No. 116

Friday, July 13, 1711. [Budgell.

-----Vocat ingenti clamore Cithaeron,
Taygetique canes------ Virg.

THOSE who have searched into human Nature observe that nothing so much shews the Nobleness of the Soul, as that its Felicity consists in Action. Every Man has such an active Principle in him, that he will find out something to employ himself upon in whatever Place or State of Life he is posted. I have heard of a Gentleman who was under close Confinement in the Bastile seven Years; during which Time he amused himself in scattering a few small Pins about his Chamber, gathering them up again, and placing them in different Figures on the Arm of a great Chair. He often told his Friends afterwards, that unless he had found Out this Piece of Exercise, he verily believed he should have lost his Senses.

After what has been said, I need not inform my Readers, that Sir ROGER, with whose Character I hope they are at present pretty well acquainted, has in his Youth gone through the whole Course of those rural Diversions which the Country abounds in; and which seem to be extreamly well suited to that laborious Industry a Man may observe here in a far greater Degree than in Towns and Cities. I have before hinted at some of my Friend's Exploits: He has in his youthful Days taken forty Coveys of Partridges in a Season; and tired many a Salmon with a Line consisting but of a single Hair. The constant Thanks and good Wishes of the Neighbourhood always attended him, on account of his remarkable Enmity towards Foxes; having destroyed more of those Vermin in one Year, than it was thought the whole Country could have produced. Indeed the Knight does not scruple to own among his most intimate Friends that in order to establish his Reputation this Way, he has secretly sent for great Numbers of them out of other Counties, which he used to turn loose about the Country by Night, that he might the better signalize himself in their Destruction the next Day. His Hunting-Horses were the finest and best managed in all these Parts: His Tenants are still full of the Praises of a grey Stone-horse that unhappily staked himself several Years since, and was buried with great Solemnity in the Orchard.

Sir Roger, being at present too old for Fox-hunting, to keep himseif in Action, has disposed of his Beagles and got a Pack of Stop-Hounds. What these want in Speed, he endeavours to make amends for by the Deepness of their Mouths and the Variety of their Notes, which are suited in such manner to each other, that the whole Cry makes up a compleat Consort. He is so nice in this Particular that a Gentleman having made him a Present of a very fine Hound the other Day, the Knight returned it by the Servant with a great many Expressions of Civility; but desired him to tell his Master, that the Dog he had sent was indeed a most excellent Base, but that at present he only wanted a Counter-Tenor. Could I believe my Friend had ever read Shakespear, I should certainly conclude he had taken the Hint from Theseus in the Midsummer Night's Dream.

My Hounds are bred out of the Spartan Kind,
So flu'd, so sanded; and their Heads are hung
With Ears that sweep away the Morning Dew.
Crook-knee'd and dew-lap'd like Thessalian Bulls;
Slow in Pursuit, but match'd in Mouths like Bells,
Each under each: A Cry more tuneable
Was never hallow'd to, nor chear'd with Horn.

Sir Roger is so keen at this Sport, that he has been out almost every Day since I came down; and upon the Chaplain's offering to lend me his easy Pad, I was prevailed on Yesterday Morning to make one of the Company. I was extremely pleased, as we rid along, to observe the general Benevolence of all the Neighbourhood towards my Friend. The Farmers Sons thought themselves happy if they could open a Gate for the good old Knight as he passed by; which he generally requited with a Nod or a Smile, and a kind Enquiry after their Fathers and Uncles.

After we had rid about a Mile from Home, we came upon a large Heath, and the Sports-men began to beat. They had done so for some time, when, as I was at a little Distance from the rest of the Company, I saw a Hare pop out from a small Furze-brake almost under my Horse's. Feet. I marked the Way she took, which I endeavoured to make the Company sensible of by extending my Arm; but to no purpose, 'till Sir ROGER, who knows that none of my extraordinary Motions are insignificant, rode up to me, and asked me if Puss was gone that Way? Upon my answering Yes, he immediately called in the Dogs, and put them upon the Scent. As they were going off, I heard one of the Country-Fellows muttering to his Companion, That 'twas a Wonder they had not lost all their Sport, for want of the silent Gentleman's crying STOLE AWAY.

This, with my Aversion to leaping Hedges, made me withdraw to a rising Ground, from whence I could have the Picture of the whole Chace, without the Fatigue of keeping in with the Hounds. The Hare immediately threw them above a Mile behind her; but I was pleased to find, that instead of running straight forwards, or in Hunter's Language, Flying the Country, as I was afraid she might have done, she wheel'd about, and described a sort of Circle round the Hill where I had taken my station, in such manner as gave me a very distinct View of the sport. I could see her first pass by, and the Dogs some time afterwards unravelling the whole Track she had made, and following her thro' all her Doubles. I was at the same time delighted in observing that Deference which the rest of the Pack paid to each particular Hound, according to the Character he had acquired amongst them: If they were at Fault, and an old Hound of Reputation opened but once, he was immediately followed by the whole Cry; while a raw Dog or one who was a noted Liar, might have yelped his heart out, without being taken Notice of.

