The Pytchley Hunt - Home
Mrs. Sharp said her husband luul had bad health for months, and suffered of late threè-rquarters of a length between the second and third ; Cardinal was last. .. Mori-son,3 yrs NORTHAMPTON AND PYTCHLEY HUNT SPRING MEETING. war was attributed, by such men as Disraeli, as a healthy national that the spirit of "Britannia" and all the cardinal virtues attended competition did battle art in the "Grand Manner" meet with success. hunts as the Pytchley. In he. Of all things commend me to a morning pipe and an otter-hunt looming in the The meet is on the stone bridge, and down stream, where there are many choice As already stated, Mr Grey found it imperative by reason of indifferent health, by The Assayer, dam by Cardinal Wolsey, winner of the Hunts Steeple-chase.
This wild life of the Marches ended early in the seventeenth century, when the governments of Scotland and England combined to crush the lawless clans. The process which James V. In Stevenson's words "the rusty blunderbuss of Scots criminal justice, which usually hurt nobody but jurymen, became a weapon of precision for the Nicksons, the Ellwalds, and the Croziers.
Men drifted to other parts of Scotland or went abroad to the wars; in the sixteenth century the Elliots had been able to muster mounted men, which meant a clan numbering at least ; by the middle of the eighteenth century the latter figure represented the total population of Liddesdale. Soon, as Nicol Burne the Violer sang, "many a place stood in hard case where blithe folk kent nae sorrow," and Scot of Satchels in the seventeenth century thus deplored in his rough doggerel the Elliot fortunes: As Mangerton had the headship of the Armstrongs, so the chief of the Elliots was the laird of Redheugh, which stood near the foot of the Hermitage Water.
But as time went on the Redheugh family became more identified with the peel of Lariston, higher up the Liddel valley. This Gilbert, known as "Gibbie wi' the Gowden Garters," married another Scott, the "Flower of Yarrow," a daughter of "Auld Wat of Harden," and, judging from his place in ballad literature, must have been of a character to impress the imagination of the countryside.
Of the Stobs family several represented the county of Roxburgh in Parliament, both before and after the Union, and from it sprung the famous soldier, Lord Heathfield, the defender of Gibraltar; but we must turn aside from its main line and follow that of Gilbert's fourth son, Gavin of Midlem Mill, who by his marriage with Margaret Hay of the ancient Tweeddale house of Haystoun was the father of two sons, Robert and Gilbert.
This latter was the first Elliot of Minto. Born the younger son of a younger son, Gilbert had to carve out his own career. Though barely three generations removed from the moss-troopers, he possessed that compound of worldly sagacity and religion, that ability both to watch and to pray, which is characteristic of one Scottish type. He began as a writer Anglice solicitor in Edinburgh, and in the strife of Covenant and Crown took the side of the former.
A mission to London to save the life of the well-known minister, William Veitch, brought him under the notice of the leaders of the Opposition, and presently he was mixed up in the affairs of Argyll, and joined the group which included Baillie of Jerviswood, Hume of Polwarth, and William Carstares. In January he was compelled to fly the land, and returned from Holland in May with Argyll and his friends to start the futile rising which brought its leader's head to the block.
There was some of the old riding blood left in the Whig lawyer, for Gilbert Elliot was with Sir John Cochran in the skirmish at Muirdykes, and gave a good account of himself. Thereafter he led a hunted life, though by some accident his name was omitted from the Government proclamation.
Presently he left the country, and in his absence was sentenced to death and forfeiture, which sentence was remitted in in consideration of the earlier services of his father to the Royalist cause. He returned to Edinburgh, was admitted as an advocate to the higher branch of his profession, and when the Revolution brought his friends into power advanced swiftly at the Bar. Knighted ina baronet inmember of Parliament for the county of Roxburgh inhe was now of a fortune to entitle him to purchase an estate, and in this last year he bought the lands of Minto.
Two years later he went to the bench under the title of Lord Minto, becoming a judge of the very court which twenty years before had condemned him to death.
He died in at the age of sixty-seven, having won out of the disorders of the Revolution a modest fortune and estate. His portrait shows a long, heavy-jowled, mellow face, with humorous and sagacious eyes. He was the essential moderate, who managed to steer a middle course even in the stormy waters of the Union controversy, but who, when occasion required, could show himself a devoted friend and imperil his career in a doomed cause.
Wodrow describes him as a man of "unshaken probity, integrity, and boldness against all unrighteousness and vice"--a tribute which showed how far the race had advanced in decorum since the ancient days of Lariston. His eldest son, Gilbert, the second baronet, sat like his father for Roxburgh, like him and under the same title became a Lord of Session, and for forty years adorned the Scots bench, becoming eventually Lord Justice Clerk in succession to Erskine of Tinewald.
There is scarcely an incident which stands out in his placid life except that he was visited by Prince Charlie's army on its march to Derby, and had to take refuge in Minto Craigs. But he created the bones of the house as we know it to-day, laid the foundations of the fine library, planted the avenues, made the pond, and turned the glen from a wilderness into a pleasaunce. With his son, the third Sir Gilbert, the family embarked on the tides of British politics.
Brought up at the colleges of Edinburgh and Leyden, he married the heiress of the Melgund lands in Forfar and the Kynnynmond property in Fife, and, partly owing to his friendship with Charles Townshend who had married Lady Dalkeithabandoned a promising career at the Scots Bar for London and Parliament.
In him the astuteness of his grandfather and his power of steering a middle course were abnormally developed. He held various Government posts--Lordships of the Admiralty and Treasury and such-like--and would have undoubtedly gone farther but for his nationality, for he was a good man of business and a brilliant debater.
But he managed to remain in office, like a permanent civil servant, when Ministers fell, for he conciliated antagonisms and united oppositions; a close friend of Bute, he was also a follower of the elder Pitt; professing himself a consistent Whig, he became one of the most noted of the "King's Friends," and was a vigorous opponent of the Americans.
A temper so supple and accommodating is not the soil in which to look for a sturdy growth of principles; but his friends, who were numerous and devoted, believed that he was always prepared "to take a stand on the supreme authority of Parliament. In his generation of Elliots there was not only a high level of talent, but a strain of something fantastic and adventurous. The third son, Alexander, was the friend and agent in India of Warren Hastings, who erected a monument to him on his early death.
The second, Hugh, was one of the most brilliant of British diplomatists in a brilliant age; a creature of strange moods and impulses, who as a boy fought with the Russians against the Turks, called out his man in a duel, held his own with Frederick the Great, and was the author of bons mots at which all Europe laughed.
It was he who, when the King of Prussia commented tartly on the expression of gratitude to God which accompanied the official account of Sir Eyre Coote's victory over Hyder Ali, "Je ne savais pas que la Providence fut de vos allies," replied "Le seul, Sire, que nous ne payons pas. He was one of the managers of the Warren Hastings trial, and took his part in that debauch of frigid rhetoric.
When the Revolution broke out in France he inclined to the views of Burke, and presently was sent on various continental missions, in returning from one of which he had the good fortune to be an eye-witness of the battle of Cape St.
At fortysix he was made a peer on his return from the viceroyalty of Corsica; then followed the embassy at Vienna; and then inafter having been President of the Board of Control in the "Ministry of all the Talents," the Governorship of India. There he had the difficult task seeing and providing against Napoleon's Asiatic ambitions, and his chief problems were those of external policy, the relations with Persia and Afghanistan and the great Sikh Power at Lahore.
