The regulations which hang over the fire-place in the counting-house at Tattersail's bear the date of . There are few States in Europe whose laws can boast of so respectable an antiquity as the code of this horse-auction establishment. The laws of most Continental Governments have been entirely new cast since that time-France has, during the interval, had its old laws, and its no law, and its new law-and even at home here, where revolution has been best kept at bay, the innovators have been nibbling; sometimes mashing up whole cart-loads of penal statutes, or navigation laws, into statute, sometimes beating out a simple act of parliament of the olden time into half-a-dozen. Amid all these choppings and changes the little empire of the Horse-mart, at the back of Hospital, has retained its constitution unaltered.
Such were our musings a few days ago, as with foot on the fender, enjoying the genial warmth of the fire, we stood perusing the above-named regulations, not that they were new to us, but because we had no better way of whiling away time at the moment. Everything about Tattersall's is in keeping with the stability indicated by the Mede-and-Persian unchangeableness of its laws. There is the simple unpretending finish of English aristocracy about it. There is nothing of the lath and plaster smell about it which characterises newly run--up American hotels and erections on our great railway lines-none of the frippery of a continental mart
|for horses. Above all, there is not a suspicion of about the buildings or any of the persons connected with it. Everything is neat, well-kept, and in good condition, but nothing looks new (except the new subscription room). You feel in a moment that the place and its owners belong to the established institutions of the country--that they date from before the coronets of some titled families. And so it is.|
Richard Tattersall, the founder of the family, and of the establishment, died in , at the ripe age of . Our information about him is more meagre than we could have wished, for the maker of
was a remarkable man. He was training-groom to the and last Duke of Kingston, brother of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, husband to Mrs. Chudleigh, doomed to an equivocal immortality in the letters of Horace Walpole and the State Trials. After the death of the Duke (), Tattersall does not appear to have entered into the service of any other employer. Lord Bolingbroke, ex-husband of Lady Diana Spencer (for whom Boswell's
), sold Highflyer to Tattersall, in the beginning of , for
--a long sum in those days. In the contract of sale (published in in the volume of the series of the
) Tattersall is described as
from which we infer that he had previously opened his auctionmart. A receipt of the same date is appended to the contract of sale, but we have reason to believe that credit was given--a high testimony to Tattersall's integrity. This horse was the foundation of Tattersall's fortune, who commenced a stud-farm, in addition to the auction-room for horses, to which we are now about to introduce our readers.
There is a good picture of Tattersall the in the possession of his familyor rather pictures, of which it is not very well ascertained which is the original, and which the copy. It is not a matter of much consequence, but were we to venture on pronouncing an opinion, it would be in favour of the from which the engraving at the head of this article is taken. Both are clever paintingsboth have that something about them which leaves the impression that the portrait is a likeness-but if anything there is a degree of the face of the other, which is entirely absent from that which has been transferred to our pages. It is a characteristic picture. The rotundity of person indicates a man, who, in youth, had been accustomed to violent exercise; the hale, ruddy complexion--the almost juvenile freshness-at his advanced age, speaks of outof-door habits. It is a thinking face: some call its expression melancholy; upon us it produced more the impression of thoughtful kindness.--In the picture which we have (right or wrong) assumed to be the copy, there is introduced (a family tradition says at his own urgent request) below the
a small label bearing
This attachment to the fine animal by which he had made his fortune is expressed also by giving the name
to a house he built in the Isle of Ely. Take him altogether as he appears in his portrait, Tattersall looks the ideal of a substantial yeoman, or better class farmer of his day.
