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duct of those who bring it about. So is burglary and picking pockets in the streets; the public found it so, and the police have nearly stopped the former altogether, and put a check on the latter. I could direct the attention of the same force to other persons quite worthy such courtesy; but they do not come within the scope of legal juris. diction. It would be a pity that they should, for though bridewell and the treadmill are quite proper situations for the man who takes a handkerchief, it would be very indecorous to condemn him to such a degradation who is seen in company with a nobleman, because he only instigated hocussing a horse, and beggaring his owner.
It may be asked whether, after the bare suspicion of being concerned in such a transaction, it would not be enough to make anyone shy of trusting such a man. Perhaps it would make some persons shun him; but the man must know very little of the world who is not aware that many men are invited to very fashionable tables, and in turn dined with, who, it is perfectly known, would rob a church if they could do so with impunity, though they would punctually pay a bet lost. Such men as I allude to dare not, of course, show their face in good society, and would very soon be turned out if they did. This is no drawback to them; they do not want to go there; they get quite as much elegance of furniture, refinement, or luxury at the dinner table, beauty in women, and very likely, elegance of manner in the men-nay, perhaps more than they might see among the ancient and truly aristocratic quarter of Grosvenor Square. They therefore never feel they are virtually in a degraded position in society, for the society with which they mix does not make them feel it; and where morals are not of the highest order, there often the greatest fascination is to be found.
It is true Lord George Bentinck did a great deal to make racing more on the square than it had been for many years; but this regarded regulations. Much good it has done ; but Lord George is not the arbiter of the private conduct, or the keeper of the morals of men. It remains with society at large, or that portion of it that feels an interest in the turf, to put a check to its abuses. This can never be done while the great perpetrators of them, and of abuses in every pursuit they follow are countenanced. Jockeys do wrong: trainers do wrong: who tempts them to do so ?-why, the sporting men, to whom a thousand or two is nothing to bring off an event, to suit their book. Who induce these to make that book ?-men of fortune who bet with them.
It was thought that duelling never could be put a stop to. Our ancestors would have decided it as impossible : it woull bave been said that it was the only thing that kept society in order ; bat the legislature took it up, and now we find no necessity for it. Before this was done it was rare to find a gentleman who would offer the slightest insult to a clergyman. He could not resent it, so it was held cowardly, brutal, and all but infamous to affront a man so situated. Duelling being stopped, if now a man is in the habit of descending to ungentlemanly conduct or language, he gets shunned and avoided. This is a far heavier penalty than standing a shot. So men are now far more careful of their conduct and language than when a meeting in the morning set all to rights. Now the stigma remains, and the offence is punished by society taking it up. So, if the punishment for being seen with professed legs, who are pleased to call their pursuits sporting, was the being shunned by good society, no man, who was not a leg himself, would be seen with them; for though certain men may descend from their station by such association, they do not bargain for being shunned in their proper sphere. But such is the penalty that ought to await mixing with such characters; and it is the only means by which temptation to rascality can be put a stop to.
Deadly as is my hatred to professional bettors and blackleys in all and every way, I do not mean that such a thing does not exist as a man who bets professionally, and is still a respectable man, and one to be trusted : that such men exist there is no doubt; so does Tom Thumb, and other dwarfs of minor--or perbaps, more properly speaking, major) note. So we had a Gully—a man that even the breath of slander never touched. His good luck went hand-in-hand with his consummate judgment for many years; but the fickle goddess at one time turned on him.
We sec men--and young ones too-for a time give the “go-by" in the ring to the oldest sinners; but there are sure to be those waiting on the road, who will sooner or later put the skid on their wheel of fortune, and finally put a stopper on their triumphal car, the moment they find a bit of ground fitted for the purpose.
No man can live by the chances of fair gaming. He may sometimes live, and sometimes starve so as to exist; but if he lives and always lives, and lives as many of these sporting men do live, it is not by the fair chances of the die by backing horses on their merits, or by good luck, or by getting the worst of those he plays or bets with.
We know that a man by beginning early to make his book, betting round, and watching the odds, may generally eventually stand to win largely (quoad his book) and risk little; he may do more-he may stand to be certain to win something or much; but if he docs, large sums must be paid and received, to eventually leave a comparatively small balance; and if he has not more luck than any man has a right to expect, if he only bets on fair chance he will be beat. The après beat you at rouge-et-noir in the long run; the après will beat you here, by sometimes not getting paid après you have won. This will beat judgment; and further, if a man is now mad enough to back his judgment on the merits of horses, that will beat him to a greater certainty still.
