Page images
[graphic][merged small]

only one parallel, the victory of Rosebery horses in the annals of the turf might
in 1876. Mr. Keene may well say that have been proud. In the Cambridgeshire
his “colt is the greatest horse in the the finish was closer, but the great stamina
world.” The Cesarewitch course is two of the American enabled him to struggle
miles and a quarter in length, and Fox- successfully with his less heavily weight-
hall came in ten lengths in front of Chip- ed competitors.
pendale-an exploit of which the greatest On our own soil we have as good horses

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

probably as those that have won glory in | hattan handicap, with 120 pounds, deserved England and in France. We have Hin- the enthusiasm it aroused. We have the doo, the winner of the Kentucky Derby steeple-chaser Trouble, who on the fifth and Clark Stakes at Louisville, and of the day of the October meeting at Jerome Blue Ribbon Stakes at Lexington. We Park won the handicap steeple-chase, have Thora, a grand filly, who in 1881 | carrying 157 pounds. We have Glen

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

defeated both Hindoo and Crickmore, but more, the gallant chestnut that achieved succumbed last year at Jerome Park to the unparalleled performance of running Sly Dance, having to concede a year and the four miles in the last two heats for the six pounds. We have back from his Eng- Bowie Stakes in the time of 7.304 and 7.31 lish campaign our old favorite Parole, respectively. With his easy action and whose brilliant performance in the Man- great staying powers he is a wonderful horse; and in spite of the long races in it all been equal to the last half, she would which he has been engaged, he is as sound have made the distance in 2.10. As a susand as fresh as ever. In the Coney Island tained performance, however, her achieve Cup race he defeated Luke Blackburn, Mon- ment at Belmont Park, Philadelphia, in itor, Parole, and Uncas, winning in 3.581. July, surpassed all previous record.

We have every reason to expect that in trotted three consecutive heats in 2.12, the near future other foreign victories will 2.131, 2.121. Her slowest heat beat Rarus's be obtained by our sportsmen. We pos- best at Hartford in 1878, when the record sess some of the best blood in the world. was 2.131, 2.13}, and 2.15. Maud S. has We have rich pastures; we have a better now the glory of having achieved the fastclimate, at all events, than the British Isl- est heat, the fastest two consecutive heats, ands; and we have trainers second to none and the fastest three consecutive heats that in their art, and owners second to none in have ever been seen. their enterprise. The performances of If Maud S. is the queen, St. Julien is Iroquois and Foxhall leave no longer any the king, of the trotting turf. He stands room for cavil on these points.

second to her alone with his last year's The best trotters that flourished about record of 2.11]. His trainer, Hickok, has 1830 could not do a mile under 2.50, but in Santa Claus another horse not unworin 1856 Flora Temple reduced the time to thy of being matched with the queen of the 2.241. In 1866, Woodruff's pride, Dexter, turf. As a five-year-old he got a record under the saddle, did the mile at Buffalo which is still unbeaten, making the mile in 2.18, and in the following year in 2.171. in 2.18. Since that time Mr. Bonner's famous The speed of our trotting horses can not Rarus, Goldsmith Maid, Lulu, and oth- be approached by the animals of any others, have trotted their mile in 2.15 or less. er country. It has been attained, to quote But horses like these just mentioned from Hiram Woodruff's book, "by our are nothing to the wonderful trotters method of breeding, training, and driving of to-day. Maud S., the queen of the trotting horses, aided by the enterprise and turf, reduced the time, at Rochester in ingenuity which provide vehicles, harness, 1880, to 2.104; and in 1881, over the same and all the paraphernalia of that combinacourse, she trotted a mile in the unparal- tion of lightness with strength which is leled time of 2.104. The first half of the modelled upon the plan of the best trotRochester track is by no means good; had | ting horse himself.”

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

" He sang of Eden's paradise, and smiled, well known as hardly to need repeating Remembering Vallombrosa. Therefore is here: The place divine to English man and child."

“ Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks -E. B. BROWNING.

In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades
High overarch'd embower."