Though we have been unable to learn any incidents of Tattersall's early
| history, his personal appearance, his high character for integrity, and his sterling sense and benevolence, have always led us to fancy him a kind of counterpart to John Watson, training] and riding groom to Captain Vernon, in whose service Holcroft, author of the |
spent years and a half as stable-boy about -. What we know of John Watson is contained in the commencement of an auto-biographical sketch by Holcroft--the best thing he ever wroteinserted in his Memoirs, published in-. A few extracts will convey a more lively idea than anything else can, of the respectable grooms of that period-the Watsons and Tattersalls:
Another incident or will complete the picture of John Watson:--
His last appearance on Holcroft's pages is as follows:--
The traits of John Watson, which appear in these extracts from Holcroft's simple narrative, convey a lively notion of the character and appearance of the -rate grooms of that day, and no can look at the picture of Richard Tattersall, and recollect that it was his integrity that originally made his establishment at , without feeling convinced that he belonged to the class of John Watsons. There is very striking feature of their common character-what Holcroft calls the serious look of John, and the thoughtful (or, as many will have it, melancholy) expression of Richard's face. The truth is, that the responsibility of the training-groom is very heavy. The animals intrusted to
|his care are of themselves extremely valuable, and, from their high breeding and keeping, delicate and liable to a accidents. The sums of money, too, dependent upon the state of their health, increase the constant anxiety of their keeper. And none but a man who has a keen and ever-wakeful sense of his responsibility can be intrusted with so valuable a charge. He must be a man, too, who has the sense to know that honesty is the best policy; he must value his reputation for integrity as that upon which his existence depends. It requires both sound and deep feeling, it requires sagacity, and the power of self-control, which constitutes force of character, to make a -rate training-groom--the man to whom a nobleman can confide, in perfect confidence, at once the care of a property valuable, liable to casualties, and a source of pride to the owner. Such a man cannot fail to know his own value, and this knowledge lends a sturdy independence to his character. His good sense teaches him at the same time his subordinate position, and impresses a deferential character on his manners. Constant intercourse with the aristocracy communicates much of their refinement to him, and his native good sense teaches him to adopt precisely those peculiarities which are in keeping with his station. It is a fine character that is formed in such a school-and the veterans of the latter half of the last century were perhaps the finest specimens of it.|
But while prattling of old Tattersall and his class, who are favourite heroes of ours, we are keeping our readers waiting too long in the counting-room. If they will have the goodness to step up the length of with us we will introduce them in form.
At the south-east angle of Hospital, there is an unconspicuous arched passage,--down that lies our way. At the bottom of the pretty rapid descent we have before us a tap, designated
on the left hand, an open gateway leading into a garden-like enclosure, with a single tree in the centre rising from the middle of a grass-plot, surrounded by a circular path of yellow sand or gravel. Immediately beyond the gateway is a neat small building, with an entry from the passage or court in which we stand, and another from the enclosure just described. This is the subscription-room. The interior is remarkably well-proportioned, lighted, and ventilated: it is from a design by Mr. George Tattersall--the ingenious author of
--a gentleman who combines the hereditary tastes of his family with a high talent for architectural art. The room contains merely a set of desks arranged in an octagonal form in the centre, where bets may be recorded or money paid over. A cartoon of Eclipse is over the fire-place. The low flight of steps at the entry to the grass enclosure is intended and well adapted for a station whence to watch the action of the horses shown off in it.
On our right hand (we are still standing'in the passage) is a covered gateway through which we enter into the court-yard. The engraving at the end of this paper conveys a tolerably just notion of its appearance as seen from under the gateway, except that the perspective produces the impression of too extensive a space. The point of view, from which the drawing has been taken, is on the west side of the gateway. At the back of the spectator is the old subscription-room (the new has only been erected about a year), which deserves a visit for the sake of an excellent and characteristic portrait of Reay, many
| years clerk to the establishment. It is of those faces which so often meets with among the respectable portion of traders in horse-flesh in his rank in life. What stamps this common expression upon them it were hard to say: perhaps the favourite square massive crop of the hair above the forehead helps. Standing at the door of the old subscription-room, the door of the dwelling-house is on the left hand. In the parlour is that portrait of Richard Tattersall, already mentioned, which has the inscription so honourable to his heart- |
The other, from which our engraving is taken, is in an apartment upon the floor, entering from the other side of the gateway. In the parlour, which contains the
portrait, is an excellent likeness (by Stubbs, we believe) of Highflyer himself, with Highflyer Hall in the back-ground. These are historical portraits of value in the annals of the turf. Another picture in the room will come to be equally interesting as a memorial of the past in time-but remote may that time be. We speak of the portrait of the present worthy representative of Richard Tattersall, riding after the Derby stag-hounds.
We return to the court-yard. The counting-house, where we commenced these rambling recollections, is on the opposite side of the gateway from the old subscription-room, and like it facing to the yard. The quiet, gentlemanly character which, at the outset, we attributed to the whole establishment, is here felt in its full force. The air of the place is precisely that of the counting-house in the City of some old
which has weathered the changes of time, passing from father to son since the days of Queen Elizabeth. It is the pride and peculiarity of this country, that we of the middle classes--of the industrial middle classeshave this kind of aristocracy within our order as imposing, though more homely, as the coroneted order itself. The appearance of the clerk of the countinghouse at Tattersall's would be quite in place in the ; and, indeed, the very grooms and stable-boys catch the air of the place, and without being a whit less like their business than others of their class, are entirely free from slang and swagger. The books of the establishment, which appear in a safe in of the corners, might almost furnish forth a history of the English thorough-bred horse, for the last years, of themselves. The advertisements relative to breeding and sporting matters, and, perhaps, samples of the latest improved patent bridles, suspended against the wall, are the only indications of the kind of business transacted in this counting-house.
