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HASTY HINTS UPON HORSES.
WHEN We told you, some few months back, O gentle reader! that, (to borrow a phrase from Brother Jonathan, about the only thing, by the way, which our occidental relative possesses worth the lending,) beyond all the beasts of the earth, a dog "went a-head" in our affections, we intimated, at the same time, that our heart had many corners for many other animals. We said we loved an elephant; but we are not going to talk about one now. He is by far too large and weighty a subject to be taken up in a hot July morning, when the sun, as somebody says, "makes the whole world Troglodytic." We said we loved a mouse; and so we do, or rather so we would, if he would let He might gnaw and nibble at the oldest Stilton in our dairy with impunity; for we could not find in our hearts to hurt so much as the tip of his tail; but the " wee, sleekit, cowrin', timorous beastie," has no reciprocal sentiment of affection. He scampers to his hole at our approach, as though we were "a kitten and cried mew; he obstinately refuses to be loved; and he deserves not that pen, ink, and paper should be thrown away upon his ingratitude. We said we loved a horse-of a horse, then, be it our "hint to speak.'
Now, the devil of it is, that, to talk about horses, one wants a world of technical knowledge, in which the pen-flourishing generation is, we fear, for the most part, lamentably deficient. We ourselves, much as we like a horse, are any thing but a sworn horse-courser ; and, had we to go to market for ourselves, might more than probably find the knowing ones a trifle too deep for us. We are not quite convinced that we entertain very definite ideas on the subject of hocks, frogs, fetlocks, and pasterns; and as to thrushes, splints, spavins, and ring bones, we are, beyond all controversy, in a state of more than Cimmerian obscurity. Having ingenuously confessed thus much, you will scarcely feel surprised when we inform you, O gentle reader! that we have not at present the slightest intention of qualifying every man to act as his own veterinary surgeon-that we are not
going to expatiate upon the magnifi cent steed of the Honourable Five-bar Rasper, or his Grace the Duke of Double-ditch-that we have not the remotest idea of entering into a discussion of the much vexata quæstio of the paternity of Bloomsbury, or commencing a historical and philosophical investigation into the origin and legality of the authority of the Jockey Club. All this, we say, you will readily conceive; but should it, as we trust it will not, enter into your most inquisitive noddle, to ask us what we really do mean to talk about, why, wẹ are free to confess," as the Parlia ment men say, you will thereby put us to a pretty considerable nonplus. We can only recommend you to shut your mouth-we are not particular about this first article, only it is hot weather, and the flies are strong in the land-open your eyes, (our respected grandmother, who was accused, most unjustly as we think, of spoiling us with sugar-plums, used to reverse the precept,) sit down on a cane-bottomed chair, as the best possible antidote to somnolence which we can think ofprick up your "most attent ear," and-so, you are ready?—then here goes for a plunge.
There are few occupations (we like a sententious beginning) more agree able to minds of a contemplative and philosophical cast, than to observe the numerous variations of national feeling, as exhibited under the numerous variations of climate and complexionto note the different lights in which the same object is regarded in different latitudes.
The poor Arab-we are no travellers, and cannot speak from our own experience, but we have too much gallantry to dream of impugning the veracity of the Honourable Mrs Norton-the poor Arab, before he mounts his steed, after gazing upon him with a five-minute glance of unalterable affection, breaks forth into some such impassioned apostrophe as "My beautiful! my beautiful! that standest meekly by,
With thy proudly arch'd and glossy neckthy bright and speaking eye,'
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, for about ten minutes more, and having thus
Those noble fellows, the old Greeks, (what the deuce did Byron mean by saying that we already knew too much about them, as if we could ever, by any possibility, learn enough?) entertained notions like themselves on the subject of horses-witness their magnificent sculptures-witness their magnificent poetry. The trainers of those days, when kings broke their own nags, and blushed not to be caught at it, were somewhat different people, and held in somewhat different odour, from the estimable gentry who play at fast and loose with our modern patrons of the stable. The famous Irish "Whisperer," nay, our old friend Andrew Ducrow himself, could hardly stand a comparison with the "horsetamer Hector." They talked of pedigrees too, even in those days, with all the accuracy of the stud-book; there was an aristocracy of horses before the time of Homer. The "Xanthus and Balius of Podarge's strain," must have looked down with immeasurable contempt upon the bloodless undescended rips, over whose stiffening carcasses they whirled the chariot of Achilles.
