provided for the Bloodhound Club
by Mac Barwick
The greater sort which serve to hunt, having lips of a large size, and ears of no small length, do not only chase the beast whiles it liveth, as the others do of whom mention is above made; but, being dead also by any manner of casualty, make recourse to the place where it lieth: having in this point an assured and infallible guide, namely, the scent and savour of the blood sprinkled here and there upon the ground. For whether the beast being wounded, doth notwithstanding enjoy life, and escapeth the hands of the huntsman; or whether the said beast being slain is conveyed cleanly out of the park (so that there be some signification of bloodshed) these dogs, with no less facility and easiness than avidity and greediness, can disclose and betray the same by smelling: applying to their pursuit, agility and nimbleness, without tediousness. For which consideration, of a singular specialty they deserve to be called Sanguinarii, Blood-hounds.
And albeit peradventure it may chance (as whether it chanceth seldom or sometimes, I am ignorant) that a piece of flesh be subtilly stolen and cunningly conveyed away, with such provisoes and pre-caveats as thereby all appearance of blood is either prevented, excluded or concealed; yet this kind of dogs, by a certain direction of an inward assured notice and privy mark, pursue the deed doers, through long lanes, crooked reaches, and weary ways, without wandering away out of the limits of the land whereon these desperate purloiners prepared their speedy passage.
Yea, the natures of these dogs is such, and so effectual is
their foresight, that they can bewray [expose], separate,
and pick them out from among an infinite multititude, and an
innumerable company; creep they never as far in the thickest
throng: they will find him out, notwithstanding he lie hidden
in wild woods, in close and overgrown groves, and lurk in hollow
holes apt to harbour such ungracious guests. Moreover, although
they should pass over the water, thinking thereby to avoid the
pursuit of the hounds; yet will not these dogs give over their
attempt, but presuming to swim through the stream, persevere in
their pursuit: and when they be arrived and gotten [on] the
further bank, they hunt up and down; to and fro run they; from
place to place, shift they; until they have attained to that plot
of ground, where they passed over. And this is their practice,
if, perdie, they cannot at first time, smelling, find out the way
which the deed doers took to escape. So, at length, get they
that by art, cunning, and diligent endeavour; which by fortune
and luck, they cannot otherwise overcome. Insomuch as it seemeth
worthily and wisely written by AELANIUS in his First Book, and
thirty-ninth Chapter, [Greek text], to be as it were
naturally instilled and poured into this kind of dogs. For they
will not pause or breathe from their pursuit until such time as
they be apprehended and taken, which committed the fact.
The owners of such hounds use [are accustomed] to keep them in close and dark channels in the daytime, and let them loose at liberty in the night season: to the intent that they might, with more courage and boldness, practise to follow the felon in the evening and solitary hours of darkness, when such ill-disposed varlets are principally purposed to play their impudent pageants and imprudent pranks. These hounds, upon whom this present portion of our treatise runneth, when they are to follow such fellows as we have before rehearsed, use not that liberty to range at will, which they have otherwise when they are in game, (except upon necessary occasion, whereon dependeth an urgent and effectual persuaison) when such purloiners make speedy way in flight; but being restrained and drawn back from running at random with the leasse [leash] the end whereof the owner holding in his hand, is led, guided and directed with such swiftness and slowness (whether he go on foot, or whether he ride on horseback) as he himself in heart would wish, for the more easy apprehension of these venturous varlets.
In the borders of England and Scotland (the often and accustomed
stealing of cattle so procuring) this kind of dogs is very much
used; and they are taught and trained up, first of all to hunt
cattle, as well of the smaller as of the greater growth; and
afterwards (that quality relinquished and left) they are learned
to pursue such pestilent persons as plant their pleasure in such
practices of purloining, as we have already declared.