Is there then no way, if a man is fond of a little excitement, in which he may bet with a fair chance ? yes! plenty of ways-play whist-hazard, if you please—with gentlemen, and your equals or superiors : bet on races as long as you please (in your own or their parks): back your greyhounds, or anything else you like, with the same sort of men. Surely here is latitude enough for anyone ; and ill luck may ruin you here, if you play high or bet high enough; but you have a fair chance. But is there no chance in backing horses on their public running, or in betting with sporting men ? Yes, there is : and the chance is about the same as going to sleep, with your purse in your pocket, in company with those whose trade it is to pick it.
You remember my last postscript of the 30th of November—" There is a frost that looks like lasting.”
"Of their own merits modest men are dumb." I say nothing; but if old Murphy, Moore, and Co., had made such a hit as this, I think they would have said something : it certainly, is rather more definite than their usual suppositions for December, viz., “ About this time we may expect snow, with cold and rain ;' or in mentioning June, “ This month will probably increase in warmth very materially." I wish I could flatter myself that I was likely to provo a false prophet in predicting another three weeks of it; but to do the “clerk of the weather” justice, he seems likely to prove as consistent in evil as his worst enemies could wish him. What a comfort to have sold a horse or two at the end of November, and not have been able to replace them ! What a consolation to any one laid up with a dislocation, to have had an excuse for lying in bed, and not being called “ till the frost breaks!” Of course the frost has been very partial-very partial indeed to have inflicted so severe a punishment upon the Pytchley country. I think it was Horace Walpole who called Northamptonshire a large clay pudding I need not say that he spoke of a mildl winter : at present it looks like a large twelfth-cake, and I can only hope that by twelfth-day the holiday boys will have scraped off some of the sugar. Seriously speaking, I hear that it has been partial ; for at this present writing, the Atherstone have just finished an excellent run from Churchover into the heart of Leicestershire, whilst here the whole day it has been freezing hard, and the snow lies half a foot deep.
Somebody—no matter who, but an American, doubtless-says that where there's no thermometer it gets “ as cold as it likes.” Nunting is our thermometer; and as long as it's too cold for that, it's welcome to get as cold as it can. I'm not fond of skating, far from it: its commencement is invariably inglorious ; and its results, a momentary thaw, and a cold perspiration for the rest of the day. I have seen either too much of it, or too little. My notions of a beginner are singularly unfortunate : a very cold red nose, and a pair of thick worsted gloves to polish it with, are the distinguishing features. See him on a chair, with his skates nicely adjusted : he rises, at least he intends to, with his head and tail both sticking out this is his idea of a balance: the very first move is on to his nose, which loses in blood what it gains in warmth : his second is not more happy, for having made up that small
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What do you
parcel,“ his mind,” to go upon a different tack, he starts with his head up-unlucky wight! thirty yards of plain sailing, but uncommonly fast, sends his heels from under him, and his hat coming off, he makes a star on the ice with the back of his head, which lasts through the frost, and frightens all comers from the spot. I never got further than subjecting one boot to the hands of an operator ; poor sole ! how bored it looked! and so did I, and my face was an index to my mind.
Under these circumstances, pity me, and all like me. suppose we have been doing? I can't answer for everybody, but I sus, pect kindred minds act alike; so listen, whilst I a tale unfold.
The first day or two I was very philosophical, and only a little surly. During the morning I visited the stable, and thawed the atmosphere with the warmth of a cigar. After that I became more surly and more philosophical—an inquirer into the nature of heat and cold, a speculator upon evaporation--poked my stick between the stones of the stableyard, and dug the heel of my boot into the frost-bitten ground. At the end of a week I got tired of this; then I took to “going out o’nights”wrong, you say, and certainly not pleasant-meditative, for I looked at the moon-in love, for I sighed when I did so.
“ The moon shines bright: in such a night as this
Did young Lorenzo swear,” &c. And well he might: and if he did, I have no doubt he was a fox-hunter, though Shakespeare says nothing about it. Now I did not swear, simply because I never do; but if I ever did, I should have done so. Clear, cold, bright, and grinning all the time with a mouth from ear to ear, as it always looks on a frosty night. Then came a fog or two, and a little thaw in the day-time ; but night came again, and chaste Diana, having a lot of screws in her stable, dried up the tears she had let fall during the day, and looked out as coolly and calmly as before.
