Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. du Maurier's Chang."

149

wine-such as they provided for one of our party who was exhausted with the cold and fatigue-than a crucifix.”

The Rev. J. Cumming Macdona may fairly claim the credit of having established this magnificent breed in England, and there are now several kennels besides his which contain far finer specimens than ever were seen on the St. Bernard. The measurements of one of these-Menthon, were given as 80in. in length and 40in. in girth. A pup, since named Silver King, belonging to another breeder, weighed 98lb. at only five months old, and he would have reached colossal proportions, had not some cowardly ruffian given him poison at the Liverpool Show, and seriously checked his growth. The highest price I can find as paid for one of these dogs is £800, the sum given by Mr. Emmett, the American actor, for Rector, who had changed hands previously for £300.

Though usually kept as companions only, St. Bernards may be turned to good account by the sportsman. Mr. W. Cunliffe Brooks, M.P., mentions one of his, Bayard, which pulled down the first stag he was laid on in the forest of Glen Tana, giving tongue, too, at the bay; and Hilda, another from Mr. Cumming Macdona's kennels, established for herself a great reputation in Glen Tana as a deerstalker, often crawling very long distances as low and as silently as the most skilful and stealthy ghillie, and ultimately tracking for miles the wounded quarry.

My personal acquaintance with these dogs is almost limited to the noble specimen, Chang, owned by Mr. G. du Maurier, the accomplished “society” artist of Punch, who for some eight years was a familiar figure, in close attendance on his master, on Hampstead Heath. I walked over to the Alexandra Palace with Mr. du Maurier and Chang in 1875, and saw the dog benched for the only time in his life at the dog show then being held. He evinced his disgust with the whole business by the most touching expressions of grief on the departure of his master, who contributed sub

sequently to the Pall Mall Gazette one of the most amusing articles imaginable from the "disappointed exhibitor's" point of view, and a model of the temper in which adverse awards should be received, for Chang was scarcely looked at.

Chang possessed the black muzzle, then considered enough to put any dog out of court, though he rejoiced in the full development of those useless and unsightly appendages -dew-claws; but, unfortunately, they were only single! Nevertheless, I heard a celebrated exhibitor and breeder of St. Bernards, and one equally celebrated as a judge, tell Chang's master that, had he himself been judging on that occasion, he should not only have awarded him the first prize as a St. Bernard, but considered him altogether the best dog in the show. Puppy as he was about ten months old-he was bigger than any adult dog in the place, grand in coat, and finely proportioned, but, unfortunately for him, muzzles were worn white then.

His master walked home with him next day, determined never again to subject him to another night of the misery he had evidently undergone in that short experience of public

In this I must confess myself completely in sympathy with Mr. du Maurier, for, had I the finest dog in the world, I would rather return to the Australian bush, and earn £40 a year as a shepherd, in daily peril from the spear of the savage, with the dog beside me, than allow my friend and companion to run the risk of being murdered by the cowardly assassin, always lurking about a dog show, in the pay of some disappointed exhibitor.

His formidable appearance, however, always inspired respect. Late one evening, his master was crossing a lonely part of Hampstead Heath, accompanied, as usual, by the dog, when he encountered two men whose intentions there was every reason to suspect. Stepping hastily out of the pathway, one of the roughs remarked in a gruff tone, “Ble'st if a cove didn't ought to get six months for keepin' a dawg like that."

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

MR. GEORGE B.

DU MAURIER'S ST. BERNARD, “CHANG.”

[blocks in formation]

on

com

The admirable drawing, by the late Mr. T. W. Wood, well expresses the leonine aspect of this noble specimen. His manners in the house were perfect, and his temper unruffled by the utmost strain the children could put upon his good nature. As he lay on the floor of his master's studio, they would roll about on his great tawny body to their hearts' content; but Chang never resented any interference their part with his convenience or dignity. Shortly before Chang's death, which resulted from a plication of heart disease, inflammation of the lungs, and dropsy, his master wrote to me: “I don't think anyone ever got more pleasure out of an animal than I have out of Chang. His beauty is always fresh to me, and he has always been so constant a companion.

An incident occurred the other day which will interest you. He recollects things well, and sometimes broods over them. One night I came home late from the Punch dinner, and, letting myself in, found Chang more demonstrative than usual in the hall, and with apparently something on his mind. I went into my studio, and sat down on his bench in the bow window, reading a paper, and Chang got up, put his head on my knees, and went to sleep. Presently, my wife came down from the nursery, and began, ‘Such an unfortunate thing! Chang and May’” (his youngest daughter)

were playing together, and he rolled down the hill with her, and hurt her knee.' As soon as Chang heard May's name, he sat up, and began to paw me in an apparent agony of remorse and anxiety. I had the greatest trouble in soothing him, and he had evidently been thinking of nothing else but the accident.”

The bulldog has been termed by Youаtt a ‘stupid and ferocious brute," a designation which might have been justly applied to him in olden times, when his life was passed in bull baiting and fighting, and he was the favourite of blackguards of high and low degree; but it is certainly a libel on his modern representative. A short time ago, I visited the

« PreviousContinue »