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Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 online

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betake themselves in crowds to the less showy parterre of the
betting-ground, where, under the shadow of the famous chestnut tree,
such enormous wagers are laid, and especially do they congregate in the
neighborhood of the tall narrow slates set up by such well-known
bookmakers as Wright, Valentine and Saffery.

Each successive year sees an increase in the number of betters, who
contribute indirectly, by means of subscriptions to the races, a very
important proportion of the budget of the Jockey Club. But if any one
should imagine from this constant growth of receipts that the taste for
racing is extending in France, and is likely to become national, he
would be making a great mistake: what is growing, and with alarming
rapidity, is the passion for gambling, for the indulgence of which the
"improvement of the breed of horses" is but a convenient and
sufficiently transparent veil. Whether the money of the player rolls
around the green carpet of the race-course or upon that of M. Blanc at
Monte Carlo, the impulse that keeps it in motion is the same, and the
book-maker's slate is as dangerous as the roulette-table. The manager
of the one piles up a fortune as surely as the director of the other,
and in both cases the money seems to be made with an almost
mathematical certainty and regularity. They tell of one day - that of
the Grand Prix of 1877 - when Saffery, the Steel of the French turf and
the leviathan of bookmakers, cleared as much as fifty thousand dollars.
Wright, Valentine, Morris and many more make in proportion to their
outlay. Four or five years ago these worthies had open offices on the
Rue de Choiseul and the Boulevard des Italiens, where betting on the
English and French races went on night and day; but the police,
following the lead of that of London, stepped in to put an end to this
traffic in contraband goods, and the shops for the sale of this sort of
merchandise are now shut up. But if all this has been done, and if even
those great _voitures de poules_ which once made the most picturesque
ornament of the turf, have been banished out of sight, it has been
impossible to uproot the practice of betting, which has more devotees
to-day than ever before. It has been discovered in other countries than
France that the only way to deal with an ineradicable evil is to check
its growth, and an attempt to prohibit pool-selling a year or two ago
in one of the States of this Union only resulted in the adoption of an
ingenious evasion whereby the _pictures_ of the horses entered were
sold at auction - a practice which is, if I am not misinformed, still
kept up. The same fiction, under another form, is to be seen to-day in
France. In order to bet openly one has to buy an entrance - ticket to
the paddock, which costs him twenty francs, whereas the general entry
to the grounds is but one franc, and any one found betting outside the
enclosure or _enceinte_ of the stables is liable to arrest. The police,
no doubt, are willing to accept the theory that a man who can afford to
pay twenty francs for a little square of rose- or yellow-tinted paper
is rich enough to be allowed to indulge in any other extravagant freaks
that he pleases.

But with all the numerous bets that are made, and the excitement and
interest, that must necessarily be aroused, there is nothing of the
turbulent and uproarious demonstration so characteristic of the English
race-course. The "rough" element is kept away from the French turf,
partly because it would find its surroundings there uncongenial with
its tastes, and partly by the small entrance-fee required; and one is
thus spared at Longchamps the sight of those specimens of the various
forms of human misery and degradation that offend the eye at Epsom and
infest even the more aristocratic meetings of Ascot and Goodwood. At
the French races, too, one never hears the shrieks and howls of an
English crowd, save perhaps when in some very important contest the
favorite is beaten, and even then the yells come from English throats:
it is the bookmakers' song of victory. A stranger at Longchamps would
perceive at once that racing has no hold upon the popular heart, and
that, so far as it is an amusement at all apart from the gambling
spirit evoked, it is merely the hobby and pastime of a certain number
of idle gentlemen. As to the great mass of spectators, who are not
interested in the betting, they go to Longchamps as they would go to
any place where uniforms and pretty toilettes and fine carriages are to
be seen; for the Parisian, as one of them has well said, "never misses
a review, and he goes to the races, although he understands nothing
about them: the horses scarcely interest him at all. But there he is
because he must do as 'all Paris' does: he even tries to master a few
words of the barbarous jargon which it is considered _bon-ton_ to speak
at these places, for it seems that the French language, so rich, so
flexible, so accurate, is insufficient to express the relations and
affinities between man and the horse."