The Hare now, after having squatted two or three Times, and been put up again as often, came still nearer to the Place where she was at first started. The Dogs pursued her, and these were followed by the jolly Knight, who rode upon a white Gelding, encompassed by his Tenants and Servants, and chearing his hounds with all the Gaiety of Five and Twenty. One of the Sportsmen rode up to me, and told me, that he was sure the Chace was almost at an End, because the old Dogs, which had hitherto lain behind, now headed the Pack. The Fellow was in the right. Our Hare took a large Field just under us, followed by the full Cry in View. I must confess the Brightness of the Weather, the Chearfulness of every thing around me, the Chiding of the Hounds, which was returned upon us in a double Eccho, from two neighbouring Hills, with the Hallowing of the Sportsmen, and the Sounding of the Horn, lifted my Spirits into a most lively Pleasure, which I freely indulged because I was sure it was innocent. If I was under any Concern, it was on the Account of the poor Hare, that was now quite spent, and almost within the Reach of her Enemies; when the Huntsman getting forward threw down his Pole before the Dogs. They were now within eight Yards of that Game which they had been pursuing for almost as many Hours; yet on the Signal before-mentioned they all made a sudden Stand, and tho' they continued opening as much as before, durst not once attempt to pass beyond the Pole. At the same time Sir ROGER rode forward, and alighting, took up the Hare in his Arms; which he soon delivered up to one of his Servants with an Order, if she could be kept alive, to let her go in his great Orchard; where it seems he has several of these Prisoners of War, who live together in a very comfortable Captivity. I was highly pleased to see the Discipline of the Pack, and the Good-nature of the Knight, who could not find in his heart to murther a Creature that had given him so much Diversion.

As we were returning home, I remembred that Monsieur Paschal in his most excellent Discourse on the Misery of Man, tells us, That all our Endeavours after Greatness proceed from nothing but a Desire of being surrounded by a Multitude of Persons and Affairs that may hinder us from looking into our selves, which is a View we cannot bear. He afterwards goes on to shew that our Love of Sports comes from the same Reason, and is particularly severe upon HUNTING. What, says he, unless it be to drown Thought, can make Men throw away so much Time and Pains upon a silly Animal, which they might buy cheaper in the Market? The foregoing Reflection is certainly just, when a Man suffers his whole Mind to be drawn into his Sports, and altogether loses himself in the Woods; but does not affect those who propose a far more laudable End from this Exercise, I mean, The Preservation of Health, and keeping all the Organs of the Soul in a Condition to execute her Orders. Had that incomparable Person, whom I last quoted, been a little more indulgent to himself in this Point, the World might probably have enjoyed him much longer; whereas thro' too great an Application to his Studies in his Youth, he contracted that ill Habit of Body, which, after a tedious Sickness, carried him oft in the fortieth Year of his Age; and the whole History we have of his Life till that Time, is but one continued Account of the behaviour of a noble Soul struggling under innumerable Pains and Distempers.

For my own part I intend to Hunt twice a Week during my Stay with Sir ROGER; and shall prescribe the moderate use of this Exercise to all my Country Friends, as the best kind of Physick for mending a bad Constitution, and preserving a good one.

I cannot do this better, than in the following Lines out of Mr. Dryden.

The first Physicians by Debauch were made;
Excess began, and Sloth sustains the Trade.
By Chace our long-liv'd Fathers earn'd their Food;
Toil strung the Nerves, and purify'd the Blood;
But we their Sons, a pamper'd Race of Men,
Are dwindled down to threescore Years and ten.
Better to hunt in Fie1ds for Health unbought,
Than fee the Doctor for a nauseous Draught.
The Wise for Cure on Exercise depend:
God never made his Work for Man to mend.


1. As to dogs, the difference is great between a hunt now and a hunt in the Spectator's time. Since the early years of the last century the modern foxhound has come into existence, while the beagle and the deep-flewed southern hare-hound, nearly resembling the bloodhound, with its sonorous note, has become almost extinct. Absolutely extinct also is the old care to attune the voices of a pack. Henry II., in his breeding of hounds, is said to have been careful not only that they should be fleet, but also 'well-tongued and consonous;' the same care in Elizabeth's time is, in the passage quoted by the Spectator, attributed by Shakespeare to Duke Theseus; and the paper itself shows that care was taken to match the voices of a pack in the reign also of Queen Anne. This has now been for some time absolutely disregarded. In many important respects the pattern harrier of the present day differs even from the barriers used at the beginning of the present Century.

2. Act IV, sc. I.

3. Pascal, who wrote a treatise on Conic sections at the age of 16, and had composed most of his mathematical works and made his chief experiments in science by the age of 26, was in constant suffering, by disease, from his 18th year until his death, in 1662, at the age stated in the text. Expectation of an early death caused him to pass from his scientific studies into the direct service of religion, and gave, as the fruit of his later years, the Provincial Letters and the Pensées.

4. Epistle to his kinsman, J. Driden, Esq., of Chesterton.