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and sort of course for the winner. Cowl won the Great Ascot Produce Stakes, with some thousand pounds or thereabouts--the last return it seemed probable he would ever make his owner from racing funds, as he broke down very badly in his race for the Cup.
Thursday, the highest holiday of our turf, was just the weather for such an occasion. Long before noon London poured forth its multitudes-mobs in purple and fine linen; for the road the wise for the rail the foolish. By steam did ourself make our descent this season. Catch us at it another. The Great Western advertised that trains would start every quarter of an hour up to noon, or near upon it. From ten to nearly half-past eleven no train was dispatched, during which time the doors were kept closed : for what purpose but to give a turn to the pick-pockets is difficult to surmise. Hundreds of delicate women were, during the whole of that time, exposed to all manner of annoyance and offensive fellowship. The sun poured upon them like liquid fire, while, haply, some sporting gent from “over the water” was blowing his cloud under their noses, or an out and out butcher from Whitechapel was pouring his opinion of things in general into their ears. Without exception, so unseemly a position I never saw English ladies placed in, as those who were waiting on the Cup day to be conveyed to Slough by the eleven o'clock train of the Great Western Railway. One has no right to complain of what followed at the Slough station. Those who had sent on conveyances were, of course, provided for: those who had not, paid for their improvidence as the unwise always do. As an episode of no very uncommon occurrence, I may here relate that I saw eight-and-twenty pounds drawn from an omnibus party, which was certainly more than the value of the whole set-out-good work for one day!
The gathering on the ground was immense: the equipages perhaps were less numerous ; but the people were innumerable." At the hour prescribed—soon after one—the royal cortège entered the course, and, with a most animating reception, passed up it
. As usual, the cavalcade was a gorgeous one, the sole drawback being the costume of the gentlemen of the court, who always appear at Ascot in the Windsor livery; that is to say-uniform-a terrible twopenny postman array -blue coats with beef-steak collars and cuffs. The Duke de Nemours having shaved off the insignia of Young France - by stress of the Bal costumé, and Prince George of Cambridge having assumed the fashion of Old England, following the rules of residence at Windsor Castle, it sorely puzzled us at first to make out who this Pylades and Orestes in full beef-steaks might be: we can only plead in mitigation that gentlemen are known by their habits.
Of the events which preceded the Cup, the most accountable was the New Stakes, which brought out two-and-twenty two-year-olds, and a dashing lot they were. The winner, a colt of Lord Lonsdale's, by Bay Middleton, out of Jubilee, is not in the Derby. The second, Forth's Sting, that ought to have won, I think, is, and ought to be backed for his engagement. The Emperor of Russia's splendid annuity-a £500 piece of plate--out of twenty-six nominations, brought to the post but four-Foig-a-Ballagh, Alice Hawthorne, Cowl, and the Emperor. This distinguished quartette having exhibited before the royal visitors, straightway did rendezvous at the post, 7 to 4 being currently offered on the courser with the Milesian name. The contest was one of very ordinary pretension: the pace, I presume, must have been bad, as the rider of the winner said, “ the faster they tried to go, as he waited on them, the more he found his horse able to run over them.” The Emperor won easily by two lengths. A distinguished personage expressed great gratification at a gentleman having won: why have we any but gentlemen engaged in essays of chivalry? The piece of plate thus won by Lord Albemarle is about being sent to Russia for the Emperor's inspection. Libel was on this day the winner of a race of greater length than on Tuesday; but it was a handicap, for which he carried 7st. What of that?
Friday brought down but few strangers: the occupiers of quarters in the neighbourhood, however, and the residents, mustered pretty strong. The racing lacked nothing in quantity its quality was second-rate. There were three classes of the Wokingham. Some idea of the nature of this meeting may be formed from the fact that £2,600 was taken for admissions to the Grand Stand; and malgré the suppression of the gaming booths, the receipts of the ground must have been enormous. The whole income derived from the four days of Ascot Races would--if accurately stated-afford an interesting item in the statistics of the British turf.
The feast of Easter, we observed, just as Rhapsody pounced upon us in the opening of the foregone chapter, and bore us clean away from the progress of our biography--the feast of Easter is the signal for the commencement of the flocking together of all mankind, called the “ London Season.” Whitsuntide is to the capital what Michaelmas is to the country-it is harvest time. The process of reaping and gathering, indeed, generally extends beyond midsummer, but spring is the division of the year wherein the metropolitan husbandman for the most part stores his garners, as his line of business principally lies in green crops. These, at the date of our presents, are to be understood as waving in lavish luxuriance on every hand, from the dainty exotics around the counters of Howell and James to the rank verdure that chokes up the avenues of “the Corner.”