The _enceinte du pesage_, often called in vulgar English "the
betting-ring," or the enclosure mentioned above to which holders of
twenty-franc tickets are admitted, at Longchamps is scrupulously
guarded by the stewards of the Jockey Club from the invasion of the
_demi-monde_ - a term that I employ in the sense in which it is
understood to-day, and not in that which it bore twenty years ago. A
woman of this demi-monde, which the younger Dumas has defined as that
"community of married women of whom one never sees the husbands," may
enter the paddock if she appears upon the arm of a gentleman, but the
really objectionable element is obliged to confine itself to the
five-franc stands or to wander over the public lawns. Some of the
fashionable actresses of the day and the best-known _belles-petites_
may be seen sunning themselves in their victorias or their
"eight-springs" by the side of the track in front of the stands, but
this is not from any interest that they feel in the performances of Zut
or of Rayon d'Or, but simply because to make the "return from the
races" it is necessary to have been to them, and every woman of any
pretension to fashion, no matter what "world" she may belong to, must
be seen in the gay procession that wends its way through the splendid
avenue on the return from Longchamps.

The great day at Longchamps, that crowns the Parisian season like the
"bouquet" at the end of a long series of fire-works, is the
international fête of the Grand Prix de Paris, run for the first time
in 1863. It is open to entire horses and to fillies of all breeds and
of all countries, three-year-olds, and of the prize, one hundred
thousand francs, half is given by the city of Paris and half by the
five great railway companies. It was the late duc de Morny who first
persuaded the municipal council and the administrations of the railways
to make this annual appropriation; ail of which, together with the
entries, a thousand francs each, goes to the winner, after deducting
ten thousand francs given to the second horse and five thousand to the
third. Last year the amount won by Nubienne, carrying fifty-three and a
half kilogrammes, was one hundred and forty-one thousand nine hundred
and seventy-five francs, and the time made was three minutes
thirty-three seconds on a track of three thousand mètres - one mile
seven furlongs, or three furlongs longer than that of the Derby at
Epsom.

The fixing of Sunday for this international contest has aroused the
prejudices of the English, and has been the occasion of a long
correspondence between Admiral Rous and Viscount Daru, but the
committee on races has refused to change the day, contending, with
reason, that the French people cannot be expected to exchange their
usages for those of a foreign country. Although it is understood that
Queen Victoria has formally forbidden the prince of Wales to assist at
these profane solemnities, this interdict has not prevented the
appearance there of some of the principal personages of England, and we
have several times noticed the presence of the dukes of St. Albans,
Argyll, Beaufort and Hamilton, the marquis of Westminster and Lords
Powlett, Howard and Falmouth; though the last, be it said, is believed
to be influenced by his respect for the day in his refusal to run his
horses in France.

Those who remember the foundation of the Grand Prix will recall the
extraordinary excitement of the occasion, when the whole population of
Paris, as one of the enemies of the new system of racing said, turned
out as they would to a capital execution or the drawing of a grand
lottery or the ascension of a monster balloon: the next day the name of
the winner was in everybody's mouth, and there was but one great man in
the universe for that day at least - he who had conceived the idea of
the Grand Prix de Paris. The receipts on this occasion amounted to
eighty-one thousand francs: last year they were two hundred and forty
thousand. I subjoin a list of the winners from 1863 to 1879, inclusive:

Years. Horses. Owners. Nationality.

1863 The Ranger H. Savile English.
1864 Vermont H. Delamarre French.
1865 Gladiateur Comte F. de Lagrange French.
1866 Ceylon Duke of Beaufort English.
1867 Feryacques A. de Montgomery French.
1868 The Earl Marquis of Hastings English.
1869 Glaneur A. Lupin French.
1870 Sornette Major Fridolin (Ch. French.
Lafitte)
1871 (Not run).
1872 Cremorne H. Savile English.
1873 Boïard H. Delamarre French.
1874 Trent W.R. Marshall English.
1875 Salvator A. Lupin French.
1876 Kisber Baltazzi Hungarian.
1877 St. Christophe Comte F. de Lagrange French.
1878 Thurio Prince Soltikoff Russian.
1879 Nubienne Edmond Blanc French.

