Text: Edgar Allan Poe (rejected), “A Chapter on Field Sports and Manly Pastimes [Part 02],” Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (Philadelphia, PA), Vol. IV, no. 3, March 1839, pp. 4:182-185


[page 182, unnumbered:]








[[Image here]]


THE Pointer, (Canis Avicularia of Linnæus) originally came from Spain, and was introduced into England at a very early period. In Portugal and France, the Pointer is also indigenous; the French animal has a wide furrow between the nostrils, which gives it a very grotesque appearance. The Portuguese dog is somewhat lighter than the Spanish Pointer, which is considerably heavier and more clumsily formed than any other of the species.

The Spanish Pointer is more steady than the English dog, and seems to have an inherent aptness for receiving instruction. Indeed, it requires but little tuition to render him fit for the Geld; as, in most instances, young dogs of this breed will point of their own accord; and if they possessed but speed and activity in proportion to their steadiness, would excell all others which are auxiliary to man in the sports of the field. From their weight, however, they are not so well suited for an extensive range, nor are they so hardy as the English dog, on which account they are but ill adapted for the laborious nature of hill-side or mountain shooting. They are now chiefly used by those who confine their sport to the quail or partridge.

Pointers exhibit a very different form and character to the setter, nor are they possessed of that generosity of disposition which is so distinguished a bait in the setter; on the contrary, they aro often ill tempered and snappish. Yet the conjunction of the setter and the pointer is by no means advisable, since the production generally unites the worst qualities of the two without any of these requisites perhaps for which the two breeds are most highly prized. Dogs thus produced are for the most part headstrong and turbulent, require excessive correction, and are rarely brought to that steadiness which marks the distinct breed. Sometimes a good cast may ensue, but for one good pointer bred between the Spanish dog and the setter, twenty bad ones may be expected. [page 183:]

In proportion as the breed of pointers diverges in blood from their Spanish original, the difficulties of training them and rendering them staunch fat the field increase — as they seem to lose a quality inherent in the latter dog — an intuitive perception of the necessity of obedience.

[[Image here]]


Is of a much lighter form, and more rapid in his movements. He was obtained originally by a cross of the Spanish pointer and the fox hound, and has since been recrossed with the harrier.

The English pointer is of a great variety of sizes, being, in this particular, bred according to the taste of the sportsman. Dogs of the middle size are considered the best by experienced men; the larger kind soon tire in warm weather, although they are best adapted for hunting in the high turnips, heath, and long stables.

The foxhound pointer possesses a beautiful symmetry of frame, and in this respect, is perhaps, the most elegant of all the canine tribe. His docility anti pliability of temper, too, are truly astonishing. and he enjoys, at the same time, the sense of smelling in an exquisite degree.

Pointers are never considered complete in training unless they are perfectly stannch to bird, dog, and gun; which implies, first, standing simply to a bird or a covey; secondly, to backing or pointing the moment he perceives another dog to stand at game; and thirdly, not to stir from his own point at the rising of any bird, or the tiring of any gun in the field, provided the game is neither sprung nor started at which he himself originally pointed.

The mental faculties of the pointer are extremely acute. He is most susceptible of impressions, serene in his general habits, and unwearied in his attachment. With all these good points, he is well qualified to secure the esteem and confidence of man. whom he is always solicitous to please. Conscious of his own powers and education, he makes it his whole business to serve and amuse his master. As the same, being thoroughly sensible of the duty required of him the moment he enters the field, he will cheerfully perform his work for others to whom he may be lent.

The mos practical sportsmen have declared that a great deal depends on the color of pointers. Less than a century ago, the breed of English pointers was nearly all white, or slightly variegated with liver-colored spots, except a batch belonging to the Duke of Kingston, whose black pointers were considered superior to all others, and sold for immense sums after his death. Thornhill says that a white dog is to be preferred on two accounts — the first is, being ail white, he is void of any thing phlegmatic in his constitution, which does not hinder him from retaining the lesson he has been taught, and prevent his being obedient; besides, he always has a good nose. Secondly, he can be discerned at any distance, whereas a brown one cannot. Pointers if lemon, or setters of a red or chestnut color, are always the most difficult to be brought to obedience, by reason of the bilious humor which prevails in them, and which causes this irregularity. The white pointer is full of stratagems anti cunning, and is not so easily tired as dogs of the lemon color, which are very giddy and impatient — as choler is the most predominant humor in them, it in some measure accounts for their being so. They are also very restive under correetilan, and more subject to diseases than any other dogs.

