Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Blooding

By Henry S. Salt

THE BLOODING OF CHILDREN

OF all practices connected with "sport" none are more loathsome than those known as "blooding," whether it be the "blooding" of children, which consists in a sort of gruesome parody of the rite of baptism, or the "blooding" of hounds—viz., the turning out of some decrepit animal to be pulled down by the pack, by way of stimulating their blood-lust. Here are a few examples:

On January 4, 1910, the Daily Mirror published an account of the "blooding" of the Marquis of Worcester, the ten-year-old son of the Duke of Beaufort. In a front-page illustration the child was shown with blood-bedaubed cheeks, holding up a dead hare for the hounds, while a number of ladies and gentlemen were smiling approval in the rear.

Here, again, is an extract from the Cheltenham Examiner of March 25, 1909, in reference to the "eviction" and butchery of a fox which had taken refuse in a drain.

"Captain Elwe’s two children being present at the death of a fox on their father’s preserves, the old hunting custom of ‘blooding’ was duly performed by Charlie Beacham, who, after dipping the brush of the fox in his own [sic] blood, sprinkled the foreheads of both children, hoping they would be aspirants to the ‘sport of kings.’ "

Presumably the blood in which the brush was dipped was that of the fox, not of Mr. Charles Beacham. But what a ceremony in a civilised age! One would have thought the twentieth-century sportsmen, even if they would not spare the fox, might spare their own children!

The following paragraph also appeared in a London paper in 1909:

"A pretty little girl on a chestnut cob, with masses of fair curls falling over her navy-blue habit, was the chief centre of attention at a meet of the West Norfolk Fox-Hunt at Necton. The pretty little girl was Princess Mary of Wales, and the day will be a memorable one in her life. She motored back to Sandringham carrying her first brush…. Princess Mary was ‘blooded’ by the huntsmen, and was presented with the brush, which was hung on her saddle."

In connection with deer-stalking, the practice of "blooding" has been described as "a hunting tradition which goes back to the Middle Ages, and recalls the days when the gentle craft of venery was the most cherished accomplishment of our monarchs."

THE BLOODING OF HOUNDS

In the prosecution of Mr. Alexander Ormrod, joint Master of the Ribblesdale Buckhounds, by the R.S.P.C.A. on November 11, 1912, for cruelty to a doe, there was evidence that the unfortunate deer, turned out in private to "blood" a new pack of hounds, was lame and wholly out of condition; and, as Truth remarked, "the mere fact that the animal, although given a good start, only managed to get two or three hundred yards away before being pulled down, ‘screaming like a child,’ was quite sufficient to show that she was incapable of escape." Take the following:

"Mr. Marmaduke Wright, of Bolton Hall, a member of the Hunt, said he saw Oddie (a hunt servant) the day before the hunt took place. Oddie said they were going to let a lame deer out of the pen to blood the young hounds, and witness said he would not go out, as he did not care about hunting tame calves, much less a lame one."

The statement of John James Macauley, an eye-witness, was that the deer "scarcely put her hind-leg on the ground."

"She was followed by the hounds for a distance of about two hundred yards. . . . When the doe could see she was overtaken, she stopped, and he heard the poor little thing screaming like a child."

Lord Ribblesdale, called to speak as to the practice of blooding hounds, condemned the method adopted by his colleague.

"If blooding had been the object, his opinion was that there should have been a sudden, sharp, and decisive transaction [sic], which would have made the hounds, whenever they saw a deer, go at it. If they intended to blood hounds, the method pursued by Mr. Ormrod was most foolish. It was not an uncommon thing to blood hounds, and with regard to the question of cruelty, if they argued from elemental principles, all sport was cruel. He had hunted carted deer, and there had been no cruelty."

Asked whether, if a lame, emaciated, and weakened deer were released from a pen, it would be an unreasonable thing to hunt it, Lord Ribblesdale replied—

"With the ‘if,’ yes. This was a weak deer; therefore I should have blooded hounds with it."

The magistrates decided that "there was not enough evidence to convict," but the prosecution did great service in showing what horrible practices are still carried on under the name of "sport."

From Killing for Sport