It will be seen by this list that the superiority of the English-bred
horse over the French is far from being established. Of sixteen races,
the English have gained but five, [Since this article was written the
Grand Prix has again been won (June, 1880) by an English horse, Robert
the Devil.] while they have been three times second and four times
third, and in 1875 their three representatives came in last. The winner
of the Epsom Derby has been beaten several times, as in the case,
amongst others, of Blair Athol by Vermont and Doncaster by Boïard. The
winners of the two chief prizes of last year were a French, an English
and an Hungarian horse - Gladiateur, Cremorne and Kisber. It may be
remarked also that the winner of the French Derby, as it is called,
which is run at Chantilly a fortnight earlier, is almost never the
gainer of the Grand Prix, the only exceptions having been Boïard and
Salvator. This result is no doubt the consequence of the system of
training too long in vogue in France, and upheld by Tom Jennings and
the Carters, which consists in bringing a horse to the post in the
maximum of his condition upon a given day and for a given event. The
animal can never be in better state, and if he does not win the race
for which he has been specially prepared, it is because he is not good
enough: he cannot be made to do any better than he has done. But if it
is hard to bring a horse to this culminating point of training, it is
still more difficult to keep him there, even for a period of a few
days. Training has been compared to the sides of a triangle: when one
has reached the apex one must perforce begin to descend. It being,
then, impossible that the animal should support for any length of time
the extreme tension of his whole organism that perfect training
supposes, it but very rarely happens that the horse prepared according
to this system - for the French Derby, for example - can be maintained in
such a condition as to enable him to win the Epsom Derby or the Grand
Prix de Paris. We have heretofore referred to the reaction against this
practice of excessive training, and to the efforts of Henry Jennings in
the direction of a reform - efforts which within the last few years have
been crowned with great success.

But we must now return to the Grand Prix. An invalid who had been
forbidden by his doctor to read the newspapers for several months, and
who should chance to make his first promenade on the Boulevards on the
eve of the Grand Prix, would know at a glance that something
extraordinary was about to happen. At every step he would meet the
unmistakable garb that announces the Englishman on his travels - at
every turn he would hear the language of Shakespeare and of Mr.
Labouchere adorned with a good deal of horse-talk. Coney's Cosmopolitan
Bar, Rue Scribe, is full on this day of betters and bookmakers, and
possibly of Englishmen of a higher rank, whilst its silver
_gril_ - which is not of silver, however, but polished so bright as
almost to look like it - smokes with the broiling steak, and the gin
cocktails and brandy-and-soda flow unceasingly. Toward midnight,
especially - after the Salon des Courses has closed its doors - is
Coney's to be seen in its glory. The circus of the Champs Élysées,
where Saturday is the favorite day, makes on this particular Saturday
its largest receipts in the year; the Jardin Mabille is packed; the
very hackney-coachmen wear the independent, half-insolent look that
they have had since morning and will have till the evening of the next
day - unfailing sign in Paris that some great spectacle is impending;
milliners and dressmakers are out of their wits; the world has gone
mad. The restaurant-waiters and the barbers of the Boulevard may
condescend, if you happen to be a regular customer and given to
tipping, to enlighten you on the chances of the respective horses. The
most knowing in these matters are supposed to be Pierre, the host of
the Grand Café, right under the rooms of the Jockey Club, and the
rotund Henry, keeper of the Restaurant Bignon, Avenue de l'Opéra, the
confidant of certain turfmen, who may favor him with invaluable hints
if their _salmis_ of woodcocks should have been a success or their
_cotelette double_ be done to a turn. Charles, of the Café Durand,
Place de la Madeleine, and Henry, the barber of the Boulevard des
Italiens, are also posted in the quotations and keep themselves well
informed.

On Sunday morning by ten o'clock the Bois de Boulogne is filled with
pedestrians, who take their breakfast on the grass to while away the
time of waiting. The restaurants Madrid and the Cascade, where the
tables are spread amidst flowers and shaded by trees - a feature that is
duly remembered in the bills, like an _hors d'oeuvre_ - are turning
visitors away. Toward half-past two the enclosure of the paddock is
absolutely full: not a vacant chair is to be found, and a fearful
consumption of iced champagne begins at the buffet. For, strange to
say, the weather is always fine on this day, and the Encouragement
Society is as notorious for its good-luck in this respect as the
Skating Club and the Steeple-chase Society are for quite the opposite.
By degrees - and perhaps helped by the champagne - the vast throng will
be observed, as the supreme moment approaches, to depart from its
habitually staid and calm demeanor, and finally to show some signs of
enthusiasm, though without growing in the least noisy and turbulent,
like that at Epsom on the Derby Day. Once in a year, however, I as the
French say, doesn't make a custom, and the Parisian crowd, to quote its
own expression, "croit que c'est arrivé." The applause, in case the
winner is a French horse, comes from patriotic motives: if he happens
to be English it is given from a feeling of courtesy; and the crowd
having done its duty in either case, the famous "return," that has
often furnished a subject for the painter, begins. And a wondrous sight
it is. Up to six o'clock the innumerable carriages continue to defile
upon the several routes that lead to the city, forming a procession of
which the head touches the Place de la Concorde, whilst the extremity
still reaches to the tribunes of Longchamps. And when evening comes on,
and bets are settled, and heated brains seek to prolong the day's
excitement far into the night, such haunts as the Mabille grow so noisy
that the police is generally obliged to interfere. There was a time
when, on these occasions, that jolly nobleman, the duke of Hamilton,
then a prominent figure on the French turf, did not disdain to lead his
followers to the battle in person, and to practise the noble art of
boxing upon all comers, whether policemen or bookmakers. But these
deeds of former days are now but traditions: His Grace has married,
which is said to have taught him wisdom, and the bookmakers have grown
into millionaires, with a sense of the gravity becoming their
position. - L. LEJEUNE.




