"You are a bad woman to think such things," said Findelkind hotly, knowing himself on how innocent and sacred a quest he was.
"Bad? I? Oh ho," said the old dame, cracking one of her new whips in the air, "I should like to make you jump about with this, you thankless little vagabond! Be off!"
Findelkind sighed again, his momentary anger passing, for he had been born with a gentle temper, and thought himself to blame much more readily than he thought other people were—as, indeed, every wise child does, only there are so few children—or men—that are wise.
He turned his head away from the temptation of the bread- and fruit-stalls, for in truth hunger gnawed him terribly, and wandered a little to the left. From where he stood he could see the long beautiful street of Theresa with its oriels and arches, painted windows and gilded signs, and the steep, gray, dark mountains closing it in at the distance; but the street frightened him, it looked so grand, and he knew it would tempt him; so he went where he saw the green tops of some high elms and beeches. The trees, like the dogs, seemed like friends: it was the human creatures that were cruel.
At that moment there came out of the barrack-gates, with great noise of trumpets and trampling of horses, a group of riders in gorgeous uniforms, with sabres and chains glancing and plumes tossing. It looked to Findelkind like a group of knights—those knights who had helped and defended his namesake with their steel and their gold in the old days of the Arlberg quest. His heart gave a leap, and he jumped on the dust for joy, and he ran forward and fell on his knees and waved his cap like a little mad thing, and cried out, "Oh, dear knights! oh, great soldiers! help me, fight for me, for the love of the saints! I have come all the way from Martinswand, and I am Findelkind, and I am trying to serve St. Christopher like Findelkind of Arlberg."
But his little swaying body and pleading hands and shouting voice and blowing curls frightened the horses: one of them swerved, and very nearly settled the woes of Findelkind for ever and aye by a kick. The soldier who rode the horse reined him in with difficulty: he was at the head of the little staff, being indeed no less or more than the general commanding the garrison, which in this city is some fifteen thousand strong. An orderly sprang from his saddle and seized the child, and shook him and swore at him. Findelkind was frightened, but he shut his eyes and set his teeth, and said to himself that the martyrs must have had very much worse than these things to suffer in their pilgrimage. He had fancied these riders were knights—such knights as the priest had shown him the likeness of in old picture-books—whose mission it had been to ride through the world succoring the weak and weary and always defending the right.
"What are your swords for if you are not knights?" he cried, desperately struggling in his captor's grip, and seeing through his half-closed lids the sunshine shining on steel scabbards.
"What does he want?" asked the officer in command of the garrison, whose staff all this bright and martial array was. He was riding out from the barracks to an inspection on the Rudolf Platz. He was a young man, and had little children himself, and was half amused, half touched, to see the tiny figure of the dusty little boy.
"I want to build a monastery like Findelkind of Arlberg, and to help the poor," said our Findelkind valorously, though his heart was beating like that of a little mouse caught in a trap, for the horses were trampling up the dust around him and the orderly's grip was hard.
The officers laughed aloud; and indeed he looked a poor little scrap of a figure, very ill able to help even himself.
"Why do you laugh?" cried Findelkind, losing his terror in his indignation, and inspired with the courage which a great earnestness always gives. "You should not laugh. If you were true knights you would not laugh: you would fight for me. I am little, I know. I am very little, but he was no bigger than I, and see what great things he did. But the soldiers were good in those days: they did not laugh and use bad words." And Findelkind, on whose shoulder the orderly's hold was still fast, faced the horses which looked to him as huge as Martinswand, and the swords which he little doubted were to be sheathed in his heart.
The officers stared, laughed again, then whispered together, and Findelkind heard them mutter the word "toll." Findelkind, whose quick little ears were both strained like a mountain-leveret's, understood that the great men were saying amongst themselves that it was not safe for him to be about alone, and that it would be kinder to him to catch and cage him—the general view with which the world regards enthusiasts.
He heard, he understood: he knew that they did not mean to help him, these men with the steel weapons and the huge steeds, but that they meant to shut him up in a prison—him, little free-born, forest-fed Findelkind. He wrenched himself out of the soldier's grip as the rabbit wrenches itself out of the jaws of the trap, even at the cost of leaving a limb behind, shot between the horses' legs, doubled like a hunted thing, and spied a refuge. Opposite the avenue of gigantic poplars and pleasant stretches of grass shaded by other bigger trees there stands a very famous church—famous alike in the annals of history and of art—the church of the Franciscans that holds the tomb of Kaiser Max, though, alas! it holds not his ashes, as his dying desire was that it should. The church stands here, a noble sombre place, with the Silver Chapel of Philippina Wessler adjoining it, and in front the fresh cool avenues that lead to the river and the broad water-meadows, and the grand road bordered with the painted stations of the Cross.
There were some peasants coming in from the country driving cows; some burghers in their carts with fat, slow horses; some little children were at play under the poplars and the elms; great dogs were lying about on the grass: everything was happy and at peace except the poor throbbing heart of little Findelkind, who thought the soldiers were coming after him to lock him up as mad, and ran and ran as fast as his trembling legs would carry him, making for sanctuary, as in the old bygone days that he loved many a soul less innocent than his had done. The wide doors of the Hof Kirche stood open, and on the steps lay a black and tan hound, watching no doubt for its master and mistress, who had gone within to pray. Findelkind in his terror vaulted over the dog, and into the church tumbled headlong.
It seemed quite dark, after the brilliant sunshine on the river and the grass: his forehead touched the stone floor as he fell, and as he raised himself and stumbled forward, reverent and bareheaded, looking for the altar to cling to when the soldiers should enter to seize him, his uplifted eyes fell on the great tomb.
The tomb seems entirely to fill the church as, with its twenty-four guardian figures round it, it towers up in the twilight that reigns here even at midday. There is a stern majesty and grandeur in it which dwarfs every other monument and mausoleum. It is grim, it is rude, it is savage, with the spirit of the rough ages that created it; but it is great with their greatness, it is heroic with their heroism, it is simple with their simplicity.
As the awestricken eyes of the terrified child fell on the mass of stone and bronze the sight smote him breathless. The mailed warriors standing around it, so motionless, so solemn, filled him with a frozen, nameless fear. He had never a doubt but that they were the dead arisen. The foremost that met his eyes were Theodoric and Arthur—the next, grim Rodolf, father of a dynasty of emperors. There, leaning on their swords, the three gazed down on him, armored, armed, majestic, serious, guarding the empty grave, which to the child, who knew nothing of its history, seemed a bier; and at the feet of Theodoric, who alone of them all looked young and merciful, poor little desperate Findelkind fell with a piteous sob, and cried, "I am not mad! Indeed, indeed, I am not mad!"
He did not know that these six figures were but statues of bronze. He was quite sure they were the dead arisen, and meeting there around that tomb on which the solitary kneeling knight watched and prayed, encircled, as by a wall of steel, by these his comrades. He was not frightened; he was rather comforted and stilled, as with a sudden sense of some deep calm and certain help.
Findelkind, without knowing that he was like so many dissatisfied poets and artists much bigger than himself, dimly felt in his little tired mind how beautiful and how gorgeous and how grand the world must have been when heroes and knights like these had gone by in its daily sunshine and its twilight storms. No wonder Findelkind in heaven had found his pilgrimage so fair when, if he had needed any help, he had only had to kneel and clasp these firm mailed limbs, these strong cross-hilted swords, in the name of Christ and of the poor!
Theodoric seemed to look down on him with benignant eyes from under the raised visor, and Findelkind, weeping, threw his small arms closer and closer round the bronzed knees of the heroic figure and sobbed aloud, "Help me! help me! Oh, turn the hearts of the people to me, and help me to do good!"
But Theodoric answered nothing.
There was no sound in the dark, hushed church; the gloom grew darker over Findelkind's eyes; the mighty forms of monarchs and of heroes grew dim before his sight. He lost consciousness and fell prone upon the stones at Theodoric's feet, for he had fainted from hunger and emotion.
When he awoke it was quite evening: there was a lantern held over his head; voices were muttering curiously and angrily; bending over him were two priests, a sacristan of the church and his own father. His little wallet lay by him on the stones, always empty.
"Liebchen, were you mad?" cried his father, half in rage, half in tenderness. "The chase you have led me! and your mother thinking you were drowned! and all the working day lost, running after old women's tales of where they had seen you! Oh, little fool! little fool! what was amiss with Martinswand that you must leave it?"
Findelkind slowly and feebly rose and sat up on the pavement, and looked up, not at his father, but at the knight Theodoric. "I thought they would help me to keep the poor," he muttered feebly as he glanced at his own wallet. "And it is empty, empty!"