In the space of his viceroyalty he saw the menace of France disappear, and largely by his own exertions Java and the Moluccas added to the possessions of Britain. An attractive figure he seems to us, who could win and retain the affection of men so different as Burke and Nelson, and who in all the whirl of public duties found his chief refreshment in the letters of his family, in the recollection of "home-felt pleasures and gentle scenes," and in plans for beautifying his Border home.
He was not fated to see Minto again, for when he returned after seven years' rule in India with an earldom and a great name, he died on the first stage of that happy northward journey of which for seven years he had dreamed. With the second Earl and fifth Baronet the house of Minto had become established in that character which attaches as clearly to families as to individuals, though it is slower to develop. The descendants of the riding Elliots were now decorous and public-spirited citizens, Whigs who cherished a belief in the People combined with a strong conviction that only a few families were fit to govern.
The old devil-may-care spirit of Lariston had revived for a moment in Hugh the ambassador, but in the first half of the nineteenth century it slumbered. The second Earl was successively ambassador to Berlin, First Lord of the Admiralty and Lord Privy Seal, and by the marriage of his daughter, Frances, to Lord John Russell, was connected with the inner counsels of his party. In the days of the Lords of Session Minto had been a plain Scots country house, and the company that visited it an occasional judge on circuit, or a vacation party of Edinburgh lawyers, with a stray historian or philosopher from the university.
But the last Sir Gilbert and first Earl had widened the bounds, great men like Burke journeyed thither, and soon the house, enlarged and adorned, was one of the chain of lodgings by means of which the leaders of politics and society made their northern tours--a stage between Dalkeith and Alnwick. As in duty bound its dwellers kept touch with the latest books, music, gossip, and learned speculation; but, having that union of far-wandering impulses with the love of home which characterizes their countrymen, they were never mere Londoners taking the rural air, but country folk, thirled to the soil, and loving every rood of it.
He who would seek an account of the full and vigorous life of Border gentlefolk a hundred years ago will find it portrayed for all time in the pages of Lockhart. The third Earl--a William and not a Gilbert--chose the fallentis semita vita. He sat for many years in Parliament, but never held office, and much of his time was given to the management of his estate, county business, country sports, and long periods of foreign travel.
His wife's father was Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Hislop, and her mother a daughter of Hugh Elliot, so she was a distant cousin of her husband's. Never strong in body, she had the spirit of a soldier, and wherever she went radiated an atmosphere of gentleness and mirth and courage.
Like many who are not robust in health, she had an insatiable zest for life, and had, perhaps from her sufferings, keener perceptions than other people, and a quicker sense of joy. Each new experience and interest was adopted with gusto, and few quiet lives have been more fully lived.
The list of the books she was reading at the age of twenty-three might shame many professed scholars; but she had nothing of the blue-stocking in her, and her learning was a small thing compared to her wit, her sense of fun, her startling acumen, and her broad tolerant wisdom. She is a figure that may be commended to the acquaintance of those who, in Lady Louisa Stuart's phrase, have "an old-fashioned partiality for a gentlewoman," and one could wish that Mr.
Arthur Elliot's privately printed volume of extracts from her letters and journals could be made accessible to the world. For as a letter writer she ranks with Lady Louisa. She was also an accomplished historian and biographer, as her memoir of Hugh Elliot and her four volumes on the first lord minto prove, and her Border Sketches show how deep she had drunk of the traditions of her ancestral countryside. But it is in her diaries and letters that she most reveals herself, and whether she is trying to probe the secret of some rare landscape, or discoursing gravely on politics and metaphysics--till she breaks off with a laugh, or gossiping about manners and people, or formulating from a rich experience a mellow philosophy of life, she leaves on the reader an impression of a soul rich in the best endowments of humanity, a spirit at once sane and adventurous, securely anchored and yet reaching out delightedly to the cyclic changes of the world.
If there were two strains in the Elliot blood--the venturesomeness and speed of Liddesdale, and the sagacious centrality of the Whig lairds--in her they were mixed in right proportion, and she bequeathed something of this just equipoise to her sons. He was given the family name of Gilbert, and the second name of John after his uncle and godfather, Lord John Russell. Two months later his father.
Lord Melgund, who was then out of Parliament, carried off his wife and child on one of those protracted continental visits which were the fashion in that generation.
The Melgunds took with them their carriage--in which a shelf had been fitted to serve as the baby's crib--a courier, a nurse, and a lady's maid, and made a leisurely progress up the Rhine to Switzerland, and then over the St. Country house visits filled the rest of that year, and at Cambridge Gilbert John took his first wavering steps on the lawn in front of the lodge at Trinity.
It was not until the early spring of that the Melgunds returned to Scotland and the child saw the home of his ancestors. Most of Gilbert John's boyhood was spent at Minto, and it would be hard to find a happier environment for a child than the roomy old Border house set among its lawns and glens and woodlands.
All accounts agree on the sunniness of his temper, the vigour of his body, and his uncommon good looks. He had his mother's deep blue eyes, which Mrs. Norton praised in the style of the period. Arthur, born in ; Hugh in ; Fitzwilliam in ; and the four little boys formed a stalwart clan, sufficiently near in age to be true playmates. For the loveliest sleeping infant, to the Duchess of Argyll It was like a little rosebud, if a rosebud could but smileThe prettiest two-year-old who walked the distance from the door Being carried in his nurse's arms and set down on the floor, And the loveliest little three-year-old that ever yet was seen, In a glittering ducal palace or a daisied village green, With eyelashes like shadows and eyes like summer stars, A little stately, graceful thing no imperfection mars: Both were won by Lady Melgund, I don't know who had gained The ones before I entered, these were all that then remained" Gilbert John Elliot, at the age of thirteen From a miniature at Minto House The love of horses was Gilbert's absorbing passion, and during his continental visits at the age of one he was reported by his father to have shown a precocious knowledge of horseflesh at the various posting-houses.
Before he was four he rode a bay Shetland pony, "Mazeppa," under the tuition of the old groom, Robert Donald, and barely a year later commenced his hunting career with the Duke of Buccleuch's hounds, of which hunt he was one day to become a noted figure.
It was a recognized practice on the days he was going to hunt not to send up his porridge, as he was far too excited to eat any breakfast. Few children can have had more engaging ways. The love of his home was deep in him, and before he was five, when driving with his mother to inspect the havoc caused among the Minto trees by a gale, he revealed his anxious affection. His sentiment about everything surpasses anything I ever heard, and in some things he certainly shows considerateness beyond his years; he always offers to go out with me, and often insists on doing so, though I know he would rather have his pony.
Once he said to the nurse, 'Well, I would rather ride, but I promised Papa to take care of Mama, and so I had better go with her;' and it is perfectly true that William did tell him so, but I was not at all aware how seriously he was impressed with the charge. However, he certainly keeps his promises, for he watches me as a cat does a mouse. There were many sports in that happy place: They were even allowed to keep a lamb under the turret stairs, which their long-suffering mother did not evict until it became a sheep.
Usually Minto was filled with a big family party, but there came times when Lord Melgund was attending the House of Commons, and mother and children were left in comparative solitude. Such seasons were devoted by her to the beginning of their education. The family did not believe in private schools, and certainly with such a mother no seminary for youth could compare with home. Her strong good sense on these matters is witnessed by a hundred passages in her letters: But the chief formative influence was the atmosphere of good talk in which they lived, talk about books and politics and the events of a larger world, which stimulates a child's interest.