“ Find fault with our morality as you will,” retorted the Leg, to some observation of mine,“ but it's the morality of the great. Suppose we do square our system on the principles of commercial preservation-videlicit, always to win something, leaving the loss for the pockets and philosophy of our neighbours — what then? You have but to walk along Rotten Row, and by the side of the countless equipages in active operation along the Serpentine, to be convinced that legging,' under counterfeit names, is an universal fashion amid the world's wide, wealthy aristocracy. Of course, I myself, born to more brains than breeches, am liable to be hunted for my peccadilloes, as Caleb Williams was by Falkland; for while theory gives us law as justice, and bonded rights as freedom, all the world knows in practice
power is law, and wealth, opportunity. Her grace, there, who has just rolled by us, would turn up her right honourable nose at me, belike, for my humble attempts at bettering my condition; but is'nt she the sharpest shot at the odd trick within the empire, and can't she make up her book’ as well as any man going?”
“You take high and wide aim, methinks,” replied I; “but in instituting yourself censor of the manners of the rulers of fashion, you are like our Indian directors, who set up as judges of generalship, and dictate lessons in war to warriors, when they've never attended, perhaps, a review at Wormwood Scrubs, or pommelled a puppy dog, in the whole course of their lives.” “For all that, I know as much of the games of some of your
ladies of quality as I may hap to do of their lords. Now, I can forgive anything but humbug, and that it is which reigns paramount in these fine London circles, aye, far more than in your training-stables. Is'nt every girl in the market during the season, and knocked down to the highest bidder by the parent-auctioneer, or worse, by herself? Here is a slip of a quotation I took from a fashionable book the other day, written by one of their own order. And it's àpropos, as the Frenchman says, of the best of 'em. Here it is
“ Lady Lilfield was a thoroughly worldly woman—a worthy scion of the Mordaunt stock. She had professedly accepted the hand of Sir Robert because a connexion with him was the best that happened to present itself in the first year of her début—the best match to be had at a season's warning. She knew that she had been brought out with the view to dancing at a certain number of balls, refusing a certain number of bad offers, and accepting a better one, somewhere between the months of March and July; and she regarded it as a propitious dispensation of Providence to her parents and to herself, that the comparative proved a superlative-even a high sheriff of the county, a baronet of respectable date, with ten thousand a year. She felt that her duty towards herself necessitated an immediate acceptance of the dullest good man extant throughout the three kingdoms; and the whole routine of her after-life was regulated by the same rigid code of moral selfishness.'
“Well, this is only one species of your marketable commodities. I will give you another : the wife, as it might be, of a commoner in your Imperial Parliament. We'll see if she doesn't understand exchange and barter better than I. Why, not long ago, the lady went as regularly to Kensington Gardens at an off-hour of the day as a policeman attends his beat; and she was as regularly met by a young peer, and strolled with him down one secluded path or an. other when she ought to have been in her nursery. Perhaps you think she had love in her heart thus to risk censure and court scandal? Not she. All the while she was measuring the peer's predilection at so many yards of velvet—at the unity of a cashmere shawl, by the weight of diamonds of so many carats! Honest rascality's worth a plum of humbug, I say again. And all the while she was dressing a couple of hundred a-year beyond her pin-money, d'ye think the husband was blind ? Not so.