Even in "old Rome, the sevenhilly," (who, by the way, borrowed her fancy for horse racing, as she did
most of her more civilized tastes, from Greece,) are still to be found tablets to the memory of the good steed who called forth so frequently the plaudits of the "hoarse circus," recording how often he won in a canter, how many times he "ran a good second," nor even omitting to mention when he was fain to be content with a respectable third. The names of two or three favourites have outlived those of many an "antique Roman," who, doubtless, had his dreams of immortality. "Sed venale pecus Corythæ posteritas et Hipini, si rara jugo victoria sedit. Nil ibi majorum respectus, gratia nulla Umbrarum: dominos pretiis mutare jubentur Exiguis, tritoque trahunt epirhedia collo Segnipedes."
The whole sad ditty of the "HighMettled Racer," compressed into five lines of Juvenal! Alas, for the degeneracy of the turf of the nineteenth century! Newmarket and Doncaster boast no Pindar to immortalize their glories-the father of history and his nine muses would attract but a scanty audience in "the ring" at Epsom nay, we doubt if even our old acquaintance Pegasus, were he to start forth once more in propriâ personâ, would make much of a figure in the betting.
Old Homer has made magnificent use of a horse, as, indeed, he has of every thing else, in that comparison which, for splendour of language, need not fear to be set beside any horse-passage we know, saving only that most wonderful description in the Book of Job, which stands alone in its sublimity :
Ως δ' ὅτε τις στατὸς ἵππος, ἀποσίησας ἐπὶ φάτνῃ,
Εωθὼς λούεσθαι ἐϋῤῥείτου ποταμοιο,
Κυδιόων· ὑψοῦ δὲ κάρη ἔχει, ἀμφὶ δὲ χαίται
Glorious indeed! We positively see
The comparison is, to our thinking, far too good for Paris. We cannot, for the life of us, picture him as the ardent warrior which it would represent him to be: We are wont to think of him only as the "concinnus adulter," the regular "fancy man," the pet of the petticoats, whose noblest accomplishment is
"To caper nimbly in a lady's chamber, To the lascivious pleasing of a lute;"
in short, a species of slightly mitigated Mantalini, in high life of the year B.C. 1193. To us the strongest point of resemblance between Paris and the "fed horse" appears to be (to use, we hope not profanely, the words of the Prophet), that he "neighed after his neighbour's wife." But we are waxing a little bit too classical.
"From the sublime to the ridienlous there is but a step," as every body knows who knows any thing whatever; indeed the quotation is so stale, and the fact so universally admitted, that we should hardly have inflicted it again on the defenceless public, had we thought about the matter, and must trust for our excuse to a certain villanous John-Bullish kind of habit we have, of blurting out what ever comes first into our heads, with. out stopping to enquire whether it has any business there or not. We met, the other day, with a beautiful pendant to the old Greek's picture, in a passage descriptive of the Bengalee breed of horses, from the pen of a Captain Williamson : "The said -horses," says the facetious son of Mars, "have generally Roman noses, and sharp narrow foreheads; much white in their eyes, ill-shaped ears, square heads, thin necks, narrow chests, shallow girtles, lauk bellies, cat hams, goose rumps, and switch tails." gallant Captain would, we fear, be somewhat puzzled to draw a portrait, merely from such a description as that with which he has favoured us.
We are told that the "new-discovered people of the Indies, when the Spaniards first landed amongst them, had so great an opinion, both of the men and the horses, that they looked upon them as gods, or as animals ennobled above their nature." Well, the poor doomed barbarians went but one step beyond nations who bore, in their time, the palm for civilisation. Horses have received funeral honours, and have had cities called after their names, without exciting any such smile as that with which you just now treated the simple Americans; and, though we do not recollect that they have ever been actually deified, they have, at any rate, enjoyed the highest honours of mortality. What an exquisite piece of satire was that of Caligula, when he nominated his horse to the office of consul! Sheer madness, said you? No, no. Like Hamlet, he "was but
mad north-north-west ;-when the wind was southerly, he knew a hawk from a hand-saw." Tyrant as he was, he had sanity enough to observe and despise the abject grovelling of the bipeds of Rome, and boldness enough to hold it up to scorn by the appointment of his quadruped favourite. it were madness, it had method in't. Only fancy the terrors of the patricians in waiting, lest the newly made func.. tionary should take it into his head to stretch his consular hind-leg without giving warning! We once heard a pragmatical young prig of a Cantab (a Johnian, of course) observe, that he must have been a most incorruptible magistrate, for he answered all improper applications with a nay; and we thought of the dictum of Samuel Johnson, buttoned up our pockets, and made ourselves scarce forthwith.
