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I once took a humble part, and which, as far as I recollect, I will detail to you. It took place, if memory fail me not, in February, 1853."
"Pardon me," said I, rising to ring the bell, "charming as is the scene, the night is chilly; but I cannot shut it out, so we must have something to warm the inward man, and what with the excitement your account of the run will doubtless cause, we shall be cosy."
Enter a clean and cheery-looking Devonshire lass.
"Mary,” said I, "do you know how to brew gin punch ?" "Gin punch! zur; su-urely-no, zur."
"Well, Mary, is there any gin in the house-good gin?" "Yes, zur; su-urely."
"Then bring a pint. Have you any Mareschino ?" "Mary-chino! don't know, zur; I'll ask."
Exit Mary. Re-enters: Yes, zur, we have."
I may here remark that the hotels at Linton and Lynmouth are no common hotels; and there are few things asked for, that are not to be had-in reason.
"Then bring some; ditto hot water, and a lemon; ditto white sugar."
The ingredients being at hand, for the benefit of my sporting friends I offer the following receipt:
Pour half a pint of gin on the outer peel of a lemon; then cut the lemon in two, and add the juice; a glass of Mareschino; hot water, and sugar, according to taste. Let the water boil, and do not peel the lemon too thickly.
The result will be to the concoctor the pleasant beverage we found it. And the brew being fully prepared, Leigh commenced his account of the run "over the moor."
"In the month of February, 1853, if memory fail me not, it was arranged that the Tiverton hounds, then under the mastership of Thomas Carew, Esq., of Collipriest, deservedly one of the most popular sportsmen of the county; the South Devon pack, a subscription pack kept by an attorney at Teignmouth, and hunted by a hard-riding huntsman; and the North Devon hounds, commanded by the wellknown sportsman and rare companion-Jack Russell-should meet at Dulverton, the little Melton of the West, and hunt on alternate days for a fortnight. It will naturally be supposed that much enthusiasm took place among the members of each hunt; and great were the sporting festivities of the little town. As regards myself, to the last hour of my life I shall never cease to remember the real sport and merriment we enjoyed. However, I shall confine myself to a brief account of one run, certainly the cream of the fortnight, although each day had its sport and pleasure. Suffice that, like many others, I had come from the South Devon country, as a guest to a most liberal and kind friend, who lived hard by the moor; bringing a nag or two with me, and trusting to his kindness to supply the rest.
"The meet was at Whithypool, on the moor, a gorse cover hard by the little hamlet of that name supplying the gallant fox. The morning was one of the most brilliant I ever saw, with a dense hard white frostso hard, that on first leaving a warm bed, I fancied that hunting was
out of the question. However, the sun had great power, and at halfpast nine the guests of the house were in the saddle, and away nine miles to the meet. The horse I was riding, which belonged to my kind host, was by no means what is termed a lamb-in fact, a thorough-bred animal of high spirit; and when we reached the moor, and found himself on what after midday was turf, but at that early hour a sort of hard green pavement, his caperings were decidedly not for choice. However, we arrived at length safely before a little hostelry, which if I recollect rightly, bore the sign of the Fox and Goose,' at the entrance of which stood some four score of right good sportsmen, gathered from the three hunts, enjoying the sun and their cigars, to which they had added sundry jugs of hot egg-flip-no bad accompaniment to so cold a morning, believe me. At midday the earth, hitherto iron-bound, became hasty pudding, and the order to mount and away was given, to the joy of all.
"It chanced to be the turn of the South Devon to hunt on that everto-be-remembered day, and no pack could be brought to their work in more perfect condition, or more fit to go. Whether the credit was due to their master or not, I cannot say; if so, let the merit be his.
"May I thank you for a soupçon more hot water? Thank you; the punch is excellent.
"Well, I said it was the turn of the South Devon hounds, and of course the South Devon men were up, and anxious for the fray; for even in that land of flowering myrtles and "scald cream," there are to be found a man or two, hard to beat, with top boots on, and hounds running with a burning scent, be the county even Northamptonshire.
