« 上一页继续 »
him following in the same steps; and at a comparatively early era in his life, Lord George, if we recollect right, indulged occasionally in courting the honours of the cap and jacket. At any rate, we mark him down in 1824 as riding a winning race over his favourite course, Goodwood, on Mr. Poyntz’s Olive: and a very terrible race it was, considering there were two dead heats between Olive and Swindon, and then a jealous “who shall ?” for the third. When, moreover, we are told that the Honourable F. Berkeley was the beaten man on this occasion, it may be fairly computed that Lord George had become quite as good a horseman across the flat as he already had been proved over a country. His last appearance as an amateur race-rider was also enacted over Goodwood, in the year before last, but not with the like success; the blue-and-white colours of Captain Cook succumbing to Lord Maidstone on Larry McHale. In this
, though, we are rather anticipating the order of events; and as it is our intention to give something like an outline of the Bentinck dynasty, we may as well commence it at once, ranging our glance from the time the turf-leviathan broke out as Mr. John Day, to the day he gave up the high-mettled to the “no surrender.”
Something, then, like ten or twelve years since, we see the fruits of a strong foundation rising up promisingly enough, with such horses to begin with as Venison the stout, The Drummer, Chapeau d'Espagne, and one or two more-well succeeded by the wild and wonderful project attempted, and so_gloriously performed, with Lord Lichfield's nomination for the St. Leger. This was perhaps the first decisive step in Lord George's march of improvement, and, by the way of the world, proportionately condemned and ridiculed.' Many of the unbelievers, however, had too convincing an argument of its practicability and convenience, and so the innovation of vanning racehorses was allowed to be good, and followed accordingly. The success of Elis on this occasion was but preliminary to the two-year-old triumphs of Grey Momus-a course of conquest that brought the Danebury stable more in fashion than ever. How Grey Momus just lost the Derby, but won the Ascot Cup; and how Crucifix, the very next year, did stamp her second season's form with the Epsom honours_are they not all things recorded in the minds of men ? “From or with” these we run on to Capote, Sal Volatile, Mulberry Wine, Ratsbane, Dreadnought, Grey Milton, Naworth, Gobemouche and Pluto; and thence to about the acme of his lordship's strength, when in 1844 he had forty horses running in public, and somewhere near a hundred in all. Proof-Print, Topsail, Misdeal, Tripoli, Firebrand, Flytrap, The Yorkshire Lady, St. Jean d'Acre, and African are the picked ones who take us on to the time, when Gaper again disappointed us of that Derby which ought ere the close to have been added on to the Oaks of Crucifix, and Leger of Elis. Some good things, however, were still in waiting, for which the names of Miss Elis, Croton Oil, Best Bower, Bramble, Pug, Cowl, Clumsy, Princess Alice, Longitude, My Mary, and Old Discord-almost the only borse Lord George ever possessed that could run on-afford in themselves very strong evidence. The great fact, though, all along, whether in or away from Honest John's hard labour, has been the younger they be, the better they be; and so the curtain falls in ex
cellent keeping on another strong next-year favourite, in Planet for the Derby, and the picked of all the fillies in Slander for the Oaks.
We would wish it to be understood that in giving this epitome of Lord George's stud and their performances, we do not consider the effect as of any great import to our purpose; for it is not the good the turf did him, but rather the good his Lordship did the turf, that we look upon as the “better part.” Many a man, in fact, with a far shorter string, has played a more successful game; and if the mere sum total of prizes pocketed, or flyers produced be the argument, we must confess to knowing greater names than that of Lord George Bentinck. But, we repeat, it is not this; it is not a reputation that hangs on to a clipping filly, a fame that owns its origin in the thousands won, or an honour that is associated with a piece of plate. The memory of the Great Reformer” of turf abuses and race-course monopoly will live as long as an Englishman has a taste for the amusement, or a sympathy and admiration for one who alone effected what a whole body allowed themselves unequal to attempt. In support of this, let us look to, or call over, in the first place, the comforts and information Lord George made it his great care to provide for the masses--a portion of the company that previously had little thought or attention bestowed to their wants. Who forced stewards, trainers, and jockey to come out punctual to that time they had never hitherto professed to keep? Who heralded, for the benefit of every spectator within sight, the names by number of the field preparing to start? And who, to perfect this part of his design, suggested that fine treat, and perhaps best part of the scene, the saddling, walking, and cantering the horses before the stands ?' Previous to these admirable arrangements, how many a man, wearied with waiting, has left ere the race he came to see was run; or thanks to an indifferent card, and one bird's-eye view, without a glance at the horse he had pinned his faith to! We are quite certain, moreover, that no few, with a real inclination for the sport, have had to scarch their next day's paper for the winner of the race they had seen.