Gilbert was, in his mother's view, a little slower to quicken than the others, for he had a certain placidity and contentment which lived happily in the day and might foretell a lack of mental enterprise. On his seventh birthday she writes in her journal: He has a good memory, is very observing, and extremely obedient and docile. He has a natural turn for poetry, and certainly admires the beauty of numbers even when he can scarce understand the words.
He is very fond of fairy tales, and indeed of any description of story I will read to him, unless it is very dry or he suspects me of an intention to instruct him. I don't think he has as much curiosity to learn about the things round him as his brothers have.
He is very sweet-tempered and yielding, always gay, never put out.
NewspaperSG - The Straits Times, 6 June
I don't think him a child gifted with deep sensibilities or enthusiastic feelings of any kind, neither has he the perseverance or love of overcoming obstacles of some children, but he is sensitive to blame, and has little sentimentalities about localities and past days, is very open to impressions of fine weather, scenery, and pleasant ideas of all kinds.
He is very courageous and high-spirited. In the children joined their grandparents at Nervi, on the Riviera, returning by the Lake of Geneva, where Gilbert had his first sight of the snow mountains which later were to throw their glamour over his fancy.
His military instincts were early apparent, and the Crimean War gave him something to talk about; he used to present himself daily at the luncheon table after the newspapers had arrived with the breathless question, "Does Silistria still hold out? Hughie, on being asked what he thought of things in general, answered, 'Oh, weary!
On their departure he was heard condoling with his dog: Balstone's house, which next year became Mr. In July his grandfather died, and by his father's accession to the earldom he became Lord Melgund. He was no classical scholar, though, like Kinglake, he had "learned the Iliad through Pope in his mother's dressing-room," and the Eton of his day did not offer much in the way of a general education.
He left us for Eton last May, and has now returned to spend his second holiday with us. Gentle, gentlemanlike and loving, manly, intelligent and sincere, his character promises well for future goodness. His learning will never be deep nor his energy great, nor is he remarkable either for originality or quickness, but he is sensible, easily interested, likes history, poetry, and drawing, and will, I think, as I have always thought, learn more when his learning is of a kind more to his mind.
He is impressible, and not without a desire of doing well. His chief characteristic has ever been his strong moral sense. His mother records his cheery letters: His optimism was fully justified, as before leaving Eton he had pulled up seventy-one places, finishing second in the School Sculling. He also made a name for himself in the running field, was just beaten in the mile race, and ran the "Long Walk" three miles in fifteen and a half minutes. The journal which he began to keep in is as scrappy as other schoolboy chronicles.
It records famous days with the beagles, steeplechases, and games of football in which he was a demon at shinning, but the river was his chief joy. He rowed in the Defiance and the Victory, and in his last summer half was first choice out of the Eight, winning the Silver Sculls. Corkran Captain of the Boats and he were both hoisted after the race.
The determination to keep fit prevented any indulgence at the sock shop. The Elliots were a hardy race, and Melgund remembered his indignation at being given a greatcoat when he first went to Eton, driving from Hawick to Carlisle, a distance of nearly fifty miles, on the top of the stage coach. A few characteristic entries may be quoted from the journal. He writes on February I thought he looked a very decent sort of chap, but I didn't see what sort of a horse he had.
We had a very good place inside the upper gates of the Castle. There was an awful crowd, which I got jolly well into once and had roaring fun. We went, down to the College for dinner, and went up to the Castle again afterwards to see the Prince and Princess of Wales depart for Osborne.
Directly their carriage had passed all the Eton fellows rushed through the crowd and regularly forced their way down to the corner of the street near Layton's, where a body of police were drawn up, but they were quickly dispersed, and we rushed down to the station, broke through the barrier, and got on to the platform and squealed like mad.
Englishmen in the French Revolution/end matter
I had a better view of the Princess than I ever had before, as she stood bolt upright in the railway carriage as it went slowly out of the station. It was about the greatest lark I ever had, bowling over the crowd, which was a thundering tight one, and smashing through the police! We all of us wore whiskers except Jersey, who wore a loose overcoat and a blue veil. I wore a flexible moabite sort of hat and my great-coat. Hope looked about the handsomest fellow I ever saw: We all had light ties We went to Bachelor's Acre, where we got into an open fly which we had ordered beforehand and drove in it.
We got to Ascot about twenty minutes past four. When we got to the course we all took off our false whiskers except Phipps, but he got so bothered by the Gypsies, who asked him whose hair he had got on, etc. Hope and I somehow or other got separated from Jersey and Phipps; we caught sight of Parker and a lot of fellows who had a drag; they gave us some champagne and let us stand on the top of the drag. We saw one race--the Prince of Wales' Stakes: I thought the race itself an awfully pretty sight and very exciting.
We started from Ascot about five, and got back in loads of time. We got out of our fly at the footbarracks, where 'Sambo' the raft man met us and took our clothes. There was great excitement about it, and the space round the swishing-room door was crowded.
The late Sir Edward Hope, K. Day, one of the masters. After this performance the quartette had the effrontery to be photographed in their costumes at Hills and Saunders'.
There was a later escapade: After dinner I stayed out and started for Henley by a train which leaves Windsor at about 3: We drove from Twyford to Henley, a distance of about five miles. I had a round hat on and a thin overcoat, a moustache, no whiskers, and a couple of bits of sticking plaster on my face.
Sherbrooke had nothing but a thin overcoat and a pair of blue spectacles. Very few fellows knew us. Snowe a master went and came back with us in the same train, and I think if it had not been for Hubbard's and Freeling's good nature they had left school we should have been nailed. I was in a horrid funk when I first saw Snowe on the platform at Slough. I met him again at Henley once when I was walking on the bank, on which occasion we took advantage of our acquaintance with Heave, who is rowing for Trinity Hahl, and hung on to him and passed Snowe all right.
Sheepwood was one of the few fellows who recognized us: We came back second class, and at Slough got out on the wrong side of the carriage. We got into a fly and drove up to Serle's, where we were the first to publish the news of the race. It was Eton 1st, Trinity Hall 2nd, and Radley 3rd. It is glorious our licking a Cambridge crew which is second boat on the river at Cambridge.
We won by about a length and a half. I felt rather guilty when my tutor came to tell me about it. He told the fellows in the Eight that he knew I should be as anxious to hear about it as any one. He was justgoing out of the room when he said, 'Then I am to understand that you were in the house?
At last he said that of course he would say nothing as I has told him in confidence, but that the thing was not yet finished. He was in an awful way about it, and declared that he would never go to Henley again as he had found out that he could not trust his fellows. The worst of him is that he expects you to treat him exactly as any of your friends, but I don't think tutor and pupil ought to be on the same footing.
Digby's the matron I had got off. He said there was only one link wanting in the evidence against me. This evening he came up to my room again and told me that there was a report that I had gone to Henley disguised as a Methodist Parson. At this I nearly had a fit of hysterics: My tutor says that the worst of this row is that if it happened again next year it might put a stop to our Eight going to Henley altogether.
