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The Master Of Hounds
by [?]

The master of hounds best known by modern description is the master of the Jorrocks type. Now, as I take it, this is not the type best known by English sportsmen, nor do the Jorrocks ana, good though they be, give any fair picture of such a master of hounds as ordinarily presides over the hunt in English counties. Mr. Jorrocks comes into a hunt when no one else can be found to undertake the work; when, in want of any one better, the subscribers hire his services as those of an upper servant; when, in fact, the hunt is at a low ebb, and is struggling for existence. Mr. Jorrocks with his carpet-bag then makes his appearance, driving the hardest bargain that he can, purposing to do the country at the lowest possible figure, followed by a short train of most undesirable nags, with reference to which the wonder is that Mr. Jorrocks should be able to induce any hunting servant to trust his neck to their custody. Mr. Jorrocks knows his work, and is generally a most laborious man. Hunting is his profession, but it is one by which he can barely exist. He hopes to sell a horse or two during the season, and in this way adds something of the trade of a dealer to his other trade. But his office is thankless, ill-paid, closely watched, and subject to all manner of indignities. Men suspect him, and the best of those who ride with him will hardly treat him as their equal. He is accepted as a disagreeable necessity, and is dismissed as soon as the country can do better for itself. Any hunt that has subjected itself to Mr. Jorrocks knows that it is in disgrace, and will pass its itinerant master on to some other district as soon as it can suit itself with a proper master of the good old English sort.

It is of such a master as this, a master of the good old English sort, and not of an itinerant contractor for hunting, that I here intend to speak. Such a master is usually an old resident in the county which he hunts; one of those country noblemen or gentlemen whose parks are the glory of our English landscape, and whose names are to be found in the pages of our county records; or if not that, he is one who, with a view to hunting, has brought his family and fortune into a new district, and has found a ready place as a country gentleman among new neighbours. It has been said that no one should become a member of Parliament unless he be a man of fortune. I hold such a rule to be much more true with reference to a master of hounds. For his own sake this should be so, and much more so for the sake of those over whom he has to preside. It is a position in which no man can be popular without wealth, and it is a position which no man should seek to fill unless he be prepared to spend his money for the gratification of others. It has been said of masters of hounds that they must always have their hands in their pockets, and must always have a guinea to find there; and nothing can be truer than this if successful hunting is to be expected. Men have hunted countries, doubtless, on economical principles, and the sport has been carried on from year to year; but under such circumstances it is ever dwindling and becoming frightfully less. The foxes disappear, and when found almost instantly sink below ground. Distant coverts, which are ever the best because less frequently drawn, are deserted, for distance of course adds greatly to expense. The farmers round the centre of the county become sullen, and those beyond are indifferent; and so, from bad to worse, the famine goes on till the hunt has perished of atrophy. Grease to the wheels, plentiful grease to the wheels, is needed in all machinery; but I know of no machinery in which everrunning grease is so necessary as in the machinery of hunting.