Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Cad, Part I

Martha wrote this story after studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcester Smith during the course of her 2016 John H. Daniels Fellowship at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia.

harry w smith.writing desk.nslHarry Worcester Smith at his writing desk, possibly in Aiken, SC or Grafton, MA / Courtesy of NSL&M

I’m not sure that many people would have characterized Harry Worcester Smith as a good-for-nothing “cad.” On the other hand, neither might they have called him a gentleman. He was highly opinionated and he had a temper. He had a wicked sense of humor and he suffered no fool. He was a scalawag, a bit of a braggart, maybe a knave, possibly a scoundrel. It’s perhaps divine providence or poetic justice that his favorite horse, his horse-of-a-lifetime, was named “The Cad.”

The Lad and The Huntsman

What follows is the author’s Introduction to his forthcoming book, Chappie: color cover, black and white illustrations, about 6 x 8-1/4 inches, $45.00 USD (price includes postage), release date August, 2016. Fifty copies will be printed; half are already pre-sold. Click for purchase instructions.

anthony chapmanChappie, painting by Wilk, reproduced with permission

One morning in the early 1960s, a young lad took a day off school to go hunting; he had planned it down to the smallest detail. Hounds were meeting in the Troutbeck valley at 9:30, but that was on the other side of the 1601-foot-high fell known as Wansfell Pike. As usual he left home about 8:15 am but instead of heading for the playground near the church to meet his mates and play football, he turned left at the Salutation Hotel and took the road for Wansfell.

The Oldest Foxhunting Photograph?

old ambrotypeAmbrotype, 1855, John Fred Garper / Collection of Jason WrightJason Wright may possess the oldest foxhunting photograph in existence.

A long time collector and researcher of early photography, Wright's collection consists mainly of daguerreotypes covering the five-year period from 1839 (when the process was first introduced) to 1843. Wright discovered this photograph, an ambrotype, in a lot of early daguerreotypes that he purchased from a Scottish country house sale.

On the back of the framed photo appears the date 1855 and the name of the subject. The surname is somewhat difficult to make out, but the proud young man, booted and spurred, whip and cap in hand, would be John Fred Garper as best it can be deciphered. Wright claims to know all the major sources for daguerreotype and ambrotype (a later process) images and says he has never before come across an image of either process with English-style foxhunting subject matter.

The Harvard Yard Run

saltonstall family.1930.norfolkThe Leverett Saltonstall Family in the Norfolk Hunt field, 1930. Leverett (top hat) was governor of Massachusetts and U.S. Senator, three terms each. Leverett, Jr is just left of his father.

In the dark of night on April 16, 1936, the atmosphere of refinement within the ancient walls of Harvard Yard was suddenly shattered by foxhounds in full cry. A candid confession to the affair is buried in the pages of The Norfolk Hunt: One Hundred Years of Sport, published in 1995 to commemorate Norfolk’s centennial. The statute of limitations having long expired, we can confidentially out the two students who organized and carried out the caper: Leverett Saltonstall, Jr. and I. Tucker Burr, III.

Tuck’s mother, Mrs. I. Tucker (Evelyn Thayer) Burr, Jr. was MFH and huntsman of the Norfolk Hunt at the time of the incident. Whether she was a willing accessory we’ll leave to the reader to decide. Young Leverett whipped-in to her from time to time. Leverett’s father, who traced his roots directly to the Mayflower, was Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, soon to be governor for three terms, and finally U.S. Senator for three elected terms.