“THE castle of old Forfar” might once, as a poet observes, have been ” stuff’ full of Inglashmen”; but we had no time to inquire after the fate of our compatriots, as we pointed straight from Kirremuir to Mains of Kelly. Keillor, which has always been regarded as the very Warlaby of the ” doddies,” lies about twelve miles from it, and a little east of Cupar Angus. It will be four years come Martinmas since Mr. Watson left it, after a residence of four-and-fifty years, and retired to a new home in Perth. He was purely catholic in his cattle tastes. Bracelet, Charity, and one or two more of the pure Booths were the models he kept in his eye, in building up his blacks and even in a shire so strongly wedded to its own breed, he did not shrink from saying so. Many of his dearest friends lived over the BorderJohn Booth, Anthony Maynard, Wetherell, Torr, and Philip Skipworthand he loved to go Shorthorn and sheep judging with them to Ireland, and to call to mind Booth’s merry jokes and his practicals on old Philip. He also had many “a quiet day at Wiseton” with the first earl among the Shorthorns ; and he was walking with his lordship on the racecourse at Doncaster, just before Elis’s St. Leger, when he first met Sir Charles Knightley. The old baronet began to rally him directly after they had been introduced, in allusion to the earl’s politics, on “not keeping better company.” Before the end of the week they met again at a sheep sale at Wooller, and for many years kept up a strong correspondence.
Old Jock (I), Strathmore (5), Angus (45), and Pat (29), were his four favourite bulls, and there is a strain of them in every great black herd. Old Jock was the most stylish of the lot, and showed, as his owner never scrupled to say, ” much of the Shorthorn superiority in hair and touch.” His son Pat thought nothing on one occasion of walking eighteen miles to a show, and winning ; and his son, Hanton, made the herd fortunes of M`Combie, who bought him for 105 gs. when he had won at Berwick. Old Jock was sold for 100 guineas, after taking a Highland Society first in 1844. In 1852 his son Grey-breasted Jock, or Second jock, beat all the polled bulls in a sweep-stakes at Perth, when he was thirteen ; and Black Jock (3) and Young Jock (4) keep up the line.
” Keillor Watson,” as he is always called, began to show in 1810, and won upwards of two hundred prizes for sheep and ” doddies ” in the next thirty-three years, principally at Strathmore (Cupar Angus), the Highland Society, and the Royal Irish. Some of these must be credited to thoroughbreds and cart-horses, and among the medals and other trophies there are not a few race-cups. Old breeders still speak with rapture of the heifers which he showed at Perth in ’29 ; and his Leicester rams were so good and level on that occasion, that each of the three judges had got a different one for first. ‘Twenty-nine was also the year of his Smithfield heifer ; and so delighted was Earl Spencer, the President of the Club, with her, that he requested that she should be modelled and struck off on a medal. He also gave the Irish a taste of his quality, and made several large sales there. His four-year-old Angus ox went over, and was placed first for the Purcell Challenge Cup at Belfast, and yet, strange to say, died after all in the plough at the Royal Home Farm when he was rising eighteen. Still his fame was in all lands, as a traveller in India found his portrait pasted up on a temple of Vishnu. His longevity was hereditary from his dam old Grannie, who gave no milk after she was 28, and ended in July, ’59, a pilgrimage of 351 years. From one to three she was often shown, and very seldom beaten as a cow ; and her guardian, James Thompson, after forty-two years of service, received one hundred francs as a tribute from the ” Societe Protectrice des Animaux.”
She is “the prima cow” of the Polled Herd-Book, and dates from 1824 ; while Colonel, the premier bull, is six years her senior. This Book, which was published in April, 1862, contains entries from 126 owners, 31 of them Galloway men. Of the 336 numbered bulls, 45 are Galloway, and the cows of the sort muster 95 out of 846.
Mr. Watson kept Leicesters on his low land, and southdowns, to which he had always a strong leaning, on the hill. In 1838, he could record that he had bred the latter for five-and-twenty years, that he thought them as hardy as the Cheviot, and that their snug-woolled heads and necks dried sooner after a storm. In another respect he found them very superior, as he could always fatten them much better off grass the year their lamb was taken from them. His experience of their hardihood was drawn from the fine middle range of the Seidlaw Hills, where they browsed upon the green sward, intermixed with whin and heather, five hundred to twelve hundred feet above the level of the sea, a spot “too high for Leicesters, and under the level at which the native black-face only thrives.”
Scotch miles are proverbially long, although nothing to Shetland ones; and the day was far advanced be-fore we reached Mains of Kelly. Mileage authorities differed so essentially, that after we had consulted an old woman, who overruled all previous decisions, we put it confidentially to a lad with a cart, who was exactly wrong by one mile in the three. We thought the old lady was not within earshot during this inter-view ; but she was, and we heard her indignant protest, “greet lee,” in a voice quite beyond her years, and her word proved to be sound law.
