Punch's history has he been without an artist who has specialised in the humours of the hunt. First it was the inimitable Leech, some of whose drawings find a place in the present collection, and then the mantle of the sporting artist would seem to have descended to feminine shoulders, as Miss Bowers (Mrs. Bowers-Edwards) wore it for some ten years after 1866. That lady is also represented in the present work, at pages 49 and 111. Later came Mr. G. H. Jalland, many of whose drawings we have chosen for inclusion here. Perhaps the most popular of his hunting jokes was that of the Frenchman exclaiming, "Stop ze chasse! I tomble, I faloff! Stop ze fox!!!" (see page 141). To-day, of course, it is Mr. G. D. Armour whose pencil is devoted chiefly to illustrating the humorous side of hunting; but now, as formerly, most of the eminent artists whose work lies usually in other fields, delight at times to find a subject associated with the hunt. Thus we are able to present examples of Mr. Cecil Aldin and Mr. Raven-Hill in sportive mood, while such celebrities of the past as Randolph Caldecott and Phil May are here drawn upon for the enriching of this, the first book of hunting humour compiled from the abundant chronicles of Mr. Punch.
The season for hunting I see has begun,
So adieu for a time to my rod and my gun;
And ho! for the fox, be he wild or in bag,
As I follow the chase on my high-mettled nag.
I call him high-mettled, but still I must state,
He hasn't a habit I always did hate,
He doesn't walk sideways, like some "gees" you meet,
Who go slantindicularly down the street.
He's steady and well broken in, for, of course,
I can't risk my life on an unbroken horse;
You might tie a torpedo or two on behind,
And though they exploded that horse wouldn't mind
My strong point is costume, and oft I confess
I've admired my get-up in a sportsmanlike dress;
Though, but for the finish their lustre confers,
I would much rather be, I declare, without spurs.
They look very well as to cover you ride,
But I can't keep the things from the animal's side;
And the mildest of "gees," I am telling no fibs,
Will resent having liberties ta'en with his ribs.
Then hie to the cover, the dogs are all there,
And the horn of the hunter is heard on the air;
I've a horn of my own, which in secret I stow,
For, oddly enough, they don't like me to blow.
We'll go round by that gate, my good sir, if you please,
I'm one of your sportsmen who rides at his ease;
And I don't care to trouble my courser to jump,
For whenever he does I fall off in a lump.
Then haste to the meet! The Old Berkeley shall find,
If I don't go precisely as fast as the wind,