irish- 
man from Connemara would tarry there to plant 
a potato, and the distant Albanian mountains, as 
seen through my Ross telescope, looked no whit less 
inhospitable. Immediately on landing I presented 
the letter which the Turkish Ambassador in 
London had given me to the Governor-General at 
Scutari, and the first result was that my guns and 
ammunition were passed free through the- Customs. 
The prospects of sport, however, seemed very 
remote. Both the Prince and Mr. Summa ridi- 
culed the idea, and the captain of the steamer 

69 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

shared their opinion. The following day I paid 
my respects to the Governor, and he too threw 
cold water on my sporting- programme ; and when, 
finally, the Italian Consul had called on me and 
likewise warned me against a too sanguine expe- 
dition into the hills, I began to think it about 
time to abandon the idea and look out for some 
other hunting ground. In the first place, the 
expenses of such a ti'ip could not amount to less 
than a couple of sovereigns a day ; secondly, I 
should have to go far from civilisation, and could 
count on no regular supply of provisions ; thirdly, 
it would be impossible to find a guide with so 
much as a smattering of either English or French ; 
fourthly, every one who was likely to know swore 
that there was no big game left in the interior. 
These conjointly appealed strongly to me, and I 
eventually gave up the Albanian highlands, and 
cordially reconunend every other sportsman to do 
the same. 

The bazaars of Scutari are among the chief 
attractions for the visitor, and there I bought 
silks and shoes, and took coffee with polite mer- 
chants, who displayed their wares in dignified and 
unostentatious manner, and smoked the best and 
cheapest cigarettes that ever I held between my 
lips. There is a good supply of well water in the 
town, every house in the better quarter having its 
own private well, though, as these sources of 
drinking water were so close to the Turkish 
cemetery, I rather regretted that they should 

70 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

also be at a lower level. The Governor came to 
call upon me. accompanied by Mr. Sunnna and 
the French Consul, and a very dignified man he 
was, with big mustache, bush}-, well-trimmed beard 
and sparkling eyes, that could. I understood, look 
very fierce indeed upon occasion, but that looked 
on me with the most winning expression. His 
Excellency was throughout most affable, and was 
immediately interested in my automatic revolver — 
Mussulmin have a passion for weapons all the 
world over — and promptly sent a body servant, an 
enormous felloAV with mustaches like tAvo colts' 
tails, for his own Mauser. I -^as greatly impressed 
by the solemn and dignified demeanour of even 
the servants in that country. Behind my chair 
at meals there stood a calm, sedate Oriental, whose 
honesty and respectful demeanour and old-world 
dress commanded ray respect. You could no more 

have d d such a man for something forgotten 

than flo'vvn ! Had I been conversant with his 
language, I felt that it might perhaps have been 
possible to throw out a suggestion here and there, 
but anything in the nature of reproof would have 
been in the highest degree uncouth and out of 
place. Personally, it does my heart good to see 
in those around you, even in a menial capacity, 
a mannerism that might almost be described as 
nobility, and I never fail to respond to the 
salute of such as punctiliously as I "would to 
that of the greatest in the land. It is only 
a cad, a lo^v-bred upstart, who giggles at the 

71 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

natural politeness of a people accustomed to such 
\vays. 

I had determined, then, to abandon the big 
game, existent or otherwise, of the Albanian 
highlands, and my thoughts were fixed on Sar- 
dinia. It only remained to get there via Brindisi 
and Genoa, and the first step \vas to get across 
to Italy by the " gran vapore " that touches at 
Medua. In the ordinary course, a smaller steamer 
takes passengers the four hours' journey, two by 
river and two more by sea, to meet the larger at 
Medua, but the weather -was bad and they said 
that the sea was too rough for the smaller boat to 
venture. There was nothing for it, therefore, but 
to make Medua on horseback, and Sef, the cavas, 
was sent to the bazaars to get the beasts. At 
half-past eleven he turned up at the Casa Paget 
with four horses and a man, and they quickly had 
the packs on so firmly that not a knot slipped, 
not a pack had to be shifted during a twelve 
hours' tramp over as rough a road as any one 
\vould care to travel. We rode out of the tow^n 
and along the south end of the lake, at first in 
pelting rain, but afterw^ards in bright sunshine. 
Then we struck a good-sized river, swollen and 
muddy from the recent rains, and this kept us 
company till within a mile or so of Medua. To 
our left lay the discarded mountains of Albania, 
and very evident it w^as that the rain of the plains 
was snow^ at the higher levels. Very fertile were 
the plains, with well-tilled patches, and a wealth 

72 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

of sheep and cattle. Towards evening we branched 
off across some fields, and were soon riding along 
a rocky path with the river, on which I saw 
neither bridge nor boat, bubbling beneath us. At 
five the shadows began to lengthen, and the 
Albanian hills took on that peculiar purple tint 
that recalled London on the day when the good 
Queen Victoria was laid to rest, but this soon 
deepened to that other tint which my children 
will wear for a few weeks after the solicitor has 
read my will. Notv and then, to rest the muscles, 
I threw one leg over the pommel and rode side- 
saddle, but this was no track to play tricks on. 
Just as it became dark, we left the rocky path 
and resumed our way along wet clay lanes. This 
seemed to me an ideal land in which to start an 
illicit distillery, for the inhabitants were friendly 
and disposed to frustrate the police, and the river 
also would be convenient in case of a raid. More- 
over, having but one drink, and that cofPee, they 
would be the better for a stimulant. I "was just 
going to say that I gave my pony his head, but 
that would be an idiotic remark, because he had 
had it the whole time ; if he had not, on such 
a path, we should both have been dead long 
before. Yet I would rather ride that pony on the 
darkest night and on the worst of tracks than sit 
in a London hansom for an hour of the brightest 
day. About half-past eight in the evening -we 
reached a hamlet, and the horses went into one 
shed and we into another. This humble dwelling 

73 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

took nie back in memory to a certain highland 
shanty of my boyhood's days, and yve sat by the 
fire while a small Turkish boy brewed coffee in 
tiny pots among the hot ashes, and my men and 
others squatted round the fire and drank soup and 
ate the sardines as soon as I had finished with 
them. 

Soon after nine we fared forth into the black 
bat, night, and we -were no\v joined by the man 
whom I had taken for the owner of the shanty — 
and so, for all I know, he may have been — and 
who proved to be the postman between Scutari 
and Medua. He insisted on riding behind me, Sef 
and the other man going in front, and every now 
and then, in spite of a bad cold and cough, he 
would break out into a fearful wail, presumably 
some national song, and no sooner had his voice 
died away than Sef took up the chant, and he in 
turn gave way to the man in front. This mourn- 
ful chorus seemed to afford them some relief, but 
to me the effect was distressing. " Halt, Jan, 
Halt," the postman would cry every few minutes, 
but evidently " halt " had not the same meaning 
as with us, for it was the invariable signal for Sef 
to hurry up his pony with a responsive grunt. 

Medua was reached at midnight, and here we 
billeted ourselves on another shanty in which all 
the folks were abed. They soon bustled on the 
scene, however, and a man brought me a quilt and 
a pillow and set them on a native couch, and bade 
me, so far as I could understand his gesticulations, 

74 



SPORTING YEXTURES THAT FAILED 

sleep. He was the host, and in vam I endeavoured, 
through the medium of our joint atrocious French, 
to make him tell me at what hour the boat would 
leave in the morning. He i)retended to under- 
stand perfectly, and at first he said two o'clock, 
then five, then ten, and finally he gave it up 
altogether. The quilt was dirty, and suggested 
unwelcome associations, and I could not sleep. 

The morning broke fair, and disclosed my 
steamer lying off the coast "with a terrific list on, 
and I soon discovered that she was in the habit 
of xjutting in on one high tide and Avaiting for the 
next to float her. There was, however, nothing at 
all to do on shore, except take leave of the 
excellent Sef, so I got a boat to ro"w me out to 
her and found everything slanting at an extra- 
ordinary angle. Gradually, though, as the tide 
rose, lamps and other things righted themselves, 
and just on high water she crept gingerly out to 
sea. It was blowing pretty hard, and, thoroughly 
tired out, I lay down till ^ve reached Antivari. It 
was after leaving there, about five that evening, 
that we got out into the open sea, and did she not 
roll ! The Bora, or north wind did it. Brindisi w^e 
reached at two in the morning, and in the dark- 
ness I put on my boots and went on deck, but the 
only visible being was a policeman, not an en- 
couraging apparition at that hour, so I crept below 
again. At six I awoke and found the sun up and 
on deck a person who styled himself an "inter- 
preter," and who immediately seized me and my 

75 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

baggage, and, with the help of another bird of 
prey, with Tvhom he had a whispered colloquy, 
dragged me to the Customs house. The solitary 
official in attendance was too sleepy to look after 
details, and quietly asked something for letting me 
go through. And here, since Genoa was for the 
moment my destination, I made a serious mistake, 
taking the seven o'clock train through to Milan, 
a run of four-and-twenty hours, when I ought to 
have changed at Bologna. As it Avas, I had a 
comfortless journey, and then had to come about 
half the way back ! At Salsomaggiore I was so 
fortunate as to meet Lord Currie, and he gave me 
a letter to Mr. Keene, of the British Consulate at 
Genoa, who would be able to help me in my plans 
touching Sardinia. Peoj)le seem to visit Salso- 
maggiore for every complaint under the sun, and 
there -was even a batch of wounded officers here 
from South Africa, though what salt baths can do 
for "wounds, except make them smart, I do not 
know. Among their number was a Captain 
Gordon, who was with poor Jim Clowes ^vhen the 
latter was shot. Often I had wondered what 
Gordon this could be, and here I ran across him 
in a remote corner of Italy ! I found out that he 
was Australian, though his forbears were from 
Scotland. Still, as he said, ancestry don't go for 
much in Australia. The country round Salso- 
maggiore is hilly and not without beauty, but as 
it is a case of " salt water, salt water everywhere," 
and as thirst is the one thing that I always 

76 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

Tvish to avoid, I determined to move on ^thout 
delay. 

Genoa is no place for any one with nerves, for 
a more noisy city does not exist in Europe. That 
wild howl of the waggon drivers must surely be 
taught in the schools, for it is by no means easy to 
acquire, beginning as it does with a kind of sea- 
sick gurgle and culminating in a guttural curse 
not unlike the loTving of kine ; then comes the 
report of the whip, the like of \vhich I have not 
heard since the old days of black powder. These 
carts move on two high wheels, and there is 
generally a powerful mule between the shafts, a 
variety of other draught animals, mules, horses, 
donkeys, anything, being harnessed on in front. 
The owners always seem to load these carts up 
just a little beyond the combined draught capacity 
of the iDOor brutes, and the proverb of the camel 
and the last straw is not current in Italy. 

To Messrs. W. Keene, British Consul, and A. C. 
Campbell I was under great obligations, for they 
passed me without a hitch, and sent me on my 
way, with the necessary introductions, to Cagliari, 
the capital of Sardinia. 

Before quitting the subject of Genoa, I must 
revert for one moment to the lamentable difference 
between the Italian and French wines generally, 
and those obtainable in England, a difference in 
both price and quality. It may, as a general rule, 
be laid down as a safe axiom to drink the "wine of 
the country. The waiter, even if he looks like a 

77 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

mediaeval troubadour, will not be above trying to 
cheat you into paying for some inferior, more 
costly exotic vintage, but the vin del j^ciese, though 
usually thrown in free in its picturesque flask, is 
generally the best in any district. At Genoa I 
again ran across my old Hungarian friend, 
Palugyay, here six francs the bottle, and an 
honourable exception must certainly be made in its 
favour, as better of the kind I never tasted. The 
extortion of English ^vine-sellers is a disgrace to 
our boasted free trade, for a four-shilling claret in 
London is certainly inferior to the "ordinary" 
placed on the tables of French or Italian railway 
stations, A wine exj)orter, whom I met in Italy, 
gave me some sort of explanation, to the effect 
that the lighter wines could only be sent to the 
English market in bottles, but whether this traffic 
no longer proved rennmerative, or whether it was 
barred by law, I was quite unable to make out. 

My next move was to send my heavy baggage 
on to Livorno — why our barbarous Anglicism of 
Leghorn i — ^by the. Adria, the steamer which was to 
convey me to Cagliari, while I myself went by 
train, a beautiful though much-tunnelled track 
beside the Mediterranean. When the train drew 
up at Livorno I felt rather uncertain, but, seeing 
three omnibuses outside the station, I promptly 
entered one bearing the legend " Hotel Angleterre 
et Gampari," and found that hostelry comfortable, 
and the proprietor an excellent felloAV who spoke 
a little English. After a capital dinner, with the 

78 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

best lettuce salad I ever ate in my life, I induced 
him to take me round the city, ^vhich is hilly 
and uninteresting, and when we had driven round 
in a circle for some time, he suggested a Cafe 
Chantant. The " turns," of which I stayed to see 
only two, were not edifying, and had I not seen, in 
one of the boxes, one of the most beautiful girls I 
ever set eyes on in any land, the daughter, I 
believe, of a local banker, the evening would have 
been wasted. 

Mine host gave me great accounts of the Adria. 
Said he, " She is a grand bateau. She has sunk 
four vessels. The last was an emigrant ship from 
Naples, and she went right through it, cut it clean 
in t^vo — four hundred lives were lost, but she was 
scarcely damaged. Her name in those days was the 
Ortegioi, but the owners had to change it, since 
nobody would travel in her, so they rechristened 
her the Adria. Yes, she is a grand boat, and you 
have nothing to fear." I could only murmur a 
faint hope that there would be no need of a 
further rechristening at the end of this voyage. 

From the good Mr. Destifanis I parted at a little 
before midnight and went aboard. At any rate the 
Adria, registered 1,800 tons, was a comfortable 
enough craft, \vith good cabins and artistic decora- 
tions. The mountains of Corsica loomed on the 
starboard bow when I went on deck at nine next 
morning, but they were scarcely distinguishable. 

At Cagliari I put u^) at the hotel Scala di Ferro, 
and the dinner there, though far from bad, was 

79 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

about the most singular form of table d'hote 
imaginable. To a couj^le of dozen visitors there 
was just one waiter, a haughty aboriginal \vho was 
mostly occupied with the evening paper or in 
snatches of conversation with some favoured 
habitue. The remarkable part of the dinner was 
that it seemed to lie with the Tvaiter to distribute 
a somewhat limited supply of a variety of dishes. 
Nearly every one got soup, it is true, but then the 
allotment began. As the soup contained macaroni, 
cheese, and beans, among other ingredients, I could 
not find it in me to regret not getting all the other 
plats, and indeed it was amusing to see an undis- 
guised lack of the same contentment on one or 
two other faces For instance, I got no fish, but 
instead a veal cutlet. The man opposite to me got 
fish, the man on my left got rognons saute. No. 1 
on right of man opposite got a snipe ; man on his 
right again, t^vo raw eggs, from which he dex- 
terously extracted to the uttermost the yolks, 
discarding the Tvhites, and consumed them with 
wine and sugar in a tumbler. I had a partridge 
after the fish, and waited some time just to see 
how things were going, but the waiter seemed to 
think that I had eaten sufficient, and I got nothing 
more. Coffee and cognac, in a little salon all to 
myself, gave me a kinder view of life, and I turned 
^vith interest to a portly red volume, possibly an 
illustrated edition of Dante, and found it to be — 
" Healing Leaves," a wonderful American publi- 
cation on the efficacy of prayer as a remedy for all 

80 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

ills. Just as I was swooning over this drivel, there 
entered a pale, weary-looking man, with nothing 
about him to pronounce his English nationality, 
yet it was in unmistakably perfect English that 
he said, referring to a book that he placed before 
me — 

" Read that. It will interest you." 

This was a Mr. Smith, of some British Consulate 
or other in Asia Minor, and he was over here for 
a few days photographing interiors. He showed 
me several capital photographs of church interiors, 
and I suggested that they would do admirably to 
illustrate a book on the subject. 

" Ah," he rei^lied wearily, " it will take me ten 
years ! " 

Now, a man who can knowingly embark on a 
work of church interiors that will take ten years 
in the making deserves encouragement, and I felt 
as much, and ventured to suggest coffee, cognac, 
and cigarettes, only to learn that he eschewed all 
three. The book that he had lent me was " A Guide 
to Sardinia" or "A Ride through Sardinia" — I 
forget the exact title — and in it Tvas a dedication 
" To my friend Snooks I dedicate this book, not 
because I consider him any judge of a book, but 
merely because he is my friend." This was agree- 
able, to start with, and if I could have learnt 
anything of Sardinia from the work I should have 
been still more grateful. Yet, beyond much lore 
touching the ancient history of the Lollards and 
Saracens and other erstwhile OAvners of the island, 

81 G 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

told me little beyond the fact that the author had 
ridden to Aritzo, and that his guide had pleaded 
fever, but that he (the author) x^^^t the fellow's 
indisposition down to drink. I do not, above all 
so far down in this chapter, pose as a Avriter of 
descriptive travel, but if I were writing of Pall 
Mall for some magazine in New Zealand, I should 
not merely describe it as a " wide thoroughfare 
patronised by Royalty and containing many Clubs," 
but I should particularise a little more, starting 
with Marlborough House and the unfortunate 
" Junior Gentility " (once Senior Respectability) 
Club next door, and then crossing the road to the 
stationer's shop, where can be purchased photo- 
graphs of European Royalties and this book, and 
that of Hardy Brothers, with its profusion of 
fishing tackle. Then I should touch lightly but 
respectfully on the Rag., where veterans sip 
whiskey and vote that the army is gone to the 

d , on the Junior Carlton, mainly composed of 

men who do not belong to the Senior Carlton, and 
so on and so on. Also, I should be careful to point 
out that it is possible for any one to buy boots in 
Pall Mall if he has either sufficient money to pay 
for them or sufficient assurance to obtain credit. 
All such practical hints, however, the author of the 
Guide ignored, merely remarking that no one 
would give him accommodation anywhere in the 
island. Probably, he looked too clean, 

Mr. Smith knew all about me and my plans, 
and just before he took his leave — he had two 

82 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

hours o£ developing before him before going to 
rest — he produced a small bottle and asked, in a 
mysterious and husky voice — 

" Taking any ? " 

The bottle was labelled " Quinine Globules," and 
Tvhen I repudiated any intention of taking any and 
asked ^vhy I should, he shrugged his shoulders and 
whispered the one ominous word — 

" Malaria ! " 

Then he took the bottle, left the book, and was 
gone as silently as he had come. 

Why a man can never leave his native village 
without some kindly but officious person ramming 
physic down his throat and filling his mind with 
all manner of totally unnecessary presentiments, 
I have never been able to discover. When you go 
shooting at home, in hill or STvamp, you do not 
load up Avith the contents of an apothecary's shop ! 
Yet no sooner do you venture abroad, especially in 
search of sport, than you are at once warned, under 
all sorts of j)ains and penalties, to abandon whiskey 
and take quinine in its place, and never to go out 
after dark without wearing a flannel, magnetic belt ! 

All the same, Mr. Smith was a superior person. 
He would never go after Sardinian moufflon, not 
he, for must they not be wretchedly small ? It was 
well known, he said, that the wild sheep increased 
in size as you went east ; in the Caucasus, in Asia 
Minor, in Persia, the animal grew in size, until, in 
Thibet, you came across the Ovis poll. I admired 
Smith deeply, and I thanked God, since I hate to 

83 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

be rude, that there Tvas not enough light for him 
to want to photograph my interior. 

At six next morning I was in the train and had 
twelve w^eary hours of it at a pace that vividly re- 
called the Deeside Railway of my boyhood, where 
you walked beside the train as far as Banchory 
and helped to shove it along if your destination 
lay beyond. At six in the evening I reached 
Lanusei, the views from the train during the last 
forty minutes of the journey being superb, w^itli a 
winding upward track in the mountains, distant 
vieTVS of the plains and sea, then a zigzag descent, 
with three or four views of Lanusei before that 
town is finally reached. 

The accommodation, even the best of it, to be 
found in Sardinia is about the dirtiest in Europe ; 
and ladies accustomed to even the simplest home 
comforts, and reluctant to disxDense with them even 
temporarily, should give the island a wide berth. 
The people mean Tvell, and, beyond talking at the 
top of their voices and exercising somewhat Ne^v 
World freedom in their spitting bouts, they are 
sufficiently agreeable. Some affect the civilised 
garb of Western Europe, and thereby succeed in 
closely resembling the peasants of the poorest 
districts of Ireland, Avhile others retain the apparel 
of their forbears — large black flap cap, black jacket, 
loose white pants and black puttees. This pictur- 
esque, albeit sombre costume, is completed by a 
large knife stuck in the belt, and a long-barrelled 
gun is sometimes slung over the shoulder. 

84 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

I put up at the only hotel, the ground floor of 
which seemed to be a sort of store where they sold 
macaroni, candles, wine, and other articles. One of 
the most striking evidences of the country's apathy, 
I thought, was the fact that, in spite of a most 
luxuriant growth of fruit out of doors, it was im- 
possible to get a pot of jam. Indeed, I found the 
available stores for camping out distressingly 
limited ; nasty uncooked preserved fish, strong raw 
sausages or ham, which any one ^would be fined £5 
for selling in London as unfit for human con- 
sumption, and suchlike atrocities. 

On the following morning I made my start 
under no very happy omens, for there was first a 
funeral — most of the ceremony took place in the 
public square — and then a terrific thunderstorm. 
This was not all, for the man Tvho had gone on 
ahead with my baggage in a cart returned after an 
hour or so with the unwelcome intelligence that 
he would be unable to proceed further as a swollen 
river blocked his road. All this sort of thing is 
pai't of the day's work, so we possessed ourselves 
in patience until another cart was procured equal 
to the task. It subsequently transpired that the 
particular river in question had not been affected 
by the rains, the action of which was local. Still, the 
risen v^^aters were not powerless, as was to be seen 
from the debris of a substantial stone bridge which 
had been carried away. A drive of four hours out 
of Lanusei brought us to a large house ^vhich was 
occupied by the men at work on the road and 

85 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

their families ; the middle room ^vas assigned to me 
on the strength of my permit from the Consul at 
Cagliari, and the remaining unoccupied room was 
a sort of Travellers' Room for the use of men 
passing to and fro who might want to rest there 
for the night. I was very glad on this occasion, as 
indeed on others, that I had brought out with me 
one of the folding camp beds supplied by Wilkinson 
of Pall Mall, else my night's rest would not have 
been worth much purchase. 