Mains of Kelly lies about three miles from the flourishing little town of Arbroath, which has not fallen under the prophet’s ban of being ” a’ dung down,” like Dundee, and shows quite as few symptoms of it. Mr. Bowie’s father came from Cockpen, three miles from Dalkeith, in 1809, and the son has held farms since 1834 under the lairds of Cockpen, or rather the Marquises of Dalhousie. The late Mr. Bowie had been an Angus breeder since 1809 ; and when his son began, it was on Mr. Fullarton Lindsay Carnegie’s estate, with one of Mr. Colvill’s Boysick tribe. Cup-bearer by Pat was the junior’s ” opening star,” and the white inside the hocks and in the centre of the tail has always been the Bowie coat-of-arms. As he also bred Hanton by Pat, a bull of great touch and size, he could virtually claim the first and fifth honours in the great Paris contest. How matters were conducted by the jury, both there and at Hamburgh, will always be a problem to the breeders, who got quite confused with what they still term “the showing of hands and measuring of tails.”
His best stock on the male side are entirely due to Watson of Keillor and Fullerton of Ardovie. The dam of Angus came from Keillor, and did him rare service. When she had not a whole tooth in her head, and had missed a year, she presented him with a calf in January ; and then she had milk fever, and, after all, brought up four more, two of which, Second Earl Spencer and Cupbearer, were first and second-prize bulls at Berwick. Second Earl Spencer was her own calf, and when he was killed, at four years old, he weighed nearly 120 Dutch stone of 17 1/2lbs.
The herd numbers 80 to 90, and none are fatted off except those bred on the spot, and generally at 21 to 3 years old. Yellow swedes and oatstraw are their principal fare, and ” good and grey ” potatoes at the beginning of the season, when the price of the crop will warrant it. They are generally. bred more for use than sale, and Mr. Bowie firmly believes that he ” can keep four for three Shorthorns.” Occasionally he has tried Galloway crosses, but it never seemed to hit nicely, and the calves came coarse. He very seldom brings out any cows or heifers, except at the local shows. Of late, his great bulls have been his Kelso winners, Jim Crow and Tom. ” Jim,” the twoyear-old winner of that day against Julius Caesar and Commodore Trunnion, had a rare flank and quarter, but not such a back as Tom, another grandson of Hanton’s, who made a very fair fight with Fox Maule in those Springwood Park meadows. Tom is a very lusty bull, and, as it was said of him at Kelso, “a whole ox before the shoulder.” Old Lady Anne, with brown hair and white marks, was nursing her calf in the byre. The last Kelly relic of Queen Mother, who came here for AO when she was nearly worn out, and had one calf after, is Victoria by Cupbearer, whose progeny promises well. Lola Montes, the dam of Charlotte, also migrated from Tillyfour in her old age ; and she, too, left one pledge behind her, the last sheaf of a very rich harvest. Mr. Bowie had a sale in 1857, when two dozen store animals averaged £37 os. 7 1/4d., and twelve bullocks from two-and-a-half to three-and-a-quarter years £30 16s. 8d. Caroline, the dam of Clarissa, went at 67 guineas to the Earl of Southesk, Standard Bearer, a twenty-two-month bull at 89 guineas to Mr. M’Combie, who bought Hanton from this herd, and the two dozen were dispersed into all counties from Essex to Inverness.
To go to Carnoustie and not call on Dr. Murray was a thing not to be thought of. We had an inter-view with him in that remarkable room, on whose walls hang Voltigeur, Sir Tatton Sykes, and Refraction, and a photo of The Cure when he was down in the world. David Bonella, late groom and surgery boy, holds the son of Physician in stable guise ; and the Doctor, who has a fancy for the camera, has also introduced him at the head of one of the earliest Cures, a filly from Lily Adey. A pile of Ruffs was on the drawers, and he consulted them at intervals, sitting in his shirt sleeves at the edge of his bed. Save by one other man, who asked us to recommend him a prophet, we never heard the name of a race-horse breathed before we got to Perth.
