24 JANUARY 1931, Page 20


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

SIR,—Sir William Beach Thomas' article under the title " Is Fox-hunting Doomed ? " is, I feel, not quite in accord with the facts of the case and rather unfair to the farmer and the shooting man.

Like everything else in the world to-day, fox-hunting and shooting are going through difficult times, and to say that a change has come, very sudden in appearance, though the approach has been gradual enough," is to speak of sport in terms which may be applied to practically every business or pastime in the country. One might as well say that yachting is doomed, because many people in the past who have been able to enjoy this luxurious sport will not be able to fit out their yachts in the coming season.

The writer, however, excepts the " supreme Shires " from imminent doom. In this he may. or may not be right, but go to Leicestershire or Warwickshire and you will find everywhere, owing to business depression, empty houses and stables and hundreds of men, whose livelihood depended on hunting, now out of employment. This does not mean the end of hunting in these countries, but if one part of the country, from a hunting point of view, has been hit harder than another, it is the " supreme Shires." But go to the provinces and there you will see hunting being carried on as it has been for generations and will be for many more. Often more than fifty per cent. of the field are farmers and ninety per cent. of the followers live and have their homes in the country over which they hunt. The vast majority shoot as well as hunt, and will often be seen at the covert side, on a day when there is no hunting, enjoying a day's shooting with their friends who do not hunt. Here there is no bickering between the farmer and the hunt—they are synonymous. Between the shooting people and the hunting people there is, generally speaking, great friendship.

To hold up a few isolated cases of shooting, trapping or poisoning foxes as an example of what is going on all over the country Is hardly fair either to the shooting man or to his keeper, and certainly is not generally true.

Sir William mentions instances of opposition to hunting. I know of many countries where any prospect of the demise of hunting will be met with dismay by farmers, landowners and villagers alike. Common troubles, far from causing. a breach between the different interests in a hunting country, have brought them closer together, and I think no better instance can be given of this than the fact that the British Field Sports Society is supported alike, not only by those who shoot and hunt, but by all those who participate in Field Sports, including farmers and keepers.

Having respect for your space I will not criticize Sir William's article in detail, but when he says, " it seems likely . . . that a considerable number of hunts may cease to exist after this season," I would like to say that I shall be very surprised if even two or three drop out of the list, the reason being that the vast number of hunts are supported by the efforts of the farmer and the shooting man, just as much as those of the man who hunts only.—I am,

Sir, &c., JAMES W. FITZWILLIAM. Secretary.

The British Field Sports Society.

St. Stephen's House, Westminster, S.W. 1.