At last there did come a thaw, and then there came a meet at Kelmarsh, with a good run at the end of it ; everything looked well-couleur de rose—especially the sun as he went to rest, and very naturally got up again in a very stiff pair of iced pantaloons. No hunting; but it could'nt last-it was so early in the season : but it did last until the 18th; then the new moon brought another thaw, and we all concluded that the late Diana's successor had got a new stud, for on Monday, the 21st, we were at Ashby St. Legers. There had been a strong southerly wind all night; the morning was rainy, and too cold, as it proved, for scent; still, to be out was something. In Mrs. Arnold's covers at Ashby Lodge we found a fox. After a little lianging, natural to a large and good cover, we got him away for Kilsby. At first it looked like a run ; up to the large chimney-pot at the top of Kilsby tunnel, we might be said to be running; but here all scent failed us, and after dragging on slowly to Berby, we were obliged to return for another fox. The country was awfully sticky, as you may suppose, and not every horse in the field fit to go. A tumble or two kept up our spirits. In general, the fun of a fall is over when the gentleman is over; in these cases the fun only began when the gentlemen picked themselves up again. A cavalry officer in particular singled himself out for a cropper; (and what cavalry officer does not occasionally distinguish himself in that way ?) he was no sooner down than up, but he and his horse had parted
company. Rotten turnips and ploughed land are very bad things to run over after a long frost, and this one was half and half-away went the horse, and away went his rider after him, and as first one boot went in up to the top, and then the other, coming out more and more loaded at every stroke, he must have laughed at himself, but for want of breath to do so. The soft ground was very hard upon him : he was clearly the “hero of that field.” The horse had evidently the best of it ; though with four legs to pull out of the clay instead of two, it's not according to Cocker to believe it.
There was a good field out on this day, not a very large one, but most of them determined to go, if there was a chance. Lord Henley, Messrs. Knightley, Gage, Sir Thomas Hesketh, Mr. Geary, a large party from Brixworth (which was then quite full), some officers from Weedon and Birmingham, a sprinkling of black coats among the red, and last, but not least, Mr. Payne, on the Wandering Jew. He's a magnificent horse for a big one ; but I hate big horses : fifteen hands and a half is big enough for anything. Lord Henley rides the stamp of horse I should prefer for anything under 13 stone, and he rides them well. A laudable anxiety to ride by the side of the hounds, and not alongside of his fellow creatures, with a very good notion how to accomplish his purpose, already distinguish him. His groom was riding, on this very day, a young Mundig horse, one of the cleverest I ever saw, fit to carry 13 stone, 15 hands 1 inch high, and nearly thorough-bred. It is not the fashion, I admit, in these counties, and there are many good big horses down here : witness the performances of Mr. Knightley's stud, and Mr. Bevan's; amongst others a grey horse called Blue Rock, which for temper, mouth, pace, and endurance, is not to be beat-ho's as good as Canteen was, and that's a long word. Mr. Payne always rides big horses—and he rides them very hard, generally with a loose rein ; but few men can beat him : still we have our fancies ; mine is for a small horse, if his legs are short, and he has plenty of length.
I need scarcely tell you, my dear fellow, who are a fox-hunter yourself, with what spirits these gentlemen looked forward to the “ Crick” meet for Wednesday the 23rd : I confess I had my misgivings; there was a cold wind, and a chopping one, though it inclined still to the south ; and I paid little attention to the prediction of our friend “ Kench,” that when the wind is south on St. Thomas's day, it generally is so more or less through the winter. You know how disheartening, as you ride home, is the crisp road, and the cracks on the half-dried mud—a sign there is no mistaking. Tuesday was an “indifferent frost,” not a hard one, but the mud at mid-day only played at dirtying the boots of the traveller. At 7 o'clock I was behind a pair of bad posters; at 8 o'clock I was behind a good dinner, at least it was before me. When I reached my host's drawing room, the first question was,
Well, my dear fellow, Scribble, does it freeze ?"
• Indifferently well,” said I, for I sometimes affect the English of an carlier period.
“ Confound it,” roared the circle, who spoke as they felt, in plain unvarnished bluntness.
The cloth was scarcely gone, and the ladies had scarcely followed it, before the butler was rung for. “ Another bottle of claret, Tomkins; and stay, what sort of a night is it?"