If his countrymen were dead on the point, Dr. Murray completely atoned for them. The history of The Cure was the first great subject, and he spake of the bay on this wise : ” Mr. Rait got The Cure from Lord Airlie. He had been a year in England, and got Lambton from Elphine by Birdcatcher. While Mr. Rait had him he hadn’t a thorough-bred mare, and only three or four half-bred ones. They tried to make a hunter of him, but he wouldn’t jump over a stick, or these slippers of mine. He gave them some desperate falls, and broke a groom’s leg, so he was sent to Mr. Jones, and then he came to me. He was offered to a veterinary surgeon gratis, but he declined him ; so I said to Mr. Jones, `I’ll give you three half-crowns for him.’ I had never seen him, mind you ; but I knew all about his running. So he was sent over. I saw a pony thing coming up the brae, and I said to myself, ` That round Highland pony of a horse win the Champagne, and run second to Foig-a-Ballagh for the Leger.’ There was quite a revolution in my views of a race-horse. He was lame on the off foreleg. Thinks I to myself, ` He’s only ten or eleven ; I can surely mend him at that age ;’ so I paid my 7s. 6d., and I blistered his leg. Mind you, the three legs which weren’t lame had running thrushes, which I healed. The leg became fine after blistering. I never use bandages.
“Well, faith ! I began him on the road. I found him a little lazy, and I never could bear a lazy horse. Then I bought a thorough-bred mare at Lord Panmure’s saleLily Adey. Time went on, and his son Lambton’s exploits began to make a noise in the world. Lambton won eleven out of twelve races, and people began to say, ` Where is The Cure?’ So I sold him with three legs and a wooden one for L50, and a filly and £25 more if he was sold for £200. I was glad to get rid of him. There were two law-suits behind him. He was once claimed from me on a race-course by a trainer, who said he had given £10 for him. He was fifteen hands when his feet were pared, and, to my astonishment, he was fifteen-three in the next advertisement.*
” I have measurements of him on every point, and I’m curious on points. He was 5 feet 10 inches in his girth when fat, and 5 feet 7 s inches when he was in moderate work, and 5 feet 5 inches during my process of training. I trained him myself, whenever my practice allowed. I always trained by time. Lily Adey or her foal led the work, with my surgery lad up. The Cure took lots of work to reduce him ; he was as round as a bullock. He had perhaps two or three hours’ training between seven and threeshort gallops, and not clothed. You get more out of them without clothing. He never broke down with my method. Faith ! The Cure never tired, and never had a blanket on him. I had a faster one than either of themNorth Star, who won two or three heats at Newcastle and Lancaster. I measured his stride on the sands, where it is always rather shorter than on turf. It was 17 feet, and 18 feet by urging, and The Cure’s only 16. Nuthook’s was 17, and The General colt’s 17 feet 7 inches.
” They did their regular work on Monifeith Links, between here and Broughty Ferry. It was once a racecourse, but now it’s cut up with rabbits. There are Barrie Links near it, and some stables of the late Lord Panmure’s on it under the wood. His horses were there once. John Howe from Newmarket trained there. I thought six weeks or two months quite enough to train The Cure or any other horse. He soon took the ditches nicely enough in my practice : he took the little ditches fine. I raced him, did I ? I put in a first appearance with him at Perth. Davie, the lad, rode him, and he was third and last to Haricot. The saddle turned round, and Davie fell. I heard the cry, ‘ The boy’s off!’ I leapt the Stand rails, and a trainer’s horse knocked me down. When I came round, I found myself in the weighing-house. I had got my cheek-bone broken, and a black eye. ` Did I take The Cure, that night when I got home from Perth, to the crying wife ? ‘` Na ! it would be Lily Adey, I’se sure o’t.’ After Paisley, I rode him myself at Stirling, and took him off after the second heat. I thought they would seize him. I used to go to the races with my toggery under my coat and trousers. You can see it all for yourself very pretty in Ruff’s Guide, while I get a little mint for a lassie there.”
And we saw it, sure enough : ” Paisley, October 9th, 1851 ; Paisley, August 6th, 1852 ; and Stirling, September 2nd, 1852,” when the horse was ten and eleven years old. We read the name of ” Mr. Murray, 9st. I i lbs.” attached to the last race ; and the Doctor seemed quite astonished. ” I never got to that weight in my life; and I never declared over weight. I was nearer eleven stone ; but they’re not very particular at Stirling. Then I bought Lambton. The Cure filly from Lily Adey was second to Heir of Linne for the Queen’s Plate at Musselburgh, and beat Yorkshire Grey. I ran Lambton two or three times, but he was no good ; so I hacked him and I have a filly by him. Then I had North Star by Arundel, a rare one for speed, and the quickest at it, but a bolter. It was at Paisley he bolted among the crowd at the Grand Stand. I felt my feet rapping on their heads for all the world just like when you run your stick along an iron railing. He jumped at a ditch ten or twelve feet deep, and got his fore feet on the other bank, and played plunk with me to the bottom among moss and peat. I heard them shout, ‘ He’s drowned!’ I got out fast enough, and they got ropes and pulled out North Star. Faith ! he was a black horse when he came up. I never went back to weigh, but I just bolted from Paisley by the next train. There was a paragraph in the papers next day’ Accident at the races i a man’s leg broken, an arm dislocated ; taken promptly to the infirmary ‘all that sort of thing, and just through this abominable bolting. He fell with me again, and put out my thumbs, and broke two of my teeth. I finished him at Perth. I knew he would bolt at the gate if he could ; so I kept the horses between me and it, and when I went up to cut them down, he was round in a circle, and we were down in a heap. I up, and I’d have caught them, but a lad said; “Look ! his leg’s lolloping about.’ I had him shot there and then; his leg was broken under the knee into twenty pieces.
