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How is it, we ask of those more intimately acquainted with the metaphysics of the huoyhnymn than we pretend to be ? Do the saddle or the rein convey, like metallic tractors, vibrations of the spirit betwixt the two ? We know not; but this much is certain, that no servant partakes so much of the character of his master, as the horse. The steed we are wont to ride, becomes a portion of ourselves. He thinks and feels
As we are lively, he is sprightly; as we are depressed, his courage droops. In proof of this, let the reader see what horses some men make — make we say, because in such hands their character is wholly altered. Partaking, in a measure, of the courage and the firmness of the hand that guides them, and of the resolution of the frame that sways them — what their rider wills they do, or strive to do. When that governing power is relaxed, their energies are relaxed likewise ; and their fine sensibilities supply them with an instant knowledge of the disposition and capacity of the rider. A gift of the gods is the gallant steed, which, like any other faculty we possess, to use or to abuse to command or to neglect - rests with ourselves : he is the best general test of our own self-government.
Black Bess's action amply verified what we have just asserted; for during Turpin's momentary despondency, her pace was perceptibly diminished and her force retarded; but as he revived, she rallied instantly, and, seized apparently with a kindred enthusiasm, snorted joyously, as she recovered her speed.
Now was it, that the child of the desert showed herself the undoubted offspring of the hardy loins from whence she sprung. Full fifty miles had she sped, yet she showed no symptom of distress. If possible, she appeared fresher than when she started. She had breathed; her limbs were suppler ; her action was freer, easier, lighter. Her sire, who, upon his trackless wilds could have outstripped the pestilent simoom ; and with throat unslaked, and hunger unappeased, could thrice have seen the scorching sun go down, had not greater powers of endurance. His vigour was her heritage. Her dam, who upon the velvet sod was of almost unapproachable swiftness, and who had often brought her owner golden assurances of her worth, could scarce have kept pace with her, and would have sunk under a third of her fatigue. But Bess was a paragon.
We ne'er shall look upon her like again,
unless we can prevail upon some Bedouin chief to present us with a brood mare, and then the racing world shall see what a breed we will introduce into this country. Eclipse, Childers, or Hambletonian, shall be nothing to our colts, and even the rail-road slow travelling compared with the speed of our new nags!
But to return to Bess, or rather to go along with her, for there is no halting now: we are going at the rate of twenty knots an hour — sailing before the wind; and the reader must either keep pace with us, or drop astern. Bess is now in her speed, and Dick happy. Happy!-- he is enraptured — maddened furious - intoxicated as with wine. Pshaw! wine could never throw him into such a burning delirium. Its choicest juices have no inspiration like this. Its fumes are slow and heady. This is ethereal, transporting. His blood spins through his veins; winds round his heart; mounts to his brain. Away! away! He is wild with joy. Hall, cot, tree, tower, glade, mead, waste, or woodland, are seen, passed, left behind, and vanish as in a dream. Motion is scarcely perceptible — it is impetus ! volition ! The horse and her rider are driven forward, as it were, by self-accelerated speed. A hamlet is visible in the moonlight. It is scarcely discovered, ere the flints sparkle beneath the mare's hoofs. A moment's clatter upon the stones, and it is left behind. Again, it is the silent, smiling country. Now they are buried in the darkness of woods; now sweeping along on the wide plain ; now clearing the unopened toll-bar; now trampling over the hollowsounding bridge, their shadows momently reflected in the placid mirror of the stream ; now scaling the hill-side a thought more slowly; now plunging, as the horses of Phæbus into the ocean, down its precipitous sides.
The limits of two shires are already past. They are within the confines of a third. They have entered the merry county of Huntingdon ; they have surmounted the gentle hill that slips into Godmanchester. They are by the banks of the rapid Ouse. The bridge is past; and as Turpin rode through the deserted streets of Huntingdon, he heard the eleventh hour given from the iron tongue of Saint Mary's spire. In four hours (it was about seven when he started) Dick had accomplished full sixty miles !
A few reeling topers in the streets saw the horseman fit
past, and one or two windows were thrown open ; but Peeping Tom of Coventry would have had small chance of beholding the unveiled beauties of Queen Godiva, had she ridden at the rate of Dick Turpin. He was gone, like a meteor, almost as soon as he appeared.