But now for the court-yard in good earnest. The domed structure in the centre surmounts a pump. The watering trough has an elegant classical figure, and from its side runs the pump itself--in form, a truncated cone, surmounted by the appropriate emblem of a fox. The bust over the dome is a likeness of George IV., in his eighteenth year, at which period he was a frequent visitor at Tattersall's. Thus well nigh half a century later than the breach between the Prince and Charles Fox, the
of his wild days, is reminded of their alliance by a juxta-position that forces an involuntary pain upon the beholder.
A covered way runs round sides of the court-yard. The alley at the further end serves as a kind of for vehicles of the most miscellaneous description. That which is on our left hand, looking from the gateway, calls for no particular remark: that on the right hand, where our artist has introduced a
|horse and or human figures, has the counting-house at the end, and the auctioneer's box--the simple throne of the dynasty of Tattersall--on the other. A door near the end of the side-wall, next the counting-house, admits into a spacious, well-ventilated and lighted stable, where the horses to be disposed of are kept in readiness on the days of auction. An open passage, to which the entry lies between the dwelling-house and the covered way on that side of the court-yard, has ranges of stabling on either side-every stable constructed on the most approved modern principles, every improvement being adopted that experience recommends as conducive to the health of horses. Indeed, the stables at Tattersall's are in some sort for the Houyhnhnm race what the crack hotels of London are for their masters--more comfortable homes than home itself, and the difference there is in favour of the horse--that pays nothing extra for his accommodation.|
The reader has now a tolerably correct notion of the arrangement of the premises. If his visit is not on a public day, a stillness reigns throughout the premises, very different from the bustle through the medium of which most casual visitors are accustomed to behold it. A few grooms are standing about. A few buyers may have dropped in, and perhaps the head or managing groom is in the ring--the enclosed grass-plot adjoining the new subscription room--with a light strapper breaking a horse selected from the stalls of the stables set apart for private sales. A small knot of subscribers is gathered on the steps of the room, eyeing the horse, and the intending purchasers, in the intervals of their talk about past and coming matches--the progress of the education of some colt of
--or reminiscences of the and -footed heroes of the turf of the olden time. There is a quiet about the place at such times that is almost rural. The imagination, prompted by the sight and smell of stables, wings its way to the country. The quadrangles of Oxford have not an air of more profound repose and isolation.
Very different from this tranquillity is the appearance on public days. The days of sale are Mondays throughout the year, and Thursdays in the height of the season. Monday, however, is always the great day. On Friday the horses come in from the country, on Saturday all the preliminary arrangements are made, and on Monday the sale takes place. There is generally a pretty numerous gathering on the Saturday afternoon--a still larger on Sunday immediately before the hour for resorting to Hyde Park-and on Monday comes the throng or confusion of business. The throng of carriages, cabs, horses, grooms, and tigers, in the vicinity of the arched passage, leading from , is immense. About noon the stream of professional and amateur dealers in horse-flesh rolls down the passage like a river in flood-
as a Scotchman might express himself. There is a clatter of pewter in the tap, for grooms are thirsty customers, and the beer is good. But the main crowd precipitates itself into the court-yard-their paces hastened on hearing the crack of a whip, or the words
A horse is already running his trot between the auctioneer's box and the counting-house door. Biddings commence-
resounds the whip, urge the spurs, and up he comes well on his haunches, with his nose under the hammer.
But there are days in comparison with which this animated scene is a mere
| stilllife picture. Let us suppose that the guinea stakes have been run for, and the winner is up as a favourite for |
It is a day for re-modelling, or for making
There is flutter and bustle and excitement even in the penetralia of the subscription room, but the hubbub in the court defies description. All are eager-excited--in earnest-even savage. Short and sharp are their exclamations, and in a language which the disciples of Irving might have been excused had they mistaken it for of the unknown tongues.
--and a triple-bob-major rung on all the devil-may-care names of the whole list of horses entered for the Derby. This is the augury of coming events, but what passes when
--why, in the words of an older and better song,
--at least nobody but the initiated. On the awful
the doors are shut on the , and the betters pay, receive, or make themselves scarce, among themselves. It is quite useless for any who has not the to attempt to catch a notion of what passes. But scandal-mongers do say that a peculiar school of philosophers, great observers of life, may be observed on such days hovering in the neighbourhood--the sheriff's officers for the county of Middlesex.
