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152 ATMOSPHERIC STEEPLE-CHASERS. assisting him in rising at it, and, what is of quite as much importance, supporting him on landing, is out of the question. Now all this is done by a horseman: his only fear is that his horse may refuse; that his powers may not be equal to the fence to be got over; or that, from its extreme awkward nature, he may fall. Of himself— that is, his seat-he entertains no concern: and I firmly believe, if Powell or Oliver wanted to go to Bath, and their horse could take off at Hyde Park Corner, clearing Windsor Castle in his way, they would consider it as pleasant a mode of transit as you could give them.
Talking of seat, I cannot help mentioning an instance of perfection in this way that came under my notice when seeing Powell riding Primrose in a steeple-race (a sharpish little mare with ten stone on her-I think in this case she carried near, if not quite, twelve). About the middle of the race they had to face a bullfinch, with an honest fifteen-feet brook on the other side: but what constituted the danger was, first, the coming to it was down hill; secondly, the horses could not see the brook till they rose at the leap; and, thirdly, there was but one narrow penetrable place in the hedge. For this of course they would all make; and I consider, in such a case, racing to it for lead to be one of the most dangerous manæuvres in a steeple-race. Fortunately, Powell had sufficient lead to render this unnecessary: at it he came, and over all he went: the weight told on poor Primrose, and down she came on her knees on landing. This kind of thing, hunting men know by experience, gives one about the same gentle inclination to go over one's horse's ears that a cannon ball gets from a quantum suff. charge of gunpowder. Not so, how
COUNTERFEIT RESEMBLANCE OF TWO BROTHERS. 153
ever in this case. There sat our friend Powell as cool and erect as one of the Life Guards we see in Parliament Street, his mare as fast held, and his hands in the same place they were when galloping over the preceding meadow. Up he had her, and off before the next horse took the leap. So much for seat. To have this in perfection, and the strongset nerve, are certainly both indispensable if a man means to ride steeple-races, or indeed to hounds, and to ride well.
This reminds me of what Tom Belcher once said to a sixteen-stone friend of mine, who thought himself pretty much of a man, and wanted to study sparring. Tom looked at him: “Well,” said he, “you're big enough, if you're good enough; but before you learn sparring, let me ask you one question — Can you bear licking ? — for I don't care how good you may be, you will be sure to find some customer to make you nap it, though you may lick him.”
So, if a man is afraid of a fall, he has no business hunting, much less steeple-racing. Still seat and nerve alone will not do. If they were the ne plus ultra of a rider, Mr. W. M‘Donough would ride better than his brother; for of the two, I should say he was the boldest, or, in alluding to him, I should say the most desperate rider. Why then cannot he ride as well as the other? Why I do not say: but he cannot, and, what is more, never will; and I have no doubt he is aware of it, giving him at the same time every credit for being a very superior horseman. A. M‘Donough possesses certain qualifications that must always make him “deserve, when he cannot command, success”-great courage, a quick eye to his own and other horses, a good judge of pace, great patience (a rare quality in a young one), never takes more out 154
of his horse than he can help, and never uses whip or spur without absolute occasion.
I really believe some men are born horsemen. I will mention one in the person of a young man who has lately rode a good deal in England— Byrne. I think I may venture to say he never was on a horse till he was twelve years old : his father was no horseman; nor did the young one ever get his riding education in a school; if he had, he would never have rode as he can. He had a love born in him for horses, and the way he made himself a horseman was this: he got leave to ride horses (not race-horses) at exercise, and tumbled off till he learned to stick on; and riding all sorts gave him hands, which he very shortly got to perfection. I know no man living who can make a perfect gentleman's hunter better than Byrne: at the same time, if I was asked whether I would as soon put him on a horse to ride a steeple-race as Oliver, Powell, and some half dozen others, I should say, no: he has not had their experience, though perhaps as horsemen there may be very little difference between them and him.
But, without alluding to natural abilities, experience generally gives head : it also (but not always) gives hands; every fool has heels; and the greater the fool the less likely he is to forget it, or allow his horse to forget it either. I like to see a man ride bold and straight to hounds; but I also like to see him ride with judgment; and, as I have on a former occasion said, I am convinced, in a general way, the men who do ride the straitest distress their horses the least. A bold rider and merely a hard rider are two very different people: the first, in a fair and sportsmanlike way, shares the danger with his horse; in fact,
risks both their lives and limbs together like an honest fellow: the other merely takes it out of his unfortunate horse where his own dearly and well-beloved neck is in no danger I hate such a self-loving devil, though I value my neck as much as others, and think a boy of mine was not far out in an observation he made- something like the one made by Abernethy when a patient remarked that it gave him great pain to raise his arm: “What a fool you must be then,” said he, “ to raise it.” — My boy said nearly the same in effect. I was hunting with Ward: this boy was on a five-year-old, quieting him to hounds. Will the Whip was on a beast of a mare they called Long Jane, and long enough, high enough, and lanky enough Long Jane was: in short, as one of the machines for boys to practise gymnastics upon, she would have been invaluable. Poor Will put her at a ditch, and in she went. "D- thy eyes, (says Will), I knew thee would'st tumble in when I put thee at it.”— “ Then what a d- fool you must have been to have done it!” says the boy; who by-the-bye would ride at any thing, the only difference being, he never thought he should fall, or rather his horse. I certainly have rode at many fences where I thought I stood a very fair chance of a purl; but as certainly never rode at one where, as Will said, I knew I should get it.
-A hard rider is another thing. I will mention one who lived on the middle of the hill going from Egham to Englefield Green: his name I forget, but Charles Davis can vouch for the truth of my picture of the man, who always hunted with the king's harriers when Davis whipped in to his father (one of the most respectable and superior men of his standing in life I ever knew). This said hard rider weighed about
14 st., and kept a miserable little pony, on which he hunted. He never was quiet. The moment a hound challenged, in went the spurs, and off he was, as if a fox was found in an open country. I believe he hunted the poor pony to death. I met him some time afterwards, when he told me he had bought a regular hunter, and on this he appeared some time afterwards, in the person of a black galloway mare, about 131 hands, and thin as a lath. If he rode as he did on the pony, what did he do on this superior animal ? He put on the steam in good earnest till she stopped. On my remonstrating with him on his cruelty, he remarked he was always a hard rider! Now this bears me out in what I once stated in my Remarks on Cruelty, “that a man who was cruel to his horse would be found so in every situation in life.” I was told a greater brute to a wife never existed than this hard rider. He had neither head nor hands; but he had heels, and spurs on them for his horse; and, if report says true, arms and fists, or a stick at the end of them for his wife: at any rate he saw the end of her.
I make no doubt but the generality of the hunting men of 1844 will contend that hunting never was known in such perfection as during the last twenty years. Quite younkers, I know, think that even twenty years since people knew little about doing it as they think it ought to be done : but as to the sport their fathers enjoyed when of their age, they consider the thing must have been a burlesque upon hunting. These young gentlemen are a little too fast; and I maintain that hunting may be, nay has already been, too fast. In this I am quite sure many of the best sportsmen will agree with me. It has in fact ceased to be hunting. I love both racing and hunt