Paul of Russia was mad, an' you will, when he ordered to be starved the honest horse which had offended only by a stumble: his own end was happier only because more speedy. And as to that king-making and kingdeposing Lord of Warwick, who stabbed his war-horse in cold blood before the battle of Towton; for the sake of a nature otherwise noble, it were to be wished he had been so too. You may
read how he met with his deserts on the obelisk at Barnet Common.
We have read somewhere of a young French renegade, who confessed to Chateaubriand that he never found himself galloping alone in the desert without a sensation amounting to rapture; and though we cannot speak from personal experience either of "antres vast or deserts idle," we think we can manage to enter into his feelings. Like Montaigne, "we do not willingly alight when we are once on horseback; for it is the place where, whether well or sick, we find ourselves most at ease. We know of nothing more glorious-nothing more inspiriting— nothing which more effectually dispels from one's spirit the glooms, and the mists, and the fogs, which gather round it so thickly in this "workingday world," than a good stirring gallop across an open country; and, should it chance to be at the tail of a pack of foxhounds, why we think it not a whit the less inviting, and doubtless our horse would appreciate it far more fully. We really are unaffect
Talk of Somerville, indeed, after Sheridan Knowles! Lombard Street to a China orange on the Irishman!and "no takers," as they say at Tattersall's. Prattle not to us about
cruelty to animals! We would give a trifle to tie one of your doubledistilled humanity-mongers upon a thorough-bred hunter, and start him from the cover-side on a brisk January morning, with a full field and a burning scent, just to convince him that the biped is not the only animal that takes a pleasure in the burst. If he did not come home stiff, skinless, and, albeit against his will, converted, we would be content never to follow hound and horn again. And now we will stroll out to Verey's, and swallow ice; for we have Philippicised ourselves into a perspiration.
Often as we have polished the pavé of Oxford Street, we have never yet learned to saunter along with that stoical, or rather cynical, indifference to every thing save pretty faces and slender ankles, which distinguishes the exquisite of the present day. We shall be taken for country cousins all our life long; we are continually losing ourselves in wondering contemplation of the passing scene; and we are continually losing, par consequence, our pocket-handkerchief. Here may you observe that wonderful animal Man in all his varieties, from the duke to the dustman-here may you admire that generous brute the horse in every Hoy, hoy! you there! Get out of the way, can't you?" Mercy upon us! we were within an ace of making a job for Mr Wakly, and his twelve good men and true
that butcher's nag had wellnigh anni. hilated us! There he goes! gallopgallop-gallop! We verily believe a butcher's horse doesn't even know how to walk. At any rate, we can safely swear we never saw one practising that pace. We certainly have heard of their being occasionally discovered, in the rural districts, standing still at the yard-gates of country gentlemen ; but, when once in motion, it seems to matter nothing whether it be hill or dale, town or country, highway or by way, crowd or clear. There is ever the same unvarying, reckless speedthe same headlong, break-neck, oldwoman-slaying gallop-the same"Now, sir, a leetle on one side, if you please!" Ah! as we live, our old acquaintance Tollit, and the varmint Oxford "Age." There are not many prettier things, to our thinking, than a well-appointed coach, "tooling" along a level road at the rate of ten miles an hour, including stoppages. That identical team now has," many a time and oft," transported us to the embraces of our revered Alma Mater, and we look upon it with an eye of more than common affection. We have ourselves not unfrequently handled those very ribbons, and wielded that very silvermounted whip, dexterously disturbing many a meditative fly from his dream of happiness on the ear of the off-leader. See! they are off again! no shirkingno hanging back-one slight tug-one gentlest hint of the whipcord-and away they go, "light as a bird on wing." Eleven o'clock !-why, that sleepy old fellow of All Souls, in the inside corner, will be at his own college-gate just in happy hour to realize his heaven-sent vision of hall-dinner. We think it is no less an authority than Nimrod—not the mighty hunter of ancient, but the mighty scribbler of modern, days-who says, that the life of a coach-horse in a crack team, well-fed, well-housed, well-groomed, and lightly worked, is beyond all question the most desirable state of equine existence.
