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Now, I call that vary bonnie, and there's no villainy in it. Oh, Shakspeare, what a man thou wort ! Now an' you want to see one of Shakspeare's villains, I'll show you one. Look at Iago in Othello, an' there's an out-and-outer for you. After he has well nigh cut off poor Mr. Roderigo's legs, off he goes into thouse, then comes out again, wi' a candle and a sword, shouting out “What! villanous robbers! kill men i' the dark,' an' all time he's sticking poor silly Roderigo, who is lying up't floor beyint him. That's what I call a villain.”
Many and various are the anecdotes related of Edward Blenkhorn, so many that a quire of foolscap would not contain them. Once upon a time he was sent to fetch a brood mare and foal home. On his return he became deficient of money. But let Edward himself tell the story in his own words :
“It wor`a vary hot and dusty day, and I'd nobot a penny left in all God's earth; an' I wor so vary dry; so on we travelled vary slow. T' little foal had never been up t' high road afore; and it jumped about at everything it come anent: well, at last we come to a public house, and there were two carters just drove up wi' two loads of hay, and one said to tother, “Sam, is that thee ? and Sam said, ' Aye, all that's left of me. What, we may ha' a drink together? Sure !' says Dick, we mun.' Now thom words sounded vary bonnie in my ears, for I wor vary dry, an' I had nobot a penny ill’t all't world. So I gave a little lad t’ oud meare to hold, and into t' public house I
goes. There wor a quart o’ale just filled wi' sitch a cauliflower-head a'top. Oh, it looked bonnie, and I wor so vary dry, Sam wor just lifting it to his mouth, when a thought struck me, and I said, 'Stop a bit, young man.' •What am I to stop for ? says he. "Well, says I, 'I want to bet a wager wi' you. You see,' says I, as that's a quart o' ale full up t'top; now, I'll wager you this penny that at one draught I drink exactly half o' that, and no more nor no less. You will,' says he; "well, done wi' ye!' So I lifted the quart up to my mouth, for I wor vary dry; and so I takes a long breath, and then a long pull. Oh, how it did go down! for I wor vary dry. A little drop were left it' bottom. So Sam looked into ť quart, and then at me. You've lost !' says he. 'You're right !' says I. I've lost, and there's my penny;' and a vary capital penn'orth it wor for a thirsty man; so I took t'ould meare and foal, and on we trudged together."
I have already alluded to Edward's absence of mind; and the following anecdote, related as briefly as possible, will illustrate, or rather give some faint idea, of his mental abstraction. On the first establishment of the races at Liverpool, over the new course, to which place I was leisurely wending my way, I perceived Edward slowly approaching me on horseback, evidently in a profound study. He was astride the pigskin; the reins were carelessly dangling on the neck of his quiet old hack; his nether lip had fallen nearly to his chin; his chin rested upon his breast-bone, and his eyes were fixed steadily on the pummel of his saddle. Stepping into the middle of the road, I stood before his prad, and, although he knew me perfectly well, I had thrice to exclaim to him—“ Edward !" before he became conscious of my presence; but, as soon as he did, he raised his head from its previously inclined position to a perpendicular one, his under lip joined fellowship with its upper partner, and they appeared to harmonize together. But his response was rich in the extreme, if I were capable of conveying to the minds of my readers his tones, accent, and gesture—that is impossible. Thus he spoke:
“God bless me! is it you? How d'yeado ?”
I eagerly inquired whether the two-year-old race was over. The answer was in the affirmative.
“You have got beat, I fear,” said I.
“Well!” I rejoined, “I should have thought the slow pace would have favoured your young'un, as I understand she was scarcely up to the mark.”
“Umph! as fast again as all the lot. We lost the race for want o'pace. God bless me! I'm making poetry without knowing it.”
Thereupon we exchanged acknowledgnients by a cordial shake of the hand; after which, on we toddled, muttering “T'pace! t'pace ! t'pace! Oh, these slows are bad things for racers."
“Go thy way :” said I, “Edward ! thou deservest to be immortal for the happiness which thou possessest in thyself, and the pleasure thou impartest to others."
And now, should any one out of the sporting circles inquire why all this space has been allotted to Edward Blenkhorn-for to those within that circle he is as well known as the sound of Bow-bell is to the residents of Cheapside—the answer is, because he is so universally known, and so universally respected, by the members of the turf: and it is for this reason, and this reason only, I consider him deserving to be placed in the first niche of our gallery of BRITISH TURF WORTHIES.
THE TURF IN 'FORTY-SIX.