Lambton was no good, and I gave him to Jemmy Laing, and he went back to England. He got his legs under the van partition coming back from the races one day, and I thought he was a dead horse. His wrestling to get his legs out produced exostosis on both his hind pasterns : his forelegs were bad enough before, and now he was a cripple all round
Such are the strange Scottish antecedents, not only of the little bay horse who was second to Voltigeur in a field of sixteen sires for the t00-guinea prize at Middlesboro’, the sire of Underhand, and the now dearly beloved of John Osborne; but of one which has got, perhaps, more winners in proportion to his chances than any horse of the day. The Cure was a year at the Royal Stud, and left a 1,000-guinea yearling behind him, and Lambton headed the Don-caster yearling poll in 1 864 with ” the Prince of Wales’ r,080 gs.” There must be some virtue in medical superintendence or Carnoustie air !
On our way to Dundee we passed the Links, on which The Cure and Lambton took up the tale, when King David, Bustler, Ledstone, Harlequin, and the other sheeted tenants of the Panmure Stables had run their course. The old ” Cock of the Glen,” Major Douglas, once the Osbaldeston of Scotland both with the trigger and in the saddle, gave us a kindly greeting as we passed through Broughty Ferry. Black tan is the Gordon setter colour,* to which the Major still steadily holds, and a beautiful troop of them were at his heels, with one or two fox-terriers, descended from Rage of the Rufford. With a nervous horse, the ride from the Ferry to Dundee is a peculiarly difficult one, as the railroad cheeks the road all the way, and consequently our time seemed to be occupied with perpetual bursts over clover in the open. However, we were among the forest of chimneys at last, and Mr Speedie of Perth was ready for us on the pier.
Anything for a change after so much beef and mutton ; so we had settled to have a day with him among his salmon nets on the coast of Fife. Some caravans bound to the Dundee Fair had to be wheeled out of the packet-boat, and she was soon returning to Newport, and its river bank of ” Pluck ye Crow,” Mr. Speedie can stand by his nets like a Stoic, and see shot after shot returning void on a long summer day ; but that seals should venture to claim a dividend of the salmon pricks him to the very quick. Some of them have had the temerity to venture up as far as Stanley but “Cowie Jock” was on the look out for them after that feat, and impaled no less than four at Higham Bank, half-way up the Tay, with his spikes,. in one tide. None were visible off Dogger . Bank that morning, or farther away among those dreary wreck ribs ; but, “There’s Cowie!” said his natural enemy, as we drove across Drumley sands. There he was sure enough, with his black head bobbing up and down in the ebb tide of the channel, and chaffing Captain Maitland Douglas’s fishermen.
One of them, 50 stone in weight, was taken out of the salmon trade not many months before, and in his rage at losing his licence without any compensation, he bit the foot-spar of the boat in twain, as if it were a tobacco-pipe. ” Fifty pints of oil came out of him, the rascal, and the men got L3 for it.” They chase the salmon into a chamber of the net, and then swoop down on to him like an eagle, and fish him out with their claws. An hereditary craftsman at the trade tosses his fish in the air, catches him again, and, after three bites, throws him away comtemptuously, with just the bare back-bone attached to the head. Four large salmon, weighing very little short of 100lbs. avoirdupois, were taken by one in an hour before Mr. Speedie’s very eyes, so that he may well place a guinea on the head of a “70-stone black rascal,” and vow ” to make him out nest year if I’m spared.” Rifles are of no avail unless you hit the brain; and one great fellow was taken at last, full of conical and spherical balls, which had merely come to grief in his fat. A seal net, with a salmon dangling from the top of the chamber, is the only sure way of catching them, and it takes eight or ten men to work it properly.
The ooze was one orchestra of sea-birds. ” Larks of the woodcock tribe,” with brown backs and white breasts, were skimming along over the shallows, without any definite object, like gentlemen ” unattached.” Sea pyats were mingling their shrieks with the low cry of the curlew ; and the sea scarts were the busiest fisher-men of the whole, and screaming out their protests in chorus, when the hawks, “who like the other lads to fish for them,” pounced on them with the dash of a Semmes, and made them hand over on the spot. Thus the Speedies and the sea scarts are equally tried in this life.