"Are we not poor enough?" cried his father with paternal impatience, ready to tear his hair with vexation at having such a little idiot for son. "Must you rove afield to find poverty to help, when it sits cold enough, the Lord knows, at our own hearth? Oh, little ass! little dolt! little maniac! fit only for a madhouse! talking to iron figures and taking them for real men!—What have I done, O Heaven, that I should be afflicted thus?"
And the poor man wept, being a good, affectionate soul, but not very wise, and believing that his boy was mad. Then, seized with sudden rage once more at thought of his day all wasted and its hours harassed and miserable through searching for the lost child, he plucked up the light, slight figure of Findelkind in his own arms, and with muttered thanks and excuses to the sacristan of the church, bore the boy out with him into the evening air, and lifted him into a cart which stood there with a horse harnessed to one side of the pole, as the country-people love to do, to the risk of their own lives and their neighbors'. Findelkind said never a word: he was as dumb as Theodoric had been to him; he felt stupid, heavy, half blind; his father pushed him some bread, and he ate it by sheer instinct, as a lost animal will do. The cart jogged on, the stars shone, the great church vanished in the gloom of night.
As they went through the city toward the river-side and the homeward way not a single word did his father, who was a silent man at all times, address to him. Only once as they passed the bridge, "Son," he asked, "did you run away truly thinking to please God and help the poor?"
"Truly I did," answered Findelkind with a sob in his throat.
"Then thou wert an ass," said his father. "Didst never think of thy mother's love and of my toil? Look at home."
Findelkind was mute. The drive was very long, backward by the same way, with the river shining in the moonlight and the mountains half covered with the clouds.
It was ten by the bells of Zirl when they came once more under the solemn shadow of grave Martinswand. There were lights moving about the house, his brothers and sisters were still up, his mother ran out into the road, weeping and laughing with fear and joy.
Findelkind himself said nothing. He hung his head. They were too fond of him to scold him or to jeer at him: they made him go quickly to his bed, and his mother made him a warm milk-posset and kissed him. "We will punish thee to-morrow, naughty and cruel one," said his parent. "But thou art punished enough already, for in thy place little Stefan had the sheep, and he has lost Katte's lambs, the beautiful twin lambs! I dare not tell thy father to-night. Dost hear the poor thing mourn? Do not go afield for thy duty again."
A pang went through the heart of Findelkind, as if a knife had pierced it. He loved Katte better than almost any other living thing, and she was bleating under his window motherless and alone. They were such beautiful lambs too!—lambs that his father had promised should never be killed, but be reared to swell the flock.
Findelkind cowered down in his bed and felt wretched beyond all wretchedness. He had been brought back, his wallet was empty, and Katte's lambs were lost. He could not sleep. His pulses were beating like so many steam-hammers: he felt as if his body were all one great throbbing heart. His brothers, who lay in the same chamber with him, were sound asleep: very soon his father and mother also, on the other side of the wall. Findelkind was alone, wide awake, watching the big white moon sail past his little casement and hearing Katte bleat. Where were her poor twin lambs? The night was bitterly cold, for it was already far on in autumn; the river had swollen and flooded many fields; the snow for the last week had fallen quite low down on the mountain-sides. Even if still living the little lambs would die, out on such a night without the mother or food and shelter of any sort. Findelkind, whose vivid brain always saw everything that he imagined as if it were being acted before his eyes, in fancy saw his two dear lambs floating dead down the swollen tide, entangled in rushes on the flooded shore, or fallen with broken limbs upon a crest of rocks. He saw them so plainly that scarcely could he hold back his breath from screaming aloud in the still night and arousing the mourning wail of the desolate mother.
At last he could bear it no longer: his head burned, and his brain seemed whirling round. At a bound he leaped out of bed quite noiselessly, slid into his sheepskins, and stole out as he had done the night before, hardly knowing what he did. Poor Katte was mourning in the wooden shed with the other sheep, and the wail of her sorrow sounded sadly across the loud roar of the rushing river. The moon was still high. Above, against the sky, black and awful with clouds floating over its summit, was the great Martinswand.
Findelkind this time called the big dog Waldmar to him, and with the dog beside him went once more out into the cold and the gloom, whilst his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, were sleeping, and poor childless Katte alone was awake. He looked up at the mountain, and then across the water-swept meadows to the river. He was in doubt which way to take. Then he thought that in all likelihood the lambs would have been seen if they had wandered the river-way, and even little Stefan would have had too much sense to let them go there. So he crossed the road and began to climb Martinswand. With the instinct of the born mountaineer he had brought out his crampons with him, and had now fastened them on his feet: he knew every part and ridge of the mountains, and had more than once climbed over to that very spot where Kaiser Max had hung in peril of his life.
On second thoughts he bade Waldmar go back to the house. The dog was a clever mountaineer too, but Findelkind did not wish to lead him into danger. "I have done the wrong, and I will bear the brunt," he said to himself; for he felt as if he had killed Katte's children, and the weight of the sin was like lead on his heart, and he would not kill good Waldmar too.
His little lantern did not show much light, and as he went higher upward he lost sight of the moon. The cold was nothing to him, because the clear still air was one in which he had been reared; and the darkness he did not mind, because he was used to that also; but the weight of sorrow upon him he scarcely knew how to bear, and how to find two tiny lambs in this vast waste of silence and shadow would have puzzled and wearied older minds than his. Garibaldi and all his household, old soldiers tried and true, sought all night once upon Caprera on such a quest in vain. If he could only have awakened his brother Stefan to ask him which way they had gone! But then, to be sure, he remembered, Stefan must have told that to all those who had been looking for the lambs from sunset to nightfall. All alone he began the ascent.
Time and again, in the glad spring-time and the fresh summer weather, he had driven his flock upward to eat the grass that grew in the clefts of the rocks and on the broad green alps. The sheep could not climb to the highest points, but the goats did, and he with them. Time and again he had lain on his back in these uppermost heights, with the lower clouds behind him and the black wings of the birds and the crows almost touching his forehead, as he lay gazing up into the blue depth of the sky and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming.
He would never dream any more now, he thought to himself. His dreams had cost Katte her lambs, and the world of the dead Findelkind was gone for ever: gone all the heroes and knights; gone all the faith and the force; gone every one who cared for the dear Christ and the poor in pain.
The bells of Zirl were ringing midnight. Findelkind heard, and wondered that only two hours had gone by since his mother had kissed him in his bed. It seemed to him as if long, long nights had rolled away and he had lived a hundred years. He did not feel any fear of the dark calm night, lit now and then by silvery gleams of moon and stars. The mountain was his old familiar friend, and the ways of it had no more terror for him than these hills here used to have for the bold heart of Kaiser Max. Indeed, all he thought of was Katte—Katte and the lambs. He knew the way that the sheep-tracks ran—the sheep could not climb so high as the goats—and he knew too that little Stefan could not climb so high as he. So he began his search low down upon Martinswand.
After midnight the cold increased: there were snow-clouds hanging near, and they opened over his head, and the soft snow came flying along. For himself he did not mind it, but alas for the lambs! If it covered them, how would he find them? And if they slept in it they were dead.
It was bleak and bare on the mountain-side, though there were still patches of grass, such as the flocks liked, that had grown since the hay was cut. The frost of the night made the stone slippery, and even the irons gripped it with difficulty, and there was a strong wind rising like a giant's breath, and blowing his small horn lantern to and fro. Now and then he quaked a little with fear—not fear of the night or the mountains, but of strange spirits and dwarfs and goblins of ill repute, said to haunt Martinswand after nightfall. Old women had told him of such things, though the priest always said that they were only foolish tales, there being nothing on God's earth wicked save men and women who had not clean hearts and hands. Findelkind believed the priest; still, all alone on the side of the mountain, with the snowflakes flying round him, he felt a nervous thrill that made him tremble and almost turn backward. Almost, but not quite, for he thought of Katte and the poor little lambs lost—and perhaps dead—through his fault.
The path went zigzag and was very steep; the Siberian pines swayed their boughs in his face; stones that lay in his path, unseen in the gloom, made him stumble. Now and then a large bird of the night flew by with a rushing sound: the air grew so cold that all Martinswand might have been turning to one huge glacier. All at once he heard through the stillness—for there is nothing so still as a mountain-side in snow—a little pitiful bleat. All his terrors vanished, all his memories of ghost-tales passed away; his heart gave a leap of joy; he was sure it was the cry of the lambs. He stopped to listen more surely. He was now many score of feet above the level of his home and of Zirl: he was, as nearly as he could judge, halfway as high as where the cross in the cavern marks the spot of the kaiser's peril. The little bleat sounded above him, and it was very feeble and faint.
