an Old Hunting Diary
WITHIN a bookshelf richly stored with annals of the Chase,
A little tattered manuscript can claim an honoured place:
It tells of sport in Hertfordshire while thrice ten seasons ran,
And '94 completes the tale that '65 began.
Oh, dear dead hand that held the pen, lightly your task has sped
If you had known how eagerly your records would be read!
And thinking of those early days and how you played your part,
One wish, in all sincerity, is ever in my heart:
That I may serve the cause of Sport, as you before have done,
And wear the scarlet worthily, as should befit your son.
Our Friends the
LET the city-bred pessimist wear a long face,
And prove us (by figures) a decadent race,
Two things to the honour of England remain
The thoroughbred horse and the old yeoman strain.
Then proudly may Hertfordshire hold up her head,
For five classic winners at Childwick were bred;
And for fair open dealing and genuine worth
The Hertfordshire farmer's the salt of the earth.
Our field through the season is never complete
If a score of staunch yeomen are not at the meet,
And when hounds mean business they're mostly in
The farmers who follow the Hertfordshire Hunt.
Then hundreds of others our sport never share,
For they haven't the time or the money to spare;
But the true sporting spirit they well understand,
And a red coat's a passport all over their land.
Good health and good markets I'd wish to them all,
If their holdings are large or their acreage small;
Good luck to their crops and good luck to their kine,
May their Aprils be moist and their Augusts be fine.
I've known them a lifetime, but hardly I met
A knave or a churl of their company yet,
Though, like every good man, they'd resent an
The farmers who welcome the Hertfordshire Hunt.
Hunting folk, by your leave, I've a moral for you:
Be courteous, be careful, be generous too;
Shut gates and shun ewes, and, oh, never forget
'Ware beans all the time and 'ware seeds when it's
Buy forage from farmers that hunters may eat
The oats that were trod by their galloping feet.
Put your hand in your pocket, and don't be afraid
When the Royal Benevolent asks for your aid.
So haply some day when misfortunes befall,
As they will in bad seasons the best of us all,
You may help in enduring adversity's brunt
Some farmer who welcomed the Hertfordshire Hunt.
(A Lay of the Monday Country)
some long hunts and some very quick things
From Danesbury and Romerleys* and Wymondley Springs.
I've a mask on the wall there that catches my eye
Of a dog-fox from Dowdells that Knebworth saw die.
But for genuine hunting commend me, I pray,
To a meet at Bulls Green on a good scenting day.
The hard-riding youngster may, grumble and groan,
And hunger for fame and a cleft collar-bone;
But the joy of the woodlands for me never fades,
And the cry of the pack as they drive down the
And when we're away on the Stapleford side
Young Sparks must stop talking and sit down to ride.
You may try Alexanders or trot to Priest Wood,
Widows Bushes or Bramfield, the same thing holds good,
You'll hear hounds give tongue as a matter of course,
And just watch the man on the big chestnut horse,
For his face is alight with a smile at the thought
That his coverts once more are proved staunch to the sport.
I am sick of the cant of political creeds,
Of speeches and articles nobody reads;
Of 'popular' measures that nobody likes,
Of die-hards and do-naughts and tariffs and strikes.
But a squire of broad acres who wears a red coat,
Whatever his views, is the man for my vote.
* Locally pronounced 'Umleys.'