The only thing I care particularly about is that my tutor has taken it to heart. I suppose this is the last long boat race I shall ever row in, and I am sorry for it. I do not believe there can be anything much jollier than rowing a good race: Even though you don't win the race, yet you know that you have done your best, and after all perhaps there is more honour in rowing a good stern race than in winning an easy one. Sam Corkran wanted me to start with him in the pulling.
I would have given worlds to start with Sam, but I did not see how I could get off Pope. He stuck to Pope, and Corkran and Richards won the pulling.
Melgund was automatically moving up in the school; but his parents, fearing that sport was occupying the major part of his time, decided to take him away from these alluring surroundings and send him to a tutor. He regretfully bade farewell to Eton at the end of the summer half ofjust after his eighteenth birthday.
He had become one of the most popular and distinguished figures in the school, and carried away with him sixty-four leaving books. Although he had frequently transgressed the rules from sheer devilry and love of excitement there had been no shadow of meanness or untruth on his career. With his tutor, Mr.
Warre, he had formed a close friendship, for the latter, in spite of his strict standards of conduct, had much tolerance for youthful extravagances so long as they were honest and clean and did not offend against the canons of sportsmanship. To Lady Minto he wrote that "Melgund was unspoilt and unspoilable," while the journal records that "Warre certainly is a very jolly fellow, not the least like a master when he is not acting as one. Hunting was the serious family pursuit--"A' Elliots can ride," said the old Buccleuch huntsman at a time when the two families were in opposite political camps and he was not prepared to allow them any other virtue.
It was a Spartan business in those days, and we have a picture of the boys on bleak mornings shivering at covert side, in everyday little short jackets and waistcoats, a linen shirt no under-flannels or drawerstrousers and riding-straps, no overcoats and no gloves. There was rarely a meet nearer than six or seven miles; ten miles was not considered distant, and fifteen nothing to complain of.
In summer there was fishing in the Teviot, standing in the river all day up to their waists without waders; but the chief game was navigating a boat called a "trows," used for "burning the water," and consisting of two troughs joined together at an angle. In this venerable craft the boys shot the rapids of the Teviot, but the end came when Melgund and his brother Hugh embarked in it in a high spate, barely escaped shipwreck at Rulefoot, and in the end scrambled perilously ashore, while their Argo was whirled down towards Tweed.
We hear of them in winter daring each other to swim the river in spate, and finishing stark naked in the open haugh with the sleet whipping their small bodies. There were days with the otter hounds, too, on Ale and Teviot, beginning long before sunrise; and there was shooting with old Stoddart, the head keeper, shooting with muzzle-loaders and later with pin-fire breech-loaders, pottering in the woods and boggy pastures, and long autumn days after grouse on the Langhope moors.
There was no desire at Minto for record bags, and shooting always played second fiddle to hunting; but it was an enchanted country for boys to wander over with a gun. School is a chief formative element, no doubt, in every life, but at that period still more depends upon the background of holidays, when young thoughts range adventurously before they find their inevitable grooves; and Eton in Melgund's case was only an interlude in the full and happy course of a Border boyhood.
The hereditary feeling for his home, found in every Elliot, was strengthened by his mother's deep passion. She could write thus of the Craigs: Nothing could be more peaceful, and we all sat there for some time listening to the wood pigeons, and watching some boys wading in the river, probably following a salmon.
I think sometimes if we would let God draw us to Him by means of the natural agencies with which He has surrounded us, instead of insisting upon it that we can only get at Him by violent and distasteful efforts of our own, by singing without voices and preaching without brains, we should be more religious people.
And certainly no sermon I ever heard can speak to one's heart so forcibly as do the scenes and associations of an old family house like this, where tender memories are in every room, like dried flowers between the leaves of a book. The Elliot clan had for generations produced diplomats and lawgivers, but Melgund had scant respect for politicians, whose ways, he considered, lacked candour. While still at Eton his father had taken him to hear a debate in the House of Commons, and in the journal he describes the legislators as "about the noisiest set of old coves I have ever seen.
Lord Minto, A Memoir
In October he and his brother Arthur went up to Cambridge together as fellow commoners of Trinity. The journal of his undergraduate life does not reflect any great desire for learning, but it reveals untiring enthusiasm for every form of sport. He was distinguished on the running track, winning the Third Trinity Mile though heavily handicapped by having his arm strapped to his side owing to a fall with the Drag, and he came in second at the London Amateur Athletic Club.
He was earnestly exhorted to continue that career by his friend, Dick Webster, the future Lord Chief Justice of England, who wrote him disconsolate letters from London complaining of the utter boredom of the study of law. At first I thought I should hardly catch him, but very soon got up to him, and he shut up almost directly after I passed him. He never missed a good race meeting, if within reasonable distance, or a chance of riding in it.
He hunted with the true Elliot industry, as witness this entry: I had about 32 miles to ride to cover. He was constantly at Newmarket, and rode frequently in local steeplechases, but he had then, as he always had, a dislike of the gambling fashion which tends to degrade a famous sport, and he never betted. In the jottings in his journal, and the correspondence which remains from those days, there is none of that dreary chatter about cash lost and won which makes the conversation of some honest sportsmen like the gossip of a bucket shop.
Montagu Butler, Master of Trinity, wrote in He lived at the start with his brother Arthur in Rose Crescent, but when the latter went into college he migrated to a famous set of apartments called "French's," a resort of riding men, which remained his headquarters, except when he was careering about the country to race meetings, and contenting himself, if no better accommodation could be found, with a shake-down in a brush shop or the back room of a wine merchant.
There was little time left for study during those strenuous days. That the pace must have been furious is evident from the entries in his journal recording wonderful gallops, serious falls, and hairbreadth escapes. He brought from Eton the nickname of "Rolly" apparently from his slightly rolling gaitand there must have been something curiously engaging in his manner, a kind of serious jollity, without a trace of the arrogant or the selfish or the peevish.
But he did not win his popularity by any slackness of standards, for he had a very strict notion of what he considered right and wrong. He burned out a gambling set at French's with hot cayenne pepper, and when he first came up took a strong line about the snobbishness of some of the clubs.
Snobbery, indeed, and all the minor vices which attend society, he cordially disliked. At the time his mother wrote of him: I must say, though I perhaps ought not, that he is a very satisfactory chip of a very good old block I don't speak of his father only, but of his race ; perfectly natural and unassuming, and as spirited and energetic as a boy can be.
I can't say I see any evidence of intellectual training whatever; but it is impossible to listen to Berty's frank and full revelations of himself and his habits and companions without feeling thoroughly happy about him; he is not intellectual, but he has plenty of good sense, a singularly fair and candid mind, and a will strong enough to be unconscious of itself, by which I mean that there is no effort in his independence of mind.
He sees what seems to him to be right, and as a matter of course does it. The journal contains occasional entries such as: In the afternoon we had a Livy translation paper. I think I could have managed most of it with the help of the man next me, but unluckily I got throwing pens about, one of which cut over one of the examiners. Hudson, the other examiner, got in a great rage: Luckily the term is just at an end. Before I left Cambridge to-day I wrote a note to Hudson to tell him that it was I who had hit the examiner with the pen during the examination and not Montgomerie.
His Cambridge vacations, like his Eton holidays, were pleasantly varied. Christmas of was spent with his family in Rome, as we learn from his mother's letters: He has really not a wish or a taste or a habit which we would rather see away. He leads a very lively life, hunting twice a week, and going out constantly in the evenings to dinners, operas, balls, parties, and private theatricals.