The attendants, both on show and sale days, are a motley group; for though the owner of the premises is a gentleman, and though it may be charitably hoped that most of his customers deserve the same character, yet a horse-mart, like a court of law, must admit all sorts of company. And, if all tales be true, the comparison between a horse-mart and a court of law runs on all fours, which similes very rarely do. The nucleus of the company at Tattersall's consists of the regular supporters of the establishment-subscribers to the rooms-gentlemen on the turf, and frequenters of Melton Mowbray-parties who frequently have horses to buy or sell-runners of horses, betters on horses, or breeders of horses. Some there are who merely keep a running horse or , but rarely bet --though it is impossible to withstand at times the desire to nibble; and betting is like tippling--it is easier to be a teetotaller than a rational temperance man. Some merely back and bet on their horses: these are of classes-the men who never had horses, and the men who can keep them no longer. It is among these chiefly that the moss-troopers of the Turf are found--the dwellers in the debateable land between the blackleg and the gentleman. Still they are decidedly on the daylight side of the hedge, though often in sad danger of slipping through its gaps. The owner (or lease-holder) of your stud-farm for thorough-breds comes here too--not that he runs horses, or even bets upon them, but he likes to keep the progeny of his farm in view through life. He takes an almost parental interest in their fortunes. These are the men to whom to apply for information respecting the pedigree and character of horses: they know more of these matters than the men of action on the course, or in the field-partly because it is their interest to know the results of crossings and breedings, and partly on the principle that the bystander sees most of the game. Among the class we are now describing, there is also a sprinkling of what may be called imaginative amateurs of horse-flesh. At the utmost of this set never owned more at a time than a -fourths bred pony-what cattle-dealers would call
not fit for the field, or even for a roadster if the rider is very particular,
| and which therefore has lost caste, though it retains enough of the marks of its origin to give it a superior air among hackneys. But though this animal constitutes our friend's whole stud at any given moment, he may be called the proprietor of numerous horses, for he is continually changing his beast. The only pleasure he appears to find in his horse is in buying or selling him. Then he knows all the latest gossip of the subscription-room, though he never bets; and he is continually looking at horses, and giving his opinion of them, which is civilly listened to, but never taken. He reads the Sporting Magazine regularly, has some book of farriery, and the Useful Knowledge Society's book on the horse by heart. In short, he is perfect in the theory of sporting. He is mild and gentlemanly in his manners, and rather a favourite than otherwise; his usual dress is a surtout of some shade of green, approaching in its cut and fit to the |
of the hunter, cords, and top-boots.
Next in consequence to these are the trustworthy jockeys and grooms, a set which still retain many of the characteristics of John Watson, but, according to their place in the scale, are marked by various peculiarities. Some of the most mercurial are constantly run away with by strong animal propensities, and it requires strong pulling up from time to time to enable them to avoid losing caste altogether. Nothing could save some of them occasionally but their unrivalled skill in riding, their passionate love for the horse, which renders them incapable of cheating it, though they might have less scruple about its master, and a fund of practical drollery. They are your
and not a few of them look the character--for sometimes what an artist would call defects in structure are the making of a jockey. A long fork, and scarcely any body, are not the of the human form divine, yet they give the man who owns them great advantages on horseback, and he may carry weight naturally in the shape of a hump, or have nose and chin meeting like nutcrackers, and be never the worse rider. We have known in our day not a few of these whom their better qualities kept in employment, while their foibles, continually getting them into scrapes, prevented them from rising. tiny individual, with bandy legs, we do remember in his old age, sitting by the door of the cottage his master had assigned him, listening to the tuneful cry of the pack he was never again to follow as it died away in the distance; and another scarcely so old-still able to act as huntsman to a pack of harriers, who could never, even when the hare was on foot, pass a tempting bunch of water-cresses without slipping off to pick a salad. Marry! his overnight potations might render some such cooling necessary.
Around these essential constituent parts of the assembly gather the nondescripts--the casual visitors, some of them pretty frequent in their attendance too. Young guardsmen not on guard-clerical fox-hunters come up to pay their respects to the Bishop and see Tattersall's--the bagman, whose habit of travelling in a gig has necessarily rendered him learned in horses--the butcher, who rode his rounds to his master's customers as apprentice, and thus contracted a taste for cantering--publicans who find Derby Clubs and news of the turf sure baits to draw in customers-staid shopkeepers who go to Epsom once a year, and to Tattersall's occasionally of a Sunday to recal the pleasures of the last trip, or anticipate the glee of the that is coming-and the concentrated pertness and glib impudence of the tiger world.