And it is not a slight tribute to the English-speaking travellers from old as- genius of the poet that this is so. But sociation with Milton's comparison, so for this illumining ray, Vallombrosa.

PROBABLY the first suggestion of de

would have been to us only as any other and remained there two months. His of the lovely nooks with which il bel fame as a poet-for he had already writpaese abounds, of which it is impossible ten Comus” and “ Lycidas," "Il Penfor the ordinary traveller to see the hun seroso” and “L'Allegro"— had preceded dredth part.

What Dante had done for him, and he was warmly welcomed in the many other places in Italy, Milton did highest circles of society, and exchanged for Vallombrosa. His comparison of literary flatteries with the notabilities of multitudes to leaves was not new nor the period. “No time will ever abolish," specially praiseworthy, though it could says he, in the Defensio Secunda, "the boast of an ancient and honorable pedi- agreeable recollections which I cherish of gree, through Virgil, Dante, and Tasso. Jacob Gaddi, Carlo Dati, Frescobaldo CulBut the unexpected introduction of such a tillero, Bonomathei, Clementillo Franpeaceful image into the description of the cesco, and others.” And in the Areopainflamed sea” gives us a relief like that gitica he makes this further allusion to of an exquisite sudden modulation in the Italy : “ There it was that I found and midst of a stormy symphony. The very visited the famous Galileo, grown old a names of Vallombrosa and Etruria, too, prisoner to the Inquisition for thinking in are musical; the tongue and ear dwell astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan with pleasure upon them; and the imagi- and Dominican licensers thought." nation supplies all the charm of Italian He was back again at Florence in the skies and scenery. But the chief interest spring of 1639, after a winter spent in the of the comparison lies in the fact that south, principally at Naples, where he when Milton wished to use it, instead of was so outspoken against popery that he all the English forest haunts which he was warned not to go to Rome, as his life knew so well, there came spontaneously would be in danger. He disregarded this to his mind the vision of this far-off, up-caution, however, and did not abate his land valley; thus showing how deeply freedom of speech. “By the favor of its beauty had engraven itself upon his God,” he records, “I got back to Florence, recollection. He saw again the floods of where I was received with as much affecsunshine the yellowing chestnut tion as if I had returned to my native leaves, and breathed the fragrant air, and country.” was hushed by the silence and sacred- The visit to Vallombrosa was without ness of the place. Perhaps, too, out of doubt made during Milton's first stay in the tumult and disappointment of mature Florence, as he says explicitly that durage, his thoughts turned back to rest for ing the second he made no excursions exa moment on those untroubled days, cept to Lucca. He passed over the mountwhen he tasted, with the zest of a poet ains to Geneva, and reached home after and a scholar, the beauties of nature and an absence of about fifteen months. of art in Italy. We may fancy that it It was a bright day early in October, was with an effort that he brought him- 1877, when I first visited Vallombrosa. self back to the present, and to his great The mountain on which it is situated is theme. And then, as if rousing himself plainly visible from Florence, and my to shake off this softer mood, the simile eyes had often been drawn thither with which follows returns to the minor key | an irresistible attraction. The excursion again, as he likens the infernal regions to is peculiarly one for the early autumn;

“the scattered sedge for the route along the valley of the Arno Afloat when with fierce winds Orion arm'd and on the western slope of the hills is too Hath vex'd the Red Sea coast."

much exposed to the sun to be agreeable Of Milton's Italian journey we have, un- during the summer heats; and as in fortunately, few particulars. We know America so in Italy, October is the one that it was undertaken with the best ad perfect month of the year for out-of-door vantages of money, credentials, and coun- pleasures. sel. Of the latter, perhaps, Sir Henry Vallombrosa is eighteen miles from Wotton's letter, repeating to his young Florence. To go thither it is usual to friend the advice which had been given to take the Roman train as far as Pontassiere himself in Italy, to keep his thoughts close (about three-quarters of an hour); but it and his looks open ( pensieri stretti e viso is far preferable to drive, as the distance sciolto) was the most useful. Milton ar- can easily be accomplished in two hours. rived in Florence early in September, 1638, and the difference in enjoyment more


« PreviousContinue »