"The run may be thus briefly described; to do so thoroughly would take a week: Hounds thrown into gorse; three minutes and away; over some high banks we ride; land on the other side (the shady side); and slide half-across a grass field; gallop down a steep vale; up a rough lane; on to a wide moor, away and away for your life, hounds running like a flock of sheep, though a trifle quicker: 12 miles. One slight check; away for the earths of No, he has turned. Why so? Mr. Smith's harriers are out, and he dare not face harriers a-head, with foxhounds behind him; so away and away again, over bleak moor, stone wall, through bog and brook, for many a mile-the packs joined at his brush. Four-score gallant horsemen assembled at the find: how many will there be at the finish? At this point, twenty-six remain. Forward! is still the cry. Anon, sixteen more are hors du combat (pardon the French), succumbed to pace and distance-are in fact done to a stand still. Ten good men and true, with horses far truer and better than the men, still float as it were over the moor. It is no fox,' says one. It is a fresh one, says another.' It is Satan, with a fox's brush,' says a third. A mighty fence appears across the moor; man says Yes; tired horse says No. Physical powers cannot last for ever. Six of the four-score alone remain, Twenty-five miles of hill and dale, moor and heather, have been passed; still the cry is Forward!' Who leads the van? 'Tis the master of the harriers; he joined us comparatively fresh, followed by the little mousy, and a grey, and a black, and a brown, and Tom Leigh last of the six, toiling up the hill; his horse has cried Enough!' Night
closed over this wonderful run: eight-and-twenty miles, with one slight check. And now-
"'Tis midnight, and silence with unmoving wings
Patience, and the kindness of my friend, Don Tuxfordio del Toboso, who keeps the MSS. of Squire Linton under lock and key, will enable me soon to tell you how the run ended, and what became of the fourscore sportsmen, who had inet at Whithypool, on that long-remembered morning; how some of the horses, and none of the men, died on the moor, and how many were nearly dying for want of a good supper, which they were compelled to eat with their breakfast.
(To be continued.)
THE ARAB STEEDS OF INDIA.
It is a remarkable fact, that, whilst equestrian exercises are upheld and supported in this country with a spirit unmentionably extravagant, in all matters that may relate to the turf, the fence, the field, the source of our primitive pride, the noble, (if I may be permitted to use that term, in reference to the animals I am treating upon) the "Blood-royal Arabian" horse, from which our best drafts of high-bred cattle are derived, has been little considered.
The subject is worthy attention on a twain account. In the first place, the particular castes of horses may be considered to cope with each other, according to their characteristic value. In the second place, the classification of the above animal is almost alphabetically laid down in the form of a pedigree, according to the qualities of stock from which he or she (horse or mare) proceeded; and these distinguishing indices, as to character, in relation to the one or the other, may be looked upon as titles in reference to the excelling properties of either.
The most commended great-grandsires of our modern Speedwell studs are attributed to the Godolphin and Darnley Arabians; and if all be true that has been assigned to them, in the language or dictionary of stable equi-ology, for "mettle," they deserve a first-class position in the annals of the Turf Calendar.
To go through the equine genealogy of their breeds (and the brood mares were extensively served from this first-rate stock of excellence) would fill every page in the volume I have devoted my best attentions to. It will be enough for me, in this place, to define a few particular and essential features pertaining to the Arab horse, and leave the case in the hands of others for their mature and deliberate consideration.
One of the most remarkable occurrences on record is that of an Arab mare having been imported from the Imaum of Muscat as an especial
I dwell upon
present to our most gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. this fact as one well deserving particular attention; because in the long course of my own experience in India, not a single mare, to the best of my knowledge, was ever placed on shipboard in the Persian Gulf, whence our Arab steeds are embarked for the three presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. So tenacious are the Arabs of their equine monopoly, that they wholly discountenance the practice of importing their mares into other countries remote from their own; and it almost amounts to a religious faith, among those who indulge in equine speculations, that to hold a good stable inheritance proves a portion of the national freehold.
The castes of the Arabian horses are, like those of the elephants, throughout the vast Indian peninsula, regulated and classed according to the pedigree from which they merge. The white elephant is more highly prized than others which assume a dark shade of colour. the majesty of the first is supreme in Ava and Pegu, whilst such as are occasionally speckled with partial spots of white obtain a grade to excellence. This is a mere fanciful consideration; but fancy is the parent of fashion; and sound reasoning, in imaginative minds, must make way for it.