Findelkind set his lantern down, braced himself up by drawing tighter his old leathern girdle, set his sheepskin cap firm on his forehead, and went toward the sound as far as he could judge that it might be. He was out of the woods now: there were only a few straggling pines rooted here and there in a mass of loose-lying rock and slate. So much he could tell by the light of the lantern, and the lambs, by the bleating, seemed still above him.
It does not perhaps seem very hard labor to hunt about by a dusky light upon a desolate mountain-side, but when the snow is falling fast, when the light is only a small circle, wavering yellowish on the white, when around is a wilderness of loose stones and yawning clefts, when the air is ice and the hour is past midnight, the task is not a light one for a man; and Findelkind was a child, like that Findelkind that was in heaven.
Long, very long, was his search: he grew hot and forgot all fear, except a spasm of terror lest his light should burn low and die out. The bleating had quite ceased now, and there was not even a sigh to guide him; but he knew that near him the lambs must be, and he did not waver nor despair.
He did not pray—praying in the morning had been no use—but he trusted in God, and he labored hard, toiling to and fro, seeking in every nook and behind each stone, and straining every muscle and nerve, till the sweat rolled in a briny dew off his forehead and his curls dripped with wet. At last, with a scream of joy, he touched some soft, close wool that gleamed white as the white snow. He knelt down on the ground and peered behind the stone by the full light of his lantern: there lay the little lambs—two little brothers, twin brothers, huddled close together, asleep. Asleep? He was sure they were asleep, for they were so silent and still.
He bowed over them and kissed them, and laughed and cried, and kissed them again. Then a sudden horror smote him: they were so very still. There they lay, cuddled close, one on another, one little white head on each little white body, drawn closer than ever together to try and get warm. He called to them; he touched them; then he caught them up in his arms, and kissed them again and again and again. Alas! they were frozen and dead. Never again would they leap in the long green grass, and frisk with one another, and lie happy by Katte's side: they had died calling for their mother, and in the long, cold, cruel night only Death had answered.
Findelkind did not weep nor scream nor tremble: his heart seemed frozen, like the dead lambs. It was he who had killed them. He rose up and gathered them in his arms, and cuddled them in the skirts of his sheepskin tunic, and cast his staff away that he might carry them; and so, thus burdened with their weight, set his face to the snow and the wind once more and began his downward way. Once a great sob shook him: that was all. Now he had no fear. The night might have been noonday, the snowstorm might have been summer, for aught that he knew or cared.
Long and weary was the way, and often he stumbled and had to rest; often the terrible sleep of the snow lay heavy on his eyelids, and he longed to lie down and be at rest, as the little brothers were; often it seemed to him that he would never reach home again. But he shook the lethargy off him and resisted the longing, and held on his way: he knew that his mother would mourn for him as Katte mourned for the lambs. At length, through all difficulty and danger, when his light had spent itself, and his strength had wellnigh spent itself too, his feet touched the old highroad. There were flickering torches and many people and loud cries around the church, as there had been four hundred years before, when the last sacrament had been said in the valley for the hunter-king doomed to perish above. His mother, being sleepless and anxious, had risen long before it was dawn, and had gone to the children's chamber, and had found the bed of Findelkind empty once more.
He came into the midst of the people with the two little lambs in his arms, and he heeded neither the outcries of neighbors nor the frenzied joy of his mother: his eyes looked straight before him and his face was white like the snow. "I killed them," he said; and then two great tears rolled down his cheeks and fell on the little cold bodies of the two little dead twin brothers.
Findelkind was very ill for many nights and many days after that. Whenever he spoke in his fever he always said, "I killed them." Never anything else. So the dreary winter months went by, while the deep snow filled up valleys and meadows and covered the great mountains from summit to base, and all around Martinswand was quite still, save that now and then the post went by to Zirl, and on the holy days the bells tolled: that was all. His mother sat between the stove and his bed with a sore heart; and his father, as he went to and fro between the walls of beaten snow from the wood-shed to the cattle-byre, was sorrowful, thinking to himself the child would die and join that earlier Findelkind whose home was with the saints.
But the child did not die. He lay weak and wasted and almost motionless a long time, but slowly, as the spring-time drew near, and the snows on the lower hills loosened, and the abounding waters coursed green and crystal-clear down all the sides of the hills, Findelkind revived as the earth did, and by the time the new grass was springing and the first blue of the gentian gleamed on the Alps he was well.
But to this day he seldom plays, and scarcely ever laughs. His face is sad and his eyes have a look of trouble. Sometimes the priest of Zirl says of him to others, "He will be a great poet or a great hero some day." Who knows?
Meanwhile, in the heart of the child there remains always a weary pain that lies on his childish life as a stone may lie on a flower. "I killed them," he says often to himself, thinking of the two little white brothers frozen to death on Martinswand that cruel night; and he does the things that are told him, and is obedient, and tries to be content with the humble daily duties that are his lot, and when he says his prayers at bedtime always ends them so: "Dear God, do let the little lambs play with Findelkind that is in heaven."
HORSE-RACING IN FRANCE.
By the end of July the dispersion of the racing fraternity has become general. Some have gone into the provinces to lead the pleasant life of the chateau; some are in the Pyrenees, eating trout and cotelettes d'izard at Luchon; while those whom the Paris season has quite worn out, or put in what they would call too "high" a condition, are refitting at Mont Dore or else at Vichy, which is the Saratoga of France—with this difference, that nobody goes to Vichy unless he is really ill, and that very few were ever known to get married there. But if our friend the sportsman should happen to have nothing the matter with him, and should know of nothing better to do during the summer than to go where his equine instincts would lead him, he may spend the month of July at least in following what is called "the Norman circuit." This consists of a series of meetings at different places, either on the coast or very near the Channel, in that green land of Normandy which is to France what the blue-grass region of Kentucky is to America—the great horse-raising province of the country. Here the circuit begins with the Beauvais meeting, always largely attended by reason of its proximity to Paris and to the numerous chateaux, all occupied at this season of the year, and in one of which, at Mouchy-le-Chastel, the duc de Mouchy entertains a large and distinguished company. Sunday and Tuesday are the days for races at Beauvais, Monday being given up to pigeon-shooting. Then follow in quick succession the courses of Amiens, Abbeville, Rouen, Havre and Caen; and in all these places the daily programme will be found to be a very varied one—too much so, indeed, to suit the taste of the English, whose notions of the fitness of things are offended by the sight of a steeple-chase and a flat-race on the same track. The Normans, on the contrary, finding even this double attraction insufficient, add to it the excitement of a trotting-match in harness and under the saddle. And such trotting! "Allais! marchais!" shouts the starter in good Norman, and away go the horses, dragging their lumbering, rattling Norman carts, guided by equally ponderous Norman peasants, over a track that is sure to be heavy or else too hard—conditions sufficient of themselves to account for the fact that the time made by these provincial trotters has not by any means been reduced to figures like the 2.18 of Dexter or the phenomenal 2.14 of Goldsmith Maid. It is possible, however, that this somewhat primitive condition of things may be gradually bettered by time, and that when American institutions and customs shall have come to be the mode in France trotting-races, and perhaps walking-matches and base-ball, will be developed with the rest; but up to the present time, it must be confessed, these various amusements have been regarded by the French public with profound indifference.
I cannot help feeling the most lively regret that trotting-contests should have taken no hold upon the fancy of my countrymen, who would find in their magnificent roads an opportunity for the demonstration of the practical, every-day value of a good trotter far more favorable than any possessed by America. But it seems that no considerations of utility or convenience can prevail against popular prejudices and, above all, the mode; and we find even the baron d'Etreilles, official handicapper and starter to the Jockey Club—and therefore an authority—writing this singular paragraph in Le Sport: "Trotting-races deserve but little encouragement. The so-called trotting-horse does not, in fact, trot at all. His pace is forced to such a degree of exaggeration as to lose all regularity, at the same time that it is rendered valueless for any practical purpose. The trotter can no more be put to his speed upon an ordinary road than can the racer himself. By breaking up the natural gait of a horse he is made to attain an exceptional speed, it is true, but in doing so he has contracted an abnormal sort of movement for which it is impossible to find a name. It is something between a trot and a racking pace, and with it a first-rate trotter can make four kilometres (two miles and a half) in seven minutes and a half, and not much less, whatever may be said to the contrary. I know that certain time-keepers have marked this distance as having been done in seven minutes, but this I consider disputable, to say the least." M. d'Etreilles cites, however, as an exception to his rules, a horse called Rochester, belonging to the Prince E. de Beauvan, which trotted nineteen miles in one hour without breaking or pacing, but when a return bet was proposed, with the distance increased to twenty miles, the owner of Rochester refused.