And now the second failure of this European 
trip Tvas gradually realised, for I tramped those 
hills for many days and sa^v moufflon indeed, but 
never a shot did I get at the males. The females 
and kids I could have shot many a time — I re- 
member at least three such chances on three 
separate occasions — but the old males baffled all 
stalking within the limited time at my disposal. 
Those who ^vant to work well for their beasts, and 
who despise the comparative ease of Scotch deer 
forests, might do worse than try Sardinia and its 
moufflon. Through your telescope you see flocks of 
tame sheep and herds of cattle on the summit of 
some mountain that must take hours to climb. 
After some days the butter gets rancid, the Lanusei 
bread, never much to boast of even in its youth, 
gets more and more stale, the eggs possess an 
element of doubtful utility, the meat grows more 
and more stringy, and still you have to go plodding 
and plodding those weary ascents without ever 
getting nearer to the objects of your desires. 

86 



SPORTING A ENTURES THAT FAILED 

Walking is not difficult, it is true, for the men 
and horses and sheep and pigs of the island make 
paths and tracks upon every yard of the hillside, 
over the highest tops and through the scrub ; in- 
deed, it is difficult to understand what on earth 
all these creatures live on, for there seem to be 
about two English blades of grass to the acre, and 
the rest of the undergrowth consists of prickly 
scrub in one form or another. Yet over these hills 
range countless herds of sheep that look painfully 
gaunt and hungry. At the end of October and 
beginning of November the shepherds drive all 
these domestic animals down to the lowlands, and 
there they bide for the winter. The only pros- 
perous-looking native of the island was the mouf- 
flon, and his shyness was distressing to a degree. 
Perhaps he was once a domestic sheep long since 
gone wild, or so, at least, I understand him, and 
maybe he butted the calf of the Saracen or Lom- 
bard and betook himself to the highest hills in the 
stormy times that followed. As Goldsmith might 
have put it : — 

" Of women wary and of men afraid, 
His eye the searcher and his horn the spade. . . ." 

Let me briefly — very briefly will do it — describe 
my three " moufflon days " for the benefit of those 
who come after. On the first day we wandered 
up the mountain side and down again, and at 
about half-past two Jan — his real name ajppeared 
to be Stephani or Jophani ; I was never quite 

87 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

sure which — my " chasseur," plainly intended turn- 
ing it up. There was a sickly smile on his face as 
he shouldered the rifle and set himself resolutely 
towards home. Personally rather glad than other- 
w^ise, I made just the j)i'op6i" show of protest 
and contentedly followed on his heels. The first 
glimpses of the home of the moufflon had not 
strongly attracted me. It seemed less like the 
haunts of a wild sheep than one huge and hilly 
farmyard. Not thus had I pictured this wild 
mountain sport, mindful no doubt of much Hima- 
layan literature on the pursuit of Amnion or Poli, 
and I was continually annoyed beyond measure to 
find, on scanning a distant peak, a couple of cows 
and a pig or two, then, a little further on, some 
horses and a dilapidated Sard. Well, Moufflon Day 
No. 2 came, and it was with something like hope- 
fulness that we started ofi^, though I had rubbed a 
toe the day before and fought shy in consequence 
of violent exertion on the hill. After we had 
tramped something like a mile beside a stream, we 
flushed a good covey of i)^i'tridge, and as these 
flew only a fe^v yards, and as certain partridge 
would, in the then state of the larder, be very 
much better than uncertain moufflon, I went back 
for the shot-gun. When, however, we got back to 
the spot at ^vhich we had marked down the birds, 
they were nowhere to be found, and in vain we 
tramped round and over the ground. They were 
gone. 

Back to the halfway house I ^vent for lunch, 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

and then sallied forth refreshed on another dili- 
gent search for the partridges, but again without 
success. Jo]3hani's hour, 2.30, came round again, 
and again he, with the same protesting and sea- 
sick-looking smile, intimated that his labours were 
over for the day, and again I fell in, not too 
reluctantly, ^vith his plans. 

A third day dawned, however, and on that I 
determined to do great things. I was up before 
cockcrow and ready for the road by half-past six. 
It may have been my fancy, but Jophani seemed 
to look bright and expectant, thus falling in with 
my own mood, and he certainly seized the rifle 
^vith a more jaunty air than on either of the 
previous days. Right for the tallest mountain in 
Sardinia, Gennargentu, we went, and by a few 
minutes before nine Ave had clambered clear of the 
brush and undergrowth, and Jophani suggested a 
search through the telescope. There, right opposite 
me on the hillside, was the moufflon, brow^n and 
tan, with just a streak of white in the middle, and 
his great curled horns waving to right and left as 
he nibbled and browsed and fed on, with Mrs. 
Moufflon and a couple of kids following about a 
hundred yards behind. They did not seem on very 
cordial terms, for she never ventured any closer to 
her lord and master, but kept back with the family. 
Of a sudden, and in spite of the discouragements 
of the two days previous, some of the old stalking 
enthusiasm of other days took hold of me, and 
excitedly I explained the situation to the impassive 

89 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Jophani, to whom enthusiasm of any kmd was 
foreign. I tried to make him understand that, 
from the direction in which the moufflon was 
feeding on, it must soon cross the tops, and our 
business was to try and meet it. Taking note of a 
conspicuous cairn of stones, close by which the 
animal must pass, I hurried on and signed to 
Jophani to do the same. It took us all twenty 
minutes to reach that cairn, and when ^ve reached 
it "we found the ground terribly rocky and uneven. 
The brute might have been close to us or not ; it 
was impossible to tell, and everything depended on 
whether, while we lost sight of it, it had moved 
quickly or otherwise. All we could do in the cir- 
cumstances ^vas to move very cautiously and make 
a minute examination of the ground before us. 
We had gone some distance beyond the cairn, and 
I was on the jDoint of giving up the search as 
hopeless — that was the sort of broken ground in 
which any animal would be either lost to view or 
else disturbed altogether — when the familiar " Oip 
aller " of the local peasants came floating on the 
breeze, and an ancient mountaineer came in vie^v, 
trudging along a dubious track that I had not 
previously noticed, and urging along a reluctant 
packhorse. This seemed to settle the matter, for 
the moufflon would assuredly have got wind of the 
ancient, if not of ourselves, and in any case we 
should not get another shot to-day. This happened, 
however, to be one of the loveliest days ever 
vouchsafed to earth : I was away up on the right 

90 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

spur of the loftiest mountain in the island, and the 
wind blew in no settled direction, but rather all 
ways at once and quite gently at that. It was a 
day for a panorama kodak, but not for fooling 
with a rifle. When the ancient mountaineer had 
gone on his way, I gave the whole thing up and 
we just strolled on. Jophani took the glass, and 
at once said " Moufflon ! " 

I do not think that I rightly understood him. 
Three horses were grazing away on the right below 
us, and four cows on the left. At length, however, 
finding that I had always been looking too far 
ahead, deceived j)ossibly by the peculiar light, I 
got the glass on a large flock of tame sheej) and 
also on Mrs. Moufflon and two kids, as before. 
And then, in turn, Jophani showed me the male, 
feeding on quietly just where he should have been. 
My oj)inion of Joj)hani as a stalker was not high, 
and I am the more anxious to give him all the 
credit due on this occasion. 

Well, I watched the moufflon feeding steadily 
on across little passes and burns, and then I admit 
I acted quite foolishly and thus spoilt the stalk. 
Instead of watching him right out of that broken 
ground and then cutting him off, as we should 
have done, I persuaded Jophani to slip round and 
follow him. The ground proved far rougher than 
it had looked to be from the tops, and we there- 
fore had to go cautiously for^ward and peep over 
each little ledge and ravine in the hojpe of catch- 
ing sight of him. In this ^vay we lost valuable 

91 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

time, whereas from our elevated position we could 
have seen him leave the broken ground, and we 
could then have made a point. As it ^vas, how- 




A TAME MOUFFLOX. 



ever, we simply blundered on in our cautious way, 
losing all the time that he was spending in travel- 
ling on, and thus we never saw him again. I do 

92 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

not pretend to kno^v the habits of the moufflon, 
but my offence was in this case against the 
elementary principles of stalking under such con- 
ditions, and I paid accordingly. Jophani may be 
acquainted with their habits, though I doubt his 
lore, but we could only communicate by signs, and 
such a process entails delays that are necessarily 
in the beast's favour. 

Over three little valleys we cautiously progressed 
in this fashion, the exit from w^hich must have 
been plainly visible from our original position, but 
not from the lower ground we now occui^ied, and 
at half-past one I gave the moufflon up for lost 
and camped beside a purling stream for lunch. 
Bread and veal were now consumed in silence, and 
I just raised my eyes from the cup that had been 
filled from the keg carried by Jophani in time to 
see — Mrs. Moufflon and the two kids about a 
hundred and fifty yards away on the nearest sky- 
line. Jophani was off on a search expedition, and 
I restrained a natural im]3ulse to seize the rifle 
and go crawling and fooling about, and sat quietly 
there and finished my lunch, waiting for the be- 
nighted Jophani to return. He came back at last, 
and I pointed out the lady and her family, 
evidently, though at discreet range, interested in 
our j)i'esence. I gathered from my friend's gesticu- 
lations that the moufflon himself must have moved 
further on. Should ^ve follow ? Jophani ^vas evi- 
dently asking mutely, and with every hope of my 
declining any further pursuit. " By all means," I 

93 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

signed back, and on that broiling afternoon Tve 
toiled straight to^vards the toj) of Gennargentu. 
The good chasseur was for ever suggesting a 
doAvn^ward course, but if the moufflon were only- 
half the bird I took him for, I felt sure that he 
would move up. Up therefore went we too, and 
terribly hot I was when ^ve had reached the top. 
There was nothing in sight, exce]3t the whole of 
Sardinia. " Tempo ? " ventured Jophani, tenta- 
tively, glancing at my waistcoat-pocket. In re- 
sponse I pointed sternly to 2.30 on the dial of my 
watch. He gave a melancholy sigh, wound an 
endless and dirty handkerchief around his bro^w, 
and made sounds and signs of being sick. Perhaps 
I Avas heartless, perhaps some memory of the 
guide mentioned in my one and only book on 
Sardinia came to me ; but I gave him no en- 
couragement, merely taking from him the rifle 
and moving quietly on. Home lay far a^vay below^ 
lis, plainly discernible through the glass ; and, as 
I strolled down a gradual descent, a great black 
vulture hovered over me, some thirty or forty 
yards high, in so determined a fashion that I sat 
me down on a log and proceeded to undo the 
straj) of the rifle cover. But that vulture was a 
better educated bird than I had allowed for, and 
no sooner Tv^as the cover loosened than he was 
away in increasing spiral flights, and soon became 
a speck in the blue heavens. One more little mis- 
adventure fittingly closed a disappointing day, for 
in crossing a stream swollen by the recent rains I 

94 



SPORTING VENTURES THAT FAILED 

had to crawl along the arm of a tree placed from 
bank to bank, and half-way over I slipped off into 
the water and got wet through. How I eventually 
got the moufflon ; how I met a friendly mountaineer 
who persuaded me to go on a visit to his eyrie and 
see the great mineral wealth of the hills ; how I 
stayed some days with him, and how, on returning 
to civilisation, I learnt that a stern letter and a 
finger had been sent to my relatives at home, and 
how the whole of the Gordon property had to be 
mortgaged to pay the brigands £25,000 — when the 
old villain admitted, on taking affectionate leave 
of me, that he would have handed me over for 
25 lire — all this will be told in a later book which 
I have in contemplation, and which, however 
successful it may be in commanding the indulgence 
of strangers, will be received with no satisfaction 
whatever by my own family. 



IN PBAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

It is perhaps safe to assume that rivers have 
flo"wed, though not necessarily as they flow now, 
since the world settled down to its j)resent j)hysical 
respectability ; but ^vho shall say how long salmon 
have been running up them or how^ long men have 
been trying to catch the salmon ? It is a curious 
but undeniable fact that very little more than 
thirty years have elapsed since men first knew the 
real art of angling for salmon. Think of it ! 

A step back in the unrelenting march of time, 
and I see myself once more a lad handling the 
heavy poles, coarse gut, thick lines, and rude, 
clumsy flies of the period. It is often alleged, not 
TV^ithout good reason, that man is too quickly ex- 
terminating the beasts, birds, and fishes that give 
him sport or food, and, seeing ho^v essential to 
success is a knowledge of the habits of the animals 
of the chase, it is almost wonderful that he should 
have taken so long to learn so little. 

It is also a little remarkable that the fish should 

96 




97 



H 



IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

in comparatively short time have been educated to 
rise at " flies," the like of which never flew, the 
size of which never grew. If only I could jDut the 
clock back five-and-twenty years and know of 
salmon fishing what I know to-day, t^venty fish 
a day instead of a paltry six or eight would have 
been grassed on the banks of silvery Dee in that 
May month, 1874 ! 

About that period a certain noble lord had 
succeeded in persuading the House of Commons 
that the property our forefathers had fought and 
died to keep intact was a mere asset of jjersonal 
trash that t^vo spendthrifts might sell to share the 
profit. This admirably suited many landowners, 
and one of these Avas always busy driving round 
the estate and, as he said, "rearranging" it — a con- 
venient term for parcelling it into lots, on which 
to obtain advances from the Bank of Jerusalem. 

Day after day he used to droj) my sister and 
myself at a point where the road ran near the 
river, some eight miles west of home, and we had 
to get back to the roadside by six in the evening 
to meet him, so as to reach the house in time to 
dress for dinner. Now, every one ^lo knows any- 
thing of salmon fishing knows that the very best 
time in May is after six in the evening. The best 
hours, then, were denied us ; often, indeed, we had 
to be satisfied with a few hours' fishing in the 
middle of the day. Yet, even then, what sport we 
had! 

Once oif the waggonette, away we ^vould speed 

99 



SPORTING llEINIINISCENCES 

to one or other of our favourite pools below the 
hank heside the road. My sister, G., had two 
special pools, either of which could be fished with- 
out the need of wading. They lay a mile apart. 
We had neither gaff nor gillie ; it was a matter 
of tiring the fish out, handling him at the finish, 
then tailing him out on to the bank. In explana- 
tion of this somewhat mysterious formula, I ought 
to say that a dead-beat salmon can (if he is dead- 
beat) be led out on to the stones, and one hand 
can then be slipi3ed round the tail, the fork of 
which gives a good hold. This is the mode of 
dealing with comparatively small fish in compara- 
tively shallow ^vater. With a heavy fish in deep 
water such XDaltry traffic avails not. Him you 
must warily coax out of the pool and down the 
river on the chance of finding shingle below. This 
is, to be sure, a trying and a difficult job. From 
the moment at which he begins to tire, a fish is 
unwilling to leave the security of the pool, for he 
knows all about the tumbling rapids, and little 
does he relish being jarred on the turbulent 
shallows. Even if the angler should succeed in 
pulling him into them, the trouble is only begun, 
for nothing can then stay him until the next j)ool 
is reached. The performance usually proceeds 
somewhat in this fashion. With head kept deter- 
minedly up-stream, the fish allows the water to 
carry it down. The angler, on his side, keeps as 
light a strain as possible on the gear, grovels and 
slips round bushes and over boulders, and makes 

100 



IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

up as much as he can of the yards of line that 
shp off the reel at each check, whenever a bit of 
smooth going gives him the opportunity for such 
retrenchment. The end comes s^viftly in face of a 
combination of water too deep for wading and an 
extra big tree or bush growing close down to the 
edge. That fish at any rate will never come back, 
and the disgusted angler then experiences the 
hopeless sensation when, with a long-drawn screech, 
the line gro^vs less and less on the reel. It is 
human to hang on, but it is also foolish, for the 
line may be rotten close to the reel or it may 
even be insecurely fastened to it. If the break 
comes there the fisherman will find himself far 
from home with a rod, a reel, a choice collection 
of flies and casts, but no line. If, on the other 
hand, he had let the fish break away with only 
the gut, his operations need not have been sus- 
pended for the day. 

Of all extraordinary methods of recovering a 
fish, that which I recollect on the Galway river 
always struck me as the most remarkable. There, 
whenever a fish was hooked and made off down 
stream bet^\^een the arches of the bridge, the gillie 
would pull out a pocket knife and hand it to you 
with a quick, " Cut when he runs you out ! " 
Armed with a long-handled gaff, he would next 
dash for the bridge, stoop over the paraj)et at the 
far side, and catch the line on the gaff hook. 
When you had cut the line and informed him of 
the fact, he would haul in quickly, jump over the 

101 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

parapet at the side, and then run do^vn the bank 
and handline the fish if still on. I remember once 
saving a fish that "way, but it is ticklish Tvork. 

From this digression, let me, without apology, 
return to our childhood's fishing memories. As 
already stated, G. and I had to land our own fish. 
When Ave left the ^vaggonette each morning, she 
put up her rod, I got into my waders, and our 
ways lay apart, an arrangement being come to 
Tvith reference to meeting at a given spot in time 
to catch the waggonette on its homeward journey. 

Well I remember reaching her second pool 
many a time with the usual question. 

" Three I've got," might be the reply, " but I've 
just lost a beauty. The line got caught round a 
stone just as I was getting him in, and then he 
made a bit of a rush out and snap ^vent the gut. 
You?" I had got fovir, but it took such a deuce 
of a time landing them that all the day went in 
playing the fish and carrying them. 

Day after day we would be back at the road- 
side at the appointed time ^vith our six or seven 
fish. And the number we lost ! 

One tragedy of the kind is deeply graven in 
memory's tables. I had caught four fish, and was 
bound for the lowest pool, where I had arranged 
to meet my sister at half-past five. Above this 
pool there is nearly a quarter of a mile of broken 
water, no place for a fish to rest in, and right in 
the middle of this water I saw an unmistakable 
eddy behind a big blue stone. Then a fish rose 

102 



IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

and twirled through the water, just Hke the spin 
of a spoon bait. 

Now, when a fish flops up and down in a pool, 
it is my firm believe that he never at that moment 
rises to the fly. At any rate, I never remember 
rising a solitary splashing fish, but have always 
considered that the sharj) swirling rise and twist 
meant a running fish. It is by no means a 
common rise to see, and you will probably see 
hundreds of " floppers " before you come across 
one twister. When, however, you do chance to 
see the latter, remember he will rise. 

This fellow was in all probability resting here 
on his way uj), and I determined to try him. 
Slipping the bag from my shoulders, I got as far 
out in the river as I dared, and fished down, foot 
by foot. I had just come to the conclusion that I 
must have gone over him and that he would not 
look at me, when there was a boiling in the water, 
a jerk-jerk of the toj) joint, and I had him fast. 
Fishing in this solitary way, with no one to shout 
to for assistance, has its own peculiar sensations. 
Given luck, it may be the most delightful fishing 
of all ; but there are times ^v^hen the isolation is 
the reverse of splendid. Of course it is open to 
the lonely angler to wander home at the end of 
the day and tell lies about every fish lost, but this 
gives very little satisfaction after the freshness 
has worn ofi^. This falsification is rather common 
among anglers, and my gillie once hit the nail 
plumb-centre when, in response to a question as 

103 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

to the reason for all the bigger fish being killed 
further up the river, he said drily — 

" It's mebbe they're bigger leers up the watter ! " 
Well, as my fish steadied himself just a moment 
or two in the eddy, I took advantage of the truce 
to feel my way cautiously out of the deep water 
and back to the bank. It is always advisable, in 
view^ of any emergency, "svhen yovi are wading deep 
and have hooked a fish, to get back to the side as 
quickly as possible. The water is the salmon's 
element, not the angler's, and the latter fights at 
a disadvantage when immersed to the waist. I 
noticed, even in this early stage of our contest, an 
ominous twitching about the fish that certainly 
boded mischief. The rod I held high, with the 
lightest possible strain, and thus awaited develop- 
ments. They were not long coming. With a few 
sharp dashes he was away across the river, the 
line tearing through the w^ater like a knife blade. 
Full twenty yards ahead of the spot where the 
line entered the water, a quivering gleam of silver 
leapt clear of the stream. It was my fish — mine 
for the moment anyway — I knew it by the play 
on the rod. So remarkably as a rule does a swift- 
running stream " belly " the line as to make even 
the practised angler doubt the identity of a leaping 
fish and the one on his OAvn hook. All that he 
can do in such trying circumstances is to keep the 
rod held high and Ts^ith no strain on beyond tliat 
of the w^eight of water. This alone is tremendous. 
Gallantly my fish fought, but the rushing water 

104 



IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

did not let liim draw breath, and at last I had 
him properly beat. Throwing the rod right back 
and laying it on the bank, so that the reel would 
run if he made a last rush, I took the line in my 
left hand and steadily drew him in. His head 
came sliding over the pebbles ; my hand was round 
his tail ; I had him, still well hooked, on the bank. 
I could easily have thrown myself on him and 
secured him again. Like a fool, I let him kick 
and slip out of my hands. Now, a salmon is a 
slippery creature when it takes a fit of kicking 
and plunging, and in less time than it takes in the 
telling he was on the edge of the river. Next 
moment he was into it. Why I continued blind 
to the danger, goodness alone knows ; but, some- 
how, there seemed no risk of the hold giving, 
and even if he did contrive to run out a few 
yards of line, I thought that I should easily be 
able to haul him in again. So much for my 
reasoning. It brought its own reward, for a 
moment later, evidently revived by his visit to 
dry land, away he went, and the line, running one 
moment freely through my thumb and finger, was 
floating limp the next, and the fish gone. A loop 
had caught round my leg, and the gut parted. A 
Commissioner of Oaths might have made a hand- 
some fee during the next few moments, and I 
pushed on disconsolate to the trysting place, to 
find that G. had two fish : but, between us, we 
should have had seven. 

