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RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LATE SAM CHIFNEY.
""Tis sixty years ago."
We were lately killing a little time in a circulating library, when we stumbled on the biography of our greatest English entomologist, who died at the age of ninety. Making allowance therefore for infancy, he must, to judge from his published sentiments, have lived for nearly seventy years in an insect world of his own. The lamp of his zeal never waxed dim. A year or two before his death, he was seen trudging forth with his lantern into the wood behind his parsonage, to learn if the Formica rufa (red ant) really worked or shut up at midnight; and he was in perfect extasies, one afternoon, when he found a golden bug sporting on the window-sill. Half a century before, he had shewn equally strong emotions, when he discovered something of the same genus," but new to me," on his stocking, at a little inn in Norfolk. A sociable gig-ramble of a month, which he had undertaken through some of the eastern counties, with a friend (after whom he had christened several insects), caused him to be dressing there on that memorable morning, and brought him on the evening of July 3rd, 1797, to the friendly portals of "The Ram," at Newmarket. The incidents of the visit are thus handled in his journal:
"July 3rd.-Arrived at Newmarket 6 P.M., where The Ram, wide opening its ravenous maw, stood to receive us. We regale ourselves, after an expeditious journey, upon a comfortable cup of tea, and then take a walk to the race-course, as far as the stands By the way, we observe Centaurea calcitrapa plentifully. At some distance, we see the Devil's Dyke; and terrified with the prospect, retreat with hasty steps to supper. Soham cheese very fine. July 4th.-On going into the quadrangle of this magnificent inn, I observed a post-chaise, with episcopal insignia; it belonged to our worthy diocesan. On the panel of the chaise door, I take a new Empis."
Having thus violated the sanctuary of a bishop's carriage, and stowed their victim in the specimen-box, they seem to have taken a detour of two or three days, during which they slew a Tabanus bovinus, which had bitten the gig horse till it was covered with blood. Their next Newmarket entry is as follows:
"July 6th.-Left Cambridge early. A little before eight we reach the Devil's Dyke: we dismount to look for insects, and find in vast abundance the Scarabæus ruricola of Fabricius, and the Scarabæus variabilis of Mainham. This unexpected success acted as a cordial and
reviver to our spirits. Once more enter The Ram,' and here breakfast; and after settling our new colony of Scarabaei in their boxes, set off again for Barton Mills."
We carefully copied these quaint remarks into our pocket-book; and our reflections on them, as we strolled home, were on this wise:-First, we thought what a mercy it was these sages were not challenged for touts, and how very little the trainers would have believed in them and their mild explanations. Again, we felt not a little nettled that they should have passed through Newmarket when George the Third was king, and yet handed nothing down to posterity, but a few enthusiastic reflections on its inn and its insects. Alas! they wot not, poor harmless souls of the high-bred sportsmen and the sound-lunged steeds, who had so often terrified their Scarabaei, as they galloped over that heath. At the very time when this great beetle-digging match came off over its Bunbury Course the Racing Club of the " little town in Suffolk was in its very hey-day of renown. The ink with which Boswell had chronicled its glories was scarcely dry when he became acquainted with Dr. Johnson; and if the grave had not but just claimed him, the incidents of another five-and-thirty years might have now furnished him with ample materials for an additional canto. The troubled state of the continent prevented its patrons from roving away in quest of Parisian novelties and Italian skies; and hence the axle-trees of the Chesterford post-chaises were seldom allowed to cool during eight months of the year. Nearly every trainer was a private one, and out of the three or four hundred nags who (until Robson introduced the eight o'clock plan) took their breathings at four in the morning and four in the afternoon, at least half were stout enough to be matched at high weights, over the D.I., or enter the lists for a B.C. plate. Very few two-year-olds were then trained, but yearlings were at times called upon to exhibit, over their especial 2 fur. 52 yds. course on the Flat. Matching was the very heart-blood of the meetings, and when ten or twelve choice souls, each with the spirit of a Bedford or a Glasgow, met in earnest round the Club decanters, both jockeys and trainers knew that there would be heavy work cut out for them before dawn. Five harvest moons had waned since the merry heart and splendid presence of "George Guelph " had ceased to enliven these revels. The Newmarket breakfast tables were no longer on the qui vive for the news of some fresh practical joke which had been played off by him at the Club overnight. No French Prince had now to be coaxed vigorously for twelve hours before he would forgive the royal thrust, which sent him suddenly over-head into the pond before its windows, as he bent forward to examine "de beautiful fish of gold;" and even Bow-street Townsend had ceased to look grim and discomfited, when the wags would persist in asking him, if he had "found the door key?" The royal string of twenty-five was no longer to be seen issuing out of the Palace stables, with their lads in scarlet liveries, and streaming across the Flat, or up the Bury hill, in Indian-file; and a massive but finely-formed outline, in an over-coat with a fur collar, was no longer dimly descried at the ending post by Samuel Chifney, as he rode the trials at five o'clock, on a grey September morning. The bitterness with which some, who were all smiles to the Prince's face, commented behind his back on the running of Escape, had driven him in disgust from the spot, with a hasty vow that it should know him no