This great fish dealer has 200 men in work, and upwards of twenty stations on the Fife and Montrose coasts, as well as on the Earn and Tay, and his rent for the present season is considerably above £9,000. The Fife chain of stations begins at the bend beyond Drumley, and goes down nearly to St. Andrews. The stations are on the Muir, three or four hundred yards from the shore, and at each of them he keeps an overseer and four men. The old building with the low door, the earth and heather on the top, and a load of boxes with cord handles in a pile beside it, looks like a cave of stalactites when you first enter. Then as the light breaks in, a great cock-salmon’s beak or grilse’s head is found protruding from the rough ice; and when the overseer looks at his book, you may hear that ” 96 salmon and grilse were taken yesterday.” They had just taken something more than they expected in a shark, which had three brace of young ones swimming after her, and she whelped ten brace more on the grass before she died. She would have made the fortune of a caravan, but there she lay neglected among the sedge, with her green back and pale-slate belly, and all the little things around her ; and her captors only remarked that she had a three-year-old mouth and a sand-paper hide.
Trying the nets was the sight of the day. The man climbs along the side rope, and takes the fish out of chamber after chamber, and slips his cord through the gills, and at last he descends from his perch and wades out, dragging after him a regular bouquet of all weights from 40 to 5lbs. Sometimes they are all cocks or all hens, and on the rivers, especially during September and October, hens get very voracious when they are near spawning, and take the fly much more easily. The difference is so marked that, towards the latter end of one September, Mr. Speedie kippered ninety hens, and only two cocks. The fishing is very good at Tent’s Muir when the east wind blows right into the shore ; but there has been no vintage like that of ’30. In the sea they always go before the wind, and in rivers they swim right into the wind’s eye, like ducks up a decoy.
But we have looked over all the fishing stations, and explored the old nets in the granary, which are to be sold into the paper trade, and we are once more driving over the long stretch of hard sand towards Eden Mouth, rich in spotted trout and mussel beds. The black slug and the mussel scarp are quite a subject of dispute between the solan geese from the Bell Rock and the St. Andrews fishermen who take them off to Aberdeen and Peterhead as bait for haddock and cod, and all the other treasures of the deep-sea fishing.
There our fishing ends for the day. We have no time for St. Andrews, that fine old city in decay, with its Cathedral and Palace of Cardinal Beatson, and the colleges to which thousands of studentsCampbell and Chalmers, Ivory and Leslie, Leyden and Milne, Playfair and Fergusonjourneyed so reverently in their time. That gorse on the hill, so dear to the Fife, is passed in our homeward ride ; so is the jaunty beaver with the twig in his mouth, over the hatter’s shop in Dundee ; and we are at last in: the Carse of Gowrie, and exceedingly thankful that we are not a wood pigeon.
The Carse proper begins at Invergowriethe scene of the first preaching of John Knoxsome five miles from Dundee, and extends to Kinfauns, where the Tay narrows at about the same distance below Perth. “The braes run down from the Seidlaw Hills, and the whole of that great wheat plain below was once supposed to be under water, and dotted with divers “Inches ” or islands. Leases for life and wheat were still stronger traditions, but the former have nearly all merged into nineteen-year ones, and beans, barley, and oats have found their way into its Farmer’s Calendar. In 1827 farmers laughed at the notion of permanent grass and turnips. Lord Kinnaird first laid down the former on the braes of Rossie, and Charles Playfair of Inchmichael took his stand on turnips, and fed a bullock as well. Nearly all the turnips are pulled and taken to the- straw yards or byres, but the system is gradually creeping in of eating them off the ground with sheep. Still stock is not the forte of the Carse. It was the high prices of ’96 which first brought it out, and the glistening furrow and the white crop have been its glory ever since.