“ Though past, the recollection of the thought
The past year was infinitely the most brilliant in the annals of the British turf and as racing of a high class is almost wholly confined to this kingdom, 'forty-six may be set down as the millennium of that sport, so far as it has yet been enjoyed. Brother Jonathan perhaps will cry "not content" to this conclusion; but till the staple of his meetings is something more legitimate than four-mile heats, America must give place—though “proximus, sed intervallo"-to the old country. Until a nation shall be discovered with a course like that of Newmarket, and where the details of racing are similarly carried out, the “Tight Little Island" will continue to be the Elis of modern times. The slaughter committed among the black sheep of the turf during the two or three preceding seasons left the flock which fattens on it a tolerably fair average for such cattle. The accessions of new blood are considerable. Several new names of condition appeared to the nominations published in the “Spring Calendar," which came forth as lusty and boon as an alderman; and, in short, the whole thing was put on the scene couleur de rose. And then, what a winter there had been for the stables! Horses, they assured you, were as fit to run at Christmas, as they ordinarily are at Easter; while their name was “legion.” Thus it fared with the promise of our Olympics, when, that the saying might be fulfilled—“ it never rains_but it pours," people read the announcement of a new meeting at Epsom, with a handicap called “ The Metropolitan Stakes," to which the licensed victuallers of London gave a bonus of £300, or three times the amount of a royal plate! Moreover, that there might be nothing lost for the wont of éclat, all these good things were duly proclaimed in the sporting papers, with a flourish of trumpets, of which those only can form an idea who have heard the Herr Kænig execute the “ Post Horn Galope" on a seven-feet tin tube. Whether it did indeed keep the promise to the hope, as aforesaid, will be gathered from the sequel. Many men have many minds on the philosophy of horseracing, as well as on graver matters. That the turf is less remarkable for graceful passages in equestrianism than it was wont, I fear must be admitted. The prevailing taste for handicap races is inimical to the production of first-rate jockeys. It takes time, as well as many another requisite, to perfect such artists as Robinson, Chifney, and Scott. Your handicap don't mount 8st. 7lbs. a dozen times in a season, in any stable in Great Britain. How many handicaps has Robinson ever ridden in his life? Neither do the lads put forward for the light weights in these contests, often achieve anything beyond mediocrity in their profession. These races are mere "devil-takethe-hindmost" affairs. Indeed, the crowd common to them would render of little avail fine points of horsemanship: Riding. “ with” or “to” your adversaries is out of the question, when the vital issue is to find a break in the phalanx to enable you to make any running for yourself. The handicap is essentially of the coarse school, as regards
turf knowledge: more gladiatorial than scientific or subtle “ Plus Marti
Mercurio".... The racing year commences properly with the Coventry meeting. This year they had indeed a stake over the course at Liverpool, as early as the 4th of March, which a three-year-old hight, the Premier won; but though a Derby nag, his popularity in the ring was but very ephemeral. The doings at the old city of Godiva were of no account; but Warwick Spring afforded fair sport-"considering" .... On the estimate of Burlesque's performances, they got Sweetmeat up for the Chester Cup, to establish-0! that men would take counsel of experience !--the folly, in limine, of making pets for handicaps. At Northampton, immediately after, by way of comment, Discord, backed for the Trial Stakes at 5 to l'on him, succumbed to weightas what will not from gros de Naples to granite? The favourite too, for the crack handicap was nowhere. Passing Croxton Park as too unprofessional for our purpose, we arrive at Epsom Spring Meeting. Here, for the first time, the public had an opportunity of forming an acquaintance with the great improvements in progress for the future éclat of the metropolitan races, by the spirited new lessee of the Grand Stand-Mr. Henry Dorling. The stand itself was being almost wholly remodelled and decorated both inside and out, while a new Derby Course, which should enable the spectators to see every move of that breath-suspending contest, was presented to their admiration. The removal of the ring to the lawn in front of the stand gave universal satisfaction, though a set of grumblers tried to bring ill.odour on it. The judge's chair, too, had been brought to the whip-hand, so as to enable that functionary to catch the horses as they rounded Tattenham Corner, and such a plan of centralization was carried out as completed the ensemble of perfection. The Downs, too, had been put in order, and the meeting gave us as good a day's pastime as could be wished for. Of course the feature was “The Great Metropolitan Stakes” handicap, worth net £825. Nine-and-twenty horses started, and the winner was Chamois, out of Treen's stable, carrying, as a five-year-old, 5st. 7lbs., thereby holding out an inducement to turf philosophy to endure for a long time-hopefully. Mr. Hibburd, as starter, did much to add éclat to the business part of the affair; and Mr. Clark, in the ermine, was as eminent as he always is. Next season it is probable the bonus added to the Great Metropolitan Stakes will amount to £500. Who shall say your Boniface is not the true Amphitryon after that? Of Hampton Spring Meeting the less that's said the better. Things are conducted with a vulgarity too scarlet for the most bitter cockney. At Epsom the Grand Stand was thrown open gratis ; at Moulsey Hurst, they charged you half-acrown for sitting in your own horse and chaise on the ground, as Paddy might say.
