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The Master Of Hounds
by [?]

One word I will say as to the manners of a master of hounds, and then I will have done. He should be an urbane man, but not too urbane; and he should certainly be capable of great austerity. It used to be said that no captain of a man-of-war could hold his own without swearing. I will not quite say the same of a master of hounds, or the old ladies who think hunting to be wicked will have a handle against me. But I will declare that if any man could be justified in swearing, it would be a master of hounds. The troubles of the captain are as nothing to his. The captain has the ultimate power of the sword, or at any rate of the fetter, in his hands, while the master has but his own tongue to trust, his tongue and a certain influence which his position gives him. The master who can make that influence suffice without swearing is indeed a great man. Now-a-days swearing is so distasteful to the world at large, that great efforts are made to rule without it, and some such efforts are successful; but any man who has hunted for the last twenty years will bear me out in saying that hard words in a master’s mouth used to be considered indispensable. Now and then a little irony is tried. “I wonder, sir, how much you’d take to go home?” I once heard a master ask of a red-coated stranger who was certainly more often among the hounds than he need have been. “Nothing on earth, sir, while you carry on as you are doing just at present,” said the stranger. The master accepted the compliment, and the stranger sinned no more.

There are some positions among mankind which are so peculiarly blessed that the owners of them seem to have been specially selected by Providence for happiness on earth in a degree sufficient to raise the malice and envy of all the world around. An English country gentleman with ten thousand a year must have been so selected. Members of Parliament with seats for counties have been exalted after the same unjust fashion. Popular masters of old-established hunts sin against their fellows in the same way. But when it comes to a man to fill up all these positions in England, envy and malice must be dead in the land if he be left alive to enjoy their fruition.