CHAPTER XIII. THE BLOODHOUND

The Bloodhound was much used in olden times in hunting and in the pursuit of fugitives; two services for which his remarkable acuteness of smell, his ability to keep to the particular scent on which he is first laid, and the intelligence and pertinacity with which he follows up the trail, admirably fit him. The use and employment of these dogs date back into remote antiquity. We have it on the authority of Strabo that they were used against the Gauls, and we have certain knowledge that they were employed not only in the frequent feuds of the Scottish clans, and in the continuous border forays of those days, but also during the ever-recurring hostilities between England and Scotland.

Indeed, the very name of the dog calls up visions of feudal castles, with their trains of knights and warriors and all the stirring panorama of these brave days of old, when the only tenure of life, property, or goods was by the strong hand.

This feudal dog is frequently pictured by the poet in his ballads and romances, and in “The Lady of the Lake” we find the breed again mentioned as

  ”—dogs of black St. Hubert's breed, 
   Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed.”

These famous black Bloodhounds, called St. Huberts, are supposed to have been brought by pilgrims from the Holy Land. Another larger breed, also known by the same name, were pure white, and another kind were greyish-red. The dogs of the present day are probably a blend of all these varieties.

The Bloodhound, from the nobler pursuit of heroes and knights, came in later years to perform the work of the more modern detective; but in this also his services were in time superseded by the justice's warrant and the police officer. We find it recorded about 1805, however, that “the Thrapston Association for the Prevention of Felons in Northamptonshire have provided and trained a Bloodhound for the detection of sheep-stealers.”

The reputation it obtained for sagacity and fierceness in the capture of runaway slaves, and the cruelties attributed to it in connection with the suppression of the various negro risings, especially that of the Maroons, have given the animal an evil repute, which more probably should attach to those who made the animal's courage and sagacity a means for the gratification of their own revolting cruelty of disposition. It has been justly remarked that if entire credence be given to the description that was transmitted through the country of this extraordinary animal, it might be supposed that the Spaniards had obtained the ancient and genuine breed of Cerberus himself.

Coming again to this country, we find the Bloodhound used from time to time in pursuit of poachers and criminals, and in many instances the game recovered and the man arrested.

There is no doubt that the police in country districts, and at our convict prisons, could use Bloodhounds to advantage; but public sentiment is decidedly against the idea, and although one of His Majesty's prisons has been offered a working hound for nothing, the authorities have refused to consider the question or give the hound a trial.

Half a century ago the Bloodhound was so little esteemed in this country that the breed was confined to the kennels of a very few owners; but the institution of dog shows induced these owners to bring their hounds into public exhibition, when it was seen that, like the Mastiff, the Bloodhound claimed the advantage of having many venerable ancestral trees to branch from. At the first Birmingham show, in 1860, Lord Bagot brought out a team from a strain which had been in his lordship's family for two centuries, and at the same exhibition there was entered probably one of the best Bloodhounds ever seen, in Mr. T. A. Jenning's Druid. Known now as “Old” Druid, this dog was got by Lord Faversham's Raglan out of Baron Rothschild's historic bitch Fury, and his blood goes down in collateral veins through Mr. L. G. Morrel's Margrave, Prince Albert Solm's Druid, and Mr. Edwin Brough's Napier into the pedigrees of many of the celebrated hounds of the present day.

Another famous Druid—grandsire of Colonel Cowen's hound of the name—was owned by the Hon. Grantley Berkeley. This typical dog was unsurpassed in his time, and his talent in following a line of scent was astonishing. His only blemish was one of character; for, although usually as good-tempered as most of the breed are, he was easily aroused to uncontrollable fits of savage anger.

Queen Victoria at various times was the possessor of one or more fine specimens of the Bloodhound, procured for her by Sir Edwin Landseer, and a capital hound from the Home Park Kennels at Windsor was exhibited at the London Show in 1869, the judge on the occasion being the Rev. Thomas Pearce, afterwards known as “Idstone.” Landseer was especially fond of painting the majestic Bloodhound, and he usually selected good models for his studies. The model for the hound in his well-known picture, “Dignity and Impudence,” was Grafton, who was a collateral relative of Captain J. W. Clayton's celebrated Luath XI.

Four superlative Bloodhounds of the past stand out in unmistakable eminence as the founders of recognised strains. They are Mr. Jenning's Old Druid, Colonel Cowen's Druid, Mr. Reynold Ray's Roswell, and Captain Clayton's Luath XI.; and the owner of a Bloodhound which can be traced back in direct line of descent to any one of these four patriarchs may pride himself upon possessing a dog of unimpeachable pedigree.