What i)rimitive fishing was that of forty years 

105 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

ago compared with that of to-day ! All those days 
we ^vere just fishing like fools, and so, for the matter 
of that, was the rest of the angling world. We 
caught fish, true, like other people, but the tackle 
was all wrong. A fly called the Redwing and dressed 
on an inch-and-a-half hook, took most of them, 
but if we caught so many, it was no doubt because 
the pools were crowded. Yet, as the sun gained 
power and the day grew warm, the salmon used 
to rise to the natural fly (the March Brown among 
others), and if we had but used light casting lines 
and fished with small double-hook imitations of 
March Brow^ns, w^e should ^vithout a doubt have 
been into fish the Avhole time the rise lasted. 
There was no flop on these occasions. A snout 
would aj)pear and disappear and reappear, w^ith an 
occasional swish of anxiety lest a specially tempt- 
ing morsel should escape. Surely so many salmon 
have never since congregated in those upper reaches 
of the Dee as did in that year. The lesson taught 
me by that season, ^svhen I saw the salmon feeding 
naturally, was to start artificial March Browns, and 
the best sport of my life has been the result. Yet 
never since have I had the luck to fish pools so 
teeming with salmon. 

But I forgot. The salmon does not feed in 
fresh water. So, with some later qualification of 
their verdict, say the scientific gentlemen in the 
employ of the Scotch Fishery Board. With what 
these painstaking gentlemen prove I am in no way 
concerned. It is enough for nie to feel convinced 

106 



m PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

that salmon do feed in fresh water, and to know 
moreover that they will have some March Browns 
in preference to others, rejecting the latter un- 
conditionally. When they take a bunch of worms, 
you have to give them time to swallow before 
you strike. The fact of finding nothing in the 
salmon's stomach when it is opened and examined 
proves nothing beyond the instinct and power that 
most fish have to throw up their last meal when 
caught. I have known salmon throw the fatal 
minnow yards ux3 the line, and pike will notoriously 
do the same. There is a millionaire of my acquain- 
tance who never has a shilling in his pocket. But 
a secretary walks behind writing cheques, and that 
keeps up the supply of men, and women, who 
touch their hats to the principal. Well, I would 
as soon call him a pauper as admit that the salmon 
never feeds in our rivers ! 

The beautiful and sporting stretch of Dee water 
that I mentioned above had been let to a Lord 
Arbuthnot. It was again offered to him in the 
early seventies, at an annual rental of fifteen 
pounds, but he refused it on the ground that the 
rent was too high ! Diana, Goddess of the Chase ! 
Surely, in the wooded hills of Algidus you had 
no sport to compare ^vith this ; surely, the calm 
surface of the Lake of Nemi hid no fish that 
fought like those in the limpid waters of the 
Dee! 

The " wild fish " is a chaste problem that beats 
nine anglers out of every ten, and by " Avild fish " 

107 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

I mean one that seizes your fly or bait and is off. 
Whiz ! goes the line, as you wade and stumble 
towards the shore ; suddenly it slackens, and you 
wind for all you are worth. Is he gone? No, 
for here he is right under your feet. The rod 
tightens again. This time he is away up-stream, 
up through the rushing waters that form the pool 
above, then into the pool itself. You clamber out 
and run up the bank. On he goes ; still on. Now 
he turns, again too quick for you to keep the 
strain on. You wheel all you can. He is still on, 
for you feel him just a moment. Then back he 
goes through the boiling waters and into the pool 
in which you first hooked him, and down lower 
still with a rush and jump. A hundred yards of 
line are off the reel now. He is out of the pool 
and down the shallows into the jjool below. You 
get there breathless and begin to wind, but you 
hardly feel him when you see the slack line tearing 
through the water. He is running up again, and, 
do what you will, you cannot get the slack up. 
He is by now somewhere close to the spot at 
which you first hooked him. Last of all comes a 
wild rush, and you feel the line float down, for the 
fish has fouled it round about a stone and is free. 
Well, that is a wild fish, and he usually gives rise 
to wild language. On a very few occasions I have 
killed them, but as a rule they beat me. 

While on salmon memories, I may as well recall 
the death of the largest fish, 46 lbs., that I ever 
killed. This was on the Dee, at Coulter, in the big 

108 



1^ 

IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

pool just IdgIow the railway station. I hooked him 
about a third of the way down, and after a few 
preliminary trials, so to speak, he went straight 
up the river into the heavy water at the neck of the 
pool. The river was high at the time, and the 
whole force of the Dee came down under the south 
bank, on which I was fishing. In such water, right 
under my nose, the brute sulked, but I was using 
very strong tackle on the strength of the water 
being miich discoloured, so I simply turned the 
point of the rod down stream and gave the gentle- 
man the butt. Minutes passed without a sign, and 
I ^vas beginning to think that the fish must have 
surreptitiously fouled me and made off. Three or 
four times, in fact, I was on the point of breaking, 
deeming it impossible that any fish could stay 
motionless in such water. At last, however, I felt 
a quiver, and knew that the fish must still be there. 
My landing him Avas a matter of luck. It would 
probably have been an impossibility from this deej) 
side of the river, but a ferry boat happened to ply 
two or three hundred yards further down, and by 
good luck I managed to hail the ferryman. He 
soon put me on the opposite bank, playing the fish 
all the ^vhile, and it was in quite shallow water 
that I gradually tired my salmon out. It is of course 
always easier to kill a fish on the shallow than on 
the deep side of a pool, for the shallo^v water is all 
against his favourite tactics of sheering away when 
he gets to uncomfortably close quarters. That fish 
took an hour and three-quarters in the killing. 

109 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

A more beautiful fish, however, that fell to my 
rod from the sam^e river weighed close on 30 lbs. 
with the sea-lice on it, and I killed it on the 3rd 
of September, rather an odd season of the year 
for those waters, up which clean fish rarely run 
until the last days of SejDtember, and then only 
after a heavy flood. Gone is the pool and gone 
the bank I stood on, for the south bank of the 
Lummels pool, with the land we fished from in the 
old days, has long been washed into the river. So 
little on the occasion in question did I anticii)ate 
getting a fish that I did not even take the trouble 
to change the fly, and left on the cast a great 
2J-inch Whitewing. This, by the way, was done 
after a half-hearted attempt to remove it, for I had 
fished with it the night jDrevious, and the knot was 
so tight that I should have been com]3elled to 
break the gut. As, moreover, it seemed little more 
than a farce to fish at all, I thought that any fly 
Tvould do. I was ahvays fishing in those XDrimitive 
days, for there were given unto me many elder 
brothers who obligingly shot the grouse. 

Three or four days earlier there had been heavy 
rain, and the river had come down in some sort 
of a spate. Half-way down the pool my thirty- 
pounder came at me Avith as fine a rise as 
angler could w^ish, and for just an hour and a half 
he fought like a demon. My gillie, Willie Coutts, 
was a novice at salmon fishing, a sport that he at 
first viewed with contempt, and had never gaffed 
a fish in his life. At the finish, therefore, I handed 

110 



m PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

hini the rod with much cautious instruction and 
maxim, reached as far as I could with my long 
old cane gaff, and snatched the fish as he jjassed, 
still full of running, SAviftly up stream. At the 
moment of my lifting him clear of the water, the 
hook came away, and it was then evident that 
he had been foul-hooked in the hard scale of the 
cheek. The hook had then worn a narro^v wound 
fully t^vo inches long, and, though the hold was 
tough, it only needed one more wriggle, half a 
shake, or a slack line, for the prettiest fish that 
ever reluctantly left the Dee to have remained in 
it. Mr. Rolfe, the greatest British fish-artist of our 
times, saw the fish and was so impressed with its 
beauty that he begged me to have a cast taken of 
it and promised to paint it for me. This he did, and 
a photograph of it appears at the end of the chapter. 

In my reminiscences of fights with salmon, I 
have said little of the minnow, though I do not 
pretend not to have used it on days when the fly 
Avas impossible. Ever since Mr. Digby Cayley in- 
troduced his wonderful style of minnow fishing on 
the Dee — his prodigious takes at Ballater will 
alw^ays live in the memory of those who saw them 
— there have, of course, been minnow days and, no 
doubt, even ^vorm days. Latterly, however, Dee 
salmon have shown a reluctance to be fooled with 
this kind of bait, and it has been fly or nothing. 

Nor, I see, have I mentioned a favourite old 
plan that has often got me sport, and that is the 
use of two March Browns of different size, the 

111 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

smaller being used on the bob. Into the niceties 
of throwing the fly I have not thought it necessary 
to enter, as this humble chronicle of some hours 
of a misspent life does not pretend to the dignity 
of a sportsman's instructor. I should, however, 
like in passing to caution the beginner against a 
too prevalent superstition among indifferent fisher 
of salmon, and that is that the main object to 
strive for is the throwing of a " record " line. 
Tournaments and competitions are well enough in 
their place, but their place is not where salmon 
are rising. There is far too great a tendency 
nowadays to cast innnense lengths of line, with 
the inevitable result, unless very great skill be 
brought into play, that, instead of the fly being- 
last to alight on the water, fly and line alight 
simultaneously and all of a heap. 

I had almost forgotten my flght with the real 
and original pond serpent. The late Colonel Tryon, 
of Bulwick, had a pond — the local habit would 
have been to call the thing a "locghchh," on the 
blessed chance of the pronunciation dislocating the 
stranger's neck — at Harringworth, hard by the 
Seaton viaduct — in which people rarely fished, 
though rumour had it that fabulous monsters 
made merry in its weedy depths. Indeed, Mr. 
Wright, the banker at Uppingham, showed a 
specimen pike of close on 30 lbs., which he had 
taken from the pond in question. I do not, I 
regret to admit, recollect having obtained per- 
mission to fish there; I recollect fishing. I took 

112 t 



IN PRAISE OF SALMON FISHING 

with me not only such strong tackle as seemed 
suitable, with a hundred and fifty yards of strong, 
common salmon line on the reel, a large float 
and a gimp hook baited with a live roach, but also 
a ladder, which I intended laying across the rushes 
that fringed the margin, so as to get well over 
the deepest part of the water. Suddenly and 
without warning a great tail was lifted above 
the surface, and the float went under. I clutched 
the heavy salmon rod ; the float came up and 
tarried a moment at the surface ; then it went off 
again. I struck. Evidently this was the sea- 
serpent, and he was growing tired of fresh water. 
He simply steered straight for the centre of the 
loch, and there he must have known of a hole 
communicating with other worlds. There -was 
nothing in reason to break on my side of the 
show, and I held on for all I was worth. But he 
never stayed. The line ran out and came to an 
end. Something went, and I wheeled up. The gimp 
hook had less bend in it than when I launched it 
on the venture, and on its i)oint was a fragment of 
■white gristle. The sea serpent had left his card. 




THE THirLTY-POUXD SALilON. 



113 




IN THE BUTTS. 



VI 



GBOUSE DBIVING 



Of all the pleasant forms of sport with the shot- 
gun, none surely beats that of grouse-driving. 
Some there are who rave about tall pheasants, 
while others have much praise for the driven 
"partridge, but the surroundings are never the 
same, and half the delight of sport lies in its sur- 
roundings. Pheasants are, after all, fed and petted 
for fifty-one weeks of the year that they may be 

114 




f^^r^ 



'^^<u>uA-e^ 



I ib. 



GROUSE DRIVING 

slaughtered, scientifically enough by the few, but 
very barbarously and wastefuUy by the many, 
during the fifty - second. Partridges give good 
shooting enough over a high belt of trees, but this 
condition is rarely fulfilled, and the birds have a 
domesticated look in harmony with the obvious fact 
of their sheltering in Farmer Hobbs's turnips or 
the village schoolmaster's potatoes. How different 
is the grouse, the wild bird of the moors and 
mountains, living amid the gorgeous heather on 
the steep sides of high hills where the only sounds 
are the soothing patter of a babbling burn and the 
occasional bleat of a black-faced sheep. Never do 
I see a patch of heather in the south of England, 
but it turns my thoughts to the crisp breezes of 
the North and to the Tvhir of the grouse as he 
flashes j)ast the butt. Like an arrow in any case, 
he is almost invisible with a strong wind behind 
him, and quick indeed must be the hand and eye 
that come into quick play to drop the passing bird 
bouncing on the heather. The singletons are the 
easiest bagged. The confusion is when a pack rises 
on the far sky-line, then vanishes for some moments 
in the purple gloom, while there comes borne on 
the breeze the faint " Mark over ! " of the approach- 
ing beaters. See! the birds are coming straight for 
you : a hundred thousand forms seem to float in 
the air with motionless wings. You pick out one 
w^hich seems first ; no, there are others before him. 
You change your mind and your bird. Bang ! . . . 
missed him. Bang ! . . . missed again. 

115 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

" Quick, Henry, the other gun." Revenge ! you 
will brown the lot . . . bang ! bang ! not a feather 
is ruffled, and the whole i3ack skims away to the 
glen behind. Through your mind there goes a 
quick resolve to give your guns to your man and 
bid him thro^v them in the loch. Yet that was 
unusual bad luck. It was taking your eye off the 
bird first selected, merely because another caught 
your fancy rather in front of him. That was the 
first false step, and all the misfortune resulted 
from it. 

Grouse shooting is, in my opinion, a matter 
almost entirely of " time." You must not snap, 
and you must not follow ; you must ineet the bird 
w^ith the gun in a quiet sort of way. I do not 
believe this to be matter for explanation on paper, 
nor do I believe that a man knows why he shoots 
sometimes so much better than at others. I can 
only say, in support of this view, that for tw^o or 
three years I went right off my shooting and could 
not hit even a flopping pheasant. Doubtless I was 
pulling the gun off yards in front. All of a 
sudden, Avhen I had been seriously thinking of 
selling my guns and never firing another cartridge, 
I w^ent North one Twelfth to shoot over the moors 
of an old friend and relative, and there I found 
myself shooting better than I had ever shot in my 
life. For this welcome change I cannot account, 
except by the belief that I took slightly more time 
— not more perhajjs than a hundredth of a second's 
difference — and raised my gun quietly to the first 

116 



GROUSE DRIVING 

shot instead of jerking it. I had, in fact, long 
suspected myself of snaxDX^ing, and was deter- 
mined to take more time, hut bad habits are 
more easily acquired than corrected. I have quoted 
my own case, not because I find it particularly 
interesting, but because it seemed to illustrate the 
difficulty. 

What a glorious sensation it is to step from 
the dogcart and take up the gun that has lain by 
so long in dismal silence while a London season 
has been flirting and fluttering the days away! 
Before you stretch the long chain of hills and the 
pleasant glens, while your heart beats anxiously 
and you tell yourself again and again that you 
wish you had refused that last whisky up at the 
house, and that you do not feel like hitting any- 
thing. After all, there is no great shame in 
missing, for the man who can shoot driven grouse 
can shoot anything. Many men would shoot them 
admirably, if the birds ^vould only give them a 
little more time, for there are those who shoot 
pheasants well and are yet very deliberate in their 
movements. Some men are particularly slow on 
their feet, and swing so slowly, indeed, as to get in 
only one barrel ^vhen they should get in two. 
Distance, again, is a most important thing, and it 
is a matter solely for the shooter's correct judg- 
ment, Avhich should tell him (but generally does 
not) exactly ^vhen the bird is in shot or not. I use 
the word " distance " quite generally, for no one in 
the butt stops to ask himself w^hether a given bird 

117 



SPORTIXG REMIXISCEXCES 

is so many yards distant. Last September I saw a 
grouse dropped dead at fifty-three yards; the bird 
was crossing at right angles to the gun, behind the 
butts and at the end of a drive. No doubt far 
longer shots than this have been recorded in the 




A GOOD EETEIEVEE. 



Field and elsewhere. These bare records of dis- 
tance, however, have to be read with local know- 
ledge to convey much impression of the truth. 
Thus, I recollect the Field recording the case of a 
Brighton golfer driving a ball some four hundred 

118 



GROUSE DRIVING 

yards right into the hole! Now, I read the Field 
and I know the gentleman in question. What the 
correspondent of that admirable journal forgot to 
mention was that a hundred and fifty yards from 
the tee the ball had to run down a steep hill to 
the green. Such detail might to the artistic eye 
diminish the picturesqueness of the record, but 
good golfers love the truth, however bare. In the 
same way, a high bird flying before a strong wind 
might quite conceivably be shot dead and carried a 
good half-mile before finally coming to rest. I 
believe, then, that in this rapid and accurate judg- 
ment of distance, in which, of course, must be 
included the allowance for pace, lies the secret of 
the individual shooter's ability. That the proper 
study of mankind is man is as correct in the 
grouse butt as on the Stock Exchange. Some men 
can kill at twenty yards, are doubtful at twenty- 
two yards, and useless at thirty yards ; others, in 
the minority, can kill at thirty yards, are doubtful 
at thirty-five yards, and useless at forty yards, and 
there are a dozen grades between these limits. The 
great thing is for each one to know his own limi- 
tations and to respect them. Otherwise, the birds 
will live to grow old. This self-analysis becomes 
instinctive, and there is, as I said above, no precise 
measuring in yards. Any really good shot could 
stand at the foot of a brick tower and indicate 
exactly the brick that marks the extreme height 
at which he would be morally sure of an overhead 
pheasant. 

119 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

After one has shot driven grouse for a fort- 
night, it is curious how absurdly easy any other 
kind of shooting seems. Personally, I think the 
grouse far harder than the partridge, though I 
am aware that the majority of sportsmen who 
know both hold the opposite opinion. He comes 
at a butt that only partially conceals you, and 
that does not hide your head, which is the portion 
of the human anatomy most hated and dreaded by 
wild creatures. Like the ostrich of the proverb 
(though not, I believe, of the desert), men think 
that because, crouched in their grouse-butts, they 
drop their! eyes so as not to see over the edge, 
they are themselves unseen, altogether forgetting 
the half foot of bald-headed viciousness that sticks 
aloft under some weird hat. This, however, the 
grouse sees from half a mile away, and he swerves 
— Gemini ! how^ he can swerve when so minded ! — 
making the shot doubly hard. 

Light, again, is all important in grouse driving : 
one day the sun is in your eyes ; the next, perhaps, 
there is a drenching mist ; a third will give that 
terribly trying glare after rain showers. The 
variety is infinite, and it is difficult to name the 
worst sample. The very "worst light, perhaps, that 
I have personally experienced was on the last 
occasion I w^as out grouse-shooting. It was at the 
time of the visit of the Crown Prince of Germany 
to Lowther Castle, and they kindly asked me to 
join the party. It was a perfect day, with no ^nd 
and not too much sun, such a day as one rarely 

120 



GROUSE DRIVING 

enjoys on the Fells. When I complained of the 
light, Mr. Lancelot Lowther murmured something 
about Chateau Lafitte ; but every one else com- 



THK CKOWN PRINCE AT LOWTHEK. 

plained of the light too, and they had not all 
been drinking of that vintage. Whether it was 
that the drive Avas extremely long and the further 
ridge half a mile away and under a strong light, 

121 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

I know not, but anyhoT^ I had to tell my loader 
to look out and tell me when birds were coming, 
while I gazed steadily on the floor of my butt 
to accustom my eyes to the gloom. The Prince 
shot with 20-bore guns, a great handicap, as I 
ventured to impress upon him at the time, but he 
shot his birds in the air remarkably well and 
clean. Birds that skimmed between the butts he 
let pass before firing, making the shot doubly 
difficult, and often letting them get too far before 
taking them. He is a young man yet and will 
one of these days shoot brilliantly, and some one 
has rightly taught him the necessity of caution. 
My own plan has always been to study the lay 
of the butts, and to take a tuft of heather, a 
prominent stone, or even a distant tree, and make 
a mental resolve of taking birds thus far and no 
farther ; then begin again after the birds have 
passed the next stand. The Prince merely erred 
on the side of extreme caution. Would that others 
were like him, for more accidents happen in grouse 
driving than in any other form of shooting in this 
country. The birds come on ; the shooter swings 
round, losing sight of the other butts, and the 
next sportsman gets the charge in his ear, and 
thanks his guardian angel that it did not find his 
eyes instead. This casualty as often as not results 
from the fatal practice of trying to get two barrels 
in before cross-skimming birds get across the line. 
The only way to do this is to take the first with 
a very long shot, and to get very quickly on to 

122 



GHOUSE DRIVING 

the second. But if he follows — and the instinct, 
mind, is to follow — some one's eyes will be in 
danger. On three distinct occasions I have saved 




THE CROWN PRINCE IN HIS BUTT. 



myself such accidents by watching my neighbour 
and ducking at the right moment. It is not 
dignified ; it may not even be sport ; but it is 
better than wandering blind about the world. On 

123 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

each occasion this was through the man in the 
next butt getting in the second barrel before the 
birds crossed the line. Once, when I bobbed, one 
pellet went through the top of my cap and grazed 
my scalp. I should have had the whole charge if 
I had stood upright, and, as it was, my loader got 
quite enough of it. Whenever I see a man 
folloAving, I am not shooting until he is done. On 
another occasion we were at partridges ; fortu- 
nately I had a thick coat on, and had just time to 
turn and receive a perfect hail of shot, and here 
too my loader had one just below the eye. The 
strange thing is that I have seen really good shots 
shoot j)eople in this way, so often indeed that I 
have been quite nervous about my own shooting, 
though luckily, so far, Tv^ithout cause. 

I do, however, remember getting into terrible 
trouble as a boy for shooting a setter, but this 
was an extraordinary case, for the bird rose to a 
point many yards above the setter. There I killed 
it, but one single pellet dropped immediately down 
and lodged in the dog's neck. When you are 
young, people are always ready to put you in the 
wrong ; for all that, it \vas not my fault, and had 
my dearest and best been standing w^here the 
setter was, I should have fired the same shot 
without any anxiety. 

