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CHAMPAGNE DOES NOT RUIN.
race-horses — consequently being born was the cause of his ruin.
To a gentleman so situated, by allowing a little latitude of imagination, it might not be very difficult to prove that being born had been the cause of his ruin. If our present object was a dissertation on primary causes, we would allow that his thesis might be in some measure correct, and I will furnish another instance in favour of his argument. A man goes to Crockford's splendid house, drinks his splendid champagne, and finally loses his own splendid fortune, or a part of it. Doubtless, if he had not entered the house, he had not drunk the champagne, nor lost his fortune there; so, according to our friend's doctrine, a splendid house and splendid champagne were the cause of the ruin, and are consequently to be avoided. Now I beg so far to differ in opinion as to roundly assert that the house and the champagne are both mighty good things ; so are race-horses; and, being born, all are perfectly harmless if we would only use them for the purposes for which they were intended, and not by our own folly turn things that were designed for our amusement or luxury, or both, into the means of our misery and ruin. When this is the case, the fault is not in the things themselves, but in the weakness of the mind of the man. In my intercourse with the world, I have been led hundreds of times into gaming-houses, both at home and abroad, and never once took a dice-box in my hand where hazard was played. I am and always was enthusiastically fond of racing, and was so as a boy. I considered then, and consider now, the seeing a favourite horse win his race one of the most exhilarating moments of a man's life; and yet (with the exception of once, and that when quite
THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS RUIN STOPPED.
a boy,) I never could be tempted to back either a horse of my own or that of any other person for 51. in my life. I love racing as a sport, and do declare that for a moderate stake, I should leave the course in higher spirits if my horse had won handsomely, though he might have gone the wrong side of a post, by which I should lose the stakes, than I should had he run a bad second, and my opponent's horse, from having made the mistake, caused the stakes to be given to me. With this feeling, no man will ruin himself by keeping race-horses; for this very feeling will keep him from risking heavy betting.
I will instance a man whose name will never be forgotten by the sporting world, or cease to be mentioned in terms of admiration and respect by all who had the advantage of his acquaintance; I mean, Francis Mellish, Esq., better known as Captain Mellish. He was, I should say, a man of thirty-five when I was a boy of fifteen. From him I caught the love of racing; from him I first got what little knowledge I have of racing matters; and from him I got advice that, unfortunately for himself, he had not resolution enough to follow. I will mention an anecdote in proof of this. I met him on the course at Newmarket, when he saluted me with, “ What the devil are you looking so sulky about ?” — I replied, “I am not sulky, but I have been losing my money." 2"I am glad of it,” said he: “ what have you been backing ?”—“Your horse.”—“How much have you lost ?” _“ 501.”—“ Well, I have lost 1500l. on the same race ; but if I was fool enough to bet, it was no reason you should have done so.”—I replied, and truly, “ it was the first bet I had ever made.”—His answer has been engraven in letters of gold on the 14 “LOOK HERE, UPON THIS PICTURE, AND ON THIS.” tablet of memory ever since: “I congratulate you on. losing the first bet you ever made: let it be the last : never back your own horses (if you ever keep any,) or those of any other person so long as you live: take this advice from one who knows something about these things, and has paid dearly for his knowledge.” - I did take his advice, and never made a bet to the amount of 5l. since.
Here is a case that bears me out in my assertion that betting heavily, not keeping race-horses, ruins people (the Legs of course excepted). Had Mellish confined himself to keeping his horses, his judgment was so good—in breeding, buying, and then placing them—that his winnings would have been a fortune. This, however, he would not do. “ Peace to his manes !” he had, I believe, every virtue but oneprudence.
I will mention another man nearly equally fortunate as to his winnings by his horses as Mellish, though in other respects “ no more like him than I to Hercules," – the late John Beardsworth. Now, he knew about as much of racing when he first went on the turf, as I do of the navigation of the Poles, and in fact very little at the last; yet, from having come into possession of poor Mytton's horses, he had at one time perhaps a better stable of race-horses than any man in England, got them well placed for him, and consequently his winnings in Cups, Stakes, &c. amounted to such an enormous sum that I should be fearful of mentioning it lest my accuracy might be doubted. Now many persons I dare say to this day think the Turf was his ruin : no such thing; nor was betting, for he, comparatively speaking, never betted a shilling. Large contracts with Government in
BETTING BY SPORTSMEN USEFUL TO RACING.
post-horse duties did the business : his race-horses would have saved, instead of ruined him.
When I speak of betting men, I can in no way allow them to be mixed up with Gentlemen who keep racehorses. I allude to the former (and would be happy to see them considered) as a distinct class, as men on whom any man of honour should look with suspicion, and with whom none of the legitimate patrons of the Turf should allow themselves to come in contact. And when I speak of betting, I in no shape allude to Men of Fortune who back their own horses or those of others to the tune of a few hundreds, which they merely do to give a further zest to the interest of a race. This with them is nothing more than betting their pony on the odd trick at whist, which they win to-night and lose to-morrow. Neither do I include the Country Gentleman, who from his knowledge (or more probably fancied knowledge) of the merits of the different horses engaged at any of the meetings in his neighbourhood, sports his 501. on such occasions. Nor, again, to the Yeoman, with his good-humoured countenance, who, from a love of sport, boisterously bets his sovereign on each race, which he laughingly pockets if he wins, or as cheerfully pays if he loses. No; all this encourages the sport, by giving an additional but harmless interest to the racing. Such men all in their way contribute to keep the thing alive, and probably materially assist in raising the funds for each meeting. This kind of betting will always go on at every race, and would be quite sufficient for all racing purposes.
Such men as these are the true friends of the Turf: they contribute as much to forward its interests as the regular Leg conduces to bringing it into disrepute. 16
“ NE VILE VELIS.” No man would warn his son or his friends from mixing with the former, while every one guards him from racing altogether, fearing he should meet with, and consequently be pillaged by, the latter. If I speak bitterly of such men, it does not arise from any sourness of feeling from having personally suffered by them : in justice to them, I must say they never robbed me; perhaps one trifling circumstance prevented it-I never gave them the chance. I have said that not one in a hundred of these men keep racehorses. There are a few who keep third or fourth rate horses, and go leather-plating about the country. Of course they make this answer their purpose somehow : but as every man knows that such horses can never pay their expenses if they run to win, we may pretty accurately judge by what means they are made to pay in such hands.
It has been said that racing levels all distinctions of persons. The idea is preposterous that it must necessarily do so more than driving four-horses or keeping a pack of hounds. If Gentlemen choose to associate with the ordinary class of stage-coachmen, make their dress, habits, and language objects of imitation, distinction of persons would be levelled in this instance. If the Owner of Hounds was to make his Huntsman and Whips his companions, or to associate with none but hard-drinking, illiterate, vulgar bumpkins, he would in his particular case also break down the barrier between the gentleman and the plebeian; the more so if he chose (as I once saw a Nobleman do) to assist his Whip in very mercilessly Aogging a hound,-a piece of discipline which, though sometimes necessary, is one that any man with the common feelings of humanity would rather ride a