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shot and fished, but did not care much for these pursuits, for his hobby was hunting, which gratified at once his passion for horses and dogs and his love for the strong excitement of the chase, when dashed with just enough danger to make it really fascinating. He showed in his sport the same thoroughness and love of perfection that he displayed in everything else. His stables were filled with the best animals that Virginia could furnish. There were the “blooded coach-horses” for Mrs. Washington's carriage, “Magnolia,” a full-blooded Arabian, used by his owner for the road, the ponies for the children, and finally, the high-bred hunters Chinkling and Valiant, Ajax and Blueskin, and the rest, all duly set down in the register in the handwriting of the master himself. His first visit in the morning was to the stables. The next to the kennels to inspect and criticise the hounds, also methodically registered and described, so that we can read the names of Vulcan and Ringwood, Singer and Truelove, Music and Sweetlips, te which the Virginian woods once echoed nearly a century and a half ago. His hounds were the subject of much thought, and were so constantly and critically drafted as to speed, keenness, and bottom, that when in full cry they ran so closely bunched that tradition says, in classic phrase, they could have been covered with a blanket. The hounds met three times a week in the season, usually at Mount Vernon, sometimes at Belvoir.
They would get off at daybreak, Washington in the midst of his hounds, splendidly mounted, generally on his favorite Blueskin, a powerful irongray horse of great speed and endurance. He wore a blue coat, scarlet waistcoat, buckskin breeches, and a velvet cap. Closely followed by his huntsman and the neighboring gentlemen, with the ladies, headed, very likely, by Mrs. Washington in a scarlet habit, he would ride to the appointed covert and throw in. There was no difficulty in finding, and then away they would go, usually after a gray fox, sometimes after a big black fox, rarely to be caught. Most of the country was wild and unfenced, rough in footing, and offering hard and dangerous going for the horses, but Washington always made it a rule to stay with his hounds. Cautious or timid riders, if they were so minded, could gallop along the wood roads with the ladies, and content themselves with glimpses of the hunt, but the master rode at the front. The fields, it is to be feared, were sometimes small, but Washington hunted even if he had only his stepson or was quite alone. His diaries abound with allusions to the sport. “Went a-hunting with Jacky Custis, and catched a fox after three hours chase; found it in the creek.” “Mr. Bryan Fairfax, Mr. Grayson, and Phil. Alexander came home by sunrise. Hunted and catched a fox with these, Lord Fairfax, his brother, and Colonel Fairfax, all of whom, with Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Wilson of England, dined here.” Again, November 26th and 29th, “Hunted again with the same party.” “1768, Jan. 8th. Hunting again with same company. Started a fox and run him 4 hours. Took the hounds off at night.” “Jan. 15. Shooting.” “16. At home all day with cards; it snowing.” “23. Rid to Muddy Hole and directed paths to be cut for fox-hunting.” “Feb. 12. Catched 2 foxes.” “Feb. 13. Catched 2 more foxes.” “Mar. 2. Catched fox with bob’d tail and cut ears after 7 hours chase, in which most of the dogs were worsted.” “Dec. 5. Fox-hunting with Lord Fairfax and his brother and Colonel Fairfax. Started a fox and lost it. Dined at Belvoir and returned in the evening.”.” So the entries run on, for he hunted almost every day in the season, usually with success, but always with persistence. Like all true sportsmen Washington had a horror of illicit sport of any kind, and although he shot comparatively little, he was much annoyed by a vagabond who lurked in the creeks and inlets on his estate, and slaughtered his canvas-back ducks. Hearing the report of a gun one morning, he rode through the bushes and saw his poaching friend just shoving off in a canoe. The rascal raised his gun and covered his pursuer, whereupon Washington, the cold-blooded and patient person so familiar in the myths, dashed his horse headlong into the water, seized the gun, grasped the canoe, and dragging it ashore pulled the man out of the boat and beat him soundly. If the man had yielded at once he would probably have got off easily enough, but when he put Washington's life in imminent peril, the wild fighting spirit flared up as usual. The hunting season was of course that of the most lavish hospitality. There was always a great deal of dining about, but Mount Vernon was the chief resort, and its doors, ever open, were flung far back when people came for a meet, or gathered to talk over the events of a good run. Company was the rule and solitude the exception. When only the family were at dinner, the fact was written down in the diary with great care as an unusual event, for Washington was the soul of hospitality, and although he kept early hours, he loved society and a houseful of people. Profoundly reserved and silent as to himself, a lover of solitude so far as his own thoughts and feelings were concerned, he was far from being a solitary man in the ordinary acceptation of the word. He liked life and gayety and conversation, he liked music and dancing or a game of cards when the weather was bad, and he enjoyed heartily the presence of young people and of his own friends. So Mount Vernon was always full of guests, and the master noted in his diary that although he owned more than a hundred cows he was obliged, nevertheless, to buy butter, which suggests an experience not unknown to gentlemen farmers of any period, and also that company was never lacking in that generous, open house overlooking the Potomac. Beyond the bounds of his own estate he had also many occupations and pleasures. He was a member of the House of Burgesses, diligent in his attention to the work of governing the colony. He was diligent also in church affairs, and very active in the vestry, which was the seat of local government in Virginia. We hear of him also as the manager of lotteries, which were a common form of raising money for local purposes, in preference to direct taxation. In a word, he was thoroughly public-spirited, and performed all the small duties which his position demanded in the same spirit that he afterwards brought to the command of armies and to the government of the nation. He had pleasure too, as well as business, away from Mount Vernon. He liked to go to his neighbors’ houses and enjoy their hospitality as they enjoyed his. We hear of him. at the court-house on court days, where all the countryside gathered to talk and listen to the lawyers and hear the news, and when he went to Williamsburg his diary tells us of a round of dinners, beginning with the governor, of visits to the club, and of a regular attendance at the theatre whenever actors came to the little capital. Whether at home or abroad, he took part in all the serious pursuits, in all the interests, and in every reasonable pleasure offered by the colony. Take it for all in all, it was a manly, wholesome, many-sided life. It kept Washington young and strong, both mentally and physically. When he was forty he flung the iron bar, at some village sports, to a point which no competitor could ap