Imagens das páginas

fortunate circumstance, for within three hundred yards of the place where he was killed there was a vixen which had laid up, about ten days before, a finer litter of cubs. On the following Thursday, when it was bitter cold, with the wind blowing, as if threatening a second winter, from the north, the liounds met at Carlton Hall Wood, and proceeded to draw the covers at Pavingham, where they found, and went away immediately to Great Oaks, and across the country to Picksbill, and from thence over Turvey Hills to Thorney, and on to Grub's Wood and Astwood; from here to a place called Cold Splash, on to Crandfield, and thence to Boxend, and so on to Stasdon, where they lost him after a capital day's sport of the old-fashioned sort ; but the pack never ran, excepting during the first twenty-five minutes, more than at a fair hunting pace. Saturday at Cooper's Oak in the Chase. Upon drawing Weston Wood the hounds soon found, and came away at a good pace over Weston Field, through the Ohase to Easton Wood, and from thence to Grendon, where they marked their fox to ground after a very pretty little scurry of twenty-eight minutes. The hounds were then taken back to a cover called Easton Horn, where they found directly, and after eighteen minutes ran to ground again in Bozcat Field. George Beers then proceeded to the Chase, where he found, after drawing about half-an-hour, a third fox: here, however, difficulties began to present themselves, for the hounds soon divided upon fresh foxes, which hung to the large covers, and the pack after running from fox to fox for about two hours without any probability of getting a run across the open, were stopped, as it was getting late in the day, and were taken home.


“. The light of other days is faded,

And all its glories past.”

Unless a mind be more obtuse in its faculties than conception can contemplate, there is always an innate feeling that sympathises with anything that we conceive we see, or are likely soon to see, for the last time, or even see in its wane. This feeling prevails more or less, whether the object be one of paramount importance or of trivial consideration. In fact, in the latter case it gains an unwonted interest in our estimation, that we never awarded to it before the contemplation of its loss flashed across our minds.

The man standing on the site where Carthage once flourished must possess a inind of merely brute instinct, if he could survey the scene with feelings of apathy; when to any one possessed of the ordinary attributes of mind and reflection that are given to the generality of mankind, it would recall the images of heroes that lived as demi-gods in our boyish ideas,

Who could even regard the boards on which a Garrick, a Kemble, and

a Siddons trod, without experiencing feelings bordering on sadness, and attaching to them an importance, nay, almost a veneration, totally uncalled-for under ordinary circumstances towards such objects?

To descend lower in the scale of importance—to be attached to mere inanimate objects, the mind must be apathetic and cold indeed in its temperament, that on nearing Newmarket has not experienced feelings and reflections that he never felt on his approach to Epsom, Ascot, Goodwood, or any other race-course in England. True, one piece of turf possesses in itself no more interest than another. But the scenes that have been enacted on it, and the persons (long since carried to their last abode) that have mixed with and participated in such scenes, “ seem to hallow it there ;" and feelings very closely allied to even respect take such unbidden hold of the imagination, that we find it next to impossible to shake it off. The laugh of ridicule emanating from the vacant and coarser mind, might induce a timid and weak one to hide feelings that reflected credit on its possessor ; but though hidden, they would still remain : while the mind of stronger cast and firmer principle would despise the being who could sneer at feelings his commonplace understanding could not teach him either to respect or appreciate.

Something like similar feelings at once lay hold of the imagination on the first sight of the Curragh of Kildare, the only other place of sport possessing the same power over the mind as our own Newmarket ; and this arises from similar causes.

And why is this? Monarchs, princes, and all the usual spectators and actors in racing affairs, have appeared in even greater numbers on many race-courses than those seen on the turf of Newmarket or the Curragh ; as high-nay, much higher-stakes have been run for on them than on the latter two places ; God knows, as many—and perhaps more-acts of rascality practised, and as many fortunes ruined. Fashion holds her more sovereign sway at Epsom, Doncaster, and Goodwood. Yet Newmarket and the Curragh are Newmarket and the Curragh still, and reign, and probably ever will reign, paramount in our ideas when connected with legitimate racing—that is, racing as it was, and one of the “ glories past."

And why is it so? Is there any peculiar superhuman charm that gives these places such control over the feelings and imagination? Is there any magic worked by unseen hands that exerts its influence over us ? Common sense says, None at all. Why it is so I can only account for by stating my own feelings, when, as a boy, I first found my horse treading the neat straight street leading to the Rutland Arms, where a letter, written some weeks prior to my arrival, had secured me beds and stalls, and where my man awaited me. It was late in the evening when I arrived, and a ride of thirty miles in very cold weather in early spring, ending with a bleak twelve-mile stage as a finisher from Bourne bridge, had in no small degree sharpened my appetite ; still, had my life depended on it, I could not have avoided (prior to entering the town) turning a hundred yards out of the road to see the stand and the judge's chair, and to lay my hand on both as a sure guarantee that I was actually at Newmarket.