There is in all probability no finer all-round 
game shot in the whole world than Lord de Grey. 
Without desiring, even Avere that possible, to 
detract in any way from his extraordinary prowess 

124 



GROUSE DRIVING 

with the gun, I would merely remark that no 
other man on earth has his practice or scope. 
Lord de Grey is naturally extremely quick ; his 
loaders are remarkably trained; and he himself 
works with the accuracy of a clock. Without 
being quite certain whether or not this is the case, 
I fancy his guns are handed to him cocked. I 
am, at any rate, quite sure that if I had shooting 
of my own and a reliable loader, I should, when 
driving, always have my guns handed to me full 
cock, because, early in the season at least, the 
birds come in coveys, and you cannot, even in these 
days of hammerless guns, get in more than two 
barrels if you have to cock the second gun your- 
self. It might be thought that the mere action 
of pressing the bolt forward is so instantaneous as 
to make no practical difference ; but it occu]3ies 
some fraction of a second, and it must be reckoned 
with as a motion to be gone through before you 
commence jj^^^ting the gun to your shoulder. 
Those who demur to such extremely fine sub- 
division of seconds have surely never seen driven 
grouse come past them on a high wind. Only 
once do I remember having killed four birds, and 
four only, which were coming to me. They were 
in line, a little wide one of the other, but not 
one straggling behind. 

This was when four of us had taken a small 
shooting together half way between Peterhead and 
Aberdeen. Four of us ! Two are dead, and the 
third I never see any more. I had a very smart 

125 



SPORTING REMmiSCENCES 

body servant in those days, who is since gone to 
the bad ; and, by the way, as most of my friends 
and relations think that I have done the same, 
that accounts for the party ! Anyhow, he used to 
hand me my second gun at full cock when we 
were driving grouse. Those ^vere the early days 
of the hammerless gun. I got my four birds, two 
with the first gun in front and the other two with 
the second gun behind, and I am quite convinced 
that I should not have done it if I had had to 
go through any motion of cocking. Given a suffi- 
ciently good loader, I do not think the practice so 
dangerous as at first sight it looks. When birds 
are coming, he holds the second gun below^ the 
triggers in the right hand pointed well a"way. 
You pass him the first in a similar position. This 
is where you hold the gun for firing, and you 
take the second with your left above the trigger- 
guard (also where you hold it for firing), your 
only remaining motion being to bring the right 
hand up to the triggers. All the same, I have 
never since had the second gun handed to me at 
full cock, for never since have I had as personal 
servant a trained loader. 



126 



VII 



ON PIGEON SHOOTING AND GLOVE 
FIGHTS 

Now, I want to say just a word about the 
" sport " of pigeon shooting, but I wish first to say 
that I do not write against it without any know- 
ledge of its peculiarities. I have shot pigeons in 
my time ; I once even shot my old friend, Mr. C, 
of the S. P. business — he had just won the Grand 
Prix at Monte Carlo — a hundred birds each for 
£250 a side at Hendon. And the boys were 
betting too ! I felt that I held him from the 
first, but I only just won, and he was full of both 
money and confidence, a combination that goes a 
long way towards making a man shoot well. 
The reader may, therefore, please to regard me as 
a reformed rake, or what he ^will, but let him at 
any rate credit me with some kno^vledge of that 
which I "write of. There are so many current 
criticisms of sport from writers who could scarcely 
lay claim to as much that I venture this preface 
to an unequivocal condemnation of the practice 

127 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

of trap shooting. It is a kind of living roulette, 
as cruel a gamble every bit. It does no good to 
any one ; it is not practice for any more useful 
kind of shooting, for trap-shooting is a thing 
apart, and its few masters are by no means 
equally masters of other feats with the gun. The 
birds are neither fairly treated nor properly shot. 
The pigeon is often tortured before the trap is 
pulled, and in nineteen cases out of twenty the 
only place to shoot at is the tail. Birds coming 
over in everyday shooting are after all hit in the 
head and neck and killed clean, but the poor 
pigeons are only wounded, and go hopping about 
the place until a cur dog retrieves them and the 
sportsmen settle over the shot. It is not good 
healthy sport. It is not, as I have already said, 
practice for other shooting. It is catchwork, 
trickery, a mere question of timing. You walk up 
to your pegged-out distance ; you say to the man 
at the trap, "Are you ready?" he replies, "Yes," 
and you say, " Pull ! " At the same moment you 
notice a trax3 going over and put up your gun. 
There is a glimpse of the bird ; bang ! bang ! go 
the barrels. Why, many of the best pigeon shots 
hardly ever see the bird at all ! Poor old David 
Hope Johnstone, who -was unrivalled in his day, 
told me that he used to put a piece of ^lite 
paper three yards beyond each trap and practice 
at it, having the traps pulled Avithout birds in. 
And then, as the traps fell, he shot at the paper ! 
Now, what I want to know is, what is the use of 

128 



ON PIGEON SHOOTING 

such trick shooting to any one who aims at 
proficiency "with driven partridges or rocketting 
pheasants, in both of which cases you have to 
take your bird a certain distance in front? In 
pigeon shooting, on the other hand, you have to 
shoot so much behind. The odds against the 
pigeons grow more and more. In the eighties, I 
remember ^vell, a price of three to one on the gun 
kiUing the bird used ultiinately to defeat the layer, 
whereas in the late nineties, five and six to one 
on the gun was frequently laid on good shots. 
The improvement has been in the weapon rather 
than in the man. And even in this trick shooting 
the Americans are far ahead of us, for we pro- 
bably never x^roduced a shot to equal Dr. Carver. 
The finest all-round natural shot in our islands 
is, of course. Lord de Grey, and an excellent 
pigeon shot he was too until they handicapped him 
out of it, placing him so far from the traps that 
his shot, which rarely if ever missed, could not 
stop the bird. He had, therefore, no option but to 
retire. This handicapping is the worst of pigeon- 
shooting, and in harmony with the gambling spirit 
that pervades it. It also entails far more suffering 
on the birds, \vhich, instead of being killed dead, 
flutter away full of lead pellets, and die slowly 
in pain. A bad shot does infinitely more harm in 
this ^vay than a good one, for the latter will 
always know instinctively when a hare or pheasant 
or pigeon is within killing range. If not, he holds 
his shot, but the duffer will always blaze, with 

129 K 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

the result that pheasants run about without tails, 
and hares with dangling legs, and if the retrievers 
miss them, foxes will be busy later on. I am 
not, of course, dogmatically asserting that pigeon 
shooting does not want skill, and plenty of it, of 
a sort, for the second shot particularly, when the 
first barrel has missed, is invariably a game shot, 
with the need of taking into account angles and 
the twist of the bird. What I do mean, however, 
is that, whereas a good game shot can almost 
instantly hold his own \s^ith pigeons out of traps, 
a good trap-shooter need never necessarily develop 
into a good game shot. 

" Inanimate bird shooting " was the outcome of 
humanitarian and other criticisms of trap-shooting, 
and should there be room for an "if" in the 
question of the latter being " time and trick " 
work, there can, I imagine, be no possible doubt 
about the former being so. Personally, I should 
consider nothing so detrimental to a beginner's 
shooting as constant practice at these " clay 
pigeons," for the simple reason that the clay saucer 
shot from its spring trap acts from first to last 
quite differently from any living creature. It leaves 
the trap at an initial velocity that nothing in 
nature can attain to ; it rises to a certain altitude, 
its pace slackening at every yard ; and it finally 
falls limp upon the grass. In nature the operation 
is reversed. A bird or beast scared from its 
haunts starts slowly, and gradually, under the in- 
fluence of terror and despair, gets the full speed 

130 



ON PIGEON SHOOTING 

of its Tvings or feet. Whereas the clay pigeon 
pursues the even, monotonous tenour of its way, 
the Hving animal instinctively twists and turns 
to avoid being hit. Therefore the practised 
clay-i)igeon-shot carefully waits until the saucer 
fashioned from the dust of his forefathers is once 
more descending to earth, and then pulls. 

If this sort of trick shooting is wanted, let us 
at least have the best of it. I remember, in my 
boyhood, a farmer, one Corrie Chambers, who 
lived next to our home. Those were the old days 
of muzzle loaders, and yet I look back upon him 
as one of the finest shots I ever knew. Incident- 
ally I may mention that he had a spaniel dog 
that brought up two broods of chickens, which 
used to nestle behind its ears and under its paws, 
and follow it into the kitchen as closely as they 
would have followed Mother Hen— but that is 
another story. Well, that farmer would back him- 
self to hit a stone, thrown from somewhere close 
to him, four times out of five, and, after seeing 
him, I would back him too. We used whitish 
stones of fair weight for throwing, and the pellets 
marked them plainly when hit. He would also 
blow pennies out of sight, or drill holes through 
them, the latter trick being performed by having 
only one, or at most two pellets in the gun, tossing 
the penny flat-ways in the air, and shooting it as 
it descended. On one occasion he got sixty rabbits 
in one stand at Chamber's Dole — whether called 
after him or his father I know not, but there it 

131 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

was, and there, for the matter of that, it is still — 
where the covert is very thick, and the rabbits 
never cared about facing the rides. Mr. Chambers, 
however, perched up in a tree, from which situation 
he was able to look down and get a capital view 
of the little beasts skipping around. A woodcock, 
or a low-flying pheasant might possibly have 
caused him uneasiness, but the neighbouring guns 
knew^ exactly where he was, and there were no 
accidents. My memories of his wonderful shoot- 
ing prompt me to wonder whether it would be 
possible to hit a driven golf ball, standing, for 
instance, on the tee in line with the player. A 
hard-driven golf ball will cover fifty yards in mar- 
vellously short time, and this might be worth 
trying. Personally, I dare not carry a gun when 
golfing for fear that my adversary's life might 
not be properly insured. 

From pigeon shooting I turn, not quite inappro- 
priately perhaps, to another " sport " that ^svaned 
and flourished and flourished and waned during the 
closing years of the nineteenth century, the "noble 
art " of boxing. In the old days men fought with 
their naked fists, and although they punished one 
another severely at times, it is common knowledge 
that fatal results were very uncommon. The good 
kind Law, which makes the grass grow and keeps 
everything and everybody right, stepped in and 
forbade this fighting with bare fists. Whereat 
wicked man, whose chief delight lies in evading the 
good kind Law, introduced a fresh form of boxing, 

132 



ON GLOVE FIGHTS 

the glove fight. It is this Law and its evasion that 
we have to thank for our comfortable Clubs, for 
no sooner had the Publican received the injunc- 
tion, "Sinner, close your bar at 10.30 and for the 
greater part of Sundays," than the men who made 
the laws (for the workers, who might be exiDected 
to be as thirsty as the men who do nothing) took 
to themselves spacious houses and formed Clubs, 
where the Early Closing Act might not apply, and 
there they sat and drank whisky and played 
cards until it was time for the Courts to open on 
the following day. Then they washed themselves 
a trifle and attended the Courts, and made fresh 
laws and slept awhile. So saith the Chronicler. 

Well, the supporters of boxing found a peculiarly 
easy and ingenious way of evading the Law, for 
they put padded gloves on the hands of the 
combatants and persuaded the Law that men 
could not hurt one another with padded gloves 
on their hands. And then they merrily started 
killing one another. This chiefly arose through 
alteration of the old rules of the Prize Ring, and 
the arrangement that men should fight rounds, 
each lasting three minutes. The ordinary interval 
between each round is one minute, but if either 
of the combatants is knocked down and fails to 
rise within ten seconds he is counted " out." The 
gloves are none too thick or soft, and, as I said 
before, the latter day fights have had a far 
greater proportion of fatal endings. Bare knuckles 
were nothing to these thin gloves. In the old 

133 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

days of the Prize Ring a man could always go 
down after being hit, and it has surely been con- 
clusively proved that modern boxing under the 
Queensberry rules is a far more cruel pastime 
than a fight in the old style. 

Here again, I cannot profess to criticise this 
" sport," particularly from the spectacular point of 
view, ^th the discriminating ignorance of those 
"svho have held aloof from its fascinations, for I 
have witnessed many a fight. In the last that I 
ever watched, one of the principals. Bill Smith, of 
America, was killed by a knock-out blow from his 
opponent. Jack Roberts, of England. (The name 
of the deceased, by the way, was not Smith, and 
he w^as buried in the Jewish cemetery, but no 
matter.) Of course, the Law took the case up — it 
had no option for once — and gravely inquired 
whether the Yankee's death was an accident or 
the result of a fight. In the former case, the Law 
would be powerless to intervene (it did not greatly 
want to) ; in the latter, every one associated with 
the contest would be guilty of manslaughter. 
Counsel for the prosecution endeavoured all he 
knew to prove that this boxing bout was a fight 
pure and simple ; counsel for the defence went for 
all he was worth on the more convenient accident 
theory, and in the end the accident theory won 
the day. Well, what is a fight ? These two men 
were matched, if I remember right, to fight four- 
teen rounds, and not one of those who gathered 
round the ring to watch them ever imagined for a 

134 



ON GLOVE FIGHTS 

moment that they would get through those four- 
teen rounds before one or other of them was 
knocked out. Counsel for the defence ingenuously 
suggested that the judging went by points. Points, 
indeed ! Now, on points. Smith had all the best of 
it. Time after time he got in and away again, but 
he was only hitting a piece of animated india- 
rubber. I must confess, though long acquaintance 
with such sights has not left me any admiration 
for them, that the manner in which Roberts took 
his punishment was simply extraordinary. At last, 
however, his time came — in the seventh round, I 
think — and a swinging blow on the jaw, as it 
would be called in the elegant reports of such a 
feat, sent the American to the boards. I do not 
for one moment assert that it was the blow that 
did the mischief. Such an expression of opinion 
would be as cruel as it is uncalled for. Besides, 
the Law said it was the boards ; and let the matter 
rest there. All the same, if the men were not 
fighting, then I maintain that Smith's family should 
have the stakes they were " boxing " for. 



135 



VIII 

ON SOME NINETEENTH CENTVBY 

GAMES 

Englishmen have always prided themselves on 
their games and sports, as distinguished from 
"sport" proper, or the chase. Rapidly British 
games of skill have domiciled themselves in every 
corner of the globe, and even the gentlemen of 
France will nowadays shoulder their golf club, or 
take a turn at lawn tennis, with never so much 
as a deprecatory " Parbleu ! " or even their old-time 
polite insinuation that none but idiots should find 
pleasure in knocking balls with sticks. And it is 
almost as singular that two great offshoots of the 
race should have established other national games 
which, Avhile supjplanting our cricket, football, and 
golf in the New World, have never somehow 
caught on in the old country. 

Three outdoor games have an enormous follow- 
ing, and these are, of course, cricket, football, and 
golf. Of the first and last I know a little ; touching 
football, I confess, though I am an old Rugbeian, 

136 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

to a frank loathing of the game. In the days 
when I was a Hght stripling in the Head's house 
at Rugby, hacking, otherwise kicking another man 
on the shins until he got out of your way, was the 
pastime of gentlemen. As to the glorified scrim- 
mage, of all the evils patented by the Evil One, 
commend me to a scrimmage as ordered in old 
Rugby days ! Each side gathered round the ball 
and shoved and kicked for all it was worth. Those 
on the outside strained their lungs with encourag- 
ing roars of " Shove up, Stripes ! " ; and the poor 
Stripes did "shove up" as directed, and soon 
received antagonistic heads in the pit of their 
stomachs and antagonistic boots on the edge of 
their shins. At length the ball would run clear of 
that heaving, seething mass ; a half-back would 
seize it and run like a hare ; and he was in turn 
"hacked" over by a half-back on the other side. 
Oh, it was rare science ! I well recollect how a 
famous footballer, an all-round man in fact, in my 
house and myself had only one other pair to beat 
in order to win the school fives doubles. My 
partner was a half-back, and some other brute 
hacked at him, and he at the other brute, and 
their legs crossed. My friend's knee-joint went, 
and he was laid up for weeks, so that, thanks 
to football, our fives certainty was lost. In 
my day, boys settled all their differences by 
this simple and refined process of hacking. 
You simply took each other by the shoulders and 
kicked one another's shins until one had had enough 

137 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

of it and said so. It was very grand ! And the 
reason that football appeals nowadays, when the 
Association game at any rate is no longer one for 
gentlemen, to an enormous public of onlookers, is 
simply that it is the nearest thing the Law permits 
to a fight in the open, and the crow^d can bet. If 
there were only the certainty of a death or two 
in each match, the popularity of football would be 
greater still. 

Cricket is another matter. It was once even a 
good game, but has, of course, been ruined by 
sensationalism and science. I could name two 
players who have done more to ruin interest in 
the game than all the rest together, and they both 
play in one team. Their cricket policy is so 
simple as to need little explanation : all balls off 
the wicket left severely alone, the legs being 
thrown across the wicket in case of accidents ; 
all straight balls steadily blocked ; all half volleys 
gently returned along the ground ; all long hoj)s 
gingerly placed. Any fool with his share of 
callousness can, "with sufficient practice, block 
away on a perfect wicket, but he is playing 
through the fine summer afternoons to the " Dead 
March " from Saul, not to a British Public, and if 
C. I. Thornton, in his day, or Jessop of Gloucester- 
shire, had been next man in, that Public would 
cheer his downfall to the echo. I cannot always 
advocate playing to the mob, but in this case the 
mob shows the right taste. 

As a mild personal reminiscence, I recollect play- 

138 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

ing at Kettering for a twenty-two of the Midland 
Counties against an All-England eleven, and I also 
remember that on that occasion I fielded x^oi^t. 
The All-England eleven won the toss, and in came 
Jupp. These were the early days of the great 
block system : Jupp was at the wicket for two 
days and made — eleven runs. He was demoralised 
early in his career that innings by my having 
just missed him at point when he tried to play a 
ball to square-leg. It caught the corner of his bat 
and came straight to point, but low down and 
unexpected, and so I missed. I think that Jupp 
did not deliberately try to hit another ball that 
innings. The memory of that match is rather 
mournful, by the way, as it was the last in which 
poor old G. F. Grace played, and a terrible smash 
he got in the forearm from a sharp return. He 
was perfectly well at the time, but subsequently 
caught a chill and was a dead man ^within a week. 
The best cricket I ever played was with C. I. 
Thornton, in the days of the old Orleans club. 
We were playing an eleven of Bexley, or Bexhill, 
or whatever its name was, which included six men 
who played for Surrey. The great Australian team 
had just arrived, and Thornton had secured 
Spofforth, then unsurpassed as a bowler, and 
Murdoch, also then in his first form. It had been 
very wet weather, and the wicket was essentially 
the bowler's. I remember keeping wicket, and also 
that all our opponents were out for seven runs. 
In we went, and when I mention that I was in 

139 



SPORTING KEMINISCENCES 

third or fourth wicket down and was the not-out 
man, with a duck, the reader will form his own 
conclusions as to the quality of the run getting. 
In fact, we were dismissed for twenty. In went 
the other eleven again and scored forty-two. We 
therefore wanted thirty runs to win. Murdoch 
and Thornton opened the defence, and the first ball 
bowled Murdoch. I came next. Now, I beg leave 
to state that I cite this occasion merely as a 
curiosity in my cricket log, for I was always too 
fond of hitting to make anything of a cricketer. 
On this occasion, however, I knocked up the 
requisite thirty runs, while " Buns " Thornton 
simply kept his end up and scored nothing. He 
was never very keen on my being in with him, 
because if by any luck I stayed there, the pace 
was soon too warm for him. 

I have hinted at a couple of cricketers who, in 
my humble opinion, went far towards destroying 
the spectacular interest of cricket. Picture a match 
between Middlesex and Notts on a hot sunnner's 
day, with the latter eleven, in the person of its 
champions, well set at the wickets. Heat and 
monotony would reign supreme, and there might 
now and again be a feeble, half-ironical cheer from 
the dozing crowd when an innneasurable batsman 
played a half volley somewhat firmly, a ball that 
Thornton or Jessop would, "without an effort, have 
lifted over the Pavilion. Is it quite certain that 
these distinguished blockers are always of great 
service to their side? They are certainly the first 

140 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

men to be beaten on a sticky wicket, when the 
bowler gets spin and sting- on the ball. All that 
then results from that graceful forward stroke is 
that the ball flies off the edge of the bat into the 
hands of one of the fielders. I once, at the Oval, 
saw Gunn bowled round his legs without any 
attempt to play the ball, and the crowd yelled 
itself hoarse with delight. Your hitter, on the 
other hand, takes just one step, makes a well- 
pitched ball into an innocuous half-volley, and 
bangs it. Such scurvy treatment annoys the 
bowler, so he sends the next a bit short. Back 
steps the hitter and pulls it round to leg. The 
bowler regards this as heterodox. Yet the captains 
and secretaries of county teams, and cricket 
caterers generally, have to consider their public, 
and to make certain of drawing the biggest gate 
round London, you would have to include in your 
team three Thorntons (in his form of twenty years 
ago), three Jessops, three Rhodes, and two Haighs. 
There is a feature of modern cricket on an 
up-to-date wicket that always seems to me to 
bring ridicule on the game, and that is the long 
odds at the start against the game ever being 
finished. A game that takes three days to play, 
and is even then unfinished, is no game at all. I 
do not say that the M.C.C. has so far attempted 
no reform, but it can hardly be said, for all its 
obvious good intentions, to have contrived anything 
really beneficial. The authorities seem of a sudden 
to be devoting themselves to minor issues, develop- 

141 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

ing an unlooked-for severity in respect of shying. 
This is surely a pity. If a man will not hit the 
ball with the bat, why, then hit the man -with the 
ball, a policy that ^vould go a long way towards 
exterminating the blockhead. Why our cricket 
rulers cannot leave bowling alone and pay more 
attention to the fielder, I do not know. Our field- 
ing is surely below criticism. Ho\v often do vre 
read in the reports that so-and-so was missed thrice 
in the first two overs, after which he got set and 
made his century. One can only receive such 
intelligence in the same spirit as that in which we 
read of Steyn being on one occasion covered by a 
cartridge that refused to fire. There are, I am 
told, some who believe that our English cricketers 
field well. Now, I am, goodness knows, no pro- 
American, or whatever it is called, but I would 
commend the spectacle of a game of baseball 
between crack teams to any one who fancies our 
fielding and w^ants to see how fielding can be done. 
As an exhibition of that art, as well as of accu- 
rate long thro^ving, I never sa^v anything to beat 
a famous game of baseball between teams repre- 
senting Boston and Chicago, which I once 
witnessed at the former place. Such a game 
would, as a spectacle, give cricket, as played any- 
where in England, a long start and a beating. 
The " pitcher " rejDeatedly shoAvs himself able to 
make the ball twist in the air. Mathematicians 
have, I believe, proved this to be impossible ; but 
I have seen it done, and that suits me as ^^reU. as 

142 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

theory. So great is the force of the ball as it 
glances oif the bat that the seats provided for the 
spectators are, though some considerable distance 
behind the batsman, protected in front with wire 
netting. Yet the man who takes the ball, the 
equivalent in fact of our wicket-keeper, never 
misses a catch, unless, of course, the batsman tips 
it and thus diverts its course. There is, of course, 
something not quite acceptable to us in the weird 
uniforms worn in most American games, and 
baseball is no exception to the rule, seeing that the 
player's head bears a wire cage that resembles the 
helmet of a diver, not to mention a padded apron 
and one immense glove on the left hand. The 
fielding was, for the onlookers, the prettiest part 
of the game. Only once, during the whole after- 
noon, "was a catch missed, and that was off a 
terrific smack in the long field. Moreover, the 
Chicago fieldsman who should have taken it had 
the sun in his eyes, and that alone made him mis- 
judge the ball. The Boston boys never missed a 
chance, and one of them, who fielded a sort of 
deep cover-point, caught three or four men that day. 
He would run at the ball, shading his eyes with 
one hand, and take it low down, and his judg- 
ment was so marvellously accurate that he gave 
the impression that he could never miss a catch, 
so only he was able to reach it. Never, through 
the whole of that afternoon, \vas there anything 
that could be described as a half-volley or a bad 
throw in. The balls ^vere whizzed in straight as 

143 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

darts. This game showed me, without exception, 
the very finest fielding that I have ever w^itnessed. 
With regard to the pitchers, I only wish that the 
M.C.C. could be prevailed on to import a dozen. 
They would give our men rare practice and would 
pitch them out somehow, though whether the 
county captains would call their action bowling or 
throwing I hardly know. 