These assertions of the French authority will appear strange enough to Americans. But we must add that the views of M. d'Etreilles on this subject are by no means universally shared in France. A writer whose practical experience and long observation entitle his opinions to much weight—M. Gayot—goes so far as to say that the American trotters really form a distinct race. "The Northern States of the Union," he writes, "have accomplished for the trotter what England has done for the thoroughbred: by selecting the best—that is to say, the swiftest and the most enduring—and by breeding from these, there has been fixed in the very nature of their progeny that wonderful aptitude for speed which," in direct contradiction to the opinion of M. d'Etreilles, he declares to be "of the greatest practical utility."
The administration of the Haras and the Society for the Encouragement of the Raising of Horses of Half-blood have established special meetings at which trotting-prizes are given. That these are by no means to be despised has been proved by M. Jouben's Norman trotter Tentateur, who last year earned for his owner twenty thousand francs without the bets. There is a special journal, La France Chevaline, which represents the interests of the "trot," and its development has been further encouraged by an appropriation of sixty thousand francs voted this year by the Chamber. A former officer of the Haras has also set up an establishment at Vire for the training of trotters. In 1878 a track was laid out at Maison Lafitte, near Paris, for the trial of trotting-horses, and the government, in the hope that animals trained to this gait would be sent to Paris from other countries during the great Exhibition if sufficient inducement were offered, awarded a sum of sixty-two thousand francs to be given in premiums. Six races took place on the principal day of the trials. These were in harness to two- and four-wheeled wagons, and two of the matches were won by Normans, two by English horses and two by horses from Russia of the Orloff breed. America was, unfortunately, not represented. As to the public, it took little interest in the event, notwithstanding its novelty: the few persons who had come to look on soon grew tired of it, and after the fourth race not a single spectator was left upon the stands.
The marquis de MacMahon, brother of the marshal, used to say that the gallop was the gait of happy people, the natural movement of women and of fools. "The three prettiest things in the world," wrote Balzac, "are a frigate under sail, a woman dancing and a horse at full run." I leave these opinions, so essentially French, to the judgment of Americans, and turn to another point of difference in the racing customs of the two countries.
In France the practice of recording the time of a race is looked upon as childish. The reason given is, that horses that have run or trotted separately against time will often show quite contrary results when matched against each other, and that the one that has made the shortest time on the separate trial will frequently be easily beaten on the same track by the one that showed less speed when tried alone. However this may be, it appears that the average speed of running races in France has increased since 1872. At that time it was one minute and two to three seconds for one thousand metres (five furlongs); for two thousand metres (a mile and a quarter), 2m. 8 to 10s.; for three thousand metres (one mile seven furlongs), 3m. 34 to 35s.; for four thousand metres (two miles and a half), 4m. 30 to 35s. The distance of the Prix Gladiateur (six thousand two hundred metres or three and three-quarter miles one furlong)—the longest in France—is generally accomplished in 8m. 5 to 6s., though Mon Etoile has done it in 7m. 25s. But the mean speed, as we have said, has been raised since 1872, as it has been in America.
But let us come back to our Norman circuit, which this digression about time and trotting interrupted at Rouen. The sleepy old mediaeval town on this occasion rouses itself from its dreams of the past and awakens to welcome the crowd of Norman farmers who come flocking in, clad for the most part in the national blue blouse, but still bearing about their persons those unmistakable though quite indescribable marks by which the turfman can recognize at a glance and under any costume the man whose business is with horses. Every trade and calling in life perhaps may be said to impart to its followers some distinguishing peculiarity by which the brethren of the craft at least will instinctively know each other; and amongst horse-fanciers these mysterious signs of recognition are as infallible as the signals of Freemasonry. As one penetrates still farther into Normandy on his way to the Caen races—which come off a few days after those at Rouen—one becomes still more alive to the fact that he is in a great horse-raising country. It is indeed to the departments of Calvados and the Orne beyond all other places that we owe those fine Norman stallions of which so many have been imported into America. In the Pin stud, at the fairs of Guibray and of Montagne, one may see the descendants of the colossal Roman-nosed horses of Merlerault and Cotentin which used to bear the weight of riders clad in iron, and which figure at a later day in the pictures of Van der Meulen. The infusion of English blood within the present century, and particularly during the Second Empire, has profoundly modified the character of the animal known to our ancestors: the Norman, with the rest of the various races once so numerous in France, is rapidly disappearing, and it will not be very long before two uniform types only will prevail—the draught-horse and the thoroughbred.
The race-course at Caen is one of the oldest in France, having been established as long ago as 1837. The most important events of its programme are the Prix de la Ville (handicap), with premium and stakes amounting to twenty or twenty-five thousand francs, on which the heaviest bets of the intermediate season are made, and the Grand St. Leger of France, which before the war took place at Moulins, and which is far from being of equal importance with the celebrated race at Doncaster whose name it bears. The site of the track at Caen is a beautiful meadow upon the banks of the Orne, very long and bordered with fine trees, but unfortunately too narrow, and consequently awkward at the turns.
By the rules of the Societe colts of two years are not allowed to run before the first of August, and as the Caen races take place during the first week of this month, they have the first gathering of the season's crop of two-year-olds—an event which naturally excites the curiosity of followers of the turf. The wisdom and utility of subjecting animals of this age to such a strain upon their powers have been much discussed, and good judges have strongly condemned the precocious training involved, as tending to check the natural development of the horse, and sometimes putting a premature end to his career as a racer. In England these races have been multiplied to abuse. There are signs of a reaction, however, in France, where several owners of racing-stables, following the example set by M. Lupin, have found their advantage in refusing to take part in the pernicious practice. For, after all, these first trials really prove nothing at all. They are found to furnish no standard by which any accurate measure can be taken of the future achievements of the horse. In fact, if one will take the trouble to examine the lists of winners of these two-year-old criterions, as they are called, he will find but very few names that have afterward become illustrious in the annals of the turf.
The races of Caen over, their followers take themselves some few leagues farther upon their circuit, to attend the meeting at Cabourg, one of those pretty little towns, made up of about a hundred villas, four hotels, a church and a casino, that lie scattered along the Norman coast like beads of a broken necklace. Living is dear in these stylish little out-of-the-way places, and this naturally keeps away the more plebeian element that frequents the great centres. About the fifteenth of August begins the week of races at Deauville, the principal event of the Norman circuit, bringing together not unfrequently as many as a hundred and sixty horses, and ranking, in fact, as third in importance in all France, the meetings at Longchamps and Chantilly alone taking precedence of it. It is to the duc de Morny that Deauville owes the existence of its "hippodrome," but the choice of this bit of sandy beach, that seemed to have been thrown up and abandoned by the sea like a waif, cannot be called a happy one. It may be, however, that the duke's selection of the site was determined by its proximity to the luxuriant valley of the Auge, so famous for its excellent pasturage and for the number of its stables. The Victor stud belonging to M. Aumont, that of Fervacques, the property of M. de Montgomery, and the baron de Rothschild's establishment at Meautry, are all in the immediate neighborhood of Deauville; but even these advantages do not compensate for the unfavorable character of the track, laid out, as we have said, upon land from which the sea had receded, and which, as might have been expected, was sure to be hard and cracked in a dry season. To remedy this most serious defect, and to bring the ground to its present degree of excellence, large sums had to be expended. The aspect of the race-course to-day, however, is really charming. A rustic air has been given to the stands, the ring, even to the stables that enclose the paddock, but it is a rusticity quite compatible with elegance, like that of the pretty Norman farm in the garden of Trianon. The purse for two-year-olds used to be called, under the Empire, the Prix Morny, but this name was withdrawn at the same time that the statue of the duke, which once stood in Deauville, was pulled down.
Our Norman circuit comes to a close with the races at Dieppe, which finished last year on the 26th of August. Dieppe was celebrated during the Empire for its steeple-chases, which were run upon a somewhat hilly ground left almost in its natural state—a very unusual thing in France. The flat- and hurdle-races which have succeeded to these since the war are not of sufficient importance to detain us.