His dinners are frequently to meet Lord and Lady Grey, or some Monsignori, or some other persons equally old and dignified; but he always finds them 'awfully jolly,' is quite without shyness, and among foreigners or English has always the same perfectly easy well-bred manner.
He dances six times in one evening with the prettiest, and blushes about her next day; and he dances most nights, and therefore blushes most mornings; but the first of pleasures to him is a good gallop across country, and no young lady would have the slightest chance of attracting his attention on hunting days. Like all her race no coward blood runs in her veins, she fights to the bitter end; but at last, though unconquered, she is slain, as game a lady otter as ever preyed on a salmo salar of the Till.
Ye who wish, for aught I care, can hunt Wappiti in the wilds of Colorado; aye, or cross the Nile on a crocodiles back, like the renowned Waterton.
Give me a quiet rivulet like the Till, with its charming surroundings, hounds of the right stuff, a master of the proper grit, and a game otter, and I shall crave no finer sight, or more soul inspiring sport than what may be had through such mediums. I have shot with them for the last thirty years, first as muzzle-loaders and afterwards when converted for me by J.
They are bores, with about 1ft. They are as good and sound as ever they were. Mr George Grey, Milfield, recently wrote as follows to the Newcastle papers: I therefore venture, by way of keeping the subject alive, to write you and give my views upon it.
In the first place, as to numbers; it is an undoubted fact that rooks have increased enormously during the last few years; not only have old existing rookeries been strengthened, but new colonies have been founded in almost every available clump of trees or plantation.
One naturally asks the cause of this increase. Now these men cannot do so, not having licenses, and the probability is that a proprietor perhaps shoots one day with the rifle, and the keeper perhaps is allowed along with a friend to have another day, after which the rockery is at peace. Many rookeries that I know of have not been shot at all this past year. But as the number increased, such food was not to be found in sufficient quantity, and the result was that they commenced to damage corn very seriously — first, by digging it up directly it began to spring, and breaking the ground; and, secondly, by alighting in hundreds in fields of ripening or "laid" corn and devouring it wholesale.
On the potato crop they are also very destructive, and unless youngsters are employed to keep them off, there is every chance of the crop being considerably reduced. But they did not stop at this, but took upon themselves the cloaks of their cousins, the crows, and now prove equal to the latter in hunting for and destroying partridge and pheasant nests, and also in the destruction of young birds. Moreover, if a sheep happen to be lying awkward, or to be sturdy, it is no rare occurrence for the shepherd on his arrival to find that the rooks have picked the eyes out of the living animal.
I have known young weakly lambs suffer very much from this. How rooks are to be thinned down most effectively it is hard to say come. They cannot be poisoned, as there would be the certainty of poisoning other things as well.
I have tried pulling down the nests in the building season, but the rooks can build quicker than one can pull down. I have also tried to make them drunk with barley steeped in whisky, with a view to neck-wringing bout afterwards, but they proved to be either teetotal or in possession of very strong heads, as there was no result. In my opinion the gun is the only remedy, and it is of no use without concerted action.
What I would therefore propose is, that every proprietor in the county who has a rookery or rookeries upon his estate should engage, upon a certain date to be determined such date to be during the nesting timeto employ men to shoot in the rookeries incessantly during the period of one week.
This would not only destroy by shooting a number of old rooks, but would addle a large quantity of eggs in the nests. I may state that I have mentioned that the matter to Mr Albert Grey, and he agrees to carry out the programme upon his estate, provided a sufficient number of other proprietors will join him and do likewise. Unless the landlords take it upon themselves, the tenant-farmer has no chance to remedy the evil.
I hope that this matter may not be allowed to rest here, but that all those interested will push the subject until the remedy be applied and the evil mitigated. In connection with this the following letters appeared: Is it not a fact that all birds of prey and useful animals such as the weasel have been nearly exterminated and considerably destroyed the balance of nature? By whom or for what purpose this has been done I will not undertake to say, but it certainly has been the means of bringing about the results complained of, and many will be glad to learn that Mr Grey has made a move in the right direction.
I can fully bear out Mr Grey's statement on the fatal attack crows made on weakly lambs, and the injury sometimes done to full-grown sheep when not able to ward them off for reasons stated in his letter.
SIR, — I read with much interest Mr George Grey's letter on the increasing numbers and consequent depredations of rooks and crows, and the wholesale methods to be adopted for their reduction.
As an old farmer, I would like to say a good word in their favour, and warn people who have rookeries against such an inhuman course as that contemplated by some. For some years I rented a farm here. Around the old hall is a rookery which has existed from time immemorial. By giving leave to my friends and neighbours to shoot the young rooks they were kept thinned, and, with the ordinary mortality to the old ones, I never noticed that their numbers varied to any appreciable extent in any year. It should be remembered that most, if not all, young rooks destroyed in this way are used for food.
Some people seem to confound rooks with crows corbies. I believe the corby, or carrion crow, to be extinct in this neighbourhood. At least I have not seen one for years; even sixty years ago they were not numerous. Referring to the remarks of "Game Preserver," I don't believe half of the stories told of rooks destroying the eggs of game, but only as a thing devised by their enemy, the gamekeeper, who makes them the scapegoat when by any means there happens to be a scarcity of game on an estate.
Farmers suffer from the depredations of small birds in a much greater degree than from rooks. For years past they have literally appeared in clouds at the approach of harvest and done great destruction to cereals. I attribute this to the action of game preservers destroying the balance of power as ordered in the great scheme of Creation. Birds and small animals of prey that were intended to check the undue preponderance of any particular species are now nearly extinct, viz.: I believe the contrary to be the case, for in my youth I lived on a farm adjoining Chevington Wood, then a dense forest of acres.
The present Earl Grey had, with a party, a battue or two every season, and I think he will remember there was no scarcity of pheasants and other game, although the birds and animals I have mentioned, including foxes were in abundance. Mr Dand does not raise any direct issue between us, but I gather that he denies that rooks have increased.
If this is so, I will be glad to point out to him many rookeries now in full blast which did not exist 10 and 15 years ago; and in return I would ask Mr Dand to point out to me any rookeries which were in existence 10 or 15 years since and which do not exist now. Mr Dand does not notice any appreciable difference in the number of rooks in his rookery. Perhaps not, because he has, seemingly, had them fairly well shot down, and even were it not so, when a rookery gets to a certain size — commensurate with the accommodation — a new colony is formed elsewhere.
I cannot speak as to the carrion crows in the immediate neighbourhood of Hauxley, but I cannot think that even there they are anything approaching to extinct, judging from places within a small radius, in this neighbourhood, in any night, ten or a dozen may be shot when coming into certain plantations to roost.
On my own place here I have had over fifty corbies destroyed within the last year, and still there are many. However, corbies are apart from the question, and I need not enter upon a discussion as to their merits or demerits.
Last summer it was necessary to wire in young chickens here in consequence of the depredations of rooks. Before this was done, on one occasion they cleared off seventeen chickens in less than an hour.
Now, these were not corbies, but rooks, some of them being destroyed in the act. I agree with Mr Dand that farmers suffer from sparrows, but not to such a degree as in the case of rooks; and if any farmer thinks that sparrows are injurious to him, he has the remedy in his own hands without applying to his landlord to help him.
I do not wish to enter into any controversy upon the subject, but will leave it to the judgment of those whom it most concerns the farmers to state their opinions, if they wish the matter gone into further.
