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On seraph wing I'd float a DRBAM by night,
And gaze upon her with a thousand eyes !--COLERIDGE. It would lead us into another subject, if we were now to go on to distinguish, as we have it in our minds to do, between the lyric poetry proper of old Greece and the choric songs of the great dramatists. Another more fitting opportunity may be found and enough of such old lore for the present. Pleasant, indeedvery pleasant it is to us to recur for a brief hour to the themes of those sweet and silent studies in which we passed our youth, and to take a second draught at the fountains of almost all that is just and beautiful in human langtiage. Such a momentary diversion must be delightful to every one who has within him any sense of the true and the pure in taste; but who can estimate the peculiar gust with which Reviewers turn to an old master, from the thousand-times-hashed novel, the lying memoir, or the brutal pamphlet?
Art. IV.-A Treatise on the Care, Treatment, and Training
of the English Race-horse. By R. Darvill, V. S., 7th Hussars.
London. 8vo. 1832.
, Newmarket, Epsom, Ascot, or Doncaster would bear no comparison with the imposing spectacles of the Olympic Games ; and had not racing been considered in Greece a matter of the highest national importance, Sophocles would have been guilty of a great fault in his Electra, when he puts into the mouth of the messenger who comes to recount the death of Orestes, à long description of the above sports. Nor are these the only points of difference between the racing of Olympia and Newmarket. At the former, honour alone was the reward of the winner, and no man lost either his character or his money.* But still, great as must
Of the training and management of the Olympic race-horse we are unfortunately left in ignorance-all that can be inferred being the fact, that the equestrian candidates were required to enter their names and send their horses to Elis at least thirty days before the celebration of the games commenced, and that the charioteers and riders, whether owners or proxies, went through a prescribed course of exercise during the intervening month. In some respects, we can see, they closely resembled ourselves. They had their course for full-aged horses, and their course for colts; and their prize for which mares only started, corresponding with our Epsom Oaks-stakes. It is true, that the race with riding-horses was neither so magnificent nor so expensive, and consequently not considered so rogal, as the race with chariots, yet they had their gentlemen-jockeys in those days, and noted ones too, for amongst the number were Philip, king of Macedon, and Hiero, king of Syracuse. The first Olympic ode of
2 D 2
have been in those old days the passion for equestrian distinction, it
We justly boast
The honours of the turf as all our own ! The abuses of the turf we abhor, and shall in part expose ; let it not, however, be forgotten that, had we nó racing, we should not be in possession of the noblest animal in the creation-the thorough-bred horse. Remember, too, that poor human nature cannot exist without some sort of recreation ; even the rigid Cato
says, the man who has no time to be idle is a slave.' Inclosures, and gradual refinement of manners, have already contracted the circle of rural sports for which England has been so celebrated ; and we confess we are sorry for this, for we certainly give many of them the preference over racing. Hawking bas disappeared; shooting has lost the wild, sportsmanlike character of earlier days; and hare-hunting has fallen into disrepute. Foxhunting, no doubt, stands its ground, but fears are entertained even for the king of sports. Fox-hunting suspends the cares of life, whilst the speculations of the race-course too generally increase them. The one steels the constitution, whilst the anxious cares of the other have a contrary effect. The love of the chase may be said to be screwed into the soul of man by the noble hand of Pindar, indeed, is inscribed to the latter sovereign, in which mention is made of his horse Phrenicus, on which he was the winner of the Olympic crown.
Considerable obscurity, however, hangs over most of the details of Olympic turf, and par. ticularly as regards the classing of the riders, and the weights the horses carried." It is generally supposed these points were left to the discretion of the judges, who were sworn to do justice; and here we have a faint resemblance to the modern handicap.
nature, whereas the pursuit of the other is too often the offspring of a passion we should wish to disown. The one enlarges those sympathies which unite us in a bond of reciprocal kindness and good offices; in the pursuit of the other, almost every man we meet is our foe. The one is a pastime—the other a game, and a hazardous one too, and often played at fearful odds. Lastly, the chase does not usually bring any man into bad company: the modern turf is fast becoming the very manor of the worst. All this we admit; but still we are not for abandoning a thing only for evils not necessarily mixed up with it.
Having seen the English turf reach its acmé, we should be sorry to witness its decline; but fall it must, if a tighter hand be not held over the whole system appertaining to it. Noblemen and gentlemen of fortune and integrity must rouse themselves from an apathy to which they appear lately to have been lulled; and they must separate themselves from a set of marked, unprincipled miscreants, who are endeavouring to elbow them off the ground which ought exclusively to be their own. No honourable man can be successful, for any length of time, against such a horde of determined depredators as have lately been seen on our racecourses; the most princely fortune cannot sustain itself against the deep-laid stratagems of such villanous combinations.