Of this kind there is none that taketh the water naturally except it please you so to suppose of them which follow the Otter; which sometimes haunt the land, and sometime useth the water. And yet, nevertheless, all the kind of them boiling and broiling with greedy desire of the prey, which by swimming passeth through river and flood; plunge amidst the water, and pass the stream with their paws: But this property proceedeth from an earnest desire wherewith they be inflamed; rather than from any inclination issuing from the ordinance and appointment of Nature.And albeit some of this sort in English be called Brache, in Scottish Rache: the cause hereof resteth in the she sex, and not in the general kind. For we Englishmen call bitches, belonging to the hunting kind of dogs, by the term above mentioned.
To be short, it is proper to the nature of hounds, some to keep silence in hunting until such time as there is game offered. Other come, so soon as they smell out the place where the beast lurketh, to bewray it immediately by their importunate barking; notwithstanding it be far off many furlongs, couching close in its cabin. And these dogs, the younger they be, the more wantonly bark they; and the more liberally, yet ofttimes without necessity: so that in them, by reason of their young years and want of practice, small certainty is to be reposed. For continuance of time, and experience in game, ministreth to these hounds not only cunning in running, but also, as in the rest, an assured foresight what is to be done; principally, being acquainted with their master's watchwords, either in revoking or emboldening them to serve the game.
There are no pictures in Caius' book, nor Fleming's translation. However, Caius wrote his treatise as an intended contribution to the work of his Swiss friend, Conrad Gesner, a vast assemblage of information about all kinds of animals, which went through many editions on the continent. A picture appeared in a German version of this work in 1563:
It was captioned 'Englischen Blüthund' and 'Canis sagax sanguinarius apud Anglos'
('English scent hound with associations of blood').
It is mentioned elsewhere that this picture was sent by Caius, and that his pictures were drawn from life. This appears to be the earliest known authentic depiction of a bloodhound, the collar and long coiled leash indicative of its use as a 'limer'.
'Turbervile' is a book called The Noble Art of Venerie or Huntyng 1575, ascribed to a person of that name, although some, apparently, including J R R Tolkien, believe that it was written by George Gascoigne.
This book contains many references to Bloodhounds, and seems more important than Caius, who only mentions them once, but in fact it is not.
The reason is that most of the book (and pretty well all that is of concern to us) is a close translation of a French book, though Turbervile hardly acknowledges it. Its source is La Venerie de Jaques du Fouilloux (1561). This is a marvellous book, a complete treatise on hunting, especially of the hart (cerf), illustrated with woodcuts of hounds, and all sorts of other pictures, including of the different types of dung from which one can identify the creatures that made them, and decide whether they are to be hunted or not. It probably has a place on the shelves of every French-speaking hunting enthusiast.
The references to the Bloodhound come about because Turbervile uses the word throughout to translate the French word 'limier', meaning leash-hound or 'limer'. The word 'limer' was already becoming archaic and unfamiliar in English in the 16th Century, and it seems that Turbervile, once having decided to use 'Bloodhound' to translate 'limier' simply stuck to it. What it shows is that the function of hunting on a leash to harbour game was closely associated with the Bloodhound, so that the reader would easily get the picture. Nevertheless, 'Bloodhound' did not mean 'limer', because late in the book, when he is not translating from du Fouilloux, he says:
In this section he also says:
The Bloodhound was a breed typically used as a leash-hound, but other kinds of hound were also so used.
Perhaps the most significant thing about Turbervile is that it mentions the Bloodhound in association with the St Hubert Hound, and is therefore sometimes quoted as evidence that the St Hubert is the ancestor of the Bloodhound, or even that the two are one and the same.
The entire relevant section is as follows:
The sections in bold type translates the French:
The point that should be remembered about this is that though Turbervile was writing for an English readership, it is not an Englishman writing about hunting in England, but a Frenchman writing about hounds and hunting in France.
Turbervile slightly changes the emphasis: he doesn't breed or keep St Huberts at all, perhaps because he didn't know of any in England, whereas du Fouilloux simply says he wouldn't breed them as pack-hounds.
However, the passage has sometimes been misread as referring to St Hubert hounds in Britain, and appears to be what gave rise to Sir Walter Scott's lines in The Lady of the Lake 1810:
describing Bloodhounds following a stag in Medieval Scotland.