Tattersall's gives the tone to the sporting world, and has long done so. The confidence reposed in the integrity of the founder went far to establish it, and its situation helped not a little. At the time when it was opened, Tattersall's was in a manner in the country. It stood on the townward verge of an open and uninclosed space of ground sloping down to the stream which carries off the superfluous waters of , and now rolls dark and turbid, more a sewer than a rivulet, down by the back of the houses in . It was a lonely place,
and where Belgrave and its adjoining squares now stand-celebrated for nightingales and footpads. The visitations of
made feel as far out of town there as at Finchley, Bagshot, or Hounslow. And at the same time it was centrically situated for the gay world. The mansions of the nobility from to St. James's were at an easy distance; a chain of villas stretched out towards Kensington; the region round was filling up; and the proximity of the mart almost invited a visit from the idlers in the Parks.
The Prince of Wales was of the earliest, and, for a considerable time, of the most regular visitors at Tattersall's. This was enough to stamp it the . But the name of the proprietor was a still greater attraction to the real earnest admirers of a good horse. From the day that the emporium was opened down to the present, there has not been a single eminent character in the racing and hunting world who has not made this his lounge. And a taste for these sports is so intimately interwoven with the, habitual tastes of all classes, that we may say there has scarcely been a man of any note in any line during that time, who has not been found here on some occasion or another. Even gallant Admirals have been attracted hither, and Bishops and Wilberforces have not disdained to look in, in search of good carriage-horses. A strange variety of personages are associated within these walls: let us take a few of the that offer. , in virtue of his station, and of his bust over the cupola in the centre of the court, constantly reminding us of him, comes
We are here reminded not of the elderly gentleman with shattered nerves and a troublesome wife, who mounted the throne after the hopes of young life had long withered, and hid himself from his subjects ever after, but of the frank, handsome, and fascinating
of blooming eighteen. Next rises to our memory Old Q., of equivocal reputation. There are many still alive who remember his appearance at the bow-window of the house in now inhabited by Lord Rosebery. Haggard he was, and feeble, as if a breath of wind could have blown him to pieces like a spider's web; yet the nice tact of Hazlitt selected him to illustrate what he meant by the look of a nobleman. Samuel Whitbread has been at Tattersall's many is the time and oft, that sturdy representative of the cross between the feudal and trading aristocracy of England--that compound of the patriot, theatrical amateur, conventicle-saint, fox-hunter, and brewer of
Lord Wharncliffe was a frequenter of Tattersall's in his day, the tremendous Rhadamanthus of the Jockey Club-at least so poor Mr. Hawkins, who fell under the ban of that Court of Honour, appears to have felt him. Lord Wharncliffe, as Mr. Stuart Wortley, did good service on occasion to the country gentlemen. When about the year of grace Henry Hunt had made the white hat the distinguishing mark of the radical, sore was the dismay among the magnates of quarter-sessions as the
| dogdays approached, and not of them dared indulge in the luxury of a white hat, lest his principles should be suspected. But Mr. Stuart Wortley relieved them by appearing at a county-meeting in a white hat: his politics were above suspicion; and the unsaleable stock of all the hatters in the neighbourhood was disposed of before nightfall.
There has passed away from among us within these few days-almost without exciting a passing question, whose death would at time have struck a chill wide through the land. Sir Francis Burdett had disappeared from public life, and become almost forgotten before his death. By accident it was at Tattersall's that we heard the mention of the event, and a fitter place for receiving such intelligence could scarcely be. Whatever men may think of the wisdom of Sir Francis's public career, his character stands high as a warmhearted, honourable, and accomplished English gentleman-thoroughly English. Enthusiastically attached.to field-sports, he too was a frequenter of Tattersall's, and perhaps he would have been a happier man had he contented himself with dividing his life between them and the social or the studious hour, instead of plunging into the political struggle to which.he brought, after all, more ambition than talent. But we must break off, for shadowy figures do so environ us-the Seftons, Osbaldestons, Berkeleys, and what not--that our pages would be overfilled did we pay to each only the passing tribute of a name.