And noTV, having done my duty by cricket, let 
me devote the rest of this chapter to the praises 
of golf, the outdoor game that to my way of think- 
ing stands unquestionably first, that is if my idea 
of a game be the correct one — namely, a contest of 
skill in which one person or more may find exciting 
and healthy recreation. The ordinary person 'watch- 
ing ordinary golf will not see the excitement, but 
the playing of it is intensely absorbing. After all, 
the onlooker's standpoint, though much in such a 
game as cricket, is not everything in other pas- 
times. A battle would doubtless be more interest- 
ing in a sense to watch than a game of billiards, 
but I must confess to regarding the latter as 
immeasurably the more agreeable game to play. 
There is about golf an individuality that must 
recommend it to persons of the right tempera- 
ment. It is largely a matter of temperament, as 
are most other pursuits, work or play. As a 
member of a cricket eleven, you are one of a 
cro^vd, and your individual failure does not signify 
much. As a golfer, on the other hand, you dex3end 
solely on your own efforts. There are many who 

144 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

deprecate golf, and some even sneer at it and 
declare that they may perhaps take the game up 
when they are sixty years of age, dimly implying 
that when, after ten years of practice, they are 
arrived at the verdant age of seventy, they will 
give Harry Vardon a half and show him how the 
ball ought to be hit. Others there are who prefer 
croquet ! Oh, shade of young Tom Morris ! why will 
you not appear to such varmints with a putter in 
one hand and a niblick in the other ? With the 
latter you might clearly demonstrate that any fool 
can dribble a ball along the ground ; with the 
former you might thereafter brain them. 

Of all doctors' prescriptions, of all elixirs. Golf 
must have the most hateful associations for Time, 
the Mower. Often enough he has had his scythe 
on the neck of some poor devil spending his money 
between the bar and racecourse ; then the prospec- 
tive victim took to golf, and the dread presence 
perforce faded for a long while. The beauty of 
golf lies in the continuous, though never violent, 
exercise. It may be questioned whether some of 
our more violent exercises are really conducive to 
health. Rowing, experts tell us, is in the long run 
harder on the heart than love ; football often 
maims where it does not kill outright. Racquets 
and tennis can be of no real constitutional value : 
of all the thin, weedy, white-faced, tricked-up pro- 
fessional athletes, commend me to a racquets pro. 
It is the atmosphere of the courts that is unhealthy ; 
there's the rub. Every exercise that is to benefit 

145 L 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

the system must assuredly be taken in the sunlight 
and open air. " Well, and what about my game ? " 
asks the croquet player. To whom I would humbly 
yet firmly make reply that a boAvl of claret-cup on 
one side and a girl on the other may have their 
attractions, but they do not constitute a game. 

Besides its excellent gradual exercise and train- 
ing, the game of golf finds further recommendation 
to men of common sense in its imperceptible com- 
bination of work and play. There is a ready 
analogy on the racecourse. A horse trained for 
any given race is not continually galloped the dis- 
tance of that race. In all probability he is sent 
the full course not more than a couple of times 
before the final struggle, but he gets hard and fit 
with plenty of long, steady work. So does the 
golfer. 

Golf is to all intents and purposes outdoor 
billiards, and by the difference between the fresh 
air and a smoky room it is the finer game. Of 
billiards I ^will say something in another chapter ; 
here let me indicate the chief points of resemblance. 
The shot from the tee is nearly always a forcing 
shot. Having negotiated the hazard, the further 
you can get, the better ; but, as you approach the 
hole, accuracy and strength are the necessary 
qualifications for success. Another point in favour 
of golf, which also axDplies to billiards, is that a bad 
player and a good can make a sporting game by 
playing at handicap points. Thus, if A is scratch 
and B receives 18, A does not give B 18 strokes 

146 



ON NINETEENTH CENTURY GAMES 

on the round, or a stroke a hole, for it has been 
calculated that three-quarters of the number of 
strokes that divide the players are conceded to the 
man ^vith the longest handicap. In this case, 
therefore, A \vould be giving B thirteen strokes, 
or a stroke at every hole bar five. 

I have in passing alluded to the fashionable 
resolve to take up golf at an advanced, or at any 
rate mature, age. It rests on a fallacy. In reality 
a man cannot begin his golf too young. Proficiency 
at all games, as at shooting or horse-riding, is more 
easily acquired in youth, and any one may surely 
play golf from his boyhood and make a game of it 
to the end of his days. 



147 



IX 

ON BILLIABDS AND BILLIABD 
PLAYEBS 

When I likened golf to outdoor billiards, I meant 
no more than that both games depend entirely on 
eye and strength, the latter being distinguished 
from force and tempered -with the judgment that 
places the ball as near the given point as possible. 
In golf it is your own ball that has to be so placed ; 
in billiards, you have to study the object ball, but 
the two principles remain analogous if not identical. 
It is not the individual shot that tells at billiards, 
but rather the artful leaving of the balls in a posi- 
tion that tends to further scoring. It must be 
admitted that comparison between the two can- 
not be pushed much further, nor have I any 
desire to strain it. The one is played with one ball 
on four miles of open links ; the other with three 
on a table twelve feet long by six in breadth. In 
golf the best amateurs are little inferior to the best 
professionals, and I venture to doubt whether even 
Vardon or Taylor could have given poor Freddy 

148 



ON BILLIARDS AND PLAYERS 

Tait a stroke on the round. Of all the lost friends 
— and they are not few — who have been struck off 
the list by this terrible war, there is none I mourned 
more than poor Tait, and I felt when I read of his 
death at Koodoosberg, and I feel still, that rejoic- 
ings are quite out of -place at home while so many 
good fellows are tramping over the thirsty veldt, 
sniped at from the surrounding hills and cut off 
by marauding Boer bands. Tait, Ball, and Hilton 
have been the finest amateur golfers of our time, 
and I make so bold as to class them in that order. 
The leading professionals might possibly play a 
more consistently good game, but that they could 
have given any of these three men anything, when 
the latter were in form, I doubt. 

This distinction between the relative status 
of the amateur and professional in billiards and 
golf is perhaps the widest gap between the games. 
In the former game, no amateur can come near a 
good professional. If Roberts were to give me 500 
in 1,000, he would probably go to the table twenty 
times to make his 1,000, but I shovild go to the 
table many more than twenty times to make my .500. 
Billiards stands first arnong games of skill, for 
everything is " touch.", Hundreds and thousands of 
amateurs .are continually hammering away on the 
green cloth, and it must often be wondered how^ 
the ordinary individual seen in public billiard- 
rooms manages to find the time and practice to 
develoj) into a j)rofessional. The man ^s^ho said 
that poets were born, not made, should have 

149 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

bracketed billiard players with the immortals, at 
any rate in this respect. During the twenty years 
between 1875 and 1895, the very finest exponents 
of English billiards were John Roberts, Junr., W. 
Cook, W. Mitchell, W. J. Peall, Stanley, Richards, 
Shorter, Taylor, Sala, and the three Bennetts. 
These at any rate were the men who throughout 
the eighties played to the English, and more 
particularly to the London, public. John Roberts, 
out and away the finest of our players, is the son 
of a former champion. If I remember rightly, the 
championship had been wrested from the elder 
Roberts by young William Cook, who, almost 
immediately, had to give it up to the younger 
Roberts. Stanley and Richards were own brothers, 
the former having changed his family name, and 
brothers also were the three Bennetts. Unless I 
mistake, too, there is now a young Cook, a son of 
William, in the field, so that it is surely obvious 
that proficiency at billiards is in great measure a 
hereditary gift. This view moreover gains confir- 
mation from the presence of thousands of markers, 
clerks, idlers, and busy men alike, who spend a 
considerable proportion of their time round the 
tables all over the world without ever attaining to 
anything like the form of the few named above. 

I saw the last championship ever played for, 
and what would I not give to see it played over 
again ! It was between W. Cook and young John 
Roberts, and the remarkable difference in their 
styles greatly enhanced the interest of the occasion. 

150 



ON BILLIARDS AND PLAYERS 

John Roberts was ever sharp and. decisive ; Cook, 
with his long, fair beard, would continually thrust 
out his tongue to moisten his lips. Whenever he 
rested the cue, the fingers of his left hand would 
appa.rently drum out a tune. Twice at least you 
would think him on the point of making the stroke 
before he actually did so. These are trifling 
mannerisms, but they always interest me in great 
performers. They may sound irksome and slow, 
but the delicacy and exactness of the men were a 
delight to watch. Still, I think the style of John 
Roberts was, and is, the soundest and most work- 
manlike possible. I have seen him — so have most 
of us — when Avell placed, make nursery cannons 
faster than the marker could call them out. That 
was the last occasion on which Cook tried to wrest 
the laurels from the champion's brow, and a plucky 
fight he made of it. Though practically a beaten 
man, he pulled out a break of close on 150 the last 
night. They j)layed the championship in those days 
on what was known as the " championship table 
pockets," jennies into the middle pocket being 
practically an impossibility. Any one was welcome 
to play the spot stroke, nor did the boredom of 
watching it last long. 

New players have arisen and called themselves 
" champions," and a leading sporting paper has for 
some reason or other extolled their merits and 
sneered witheringly at the position taken up by 
John Roberts. I hold no brief for Roberts, and his 
character concerns me as little as that of the great 

151 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Napoleon, but I never yet watched him play with- 
out admiring his coolness. I never saw his face 
betray the slightest emotion, however the game 
went. The flukes of his opponent might provoke 
a passing smile, but I have watched him narrowly 
at the close of a 400 break, when the cro^vd of 
spectators shouted itself hoarse at such a display, 
and seen him quietly pull down the window cord, 
calmly oblivious of the plaudits. Men who attain 
to that degree of j)roficiency at games like golf or 
billiards must, in my opinion, have iron nerves, as 
well as a quite exceptional command over them- 
selves. If the nerve but wavers for a second, the 
hand jerks, the eye will not see the ball, and the 
game is lost. Like Napoleon, John Roberts has left 
the old scenes and gone forth to conquer new 
worlds. His magic wand may be less artistic than 
that with which George Morland roamed the 
Midlands, dra'wing a horse or pig for his dinner, 
but it seems mighty attractive to the sporting 
fraternities in the cities down under. Other 
" champions " have arisen and played one against 
the other, and no one much cares now who takes 
the title. W. J. Peall might go on for a week play- 
ing the spot stroke on a bucket pocket table, but 
the fact remains that no man has dared to meet 
John Roberts for the championship since the day 
■when, twenty years ago, he defeated W. Cook. 
Matches have been " arranged " for him. Ives, the 
great American cannon i)layer, played him a match 
that may best be described as a cross between 

152 



ON BILLIARDS AND PLAYERS 

skittles and bluff. A special table was built with 
extra small pockets, and actually the stroke that is 
barred at the game of each player (the " jam " 
stroke, in which two of the balls are jammed in a 
top pocket, while the player glides backwards and 
forwards past the balls with his own, scoring 
cannon after cannon) was in this case allowed. As 
a result, Ives got the balls there, and he played 
away at them for two whole days. Well, it is 
possible to handicap a man out of the race as well 
as a horse. All that English billiard players have 
dared to do Avith John Roberts during the last 
twenty years is to adopt a transatlantic game of 
bluff. Long before my time it was agreed that any 
man asiDiring to the championship challenged on 
the small-pocket table the sole difference being 
that this table called for greater skill, greater 
accuracy, and greater power. Why, I ask, Avas it 
suddenly discovered that the championship table 
w^as all rubbish, and that W. J. Peall was the real 
champion ? 

There are weekly journals in these ad^-anced 
days which offer prizes to any one who succeeds in 
naming the best-dressed woman or the worst-dressed 
man (I Avon the latter once). If one of these editors, 
who insist on haAang future eA^ent j)i'ices quoted in 
the penny journals Avhen, in nine cases out of ten, 
they do not exist, Avould offer a prize for naming 
the finest player of English billiards that eA^er 
handled a cue, it is a hundred to one I Avould name 
the Avinner. 

153 



DOaS AND BOG TBIALS 

A GOOD dog ! I do not mean the " Hi, Fifi ! Sit 
up ! Isn't he sweet ? " style of thing, but a good 
and serviceable companion, a necessary adjunct of 
sport. For many years I have had good dogs ; the 
extent to which I miss them is the measure of their 
value. Alas ! the Avorking years of a dog's life are 
but short. Somewhere I have read that the work- 
ing years may roughly be estimated at four times 
the age at which any animal reaches maturity. As 
a dog reaches maturity at about two years old, that 
would give eight years as his working life. A man, 
reaching maturity at twenty, should be good for 
eighty years ; and so indeed, but for drink and 
disease, he would be. A horse, mature between 
three and four years old, should work for twelve 
or sixteen. Yet less than one-half of these periods 
can actually be reckoned on. Lucky is he who gets 
four seasons out of a dog and twenty out of him- 
self ! This may provoke in some quarters a super- 
cilious and impatient sniff, and the reader may 
protest : " 'Gad, sir ! I am nearer fifty than forty- 
five, and was never fitter in my life ! " No doubt ; 
I know. Just run after that cricket ball of your 

154: 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

boy's and pitch it up. Oh! just a bit stiff, are you? 
Not been working those muscles lately? Tut, man! 
you'll be stiffer next year, stiffer still the year after, 
till at last the only thing you'll have the use of 
will be your tongue. The irony of it ! when your 
limbs have failed. Nature lets you talk of the things 
you can no longer do. It would seem that I have 
got somewhat off the topic under notice. Dogs, not 
men, are my theme ; yet, if you want a good dog, 
you must find a good man. Nine men out of ten 
may buy one of the best dogs ever seen, and, given 
time, they will ruin the beast. Some will take a 
week ; some a day ; some, again, five minutes : the 
result is the same. The dog does not know its new 
master as it knew the old ; there is some subtle 
lack of sympathy ; the voice and gesticulations are 
different ; the j)ronunciation of " Damn ! " is unin- 
telligible. The new owner may strike his latest 
acquisition, and very little whipjDing will irretriev- 
ably ruin a sensitive animal. The best men at 
dogs I ever knew very rarely hit them. There are 
some men who can do more with a glance or severe 
word of rebuke than others with a cudgel ; these 
men are greatly in the minority, but these also are 
the men to break dogs and make them. And 
the well-timed word of encouragement and praise, 
so often withheld just when it would work wonders, 
is sometimes of even greater value. If I wanted to 
buy a good dog at j)resent, there are just two men 
that I can think of on the moment to whom I 
would apply. Both are keepers, the one in Lincoln- 

155 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

shire, the other in Aberdeenshire. The former I 
only once saw working his dog, but that once went 
a long ^vay. 

The reader may by this not unreasonably ask 
for my meaning of " a good dog." Dear reader, a 
good dog, like the colour of a good horse, may be 
anything. For shooting game over dogs, a form of 
sport that is rapidly dying out, thanks to short 
stubbles and increasing scarcity of cover to hold 




A GOOD DOG. 



the birds, as well as to the growing j)opularity of 
driving, the true-bred pointer or setter is indispen- 
sable, the cur useless. But for most sport nowadays 
the good dog means a good retriever or even a 
good spaniel, yet I have known all manner of awful 
curs perfection from the fetch-and-carry point of 
view. One of the best dogs of the kind, that I met 
not long ago, was half deerhound ; what the other 
half was no one knew. On properties where shoot- 

156 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

ing over dogs is still in vogue, the proprietor always 
provides the pointers or setters, and the dog that 
the shooter has to cart about with him is the dog 
that will find and bring him the bird he has shot. 
The best dog of the kind that I ever had was a 
small black retriever called Watty, and, long past 
as the occasion is, I well recall the incident that 
induced me to offer for him. He belonged to a 
keeper on Lord Aberdeen's estate, who had come 
over to Aboyne to assist at the pheasant shooting. 
It was on the last of the three days' shoot that 
Watty particularly attracted my attention, though 
on the first and second days I had more than once 
noticed his quickness and obedience. There were 
hundreds of rabbits that year, and once or twice, 
wdien the beaters got near the guns and the rabbits 
gi-ew thicker and thicker, Watty would gaze round 
his master's legs with ears cocked and eyes dilated, 
always watching, yet never running in. On the 
last day, as Ave were walking along the edge of 
some marshy, peaty ground to take up a position 
near a small lock, a duck rose, and one of the party 
put up his gun and hit the bird very hard. The 
shot did not " fetch " the bird, which fell a hundred 
and fifty, or i^erhaps two hundred, yards out in the 
marsh. "That's lost!" I thought to myself, and 
instinctively looked at Watty standing beside his 
master. Other keepers were on the spot with other 
dogs, but the expression of both men and beasts 
made it evident that they were not going to mess 
around after that duck. Watty stood erect and 

157 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

alert, gazing in the direction of the duck. Once he 
looked quickly at his master, then back to the duck. 
Ledinghani must have caught that appeal, for he 
made one motion of his arm, and Watty was off. 
We watched him flounder and disappear and re- 
appear. I forget how long he was gone, but he did 
not come back without the duck in his mouth. 
When I say that Watty was the best dog I ever 
had — and I may as well add that on the same 
grounds he was the best I ever saw — it is not that 
he was the most brilliant, but rather that he was 
always on the look out. The brute could hardly have 
spoken more plainly had he had the gift of speech. 
" Good shot ! dead bird ! . . . Another taller ; I shall 
have trouble with that one ! " Yet he never stirred 
till ordered. He would jDoke his nose round the 
edge of your leg to get a better view, but that w^as 
all. The result of our partnership was that I got 
many a bird that would otherwise never have been 
gathered ; and whenever I got a bird that I thought 
would run, I simply gave Watty the office, and 
before the bird touched the ground he "would be 
speeding after it and seize it in his firm, soft mouth 
before it realised the situation. On the general 
principles of offering keepers a tempting price for 
their dogs I prefer that my conduct in the case of 
Watty should not stand as an example, for it is a 
selfish act, very like buying adopted children from 
poor women. It was my man Nils Petersen, on my 
reindeer trip in Norway, who quite correctly, though 
unwittingly, gave me a sharj) rap over the knuckles 

158 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

when, in like manner, I asked him to offer the 
Lapp herd of tame reindeer fifteen sovereigns for 
his dog Starm. Said Nils, "The money would he 
a great thing for the man and might tempt him, 
but you should not offer it, for how is the poor 
devil to round up a thousand head of deer when 
his dog is gone?" And I had only wanted that 
dog because of its singular beauty ! Yes, Nils ; you 
were right, and I am glad you rubbed it in ! * 

A good spaniel, being shorter in the leg and 
lacking both speed and range, harder in the mouth 
too as a rule and likewise less tractable, is more 
difficult to get, but I have had a few. The best I 
ever had was in my j)ossession just one day. I 
bought him for £10 from a keeper on Lord West- 
morland's property, Apethorpe. Ah, Apethorpe ! 
T^hat memories you awake ! I can see, as in a 
dream, your late beloved master smoking that 
thirty-third fatal cigarette while he arranged his 
ow^n private handicap on the forthcoming Cam- 
bridgeshire ... if it should chance to differ greatly 
from that of the official handicappers, then they are 
merely d — d fools. I see once more that stout old 
party, whom Sir Joshua painted in his best red 
velvet suit, ^valking out of the frame in the dining- 
room. Alas ! where has he ^valked to ? I see Jem 
Goater cantering once more across Morley Lawn. 
And I see, Tvorst of all, that I have left my spaniel 

■■' There is a story in the Old Testament pointing the same 
moral ; but mine will suffice, and perhaps it is the more 
wholesome. 

1.59 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

in the lurch. Well, I took him out grouse-driving 
on a Yorkshire moor, and Mr. Shuttleworth saw 
him working and asked me what I would take for 
him. I asked £25, and Mr. S. demurred. Next 
morning I was astir very early to catch a train, 
and was just stepping into the fly when a valet 
rushed up with Shuttleworth's cheque for the price. 
So I saw the spaniel no more. And Mr. Shuttle- 
worth no longer shoots, and the spaniel is, I hope, 
nestling in the lap of Diana, blinking at the misty 
herds of buffalo that cross and recross the vast 
hunting grounds of the hereafter, pursued by the 
ghosts of Sitting Bull and his j)ainted braves. 