Milfield, 2nd January An Improvised Hammock diag. Handy Gun Sling diag. Second Efforts While Leaping Underneath in pencil: Same event as reported on page 34 5. Grey, at Biarritz, at the early age of He was the eldest son of Mr G. He was educated at Harrow and Cheltenham, where he distinguished himself in the cricket field and in other athletic pursuits.
His scores a few years later against the All England Eleven, made on the Northumberland cricket ground at Newcastle-on-Tyne, is still remembered as one of the largest on record.
For some years he lived at Milfield, where he had the benefit of the advice and assistance of his father, who is well known as an agriculturalist. At an early age he obtained the appointment of agent to Earl Grey, and some time afterwards he accepted a similar appointment under the trustees of the Earl of Carlisle. As master of the Irthing Vale hounds he proved himself a thorough sportsman, not only a first rate rider, but also an excellent shot and good fisherman.
Last autumn he was ordered abroad on account of his health, which necessitated the severance of his connection with Cumberland. On their departure Mr and Mrs Grey were presented by a number of their neighbours with their portraits, as a tribute for the able manner in which he had conducted the Irving Vale Hunt.
Unhappily, the hopes of his friends that the change would benefit his health were doomed to disappointment, as he died on Sunday, March 30, at Biarritz. His father brought his remains to England, and he was buried at Kirknewton in Northumberland on the 8th inst. Mr Grey leaves a widow and three daughters.
I may therefore be allowed to express my opinion on the subject. I have had many horses which regularly performed this feat — in whatever way it may be explained. When I was seventeen I had a mare many old sportsmen will remember her 15 hands high, a rich brown, with a grey tail, by McOrlville, dam by Sir Harry Dimsdale. I sold her to the late Sir John Pringle Stichelland he, when he left off hunting, sold her to the late Earl of Kintore, who rode her until his death.
This mare never jumped to clear a ditch on the far side, but on seeing one when in the air clicked up her fore feet, and generally rattled her shoes against my stirrups, at the same time seeming to tuck up her hind legs, giving me rather an inconvenient lift behind.
In this way she carried me weather permitting three days a fortnight for three years, and never made a single mistake. I may also mention Snapshot, whose name is well known in the north as a winner of many races and steeple-chases while in the possession of Mr Greete and Mr C. He was by Musketeer by Rifleman. I have ridden him regularly for nine seasons in Leicestershire, Yorkshire, and the north.
He invariably strikes back and alters his position when he sees it necessary, and he has never given me a fall but once, and that was an impossible place, where my son and I came down alongside of each other.
I could give many other instances. My opinion is that it is not the spring on striking back that propels the horse farther, but these are necessary to enable the horse suddenly to alter his position. When a horse is in the air he generally has his hind feet a little behind him at first, with his fore feet somewhat extended to alight upon, but when he sees he needs to alight further on his suddenly tucks up his fore legs and draws up his hind legs and quarters.
Then the impetus he has on sends him forward, and at a later moment he extends his fore feet to alight on firm ground. Whether I am correct in this supposition or not, there can be no doubt that clever horses, in a cramped country, constantly do it, thereby saving themselves and their riders from bad falls, and I have many times watched it in other men's horses with great interest.
It was the presentation of a massive and exquisitely beautiful gold hunting watch and chain by Messers Dent of London, the former which bore the following inscription: Also a silver hunting horn, and an illuminated address on parchment bearing the names of about eighty subscribers. The vice chair was filled by Mr James R.
Black, Cheswick, a substantial tenant farmer, a man of extensive agricultural knowledge, a bold rider to hounds in former years and a keen preserver of foxes then as now. Secretary announced the receipt of letters of apology regretting the unavoidable absence of Lieut Colonel Milne-Holme, M. Tate of Allerburn House, Alnwick and others.
The usual loyal toasts having been given from the Chair, and patriotically received Mr Askew proceeded to the business of the day. He said- Mr George Grey and gentlemen- I have now a very agreeable and pleasant duty to perform, and that is to present you Sir, in the name of us assembled around this table in your honour, as well as of many absent friends, whose name you will find engrossed upon this parchment, this watch and chain and hunting horn as some recognition of the talents that you have shown as huntsman, and as an assurance to you of our appreciation and of your courtesy and kindliness to everyone in the hunting field, and of that sportsman-like conduct that you always shew- sportsmanship which seems to be the natural heritage of every child of that most distinguished disciple of Nimrod the late master of the Glendale Hounds.
The task you undertook, sir, four years ago was no light one. To the outside world it would appear that you had no great experience in hunting hounds, and that you were likely to undertake a task in which you would possibly not be successful.
We all know that it is the lot of very many promising professional men who have spent their lives probably as second and first whips, when they began their career as huntsman, even with a thoroughly good pack of hounds that have probably hunted together for generations, they too frequently fail. As I said before, sir, the outside world that you had had no great experience in hunting hounds, but you have with a pack of hounds composed of drafts from all parts of the county, shewn for four years most unexampled sport.
If had only been for one season, some people might naturally have said that the season was greatly in your favour, but for a succession of four seasons, depend upon it there is no luck in the matter. It shows a great deal of talent on your part and I would like in consequence to look at the circumstances of the case, how it is that you have shown such marvellous sport.
I would like to allude to this, because possibly of our many young friends may think it much easier to hunt a pack of hounds than many of us know is really the case. You began to hunt from your earliest childhood, and my impression is that you not only hunted in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but learned the science as well, and you learned your work as perfectly as a looker on, as any professional huntsman who works his way up though the various gradations of his profession. I am only too glad to take this opportunity of thanking you before this company for the many many very valuable services you rendered to me years ago when I was hunting this country.
Many a good run have you saved by the judicious way in which you assisted the men. Some we know, only make matters worse, but you always did render most valuable assistance, never doing that which was wrong, and always turning hounds in the right direction. And I am moreover able to say that Sir John Majoribanks appreciated most thoroughly the assistance that you, on many occasions gave him. I remember one morning Sir John coming to Pallinsburn, and telling me of a splendid run that the hounds had had.
I think it was from Earl Whin to Downham. I mention this because it shews that you have been from your earliest childhood studying that noble sport, and I attribute that sport you have been showing to that calmness combined with…. Long long may the range of the Cheviots, and the valley of the Tweed re-echo to the sound of this horn.
Applause In the names of the gentleman whose names are inscribed on this parchment I beg to present you with this watch and chain and hunting horn.
Should words fail me duly to express in appropriate terms the honour you have done me, I hope you all look leniently on my short comings and believe that however inadequately I express my thoughts, I thank you none the less sincerely for the present you have made me and the kind way in which Mr Askew has presented it. I assure you, gentleman, that I am very proud to know that my services as huntsman have met with your approval. I can honestly say that I have tried, and tried very hard, to provide such sport for you, as the country would allow.
And now at the commencement of another year, when I shall again carry the horn, this time for Mr Lambton, I will still do my utmost to provide you with sport and I can only trust that I may be successful, and so again in a slight measure thank you. I am afraid that I cannot lay claim to being such an adept as Mr Askew would kindly say I am, but as he truly says ever since I was a small boy I cared more for hunting than riding.
By that I mean I have always been a hunting man, not a riding man. I trust that we will may times meet together at the covert side and enjoy many a good gallop together. And when the time comes for me to lay my horn aside, these will remind me of your well-known faces and of the many happy days we have spent in the hunting field together.