The opening of Tattersall's marks an era in London life. About it appears to have been opened, and the regulations bear the date of . It was in that Crabbe came to London to establish his character as a man of genius, and then to withdraw for a long silent interval into the country, there to mature the works that were to render his name lasting. In , Philip Astley was coming into vogue, exhibiting feats of riding and sleight of hand, and teaching Lord Thurlow's daughters to ride the horses that Tattersall had sold them. In Samuel Johnson, who has recorded his admiration of his namesake, who was Astley's precursor, and of Astley himself, passed from this scene of struggles. Gilray's earliest caricature that has been preserved is a likeness of Lord North, in . It was a-period when old men in literature, in fashion, and in catering to amusement of the gay world were passing away, and new ones hurrying in to supply their place. In none of these departments is the change from things as they were before , and things as they have been since, more marked than among the amateurs of the turf. We have heard the period which has since passed called by many names; but, in so far as London and its gay world are concerned, the age of Tattersall's might be more truly descriptive than most of them.
These retrospects almost supersede the necessity of remarking that the rank which Tattersall's took immediately on its establishment it has retained to the present day. Almost the only change it has undergone is an extension of the range of business, under the direction of the present proprietor. Edmund Tattersall is the principal-we might almost say the only-dealer whom the princes and nobles of the .Continent employ to procure for them the thorough-bred English horses, which are the pride of their studs. The arrangements on Mr. Tattersall's stud-farm at Willesden are among the most perfect of the kind.
We have noted already the death of the Tattersall: it may not be without interest for our readers if we wind up the history of the establishment with a chronology of the establishment. The auction-mart was originally instituted by Richard Tattersall, in what year is uncertain, but apparently on or before , for in the contract of sale by which he became master of Highflyer, he is described as
He died on the . He is said by a contemporary to have
It is added that
Richard was succeeded by his only son Edmund I., who walked in his father's footsteps, and maintained the reputation of the establishment. He died on the , at the age of . He was, in turn, succeeded by Edmund II., by whom the connections of the house abroad were formed, and the foreign trade in thoroughbred horses conducted on a scale of unprecedented extent, which it would have gladdened the heart of the great Sully to contemplate, who, of all the historical characters with whom we are acquainted, appears to have trafficked the most, and most profitably, in horse-flesh, as may be seen in his
We are not writing a history of the Turf, or the Hunting-field, but simply taking a stroll with our readers through the greatest and most respectable horsemart in England, that is, in the world, and touching as we go upon the associations of the place. We have avoided, as much as possible, the technical language or slang of the stable, and that for sufficient reasons. The is, that stableslang can only be correctly spoken by professional gentlemen: the merest stableboy could detect our imperfect acquaintance with it at once. But the is a far more powerful reason: it is that we love and venerate the horse and all the sports and employments in which he and man are yoke-fellows, and that we loathe everything that vulgarises him or them, and slang, of course. Slang we can somewhat more than tolerate in Holcroft's
for there was originality in the character--it was the of the kind brought upon the stage. We can more than tolerate it in the pages of
for there is truth and nature in them; and slang is so incorporated with his style, with his very thoughts, that it is, in a manner, natural to him. But everywhere else it is nauseous. The lawyers have got rid of their slang; the conventicle has got rid of its slang; it is high time that the Turf and Hunting-field should get rid of their slang also.
Tattersall's, it has been remarked more than once, has given a tone to the sporting world, and in this respect it has, probably, had a more beneficial effect than the Jockey Club itself. That representative of the power of the organised turf can only deal with overt acts of an ungentlemanly or dishonest character. But Tattersall's-
--has set the whole sporting-world to
even when they have it not. Its influence in this way has been materially promoted by the institution of the subscriptionroom, which took place at a very early date subsequent to the opening of the mart. For a while, at , the court was the only place of meeting for all parties; but as soon as it became a place of resort for the news of the sportingworld, it was soon found advisable to fall upon some means to keep at a distance
| the crowd of questionables: With this view the subscription-room was opened for the accommodation of gentlemen, as the Tap had been opened for the accommodation of their servants. The regulations of the room have not undergone any material alteration since. Its frequenters are, in a manner, the, natural aristocracy of Tattersall's, and the lower orders frame their manners |
as like those of the subscribers as possible. This has contributed in no small degree to diffuse a recognition of the point of honour (in theory, at least) through all ranks of sporting characters. The influence which has achieved this might effect more; and it is to be wished that the subscription-room at Tattersall's would throw itself with all its weight into the scale of those gentlemen who are exerting themselves so strenuously to purify the provincial race-meetings.
This is the more desirable now that horse-racing is, and ought to continue to be, a passion with all ranks of England. There are tastes which an Englishman carries with him wherever he goes: he must have his newspaper, he must have his cup of tea, and he must have his race-course. Of the firstmentioned we have discoursed under the head of newspapers. In proof of the last, it only requires to be stated that Calcutta has its race-course; the capital of Western Australia (Swan River) has its race-course; nay, that Sierra Leone-has its race-course. For a people who could indulge in horse-racing in that universal sepulchre, the
it must indeed be a necessary of life.