more. Still his temporary desertion did not make the Heath a desert. Francis Duke of Bedford had still a string of thirty at the Valley, or Eight-mile Bottom, which, with the father of the present Stephenson, sen., as trainer, and Samuel Chifney as jockey, nobly upheld the prestige of the "buff and purple stripes.' There was, too, no mean cluster of trainers at the Six-mile Bottom; while Pratt had a large string of Lord Grosvenor's, at Hare Park. In Newmarket itself, Sir Frank Standish's stable was among the foremost, and had, within the two previous years, nailed the plates of two Derby winners, and one Oaks winner, on its doors. Messrs. Panton and Vernon, too, not only resided and kept private trainers there, but the former was an equal enthusiast with hound and horn, and hunted a part of the Cambridgeshire and Essex countries. Crockford purchased his estate after his death; but as yet the pale flabby features and white "hay-wisp-fashion" neckcloth of the great speculator were unknown to fame; and Ogden (the only betting-man who was ever admitted to the Club), Davis! Holland, Dearden, Kettle, Bickham, and Watts, ruled on the Turf 'Change. The colours of Sir Charles Bunbury and Mr. Christopher Wilson, both of whom were in turn "Fathers of the Turf," not unfrequently caught Mr. Hilton's eye at the finish, and earned still less-fleeting fame on the canvas of Stubbs. Ben Marshall had not as yet set up his easel, and Robson had not become the Leviathan trainer of Suffolk, but was engaged to Sir F. Poole, at Lewes, and waxing greater and greater after Waxy's victory at Epsom. Perren had Lord Barrymore's horses in Newmarket; and Lord Clermont, never tired of looking into his own stables, where Hammond's Bank now stands. "Hell Fire Dick,' so called from his marvellous knack of getting horses on to their legs in half-mile and quarter-mile matches, trained for "old Q." at Queensbury House, where the Prince had been a constant dinner guest during the meetings. The old peer, with his three-cornered hat (Lord Clermont imitated him in this respect), and his sharp aquiline nose and keen sunken eye, was then, owing to his extraordinary carriage, and cricket-ball matches, &c., quite as great an object of interest to the Suffolk bumpkins, as he was in after years to gazers in Piccadilly; and he thought nothing of riding his pony right up to the best windows in the High-street, and ogling the fair maids and matrons within. Newmarket has undergone endless changes since their eccentric admirer turned his powdered queue on it for the last time. The outline of the Club buildings is the same, but the greater part of the Palace has been pulled down, sold, or converted into shops, and the Duke of Rutland is its only occupant.
The town had, at this memorable period, no more earnest patron than Lord George Sackville, afterwards the Duke of Dorset, whose horses stood at the stables occupied by the late William Beresford, and were under the care of Samuel Chifney. One Derby and four Oaks had already fallen to the lot of the latter; and although Pratt, the two Arnulls, Hindley, Dennis Fitzpatrick and the then juvenile Frank Buckle were powerful opponents, he was universally looked upon as the very first horseman of the time. In fact, with all his fond partiality for the brother who shared his triumphs, Will Chifney considers to this day that his father was a shade the superior. He was about 5ft. 5in. in height, walked about 9st. 5lbs. in the winter months, and could ride, if required for a great race, 7st. 12lbs. to the last. With the excep
tion of Frank Buckle, perhaps no man was ever so exactly built for his profession. His science was, however, far from being confined to the saddle, and hence while he ceaselessly initiated his son Sam into all its mysteries, he took equal pains to instruct the elder brother William in the minutest details of training and stable practice. His own knowledge on these points was so great, that calumny soon marked him for her own; and the under-current of jealousy which was always steadily flowing against the Prince was not likely to spare his jockey, Hence it was that the very year after he left Mr. Panton's service, and engaged himself to the Prince at a £200 salary, that the Yorkshiremen made their venomous attacks upon him for his riding of Traveller and Creeper. This was followed up by the Escape affair in the autumn of that year (1791); but Chifney, conscious of his innocence, bore these attacks and their consequences with the utmost calmness; and when some eight years after, the far-seeing tykes again blamed his riding of Mr, Cookson's Sir Harry, he requested that gentleman to put up Singleton on the following day, and had the quiet satisfaction of seeing the horse beaten off again in a very much worse field. The malice of his persecutors tempted him in after years to speak with his pen, through the pages of "Genius Genuine," the very same remarks as to condition, &c., which he had privately tendered to his employers after each of these races. His great theory of slack-rein riding, for which the Duke of Bedford had been so unmercifully teased at the Club parties, that he very nearly requested him to send in his jacket, was copiously treated of in this work, and the few following sentences may be said to comprise the kernel of his sentiments on the subject:—
"The first fine part in riding a race is to command your horse to run light in his mouth; it is done with manner; it keeps him the better together, his legs are the more under him, his sinews less extended, less exertion, his wind less locked; the horse running thus to order, feeling light for his rider's wants; his parts are more at ease and ready, and can run considerably faster when called upon than when he has been running in the fretting, sprawling attitudes, with part of his rider's weight in his mouth.