Huntingdon is left behind, and he is once more surrounded by dew-gemmed hedges and silent slumbering trees. Broad meadows, or pasture land, with drowsy cattle, or low bleating sheep, lie on either side. But what, to Turpin, at that moment, is nature, animate or inanimate? He thinks only of his marehis future fame. None are by to see him ride ; no stimulating plaudits ring in his ears ; no thousand hands are clapping ; no thousand voices huzzaing; no handkerchiefs are waved ; no necks strained; no bright eyes rain influence upon him; no eagle orbs watch his motions; no bells are rung; no cup awaits his achievement; no sweepstakes — no plate. But his will be renown
everlasting renown: his will be fame which will not die with him — which will keep his reputation, albeit a tarnished one, still in the mouths of men. He wants all these adventitious excitements, but he has that within which is a greater excitement than all these. He is conscious that he is doing a deed to live by. If not riding for life, he is riding for immortality; and as the hero may perchance feel (for even a highwayman may feel like a hero), when he willingly throws away his existence in the hope of earning a glorious name, Turpin cared not what might befall himself, so he could proudly signalise himself as the first of his land,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship! What need had he of spectators ? The eye of posterity was upon him ; he felt the influence of that Argus glance, which has made many a poor wight spur on his Pegasus with not half so good a chance of reaching the goal as Dick Turpin. Multitudes, yet unborn, he knew would hear, and laud his deeds. He trembled with excitement, and Bess trembled under him. But the emotion was transient — on, on they fly!
The torrent leaping from the crag - the bolt from the bow the air-cleaving eagle thoughts themselves, are scarce more winged in their flight !
THE YORK STAGE.
“ YORK, Four Days! - Stage Coach begins on Friday, the 18th of April, 1706. All that are desirous to pass from London to York, or from York to London, or any other place on that road, let them repair to the Black Swan, in Holborn, in London, or to the Black Swan, in Coney Street, in York. At both which places they may be received in a Stage Coach, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which performs the whole journey in four days (if God permits !) and sets forth at five in the morning. And returns from York to Stamford in two days, and from Stamford, by Huntingdon, in two days more. And the like stages in their return. Allowing each passenger fourteen pounds' weight, and all above, three-pence per pound. Performed by Benjamin Kingman, Henry Harrison, and Walter Baynes. — Placard, preserved in the coffee-room of the Black Swan Inn at York.
The night had hitherto been balmy and beautiful, with a bright array of stars, and a golden harvest moon, which seemed to diffuse even warmth with its radiance; but now Turpin was approaching the region of fog and fen, and he began to feel the influence of that dank atmosphere. The intersecting dykes, yawners, gullies — or whatever they are called — began to send forth their steaming vapours, and chilled the soft and wholesome air, obscuring the void, and in some instances as it were, choking up the road itself with vapour. But fog, or fen, was the same to Bess, her hoofs rattled mera rily along the road, and she burst from a cloud, like Eöus at the break of dawn.
It chanced, as he issued from a fog of this kind, that Turpin burst upon the York Stage Coach. It was no uncommon thing for the coach to be stopped; and so furious was the career of our highwayman, that the man involuntarily drew up his horses. Turpin had also to draw in the rein, a task of no little difficulty, as charging a huge lumbering coach, with its full complement of passengers, was more than even Bess could accomplish. The moon shone brightly on Turpin and his mare.
He was unmasked, and his features were distinctly visible. An exclamation was uttered by a gentleman on the box, who it appeared instantly recognised him.
draw your horses across the road,” cried the gentleman “ that's Dick Turpin, the highwayman. His
capture would be worth three hundred pounds to you," added he, addressing the coachman, " and is of equal importance to
Stand !” shouted he, presenting a cocked pistol. This resolution of the gentleman was not apparently agreeable, either to the coachman or the majority of the passengers
the name of Turpin acting like magic upon them. One man jumped off behind, and was with difficulty afterwards recovered, having tumbled into a deep ditch at the road side. An old gentleman with a cotton nightcap, who had popped out his head to swear at the coachman, drew it suddenly back. A faint scream in a female key issued from within, and there was a considerable hubbub on the roof. Amongst other ominous sounds, the guard was heard to click his long horse pistols. Stop the York four-day stage !” said he, forcing his smoky voice through a world of throat-embracing shawl; of the fastest coach in the kingdom : vos ever sich atrocity heard of ? I say, Joe, keep them ere leaders steady — we shall all be in the ditch. Don't you see where the hind wheels are? Who— whoop, I say."
The gentleman on the box now discharged his pistol, and the confusion within was redoubled. The white nightcap was popped out like a rabbit's head, and as quickly popped back, on hearing the highwayman's voice. Owing to the plunging of the horses, the gentleman had missed his aim.
Prepared for such emergencies as the present, and seldom at any time taken aback, Dick received the fire without flinching. He then lashed the horses out of his course, and rode up, pistol in hand, to the gentleman, who had fired.
“ Major Mowbray,” said he, in a stern tone, I know you. I meant not either to assault you or these gentlemen. Yet you have attempted my life, sir, a second time. But you are now in my power, and by hell! if you do not answer the questions I put to you, nothing earthly shall save you.
“ If you ask aught I may not answer, fire !” said the major; 56 I will never ask life from such as you."
“ Have you seen aught of Sir Luke Rookwood ?” asked Dick.
“ The villain you mean is not yet secured,” replied the major, “ but we have traces of him. 'Tis with the view of procuring more efficient assistance that I ride to town.”
They have not met then since ?” said Dick carelessly.