With the dog we contract friendship--for the horse we have a passion. Both can and do serve us well; but the former is a conversible associate, the other wins our love by its stately elegance. of the impulses of boys is to scramble on a horse's back--to ride the cart-horse to the water, if no better may be-or even where a horse is not to be had, to practise the art equestrian on some luckless, bridle-less, and saddle-less donkey grazing on a common. The father's earliest wish for his son is to inoculate him with his own taste for horses. Holcroft's father was a poor shoemaker, yet contrived to gratify his love of horses by keeping or for hire. He had a favourite pony which
and yet he was determined that the child should mount it, and accompany him whenever he took a ride.
The wild high-spirited boy contrives by scraping acquaintance with ostlers-by engaging to horses-by all out-of-the-way shifts to get the handling of horses, and at times leave to mount . In this way Philip Astley (founder of the amphitheatre that bears his name) commenced his career; and a passage in of Philip's prefaces (for he was an author as well as a performer and ) expresses the sentiment which familiarity with the horse awakens, as well among us nurslings of civilised routine, as among the unsophisticated children of the desert.
Could he say more for the saucy tenderness of a mistress? The poor man with us loves horses as dearly as the rich. Some gratify their predilection by seeking service as stable-helps, or in any way that will keep them among horses. Some
|enlist for the same purpose in a cavalry regiment. And they who are obliged to seek their livelihood by less congenial pursuits have their inborn tastes annually revived by the races--for what district--of England is without its race-course? days or a fortnight before the races the horses begin to drop in-at least this has been the case, though railroads are altering the arrangement-and take their evening and morning exercise on the course. The stately elegance of their forms, their glossy coats and beaming eyes, their elastic gait and powerful action, attract a concourse of spectators. The tiny generation of the new-breeched who see them for the time, skulk after them to the stables, and are happy if they can catch a peep, see how their body-clothes are managed, how they are curried and brushed, how carefully their beds are prepared, their oats sifted and resifted. The novelty of the operations, the furtive glimpse obtained of them, are among the things that make an impression for life. Then there is the evening gossip, il which the grown--up exchange reminiscences of former races, and the young crowd round to hear the names of famous runners, and tales of terrible accidents--the amazing cunning of sharpers, and the wild justice exercised on them by the crowd when detected--the tumult of the crowd, the eager cries of the betters, the difficulty of keeping the course'clear, the danger of being too near it, the gaming and drinking in the booths, and the whole variety of delightful commotion. And when the great day comes, the reality exceeds even these highcoloured retrospects and anticipations. The holiday in the free air is itself a delight. The gliding, glancing equipages dashing up to take their station-the curveting and prancing of the high-bred horses beneath theirhappy riders-the concourse of all possible kinds of hacks, donkeys, coaches, chaises, gigs, and market-carts, with their gay and grinning occupants--the interchange of greetings --the wonder who is who--the throng and the hubbub succeeded by the gathering hush as the bell rings, and sinking into the eager breathless concentration of the multitude's thought and sense on the horses when the start is given, to break out again in a jubilant hurra when the winner comes in, followed by a crossfire of brief hearty ejaculations, angry, joyous, and grieving from winners and losers.|
Such scenes keep alive and increase a natural taste to a universal passion; other field-sports give happiness to a select few, but races are our national jubilees. Who that has seen all London jumping out of the windows on the morning of the Derby-Day-or towards evening the thronging groups congregated in the streets to receive the
news of victory or loss-but must feel that, though the Porter's man in Henry VIII. was mistaken when he spoke of sleeping on May-day morning as a thing
yet there can be no mistake in prophesying that there will be races as well as cakes and ale, and ginger heating the mouth, while Englishmen and England exist. And the people of England, in these days of drudgery, will be all the better of it.
Thank you, most long and sourvisaged sir, for the interruption: it is the very point we wished to touch upon. The gambling--that is the systematic traffic in betting--the
is no natural or necessary part of horse-racing. It is not a
did not come in with William the Conqueror. We can place our finger on the date of its introduction.
says Holcroft, speaking of the year or ,
This systematic gambling was new in the beginning of the reign of George III. It is an excresece on racing. It is only another form of gambling--that spirit which can find vent in any way--in swimming sticks on a stream, or drawing straws from a rick.
