Ackermann’s Repository of Arts/Series 1/Volume 1/January 1809/British Sports
Plate 4.——BRITISH SPORTS.
The forest laws, which are the foundation of our game laws, may easily be traced to a Saxon or Danish origin. The creation of the New Forest by the first of the Norman kings, shews the indefinite antiquity of other forests belonging to the crown. The very names of the inferior courts are Saxon: whoever will attentively consider the institutions of our Saxon ancestors, will discover in them not only a perfect regard to equality of rights, connected with an anxious attention to order and good government in a wild and uncultivated country, but that the influence of these institutions continues to pervade the whole system of our constitution. We ungratefully deny to our German progenitors the acknowledgment, that to their plain good sense, their love of liberty, of order, and of justice, we owe almost all theof the government we enjoy; whilst a foreigner (Montesquieu des Loix) accurately tracing our happiness to its real source, justly exclaims, "Ce beau systéme a été trouvé dans les bois.” The struggles successively made in this country have been to preserve and restore, rather than to improve our constitution. To this country the Saxons brought the institutions of their forefathers, pure and uncorrupted, from their native forests; and after a struggle of two centuries, the Britons were driven to the western extremities, and this island, in possession of the conquerors, became truly German; for in their new situation they receded no farther from their institutions than was merely necessary for their establishment. It would derogate from the glory of the Saxon institutions, if these laws could be considered as a system of slavery; indeed, an impartial and unprejudiced inquiry into their history and origin, will induce us to believe, that at the early period when their foundation was laid, the forest laws were part of a political system for the internal benefit and security of the country at large, mixed indeed with the indulgence of royal pleasures, but in which the public peace and the preservation of the growth of timber, were considerations of no less importance. Canute, to whose mildness of government the submission of the Saxons is attributed, established regulations similar to those of his own country: what they were cannot be accurately or perfectly given now, but they are stated to have been framed with the advice of his great men, for the ends of peace and justice; but it appears, that for killing a stag, a gentleman lost his rank,
BRITISH Sports BY HOWITT.
For No 1 of Ackermann’s Repository of Arts &c Pub. Jany 1809,101, Strand London.
(To be continued.)
All the meetings in the south differ from the Malton meeting, in running for the prize cup. In the south, each member subscribes to it, and, if present, starts a dog, which are drawn by lots to run against each other, two and two. The next day the winners of the preceding day run against each other, till all the dogs are run off; and lastly, the two winners of the whole start for the cup. An interest is thus kept alive through the whole meeting. The best dog is fairly ascertained, and not more than a brace of dogs are started at once, which renders the course a proper trial: this cannot be the case when five or six greyhounds are running together after one unfortunate hare.