The Noble Fox-Hunting, also known as Dido Bendigo and The Duke's Hunt, is a hunting song from England. English folk song collector A.L. Lloyd
describes the song:
"A stirring old hunting song known all over England from Cumberland to Cornwall. George Townshend of Sussex sings a particularly fine version but the tune is more or less constant wherever it is found and, though the name of the sporting Duke may vary, the list of hounds stays much the same. Country people must have loved to roll the grandiloquent syllables of names like Dido and Bendigo around their mouths... The song has had a long life and still flourishes."
Dido Bendigo describes the excitement of a noble fox hunt: the Duke of Wellington and some of his noble friends set out with their brave fox hounds, and each fox meets with a dreaded fate as they try to escape. At the end, the singer laments that it has been one year since he heard the squire exclaim "Hark, forward!" to his hounds, in hopes that he might soon hear him say those words again.
The Noble Fox-Hunting is here interpreted by the Welsh folk group, The Hennesys. Note: the lyrics slightly vary in the recording.
Listen to The Noble Fox-Hunting
1. As I was a-walking one morning last Autumn,
I've overheard some noble foxhunting
Between some noblemen and the Duke of Wellington
So early before the day was dawning.
Chorus (repeated after each verse):
There was Dido, Bendigo, Gentry he was there-o;
Traveller he never looked behind him.
There was Countess, Rover, Bonnie Lass and Jover:
These were the hounds that could find him.
2. Well the first fox being young and his trials just beginning,
He's made straight away for his cover.
He's run up yon highest hill and gone down yon lowest gill,
Thinking that he'd find his freedom there forever.
3. Well the next fox being old and his trials fast a-dawning,
He's made straight away for the river.
Well the fox he has jumped in but an hound jumped after him;
It was Traveller who strided him for ever.
4. Well they've run across the plain but they've soon returned again,
The fox nor the hounds never failing.
It's been just twelve months today since I heard the squire say,
“Hark forward then my brave hounds forever!”