Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/Ye National Sporte!!! of Steeple Chasynge.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 7.

Ye National Sporte!!! of Steeple Chasynge.


Ye National Sporte!!! of Steeple Chasynge.

[Monday, April 23, 1849.]

s DOWN the Road to a Steeple Chaſe, which I had never ſeen before, and did much long to behold: for of all Things I do love Diverſion and Merriment; and both Mr. Strappes and Sir William Spurkins did tell me there would be rare Sport. Got a Place in the Grand Stand, coſt me half-a-Guinea, which was loth to part with, but thought I mould have brave Entertainment for ſo much Money. Did find myſelf here in fine Company, Dukes, and Earls, and Lords and Ladies too, which did pleaſe me; but among them ſeme Snobs, in Stable-cut Clothes, with ſpotted Neckcloths and Fox-headed Breaſt-pins; though ſome of theſe were Lords too, who ſeemed to have been at Pains to look like Oſtlers. To ſee the Crowd on Horſeback and in Carriages, and thoſe on Foot puſhing and ſcrambling, and trampling each other to get a Sight of the Courſe, as if there had been going to be a Coronation, or a Man hanged! The Courſe, marked out with Flags, and having Hurdles, Ports, Fences, Rails, Hedges, Drains, Ditches, and Brooks in the Way; and this Sportſmnen do call the Country, and ſay ſuch a Country is a Teaſer, and ſo I ſhould think. By-and-by the Jockies in their Saddles, but their word is Pig-ſkins, looking, in their gay Colours, like Tulips on Horſeback, which was a pretty Sight. Then a Bell rung to clear the Courſe, and the Horſes with their Riders drawn up ready to ſtart, and preſently a Flag flourished for a Signal: and ſo they off. Good Lack, to ſee them galloping helter-ſkelter, like mad, through Rivers, and over Hedges and Ditches, and the whole Thing done in ten Minutes! Some did jump the Fences and Hedges, which they about me did term Raſpers, clean over; but others not ſo lucky, and ſtuck in Brambles or on Stakes, or between double Rows of Poſts, with a Quickſet in the Middle, whereof the cant name is Bullfinchers. Others upſet in Ditches; and one or two of them not able to get up again, and carried away upon ſome of the Hurdles; and when the Race was over, three Horſes found lying with their Backs broken, and fo mot. Sir William did inform me that it was a tidy Field, which I could not agree, with the Raſpers and Paliſades upon it, and the Horves ſpiked, or ſprawling with their Riders on the Ground with broken Backs and Limbs. Nor did I underſtand the Fun of this Part of the Thing; wherefore I ſuppoſe I muſt be dull; for it do ſeem to be the chief Delight that People take in it. For, as if the Gates and Rails belonging to the Ground were not dangerous enough, they do ſet up others called made Fences, being ſtubborn Ports and Stakes twiſted with Briars and Brambles, which do ſeem to be meant for Nothing but to be tumbled over, and in that Caſe to do as much Miſchief, as may be, to Man and Beaſt. The Horſes moſtly ridden by Jockeys for Hire; but ſome by their Owners, who, methinks, do ſet a ſufficient Value upon their own Exiſtence when they venture their Necks in riding a Steeple Chaſe; but I do blame them for riſking the Life of a uſeful Horſe.