If Lord George so far merited the thanks of the multitude, he accomplished quite as much for those who, more directly concerned, did very becomingly express their gratitude by the offer of a testimonial. His stringent and admirably-drawn-up rules for the exclusion of defaulters from race-courses, and the spirit with which he supported the regulations he had made, would of themselves bave been quite sufficient to warrant any public demonstration of the kind. When, however, we come to consider with them the other means he took for meeting the covert machinations of swindlers; the provision he made to prevent horses being drawn at the last minute, and, above all, his triumphant plan for suppressing that most rascally of all proceedings known as “false starts"—when we come to add these on to his other achievements, we feel much inclined to conclude that scarcely a sufficient return has been made for them. Still, by his own liberality and forethought, Lord George Bentinck has converted this very offering into the crowning deed of his dynasty ;*
* The Bentinck Benevolent and Provident Fund, including the sum of £2,100 Consols, being stock purchased with money subscribed for a testimonial to Lord George Bentinck, now amounts to £2,400 Consols. The fund and so, at the happy moment, left to the pulic, masters and men, his favourite sport relieved from nearly all its evils, and restored to that character it never should have lost.
In concluding our sketch, we have only to add, that we have purposely avoided any allusion to those topics on which Lord George Bentinck has of late so signally distinguished himself. As a sportsman—and we beg to repeat, it is as a sportsman that we have published his portrait-not one of our subscribers, we are sure, will object to a word of what has been said. On the other hand, the very warmest of admirers as a turfite might be the bitterest of enemies as a statesman, and so we refrain from what, under the most favourable circumstances, could only be out of place here. If we did give an opinion on the success with which Lord George Bentinck has broken fresh ground, it would only be to the advantage of those pursuits we have the honour to represent. Let no Mawworm henceforth despise the argument of a man because he who offers it happens also to be a sportsman; let no assembly be less willing to learn from him who has had the heart and spirit to enjoy as well as to work; and, if possible, let no populace in future be led away by the force of mere pretension. There never was a grander mistake than the supposition that a turn for rational recreation is incompatible with the achievement of greater things; and there never was a finer example of its fallacy than the career of Lord George Bentinck.
INTERCEPTED CORRESPONDENCE FROM
You are a foxhunter, but not a letter writer. I'm both; and, moreover, a man of my word. I promised to send you a short account of our doings down here, and you may look for it periodically. I don't much care if government does open my letters to you, for I really have so few faults to find with the Pytchley, and they're all is established for the benefit of trainers and jockeys, their widows and children, under the provisional management of the Dukes of Beaufort, Bedford, and Rutland, Earls of Chesterfield and Eglintoun, and the Hon. G. S. Byng, each of whom has subscribed £25 to the fund, in addition to an annual subscription of £10. The subscription of a trainer or rider is limited to two guineas annually; and those who have contributed to the fund, and their widows and children, will have a preferable claim to relief; the committee, however, having the power of rejecting the donations and subscriptions of those who, in their opinion, are not worthy to become members of the society, and also of striking off the list any trainer or rider who may misconduct himself after becoming a subscriber. No grant will be made until after the Newmarket First Spring Meeting, 1847. Forty-seven trainers and jockeys have already subscribed, the majority for two guineas each. The fines imposed at York and Newmarket races, amounting to £51, have been added to the capital.
