The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
Coursing in Australia
Coursing in Australia.
The Waterloo Cup, Purse, and Plate, distributing £1000 in prizes, have just been decided, with numerous other events, at a three days' meeting, at Diggers' Rest, about 18 miles from Melbourne, to the north. This is not far from the seat of the Hon. Sir W. J Clarke, Bart., Rupertswood, Sunbury, and he is an enthusiastic supporter of Coursing.
The Diggers' Rest Coursing Ground is called the Oval. It is very extensive, 200 acres as we estimate, all fenced in with a hare-proof fence. An inner space, about 100 acres, is enclosed for the sport. The rest of the ground is devoted to the preservation and propagation of hares, under a curator who lives on the plantation, the whole concern belonging to the Victorian Coursing Club. The number of hares is practically unlimited. They are driven into a "kraal," from which, by a mechanical arrangement, they are let out one by one as required for the courses.
All visitors are jealously kept to the Stand enclosure, fenced with wire. Here we have the Press Box, Signal Flag post, Luncheon Marquee, and the familiar concomitants of a meet for horse-racing. The betting ring is in full vigour. The day's outing costs about half-a-sovereign, including railway, admission, and lunch, so that the sport is somewhat exclusive, but there are large attendances, conveyed by a couple of special trains.page 80
The hares all run almost precisely in the same line, though it crosses an open field, and the courses are minutely visible with a lorgnette. The Judge, in red hunting costume, follows on horseback, and the Slipper is also in scarlet. Only about one hare in four is killed. They escape to the Preserve, through a brush fence protected by sacking, which keeps back the greyhounds. Doubtless a number of the hares, like English foxes, get practised, in the "sport."
It is shockingly cruel, for all that. There is a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in Melbourne, which is extremely solicitous about anything in which the poor man is concerned. They draw the line at the pursuit of the fierce carnivorous hare—and indeed at everything where the offender is wealthy. But clergymen attend the coursing matches. They would not go to the vulgar baiting of a timid bull or a bear. The hare enjoys being coursed—by strictly respectable people, who crimp cod and skin eels alive. An outcry rises from Christian philanthropists if common people course just one rabbit, or three or four urchins chevy a puppy after a cat. Such depravity is horrid; but the sport is glorious when, in the Waterloo Cup, fifty squeaking hares are torn to shreds by beautiful and aristocratically-owned greyhounds. Subscribers to the Cathedral must not be offended.
We wish to say a word about Emmet's Holiday Book. We have read most of the numerous contributions with pleasure. They are by ladies and gentlemen connected with the theatrical profession. Among the little sketches which particularly took our fancy are those by Miss Bishop, Miss Vivian, Messrs. R. Stewart, Baldwin, Kinghorne, Power, and Vincent. Mr. Baldwin's "How I was Hanged" is very graphic.
The Calcutta Review for July well maintains the prestige of this long-established magazine, with which the imperishable names of Lawrence and Kaye are connected, in the past. It deserves to be known in Melbourne, and more widely circulated, in London.
Alex, M'Kinley and Co., Printers, Queen Street, Melbourne.