Returning from this agreeable summer jaunt, in which the pleasures of sea-bathing have added a zest to the enjoyment of the race-course, the followers of the turf will seek, on coming back to Paris in the early days of September, the autumn meetings at Fontainebleau and at Longchamps. But they will not find the paddock of the latter at this season of the year bustling with the life and fashion that gave it such brilliancy in the spring, and the "return from the races" is made up of little else than hired cabs drawn by broken-down steeds. It is just the period when Paris, crowded with economical strangers, English or German—the former on their return, perhaps, from Switzerland, the latter enjoying their vacation after their manner—mourns the absence of her own gay world. The haute gomme—the swells, the upper ten—are still in the provinces. They have left the sea-side, it is true—it was time for that—but the season in the Pyrenees is not over yet, and Luchon and Bigone will be full until the middle of September, and not before the month is ended will Biarritz give up her pleasure-seekers. The opening of the shooting season on the first Sunday of September has scattered the sportsmen throughout the twenty-five or thirty departments in which there is still left a chance of finding game. But the best shooting is in the neighborhood of Paris, in the departments of Seine-et-Marne and Seine-et-Oise—at Grosbois with the prince de Wagram; at St. Germain-les-Corbeil on the estate of M. Darblay; at Bois-Boudran with the comte de Greffuhle; or at the chateau of the baron de Rothschild at Ferrieres; and the numerous guests of these gentlemen may, if they are inclined, take a day to see the Omnium or the Prix Royal Oak run between two battues aux faisans. The Omnium is the most important of the handicaps: it is the French Caesarewitch, though with a difference. The distance of the latter is two miles and two furlongs, that of the Omnium but a mile and a half. The value of the stakes is generally from twenty-five to thirty thousand francs. As its name would indicate, this race, by exception to the fundamental principle of the Jockey Club, is open to horses of every kind, without regard to pedigree, above the age of three years. A horse that has gained a prize of two thousand francs after the publication of the weights is handicapped with an overweight of two kilogrammes and a half (a trifle over five pounds); if he has gained several such, with three kilos; if he is the winner of an eight-thousand-franc purse, he has to carry an overweight of four kilos, or one of five kilos if he has won more than one race of the value last mentioned. The publication of the weights takes place at the end of June, when the betting begins. Heavy and numerous are the wagers on this important race, and as the prospects of the various horses entered change from time to time according to the prizes gained and the overweights incurred, the quotation naturally undergoes the most unlooked-for variations. A lot of money is won and lost before the real favorites have revealed themselves; that is to say, before the last week preceding the race. The winner of the Omnium is hardly ever a horse of the first rank, and the baron d'Etreilles undertakes to tell us why. The object of the handicap, he says, being to equalize the chances of several horses of different degrees of merit, the handicapper is in a manner obliged to make it next to impossible for the first-rate horses to win; otherwise, the owners of the inferior animals, seeing that they had no chance, would prefer to pay forfeit, and the harmony, as it were, of the contest—the even balancing of chances, which is of the very essence of the handicap—would be lacking. On the other hand, the handicapper cannot bring the chances of the really bad horses up to the mean average, no matter how much he may favor them in the weights, and thus it nearly always turns out that the Omnium, like every other important handicap, is won by a horse of the second class, generally a three-year-old, whose real merits have been hidden from the handicapper. This concealment is not so difficult as it might seem. There are certain owners who, when they have satisfied themselves by trials made before the spring races that they have in their stables a few horses not quite good enough to stand a chance in the great contests, but still by no means without valuable qualities, prefer to reserve them for an important affair like the Omnium, on which they can bet heavily and to advantage, especially if they have a "dark horse," or one that is as yet unknown. Otherwise, to what use could these second-rate horses be put? If one should run them in the spring they might get one or two of the smaller stakes, after which everybody would have their measure. Their owners, therefore, show wisdom in keeping them out of sight, or perhaps, as some of the shrewder ones do, by running them when rather out of condition, and thus ensuring their defeat by adversaries really inferior to themselves. In this way the handicapper is deceived as to their true qualities, and is induced to weight them advantageously for the Omnium.
Many readers but little conversant with turf matters will no doubt be scandalized to hear of these tricks of the trade, and will be apt to conclude that good faith is no more the fashion at Longchamps than at the Bourse, and that cleverness in betting, as in stockjobbing, consists in knowing when to depreciate values and when to inflate them, as one happens to be a bull or a bear in the market. The truth is, that no rules can be devised, either by Jockey Clubs or by imperial parliaments, that can put a stop to these abuses: they will exist, in spite of legislation, as long as the double character of owner and better can be united in the same person. If this person should not act in perfect good faith, all restraining laws will be illusory, because the betting owner has the cards in his own hands, and can withdraw a horse or make him run at his pleasure, or even make him lose a race in case of need. If the thing is managed with skill, it is almost impossible to discover the deception. In 1877, at Deauville, the comte de Clermont-Tonnere and his jockey, Goddart, were expelled from the turf because the latter had "pulled" his horse in such a clumsy and unmistakable way that the spectators could not fail to see it. This circumstance was without precedent in France, and yet how often has the trick, which in this case was exposed, been practised without any one being the wiser for it! It ought to be added that the betters make one claim that is altogether unreasonable, and that is—at least this is the only inference from their talk—that when they have once "taken" a horse, as they call it, in a race, the owner thereby loses a part of his proprietorship in the animal, and is bound to share his rights of ownership with them. But one cannot thus limit the rights of property, and as long as the owner does not purposely lose a race, and does not deceive the handicapper as to the real value of his horse for the purpose of getting a reduction of weights, he can surely do as he pleases with his own. There will remain, of course, the question of morality and of delicacy, of which each one must be the judge for himself. M. Lupin, for example, and Lord Falmouth, when they have two horses engaged for the same purse, always let these take their chances, and do nothing to prevent the better horse from being the winner, while the comte de Lagrange, as we have had occasion to observe before, has acquired the reputation of winning, if he can, with his worst animal, or at least with the one upon whose success the public has least counted. This is what took place when he gained the Grand Prix de Paris in 1877 with an outsider, St. Christophe, whilst all the betters had calculated upon the victory of his other horse, Verneuil. So the duke of Hamilton in 1878 at Goodwood, where one of his horses was the favorite, declared just at the start that he meant to win with another, and by his orders the favorite was pulled double at the finish. The same year, in America, Mr. Lorillard caused Parole, then a two-year-old, to be beaten by one of his stable-companions and one decidedly his inferior. When this sort of thing is done the ring makes a great uproar about it, but without reason, for there can be no question of an owner's right to save his best horse, if he can, from a future overweight by winning with another not so good. Only he ought frankly to declare his intention to do so before the race.
The autumn stakes that rank next in importance to the Omnium are known as the Prix Royal Oak, open, like its counterpart, the St. Leger of Doncaster, to colts and fillies of three years only, with an unloading of three pounds for the latter. On this occasion one will have an opportunity of seeing again in the Bois de Boulogne the contestants of the great prizes of the spring. The Royal Oak is nearly always won by a horse of the first class, and in the illustrious list may be found the names of Gladiateur and of four winners of the French Derby—Patricien, Boiard, Kilt and Jongleur.
In October, Longchamps is deserted for Chantilly, where the trials of two-year-olds take place—the first criterion for horses, the second criterion for fillies—the distance in these two races being eight hundred metres, or half a mile. The Grand Criterion, for colts and fillies, has a distance of double this, or one mile (sixteen hundred metres). Since their debuts in August at Caen and Deauville the young horses have had time to harden and to show better what they are made of; and it is in the Grand Criterion that one looks for the most certain indications of their future career. The names of the winners will be found to include many that have afterward become celebrated, such as Mon Etoile, Stradella, Le Bearnais, Mongoubert, Sornette, Revigny and others.