Perhaps it may not be necessary to enter into the very accidence of racing; but on the authority of Mr. Strutt, . On the Sports and Pastimes of England,' something like it was set agoing in Athelstane's reign. Several race-horses,' says he, were sent by Hugh Capet, in the ninth century, as a present to Athelstane, when he was soliciting the hand of Ethelswitha, his sister.' A more distinct indication of a sport of this kind occurs in a description of London, written by William Fitz-Stephen, who lived in the reign of Henry II. He informs us that horses were usually exposed to sale in Smithfield, and in order to prove the excellency of hackneys and charging horses, they were usually matched against each other. Indeed, the monk gives a very animated description of the start and finish of a horse-race. In John's reign, running horses are frequently mentioned in the register of royal expenditure. John was a renowned sportsman-he needed a redeeming quality -but it does not appear that he made use of his running horses otherwise than in the sports of the field. Edwards II., III., and IV. were likewise breeders of horses, as also Henry VIII., who imported some from the east; but the running horses of those days are not to be associated with the turf; at least we have reason to believe the term generally applies to light and speedy animals, used in racing perhaps occasionally, but chiefly in other active pursuits, and in contradistinction to the war-horse, then required
to be most powerful, to carry a man cased in armour, and never weighing less than twenty stone. In fact, the invention of gun, powder did much towards refining the native breed of the English horse; and we begin to recognise the symptoms of a scientific turf in many of the satirical writings of the days of Elizabeth. Take for instance Bishop Hall's lines in 1597 :
6" Dost thou prize
Because his dam was swiftest Tranchefice ?" It is quite evident, indeed, that racing was in considerable vogue during this reign, although it does not appear to have been much
patronised by the queen, otherwise it would, we may be sure, have formed a part of the pastimes at Kenilworth. The famous George Earl of Cumberland was one of the victims of the turf in those early days.
In the reign of James I., private matches between gentlemen, then their own jockeys, became very common in England ; and the first public race meetings appear at Garterley, in Yorkshire, Croydon, in Surrey, and Theobalds, on Enfield Chase, the prize being a golden bell. The art of training also may now be said to have commenced; strict attention was paid to the food and exercise of the horses, but the effect of weight was not taken into consideration, ten stone being generally, we have reason to believe, both the maximum and minimum of what the horses carried. James patronized racing; he gave 500l.-a vast price in those days—for an Arabian, which, according to the Duke of Newcastle, was of little value, having been beaten easily by our native horses. Prince Henry had a strong attachment to racing as well as hunting, but he was cut off at an early age. Charles I. was well inclined towards such sports, and excelled in horsemanship, but the distractions of his reign prevented his following these peaceful pastimes. According to Boucher, however, in his Survey of the Town of Stamford, the first valuable public prize was run for at that place in Charles I.'s time, viz, a silver and gilt cup and cover, of the estimated value of eight pounds,
provided by the care of the aldermen for the time being; and Sir Edward Harwood laments the scarcity of able horses in the kingdom, not more than two thousand being to be found equal to the like number of French horses ;' for which he blames principally racing. * In 1640, races were held at Newmarket :-also in Hyde Park, as appears from
* Some time after this the Duke of Buckingham's Helmsley Turk, and the Morocco Barb, were brought to England, and greatly improved the native breed.
a comedy a comedy called the Merry Beggars, or Jovial Crew, 1641,
Shall we make a fing to London, and see how the spring appears there in Spring Gardens, and in Hyde Park, to see the races, horse and foot ??
The wily Cromwell was not altogether indifferent to the breed of running-horses, and with one of the stallions in his stud-Place's White Turk-do the oldest of our pedigrees end. He had also a famous brood-mare, called the Coffin-Mare, from the circumstance of her being concealed in a vault during the search for his effects at the time of the Restoration. Mr. Place, stud-groom to Cromwell, was a conspicuous character of those days; and, according to some, the White Turk was his individual property. Charles II. was a great patron of the race-course. He frequently honoured this pastime with his presence, and appointed races to be run in Datchet Mead, as also at Newmarket, where his horses were entered in his own name, and where he rebuilt the decayed palace of his grandfather James I. He also visited other places at which races were instituted—Burford Downs, in particular(since known as Bibury race-course, so often frequented by George IV. when Regent)—as witness the doggrel of old Baskeryille
Next, for the glory of the place,
Made his horse to sweat and blow, &c.' At this time it appears that prizes run for became more valuable than they formerly had been. Amongst them were bowls, and various other pieces of plate, usually estimated at the value of one hundred guineas; and from the inscriptions on these trophies of victory, much interesting information might be obtained. This facetious monarch was likewise a breeder of race-horses, having imported mares from Barbary, and other parts, selected by his Master of the Horse, sent abroad for the purpose, and called Royal Mares-appearing as such in the stud-book to this day. One of these mares was the dam of Dodsworth, bred by the king, and said to be the earliest race-horse we have on record, whose pedigree can be properly authenticated.
James II, was a horseman, but was not long enough among his people to enable them to judge of his sentiments and inclinations respecting the pleasures of the turf. When he retired to France, however, he devoted himself to hunting, and had several first-rate English horses always in his stud. William III. and his queen were also patrons of racing; not only continuing the