His mind was as mercenary as her own-his maxim that of the knight in Hudibras
“ For what in worth is anything,
But so much money as 'twill bring ?" The tine came when to be deaf and dumb any longer would have shown that his brain
“Outweighed his rage but half a grain.” Then he made a market of my Lord, and, in peaceful compromise, finds his indemnity-money in a snug place. And yet
"A wight he is, whose very sight would
To anything but chivalry :' of a truth, an honourable man in the eyes of those fashion-mongers who bask only in the sun's blaze, and who mortally eschew a varlet who can't give you a good dinner, and who's name's not in the Court Gazette." "Ah,” said I, musingly, recollecting some old words of Drayton's,
*How necessary it is now-a-days,
And be sure of this, the worst will be spoken.' "That's the very circumstance I complain of," retorted Leatherlungs, with a sort of serio-comic bitterness. “ Here goes your moral prostitute, with the cloak of wealth and fashion about her, three times to church on a Sunday; and no flaw is found in her condition. True, in the first flush of womanhood, with woman's first love in her heart for one of poor merit's honest children, she has bartered away her birth-right for a mess of porridge-her freedom and youth and good looks, for an old man's love and law-licence, for his money-bags and monotony, for state and station, in short. So that she may spend her mornings in shopping and her evenings in being adulated, she has bargained to lie o'nights by the side of that ‘ next to nothing of a man' as Coleridge says the lean and slippered pantaloon' who calls her his own. I ask you if this minion of prosperity be of more worth in creation's eye than the poor jaded things her carriage-wheels often splash, as they roll towards Štorr and Mortimer's, or the opera ? These last at least have necessity's stern law for their excuse; an apology, though not allowed below, that may be registered above. For my part, I hold them as perfectly alike as two sticks. They both wear paint and patches: the one in her mind to cover its deformity, the other upon her countenance to conceal its
“You are a second Solomon come to judgment, friend Leatherlungs,” I observed, “and as nice a judge of the freaks of May Fair as of the lot for the Derby.”
“I despise cant, that's all,” replied the Leg; “and I see through it. The London world is one huge reservoir of hypocrisy. If only
“ Well, that's not more stylish than one of us is doing it in the present day," exclaimed the Leg, with a look of considerable exultation. “ There's
-, who began life without a morsel of brass in the world (except what he had in his face), now hasn't a pot, or pan, or poker, a gridiron, a kettle, ur a coal-scuttle in his kitchen that is not solid silver, and his parlours are as full of vertu (I didn't say, virtue) as paradise. Your friend Nimrod forgot, or didn't know that, to put it in his “ Quarterly Review” slash at legging. And he overlooked the fact, that one of the gentlemen he did show up had not only as many horses as Xerxes, but as many wives as Blue Beard. Well, certainly, our Bob did go the entire animal, the total pig—he did. And why not; so long as he could afford it, or those that trusted him could ? "There's -- who straps in his father's stable, and overlooks the exercise lads; he gives fifty shillings a pound for his cigars, and smokes twenty between breakfast and dinner every day he rises out of his bed. They do say he blows two at a time, one at one side of his mouth and another at the other; but I can't answer for that. But this I can vouch for, that I have drunk port wine with luncheon at a jockey's, for which he paid eight and twenty shillings a bottle ; and that wasn't so worser, considering !"
These loose items of speech are to be understood as having been perpetrated as I made my way towards Tattersall's, by the quietest path I could find, seeing that Leatherlungs walk'd at me, so to describe our passage from the park towards Grosvenor-square. To say he went with me would be correct : to say he walk'd with me might do him mischief; for, although as scarlet a sample of impudence as ever blossomed in the “ Ring,” he does refrain from linking arms with his grace of B- or my lord of C—, which really, under all the circumstances, is no trifling instance of forbearance. You see him bandying news and jokes, and peradventure something more, with them, in all the familiarity of fellows well met; but should he encounter them where people unconnected with sporting do congregate, he“ hangs on” while they discourse him, in a manner that has no parallel. If you can imagine a modest crab of the middle classes dancing attendance on an aristocrat of the testacous order, it will give some notion of it. Thus, at an angle of forty-five as it were, he bore me company to the corner of Grosvenor-place, and, as they say in the Footpads, “ took close order” as we descended that Avernian declivity, the lane of odour, which conducts to Tattersall's. Being high season thereat, of course the market was well stocked. It was, as we have seen, the seventh day; and yet, probably, there wasn't a man in the whole assembly who went there for a purpose he would have volunteered to admit. Suppose the area at Tattersall's suddenly transformed into the palace of truth, some Sunday afternoon in the season! Wouldn't your first impulse be to inquire, " What had become of all the earthquakes ?" That's the owner of Lazy-cum-tithes: he has sent his glandered colt for peremptory sale, because the “vet" only engages his nose shall keep tight for forty-eight hours. That cabinet minister comes to lay against his Derby horse that broke down in his morning's trial. The Duke of Star and Garter does you the favour to say, he can lay against the favourite for the “Two Thousand”-his owner has just informed him his horse shall be kept for Ascot. Such is Tatts.