Owing to the absence of hedges, there is rather a bare primitive look about it, but this disappears as you begin to ascend the braes of Rossie, among the beech and thorn hedges which lead to the Priory. The wooded hill behind was planted by Lord Kinnaird’s grandfather, principally with fir cones from the Forest of the Mar, interspersed with beech, oak, and elm, which were just beginning to wear all the varied hues of September. His lordship farms about 1,200 acres, and has also three farms temporarily in hand for drainage and deep ploughing by his Fowler and Howard ploughs. His flock of breeding ewes is kept up to 300 Leicesters and 150 Oxford Downs or rather the dun or grey-faced Cotswolds. The Leicesters date from ’36, and come from the orthodox Midland combination of Stone, Burgess, and Buckley, with Sanday and the Borderers to follow. At one time he bred Southdowns, but Dundee liked something fatter. The Leicester wedders are fed off at from fifteen to eighteen months, and the tups are sold for breeding. Some of them are reserved to cross the Oxford Downs, of which his lordship buys drafts, as well as rams every year from Clark of William Strip, and Smith of Bibury. Most of the lambs are sold from the teat, but 240 Oxford Down wedders are put up under cover each year. The lots are fed for about twelve weeks each, principally on turnips, bruised oats, and cake, and the mutton is sent to Edinburgh and Glasgow. The turnips are washed below, and sent up a hoist on to the level of the sheep pens, which are all on sparred floors, to be . pulped. Nineteen or twenty firsts have already rewarded the plan, and the card for the best pen of any age or breed at a leading Irish show is among the white, blue, and orange array. Sixty to seventy bullocks are also fed off annually at Mill Hill, where his lordship’s factor, Mr. M’Claren, resides. The feeding is principally managed in boxes, under one roof, and the partitions take out so that the dung-cart can be backed in. His lordship considers, from his experiments, that the value of manure thus made, and ploughed in at once, is very superior to that made in the usual way. The pigs are from Hewer and Tombs of Hatherop. His lordship began with Berkshires, and has come back to them as most prolific, and most easily fed, after running over all the white-pig gamut, from the large Yorkshires and Radnors, so on through the three W’sWindsor, Wenlock, and Wiley.
Mill Hill has also a cottage fitted up as a Turkish bath for cattle, which has been found most efficacious in cases of pleura and rheumatism. The time for keeping them in is 1 to 11 hours, and they are well douched with cold water when they come into the drying parlour.
The Castle Hill steading, where young William Ward was the herdsman, lies about a mile-and-ahalf from Mill Hill, on the Perth side of the Priory. It is now twenty-nine years since his lordship entered upon the breeding of ,pure Shorthorns. He began from the stock of Rose of Cottam, which he crossed with Lord Dude’s Champion (11264) and with Mr. Fawkes’s Belted Will (9952). He then hired Prince Arthur (13497) and Prince Oscar (16757) from Mr. Richard Booth ; and Rossie was also one of Lord Raglan’s resting-places, as he gradually moved up North from Southwicke and Athelstaneford, and so on, after three years in the Carse, to Cortachy and Sittyton. Prince Alfred could not be got at the time, and Lord Privy Seal (16444) was bought from Hill Head. Cherry Duke 2nd is the only Bates bull on the list, but when his gold medium medal had been claimed at Stirling he was very smartly sent to the fleshers. Lord Privy Seal is one of those compact, nice, little bulls, who looks as if, to adopt an expression of Mr. Wetherell’s, ” he had been put into a lemon-squeezer, and just made the right size”; and his cross with a big red cow, Jenny. Groat, now at Mr.. Creighton’s, near Inchture, produced the well known Great Seal (19905). Lord John Russell (16417) brought the gold medal for the best bull in the yard back from Belfast to Rossie, and it was Lord Privy Seal’s lot always to be second to him. Prince Louis, a winner of six first prizes, had just been sold to Mr. Milne ; but Lord Louis, a Kelso bronze medallist. and third at Stirling, and Grand Royal, who was bought from Mr. Torr, were in the well-filled bull ranks, and so was Baron Highthorn.
Ventilation is a great point with his lordship, and it is well managed by pantiles, so as to secure good temperature without a draught, at the top and through the ledges. In the calf-box range we found a young white Breastplate, and a bit of Bates in the shape of a roan by Lord Oxford (20214) from Mr. Grant Duff’s Louise tribe, of which Louise 2nd by Champion (11264), ” the old original bull of all,” and Louise 3rd by Lord Raglan seemed the leading pair. There were several boxes ten feet square for cows and calves; and Stumpy, the prize Ayrshire, was consorting in a row of stalls with Sister Mary by Sir Colin (16953), and her daughter Sister Ethel by King Egbert (18134) who was ” still more Booth in her head.” There, too, were Lady Gertrude by M`Terk (14872), Princess Laura by Prince Arthur, and Maid of Orleans by Lord of the Valley (14837) and true to her sire’s horn; and we can well see the truth of what Ward says : ” It will soon be Branches over again, for his lordship’s all for Booth.”
