My intent is to allow the reader to walk down the lanes of old London (before it burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666) and feel as if you are actually there. You can smell and touch the nuances of London. You'll know what it's like to work your way through the City and its the conflicting laws where religion played in important part of everyday life. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and then there's my French Revolution novel.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guns & English Shooting (Part IV)

Hanging partridge (18th century)

This is the fourth and last installment of The Art of English Shooting by George Edie, Gent., an informative 18th century tome that helps an author or reader with background detail of antique guns, bird hunting, and which dogs to use.  

If you've missed the previous installments, just scroll down to the earlier blogs. I don't have that many, so should be easy to find. 

Keep in mind, I’ve not made any changes. Spelling and voice are as in the book. 

Page (26)

"Of various Upland Winter Shooting.

"Our common field shooting is generally best in frosty weather, and when the ground has a tolerable cover of snow. We have in most parts of England, a variety which affords very tolerable sport; the most common are, different sorts of wild pigeons, field-fares, starlings, redwings, &c.

Starlings are nasty birds, and not a meal I’d like to see on my table.

"In this diversion we use no dog; and the fewer shooters together the better.

"The several kinds of pigeons require the No. 3 shot, as being strong birds; and may be either taken on the wing, or as they perch on a tree; but the rock pigeons are best, in general, taken on the wing; however, it sometimes happens that a shot at them sitting is more proper; in this, discretion must direct. The fieldfare (thrush) is a very common bird, it seems to delight most in large close orchards; but in hard weather, in the fields; they frequent the haws bushes, and afford very pretty diversion: though they are naturally very wild, yet, when a hard frost is set in, there is no difficulty in getting within forty yards of them, at the time they are keenly engaged on their feeding bush: here they will fit forty or fifty sometimes together.

"The proper way of managing this kind of shooting is, if possible, to secrete behind a bush, or in a hedge, within shot of one of the bushes they frequent: when a sufficient number (as the person may judge) are together, to fire at them as they see fit; what are killed should be taken up, and the shooter replace himself as before: in a quarter of an hour, or less, more will probably be on the bush; and he may often go on shooting in the same place, all the while they are on their feed, which is from a little after sun-rise till eleven or twelve o'clock; and in the afternoon they go on again, about an hour before sunset; but such sport as this must be expected only where fieldfares are in great plenty.

"Starlings afford tolerable diversion in shooting; in winter they, for the most part, go in flocks from twenty to fifty; they delight chiefly to be in moist pastures among cattle, and sometimes sit so close together on the ground, that a person may kill twenty-five or thirty at a shot; taking these on the ground, or wing, may be left at the discretion of the shooter; but the wing will be best preferred: what are shot, should have their heads immediately pulled off, which by their bleeding, prevents a bitterness of taste they would otherwise have: use for these and fieldfares the No. 4 shot.

A murder mystery could be in the works while pulling off the heads of those dead starlings…

"In shooting larks in flocks, use the No. 5 shot; and make it a rule always to take them on the wing: here it will be adviseable to have the gun scatter more than common; in order to do this, put in an equal quantity of powder and shot, supposing the usual charge to be three parts shot to two of powder; but if the gun, in common, carries an equal quantity of each, then it will be necessary to put in only about three parts of shot to four of powder: and in shooting any of the smaller birds in flocks, this rule of charging should be observed. 

17th Century
"Necessary Observations for the young Sportsman.

I can see a hero and heroine doing the following at the darkest part of dawn:

"The sportsman should make it a general rule to turn out with or before the sun; the morning is the best time for all sorts of shooting: he should be provided with a spare flint or two, and a strong pocket knife that will serve, on occasion, the purpose of a turnscrew; he should take out the best powder that can be got, and that sized shot which suits the sport he pursues.

"When we come to the place where we turn out, if dogs are used, we put them on the hunt by whistling or hying on (as the term is): it is necessary to observe the motions of spaniels, for there are but few but what will give some intimation when they come on scent; use them to come in at a sharp call, and never suffer them to run after a bird, except it is wounded: oberve [observe] to let the dogs, whether spaniels or pointers, have the wind as much as possible (that is, let them hunt against the wind).

"In using pointers when they are perceived drawing on a point, and are known to be not quite staunch, call to them to take heed, and if they spring without standing, correct them slightly with a switch, or small stick, or better a pocket dog-whip, speaking angrily to them, and keep them at a distance the remaining part of the day, but not so much as make them sulkey; however, if their after behaviour deserves encouragement, it may not be improper to take them into favour.

"Observe after a fire never to blow through the barrel, but charge again immediately, while the inside of the barrel is hot and dry; by this method of immediate charging, a gun seldom hangs fire, and carries much smarter and better; there is no occasion to wipe either pan or flint while out (if the flint is good, which, by the bye, it always should be); but on returning home, wipe clean with tow (Definition of tow is in the first installment), or linen rags, both out and inside of the barrel, and also the lock from the soil of the powder; when it is thus cleaned, hang it up, and if it can be so ordered, where a constant winter fire is kept, hanging it at a moderate distance from the fire: the powder flask should also be kept in the same degree of warmth in winter time; if the gun has received any rain or wet let it be wiped thoroughly dry, and stand some time near a fire, to dry any remaining damp, and have a little oil rubbed over it before hanging up.

While the hero cleans the gun, and sets it near a fire to further dry, I see our heroine off to the kitchen for a nice cup of tea, don’t you?

"Lastly, it may be observed, if a gun is brought home loaded, if it is not very foul, it may remain four or five days fit for use, but never should longer, as it will be apt to hang fire; and even if it remains but one night loaded, the touch-hole should be cleared with a pin, and fresh primed: but it is a good custom with many never to suffer a gun to be hung up charged, but on returning home to draw the shot and fire off the powder, by which, they not only prevent some degree of hanging fire, but also are clear of any accident happening by unwary or ignorant meddlers, of which we have had many fatal instances.

"F I N I S."

So concludes our very interesting study for maintenance and uses of antique guns. If you liked this but do not want to copy and paste and store in your ‘research data’ file for further use in one of your novels, you can find this as a free download from google books, epub or pdf. Google: The Art of English Shooting by George Edie, or follow this link:

For more delightful reading, please see the following link for my novels, the ebooks at a reduced cost.

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