Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/99

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57
JOHN ARSCOTT, OF TETCOTT

married Jane, daughter of the elder John Arscott, in 1704. It seems probable, accordingly, that the ballad belonged originally to the earlier John Arscott, and that it was adapted a century later to the last John Arscott. The melody to which it is still sung at the rent-audit of the Molesworth estate at Tetcott is a very ancient one, which was employed by Tom D'Urfey, in his Pills to Purge Melancholy, 1719, for a song entitled "Dear Catholic Brother." I have given it in my Songs of the West.

Since the death of Arscott, he still hunts.

When the full moon is shining as clear as the day,
John Arscott still hunteth the country, they say;
You may see him on Black-Bird, and hear in full cry,
The pack from Pencarrow to Dazzard go by.

When the tempest is howling, his horn you may hear,
And the bay of his hounds in their headlong career;
For Arscott of Tetcott loves hunting so well,
That he breaks for the pastime from Heaven or Hell.

The belief that he is to be heard winding his horn and in full gallop in chase through the park at Tetcott is still prevalent, and there are those alive who assert positively that they have heard and seen him. Curiously enough much the same belief adheres to Dunsland, and there one of the Bickfords is thought to be the Wild Huntsman. I know of one who is so convinced that he and his hounds rushed past her through the grounds along a certain drive, that nothing afterwards would induce her on any consideration to go along that drive at night.