This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
The above was written more than forty years ago, and Mr. Crane died in 1894. He kept his favourite little hounds right up to the time he died, and, so far as can be made out, was one of the very few men of late years who had anything like a substantial pack of hounds which did not go over, say, 10 inches in height. He had produced his in conjunction with Mr R. Snow, Chudleigh, and in the end both owners must have bred a little too much in and in. During a correspondence with Mr. Crane, some two years or so before his decease, he told me he had latterly lost a great many hounds from distemper and other causes, and towards the end his inimitable and diminutive pack had dwindled away, until not more than three or four couples were left, and those of no great merit. Seven couples of old and young hounds died almost at the same time, so it can easily be seen their replacement was impossible.
Had Mr. Crane lived a few years longer, perhaps he would have been able to obtain some new blood, for just now our little rabbit beagle, pocket beagle, dwarf beagle, or whatever you like to call him - and name him anything but a toy - has quite an increasing number of admirers. At the most recent show of the Kennel Club, held in October, 1896, there was the best entry of beagles brought together of late, still, at some of the Sussex shows held a few years back we have seen capital gatherings. Now the extra collection had been attracted at the instance of the Beagle Club, who guaranteed a certain proportion of the prizes. The tiny hounds, such as were classed under 10 inches, shown by Mrs. Chesshyre, of Walford, and by Mr. W. R. Crofton, of Totton, Hampshire, were extremely dainty creatures, well made, full of muscle as a rule, and hardy enough to kill a rabbit or to beat the coverts, for which most of them are used. Such have neither pace nor strength to run down a hare, but are merry hunters; and so long as by inter-breeding they are not allowed to degenerate into toys, with crooked legs, huge round heads, weak faces, and spindle shanks, our really old-fashioned and charming little "royal beagle" may continue to have an increased number of admirers.
At one of the Kennel Club shows, held over twenty years ago at Alexandra Park, Muswell Hill, Mr. G. H. Nutt showed a lovely pack, and treated his many friends with a taste of their quality. The late Mr. E. Sandall ran a trail, and after due law the little hounds were uncoupled. They soon made out the line, and merrily throwing their voices, gave us a pretty bit of hound-work through the shrubberies. Up to within two or three years ago Mr. Nutt kept beagles near Pulborough, both wire haired and smooth, but these were larger than those he had at the London show named. He was master of as neat a little pack as man need desire, which he mostly used to beat the coverts for rabbits and pheasants, instead of employing human labour, which I always considered a little more dangerous for the dog than it would have been for the man.
Greater attention appears to have been given to the beagle in the South of England than elsewhere, and the county of Sussex has usually been noted for them. Indeed, the handsome blue-mottled specimens were at one time known as Sussex beagles; and I fancy that from this county first sprang the variety with a wire-haired coat, not unlike a miniature otter hound or Welsh hound in appearance. Mr. H. P. Cambridge, of Bloxworth, is alluded to by "Stonehenge" as having a pack of 13-inch beagles in which there were some rough hounds. One of the best of these, black, tan, and white in colour, originally came from near Cranbourne. About thirty years ago I saw a peculiar little beagle, some 12 inches in height, with extraordinarily long ears, characteristic face, but rather long in the body. Merry was wire-haired and sandy in colour, not unlike a pale-coloured Irish terrier. She was in the North of England, but where she came from I could never make out. Her first public appearance was on the bench, where she was shown by her owner, a sporting dealer in oilcake, who had been a great wrestler in his day. Mr. W. Lort, the judge, was so taken with the little hound that he gave her first prize in the "variety class." She had a lovely voice - a thorough hound, but quite unlike any beagle I ever saw before or since.
Recently, a number of excellent black and tan beagles have been introduced, some of them so perfect in their way as to beat others of the more orthodox colour. The old bitch Musicwood, bred by the late Lord Wentworth, appears to have been the progenitor of many of these black and tans; she was at one time the property of Mr. E. J. Cackett, who then resided near Brentwood. They are mostly about 14 inches in height, and the best specimens of the strain are undoubtedly Rasselas and Forester, which were placed first and second in an ordinary class at our last great show. Mr. Joachim has been extremely successful with the one, and Mr. Lord not much less so with the other. Musicwood has, indeed, been a useful matron, for at the show in question she was dam of a first and second prize winner in larger sized dogs, great dam of first and dam of second and third in bitches, grandam of the first prize winners in rabbit beagle dogs and in bitches, and grandam of both the dog and bitch which won the championships. Her stock are not all black and tan, some being ordinary hound marked and blue - mottled; but almost all her progeny have turned out well. These black and tan beagles are no doubt interesting, but I consider them a bad colour; they are difficult to see in the distance, and are not nearly so pretty as the "mottled" or "spotted beauties" which are much the commoner of the two. Perhaps these black and tans have been placed over others on account of their undue length of ear, which, folding bloodhoundlike, should certainly not be taken as a beagle characteristic.
Amongst the best of rabbit beagles some dozen years or so ago was the blue-mottled "Blue Belle," shown by Mrs. Reginald Mayhew, and afterwards in America. Here was about as perfect a little creature as could be imagined, and the most hypercritical could only say she was a little weak in face. She had such character, the best of legs and feet, so difficult to obtain in perfection on either beagle or harrier, a perfect body, loins, back, stern, and ears to correspond, and she was as merry as a grig and when on the line of hare or rabbit as melodious as a peal of wedding bells. Blue Belle was purchased at one of the Sussex exhibitions when a puppy for about thirty shillings.