Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

Remembering Anthony Trollope

anthony trollope.spy.vanity fairAnthony Trollope by Spy in Vanity FairIn 1971, Michael Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, conceived the most wonderful notion. He had access to a computer that was part of the government-sponsored research network that ultimately became the Internet. He set himself a goal to make the ten thousand most consulted books available to the public, digitally, by the end of the twentieth century. He plucked a copy of the Declaration of Independence from his backpack, and it became the first Project Gutenberg e-text. Hart named the project after the German printer Johannes Gutenberg, who revolutionized the printing press.

Today, there are about forty thousand texts in the Gutenberg collection, including works by Somerville and Ross, G.J. Whyte Melville, and other superb writers of foxhunting stories. Many are in the public domain and may be downloaded and freely reproduced. Periodically, we select a favorite and extract a selection both for your enjoyment and as a reminder of the wealth that Project Gutenberg keeps in store for us.

With this year marking the bicentennial of the birth of Anthony Trollope, a popular English novelist of the Victorian Era who tucked foxhunting scenes into most of his novels, we offer an excerpt from The Duke’s Children (1880), the last volume in his Palliser series.


seabird.croppedSeabird illustration by Lionel Edwards

by Edric G. Roberts

He’s not very young and he’s not very sound,
   He’s not very fast, now, they say,
But nobody knows every inch of the ground
   Like Seabird, the dealer’s old grey.

He’s hunted more years than I care to recall,
   He’s carried us all in his day,
But no one has ever experienced a fall
   On Seabird, the dealer’s old grey.

Hunters' Moon

With this issue of FHL WEEK appearing the morning after the annual Hunters’ Moon,* we consider this poem especially appropriate!

hunters moon.gilbert hollidayIllustration by Gilbert Holliday

By Edric G. Roberts

The horizon, sapphire and amethyst,
   Pales in the East and soon,
Like a copper shield through the evening mist,
   Rises the Hunters’ Moon.

On the turnpike road every hoof-beat sounds
   Clear in the frosty air,
As the Whip jogs home with the straggler-hounds
   Jostling his weary mare.

The Great Hound Match of 1905: Alexander Henry Higginson, Harry Worcester Smith, and the Rise of Virginia Hunt Country

This book will be launched at the National Sporting Library, Middleburg, Virginia, on Sunday, November 8 at 2:00 pm. Author Martha Wolfe will speak and sign books.

Review by Martha A. Woodham

great hound matchThe Great Hound Match of 1905: Alexander Henry Higginson, Harry Worcester Smith, and the Rise of Virginia Hunt Country by Martha Wolfe, Lyons Press, 2015, Hardcover, 224 pages, $22.95Before Virginia became the epicenter of foxhunting in the United States, two men staged a contest to determine which was hound was better suited for hunting in America—the heavy, biddable English hound or the ill-mannered American hound that ran like a screaming banshee.  

In The Great Hound Match of 1905: Alexander Henry Higginson, Harry Worcester Smith, and the Rise of Virginia Hunt Country, author Martha Wolfe sets a fictionalized version of this competition against the history of foxhunting in Virginia. She has written a wonderful account of the battle between two wealthy men—Higginson and Smith—with egos to match their fortunes, each adamant that his hounds were the best.

Set in an optimistic America just recovering from the 1893 depression, the match was very much a stuffy Old World versus the brash New. Against this background, Wolfe gives us a portrait of the vastly different men—Higginson, the gentlemanly foxhunter, and Smith, who liked his hounds intuitive, impulsive, independent, and to show “ any full-blooded American.” According to the author, “Smith and his [Grafton] hounds were mongrels—bold, forward, and independent to a fault. Higginson and his [Middlesex] hounds were the refined, reserved elite—passively aggressive, methodical, accustomed to queuing, happy in a crowd of equals.”