And so we leave the shady groves and sunny slopes of the Priory, and ride on four miles past ” Patience on a tram-road,” and carts bearing tons of Dundee police manure, to Inchmartine, the home of the celebrated Henwife of the Carse. There is nothing like approaching a subject gradually ; and certainly we did so, as ” a little waterhen crossed the drive into the laurels” was our first note. Mrs.Fergusson Blair’s love of hens is scarcely twelve years old, and it had its origin on board a steamer from London to Edinburgh. Looking at some coops of Cochins helped to beguile the weariness of the saloon, and two of the hens were purchased for ten guineas. They were not worth the money, and none of the blood is left. Stretch of Liverpool and Chace of Manchester supplied new strains, the latter buff and white; and Mrs. Blair also examined the different Zoological Gardens at Paris and Antwerp, and bought a few pens at . a-piece. The Rev. G. Hustler furnished her first Dorkings, but they have been replaced by Captain Hornby’s and Lewry’s breed. The Bramahs, light and dark, white and cinnamon, came from Tebay and Miss Watts. The old Scotch greys had only a short reign, and were presented to the Emperor of the French in the spring of ’62, six years after Mrs. Blair had led the way in importing the Creve-Coeurs, with their comb like a split heart, from Normandy, as well as Houdan and La Fleche. Polish never gained much hold here, but bantams flourish under the respective heads of black, white, and game. There were a few Spanish, but, hidalgoes though they be, they have all been banished to the farm. Some of the Turkey patriarchs came direct from America ; and Fowler’s Prebendal farm which furnished the first Rouen ducks and geese to Inchmartine, now adopts the principle of amicable exchange. For a dozen Dorking eggs the charge is from two to four guineas, and for others in proportion ; and when Edinburgh could not furnish Holyrood with a regular supply during Prince Alfred’s winter stay, the purveyor fell back in his need on Inchmartine.
Mrs. Blair manages the whole of her son Mr. Douglas Allen’s estate, and keeps 160 acres in her own hand round Inchmartine. Wet or dry, summer or winter, she never omits her two o’clock round to her poultry yards with two baskets of rissoles. These are called oatmeal by courtesy ; but a number of ingredientsbuckwheat, linseed, spice, and pimento are all veiled under that title. Chamberlain and Penn’s food is used largely, and so is aromatic condiment; and old ale, bread, potato, chicken, and other dainties have got into that wonderful bowl which is devoted to the clearings of the dining-room. Wheat, barley and Indian corn are the staple of the out and in-door relief, which the girl and the man who act as sub-overseers under “Annie” the head woman, deal out twice a-day. They have full employment, as there are sometimes fifteen hundred head of fowls of all kinds and in all stages. The setting hens have to be duly lifted off their eggs, and put out for halfan-hour to exercise ; and ” the sad vicissitude of things,” from a cock catching cold to the chances of egg-roasting in the eccalobion, demands the most careful surveillance.
Broom, a first-prize silver grey, is as good as a sentinel at the front door, and his taps at the window a few minutes before two o’clock became loud and frequent. He is entitled to the most unbounded licence and consideration, as Sydenham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, and Paris have all showered their highest honours in turn on that now hoary head. He is five years old, and therefore long past his Dorking prime. Silver greys have no chance against the heavy greys, as at its best he never turned the beam at 9 lbs. His plumage is perfect the jet-black breast and flowing tail, the dark and distinct blue bar in his wing, the silver hackle, and the straight indented clear-cut comb. ” Greedy” and ” Missy are the companions of his fortunes ; and their beautiful ash-coloured hue, with the white feather shafts and the robin red-breast; have often led them to victory. “Broom” conducts us most courteously to the edge of his domain, and there leaves us among the pencilled Bramahs. Mrs. Blair has composed a new strain in Bramahs of a composite colour between the lemon and grey, very suitable for the farmyard and for maternal duties, which they perform d merveille.
The stable has two beautiful thorough-bred blacks by British Yeoman, bred by Miss Bell of Woodhouse-lees, an old fellow-labourer in the poultry cause, and the glass-house in the stable yards seems a nursery for valetudinarian and motherless chickens, or rather the late and the delicate. The “Laurel House” is quite a step beyond, and is, in fact, a fashion-able seminary for pullets of all breeds before they are introduced. The master of the ” Wood House” is a heavy grey Dorking, a first both at the Sydenham and Birmingham shows, with four hens at his side. ” Growley” has also made himself a name at home and at Sydenham ; but he takes his ease now in a hollow under a tree hard by the garden walk, and is insatiable in his basket cravings when his mistress appears. A. hen and her chickens sit under every tree in the orchard, but they, are not brought there till they are past coop estate, and the coops have been lime-washed and put away for another summer. ” The Monastery” at the bottom of the orchard is , a sort of . mysterious penthouse, with rows of perches on each side, and tenanted at times by upwards of four hundred cockerels, from which the future public characters and private sale birds are selected. The rest are either eaten or sold round home, or put into the Edinburgh winter draft. The Nunnery” is also composed of rafters, and contains pullets of every tribe and kindred from one to five months.