Pointers of a brown color are generally very good ones; but one great objection to this color is, that they are difficult to be seen, and frequently give the sportsman a great deal of trouble before he can discover them — occasionally they are entirely lost. But the same reason enables a brown dog [page 184:] to bring the sportsman closer to his game, by reason that they are not so easily perceived by the birds as one of a white or any other color.

The English or Foxhound Pointer requires the greatest care in breaking, lest the hound qualities of chasing the game and babbling when the birds rise become incurable faults.

There is no other dog possesses the singular self-denial of the pointer, unless it be the setter. The hound gives full play to his feelings, chases, and kicks up as much riot as he likes, provided he is true to his game; the spaniel has no restraint, provided he is within gunshot; the greyhound has it all his own way as soon as he is loosed; and the terrier watches at a r at’s hole because he cannot get into it. But the pointer, at the moment that other dogs satisfy themselves and rush upon their game, suddenly stops, and points with almost breathless anxiety — to that which we might naturally suppose he would eagerly seize. “No! this is my master’s, and not mine. To-ho’s the word, and here I am till he comes up or the birds rup off of themselves.” They run; he creeps after them, cautiously and carefully — stopping at intervals, Lest, by a sudden movement, he should spring them too soon. And then observe and admire his delight, when his anxiety, for it is anxiety, is crowned with success — when the bird falls, and he lays it joyfully at his master’s feet. It is evident that a steady pointer, on his game, holds his breath with a great degree of pain; all dogs respire quickly — and when the pointer comes up to you in the field, he puffs and blows, and his tongue is invariably hanging out of his mouth. This is never seen on a point; and to check it suddenly must give the dog pain; the effort to be quiet, with fetching the breath deeply, causes at intervals, a sudden hysteric gasp, which he cannot by any possibility prevent till he can breathe freely again. And yet pointers have been known to stand to game for two hours together. Colonel Thornton relates a story of one of his dogs that he kept at point for one hour and a quarter, while Gilpin, the artist, sketched his likeness.

[[Image here]]


Is a tall fleet dog that chases entirely by sight. This beautiful animal is perfectly useless in this country, from the absence of the hare (Lepus timidus of Linnæus) in the list of American game. Various attempts have been made by spirited individuals by means of imported hares, to encourage tire breed in the Atlantic States, but without success. The specimens, when once turned out, have never been seen again. The varying hare, as naturalists term a small variety of the Alpine hare, is plentiful in Canada, and may be found in some parts of the state of New York, and I believe exists in scanty numbers, in the glens of the northern spur of the Allegheny hills. But this variety is considerably smaller than the English Bare, and certainly not calculated to compete with the greyhound in speed.

Were it possible to introduce the breed of the old Trish Greyhound into this country, considerable sport might be anticipated in the revival of “the ancient coursing of the deer.”

The English Greyhound is known by his pointed nose, the acute angles of his head, his light, and slightly pendulous ear, considerable height, length of neck and of general form, comparative slimness, deep breast, light belly, round muscular buttocks, and long, sinewy forearms and gaskins. His fore legs, that is to say, the space between the knee and the foot, are longer than his hinder, or space between the hock and the foot. His color, whether black, white, brindled or blue, whether whole or variegated, are no otherwise of consequence, than as fashion dictates; and if the never-ceasing game of chance should produce a blue crack dog, blue would immediately become the best color, and so [page 185:] remain until a new crack should start up of a different hue, when blue would instantly retire into the ranks, and those of the last shade undoubtedly advance, and become the best Greyhounds on the face of the earth, and produce more money at sale.

It has been handed down to us in the scripture of our ancient sages, that the best dog upon an indifferent bitch, will not get so good a whelp as an indifferent dog upon the best bitch — all and every particle of which is, in great probability, of about as much consequence as any other musty nonsense, even although Pliny himself may have written it. The breeder who would have thorough-shaped stock of any species, must breed from both male and female so qualified; be may fail, it is true, nevertheless he will not find a surer method. Young Greyhounds, like other hounds, are entered within the twelvemonth, and require constant work in the coursing season. They should be encouraged with blood, but as the perfection of training, taught to give up readily the hare when killed.

