Anthony Trollope: Autobiography of Anthony Trollope


My own last personal concern with it was on a matter, of fox-hunting. [Footnote: I have written various articles for it since, especially two on Cicero, to which I devoted great labour.] There came out in it an article from the pen of Mr. Freeman the historian, condemning the amusement, which I love, on the grounds of cruelty and general brutality. Was it possible, asked Mr. Freeman, quoting from Cicero, that any educated man should find delight in so coarse a pursuit? Always bearing in mind my own connection with The Fortnightly, I regarded this almost as a rising of a child against the father. I felt at any rate bound to answer Mr. Freeman in the same columns, and I obtained Mr. Morley's permission to do so. I wrote my defence of fox-hunting, and there it is. In regard to the charge of cruelty, Mr. Freeman seems to assert that nothing unpleasant should be done to any of God's creatures except f or a useful purpose. The protection of a lady's shoulders from the cold is a useful purpose; and therefore a dozen fur-bearing animals may be snared in the snow and left to starve to death in the wires, in order that the lady may have the tippet,--though a tippet of wool would serve the purpose as well as a tippet of fur. But the congregation and healthful amusement of one or two hundred persons, on whose behalf a single fox may or may not be killed, is not a useful purpose. I think that Mr. Freeman has failed to perceive that amusement is as needful and almost as necessary as food and raiment. The absurdity of the further charge as to the general brutality of the pursuit, and its consequent unfitness for an educated man, is to be attributed to Mr. Freeman's ignorance of what is really done and said in the hunting-field,--perhaps to his misunderstanding of Cicero's words. There was a rejoinder to my answer, and I asked for space for further remarks. I could have it, the editor said, if I much wished it; but he preferred that the subject should be closed. Of course I was silent. His sympathies were all with Mr. Freeman,--and against the foxes, who, but for fox-hunting, would cease to exist in England. And I felt that The Fortnighty was hardly the place for the defence of the sport. Afterwards Mr. Freeman kindly suggested to me that he would be glad to publish my article in a little book to be put out by him condemnatory of fox-hunting generally. He was to have the last word and the first word, and that power of picking to pieces which he is known to use in so masterly a manner, without any reply from me! This I was obliged to decline. If he would give me the last word, as be would have the first, then, I told him, I should be proud to join him in the book. This offer did not however meet his views.

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