No one Avho has not actually witnessed it would 
believe how wonderfully man can convey his com- 
mands to his dog. I recently witnessed some sheep- 
dog trials on the occasion of the visit of the Crown 
Prince of Germany to Lord Lonsdale's lovely place, 
Low^ther. The accompanying rough plan, for which 
I am indebted to Lord Lonsdale, sho^vs the whole 
disposition of the ground. Beside the shepherd, at 
the starting-point, sits the dog, knowing exactly 
what is expected of him. At a given signal three 
sheep are loosed from the body pen, and the dog 
has to be off and get round them and bring them 
between the outer flags, then between the two pairs 
of flags, this last part of the course being only 
50 yards long by 15 wide, into the angle pen, the 
entrance to which is but 26 inches across. Not 
until the sheep have been got between the last 
pair of flags close to the angle pen may the owner 

160 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

of the dog leave his place. Then, in a moment, he 
rushes down to the angle pen and assists his animal. 



Sheep Dog 


Trials 






^- 


BODY 
PEN 


/ 


A 

1 

1 


f 1 








/ 1 






1" 


H 1 
1 ' 






> (0 


i-< ^ mile - -\ — 

^ 1 






1 o 

1 


1 

I 

is\yds 






; 

Shepherd starts 
his dog 

Not to go m 
advance of this Flag 


T,ME~{'^'^T.^'- 


"7 mins 
9 ■ 


30 
35 


sees 



with hat and stick and sundry Cumberland oaths, 
to persuade the stupid sheep to go in. Ten minutes 

161 M 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

is the time allowed from start to finish, and at the 
expiration of that time a whistle is blown and the 
trial is over. Such is the general procedure, but 
the details are most interesting to watch. The 
signal given, three sheep wander forth aimlessly 
from the large pen, while along by the right of the 
outer flags goes a little cur-like-looking colly, gal- 
loping for all it is worth. Suddenly, the sheep 
being in a hollow and therefore invisible to the 
dog, he sits down and looks back for instructions 
how to proceed. His master gives three peculiar 
whistles through his fingers, at the same time 
waving his right hand. Off again goes Laddie, 
and now he bears to the left by the pen, and the 
sheep come in view. Round them he goes like an 
arrow, and now there come frantic whistles and 
waves of either arm as the sheep swerve off the 
course, followed by softer whistles and downward 
strokes as they come steadily on and it is best for 
the dog to keep quiet. The words can be heard 
now by the approaching dog, and we are glad that 
they are in a foreign tongue, for they give the idea 
that the dog will be brained and the sheep 
slaughtered as soon as the man can get near them. 
But see, they are nearing the first pair of inner 
flags, and through these they must go. The dog is 
lying fifteen yards perhaj^s behind them. Now the 
silly brutes edge off to the right. Laddie ! Laddie ! 
Laddie ! whout ! whew ! wang ! dang ! and the stick 
in the shepherd's brawny hands whirls round with 
unpleasant significance. But the dog is round them, 

162 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

and the sheep have turned . . . steady, steady, they 
are coming too much our yvay. Another whistle, a 
■wave of the hand, and Laddie is crawling behind 
them, and they catch sight of him out of the tail 
of their eye and shift away again. Slowly they 
walk straight between the flags, amid breathless 
silence on the part of the spectators. Now five 
minutes are gone. The sheep must not, however, 
be hustled, for they are going sedately towards the 
last flags, Laddie following at respectful distance. 
He crouches and squats, for all the \vorld like a 
cat after a mouse, turning now and again quick 
glances towards his master, who unceasingly addresses 
words to him, sometimes soft and lo^w, sometimes 
loud and threatening. My own opinion at this 
juncture is that the sheep w^ould have gone straight 
through the last flags, but Laddie, whether through 
over anxiety or through some misinterpretation of 
orders, got too near them on the right flank, and 
off they started in a mutton canter to the left of the 
flags. What shouting and gesticulating on the part 
of the man, and -^vhat quick admission of error on 
the part of the dog, who is round them again before 
they can have got ten yards, and is barking with 
such evident annoyance that they are easily turned 
and walk slowly back ! Down (whistle), down ! and 
the stick pounds the ground, and Laddie drops to 
earth like a ^veil-trained setter to the shot. The 
sheep are the right side of the flags ; Laddie exe- 
cutes a quick flanking movement and again squats ; 
the sheep turn and ^valk towards the centre of the 

163 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

flags, but somehow they do not seem to fancy that 
way. They branch off a Httle to the right, but 
there is a sharp cry from the master, and Laddie 
darts straightway a dozen paces or more. The 
sheep see him, and they halt, and turn, and again 
halt right between the flags. They hesitate, and 
the dog gets his orders sotto voce and crawls slowly 
towards the sheep. Once more they face up to the 




A TYPICAL SHEEP-DOG. 



left, and this time a sharp cry from his owner 
sends Laddie darting towards them, and they are 
through the last obstacle. And now the man dashes 
also for the pen, and with much vigour assists his 
dog in driving the silly, frightened animals through 
the narrow opening. Sometimes one enters without 
demur and the other two make a bolt for it, but 
they do not get more than a few yards away when 
the dog has them back. At this moment the judge's 
whistle goes, and the trial is over. The winner on 

164 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

this occasion, Mr. John Mason's Jack, took seven 
minutes thirty seconds, and the second, also Jack, 
the property of Mr, H. J. Hindson, took nine minutes 
thirty-five seconds. We were given every oi3por- 
tunity of inspecting and measuring, had we so desired, 
the pen with man, dog, and sheep around, and hard 
enough it looked to induce three sheep to enter an 
opening of only twenty-six inches on an open tract 
of ground. I took a photograph (which shall be 
suppressed) of Mr. Akrigg with his two dogs, famous 
though beaten to-day, with Lord Lonsdale standing 
beside him. Mr. Akrigg subsequently worked the 
two dogs together. Six sheep ^svere loosed from the 
pen at the far end, and the idea was, after they 
passed through the last flags, to divide them, letting 
three go and penning the rest. They both worked 
prettily, particularly Laddie, which must, I imagine, 
be a cross between an Irish terrier and a seal ; at 
any rate, there is no appearance of collie about 
him. Well, we got on quite famously till the two were 
divided, but there was no question of penning the 
three, for " Lady " promptly turned it up. And no 
wonder ! A hound trial ^vas arranged to follow the 
sheep trials, and already the men were leading their 
hounds out, and their barking naturally confused 
Lady. It is asking rather too much of a dog to 
attend to orders and sheep ^len twenty other dogs 
are yapping not fifty yards away. So Mr. Akrigg 
had to desist, and Ave viewed the hound trials from 
a high terrace that commands one of the grandest 
views that I kno^v in England. For miles to the 

165 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

left up the valley of the Lowther, where Haweswater 
nestles at the foot of a precipitous mountain, and 
beyond, where purple, green, and blue merge to- 
gether, go the rich green fields and high grey walls 
of Cumberland. I think they belong to Cumberland, 
by the way, but there is a good deal of confusion 
with Westmoreland, and it is as well not to be too 
dogmatic. I know an old public-house in the vicinity 
with a notice over the door, "Welcome to Cumber- 
land ! " So I imagine that on entering it I am in 
Cumberland. When I leave it I never know where 
I am, though this is not, as might seem to be implied, 
the result of drink, but arises rather from a certain 
sameness in the beautiful scenery. White villages 
and isolated houses lie dotted about in the green back- 
ground, and opposite there runs a purple-crowned 
range of mountains shutting out the famous Lake 
District. 

But to our hound trials ! At a given signal the 
hounds were loosed, and away they bounded on 
the strong scent of the trail. It was iDretty to see 
them dash into the river, where for a moment their 
voices were silent ; but, as they breasted the oppo- 
site bank, that music broke forth which thrills the 
soul of every sportsman, which sets his nerves 
a-tingling, \vliich quickens his pulse more than all 
the music of all the masters and all the voices of 
great singers. It is the same whether the hounds 
are after a soft-eyed deer or after a cunning old 
fox, or even after a mouldy herring. Looking at it 
from the other standpoint, it takes one's thoughts 

166 



DOGS AND DOG TRIALS 

back to the " good old days," when some poor devil 
of a slave, fleeing from the knotted lash of the 
Christian planter, his owner, heard the distant bay- 
ing of the bloodhounds on his trail, and raised his 
hands to heaven while great tears dropped from his 
bloodshot eyes ! 

Most of the party at Lowther had binoculars, 
and with these they were able to follow the hounds 
over the whole nine-mile course. I had none, and 
was perforce content with occasional glimpses of a 
white dot clearing a wall or crossing a field. Some 
one thought they were only sheep. " There they 
come ! " cries some one, " they're into the Park 
now." This gave me the clue, for I knew where 
they must enter the Park ; and there, sure enough, 
they came, t^^o white dogs leading and then a wide 
gap. On they came for the winning post, as hard 
as their tired legs would carry them, and the white 
hound that I had seen ahead of the rest was, as 
they say in racing parlance, " pipped on the post," 
and another ^on. 

I have devoted a fe^v pages to the account of 
these dog trials, because those with the sheep more 
particularly appeared to me to illustrate what I 
contended earlier in this chapter — the wonderful 
amount of instruction that may be conveyed to an 
intelligent and well-trained dog with no more than 
a word or a gesture. I must now say something 
more generally on the subject of dog shows, func- 
tions that have their ardent admirers as well as 
their equally extreme critics. Perhaps a moderate 
attitude is best justified by the facts. 

167 



XI 

HOBSE AND DOG SHOWS: ABE THEY 
BENEFICIAL ? 

There is a notion in many quarters that shows do 
a vast deal of good in the interests of breeding. 
They are supposed to bring producers and con- 
sumers, farmers and traders, amateurs and profes- 
sionals in touch, and, by giving rise to friendly 
rivalry, they are thought to conduce to the im- 
provement of the breeds exhibited. Now I am 
quite prepared to grant that immense benefit of 
the kind may accrue to wurzels and taters, and 
such vegetables — or beasts, as sheep and swine ; 
but when we come to the horse and dog, the 
noblest of our subjects, the mainstay of the chase, 
I question whether shows have not done more harm 
than good. And the more I think over the matter, 
indeed, the less do I even question. Let me at the 
outset make an exception in favour of the foxhound, 
who, luckily for him, has special shows and special 
judges and is attended by his scarlet-coated guar- 
dians, jealous of their pack and anxious for its 

168 



HORSE AND DOG SHOWS 

success. But with the other hundred breeds of 
dogs, as with the hunter and hackney, the case is 
woefully different. 

What sort of selections would the average show 
judges make if requested to adjudicate on the merits 
of horses paraded for the Derby ? They would, of 
course, have to be kept unbiassed by any knowledge 
of how the betting went, and I would back them 
to make the most ludicrous mistakes. Would they, 
for instance, in Ormonde's Derby, have given him 
priority over The Bard for make and shape? Or 
when Sanfoin won the race, would they have pre- 
ferred him to Surefoot? The thoroughbred horse 
is the most beautiful animal that walks the face of 
the earth, the highest expression of man's skill as 
a discriminating breeder of stock. Where else do 
we find that combination of symmetry, the satin 
coat, the long galloi)ing quarters, the blood eye and 
nostril? There is a racing proverb which says 
that " They go in all shapes," and that adage sums up 
to my mind the w^hole use of racing and the whole 
uselessness of shows. In the sho^v ring it is all 
" Looks " ; on the racecourse there are other virtues. 

And what do the shows do for the hunter? 
Nothing, I think, beyond encouraging men to breed 
soft, overfed, cotton - ^vool brutes that are carted 
from show to show round the countryside by pro- 
fessionals, the disgust and despair of every one in 
the district who really owns a hunter. It might 
be thought that a hunter should be able to follow 
hounds over all manner of obstacles, hedges, ditches 

169 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

and all the rest, but what can the prize hunter in 
the show ring know of either hounds or obstacles? 

" Gracious, sir ! " exclaims the professional dealer, 
horror-stricken at the bare suggestion, "jump a 
valuable 'oss like that ! Why, he might hit his 
leg. Did I like your 'oss? Why, yes, but it's 
hardly a show 'oss ; you should do better with 
him in the field when the 'unting season's on." 
Thus the gentleman with the red rosette. 

Now, if I took a stuffed polecat out ferreting 
rabbits, he would vote me as mad as if I brought 
a lame donkey on which to ride round the Grand 
National course. Yet the prize hunter that has 
never seen a fence appears to this connoisseur a 
sweetly reasonable product. 

If it be true that the prize hunter is fed on oil- 
cake and wrapped in cotton wool, I know not ^vhat 
to say of the hackney. It is on authentic record 
that he sometimes walks from the station to the 
show yard where the distance is not too great, but 
little more exposure is risked. It is true that we 
see fine movers at shows, but these are often too 
extravagant in their action, and one rarely sees a 
horse with high front action having hind action in 
unison. I know a gent who drives black horses 
about London, and he is commonly regarded as a 
judge of such matters, yet the front legs of his 
horses always come shooting up in the air and 
their hind legs come xDottering after anyhow. 
Action, to be good, must be true all round, and 
the grandest action is when all four legs seem in 

170 



HORSE AND DOG SHOWS 

the air together. I say advisedly seem, because 
since Mr. Rouch and others have taken to j)ho to- 
graphing horses in motion, heaven alone kno^vs 
what they do with their legs. For just the hun- 
dredth part of a second the feet seem j)oised an 
inch or two above the ground, and then they drop 
as gracefully as snowflakes. Personally, I Tvould 
sooner see a j)^ir of Irish blood hunters in a 
phaeton. 

I was only once really badly treated at a show. 
I had a bay hackney that I called Bydand, and I 
had taken a lot of prizes with him. One day I 
sent him to the show at the Agricultural Hall, 
Islington, and the judges could not for a long time 
make up their mind how to award the prize in that 
particular class. The decision lay between mine and 
another, and these were trotted round and round 
the ring for quite twenty minutes. Eventually 
mine was awarded first prize, and the horses went 
back to their stalls. Not long afterwards I heard 
that my horse "v\^as objected to on the score of 
lameness : the vet. attending the show had been 
called in and pronounced my horse lame, and I 
was disqualified. There was no possible doubt as 
to the lameness, for there was plainly the mark 
showing how some one had got at the animal and 
hit it over the foreleg, but I have always thought 
that the disqualification was an unfair one all the 
same. For not much less than half an hour that 
horse had been kept going before the judges, and 
the slightest sign of lameness at the time must 

171 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

have been detected. I believe the disquahfication 
would have been invalid if I had entered the horse 
with a vet.'s certificate of soundness, but I knew 
that the animal was as sound as a bell, and did 
not think it necessary. You might almost as ^veU. 
go to church ^vith your certificate of birth pinned 
on your back as a proof of what you think you are 
— even then, in this world of errors, you might be 
wrong. 

This much may be said at any rate for horse 
shows, that you see fine animals there and meet 
sporting friends. But dog shows ! Who shall de- 
scribe the typical dog show? A hurly-burly of 
yapping, angry, discontented dogs chained up in 
parrot cages presided over by a band of gaunt and 
ugly women, who occasionally pat their suffocated 
darlings and then resume the knitting of mittens. 
Five persons out of six "who show dogs seem to me 
to be women, and I never yet heard of a real sports- 
man at such a function unless he had just looked 
in to see that everything was going all right, that 
his Avife's " Tottie " had been properly fed and that 
all the dogs had got prizes. They all do. 

What real lady \vould sho^v a dog that was 
not at the least highly commended ? Matters are 
arranged so as to satisfy every one except the dogs. 
For them the days of the show must be a misery 
indeed. And the judges ? Fancy standing in the 
centre of a circle of a dozen ladies holding rival fox 
terriers by slender chains ! Personally I should give 
the rosette to the best-looking woman, because there 

172 



HORSE AND DOG SHOWS 

is not a fox terrier left in this country, so the rest 
would not matter much. The extinction of the fox 
terrier, once a typically English breed, is the direct 
outcome of the show^s. Judges long ago decided 
that the terrier's head was by far the most impor- 
tant point about the animal, ^\dth the result that 
make and shape and poTv^er are no%v entirely 
neglected, and your modern fox terrier is a cross 
between a china doll and a \vhippet. Nevermore 
shall we see such dogs in our midst as those I well 
remember in the old days at home. The best that 
my brother got were from Wooten of Nottingham. 
There were Tartar, a pure white dog, with deep 
broad chest and short legs ; Old Trap, with his 
black-and-tan head, the father of Young Trap, who 
was a bit long in the leg and outlived them all. 
Then, too, there was Worry, the grandest, broadest, 
bravest little bitch that ever ^vorried a rat or 
tackled a cat ; and, lastly, there was graceful 
Famous, ^vhose distinguishing peculiarity was a 
rigid objection to the attentions of the other sex. 
Daily their shades float before my eyes, for they 
run to the call of lips that are silent on earth, and 
the hall that once they guarded is dull and empty! 
They had a good stamp of fox terrier once in 
the Milton Kennel. Poor Tom Fitzwilliam always 
had tw^o or three, and always of the short -legged, 
sturdy type that you never see now. But I do not 
remember his ever having a dog that would have 
beaten any of those five I named above. PerhajDs, 
for hard work, the Tvare-haired fox terrier was a 

173 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

better type, for his thicker coat naturally protected 
him against the bites and brambles that so easily 
damaged his brother. The best dogs that I ever 
sa^v of this class were those owned by Lord Lons- 
dale when he hunted the Woodland Pytchley. But 
then he always has the best of everything, far more 
so than much richer men. 

It is ridiculous to see what a fuss they make of 
colour at these same dog sho^vs. A sound racing 
adage says that " A good horse is never a bad 
colour ! " Personally, I would extend the principle 
to the dog. Yet it is all colour at the shows. 
Fancy if we raced on this principle ! " The next 
race for bay horses that have never been placed 
before," or " This race for chestnut mares, two-year- 
old only." Where would the poor Bard have come 
in, I should like to know, \vith his curious coat 
of roan chestnut ticked with white hairs, who won 
every race in his two-year-old career? 

One class of dog I have known well all my life, 
and that is the Chow. Indeed, my sister, Lady 
Margaret Ormsby Gore, had, if not the first, at any 
rate the first important Chow that ever came to 
this country, for the best of them have descended 
from Old Peggy. Yet the fact of my own people 
having carried off the prizes in this class for years 
— I am probably surrounded by as many dog medals 
and trophies as most people — will not deter me from 
saying that, had I been an owner, I should long 
since have given up showing for prizes. This seems 
perhaps an ungrateful thing to say, but I must 

174 



HORSE AND DOG SHOWS 

say it. The unfairness and ignorance displayed in 
judging Chows is gradually bringing about their 
extinction in this country, like that of the fox 
terrier. The Chow proper may be black or red, or 
for that matter green, but the forehead must be 
broad, with short, sharp prick ears, pig eyes that 
are never prominent, foxy snout, black mouth. 




Photo hy Titos. Full. 



broad chest, big bone, back like a billiard table. 
The coat must be thick and furry, not long and 
feathery, and the tail must curl over the back. Any 
one in doubt as to the better looking of two rival 
Chows may safely give the prize to the larger, if 
equally symmetrical. I feel rather sorry to have 
to be thus frank about Chows and their judges. 

175 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Indeed, the ethics of dog sho"ws do not lend them- 
selves to a combination of truth and courtesy in 
the telling, and perhaps I had better write finis to 
this chapter ere I find myself on yet more delicate 
ground. 



176 




I 

J 



i 






1 

I 



XII 

WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

Getting lost in the Rockies is in a way a picturesque 
experience, ho'wever much my halting pen may have 
failed to convey just that impression ; but getting 
lost, financially, in London is best summed up in 
that one unlovely Tvord, " broke I " The experience is 
so commonplace as to need no description, and the 
icy note from your bankers conveys its message in 
that polite phraseology which is really the height 
of rudeness. The only worse possible forecast of 
bankruptcy comes to us from great physicians, one 
of whom once had to give a poor brother of my 
own just twenty-one days to live. He carried out 
the great man's programme to the day ! 

I received, then, the said intimation from my 

obedient servants, & Co., and I learnt thus for 

the first time that the business from which was 
derived the bulk of my income was very shaky. 
Every penny that I had in the world was locked 
up in this concern ; there had been no word of 
Avarning to enable me to avert a crisis ; and here 

177 N 



SPORTIXG REMINISCENCES 

was I, over thirty years of age, and with no trade 
at my fingers' ends save that of amusing myself, 
facing the world with about as dismal an outlook 
as Tv^as conceivable. 

An aimless stroll on the morning of the bankers' 
letter brought me by the merest chance across a 
man who had made a pile laying against horses. 
With the proceeds of that calling he had bought a 
brewery doAvn in the country, in a part I kneTV 
w^ell, and the second venture was locally regarded 
as having been as profitable as the first. The 
inspiration came upon me to make a clean breast 
of my trouble to him and find out "U'hether there 
w^as any chance of doing something at his old trade. 
But he shook his head wdien he had given my 
story his best attention. 

" It isn't the game it was," he said ruefully. 
" There's a jockey ring, and there's altogether too 
much of the ' dog eat dog ' about it nowadays. 
Bad debts, too, swallow up the profits. Besides, a 
gentleman like yourself would make nothing of the 
job. To succeed at that you must be a hard-headed, 
hard-hearted sort of a chaj), Avho thinks of nobody 
but hisself ! " 

This might be regarded as complimentary or 
otherwise. At any rate he meant it kindly, so I 
thanked him for his advice, and promptly resolved 
not to take it. Sometimes since I have thought 
that he was right, but something had to be done, 
and that at once. The world might think what it 
pleased, but that Avould not make it necessary for 

178 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

me to behave other"\\ise than hke a gentleman. 
This undercurrent of apology may sound fatuous in 
the more wholesome air we breathe to-day, but the 
period I am writing about ^v^as that of the early 
eighties, "svhen the English mind Avas steeped in 
Puritanism, and the crime of being found out was 
just being regarded as the greatest social offence. 
If, in those early eighties, a lady rode alone in a 
hansom or dined alone in a restaurant, she Avas 
promptly voted no better than she should be ! To 
appreciate the complete idiocy of the early Victorian 
era as it deserves, Tve must put the clock back 
some decades and contemplate with mournful eyes 
the time in ^vhich John Leech dre^v his inimitable 
poke-bonnets and crinolines. Really, one sometimes 
despairs of the ne^v civilisations when contrasted 
with the old. Geniuses scheme silently in their 
laboratories ; they subjugate steam to make Van- 
couver Island as accessible to-day as Aberdeen w as 
eighty years ago ; they enslave electricity to save 
servant girls the trouble of trimming lamps. Yet 
can a Tesla or an Edison do anything to mend our 
inherent stupidity ? 

