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Historic essays on the art and psychology of fox hunting.
The Man who Hunts and Does Like it
The Lady who Rides to Hounds
The Hunting Farmer
The Man who Hunts and Never Jumps
The Hunting Parson
The Master of Hounds
How to Ride to Hounds
Originally published in 1865, Anthony Trollopes Hunting Sketches takes the form of a collection of eight short texts that center around the subject of hunting. Being clearly fascinated by the subject, the author first discusses the difference between those who do practice the sport with pleasure and those who do it without pleasure. The texts can generally serve as guides to nineteenth-century techniques, modes and styles of fox-hunting, hound-training and horse-riding. Trollope equally analyzes the way society appraises hunters. For instance, he explains the differences between male hunters and female hunters and claims that while the hunting farmer plays an indispensable role in the maintenance and the development of the sport, parsons and clergymen should not hunt since the activity is culturally believed to be incompatible with the nature of their religious function. By the very end of the sketches, Trollope insinuates that once you take his advice and guidance, you can ride to hounds better than nineteen men out of every twenty that you have seen at the meet, and will have enjoyed the keenest pleasure that hunting can give you.
"Let it be understood that I am speaking of fox-hunting, and let the young beginner always remember that in hunting the fox a pack of hounds is needed.... They simply wish to get away, and in their impatience forget the little fact that a pack of hounds is necessary for the hunting of a fox...I have found myself compelled to begin with this preliminary caution, as all riding to hounds hangs on the fact in question. Men cannot ride to hounds if the hounds be not there. They may ride one after another, and that, indeed, suffices for many a keen sportsman; but I am now addressing the youth who is ambitious of riding to hounds. But though I have thus begun, striking first at the very root of the matter, I must go back with my pupil into the covert before I carry him on through the run. In riding to hounds there is much to do before the straight work commences. Indeed, the straight work is, for the man, the easiest work, or the work, I should say, which may be done with the least previous knowledge. Then the horse, with his qualities, comes into play; and if he be up to his business in skill, condition, and bottom, a man may go well by simply keeping with others who go well also. Straight riding, however, is the exception and not the rule. It comes sometimes, and is the cream of hunting when it does come; but it does not come as often as the enthusiastic beginner will have taught himself to expect....The art must come of nature and of experience; and Orion, were he here, could only tell the tyro of some few blunders which he may avoid, or give him a hint or two as to the manner in which he should begin."
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Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London to a bankrupt barrister father and a mother who, as a well-known writer, supported the family. Trollope enjoyed considerable acclaim both as a novelist and as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. He published more than forty novels and many short stories that are regarded by some as among the greatest of nineteenth-century fiction.
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