Chantilly is the birthplace of racing in France. In the winter of 1833—the same year which also witnessed the foundation of the Jockey Club—Prince Labanoff, who was then living at Chantilly, and who had secured the privilege of hunting in the forest, invited several well-known lovers of the chase to join him in the sport. Tempted by the elasticity of the turf, it occurred to the hunters to get up a race, and meeting at the Constable's Table—a spot where once stood the stump of a large tree on which, as the story goes, the constable of France used to dine—they improvised a race-course which has proved the prolific mother of the tracks to be found to-day all over the country. In this first trial M. de Normandie was the winner. The fate of Chantilly was decided. Since the suicide—or the assassination—of the last of the Condes the castle had been abandoned, the duc d'Aumale, its inheritor, being then a minor. The little town itself seemed dying of exhaustion. It was resolved to infuse into it a new life by taking advantage of the exceptional quality of its turf. The soil is a rather hard sand, resisting pressure, elastic, and covered with a fine thick sward, and of a natural drainage so excellent that even the longest rains have no visible effect upon it. On this ground—as good as, if not better than, that at Newmarket—there is to-day a track of two thousand metres, or a mile and a quarter—the distance generally adopted in France—with good turns, excepting the one known as the "Reservoirs," which is rather awkward, and which has the additional disadvantage of skirting the road to the training-stables—a temptation to bolt that is sometimes too strong for horses of a doubtful character. For this reason there is sometimes a little confusion in the field at this point. Before coming to the last turn there is a descent, followed by a rise—both of them pretty stiff—and this undoubtedly has its effect on the result, for the lazier horses fall away a little on the ascent. Just at this point too a clump of trees happens to hide the track from the spectators on the stands, and all the lorgnettes are turned on the summit of the rise to watch for the reappearance of the horses, who are pretty sure to turn up in a different order from that in which they were last seen. This crisis of the race is sometimes very exciting. A magnificent forest of beech borders and forms a background to the race-course in the rear of the stands; in front rise the splendid and imposing stables of the duc d'Aumale, built by Mansard for the Great Conde; on the right is the pretty Renaissance chateau of His Royal Highness; while the view loses itself in a vast horizon of distant forest and hills of misty blue. The stands are the first that were erected in France, and in 1833 they seemed no doubt the height of comfort and elegance, but to-day they are quite too small to accommodate the ever-increasing crowd. The stands as well as the stables, and the race-course itself, all belong to the duc d'Aumale, who gave a splendid house-warming and brilliant fete last October to celebrate the completion of the restorations of his ancestral chateau. Under the Empire, the property of the Orleans princes having been confiscated, a nominal transfer of Chantilly was made to a friend of the family. The emperor, having one day signified his wish to witness the Derby, had the mortification on his arrival to find the reserved stand closed against him by the prince's orders. It was necessary to force the gate. The emperor took the hint, however, and never went to Chantilly again.
The soil of the Forest of Fontainebleau being of the same nature as that of the turf in the open, the alleys of the park furnish an invaluable resource to the trainer. For this reason, since racing has come in vogue, most of the stables have found their way to Chantilly or to its immediate neighborhood, where one of the largest and finest alleys of the forest, running parallel to the railway and known as the Alley of the Lions, has been given up to their use. Thus, Chantilly, with its Derby Day and its training-grounds, may be called at once the Epsom and the Newmarket of France. There is hardly a horse, with the exception of those of the comte de Lagrange and of M. Lupin, and those of Henry Jennings, the public trainer, that is not "worked" in the Alley of the Lions. The Societe d'Encouragement has control of the training-ground as well as of the track, and also claims the right to keep spectators away from the trial-gallops, so that the duc d'Aumale, whose proprietary privileges are thus usurped, is often at war with the society. He has stag-hunts twice a week during the winter, on Mondays and Thursdays, and now and then on Sundays too—as he did with the grand duke of Austria on his late visit to Chantilly—and he naturally objects to having the hunt cut in two by the gallops over his principal avenue. He worries the trainers to such a degree that they begin to talk of quitting Chantilly for some more hospitable quarters. When things get to this pass the duke, who, in his character of councillor-general, is bound to look after the interests of his constituents, relents, and putting aside his personal wrongs calls a parley with the stewards of the races, offers a new prize—an object of art perhaps—or talks of enlarging the stands, and the gage of reconciliation being accepted, peace is made to last until some new casus belli shall occur. His Royal Highness is not forgetful of the duties of his position. When he is at Chantilly on a race-day he gracefully does the honors of his reserved stand to all the little Orleanist court. Since the reconciliation that took place between the comte de Paris and the comte de Chambord in 1873 this miniature court has been enlarged by the addition of several personages of the Legitimist circle, and the "ring" at Chantilly is often graced with a most distinguished and aristocratic assemblage. Amongst the beauties of this brilliant company may be especially noticed Madame de Viel-Castel, the young princesse Amede de Broglie, the duchesse de Chaulnes with her strange, unconventional type of beauty, Madame Ferdinand Bischoffsheim, the comtesse Beugnot, the comtesse Tanneguy-Duchatel and the princesse de Sagan. And when all this gay party has dispersed, and the duke is left to his cigar—as constant a companion as the historical weed in the mouth of General Grant—he might almost fancy, as he walks the great street of his good town, that he is back again at Twickenham in the days of his exile. There is something to remind him on every side of the country that once sheltered him. To right and left are English farrieries, English saddleries, and English bars and taverns too. English is the language that reaches his ears, and English of the most "horsey" sort that one can hear this side of Newmarket. Everybody has the peculiar gait and costume that belong to the English horseman: the low-crowned hat, the short jacket, those tight trousers and big, strong boots, are not to be mistaken. It is a little world in itself, in which no Frenchman could long exist, but its peculiar inhabitants have not, for all that, neglected anything that may attract the young folk of the country. They have even offered the bribe of a race in which only French jockeys are permitted to ride, but these, with only an exception here and there, have very promptly given up the business, disgusted either by the severe regimen required in the matter of diet or by the rigorous discipline indispensable in a training-stable. The few exceptions to which I have referred have not sufficed to prevent this race from falling into disrepute; but it may be worth mentioning that on the last occasion on which it was run, the 19th October last, when but three or four horses were engaged, the baron de Bize, with what has been called a veritable inspiration of genius, threw an unlooked-for interest into the event by mounting in person M. Camille Blanc's horse Nonancourt, and winning the race with him. It is to be borne in mind that the riders must not only have been born in France, but must be of French parentage on the side of both father and mother.
The best-known jockeys are nearly all the children of English parents, and have first seen the light in the little colony at Chantilly or else have been brought very young into France. I give some of their names, classed according to the number of victories gained by them respectively in 1878: Hunter, who generally rides for M. Fould, 47 victories; Wheeler, head-jockey and trainer for M. Ed. Blanc, 45 victories; Hislop, 39; Hudson, ex-jockey to M. Lupin, who gained last year the Grand Prix de Paris, 36 victories; Rolf, 35; Carratt, 32; Goater, who rides for the comte de Lagrange, and who is well known in England; and Edwards, whose "mount" was at one time quite the mode, and whose tragical death on the 3d of October last created a painful sensation. When Lamplugh was training for the duke of Hamilton he made Edwards "first stable-boy," and this and his subsequent successes excited a violent jealousy in one of his stable-companions named Page. The two jockeys separated, but instead of fighting a duel, as Frenchmen might have done, they simply rode against each other one day at Auteuil—Page on Leona, and Edwards on Peau-d'Ane. The struggle was a desperate one: both riders got bad falls from their exhausted mares, and from that time poor Edwards never regained his aplomb. He frequently came to grief afterward, and met his death in consequence of a fall from Slowmatch at Maison Lafitte.
One of the oldest celebrities of Chantilly is Charles Pratt, formerly trainer and jockey for the baron Niviere and for the late Charles Lafitte, and at present in the service of the prince d'Aremberg. His system of training approached very nearly that of Henry Jennings, under whose orders and instructions he had worked for a long time. His horses were always just in the right condition on the day they were wanted, and as he never allowed them to be overridden, their legs remained uninjured for many years—a thing that has become too rare in France as well as in England. As a jockey Pratt possessed, better than any other, that knowledge of pace without which a rider is sure to commit irreparable mistakes. At the Grand Prix de Paris of 1870, when he rode Sornette, he undertook the daring feat of keeping the head of the field from the start to the finish. Such an enterprise in a race so important and so trying as this demanded the nicest instinct for pace and the most thorough knowledge, which as trainer he already possessed, of the impressionable nature and high qualities of his mare.
The autumn meetings at Chantilly close the legitimate season in France. The affairs at Tours are of little interest except to the foreign colony—which at this season of the year is pretty numerous in Touraine—and to the people of the surrounding country. On these occasions the cavalry officers in garrison at Tours get up paper hunts, a species of sport which is rapidly growing in favor and promises to become a national pastime. Whatever interest attaches to the November races at Bordeaux is purely local. Turfmen who cannot get through the winter without the sight of the jockeys' silk jackets and the bookmakers' mackintoshes must betake themselves to Pau in December. The first of the four winter meetings takes place during this month upon a heath at a distance of four kilometres—say about two miles and a half—from the town. The exceptional climate and situation of Pau, where the frozen-out fox-hunters of England come to hunt, and where there is a populous American colony, will no doubt before long give a certain importance to these races, but just now the local committee is short of funds and the stakes have been insufficient to offer an attraction to good horses. Last winter in one of the steeple-chases all the horses tumbled pell-mell into the river, which was the very first obstacle they encountered, and although the public was quite used to seeing riders come to grief, it found the incident somewhat extraordinary.