On entering the town I fully anticipated seeing it thronged with persons, who, 'from their appearance, it would be impossible to mistake for any other than riding boys, jockeys, and trainers. Unlimited was

my surprise at seeing but few persons in the street of any sort, and those few showing no greater average of racing or horsemen looking people than are usually met with in any other country town. This any one who knows Newmarket will guess was the case, when I state that in order to gratify myself by seeing all that was to be seen I arrived three clear days before the commencement of the meeting.

But if my surprise was great as to the commonplace cut of the people, it was greater still by the commonplace appearance of the town. I have often laughed at my anticipations of it, in this respect, since. Still the anticipation was natural enough. We judge, on entering Manchester, Birmingham, and Nottingham, that we are entering manufacturing towns, by their long smoking chimneys, and various indications of their craft. Where the staple commodity is manufactured greatly by females, hundreds of factory girls in the streets bear living testimony of the trade carried on there ; and the shops, exhibiting the articles manufactured, show us at once the source of their wealth, and the daily persuits and avocations of the inhabitants. Reasoning by analogy, I expected to see at Newmarket about every third house a saddler's, or something of the sort, exhibiting racing saddles, trusses, horse-clothing, caps, jackets, whips, and spurs, as necessary appendages to the sport (or rather business, for such racing is at Newmarket) by which the town is supported. Great then was my astonishment, and indeed chagrin, to find nothing of the sort. The every third house that my imagination had converted into an emporium for all sorts of racing appurtenances, I found to be an inn or public-house--for they are nearly thus plentiful. So the new racing jacket and cap that I had promised myself, made in the most récherché Newmarket cut, seemed, as the event proved, never likely to reach my person ; or (as I meant) to astonish the yokels on country courses, in Hack, or Hunters' Stakes. However, a younker rising seventeen, with his servant, his two horses, and moreover “ money in his purse,” is not easily cast down. My côtelette, or whatever I took, was discussed en Grand Seigneur, my horses were very well, a cup of coffee and a glass of punch were very well too ; so I went to bed, determined, if possible, to dream of Newmarket, but, dream or not, to be up and doing early in the morning, and on foot to travel over all the courses on the heath during the day.

The anticipation of seeing different strings of the finest horses in the world at exercise and work was too strong in my mind to permit me to oversleep myself. So, with the first blush of morning, I awoke, and shortly found myself on the heath ; but so much on the alert had I been, that I had time to walk to and round the fir clump on the hill before a horse made his appearance. But shortly my eyes were gratified by seeing the different strings walking out from the different yards, with the trainers in the rear ; for at that time trainers always came out with their horses—a practice perhaps not quite universally adhered to since they have become more refined.

After seeing the whole morning's business finished, and the strings on their way back, I returned to my inn, where I sat down to breakfast with as good an appetite as any of the riding lads I had seen out could possibly have—and their keenness at that meal is almost proverbial. This finished, I walked to the course, where, with my pencil and sketchbook in hand, every side of the stand, Rubbing-house, and Duke's stand, were taken in all directions. Having thus secured to myself, let what would happen, that which would ensure to me recollections of what appeared almost sacred in my eyes, I pursued my way to the Flat. Here (soliloquised I) am I treading the same sod on which that wonder of the age, Eclipse, has shown his astonishing powers of speed and endurance ; here, though he had not the power of his fabled and winged prototype, of raising springs on the mountain's top-here has he pressed the turf with a scarce less magic foot, that raised a fortune for his master. Here also has Childers shown his flying powers. Here were such names as Regulus, Blank, Black-and-all-Black, with hundreds of equal note in by-gone days, as familiar to the ears of turfmen as have latterly been those of Plenipo, Harkaway, and Sir Tatton Sykes. Here has the game little pony horse Gimcrack given the go-bye to his comparatively colossal antagonists, Here, across this very flat, have galloped noblemen and gentlemen, whose names were justly celebrated as patrons of the turf, who kept their horses from a love of racing, and not as mere living machines to rob the public.