Grey and Mr G. Grey in the absence of his father replied. Lambton, the present master of the Glendale Hounds. At this stage Mr A. The proceedings then terminated. We have been obliged to curtail this report owing to the late hour at which we received it last night. We found in the gorse at the end of the lake, With its stream running wide near the mill: As he swung round the blood one and gave him a shake, It was plain the best use of his start he would make: Where the beauties had crossed, he was close on their wake, And firing off up the next hill!
At the end of the run he was down in a crack, With his steed round facing the wind; As they ate up each morsel he cheered on the pack— From the first to the last he had beaten us smack Out of time, for we only came up on his track, While scores were left furlongs behind! Part of a report of an otter hunt.
Photograph of curling at St Moritz marked G. The fields, as may be expected, are not…. Yet it is surprising how ten and even twenty men assemble from great distances — even from the other side of the Tweed. So far, the show of foxes is by no means satisfactory, except in a few favoured places.
At Yeavering they are sufficiently numerous; also at Pawston, Shotton and Longknowe, and on Fenton Hill there is a fine show. From the latter place a few days ago, the hounds had a fine run over the low country, and ran into their fox at view, as he was returning to the covert. On the contrary, everything about Ewart has been twice drawn blank, which is not surprising when it is remembered that last spring a heavy vixen was found buried at the mouth of a breeding earth with her mask cut off.
Also, from Kirknewton up the valley of the College to Cheviot, there is not a fox to be found; yet it is the district that has for four seasons given such good runs to these hounds. The hill shepherds are, as a rule, good sportsman, but one vulpicide in a district is quite sufficient. The Kilham Hills, which for several years past have afforded an unfailing find, have been twice drawn without, the sign of a fox. This may be accounted for by the fact of a breeding earth having been dug in the spring and the cubs killed, several of them being left at the mouth of the earth.
As he went in the direction of standing corn Mr Grey stopped the hounds, hoping to fall in with cubs, but none were found. The ruin of foxhunting in this country is undoubtedly owing to the enactment of the present Government respecting ground game, which induces farmers and even proprietors, to sell their game to the highest bidders, frequently far beyond the value of the rabbits.
This extra rent they are obliged to make it out of other game, and if they lose a few rabbits by a fox the next thing to do is to put him out of the way.
Sir, — Since the notice you inserted of the doings of those hounds, concluding with the run from Twizel on the 7th inst. On Tuesday, the 11th inst. The covert drawn was a woody hill, two miles in length. A fox was found, and was soon driven through a great part of the wood, and broke at the north end, running sharply in the direction of Ford, but turned over Kimmerston towards the Till, and over Fenton, returning to the wood where he was found.
This was nice galloping, over firm fields and good fencing, occupying nearly half an hour; the fox then dodged in the wood, and little more was made of him. The next draw was Barmoor Moss — blank. Then in the laurels at a Barmoor Castle a fox was found, and obliged to leave at once. Here he was so hard pressed he went into the house of a china merchant, where he made great havoc among the cups and saucers, and went through a window into the street.
There the hubbub was indescribable, men shouting and boys running, and women screaming with children under their arms. Some time was lost in getting the hounds settled to the scent, when they raced him on again, and in five minutes more killed him at the Barmoor lime kilns.
Altogether an hour and a quarter through a very stiff fencing country. On Friday the 14th, the meet was at Akeld Bridge. A wood belonging to Sir Horace St. Paul was drawn a blank, but a fox was found in a strip of wood belonging to Mr Matthew Culley, of Coupland Castle. The hounds went off at a great pace over Coupland and Lanton, over the tillage land and fencing up hill, onto Lanton Hill — the pace was so fast that very few horses were able to keep near them — thence onto Crookhouse and the river Bowmont, where the fox had felt himself too much pressed to take Kilham Hill, and dropped downwind to the left by Lanton Mill, and was viewed to ground in a breeding earth near the river Glen, where a good whin covert formerly existed.
This was done in twenty minutes; but most of the horses were well satisfied with the finish. Again a fox was found in a nice whin covert belonging to Mr Askew, at Kypie, and, after a very fast gallop of seventeen minutes all over grass, he was run into.
While he was being eaten a fox was holloaed away a mile distant, and Mr Grey quickly had the hounds to the spot; but by that time the day had changed, with a heavy shower of rain, and the scent was not so good as before.
The hounds hunted him steadily and well over Flodden Hill and the Encampment Farm to Crookham, and, turning southward, by the Till banks to Ford Bridge, and again towards Flodden Hill, where the scent seemed entirely to fail, and it was given up. It appeared afterwards, however, that the fox had turned sharp back, and nearly retraced his steps to the farm of Heatherslaw, where he was met by one of Mr Black's work men with a terrier dog, which gave chase, and the man knocked him on the head with a stick, which was much to be regretted, as the hounds to deserved their fox, and there are already too few in the neighbourhood.
On Tuesday, the 18th, the meet was at Humbleton. A fox was found in a small whin between that and Wooler. He appeared to have clapped in a glen, and Mr Grey made casts in different directions without success; but in a few minutes he was seen stealing away from almost the very spot where the hounds came to fault. They tackled to him again, and raced over Mr Reas Middleton and South Middleton, and ran up to him at view in the middle of a large field on Ilderton, within ten yards of an open breeding earth, this being well into the Lord Percy's country.
Time, thirty five minutes. It is a fact interesting to huntsmen to know that a puppy called Marksman, who had never entered to his work before, led the pack in the fast run over Lanton Hill on the previous Friday, and that the same hound raced up to, and was the first to catch hold of the fox just mentioned, showing how patient huntsmen should be with a well-bred hound under similar circumstances. After this Mr Grey was obliged to return some miles to his own country, but by that time the afternoon had become so stormy that it was decided to give it up.
On Friday, the 21st, the meet was asked Bowsden. Bowsden Dene and Berrington Dene were drawn blank, which was a matter of great surprise to everyone, as Lord Grey's keeper, Johnstone, at Ancroft, is one of the best friends to foxes, as indeed he ought to be, being a nephew of that excellent huntsman, Neil of the Cottesmore.
After this the huntsman trotted the hounds off to Woodend Wood, where a fox was found, and, breaking to the west, ran over the farm of Gatherick, on to Greenlawalls Farm, turned to the right as if to Berrington Dene, but turned short again to Woodend Wood, through which the hounds pressed him, and, leaving at the high end, ran at racing pace up Pigs Plantation, Rhodes Hill, to Berryhill Craggs, where they killed him. The run was short, only twenty-five or thirty minutes, but the pace good; and although probably this day afforded less sport than any for five weeks past, it made a pleasant finish to a disappointing forenoon.
Mr Grey has been noticed chiefly as a well-known sportsman. This is by no means a correct description of him, for his name was better known in his own country as a leading agriculturist. His grandfather and his father had farmed Milfield for many years, a farm lying in the fertile plain of Milfield, adjoining "Flodden Field," which his father farmed also for many years, and running up a spur of the Cheviot Hills.
He was called on at the age of eighteen years to manage these farms, on the removal of his father to the southern part of the county, where he made his name known as John Grey of Dilston. The only sport which G. Grey combined with his farming duties was that of fox-hunting, and in this he only displayed the characteristics which afterwards developed in every walk of life.