Well, I paid a call that afternoon to an individual 
w^hom, for present purposes, it will suffice to call C. 
He had offices somewhere off St. James's Street, 
T\^here I had had more than one betting transaction 
with him. He received me affably and listened to 
my business, and from his manner of asking me to 
call again on the following day, I could see that he 
thought well of my proposition. Next day indeed 

179 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

we fixed up conditions of partnership, not all that 
I w^ould have had them, but a great deal better 
from my point of view than they might have been. 
Briefly, I was to find a couple of thousand pounds 
and to take a fourth share of the business from 
that moment — it was the month of June — until the 
Manchester meeting in November, which ends the 
flat racing season. That period being ended, it was 
agreed that either of us might declare the partner- 
ship dissolved. Private transactions moreover were 
to be kept distinct from the business of the firm. 
The first thousand I knew where to lay hands on ; 
the second I got from my poor brother, who is 
long since gone to ^vatch his horses' shades take 
their morning exercise on the plains of Elysium — 
Pero Gomez, Pretender, Stockwell, Rosicrucian, aye, 
and Cadogan, the most promising horse he ever 
ow^ned, which w^as beaten for the Two Thousand 
Guineas by a head and broke down in the Derby 
in Sir Bevys's year. 

The following Monday, then, I paid C. his two 
thousand, and was henceforth in daily attendance 
in those sumptuous ground-floor rooms. Here, 
equipped with telephone and tape-machine, three 
of us, Mrs. C, a sedate Scotch clerk named 
Henderson, and myself, attended to office business, 
while C, was away at race meetings, where he made 
an in-and-out book, backing one horse and laying 
others. 

Never, either before or since, have I met any one 
quite like Mrs. C. She was tall and thin, and had 

180 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

pronounced features and prominent blue-grey eyes. 
Her greatest passion was for j)et birds and other 
animals, and I can see her now as she used to 
stand cleaning out the cage of her favourite 
mynah, a black fowl with a yellow beak, which 
used to take quite excessive credit for occasionally 
uttering the word " Jack " in raucous tones. At 
other times the wants of a covey of canaries would 
perhaps be absorbing her attention, when something 
like the following little episode would be enacted. 

A man would enter the room with a determined 
expression on his face. 

" A monkey on Prince Edward, please, Mrs. C," 
he would say, and over his shoulder we would get 
a vision of Henderson, the clerk, looking anxious 
and in obvious doubt. Mrs. C. always rose to the 
occasion. Pausing for a moment, as if lost in 
thought, she would make some absent-minded 
ai3ology for her untidy condition, and would 
suddenly say — 

" Why, certainly ! ", also admonishing the faithful 
Henderson for failing to book so trifling an order. 
I watched this jjantomime so frequently that at 
length I came to one conclusion, that Mrs. C, though 
a poor judge of horses' form, was a very callable 
judge of men, knoAving at a glance who might and 
who might not be trusted. Her mistakes in this 
way were remarkably few. I always liked her 
personally, though a hard expression would some- 
times come over her face that made me feel 
uncomfortable. Her opinion of myself I never 

181 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

gathered by word or deed. She always listened to 
my suggestions with great courtesy, but on the 
^lole she consulted me as little on bets as on 
birds. 

At last, somewhat suddenly, trouble overtook 
this peaceful establishment. It will be remembered 
by any one with an even superficial memory of turf 
annals that a celebrated mare named Florence, and 
that greatest of public favourites among handicap 
horses, Bendigo, were running at that time. Bendigo 
went down so well with the public, not only by 
reason of its grand looks and weight-carrying build, 
but also for its owner's sake, for never ^vas there a 
sportsman further removed from the playing of 
hanky-panky tricks or more eager to win. It did 
not seem to matter how far the handicappers piled 
the pounds and stones on his broad back, honest 
old Bendigo was nearly always in the front as they 
raced up the straight for home. The greatest race 
of my time \vas that for the Hardwicke Stakes at 
Ascot, the year when Bendigo (J. Watts) was third 
out of four starters, and the Duke of Westminster's 
Ormonde (T. Cannon), and Mr. Vyner's Minting 
(J. Osborn), four-year-olds both, and desperate 
rivals, were before him. What luck to own a horse 
like Minting and run up against a giant like 
Ormonde ! 

For some seconds in that wonderful race it 
looked uncommonly like Bendigo beating the two 
of them. It is all uphill for at least half a mile at 
Ascot, and ought to stop any horse that makes a 

182 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

noise. Well, great brown Bendigo and the two 
bays came racing up the straight, the fourth horse, 
Phil,. being tailed off and coming in Avith the crowd. 
All the way j)ast the long stands it Avas anybody's 
race. Never ^vere such cheering and SAvaying and 
surging amid the packed masses of onlookers 
before or since. The brown horse cracked just 
opposite the rails that divided Tattersall's ring 
from the Royal Enclosure, ^vhile the two giants 
were left to race home, desperately ridden. Once 
again the great Roarer got his head in front, 
w4iich enabled him to retire from the turf ^th 
an unbeaten record. How on earth so good a 
sportsman as the late Duke of Westminster was 
ever induced to sell a faithful servant like Ormonde 
beats the average understanding, unless it was that 
he was afraid to breed from a whistler. Yet 
most of us -would surely rather have a whistler 
like Ormonde than ninety-nine out of a hundred 
horses that commonly pass the vet. 

Of a truth, Ormonde had some red-letter days 
before retiring. Who that heard it will ever forget 
the groan that went up from the ring the year 
before, when Archer let him have his head in the 
preliminary canter for the Derby ? The long, 
sweeping, mechanical action meant the bookmakers' 
despair. Yet to his dying day the late Robert Peck 
firmly believed that, on that occasion at least, 
Ormonde did not win on his merits, but should 
have been beaten by The Bard. The Bard had not 
hitherto been beaten, as a two-year-old, and was 

183 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

probably the best horse of his size that had been 
seen for years. Yet even the prowess of The Bard 
availed little against the stride and staying power 
of Ormonde. Downhill running, like that at 
Epsom, was a very moderate effort for a horse 
that, even when broken-winded, could beat Minting 
a year later on the uphill finish at Ascot. In that 
particular Derby it really did not look as if he 
struck the turf with his hoofs half a dozen times 
from Tattenham Corner to the judge's box. His 
action was less indeed that of a horse than of some 
Brobdingnagian golf ball struck by a giant Vardon. 
For plucky The Bard be it said, that he hunted the 
giant home on this occasion, and that this was more- 
over his one defeat as against sixteen consecutive 
wins. Those were the Homeric days of the turf. 
They may come again, yet one hopes for them with- 
out much faith. It is quite impossible to compare the 
horses of different years. The turf has its fat as 
it has its lean years, and I venture my own humble 
opinion that there has never yet been another horse 
in England that would have defeated either 
Ormonde, Minting, or The Bard in their three-year- 
old careers. The best looking of modern horses to 
my mind is Mr. Rose's Cyllene, but looks are a 
matter of oj)inion, and more important in the show 
ring than on the course. For all I know, Mr. John 
Porter may think that Flying Fox was up to the 
form of the aforenamed trio, and he has every 
right to that opinion. 

From this digression — and not to write digres- 

184 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

sions in turf matters is not to write at all — I 
come back to the rift within the hite. Betting on 
the Cambridgeshire had started, and Florence and 
Bendigo ^vere entered in the race. C.'s tout at 
Newmarket, where Florence was trained, would 
have none of the mare, and vowed that she was 
lame. Her owner kept backing her, and the more 
he backed her, the more C. laid against her. In 
one bet he laid ten thousand to a thousand against 
her with her owner, and this alone should have 
warned him of the true state of affairs. But no ; 
his successes had been many ; his reputation on 
the racecourse stood high ; and he made no secret 
of it that he was laying for all he was worth 
against Florence and backing Bendigo to win him 
a large sum into the bargain. 

It is merely recalling unforgotten records of 
the Cambridgeshire when I remind the reader that 
Florence won, with Bendigo second. Settling day 
came round, and C. frankly declared himself unable 
to settle. With the j)Ositions reversed, he stood to 
have \von a hundred thousand pounds. Dr. Johnson, 
or some one with a similar weakness for saying 
rude, smart things, once remarked that it was 
better to be born lucky than rich. I ^vas born neither, 
so am in no position to judge, but I have my own 
opinion as to w^hether it is better to be born 
unlucky or be broke. This for the moment was 
C.'s position. He was frankness itself, and pro- 
mised, in the letter of our agreement, to pay up 
all the office debts, repudiating only his private 

185 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

obligations. I stayed on, but he never seemed to 
settle, though the books showed eighteen thousand 
pounds of profits during our year and a half of 
partnership ; so yve had to part. The matter was 
left to arbitration, and in the end I took my original 
t^vo thousand pounds and went a little further 
down St. James's Street, where I took an office, and 
for partner a small and honest man who had long 
been engaged in the settlement of accounts in the 
London racing clubs. 

I am hardly put on my defence as a layer, but 
of betting and bookmaking I crave to say a few 
words, knowing something of both from what may 
be termed the other side. Had Dr. Johnson seen 
the horseracing of the twentieth century, he would 
doubtless have dug the obsequious Boswell in the 
ribs and drawn his attention to the depravity of 
producing the finest animal on earth, only that it 
might be spurred and flogged for sordid gain. He 
would, in fact, have reviled betting, but he would 
hardly have ignored it, as the Stewards of the 
Jockey Club are doing. For a body that adjudi- 
cates on racing matters, ^vith a power possessed 
by no legal tribunal, to shut its eyes in this 
manner is nothing short of remarkable. Day 
after day the Stewards hear a babel of voices 
that yell — 

" Six hundred to four on the field ! " 

" Four to one bar one ! " 
and so on. 

Perfectly well they know^ of the presence at 

186 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

every meeting of professional backers and profes- 
sional layers that attend for the express purpose 
of pursuing their business. Perfectly well they 
know, too, unless they are even more remarkable 
than I give them credit for, that the end of betting 
and the end of horseracing must be synonymous. 
For their attitude of aloofness they take great credit, 
no doubt, but the direct outcome of it are such cases 
as that of two brothers which recently came before 
the public. Comment on so painful a case is need- 
less after so short a lapse of time, but if, instead 
of merely calling on a suspected jockey to explain 
his riding, they were to institute a careful inquiry 
into the facts of the horse coming into and leaving 
the market with so much alteration in form, if in 
short they had reliable detectives in Tattersall's 
Ring to report on curious and doubtful cases, half 
the trouble would be averted. 

Perhaps the most deadly influence w^orking for 
modern sport is that every one who no\v owns a 
racehorse is for some reason or other known as 
a sportsman, and every one "wishes to be kno^vn as 
a sportsman because in some unexplained way it 
gives him the entree into that wonderful and fearful 
circle knoAvn as Society, writ large. Every suc- 
cessful trader buys a racehorse and thanks God 
that he has not got to ride it, but that he is a 
" sportsman " ! And then we find in the paper 
that " Mr. Hocheimer was too good a sportsman 
not to give the public a run for its money, as his 
horse has been heavily backed for some time past. 

187 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

Still, he made no secret of the fact that after the 
disappointing ^vay in which the trial horse ran 
yesterday, he cannot think that his Cambridgeshire 
candidate has much chance." 

Or sometimes it runs thus : — 

" The ever popular colours of Mr. Bernstein were 
again to the fore in the Egerton Plate." 

(M'yes ! In either case it is three dozen of '89 
Moet & Chandon to Mr. Sportin Riter.) 

I do not for a moment say that good sportsmen 
never rise in this way, because I can think of 
many exceptions to the rule. I merely venture to 
deprecate the w^ay in which hundreds of men, who 
would never come j)rominently before the public 
or mix with the great in the land unless they 
owned racehorses, are called " sportsmen." 

Short-sighted, psalm-singing noodles will always 
howl against betting because they say it has ruined 
so many homes. They have some excuse for this 
absurd view, because so many bankrupts allege 
gambling debts ^vhen called upon to account for 
their failure. It does not look well for the evening 
papers to report buying up coal as the cause of 
bankruptcy ; the modern man much prefers standing 
up in the witness - box and whimpering with a 
snuffle that he backed Volodyovski and went for 
the biggest coup of his life. 

" Alas, my poor wife ! " the hoary rascal proceeds. 
" I think of her now ! " And he wins the sympathy 
of the court, and the Earl of Ab-rd-n and the 
Bishop of H-r-f-r-d send him cheques, and Andrew^ 

188 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

C-rng-e offers to ])ay for the education of his 
children. No one thinks of the bookmaker, who 
might have been all but ruined had the favourite 
won. No one cares about his wife and family ; no 
one seems to remember that, whereas he must 
strain every nerve to pay, so that he may foUow^ 
his trade, there is no law to enforce payment on 
the part of his clients. I recollect a tale of the 
Receiver in Bankruptcy putting the words into a 
somewhat reluctant ^vitness's mouth, but he got 
hold of the wrong bird. 

" Betting and the Stock Exchange, I presume ? " 
essayed the official. 

" Don't bet and never deal in stock," came the 
quiet reply. 

" Then shall w^e say \vine and women ? " was the 
next venture. 

" Am a teetotaller and hate women. Any more 
questions ? " 

Then the Receiver changed his tune, and ap- 
proached his task ^vith a more open mind. 

By what right bishops and tea-drinkers assert 
that every one but themselves is either a rogue or 
an idiot I have never seen satisfactorily explained. 
How on earth can this thing be stemmed? The 
working classes have received a free education, 
and a halfpenny will buy any one of them an 
evening paper after their day's work, giving at a 
glance the form of every horse running next day. 
It is quite easy to tell them that they are fools, 
or worse, for taking any interest in the matter. 

189 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

But after all, are the lives of these people so bright, 
and are so many counter-attractions provided for 
them? Have tea and religion swept all the misery 
out of their squalid homes, that the well - fed, 
comfortably housed philanthropists should hold 
themselves free to revile the labourer for follow^ing 
the performances of racehorses ? There can be no 
virtue Avithout temptation, and those ^vho have 
little to do all day and plenty to amuse them in 
the evenings can take no credit if they keep clear 
of excessive betting. Very many of them do not. 

Let me conclude with just a \vord on that other 
form of racing, known for some inscrutable reason 
as " illegitimate." Why so opprobrious a term 
should have been fitted to this sport, ^lich is the 
ancestor of flat racing, I do not know, except 
perhaps on the j)rinciple that legitimate things 
have fathers as well as illegitimate. Most owners 
of chasing horses are themselves sportsmen, men 
■whose riding has not been confined to the t'wo- 
XDenny tube and underground railway. Yet the 
waning popularity of steeplechasing with most 
classes of the public may be accounted for -without 
great difficvilty. Regarded purely as a sporty it is 
of course essentially superior to the other, and no 
flat race in the world — the Derby thrown in — is a 
patch as a spectacle on the Grand National at 
Aintree, with half a dozen thoroughbred flyers 
galloi^ing down together at a great rasping fence. 
But the public enthusiasm for sj)ectacles that do 
not involve a gamble is nowadays limited to those 

190 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

who watch county or Australian matches at Lord's 
and the Oval. One class of the public is fonder 
each year of w^intering abroad, thus taking away 
from steeplechasing valuable support at its ap- 
pointed season. It must also in fairness be admitted 
that so many tricks have been played in steeple- 
chasing — here perhaps is an inkling of the true 
significance of that unpleasant name — that many 
erstwhile keen supporters have had no option but 
to give it the go-by. It has, in fact, sadly changed 
in character since the simpler days when, as the 
name indicates, men had not brought it down to a 
matter of heads and ounces, and merely made 
matches from some spot to a conspicuous church 
steeple. Yet one thing Ave owe it, and that is that 
it must always preclude those monkey-on-the-stick 
practices and that climb-up-the-neck style of riding 
\\^hich, hoTvever effective on the fiat, must always 
be appallingly ugly to watch. 

The coups of the old days can no longer be 
brought off now. Touts, telegrams, and telephones 
have brought the daily doings of turf candidates 
immediately before the public. Every year future- 
event betting grows smaller and smaller and several 
important handicaps, on which only two or three 
years since considerable sums were invested w^eeks 
before the race, have now drifted into ordinary 
" Numbers ui3 — make your own market — two to one 
on the field," common-or-garden sort of races. One 
great reason for this decline of an early market lies 
in the fact that the important sporting papers 

191 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

insisted on prices being returned for any future- 
event race when there was in reality no market 
open. They had representatives attending the 
London Chibs who -were paid to return prices 
against horses engaged in any post-betting race. 
Sometimes a real commission came along, and they 
got from all sources ten to one to a thousand 
pounds. Let us say the name of that horse "was Aye, 
and that might have been the only horse in reality 
backed that day, but the reporter had to give 
quotations for Bee, Cie, Dee, &c., so he mentally 
laid himself 20s. to Is. each of them, so as not to 
disappoint his paper. Mind you, he never dare 
quote the amounts; he dare not report £10,000 to 
£1,000 Aye, 20s. to Is. Bee, &c. Oh no ! that would 
have given the show^ away. But the editor wanted 
quotations to sell his paper and give the public 
food for reflection, and the result is that men Avho 
lay the quoted odds against horses in P.P. races 
invariably have the Avorst of it. If there is a 
genuine commission they lay it, and horses standing 
at comparatively short prices drift out without a 
shilling being betted on them. 

A hundred years ago men were backing horses 
for the Derby that had been dead for months. 
Perhaps the largest coup that was ever brought 
off was when Rosebery won the Cesarewitch and 
Cambridgeshire in 1876. A colt by Speculum — 
Ladylike — he was trained by George Clements 
and ridden by him in his work and all his races 
until we come to his four-year-old career, and the 

192 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

two races I have mentioned which he won. As a 
two-year-old he ran twice unplaced. As a three- 
year-old he ran last in a field of five, in the Cots- 
wold Cup at Cheltenham ; and in the Westmoreland 
Welter Plate at Liverpool in the autumn he was 
unplaced. In the spring of the year 1876 there 
was in the same stable a horse called Prodigal, one 
of the best handicap horses of the day, and he won 
the Northamptonshire Stakes (a big race then, with 
future-event betting attached to it) with eight 
stone. No^v, Rosebery and Prodigal "were tried, and 
the former could beat him at even weights, but of 
course the T^orld didn't kno^v it. Prodigal kej)t on 
running in the big handicaps, nearly top w^eight 
alAvays, and always in the van. Rosebery was 
entered for several, but never ran. It Avas on the 
Leger day at Doncaster that the few connected 
with the horse started the commission, so I have 
it from one of the oldest habitues of the turf, and 
the first bet they took was £50,000 to a £1,000, and 
after " that they never stopped ; but it must be 
borne in mind that other people were backing 
other horses at high figures, otherwise there could 
have been no market. With all our flaunted 
wealth to-day — the paper wealth of underwriters 
and company promoters — there are no such sums 
betted now to compare with what was invested by 
the gamblers of fifty or one hundred years ago. 
Many a time, without the world knowing it, a horse 
has made a man (never has a man made a horse — 
he has interested himself oftentimes trying to breed 

193 o 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

it and always had to acknowledge it was a fluke). 
Well, Archer w^as engaged to ride for the Cesare- 
witch, and Steele of " Steele & Peach " fame did the 
bulk of the commission, and they did not stop at 
the Cesarewitch. They backed him at the same time 
for the Cambridgeshire, when he incurred a four- 
teen pound penalty if he won the first race. 

He won the Cesarewitch easily, but Archer was 
claimed by Lord Falmouth, or the Duke of West- 
minster, for a horse of theirs in the Cambridgeshire. 
Constable had the mount. The horse that started 
favourite was Woodland, and I believe that Steele 
had the commission to do for that horse. My 
brother had a horse in it called " The Ghost," a 
shifty beast, but it carried a lot of family plate. 
Rosebery won by a head. I know that near half a 
million, at the least, was netted amongst half a 
dozen men on those two races. One of them Avent 
mad and \vrote cheques out to every one he knew. 
Such was the game. It is a curious fact, by the 
way, that Sir J. Astley's Hopbloom started second 
favourite in the Cesarewitch and ran nowhere. On 
the other hand, it started for the Cambridgeshire 
at forty to one and was beaten only by a short head. 
The life of a starting-price merchant is sometimes 
spoken of as if it were all smooth sailing, but this 
is by no means the case. The odds in his favour 
are exceedingly small ; bad debts are inevitable ; the 
law waives his claims in the most airy fashion, and 
thieves employ all their ingenuity to trap and rob 
him. I remember one fellow who squared two lady 

194 



WHY I TOOK TO LAYING 

clerks in a post-office, not quite a hundred miles 
from Charing Cross, to date the time of his tele- 
grams a few minutes j)i'ior to the race, whereas in 
reality the man had got the winner before he sent 
the telegrams off ! I found this out, when struck 
by the length of time these wires took in transit, 
by sending myself numerous telegrams from the 
same office. Mine took only ten minutes to go ; the 
other man's had taken forty ! Another gentleman 
had an ingenious plan of writing me and i)osting 
his letters so that they should be delivered after 
office hours. Then — probably by bribing the 
servants — he got the letter back with the post- 
mark of the day on which it ^vas jDosted. That 
might be, let us say, a Tuesday. Well, on Wed- 
nesday morning he had the letter Tvith the Tuesday 
postmark ; he wrote out his list of bets, and I then 
received the letter after two or three winners had 
come up on the tax3e. But this gentleman over- 
reached himself, for he on one occasion had a very 
suspicious £25 on a fifty-to-one chance (which no one 
else in the world had backed) in a race at Epsom, 
and his letter, the envelope of which bore the words 
" Urgent and Immediate," was not delivered in the 
ordinary course by the postman, but some one rammed 
it in the letter-box, rang the bell, and ran away. A 
more subtle rogue, ^vho either is in gaol at this 
moment or doing little good outside it, swindled us 
out of thousands by knowing the winner before it 
came up on the tape, having confederates on every 
course, and others waiting at the telephones in town. 