Some have expressed a wonder, that Beagles should be thought too speedy for hunting the Hare, when Greyhounds, the swiftest of all the canine race, are in constant use for coursing her. But the reason exists in the different natures of the bunt and the course. The best bred and fleetest Greyhounds will be found in the vicinities of the great Coursing Meetings — Newmarket, Swaffbam, the Hundreds of Essex, and the Wolds of Yorkshire.

The Greyhound, as well as that which we style the Southern-hound, may from its antiquity, be styled a primitive species. It was known to classical antiquity, and we learn from Arrian, that the Gauls used Greyhounds for coursing the hate. their Holy sportsman-like mode of performing which, and the law allowed to the hare, have descended to us, and are practised at this day, in England, on the original principle. Greyhounds were known in that country before the Conquest, and in those early ages, were not confined as at present to coursing the hare only, but were used for hunting the Deer, and also, in company with other hounds, the Wolf and wild Boar. This species of the Hound was the chief favorite for ages, amongst the ladies of high birth particularly. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, the price of a Greyhound was greater than that of a man, and the killing a greyhound, or taking the nest of a Hawk, in those times of British slavery, and even subsequently to the signing the famous Magna Charta [[Magna Carta]], were held, in the eye and practice of those misnamed laws, equally criminal with the murder of a fellow man. Greyhounds were frequently taken in payment as money, by the Kings, tor the renewal of grants, and in the satisfaction of fines and forfeitures.

King Canute enacted that — quod prœcipui gradus sit inter canes — no person under the degree of a gentleman should keep a greyhound. Solomon says — “there be three things which go well — yea, four are comely in going. A lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any, a greyhound; an he goat also; and a king against whom there is no rising up.”

The Odessa Journal, a Russian newspaper, lately stated that the Marshal of the district of Ekaterynoslaw, recently offered an estate of two thousand acres, with seventy-eight peasants, in exchange for a white greyhound named Sultan, belonging to another nobleman!

Greyhounds were originally obtained from the countries bordering on Turkey, particularly Dalmatia, in the mountains of which are bred greyhounds of a rough species, having great bone, ears somewhat long, hard feet and a bristly tail, It is a remarkable zoological fact, perhaps not hitherto noticed. that every species of the sporting dog is originally divided into the rough and smooth variety, and that not in consequence of the influence of climate. since the former is found to be indigenous to the warmest. The old Irish Greyhound we are disposed to derive from the rough species of the Eastern Countries above cited.

On a view of the present race of English Greyhounds, I cannot help supposing that they differ considerably from those of former times, which hunted the Wolf and Wild Boar, rind thence may be judged to have been a variety possessed of more strength, roughness, and fierceness than the modern. Probably, for such hunting, the rough variety was selected, whilst coursing the Deer and Hare, and the honor of lady patronage were reserved for the smooth. The Italian Greyhound has at no period, been generally used as a field dog. hut a breed of smooth, high formed and swift Greyhounds has swiftly been found on the Grecian Islands. sonic individuals of which have been imported into this Country within the last thirty years. The savage hunts having long since gone into desuetude. and speed become the grand object, the smooth variety of the Greyhound has become universal in England, and the few remains of the large and rough variety must be looked for in Ireland alone.


is a large and powerful dog, nearly equal in strength to the Irish Greyhound, which he also resembles in shape, his hair is long anti bushy, and his tail forms a spiral curl, hut which, in the chase, stands nearly straight behind him. The color of the Russian greyhound is generally of a dark umber brown, but sometimes black. His coat is rough and shaggy.

When the Russian greyhound loses sight of the hare, he runs by the scent. Indeed, when parties go out a coursing. this dog even endeavors to find game. He is a very powerful animal. and is frequently used in small packs, or with other dogs to hunt the wild boar, deer, or wolf, the latter of which a good hound will kill single handed.




[S:0 - BGM, 1839] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Rejected - A Chapter on Sports and Manly Pastimes (Text-02)