He went straight, without fear or wavering, but with "energy," cool judgement, and steady head and hands. In his youth he was in the habit of seeking advice from the most true and trustworthy of his neighbours, such as Tom Stawart, a friend who survives him, and has nearly completed a century of honest and useful life. In the hunting field the most rash and furious rider was ever jealous of George Grey sailing along in front of him at the tail of the hounds; and, as a magistrate, his advice has been for many years sought by his colleagues on the bench, as well as by his brother farmers and humble neighbours.
As an extensive land agent his practical knowledge of farming, and his sympathy with his class, as well as the confidence of his employers in his judgement and sense of justice, brought contentment and good feeling to the estates under his care. By his kindly sympathy and honest reasoning he frequently brought about peace, through tenants seeking his advice on estates with which he was not connected.
The farm of Milfield has long been known on Tweed-side as a model of good and skilful farming, and as a breeder and exhibitor of stock, Mr. Grey was in former years successful. He had for many years a flock of Leicester ewes as good as any in the kingdom.
This flock was perfectly pure, but the locality and climate had a certain effect on their character, which made them pass as Border Leicesters. This is a fact worthy of the attention of some people who argue that all Border Leicesters are cross-bred. Mr Grey had also a small but valuable herd of Shorthorns, and his judgement was shown in the purchase of two bulls, Recruit and Guy Fawkes, with which he won gold medals, two years in succession, at the Royals of England, Scotland and Ireland.
In his declining years Mr. Grey extended his farming by the purchase of some adjoining lands, but he curtailed his farming operations and laid most of his land to grass; and, giving up the more exciting occupation of keeping shows stock, he kept a number of brood mares and bred many valuable hunters, for, though not a racing man, his judgement enabled him to select from racehorses sires most useful for his purpose.
He also amused himself with the care of the humbler sort of farm stock, pigs and Channel Island cows and catsbut in these, as in everything else, he showed his keen discrimination. His funeral in the little secluded Church of Kirknewton, under the shadow of the Cheviot Hills, which he had loved to look on, was attended on the 23rd January, amid sleet and slush, hundreds, from the gentry in carriages and farmers in gigs to the labourers who trudged on foot.
His only surviving son George, who since his father's loss of sight has done most of his work, as well as carried the horn with Glendale hounds for four seasons, succeeds him now, and there seems every prospect of the family name being still respected in the Border lands. Only a year ago the Kennels were the scene of bustle and activity and life — the centre of attraction for the hunting men of a wide district.
Scarcely a week passed without the chance of seeing a good run presenting itself; and if there happened to be no near meet next week, the big run of yesterday was something to think and talk about in the meantime. Travelling over the lonely hill, or the deserted moorland, on a dark and dreary night, with the wind moaning fitfully through the branches of the thinly-scattered fir trees, or soughing drearily in the hollows, the peculiar and strangely eerie howl of the fox mingling with the blood-curdling cry of some night bird, the lonely villager was glad to hear the baying of the hounds in their kennels.
It gave him a feeling of safety and security, and he stepped forward with a brisker stride and with a lighter heart. To the various local tradesmen — the blacksmith, saddler, and miller — the hounds were a source of considerable revenue, and so also were they to the farmers in the immediate neighbourhood, from whom the supplies of corn, hay, and straw were procured.
At the Kennels there was, on every hand, ample evidence of the care and attention bestowed upon the occupants of benches and stalls. Nothing was wanting which would in any way contribute to their comfort. All was trim and neat. The entrance gate led to an outer yard, gravelled, and carefully kept. Adjoining this was the inner, or feeding, yard, with its long row of troughs always kept scrupulously clean.
Each was surrounded by a high rustic paling, which again was bordered by a fringe of sycamores and limes. Party in the outer yard and partly in the inner were the two kennels with the picturesque roofs of red tiles covering the benches, and with their outer courts floored with concrete, and fenced with bark-covered timber. From a heterogeneous collection — the drafts of a dozen hunts — he had, by careful breeding, selection, and training, evolved a pack which could not be surpassed either for symmetry, condition, or for their working capabilities in the field.
At feeding time it was a sight to see, first, the careful drafting of the slow feeder and then the rush and scurry and scramble of the remainder to the troughs. And on a hunting morning the scene was worthy the brush of a Landseer as the yard gate was opened and the hounds rushed out, full of life and energy, to bid good morning to the Master in their rough and boisterous fashion.
The stables — stalls and boxes — grouped conveniently near — were filled with mounts; the barns and granaries was stocked with provender; and the quarters of the Hunt servants presented an air of constant animation. But now all is changed. Order and neatness have given place to disorder and untidiness, and the bustle of work has been succeeded by quietness and desolation.
The treasure being gone, the Master has now no heart to come about the place, and seldom indeed is seen. The entrance gate is broken and is hanging by one crook.
The yards are overgrown with grass and weeds, and the palings are falling from their transverse supports. The feeding troughs still stand in their old place, but they are almost hidden by the rank vegetation. The granary door has disappeared and it is not replaced, as there is nothing now to store. The stable windows are broken, and the stalls are empty, and the once smart saddle-room is filled with lumber. But the saddest sight of all is to see the couple of old hounds, which the Master could not find it in his heart to part with, visit the scene of their former triumphs.
They are all that remain of the once loved pack, and they are now fat and lazy and lame. They live with the pointers up at the Hall, but they occasionally pay a visit to their old home. The sight of them accentuates and intensifies the pervading air of desolation. They saunter in at the gate, and the sight of familiar objects stirs their imagination, and for the time the spirit of former days is revived within them. They are young again and the excitement of the chase sends the blood coursing in their veins.
But this feeling is momentary and transient. They miss their companions. They seem to see that something has gone wrong but what they do not know. They stand with heads high, snuffling the air in an attitude of inquiry. They linger, and wait for an answer, but no reply comes to their dumb questioning.
Surely this must be a hideous dream — a dreadful nightmare. They will put the matter to the test, and see whether they are awake or not, and they attempt the run to the feeding troughs.
But it is slowly and painfully done, and they arrive alone, and the troughs are empty. Now some faint inkling of the truth seems to dawn upon them, and a long plaintive notes sounds mournfully in the evening breeze. Then they are still again. They will not give up hope yet. Perhaps the Master is waiting for them at the outer gate, and has forgotten to call them, or has called, and they have not heard. Again the scramble is attempted, as was their custom in former days, but no Master is there, and no cheering voice salutes them.
Then the true state of affairs becomes fully revealed to them, and with hanging heads and drooping sterns—the very picture of despair, they totter away, feeling, one could almost imagine, as though life for them was of no further consequence. By and by, when the end has come peacefully for they are not to be shotthey will sleep in the Valley by the River, and the Master himself will lay them there with all reverence, for they were participants with him in some of the brightest and happiest episodes of his life.
It will be within the recollection of everyone that Mr Grey, of Milfield, in pursuance of an intimation made by him early during the present year, gave up and sold at the end of this last season the hounds which were known as "Mr Greys," and with which he has hunted a considerable portion of the country, principally of the mountain kind lying between Wooler and Yetholm for the last four years.
Sixteen years ago the late Mr G.Kimblewick Hunt - Boxing Day meet 2015
Grey got together a pack of hounds to hunt this same country after the mastership of the Northumberland and Berwickshire had been relinquished by Sir I.