Hunting Scene with Sir Roger: Essay - Summary & Analysis

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Man Needs to be Active

      Man can be happy only if he occupies himself in some kind of activity. No one can be happy for long if he idles away his time. The author cites the example of a prisoner of the Bastille. He diverted himself by scattering a few pins all over the floor and picking them up again and arranging them in designs on the arm of a great chair. He said afterward that he would have lost his senses if it had not been for this diversion.

Sir Roger and Hunting

      Sir Roger has been a keen hunter all his life. He enjoyed fox hunting in his youth. He also employed himself in activities like fishing, shooting partridges. He had good and well-trained horses and hounds. As he grew older, he had to give up the strenuous sport of fox hunting but took up hunting hare instead.

Hunting Expedition

      The author once accompanied Sir Roger on a hare-hunting expedition. They came upon a heath where the sportsmen began to beat the game out of its hiding. The author, seeing the hare jumped out of cover, made signs to Sir Roger indicating that the hare had gone in a particular direction. Sir Roger made his hounds follow the scent. Another sportsman on the expedition remarked that the author should have said ‘Stole away’ instead of remaining silent. This rather offended the Spectator and, being by nature, not fond of leaping hedges, he retired to a small bit of raised ground from where he could watch the others.

Hunt from a Vantage Point

      The retreat proved very suitable for the author. The hare ran into a large open area being chased by the hounds and the hunters. The hare was by now exhausted and quite within, the reach of its enemies when, suddenly, Sir Roger ordered his hunts-man to stop the hounds. The huntsman threw his pole in front of the dogs which immediately came to a standstill. Sir Roger took the hare in his arms and gave it to his servant with instructions that it was to be released in the orchard. He was too kind to murder an animal which had provided him with such good sport.


      Paschal is mistaken when he writes that hunting was a waste of time and that people indulged in it merely to avoid the necessity of introspection and thinking which would make them see unpleasant realities. He says that it is silly to spend so much time in hunting an animal which one can easily get in the market. The Spectator remarks that if it had not been for lack of exercise Paschal might have lived longer. The Spectator has decided to hunt twice a week as long as he stays in the country and advises his readers to take it up as it was the best medicine for a bad constitution.


      The essay, Hunting Scene with Sir Roger continues upon a subject dealt with in the earlier essay, namely the importance of exercise and activity. The essay is rather descriptive and Budgell shows himself to be good at giving a vivid account of a hunting expedition in rural England. There is cheerfulness about the whole description. There is a note of philosophizing and moralizing as when he remarks that man cannot be happy if he remains idle for long. He also implies that there is nothing wrong in pleasure if it is of the “innocent” kind. An air of richness is given to the essay through the quotations from Dryden and Shakespeare and Paschal.

      Sir Roger’s character is developed further. He seems to be very popular with all the people. He is a very kind man too. His essential good nature comes out in his decision not to kill the hare.

      Budgell’s style is in imitation of Addison. There is the same lucidity and ease of expression. There is a similar kind of humor too, though there is more of exaggeration. Sir Roger is made comic. Laughter is aroused by his devious method or getting a good name as a fox hunter. It is amusing to read about his insistence upon having a hound with particular tone or voice, so much so, that, he politely refused a gift of a hound because it had a deeper voice than what he wanted! Then there is the humorous dig at Paschal—that he died young because he lacked exercise.


      Line. 6—14. Every man has......lost his senses: Budgell is the writer of this essay and he keeps up the theme of the earlier essay on exercise written by Addison. He says that man can not live without some kind of diversion to amuse him. Every man has this instinct for activity in himself and this will make him find some kind of work to keep himself occupied, whatever be his position or profession in life. Budgell gives an incident to prove his contention in the true style of Addison and Steele. It is to be noted that the style of this writer is quite close to that of Addison. He writes of the man who was imprisoned in the Bastille, the state prison of France for seven years. During this time he found diversion by scattering some pins all over the floor of his prison room and gathering them up and making designs with them on the arm of a chair. He told his friends after coming out of the prison that if he had not occupied himself with this exercise, he was quite sure to have gone mad.

      Line. 28—37 Indeed the knight......orchard: Once again, in this essay too, we find mention of Sir Roger’s liking for fox-hunting. Such casual mention of a particular habit or quality of Sir Roger runs through all the essays giving to the De Coverly essays a resemblance to a novel. Here, the writer says that Sir Roger went to extreme means to get foxes in the countryside so as to be able to indulge in his favorite sport of hunting them. He got foxes secretly from neighboring counties and set them free in his own district so that he could distinguish himself the next day by hunting them and killing them! This is a most humorous incident. Sir Roger's horses were kept in the best possible condition and trained well. His tenants still remembered one of his stallions with admiration. Unfortunately, that particular horse died after falling on the pointed stick of a fence. Sir Roger got him buried in the orchard rather ceremoniously. This shows the knight’s kindness and attachment to his animals.

      Line. 43—48. He is so nice......counter-tenor: Sir Roger has certain odd qualities as we have been made aware of. This eccentricity finds its way in his selection of hounds too. After giving up fox hunting he bought a pack of stop hounds. These were not too fast for the knight who was getting too old for the exertion of fast hunting. But these dogs made up for their lack of speed with their deep voices and the variety of notes that they could produce. These notes, however, went together harmoniously and together sounded as if they were producing a concert. Sir Roger was very particular in this matter of voices for these hounds. One day he returned a gift of a hound from a friend politely but firmly because this particular hound did not have the right kind of voice to go with his pack of hounds. This dog had a very deep voice but the knight was in need of a dog with a very high voice! Once again we have a humorous touch in the essay. We also notice that the humor is quite in line with Addison’s, though here there is an obvious attempt at exaggeration.

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