"And as the horse comes to his last extremity, finishing his race, he is the better forced and kept straight with manner, and fine touching to his month. In this situation the horse's mouth should be eased of the weight of his rein; if not, it stops him little or much. If a horse is a slug, he should be forced with a manner up to this order of running, and particularly so if he has to make play, or he will run the slower, and jade the sooner for the want of it.
"The phrase at Newmarket is, that you should pull your horse to ease him in his running. When horses are in their great distress in running they cannot bear that visible manner of pulling as looked for by many of the sportsmen; he should be enticed to ease himself an inch a time, as his situation will allow.
"This should be done as if you had a silken rein as fine as a hair, and that you was afraid of breaking it.
"This is the true way a horse should be held fast in his running.
"N.B.-If the Jockey Club will be pleased to give me two hundred guineas, I will make them a bridle as I believe never was, and I believe can never be, excelled for their light weights to hold their horses from running away."
His name was so inseparably connected with this style of riding, that when Stubbs painted him on Baronet, he represented him sitting backward, as was his wont, with an apparently slack rein. It was the son
"The word manner' is knowing, putting, and keeping self and horse in the best attitudes. This gives readiness, force, and quickness."
who caused "the Chifney rush" to pass into an English proverb; but Paganini had not more complete mastery over a violin than the father acquired over a horse's mouth, however hard and unformed. This was strikingly proved in the ease of Knowsley, at Guildford, whither, after being purchased by the Prince out of Yorkshire for 1000 guineas, he was sent to run for the King's Plate. This horse had run away with every jockey as yet, and therefore a large party of the Prince's friends came down expressly to see how Chifney would handle him. "Take that silly gimcrack away, and bring me a plain snaffle," was his remark when they handed him a tremendous curb-bridle for inspection in the weighing house; and then sallying forth, snaffle in hand, he not only went first past the judge with a slack rein, but repeated the feat on the same horse at Winchester, He died in London in the January of 1807, leaving a widow and six children. The eventful and closely-interwoven history of his two sons, William and Sam, we are about to trace; and one of the sisters married Mr. Butler (who trained for the late Duke of York at the Palace), and became the mother of "Frank."
THE PERSPECTIVE OF OUR NATIONAL SPORTS.
BY A LOOKer-on.
"Quiconque ne voit guère
Argus of the hundred eyes stands allegorical sponsor for the good old English axiom "example is far before precept," so practically proven in the words of La Fontaine. "Seeing is believing;" that is if you look through a true, clear, medium-brains: for instance, "racing is a glorious uncertainty," say the turf professionals; so it is, provided the tutor puts his finger in his pupil's eye. The Looker-on was in his teens in 1812, when he saw Manuella win the Oaks, whereupon he took long odds to his short capital, that her sister Altisidora won the St. Leger the year following, which she did, That was in the days when "betting round" was "square." Moreover, it was the era in which horse-racing was promoting the purpose for which it was instituted-reward on the course in the ratio of merit; to encourage and remunerate the improvement of the indigenous breed. The premier pas in that direction appears to have been one of accident rather than premeditation.....the hero being the renowned Flying Childers, as he is written; but Childers only, as he is returned in the olden legitimate records. Mr. Lawrence, in his history of the horse, describes him as a chesnut, "whereas he was a dark bay," according to an authority that cannot be questioned. Further, Mr. Lawrence states-" according to rumour," or rather, I