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ON SUCH CONTINGENCIES DO FORTUNES JIANG. 281
appalling doubt, will those generous efforts be permitted to avail ? or have they not been rendered all but nugatory by rascality? Oh, it is a fearful thing to know we lean but on a fragile reed when we are aware the yawning gulf of despair awaits if that one feeble support deceives us! Watch but the countenances of those so deeply interested on seeing the object of their every hope stripped for the important, the all-engrossing contest : how rise or fall their hopes on seeing him pass in his preliminary canter! That face flushed and fevered by anxiety and hope, and that pallid with fear and fast receding confidence, show the internal struggle is doing its fearful work within.
They are at the starting-post waiting the dropping flag: hundreds scarcely feel they breathe: they wait with the same feeling of apprehension they would experience if expecting some great convulsion of nature. They're off: thousands of eyes take one and the same direction: every change in the race causes the blood to rush tumultuously to the heart, or scarcely to creep on its wonted course. The eventful turn is made: “Here they come!” — “By George it's a fast race !" -“The crack is beat! the Duke, the Duke wins all the way!” — “No, no, the mare, the mare!”—“ By Heavens! Lord George has taken up the running. Robinson is shaking his mare; Day is setting to with his horse; both are whipping!”—“The mare, the mare!” — “ No, no, the colt for a thousand.”_" A dead heat.” __“No, the mare wins by G-d! Hurrah!” -Ay, hurrah to the fortunate ; but mark that man - that hurrah has struck the dagger to his heart : each muscle of that face is working with despair: its death-like hue tells the sad tale; its wretched owner 282
THE SUNNY SIDE. pulls his hat over his drooping brow: he seeks, yet fears to seek, his once happy home; and yet he must
- for what? to tell his wife and children they are houseless, and he a beggar!
May no such result ever happen to the true Sportsman! Thank God! it rarely does ; for he neither allows his imprudence or his greediness of gain to lead him to such extremities. Let us turn, then, to the more cheering contemplation of him who has fairly and honourably won his thousands by the superior excellence of his favourite horse. If there is one brighter moment than another in a man's sporting career, it is the moment when he receives the congratulations of his friends at his success; and cordially and sincerely that man is ever congratulated of whom it is known he always "runs to win.” To a man thus situated, what price could be too great for a faithful likeness of his winning horse! With what honest pride does he see that likeness decorating the walls of so many of the true lovers of our national sports ! Whatever we may do that is laudable in itself would lose half its charm if the celebrity of it was as transient as its achievement. Whilst pride is one of the attributes of the human heart, the having our little triumphs chronicled and perpetuated gives them a ten-fold value in our eyes, and encourages us to fresh efforts; for though Mr. Coriolanus might pretend to be angered at hearing his “ nothings monstered,” that gentleman being defunct, we may fairly allow a little proper praise, and eke a little well-timed flattery is not always absolutely disagreeable.
That there are numberless men connected with the turf who feel no further interest in the horses than mere pecuniary gain or loss creates, is true, pity 'tis
'tis true; but there are many who glory in the triumph of their horse as evidence of good judgment in their favourite pursuit. Such are the men to whom the turf is largely indebted, and it is but a proper compliment paid to them in perpetuating their triumphs.
The rather large gentleman in bronze erected in Hyde Park, with a fig-leaf doing duty for a pair of unmentionables, is not merely a token of a nation's gratitude to the memory of thousands of fine fellows who bled or fell in their country's cause ; for though thousands of names of heroes as great in soul as their more fortunate commanders, have never individually met the public eye, the sons of such men may look with pride on the trophy and say, “ But for such humble names as mine you never had been there." - We thus perpetuate a race of heroes.
Whether it be battles on which depend the fate of nations, or a race on which depends the wealth or poverty of individuals, let the meed of praise be given to those to whom praise is due. We may praise by writing, it is true; but the representation of a hero or an event makes a more lasting impression on the mind, and perpetuates the memory of that event with greater force than all the written descriptions that could be penned. The historian describes, the printer or engraver lays the man or the event before our eyes : one panorama brings the field of Waterloo more faithfully to our senses, than all the writers in Christendom could do if they wrote to eternity.
Though we might describe a Bloomsbury, a Harkaway, or any other celebrated animal for ever, we should form but a very vague idea of him at last. Mr. Herring's talent and the publisher's encourage284
ment lay the object at once before us, and his form will be as familiar to our posterity as to ourselves. We know from records in print what race-horses have done in former days (that is, what a very few have done), and if the animal painter had been as much encouraged formerly as he is now, we should have been able to trace the form of the race-horse correctly from the time when the Beacon Course was first established. Our posterity will in this particular have an advantage over us, doubtless an advantage it will be to them, and a great one. · It is only within a few years that animal painting became tolerable as to merit: formerly the sculptor far exceeded the painter in his representations of the horse. It would be worse than crime in some person's eyes to say a word in dispraise of ancient Masters. Of their pictures as pictures it does not become me to give an opinion; but of their animals I must venture to say, that comparatively in that line of their profession, generally speaking, they could not paint at all. Look at an original or a copy of Sneyders--two dogs running, their shoulders looking as if they had been driven back into their ribs, from the animal having attempted to run through some iron-gate too narrow to allow him to pass ; a third or fourth lying on his back with his bowels protruding, with a great red open mouth as large as that of an alligator ; while two more appear coming up, with their bodies half cut off by the frame of the picture, holding forth two pair of fore-legs in about the same animated position as the poles of a sedan-chair— their only earthly merit being that they look so decidedly and (as Jonathan would say) so everlastingly stationary, that we are under no apprehension of being ever treated by the appearance PAINTERS AS THEY WERE.
of the rest of their bodies. Ward would have hanged himself if by mistake he had manufactured such beasts: he might have copied, but he could not have conceived such for the life of him.
Stubbs certainly produced some clever pictures : it has never been my good luck to see one of them, so I only judge from hearsay and engravings from him; but, judging from many of those engravings, they either did him injustice, or some of his pictures were very mediocre indeed. Gilpin could paint a certain kind of horse, and George Morland was true to nature so far as a cart or butcher's horse went; but I suspect he would have made a queer animal of Charles the Twelfth in training; and, if report speaks true, a queer animal was the painter himself.
Sartorius was at one time the great painter of racehorses and hunters, after old Seymour's time. One merit those artists had, they put characteristic landscapes to their pictures; but to these they added from two to twenty couples of hounds, and a given number of horses, all (if galloping) resting on their hind legs, and looking as if there they would rest for ever. Look at the print from his (then thought) famous picture of the match between Hambletonian and Diamond. At the finish of the race, when we expect to see every nerve in action, there the horses are, and there they appear as if they had been since the Flood, and there intended to remain for ever, the horses behind them resting in their gallop on the toes of their hind feet, like those we see as toys balanced by a piece of curved wire stuck into their bellies by one end, with a weight at the other, to make them rise and fall without getting one inch forwarder.
As a portrait painter, Sartorius would be content