195 



XIII 

ON THE DECAY OF SPOBT IN IBELAND 

That Ireland is, in my opinion at least, the 
loveliest lost country in the world, is the more 
regrettable seeing that Nature anchored it out 
there in the western sea with the obvious inten- 
tion of making it the first sporting country in 
Europe. Of course, its big game was gone ; its 
bear and its wolf and its gigantic deer were long 
since extinct ; still, even without these, Ireland 
ought to have been the Mecca of at any rate all 
the sportsmen of these islands. Instead of this, it 
is merely the stand-by of half-j)ay officers and 
others with very slender incomes, who make great 
account of its snipe and other rough shooting 
merely because they can afford nothing better. I 
voice these opinions somewhat freely in the hope 
that I may be out of the country when they 
appear in print. Ireland has gone from good sport 
to bad agriculture. Its green grass, the greenest 
on earth, was meant for the grazing of the wild 
elk and red deer and mountain goat. In an evil 

196 



ON DECAY OF SPORT IN IRELAND 

day, St. Patrick exterminated the snakes, and a 
blioy from Ballymoney introduced j)otatoes, and 
Ireland has gone to the deuce ever since. PoU- 
ticians may shirk the issue, grave persons in every 
w^alk of hfe may ignore it, but we may take it for 
a fact that \vill need some arguing out of exis- 
tence, that the suppression of sport means, wherever 
Enghsh is the vernacular, the depression of life 
and prosperity. " Free fishing ! " is the ticket of 
the impecunious Radical, who has a rod but no 
river. " The deer for the people ! " shouts another. 
"A classical education free and every man his own 
master ! " chimes in Mr. Andrew Carnegie, bliss- 
fully forgetful of the fact that, in that case, every 
man must also be his own servant. No one desires 
free fishing more than I do ; no one \vishes that 
mankind generally might, were it only possible, 
enjoy the pleasures of the chase, and be the better 
for the privilege ; but I recognise perfectly, with 
the sad exam^Dle of Ireland before me, that the 
day on which the game and fish of England or 
Scotland were handed over to the mob, and the 
rights of private ownership abolished, country life 
would drift into a listless and a moribund state. 
If we except the manufacturing towns and ship- 
ping ports, what is Scotland, more or less, but one 
vast game farm, a pleasure retreat for sportsmen 
with their friends and families ? Sport becomes 
under such conditions a vast and flourishing indus- 
try, bringing men and money to the lovely valley 
of the Dee and other districts that must otherwise 

197 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

be deserted. If a Radical Government were to 
turn the population of Aberdeen loose in the 
forests, moors, and rivers of that valley, with 
Mauser rifles, cheaj) guns and salmon-rods, it would 
not, a year later, be worth a thousandth of its 
present value. It would, in fact, mean ruin and 
nothing less. Take, for instance, the village of 
Aboyne, half-w^ay up the Dee, and imagine the 
loss that would by this land nationalisation be in- 
curred by the hotel keeper, the tailor, the boot- 
maker, the chemist ^vho sells cold cream, golf balls, 
aerated waters, and tobacco ! 

Not much more than a quarter of a century 
ago men used to wait a week — nine days a man 
once told me he 'v\^aited — for herds of buffalo to 
pass their way on the American prairies, and now, 
thanks to free shooting, that animal, with its mas- 
sive, shaggy head, is seen no more in its old home. 
This is the result of popularising sport. Men 
blazed away, riding down the beasts, until their 
ammunition was exhausted. Seeing that buffalo 
were easily killed by mounted Indians with their 
bows and arrows, the latter being buried in the 
poor brutes' shoulders up to the feathers, small 
wonder that powder and ball soon worked their 
extinction, and millions, the last millions, were 
killed and wasted during the last third of the nine- 
teenth century. This wholesale butchery is not, 
alas, confined to the masses, for there have been 
famous " sportsmen " given to shooting cows, calves, 
young males as well as old, and then posing as 

198 



ON DECAY OP^ SPOllT IN IRELAND 

great shikari ; yet it is safe to assume that such 
unsportsmanKke practices would find readier accep- 
tance and imitation in the classes that have not 
yet had access to the game. Personally, instead of 
regarding such slaughterers as great sportsmen, I 
hold them to be the greatest asses in existence, 
and I fervently hoiDe that the Recording Angel 
underscores their names in utter disgust. 

The Irish are the most delightful, genial people 
on earth, and their land is worthy of them. Hun- 
dreds of charming and suitable streams flow into 
the loughs along the coast, and up these the 
salmon and sea-trout will, if in the least degree 
encouraged, find their yearly way. Purple heather 
carpets mountain ranges as fit for grouse and deer 
as any in Scotland. The climate is the softest in 
these islands, and woodcock and wildfowl alike 
hold the woods and meres of Ireland to be better 
than those of frostbitten England. To the sporting 
eye these Irish scenes look beautiful and alluring, 
but the promise exceeds the fulfilment. There is 
water in the rivers, and there is heather on the 
hills, and nothing more. Even those mighty travel- 
lers, the duck and ^svoodcock, are tiring of those 
inhospitable shores, and is the reason far to seek? 
The goose that laid the golden eggs is poached 
and slain, in or out of season, with the woeful 
result that the last rays of the setting sun that kiss 
our isles a soft good-night fall upon lakes and moun- 
tains amid which the ill-clad, hungry peasant gathers 
in his winter peats amid dearth and devastation. 

199 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

There are, of course, exceptional cases of places 
bought or rented by rich men, and by them care- 
fully preserved. Of these mention may be made of 
Muckross, near Killarney, or Cottesloe, some thirty 
miles' or more drive out of Galway, the latter 
place, ^vhich I rented for a season many years ago, 
having salmon and sea-trout (white trout) fishing. 
Well I remember it too. Late one summer's 
evening our party arrived dead-beat on Irish cars — 
my wife and I, three children and three servants, 
the latter including Andre, my Italian cook, and 
the best fellow that ever turned an omelette. 
The place looked damp and uninviting enough, but 
we soon shook down, and Andre managed to cook 
us an eatable dinner on a third-rate fireplace with 
a chimney that smoked so alarmingly that he was 
not the least surprised to find a couple of jack- 
daws' nests in it next morning. Now, there is a 
moral in the state in which I found the fishing. 
I tell the tale, and leave the moral to the reader. 
This fishing consisted of a lake connected with the 
sea, which was about a mile distant, by a small 
river up Avhich the salmon and sea-trout had to 
come. I soon found that the proprietor — by the 
way, he was then in the depths of litigation with 
another party as to the real ownership of the 
property — had kept a net across the mouth of the 
stream up to the very day of my arrival, so that 
not a single fish had been able to pass up. This 
is not fraud, but merely characteristic of a certain 
phase of the Irish character. Nevertheless, when 

200 



ON DECAY OF SPORT IN IRELAND 

we had got the nests out of the chimneys, and 
something in the nature of a flood had improved 
the river, "we had anything but a bad time. 

The reader may object to some of the criticism 
passed in this short chapter, opining that with 
regard to the migratory birds and fishes at any 
rate the Irish are not to be held responsible for 
their change of taste in choosing their quarters. 
I am not so sure of this. Personally, I am an 
implicit believer in both swallows and salmon 
returning year after year to their own haunts. 
In respect of the latter, let me quote a case that 
must have come within the experience of most 
salmon fishermen. You see a fish enter a pool on 
its way up from the sea. Cast over that fish 
and hook it, and then tell me whether its every 
manoeuvre, its avoidance of backwaters where it 
would be at your mercy, and its determined steer- 
ing for all the j)arts of the pool that favour its 
escape, do not argue previous acquaintance with 
that pool. I never yet hooked a fish that could 
fairly be regarded as in strange waters. 

Luckily, the green grass of ould Ireland has of 
late years brought a measure of j)i'os]3erity to some 
districts, and given the bhoys the chance of earn- 
ing a couple of shillings a day. Golf courses have 
sprung uiD in all parts of the country, and some of 
them are very excellent courses too. Only lately I 
returned from a tour in north-west Donegal, and 
as a golf course, as a health resort, as a lovely 
spot for those with a taste for w^ild, rugged 

201 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

scenery, heather-clad mountain, mland sea, and 
strange caves, Portsalon, at the head of Lough 
Swilly, would be hard to beat. It is the most 
natural golf course that ever I played on, and I 
am not sure that it is far from being the best. 
My time for making comparisons was, however, 
short, and in fact I visited only two others, to 
^vit, Rosapenna, some dozen miles from Portsalon, 
which had an hotel crowded at the time with 
golfers and their families, and the better known 
links at Portrush. The latter must, of course, be 
described as excellent, but then it has been famous 
for many years now. I heard, however, of good 
golf courses on all sides, from Belfast to the head 
of Lough Swilly, and where the best game in the 
world can be played, there will the tourist of the 
future spend his holiday and his money. And it is 
a fortunate thing indeed for the distressful country 
that such a game has come to the rescue of dis- 
tricts ruined for the sportsman with rod or gun, 
and that its continuance is dependent on the 
forbearance of no poacher. 

Some things are incomprehensible and un- 
fathomable. Why is not Ireland thriving? Why 
is she not prosperous? I speak from a sporting 
point of view. Only a few months ago I spoke to 
a capital sportsman, who has owned and hunted 
hounds in England, and was looking out for a 
country. 

"Why not go to Ireland?" I asked. 

His reply was, " Because you can't get a friend 

202 



ON DECAY OF SPORT IN IRELAND 

to join you ; although," he added, " it is the finest 
hunting country in the world." 

And there it is. Ireland remains a beggar, and 
insists on isolating herself. Is it that the priests 
persuade the peox^le that the foreign dollar of the 
visitor is an infectious coin? I don't know — no 
one seems to kno^v — there it is ! If you do hunt 
in Ireland, you must jump. The gates won't open. 
Years of squalor and neglect have allowed gates, 
cottages, halls, and castles to drop into decay. If 
a man renovates a house in the most modern, 
beautiful style, locks the door and goes away for 
ten years, that house will be rotten and untenable 
on his return ; the windo^vs will all be broken — 
why or how goodness only knows ! Moth, mildew, 
dry rot, rats, mice, dust, and dirt : these cost 
nothing in Ireland. If you open the windows, 
birds and bats come in ; if you close them, dry rot 
asserts itself. Ten years will in this way reduce 
a well-kept palace to a dirty barrack. I ^vas 
shooting the other day on an estate in Roscommon 
once owned by the Kingston family, and we 
lunched in what was once the manor house, now 
only a hovel. A fine old mantel-piece stood with 
broken windows and dripping walls to keep it 
company. What was once a pretty garden was 
now a long broken framework of an erstwhile hot- 
house vine. Terraces of weeds, with just a few 
shrubs and trees to remind one of a culture that 
had once been there, were planted around. And 
are the people better off? The old families are 

203 



SPORTING REMINISCENCES 

gone, the agitators exist ; but capital and industry 
are driven out. With me there was the master of 
the Kilkenny hounds. A cheerier, better fellow 
never lived, and a finer country than his is not to 
be found in England, but neither the American nor 
the Englishman goes there. Why? I don't know. 
I am asking the question ; but personally I mean 
to, if I see my way. And that same Roscommon 
we were in — no fox-hounds, and great grass fields 
and fair fences. Why is the country denuded, and 
why is capital not invited? The Irishmen are 
clever. Why the divil don't they take the la^v in 
their own hands and advertise for fresh blood? 
They needn't be alarmed about the result, for they 
can easily blarney any other nation. 



204 



INDEX 



Aberdeen, 125 

Aboyne, 157, 198 

Accidents, Shooting, 122, 123, 124 

Adriatic, the, 67 

Agricultural Hall, Hacknej' Show 

at the, 171 
Aintree, 190 
Albani, Francesco, 66 
Albanian Highlands, 64, 65, 72 
Antivari, 75 

Antlers of Reindeer Hinds, 37 
Apethorpe, 159 
Arbuthnot, Lord, 107 
Archer, 183, 194 
Ascot, 182 

Association Football, 138 
Astley, Sir John, 194 

B^DEKER, 66 

Ball, 149 
Ballater, 111 
Banchory, 84 
BasebaU, 142, 143 
Bear, Grizzly, 16 
Beam, Prince de, 69 
Beds in Norway, 30 
Belfast, 202 
Bendigo, 182, 185 
Bennett, the Brothers, 150 
Bergen, 28, 34 



Big Horns, the, 10 
Billiards, 148-153 

,, compared with Golf, 146, 
148 
Bill Smith knocked out by Jack 

Roberts, 134 
Bjorneboten District, 40 

,, River, 42 

Blaanoten Flat, 36, 42 

,, Lake, 40 

" Blocking " in Cricket, 138 
Bologna, 76 
Boston, 142 
Bremerhof , 43 
Brindisi, 72, 75 
Buffalo, 17, 198 

Cadogan, 180 

Caghari, 77, 78, 79 

Cairns for dead Reindeer, 88 

Calais, 65 

Cambridgeshire, the, 185, 192, 194 

Cannon, T., 182 

Carnegie, Mr. Andrew, 197 

Carver, Dr., 129 

Cathedral, Milan, 66 

Cattaro, 66, 67, 69 

Cayley, Mr. Digby, 111 

Cesarewitch, 194 

Cetigne, 67, 68 



205 



INDEX 



" Championship Table," 151 
Cheltenham, 193 
Chicago, 142 
Chow, 42, 174, 175 
Clements, George, 192 . 
Constable, 194 
Cook, W., 150 
Corsica, 79 
Cotswold Cup, 193 
Cottesloe, 200 
Coulter, 108 
Cricket, 136, 138-42 
Croquet, 146 
Cumberland, 165, 166 
Currie, Lord, 76 
Cyllene, 184 

Dee as a Salmon Eiver, the, 99, 

107, 108, 111, 198 
Deeside Eailway, 84 
Deerstalking, 49-63 
Derby, the, 169, 180, 183, 184, 190, 

192 
Dogs, 42, 48, 154-67, 172-76 
Doncaster, 193 
Donegal, 201 

Drive, long (golf -ball), 118 
Duck, 199 

EiDE, 29 
Eideford, 30 
Epsom, 184, 195 

Falmouth, Lord, 194 
Finn Herd, 41 
Fitzwilliam, Tom, 173 
Fives, 137 
Fjelds, 48, 49 
Fjord scenery, 28, 29 
Florence, 185 
Fly-fishing, 41, 48 
Flying Fox. 184 



Football, 137 
Foxhounds, 168, 204 
Fox terriers, 172, 173 
Fresh water, Salmon feeding in, 
106, 107 

Galleria Erera, 66 

Galway, 200 

Galway Eiver, saving Salmon in 

the, 101 
Game Laws of Norway, 48 
Games, 136 

Gennargentu, Mount, 89, 94 
Genoa, 72, 76, 77, 78 
Germany, Crown Prince of, 120, 

122, 160 
Glove fights, 132-35 
Gloves, boxing, 133 
Glutton, 28 

" Going in " at Deer, 39, 55 
Golf, 144-47 
Grace, E. F., 139 
Grand National, 170, 190 
Grey, Lord de, 124, 125, 129 
Grispi, 66 
Grizzly bear, 16 
Grouse shooting, 114-26 
Gunn, 141 

Hackneys at Shows, 171 

Haigh, 141 

Hamilton, the late Duke of, 46 

Hansbu Castle, 34, 35, 43 

Hardwicke Stakes, 182 

Harringworth, 112 

Harris, 50, 55, 58, 60, 61, 62 

Haweswater, 165 

Hawks, 28 

Hendon, 127 

Hilton, 149 

Hjolmo, 47 

Hopbloom, 194 



206 



INDEX 



Hotels in Norway out of season, 47 
Hound-trials, 165-67 ^~ 
Hunters at shows, 170 
Himting in Ireland, 202, 204 

Inanimate Bird Shooting, 130 
Ireland, 84, 196-204 
Italy, 72, 77 
Ives, 152 

Jessop, Mr., 138, 140, 141 
Jockey Club, the, 186 
Johnson, Dr., 186 
Johnstone, David Hope, 128 
Jupp, 139 

Kettering, 139 

Kilkenny Hounds, 204 

KiUarney, 200 

Koodoosberg, Tait killed at, 149 

Ladylike, 198 

Lake District, 166 

Lanusei, 84, 85 

Laying, 177-95 

Lee-Metford rifle, 36, 39 

Leger, the, 198 

Leghorn, 78 

Lewes Islands, 49 

" Light" in grouse shooting, 120 

Liverpool, 93 

Livorno, 78 

Loaders for grouse shooting,125,126 

Long shots, 118, 119 

Lonsdale, Lord, 160, 174 

Lord's, 191 

Lowther Castle, 120, 160, 166 

Mr. Lancelot, 121 
Lynxes, 28 



March Browns, 106, 107, 111 
M.C.C. reforms, 141 



Measurements of Eyper, 39 

Mediterranean, 78 

Medua, 72, 74 

Milan, 65, 76 

Milton kennels, 173 

Muinow-fishing in the Dee, 111 . 

Minting, 182, 184 

Miramar, Palace, 67 

Monte Carlo, 127 

Montenegro, 68 

Moose, 64 

Morris, Tom, 145 

Morsgail, 49, 57, 59, 63 

Moufflon, 88, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93 

Muckross, 200 

Murdoch, Mr., 139, 140 

Murray, 66 

Newcastle, 48 
Newmarket, 185 
Njegus, 68 

Northamptonshire Stakes, 193 
North Sea, 48 
Norway, 27-48 

Orleans Club, 139 
Ormonde, 169, 182, 184 
Osborn, J., 182 
Oval, the, 191 
Ovis jpoli, 83 
Owls, 28 

Pack- Saddles, adjusting, 31 
Paget, Mr. George, 69 
Palugyay wme, 67, 78 
Partridge, 88, 89, 115 
Peall, W. J., 150 
Peck, Robert, 188 
Pero Gomez, 180 
Peterhead, 125 
Pheasant, 114 
Phil, 183 



207 



INDEX 



Pigeon-shooting, 127-131 

Pike, 107, 112 

" Pitcher " (in Baseball), 142 

Playing a salmon, 100, 104, 108, 109 

" Plough " on Eeindeei" antlers, 37 

Pointers, 156, 157 

Pola, 67 

Ponies, Norwegian, 46 

Porter, Mr. John, 184 

Portrush, 202 

Portsalon, 202 

Pretender, 180 

Prize-ring, 133 

Prodigal, 193 

Ptarmigan, 42 

queensberry eules, 134 

Eacquets, 145 
Eagusa, 145 
Eeindeer, 28, 34, 36, 44 

,, compared with red deer, 
38 

,, skin, suit of, 46 

,, swimming, 44 

,, tame, 40 
Eendlesham, Lord, 46 
Eetrievers, 157, 158 
Ehodes, 141 
Eichards, 150 
Eieka, 68 
Eoberts, 149-53 
Eocky Mountains, 3, 49 
Eolfe, Mr., Ill 
Eoofs in Norway, 31 
Eosapenna, 202 
Eoscommon, 203 
Eosebery, 193 
Eosicrucian, 180 
Eowing, 145 
Eugby football, 137 
Eyper, 28, 34, 39, 44 



Sala, 150 

Salmon (Ireland), 200, 201 

„ (Norway), 28, 47 
(Scotland), 96-113 
Salsoniaggiore, 76 
Salt for horses and sheep, 42 
Sandhaus, 34 
Sanfoin, 169 

Sardinia, 64, 72, 77, 81, 86, 89 
Scandinavia, 27 
Scenery, Norwegian, 33 
Scotch Fishery Board, 106 
Scotland, 197 
Scutari, bazaars of, 70 

,, Governor of, 65, 69, 71 

,, Lake of, 68 
Seaton Viaduct, 112 
September in Norway, 42 
Setters, 156, 157 
Sheep-dog trials, 160-65 
Shorter, 150 
Shows, 168-76 
Sir Bevys, 180 
Snyders, 66 
Spalato, 67 
Spaniel, 159 
Spofforth, 139 
Stalkers, Norwegian and Scotch, 

39, 49, 55 
Stanley, 150 
Stavanger, 28 
Steele, 194 
Stockings, Grass, 41 
Stockwell, 180 
Surefoot, 167 
Swilly, Lough, 202 

Tait, Lieutenant F., 148, 149 
Tattenham Corner, 184 
Tattersall's Eing, 183, 187 
Taylor, 143 



208 



INDEX 



Tennis, 145 

The Bard, 169, 174, 183, 184 

The Ghost, 194 

Thornton, Mr. C. I., 138, 139, 140 

Tmiing m grouse-shootmg, 116 

Trials of hounds and sheep-dogs, 

154-67 
Trieste, 66, 67 
Trout, 28, 35, 40, 41, 42, 44 
Two Thousand Guineas, the, 180 

Uppingham, 112 

Van Dyck, 66 
Vardon, 145, 148 
Velasquez, 66 
Vermin in Norway, 28 
Vik. 29, 47 
Vulture, 94 



Vyner, Mr., 182 

Wapiti, 3, 4, 7, 12, 17, 22, 24, 49 

Watts, J., 182 

Westminster, Duke of, 182, 183, 

194 
Westmoreland, 165 

Welter Plate, 193 
Wild Cat, 28 
" Wild Fish," 107 
Wildfowl, 199 
Wines, Continental, 77 
Winnipeg, 64, 65 
Wolves, 28 
Woodcock, 199 
Woodland, 194 

Pytchley, 174 
Worm-fishing, 35, 40, 48 

Zara, 67 



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