We defy the most "cruel-hearted cur" under heaven to stop and look for five seconds at a London hack cab-horse, waiting for a fare, without being moved to pity. Take, for instance, the third in yonder line-observe the hairless, fleshless, almost skinless, ribs the weak and tottering fore-legs-the dull eye and the droop
ing head-the "raw" but too plainly visible underneath the collar-the shrunken carcass, for which the shafts, narrow as they are, are yet "a world too wide." Watch him, as he mumbles the contents of his scanty nose-bag-positively he has hardly spirit enough left to swallow his miserable pittance!-there he stands, the very picture of patient, uncomplaining misery. And yet, most probably, before we are a hundred yards off, that wretched anatomy will be tearing through the town with an almost railroad velocity, and endangering the lives of a thousand harmless subjects of her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, at the corner of every thoroughfare in London. For the sake of your loving wife and affectionate family, venture not to cross his path! He is not the same horse that he was five minutes past;-a change has come over him, new spirit has possessed him. He seems to rush along the streets with a recklessness which nothing but the extreme of misery could inspire: there is despair in his face, graven as plainly as with an iron. Life has nothing worse in store for him, and the sooner he escapes from it the better! Alas! happy, even in his wretchedness, that he cannot look forward four or five days into the future, and behold that last, that crowning scene of equine misery, the yard of the knacker!
And now turn about, as you love a contrast, and look for a minute at that dray of Meux's as it comes thundering along over Claridge's Patent. Saw you ever such a Daniel Lambert of a horse as that fellow at the head of the team? He drags along that ponderous machine, laden as it is with "the good barley-wine which our forefathers did use to drink of," with as much ease as we would the toy-cart of our youngest born, who is but just out of his long-clothes. Do but listen to the sound of his hoof upon the pavement, and fancy for a moment, if your nerves will allow you, your worst corn awaiting its next descent! Proud is he, bad taste of his though it be, of his plaited main and tail ;-(we would rather see them swing about, as Tommy Moore says of Norah's robe," as nature pleases;")-proud is he of his brassbedizened head gear-proud of his size, his strength, and his occupation;
nor altogether unconscious of the admiration he is exciting. His very shake of the head implies a scorn of the lanky, weedlike things that ever and anon flit by him, unworthy, in his opinion, of the name of horse ;the razor-faced, spare-necked, delicatelegged, bang-tailed exquisites of the race; the paragons of Rotten Row and the Outer Circle-the cynosure of ladies' eyes-the admiration and envy of lawyers' clerks, linen drapers' apprentices, and Sunday swells of every possible species and description. See with what sublime compla cency he regards that yelping cur that madly leapeth at his august nose, and trembleth not even to snap at his majestic heels! losophical" tit" shy, and sidle, and prance, and toss his indignant head, and "yerk out his armed heel" against the audacious assailant;-but not so he he, disdaining so inglorious a foe, looketh down with calm contempt upon the vain efforts of the scurvy tyke to arouse his wrath; and heareth with magnanimous pity the howl of the offender as he limps lamely away from the lash of the avenging drayman!
How would less phi
Whatever nonsense-we are going to fly off at a tangent-whatever nonsense Byron may have talked about the superfluous amount of knowledge respecting the old Greeks, he was himself any thing but a despiser of them. He inherited, to its fullest extent, their admiration of horses, or he could never have written Mazeppa.
Of that glorious poem, the horse, and not the man, is, to our thinking, the hero. The worthy Hetman is somewhat quaint and "rude in speech," and garnishes the story of his audacious amour with one or two pithy practical maxims, which go far to deaden the interest which we might otherwise feel for him, and his mistress, in a double sense. Of course we pity him, but still not with that pity which is "akin to love." But the horse! to him we can give ourselves up heart and soul-pity him as he struggles, "fiercely but in vain," to burst from the unwonted shackle dash away with him-away! away! like lightning to the desert, which, though it be death to man, is to him life, and happiness, and home!—start with him at the groan wrung from his helpless burden by the extremity of