such excellent fellows here, that I don't think they'd take it amiss if I picked a hole or two in a coat occasionally. They'd consider it, as it was meant, for their own good, and get it mended in all probability. The Pytchley men are gentlemen, as well as sportsmen; and the two words are not synonymous, though lawyers' clerks with scarlet coats and leather breeches choose to think them so. Don't mistake me: we have an occasional gent, or a snob, and even a “ leg” or two; but then they come from “nobody knows where," and they go back again to the same place after the day's sport. I have my eye now upon one of each sort: and very fortunate it is for
a series of descriptions of “gentlemen” only would be very unedifying. By the way, my dear fellow, pray burn these letters as you get them; for posthumous publication is so common and, generally speaking, so injudiciously done, that if I outlive you, I shall be in constant terror of your executors; and suppose any of the “snobs” or “gents” should have become gentlemen (for West Indian uncles dying will make a difference, you know), why I shall never get an invitation to the new baronial hall which is to outdo Fawsley, Watford, Cottisbrook, Sulby, and all the respectable bricks or stones in the county. Therefore, destroy this ; and remember that respectable bit of Greek morality which says: “Butter your friends only to a certain degree, lest they some time or other become enemies, and snub “gents” only in such a manner that they can some time become your friends." You recollect the passage in the Ajax of Sophocles, when we were at Eton; more by token you may have been flogged for it :
"Ο τ' εχθρός ημίν ες τοσόνδ' εχθαρτέος,
ως αιέν ου μενένσα What a pleasant thing it is, in November, to take up one's quarters in such a hunting country as this, with half-a-dozen good horses ! Not that I mean you to suppose that such is my case. This is a mere abstract proposition which “nobody can deny.” No, my dear fellow, we can't afford that: nevertheless, we took an early opportunity, with our small stud, of meeting the worthy master, George Payne, Esq., at Nobottle Wood. It was nearly his first public day. He had been at North Kilworth before, and had a very nice thing from Misterton Gorse, through Shawell, to Coton-4 miles, in about 17 minutes. At Nobottle we did very little but a ring, with a kill : much as usual-Nobottle, Althorp; Althorp, Nobottle; with Blackthorn Spinny and Harpole Hill for side dishes for those who can't dine off heavy meats. However, there were the hounds to look at; and really a great treat. Magnificent condition ! I'm a shocking hand at describing hounds. I shall take shelter in the shady intelligence of an acquaintance of mine, who says that they are larger than some he has seen, and not so large as others. safe ; it can't offend anybody. Jorrocks, too, gives some excellent advice to young sportsmen who know nothing about it: “If they're fat, say they're wery even in condition; if lean, say they look like going a bust; if jest nothink in partickler, you can say you never saw a nicer lot.” I
But, joking apart, I never did see a nicer lot," and
This is very
whoever has the management of them deserves especial thanks from the county: is it Payne from the Oakley? But beyond their excellence of condition, they appear to be under excellent command. We used to be rather remarkable here for a rattling burst of ten minutes, a check, and — another draw; not so now—quite different. Don't you recollect the post-boy from Slough, when I mildly asked permission to ride and put him inside, as we were going home from Eton ?-“Quite different, Sir, quite different!" He was a man of few but impressive words--so am I. Not long back, in a dry cold easterly wind, no rain for a fortnight before, they ran a fox, on the coldest possible scent, from the osier-bed at Welton to the village of Staverton, within a quarter of a mile of one of Lord Southampton's covers—five miles, as the crow flies, and about eight as we had come. It's no " butter" to say that they are a very first-rate pack of hounds, and I shouldn't mind if George Payne saw this himself. I know a nobleman in this county, who was asked by a Warwickshire man “whether the Pytchley were improved this year:" with a most laudable patriotism he declined understanding the question. When pressed by something still more definite, if possible, he rejoined :
Oh! I see, my dear fellow, why I didn't think it possible for hounds to be better even last year than ours were.” And if sport is to be the test, he answered rightly. Whether it is so or not is another question; I feel morally certain that they can't be better than they are now.
Lord Southampton is at Preston Capes to-day; but as it is raining like bricks, and I've got the rheumatism in the back of the neck, I'm staying at home to write to you. I trust you feel grateful. Why don't you come down for a season? there are some excellent quarters vacant at W- -n: Mr. B-ll is a most admirable landlord; brews very good beer, and is the honestest horse-dealer in the world. I dare say there are plenty of the same trade would be glad to question this latter assertion; but he's just sold me a horse worth all the money, so I speak well of the bridge that carries me over. Besides all this, I know your love of worldly “contingencies, and when I tell you that the quarters have lately been occupied by a
“ Ladie of hig egree,
Beautiful exceedinglie," I think they will not be the less welcome on account of their aristocratic associations. You know something of the country too. Isn't that sufficient to tempt you? Large grass fields, carrying a burning scent—half a mile gallop at a stretch. “Yes, that horrid ridge and furrow, and an awful bullfinch that hasn't been lopped away for this twenty years." Ridge and furrow are nothing when you're used to them, and the farming is fast improving. The country is truly here and there rayther strongly enclosed; but in many places the hedges are plashed, and the ditches conveniently cleaned out, for lying in; add to which there are more gates in Northamptonshire than any two counties of the same size, and as many people make use of them. Short legs, a long purse, and an eye for a bridle-gate, are useful things here, I assure you. And I will say this for a Pytchley field : they are the very best disposed, most amiable creatures in a gateway :