Mad Dogs and Englishmen
One of the more interesting things I discovered when I was researching the various French breeds of pointing dogs for my book was how much information there is to be found on them in the old English sporting press from the mid to late 1800s. In fact, for some breeds, there is more information in English than in French.
And now that I am writing my second book, this time on the British and Irish breeds, I am re-reading many of the same old books, but with an eye for references to Setters and Pointers. Unfortunately, even though the stories themselves are fascinating, a lot of them were written by unbelievably arrogant English snobs who regarded France as a third world country and its inhabitants as illiterate heathens. A few of them are so over the top, they sound like Donald Trump talking about Mexicans.
Anyway, here is a short passage from a book called "The sportsman in France : comprising a sporting ramble through Picardy and Normandy, and boar shooting in Lower Brittany" written in 1841. It is about how the author found and purchased a well bred-setter near Abbeville, France.
"It came to pass, that, being at Abbeville, in 1829, 1 was induced to shoot my way to Amiens, via the marshes on the banks of the Somme. On my return, and when about half way from home, my attention was attracted to a dog in the swamp, which was beating and quartering his ground in a very superior manner : the style of going, the pace, the action, and that indescribable dashing and swinging of the stern, which betrays high breeding, were so unusual in that part of the world, that I was induced to approach the chasseur, whom, to my astonishment, I found to be a Frenchman.
After the interchange of as many bows as would suffice for an Englishman during the term of his natural life, I ventured to observe, " that he had a nice dog with him." He answered me by stating that it was a '' sacre chienne Anglaise,'' and of the '' veritable race," but that she would not remain close to him, and always beat her ground at too great a distance to suit him.
I then inquired where he picked up the dog. He told me candidly, that he believed the mother to have been stolen, as she had strayed from the servant of an English gentleman, on the road from Boulogne ; that she was in pup at the time ; and that the animal before me was one of the litter. "
I've embedded the book below. But be forewarned; there are some passages that may make you want to say the following to the author:
Click on the right or left to leaf through the pages or on the link to read the book at archive.org