We will now adjourn to the Craven Meeting at Newmarket, where some of us arrived rather by good luck than good guidance. As a judgment upon Sunday travelling, the special train put on for the Sabbath-day wayfarers was capsized, and great was the fall thereof .... It began without either a Craven or a Riddlesworth ; nevertheless, it was far from an indifferent anniversary. The sport ou Monday was tolerable, and no more. The race for the 5) sovs. sweepstakes, in which Free Lance beat Joy, had a bad effect, naturally, on Sting's popularity, though some there were who said it was too fine-drawn a conclusion. Tuesday was very brilliant, with its sunshine and handicap, as well as its peculiar Riddlesworth. For the former (not the sunshine, but the handicap) a field of five-andtwenty ran, and ended in the total overthrow of the “crack’s” men, for it was won by Kesheng, an animal never named, I think, in the betting. My Lord Exeter was fortunate enough to carry off the Tuesday's Riddlesworth, with his Galata colt—no man better deserves a slice of luck; but latterly he gets one very rarely, and then it's very thin. Wednesday introduced to public canvass the form of Iago“Honest Iago," as he subsequently proved himself. He won two remunerating races, a 200 sovs. sweepstakes, beating the winner of the Riddlesworth and the Column, and the history of many a Derby nag was already published. Thursday, however, was the occasion of most work; it was the scene of the Tom Tulloch movement, when the animal, whilom at 66 to 1, found backers, greedy as gudgeons, to back him at 11 to 2. When your stable-hope jumps from any odds ai all to about first favourite for the Derby, it is not an excuse for a man's drinking ten bottles of port and standing on his head on the table. I have heard of such things being done. Binnacle, they said, was the best of the three-year-olds that showed. Alarm won the Claret, beating Pickpocket alias Ould Ireland; Jericho, after a slashing set-to, beating Old England on the post. Idas ran, but the distance left him no chance. Without saying much of Ćatterick Bridge, save that it was an improvement on its predecessors, and brought out a few Derby nags of no worth-or touching at all such small deer as Darham, Burton Constable, and the like, we proceed to the Bath Meeting. The sport here of late years has been rapidly -rising, I was going to say, but that would be impossible, unless it was transferred to the summit of Snowdon. It is growing more popular—that will do. Burlesque, for the Trial Stakes, beat Crown Prince, Pantasa, Refraction, and Buttress; and Nat, with the Queen of Tyne, won the Somersetshire Stakes, after a dead heat with Lord Saltoun. There was plenty of racing; but the state of the ground was awful—the Crown Prince, for instance, winning the City Cup up to his middle in mud. Here began the practice of timing." races; with what success, and what utility, may be gathered from the fact that a Sunday sporting paper made the time for the Cup 5 minutes 44 seconds, and the other authorities 3 minutes 40 seconds, or a difference of about two minutes in a distance of two miles and a half. The fact is, as done so far, the thing has been “a mockery,” if not “a snare.” The only way that racing can be timed, with any claim to be supposed correct, is where two stop-watches are employed-one for the start and the other for the finish. Heretofore one has served the double purpose –after this fashion occasionally. Take the race for the Cesarewitch as a sample. This is started for just beyond that portion of the Beacon Course known as Choke Jade. Well, this being at the far side of the ditch, is out of sight at the winning post. To enable the timekeepers, therefore, to record the seconds occupied in running this important trial of speed, a man was stationed on the ditch with a red flag, which he was to elevate when the horses came to the post, and drop when they left it. In a space occupying some four minutes, then, there were these certain deductions from the time actually occupied in the running. The time lost between the start and its notification by the fall of the starters' flag; the tiine lost between the fall of the signal flag and its notice by the timekeeper, and the time lost by him in looking for the exact position of the seconds’ hand on the dial of his chronometer. This is written in no invidious spirit. No one is to blame for it. The gentlemen who made the attempt did it with the desire to serve the turf; but to carry out their object, if it is to be attained at all by such means, which I take leave to doubt-a far more perfect machinery must be brought to bear upon it. One of the morning journals has announced its intention to employ agents for timing all the great races: the essay is novel, and evinces a good spirit: we may take occasion to examine what practical good comes of it,