Aye (cried I, on reaching the Ditch, and catching a view of the Rubbing house at the end, or rather beginning, of the Beacon Course), there is the spot where started Hambletonian and Diamond in their never-tobe-forgotten match over the Beacon ; one that perhaps excited more interest, and on which as much-or more—money was staked than on any other match on record ; and where we may now exclaim “mirabile dictu !” Though such was known to be the case, the race was fairly run and fairly won ; for even in days so late as those, it was possible to match horses for even heavy stakes, and yet for both to escape the poisoner's ball. Could those two horses be resuscitated, and start again now, how would the race come off if the same money was staked on it? Ah! (sighs common honesty) how? Would it nowo be left a neck and neck race? No, not if Fitzpatrick and Buckle could rise again to ride it. No, no ; we are too aristocratic now to like excitement or enthusiasm in anything : we make the thing certain ; one horse wins without trouble, beating a half dead one. Let those who condescend to wish to see what was vulgarly styled sport, go where saddles and bridles are run for ; there a man may do what he pleases with his horse and poney. * But the regular turfite will have very little to do with mere ponies now-a-days, so far as money goes ; and takes care the owner of a good horse shall have as little to do with him so far as his running goes. Run him, of course, he may as much as he likes, but he must win or lose as other people like. My Lord may buy or breed the nags as he thinks best-this is a great privilege ; but he is even allowed a greater latitude--he may pay for his training, and even the entry ; but once entered, the owner's prerogative is at an end ; unless, indeed, “snacks" is the word ; then he may sometimes get a little insight into what his horse is intended to do, or rather, to be done with.

I need scarcely say that none of the feelings I, and I daresay many others have experienced on entering Newmarket, were ever felt by the regular turfite; he, of course, has no veneration for days when races were fairly run. True, report has handed down a story as relating to old Frampton, of those times, that, if true, also hands down his name to be execrated by all true sportsmen. But whether Plenipo

: * Poney means bere a £20 note.

running as a nearly dead horse from the effect of hocussing, or the other under that of the knife, suffered the most, no one can perhaps say, but the atrocity of the two acts is equal, though of a different sort ; and with this difference, that such rascality as has been imputed to Frampton has never been forgotten, which shows its rarity in those days ; whereas, such acts as in Plenipo's case are now practised every day, and are forgotten by others following so close on their heels.

What I did on my first going to Newmarket during that meeting would be, of course, quite uninteresting to my readers ; so we will now fancy ourselves on the finest turf in the United Kingdom for racing purposes, and say something of the far-famed “Curragh of Kildare." What a host of images that name calls before the mind ! Oh! how sadly is that scene changed ! how shorn of its laurels since the days when one of its most eccentric patrons started on his journey to Jerusalem to win his bet of playing ball against its walls ! How like a “banquet'' hall deserted ! it now looks, in comparison with the former gay scenes enacted there, when the equipages of noblemen and men of fortune were seen wheeling in succession on to the course ; when its neighbouring towns were all bustle and activity, and hailed each meeting as a comparative fortune to them. Sad was the time for, and awful the slaughter of, the feathered tribe-for, spatch cocks prepared with a quickness, and dressed as I never eat one dressed elsewhere. Let epicures hang their fowls and turkeys by their tail feathers, proclaiming that day, and that day only, on which they dropped from their hanging is the day to eat them. Pat stands on less ceremony. A customer arrives ; breakfast and the spatch cock are ordered together ; he goes to the yard, shies a shilaleh at the head of the devoted harbinger of morning, down he comes, a few minutes strips him of his feathers, and while hot on to the gridiron he goes, and with the accompanying mushrooms as a sauce, he appears on the breakfast-table tender as any fastidious gourmand could wish, and is found “a morsel for a monarch.".

Lasses in all the gay colours Irish girls so doat on when in holiday suits ; and “the boys,” with their skirt tails rolled in a lump in the middle of their backs, their snow-white shirts the pride at all times of an Irishman, then were seen pouring in across the country in all directions, leaping the ditches like wild stags, with the ever-accompanying blackthorn in their hands, to be used in frolic or in fight, as their thoughtless, gay-hearted, versatile owners might see or fancy they sav- occasion to use them ; for weapons of offence were not in those days used as weapons of premeditated outrage and murder : happy times, ere brawling demagogues raised their self-interested voices to influence the minds of an oppressed, starving, and at all times an overexcitable race of men ! Strange that England, who can subdue, civilize, and colonize the wildest nations in the remotest corners of the globe, cannot, with all her boasted learning, refinement, and statistical knowledge, and lavish expenditure of millions, conciliate and co-operate with a nation prone by nature to kindness, gratitude, and sociality ; but so it is.

Where are now those names for centuries co-eval with their native land's, descendants of kings, and proud of their unmixed blood ; that once were hailed on their arrival on the course, where those names were as familiar to, and as long known, as the name of the Curragh itself ? Ah! where? Why, spread over every part of the civilised globe, a self

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