is no more a necessary part of racing than SouthSea Bubbles and Mississippi Schemes are of finance-time-bargains in the funds of honourable commerce-or rouge et noir tables of a modern London club. All these, and book-making among them, are varieties of the pursuits of trading gamesters, a numerous and permanent body in European society. Some respectable men are, and have been, of this class, but taken in the lump, they are a moral nuisance, and it were well if they were
from society-sent to Coventry . They inveigle and corrupt the young and unwary of the upper classes, and the poison of their example contaminates the low. The example of the steady-going
corrupts the whole menial circle: nor does the evil stop here. It lends a colour to of the worst features of pot-house life--the Derby clubs. Taking up on chance the nearest at hand sporting newspaper, we find in its page no less than advertisements of these abominations. They emanate from publichouses in all parts of the metropolis-West Smithfield,[n.366.1] , , , , and the London Road--from Manchester, and from Sheffield. They are illegal lotteries or little-goes-baits set by the cunning publicans (the Duke Hildebrands of modern Alsatias) to catch tippling gullstraps for the unfledged apprentice and journeyman--the desolation of many a tidy fireside. Why are these filthy and sottish gambling-houses overlooked more than the hells of ?
But the root of these evils--the corruption of domestics, the conversion of our mechanics into thieves--is in the book-making system which has been engrafted upon horse-racing. This can be put down. Gambling at the clubs and in private houses has, since the days of Charles James Fox, been restricted within comparatively narrow limits: the same may be done, by a resolute effort, with gambling on the turf. Most praiseworthy-and, to an extent which in so
| short a period could scarcely have been looked for, most successful-efforts are making to purify our provincial race-courses: the attempt should be extended to the whole sporting world of England. And it is in the metropolis that the beginning must be made. The Jockey Club can do little or nothing: it has allowed itself to become the Court of Law in which the |
carry on their litigation. But the subscription-room at Tattersali's is frequented by the of the amateurs of the turf: it sets the fashion. If its members were to pass a resolution, and enforce it, that no systematic gambling was to be allowed among them--that the book-makers were to be told to betake themselves to Crockford's and Jonathan's, the proper resorts of gentlemen of their profession--the example would in no long time spread, through the medium of the motley squad which throngs the auction-mart to catch a glimpse of the subscribers and learn to imitate their deportment. Racing would become the pursuit of admirers of the horse exclusively--for the gambler cares not for the horse more than for his dice, or scrip and omnium. There is enough of pleasurable employment--of excitement--in the breeding or acquisition and training of fine horses, and the uncertain contests of the course, without the spice of gambling. The patrons of the turf can keep it, what it has always been, a source of pleasure to themselves, a means of improving the national breeds of horses for all purposes, an annual festival to the whole people of England, and prevent it from continuing what it has been allowed in too great a measure to become, a source of demoralisation to thousands. If they by their example will but diffuse a healthy distaste for gambling through the bulk of sportsmen, the police will deal with the flash Derby-houses: but so long as they allow undetected blacklegs-trading bookmakers-buyers and sellers of chances--to associate with and be in common estimation confounded with themselves, there is no possibility of checking the mischief.
[n.366.1] A house in West Smithfield announces- A juvenile Derby sweep at 10s, 6d, each. We recommend it to the attention of the police.
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|CHAPTER CXXVI: Education in London. No. 1, Ancient|
|CHAPTER CXXVII: Education in London. No. 2, Modern|
|CHAPTER CXXVIII: The Old Jewry|
|CHAPTER CXXIX: Old Trading Companies|
|CHAPTER CXXX: Public Statues|
|CHAPTER CXXXI: College of Arms|
|CHAPTER CXXXII: Houses of the Old Nobility|
|CHAPTER CXXXIII: Buchingham and Old Westminster Palaces|
|CHAPTER CXXXIV: Westminster hall and the New Houses of Parliament|
|CHAPTER CXXXV: The Lord Mayor's Show|
|CHAPTER CXXXVI: The British Museum|
|CHAPTER CXXXVII: Music|
|CHAPTER CXXXVIII: The Squares of London|
|CHAPTER CXXXIX: The Stationers' Company|
|CHAPTER CXL: Bills of Mortality|
|CHAPTER CXLI: The National gallery and Soane Museum|
|CHAPTER CXLII: The Metropolitan Boroughs|
|CHAPTER CXLIII: Exhibitions of Art|
|CHAPTER CXLIV: The Stock Exchange|
|CHAPTER CXLV: Railway Termini|
|CHAPTER CXLVI: Military London|
|CHAPTER CXLVII: Endowed and Miscellaneous Charities|
|CHAPTER CXLVIII: Tattersall's|
|CHAPTER CXLIX: Learned Societies|
|CHAPTER CL: Courts of Law|