The meetings at Nice, the queen of all winter residences in Europe, are much finer and more worthy of attention. They begin in January, and the programme has to be arranged almost exclusively for steeple-chases and hurdle-races, as flat-racers are not in condition for running at the time when the season at Nice is at its height. The greater number, and particularly the best, of the racers have important engagements for the spring meetings at Paris and at Chantilly, and even in view of really valuable prizes they could not afford at this time of year to undergo a complete preparation, which would advance them too rapidly in their training and would make it impossible to have them in prime condition in the spring. The race-course at Nice is charmingly situated in the valley of the Var. The perfume of flowers from numerous beds reaches the stands, where one may enjoy a magnificent view of mountain and sea, whilst a good band discourses music in the intervals of the races. Some of the prizes are important. The Grand Prix de Monaco, for instance, popularly known as "The Cup", consists of an object of art given by the prince of Monaco and a purse of twenty thousand francs, without counting the entrance-stakes. On the second day is run the great hurdle handicap for seventy-five hundred francs called the Prix de Monte Carlo, and on the third and last day of the meeting the Grand Prix de Nice, a free handicap steeple-chase for a purse of ten thousand francs.
The international pigeon-shooting matches at Monaco, which occur at the same time, contribute, with the races, to give an extraordinary animation to this period of the season at Nice. The betting-ring feels the influence of the proximity of the gaming-tables, where everybody goes; and yet one could so easily exchange this feverish life of play for the calmer enjoyments of the capital cuisine of London House and an after-dinner stroll on the English Promenade or the terraces of Monte Carlo, in dreamy contemplation of the mountains with their misty grays and a sea and sky of such heavenly blue. But no: this charming programme is wantonly rejected: not the finest orchestras, not the prettiest fetes, not the newest chansonettes sung by Judie and Jeanne Granier themselves, can turn the players for a moment from the pursuit of their one absorbing passion. Play goes on at the Casino of Monte Carlo the livelong day, the only relaxation from the couleur gagnante or tiers et tout being when the gamblers step across the way to take a shot at the pigeons or a bet on the birds; for they must bet on something, if it is but on the number of the box from which the next victim will fly. And when in the evening the players have returned to Nice it is only to indulge the fierce passion again in playing baccarat—the terrible Parisian baccarat—at the Massena Club or at the Mediterranean, where the betting is even higher than at Monaco. Hundreds of thousands of francs change hands every hour from noon to six o'clock in the morning in this gambling-hell—a hell disguised in the colors of Paradise.
But let us fly from the perilous neighborhood and reach the nearest race-course by the fastest train we can find. The passion for the turf is healthier than the other, and its ends not so much in need of concealment. Unluckily, we shall not find just at this season—that is to say, in February—anything going on excepting a few steeple-chases—some "jumping business," as the English say rather contemptuously. In England there are certain owners, such as Lord Lonsdale, Captain Machell, Mr. Brayley and others, who, though well known in flat-races, have also good hunters in their stables, while the proprietors of the latter in France confine themselves exclusively to this specialty. Perhaps the best known amongst them are the baron Jules Finot and the marquis de St. Sauveur. Most of the members of the Jockey Club affect to look down upon the "illegitimate" sport, as they call it. It would seem, however, that this disdain is hardly justifiable, for as a spectacle at least a steeple-chase is certainly more dramatic and more interesting than a flat-race. What can be finer than the sight of a dozen gentlemen or jockeys, as the case may be, charging a brook and taking it clear in one unbroken line? And yet, despite the attractions and excitement of the sport, and all the efforts made from time to time by the Society of Steeple-chases to popularize it in France, it cannot as yet be called a success. Complaint is made, as in England, of too short distances, of the insufficiency of the obstacles, of an overstraining of the pace. The whole thing is coming to partake more and more of the nature of a race, an essentially different thing. Field sports are not races—at least they never ought to be. A steeple-chase can never answer the true purpose of the flat-race, which is to prove which is the best horse, to the end that he may ultimately reproduce his like. But nobody ever heard of "a sire calculated to get steeple-chasers". The cleverness and the special qualities that make a good steeple-chaser are not transmitted. The best have been horses of poor appearance, often small and unsightly, that have been given up by the trainer as incapable of winning in flat-races. In England the winners of the "Grand National" have had no pedigree to speak of, and have failed upon the track. Cassetete had run in nineteen races without gaining a single one before he began his remarkable career as a hunter; Alcibiade had been employed at Newmarket as a lad's horse; Salamander was taken out of a cart to win the great steeple-chases at Liverpool and Warwick.
In France there is no Liverpool or Croydon or Sandown for steeple-chases: there is only an Auteuil. The other meetings in the neighborhood of Paris—Maisons, Le Vesinet, La Marche—are in the hands of shameless speculators like Dennetier, Oller and the rest. Poor horses, bought in the selling races and hardly trained at all to their new business, compete at these places for slender purses, and often with the help of dishonest tricks. Accidents, as might be expected, are frequent, although the obstacles, with the exception of the river at La Marche, are insignificant. But the pace is pushed to such excess that the smallest fence becomes dangerous. This last objection, however, may be made even to the running at Auteuil, where the course is under the judicious and honorable direction of the Society of Steeple-chases. The pace is quite too severe for such a long stretch, strewn as it is with no less than twenty-four obstacles, and some of them pretty serious. The weather, too, is nearly always bad at Auteuil, even at the summer meetings, and the ill-luck of the Steeple-chase Society in this respect has become as proverbial as the good-fortune and favoring skies that smile upon the Societe d'Encouragement, its neighbor at Longchamps. It is not to be wondered at, then, that the English do not feel at home upon this dangerous track. They have gained but twice the great international steeple-chase founded in 1874—the first time with Miss Hungerford in the year just mentioned, and again with Congress in 1877. This prize, the most important of the steeple-chase purses in France, amounts to twelve hundred sovereigns, added to a sweepstakes of twenty sovereigns each, with twelve sovereigns forfeit—or only two sovereigns if declared by the published time—and is open to horses of four years old and upward. It is run in the early part of June. Last year, whilst Wild Monarch, belonging to the marquis de St. Sauveur and ridden by D'Anson, was winning the race, the splendid stands took fire and were burned, without the loss of a single life, and even without a serious accident, thanks to the ample width of the staircases and of the exits. These stands were the newest and the most comfortable in the country. It is to be hoped that the society will not allow itself to be discouraged by such a persistent run of ill-luck, but that it will continue to pursue its work, the object of which it has declared to be "to encourage, as far as its resources will permit, the breeding and raising of horses for service and for the army." As the Encouragement Society rests upon the Jockey Club, so the Society of Steeple-chases finds its support in the Cercle of the Rue Royale, commonly called the Little Club or the Moutard. This club was reorganized after the war under the direction of the prince de Sagan, and has made great sacrifices to bring Auteuil into fashion.