Here Annie in her white crazy appeared upon the scene, and confessed her love for a little cannibal of a Creve-Coeur, as black as a sloe, which had just attempted the life of an unoffending Chamois Pole, She loved it for its very mischief, and when she had called it “just an impudent little smout,” she kissed it fondly to make amends, and added in a dark speech that it was “feeding just like a little linty,” and ” was able to keep its ain part.” Even long after roosting time her thoughts are with them, as she and Kitty the girl knit, and roast the oyster shells. The green, save and except the croquet-ground, is entirely given up to chicken-coops during the season and some of the coops are glazed Crystal Palace fashion. The other houses are of quite an unpretending order and behind them the boar resides which beat Wainman and Dickin for the first prize at Stirling, as the orange card on his van testifies. Little Partridge-Cochins receive Annie’s assurance of being ” Wee Petties;” and she tells the story of a sick cock which has been washed with hot vinegar and water for an attack of cold, and quite “enjoyed its castor-oil and a pill.” Some little chickens just hatched are sharing the warmth of the poultry cowhouse with an Ayrshire, the excellency of whose strength principally goes to the fowls in the shape of curd. There, too, are all the show-baskets lined with pink calico, and ready for the next campaign ; and the dainty commissariat department is full of Indian-corn, oats, oatmeal, sharps, and sacks of wheat galore, with lettuce-cabbage and onion all ready for the chopper. On the ladder leading to the loft sat ” Mussie,” an aged bantam. It is getting quite ” doited ” in its head with infirmity, but Annie perceives it not. With her it is still ” a little wee monkey as happy as you like,” and it gets bits of egg as a solace from her breakfast, and beef from her dinner.
But Annie has not much time just now to spare for endearments, as she is in the society of ” Smith,” the cock turkey, which never condescends to feed off the ground, but only out of hand, dish, or basket. Mrs. Blair “hoped” he was 381bs., and he must certainly have been pretty near it, thanks to a loaf of bread per diem. There are no whites among the Inchmartine turkeys, which are principally of American blood ; and their nurseries are situated in some of the old grass avenues, apart from the chickens. Turkeys are rare mothers, as they never tread upon their young ones; and to them and the hens the greater part of the goose eggs are confided at hatching time. Each goose lays about fifty eggs if they are taken away, and thirty if they are left ; and hens generally take three. Their maternity cares, under such circumstances, are rather chequered, as the goslings give the hen the cut direct during the day, and then creep in beside her at night. They are principally of the grey-imported Toulouse breed, and some of the best have come from Viscount Clari, the Emperor of the French’s cousin. One gander was up to about 28lbs., and the Birmingham pen of goslings was ” framing for 66lbs.”
They are as good watch-dogs as their Roman ancestors ; and the moment Mrs. Blair was seen, they came like a mighty, rushing wind from the other end of the paddock, and it was a mercy she could keep any shawl on her back, when she became the object of their concentrated tugs. The Rouen ducks were there some forty strong, with the green head, white neck-ring, rich claret breast, and blue ribbon on the wing ; but the draft mark was relentlessly set against one of the finest drakes for the very dark-green shade of his yellow bill The Dorkings lay in the woods, but come home to roost in houses with very low perches, which are specially provided to meet their, tendency to becoming bumble-footed with years. Old jack is spending a gouty but a happy old age, and has retired with three hens nearly as old as him-self, who have had unlimited ale and beef in their time. Annie of course embraces this very Abraham of Dorking-,s, and assigns ” hundreds of chickens off him ” as her reason for the act. The gold medal at Paris was one of his trophies, and he has paid so many visits to the Crystal Palace and other shows, that at last he learnt to love this vagrant sort of life, and still comes solemnly to the side of the show-baskets when Annie and her staff are packing up his juniors. The silver-grey Dorking, ” England ” is the paradox of the place, as he never crossed the Border in his life. The topknots of the Buff Poles fairly drown them ; and among a lot of good white Cochins, there is one with a vulture hock, which is condemned, as Mrs. Blair is very rigid in her observance of poultry rules, albeit some judges will pass it.
The pencilled and white Bramahs, a combination of her own breed with Priest and Tebay, seem more after her heart, with their black necklaces, broad, black or spotted breasts, and their fine, dignified carriage, on those short and well-feathered legs. They are excellent mothers, and it was quite the treat of the day to see their salmon-pink eggs handed into Mrs. Blair’s basket, which reminded us of Pache Egg Monday, with its store of every hue. The Birmingham first-prize Creve-Coeurs were strutting gallantly about, as if they heard the words of their mistress that they are ” the best table fowl in the world.” The egg chambers of the La Fleche know little rest, except at moulting time, and therefore with a special view to egg profit Mrs. Blair’s farm is principally stocked with them. ” Dinna fret yourself, Cocky,” says Annie to one of them as she gathers it up to look at its feet but it is on them again in an instant, as she snatches up a wand, and rushes best pace to the other side of the green. A three-cup Bramah has demeaned itself so far as to quarrel with a nameless Dorking ; and as we retire through the evening shades, the last words that float on the breeze are, ” Oh ! ye’re a bad boy, fighting!”