While visiting a friend in Devon, my wife and I found ourselves one evening in the company of a huntsman.

He was a pack-handler to be precise, who, on learning I was a man of the cloth, said: “Of course, Rev, you understand it’s not the kill that’s important but the spirit of the chase!” I instinctively looked heavenwards for divine inspiration and received it.

“So, during this uneven contest you have no objection to the hounds being muzzled, thereby allowing the wretched fox to escape unscathed?” He looked at me in a disbelieving manner as if to say: “What a dotty old Rev!” On reflection, am I a dotty old Rev? Mr Blair talks of there being a third way in most matters. Perhaps the wearing of muzzles is a practical compromise to the problem of this savage dilemma.

After all, boxers eventually agreed to cover their knuckles with gloves. So why not restrict the jaws of death in favour of a less barbaric cull?

Reverend Samson Caine The Fields Swanscombe