Whilst treating (although I am somewhat diverging from my subject) upon the elephant, I would beg, in this place, to name that the white elephant is by no means physically perfect. It, according to the special laws of Nature, may be looked upon as imperfect in its intended creatively contemplated complexion: the same is leprosical.
I kept, some years since, a male elephant upon my establishment, when I was residing at Midnapore, in the East Indies. He was a highcaste animal. I named him "The Rajah," as I had purchased him from the Rajah of Durpund. As a Chekaree beast he was most valuable. He had encountered many conflicts with tigers; and his facial front, which was of noble expanded dimensions, evidenced strong proof of his warfaring adventures.
This elephant possessed a perfectly white trunk, and was barely furnished with hair at the extremity of his tail. His disposition was docile in the extreme; and his quickest pace, under the howdah, might be rated at about six miles in the hour.
I had this elephant in my possession for five years, during which interval he had to undergo some very heavy jungle excursions, facing tigers, leopards, and the wild buffalo, which abound in the above-named locality.
It may be considered somewhat remarkable, but during the time I was the owner of the above animal, I sustained the loss of three mahouts, who each of them died of the black leprosy. Riding naked-footed, without any shoes to protect their flesh from coming in contact with the neck of the beast, which they were, during their progressing, in the constant habit of exciting onward by the adoption of their heels, in the instance of urging the elephant to accelerate his pace, the contact in these particular instances with the rugose hide of the animal produced at length a morbid affection of the feet, which eventually terminated in the black leprosy.
From the above recorded facts, I am led to believe that horses are similarly liable to leprosical tendencies. For instance, such as are styled
"pie-bald" nags are, on certain parts of their bodies, bare and denuded of hair, which is not a natural course of organization, and where the white predominates, this especial feature immediately stamps its die.
This circumstance may, and probably does arise from the promiscuous course of interbreeding. The purity of the blood is corrupted through the stages it passes, and complexions become varied, as the intercommunications are suffered to interrupt or interfere with the uniform lineage of the prime and original stock.
I once had in my stable a half-caste horse; he was entire his sire was a respectable Arabian, his dam of Persian blood. This animal evidenced signs of leprosy both in the mouth and sternwards. He was
a bay nag with white points. He was a capital steeple-chaser, and a staunch hog hunter; but he could not stand being bracketed in a race: he would fall short and decline, as much as to say "I have done with it." Thus far the consideration of blood in animals, touching temper and tone,
Now, as our best bloods are primitively derived from the Arabian cross, let us see how far we have improved upon the first impression. We have no lack of pluck or wind in our modern racing stables. Good training has done more for us than the eventuality of good breeding. When we talk of a four-mile out, at a dash, on the Newmarket flat, we are throwing an Arab horse completely into the shade. Neither his stride nor his wind would prop him upon his legs one-half the distance. But then the Arab horse possesses bottom. Yes, that is admitted; but in what does it consist? Spirit and speed are pretty accompaniments to a graceful demeanour; but is it of a lasting character? No, it is not, in the Arab horse. He is naturally gifted with an impetuous and froward disposition to gaiety. "I was born a horse, and I know what it is to be a horse'' operates upon his feelings. He is the creature of his own understanding; and as holy Job says: "He pranceth and neigheth in the valley, in the pride of his strength."
In Job's days, we may be led to infer, from chronological data, that training horses was not a practice much in vogue; nevertheless, there can be but little doubt that the Arabs had made their way, at that early epoch, into the land of Uz; and as they traded in horses, frankincense, and spikenard, the above animals were held in high estimation in those days.
The wild horse is to be met with in various parts of the globe; but is not so well consulted as to its merits, as the same is in Arabia, would appear that the chief pride of an Arab consists in his steed. It is his totum, his sine quâ non object. Now then, let us compare our intermixed English breed with the purest highest caste Arab that ever showed his figure on the turf.
The most remarkable horse of the above breed, that ever ran in competition with an English horse in India, was upon the occasion of Esterhazy being matched against Recruit, the former belonging to the late Mr. Marjoribanks, the latter to the late gallant and much-lamented Major-General Gilbert, who so highly distinguished himself in the victorious Sikh campaign. Mr. Marjoribanks had caused to be imported The Laurel Mare, at a great expense, who was to be conditionally, as to weight carried, matched against Recruit; but the vessel that conveyed her from the shores of Britain to India, was wrecked off Saugor Island,