The regular racing-season in France begins on the 15th of March, and no horse that has appeared upon any public track before this date is permitted to enter. The first event of the series is the spring meeting at Rheims—the French Lincoln. Of the six flat-races run here, one, known as the Derby of the East, is for two-year-olds of the previous year, with a purse of five thousand francs. In the "Champagne" races the winner gets, besides his prize, a basket of a hundred bottles of the sparkling wine instead of the empty "cup" that gives its name to other famous contests. After Rheims the next meeting in course is at Longchamps, in the beginning of April, opening with the Prix du Cadran, twenty-five thousand francs, distance forty-two hundred metres, for four-year-olds. Then comes the essay of horses of the year in the Trial Sweepstakes and the Prix Daru, corresponding with the Two Thousand Guineas and the Thousand Guineas at Newmarket. The quotation begins to take shape as the favorites for the great events of May and June stand out more clearly. Of all the prizes—not excepting even the Grand Prix de Paris—the one most desired by French turfmen is the French Derby, or, to call it by its official name, the Prix du Jockey Club, the crowning event of the May meeting at Chantilly. The conditions of the Derby are as follows: For colts and fillies of three years, distance twenty-four hundred metres, or a mile and a half, fifty thousand francs, or two thousand pounds sterling, with stakes added of forty pounds for each horse—twenty-four pounds forfeit, or twenty pounds if declared out at a fixed date; colts to carry one hundred and twenty-three pounds, and fillies one hundred and twenty pounds. The purse last year amounted to L3863 (96,575 francs). Like the English Derby, its French namesake is regarded as the test and gauge of the quality of the year's production. In the year of the foundation of this important race (1836), and for the two succeeding years, it was gained by Lord Henry Seymour's stable, whose trainer, Th. Carter, and whose stallion, Royal Oak, both brought from England, were respectively the best trainer and the best stallion of that time. In 1839, however, the duc d'Orleans's Romulus, foaled at the Meudon stud, put an end to these victories of the foreigner. In 1840 the winner was Tontine, belonging to M. Eugene Aumont, but Lord Seymour, whose horse had come in second, asserted that another horse had been substituted for Tontine, and that under this name M. Aumont had really entered the English filly Herodiade, while the race was open only to colts foaled and raised in France. A lawsuit was the result, and while the courts refused to admit Lord Seymour's claim, the racing committee declared the mare disqualified, and M. Aumont sold his stable. In 1841, Lord Seymour again gained the Derby with Poetess (by Royal Oak), who afterward became mother of Heroine and of Monarque and grandmother of Gladiateur. In 1843 there was a dead heat between M. de Pontalbra's Renonce and Prospero, belonging to the trainer Th. Carter, and, as often happens, the worse horse—in this case it was Renonce—won the second heat. In 1848, the name of "Chantilly" being just then too odious, the Derby was run at Versailles, and was gained by M. Lupin's Gambetti. This same year is remarkable in the annals of the French turf for the excellence of its production. From this period until 1853—the year of Jouvence—M. Lupin enjoyed a series of almost uninterrupted successes. In 1855 the Derby was won by the illustrious Monarque, and the following year witnessed the first appearance upon the turf of the now famous red and blue of Lagrange. It was Beauvais, belonging to Madame Latache de Fay, who in 1860 carried off the coveted prize, which was won the next year by Gabrielle d'Estrees, from the stable of the comte de Lagrange. Then for a period of nine years the count's stable had a run of ill-luck, its horses always starting as prime favorites and being as invariably beaten. This was Trocadero's fate in 1867. He was a great favorite, and had, moreover, on this occasion the assistance of his stable-companion Mongoubert, a horse of first-rate qualities. This time, at least, the count's backers were sure of success, but the victory that seemed within their grasp was wrested from their hands by the unexpected prowess developed upon the field of battle by a newcomer, M. Delamarre's Patricien. At a distance of two hundred metres from the goal the three horses named were alone in the race, and the struggle between them was a desperate one. It looked almost as if it might turn out a dead heat, when Patricien, with a tremendous effort, reached the winning-post a head in advance, after one of the finest and best-contested races ever seen at Chantilly. In 1869, however, Consul succeeded in turning the tide of adverse fortune that had set in against the comte de Lagrange, but it was only for the moment, and it was not until 1878 that he was again the victor, when he won with Insulaire. He repeated the success last year with Zut, whom Goater brought in to the winning-post a length and a half ahead of the field.
Unfortunately, the winner of the French Derby can hardly ever be in good condition to contest the great race at Epsom. These two important events are too near in point of time, and the fatigue of the journey, moreover, puts the horse that has to make it at a disadvantage. Were it not for this drawback it is probable that the comte de Lagrange would beat the English oftener than he does. In May, 1878, his horse Insulaire, having just come in second in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, left that place for home, won the French Derby on Sunday, and returned to England in time for the Epsom Derby on Wednesday, where he came in second. He recrossed the Channel, and the following Sunday was second again in the Grand Prix de Paris, Thurio passing him only by a head. Making the passage again—and this was his fourth voyage within fifteen days—he gained the Ascot Derby. It is not unlikely that if this remarkable horse had remained permanently in the one country or the other he would have carried off the principal prizes of the turf.
For the last three or four years the racing men have been in the habit of meeting, after the Grand Prix de Paris, in the pretty park of La Marche, between St. Cloud and St. Germain. It is quite a private gathering, and as elegant as a dashing turnout of some fifteen or twenty four-in-hands and a pretty luncheon and charming flirtation can make it, and if dancing has not yet been introduced it soon will be. Prizes in the shape of groups in bronze and paintings and valuable weapons are awarded to the gentlemen present who may take part in the hunting steeple-chase or the race with polo ponies or with hacks.
In 1878 a new race-course was started at Enghien, to the north of Paris. The prizes are sufficiently large, the stands comfortable and the track is good; and these attractions, with the advantage of the neighborhood of the Chantilly and Morlaye stables, will no doubt make Enghien a success. Steeple-chases and hurdle-races predominate.
We can hardly close this review of turf matters in France without at least a reference to the so-called sporting journals, but what we have to say of them can be told in two words. They exist only in name. Any one who buys Le Sport, Le Turf, Le Jockey, Le Derby, the Revue des Sports, etc., on the faith of their titles—nearly all English, be it observed—will be greatly disappointed if he expects to find in them anything beyond the mere programmes of the races: they contain no criticism worthy of the name, no accurate appreciation of the subject they profess to treat of, and are even devoid of all interesting details relating to it. Far from following the example of their fellows of London and New York, these sheets concern themselves neither with hunting, shooting or fishing, nor with horse-breeding or cattle-raising, but give us instead the valuable results of their lucubrations upon the names of the winning horses of the future, and with such sagacity that a subscriber to one of them has made the calculation that if he had bet but one louis upon each of the favorites recommended by his paper he would have lost five hundred louis in the one year of his subscription.
Let us add, however, that, the press excepted, the English have nothing more to teach their neighbors in turf matters. The Pall Mall Gazette has well said that the organization of racing in France has taken a great deal of what is good from the English turf, and has excluded most of what is bad. The liberality of the French Jockey Club is declared by Vanity Fair to be in striking contrast with the starveling policy of its English namesake. The Daily Telegraph has recently eulogized the French club for having found out how to rid the turf of the pest of publicans and speculators and clerks of courses, and of all the riffraff that encumber and disgrace it in England, and that make parliamentary intervention necessary. The French turf, in fine, may be said to be inferior to the English in the number of horses, but its equal in respect of their quality, while it must be admitted to be superior to it in the average morality of their owners.
Oh, Love, come back, across the weary way Thou didst go yesterday— Dear Love, come back!
"I am too far upon my way to turn: Be silent, hearts that yearn Upon my track."
Oh, Love! Love! Love! sweet Love! we are undone If thou indeed be gone Where lost things are.
"Beyond the extremest sea's waste light and noise, As from Ghostland, thy voice Is borne afar."
Oh, Love, what was our sin that we should be Forsaken thus by thee? So hard a lot!
"Upon your hearts my hands and lips were set— My lips of fire—and yet Ye knew me not."
Nay, surely, Love! We knew thee well, sweet Love! Did we not breathe and move Within thy light?
"Ye did reject my thorns who wore my roses: Now darkness closes Upon your sight."
Oh, Love! stern Love! be not implacable: We loved thee, Love, so well! Come back to us!
"To whom, and where, and by what weary way That I went yesterday, Shall I come thus?"
Oh weep, weep, weep! for Love, who tarried long With many a kiss and song, Has taken wing.
No more he lightens in our eyes like fire: He heeds not our desire, Or songs we sing.
PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON.
Five-and-twenty years ago Americans had no cause to be particularly proud of the manner in which, from a social point of view, their travelling compatriots were looked upon in Europe. At that epoch we were still the object of what Mr. Lowell calls a "certain condescension in foreigners." We were still the recipients at their hands of that certain half-curious, half-amused and wholly patronizing inspection which, from the height of their civilization, they might be expected to bestow upon a novel species of humanity, with manners different from their own, but recently sprung into existence and notice and disporting itself in their midst.
But this sort of thing has had its day. By dint of having been able to produce, here and there, for the edification of foreigners, a few types of American manhood and womanhood which came up to the standard of high-breeding entertained in the Old World, and of having occasionally dispensed hospitality, both at home and abroad, in a manner which was unexceptionable, besides having shown other evidences in social life—not to speak of political life—of being able to hold our own quite creditably, the "condescension" has gradually diminished in a very satisfactory manner. It is now no longer kept alive by even the typical American traveller such as he was when five-and-twenty years ago a familiar sight at every railway-station, in every steamer and in every picture-gallery, museum and ruin of every town in Europe. Now-a-days everybody in America who lays any claim to the right of being called "somebody," however small a "somebody" it may be, has been to Europe at least once in his or her life—on a three months' Cook-excursion tour, if in no other way. And those who have not been have had a father, mother, brother, sister, or in any case a cousin in some degree, who has; so that there is always a European trip in the family, so to speak. The result of all this has naturally been a certain amount of experience concerning Europe which has tended to wellnigh exterminate the race of the typically-verdant American traveller. Occasional specimens, with all their characteristics in full and vigorous development, may still be met, but these are merely isolated survivors of a once widespread family. The Americans that one meets to-day in Europe, both those who travel and those who reside there, are of a different conformation and belong to a different type. The crudeness which so shocked Europeans in their predecessors they have, with characteristic adaptability, readily and gracefully outgrown. But whether they have improved in other respects, and whether, on other grounds, we have cause to be particularly proud of our countrymen abroad at the present day, is another question.