MRS. PINCKNEY'S GOVERNESS


The short October day had come to an end. It had been one of those
soft, misty, delicious days common enough at this season of the year.
The gathering darkness perplexed the young girl who, without maid or
escort of any kind, stood peering through the gloom at the little
way-station. Discouraged, apparently, at the result of her search, she
entered the station-house, and inquired, in rather a depressed voice,
if they knew whether Mrs. Pinckney had sent a carriage or vehicle of
any kind for her: "she was expected," she added.

Youth and good looks are naturally effective, and the young Irishman in
authority there, Michael Redmond, was by no means insensible to their
influence. He darted out with an air of alacrity, returning, however,
almost immediately with the depressing information that Mrs. Pinckney's
carriage was not there. "She went herself to the city this morning,
madam," he said, with an effort at consolation. "Perhaps in her absence
the servants have forgotten - " Here he paused.

"It is very unfortunate," she murmured, evidently not accustomed to
such emergencies. Nature, however, although ill-seconded by her
previous life, had given her both courage and decision. "Is there
nothing here which I can hire? is there nobody to drive me to Mrs.
Pinckney's?"

"I'll see, madam," returned the young man.

Why he used the term "madam," which was undoubtedly misplaced, toward
so youthful a person, is only to be explained by an idea he had of
exaggerated respect, a kind of protection apparently to her loneliness
and helplessness.

He darted headlong out again into the darkness. "There is a boy here
with an open wagon, madam," returning almost as quickly as he went out.
"It is not an elegant conveyance, but - " and he hesitated - "it is the
only one."

"Oh, it will do, thank you: anything will do which can carry me to the
house. Is there room for my trunk?"

Michael with strong, serviceable arms swung the trunk lightly into the
wagon. She was already seated, the boy, who was to drive, beside her.

"Oh, thank you." She drew a diminutive purse from her travelling-bag,
and was evidently about to recompense him when something in his manner
deterred her. She thanked him again, for gracious words fell lightly
and easily from her lips, and the little vehicle went rattling out upon
the road.

Mrs. Pinckney's house was four or five miles from the station: the boy
drove at a furious pace, and it was by good luck rather than by good
guidance that no catastrophe occurred. The beautiful day was succeeded
by a cloudy evening: neither moon nor stars were visible, and as they
passed through the avenue leading to the house, under the branches of
magnificent old trees, large drops of rain began to fall. The light
which shone through the open door revealed camp-chairs still standing
on the lawn, and children's toys were scattered over the veranda. The
boy's rough feet as he carried in her trunk annihilated the face of a
smart French doll, and Miss Featherstone's dress caught on, and was
torn by, a nail in a dilapidated rocking-horse. The light came from a
picturesque-looking lamp which hung from an arch in the centre of a
broad, low hall. She rang the bell: the sound reverberated through the
house, yet no one came. The boy, who had stood the trunk on end,
growing impatient, rang again: they heard voices, hubbub and confusion,
children's cries, servants summoned, a man speaking very volubly in
French. Then very imperfect English sentences were shouted in a kind of
despair. The door was divided in the middle, with a large brass knocker
as an appendage to the upper half. Miss Featherstone, growing anxious
and impatient, sounded this vigorously, which brought a maid, who had
evidently quite lost her head, to the door.

"This is Mrs. Pinckney's?" said the young girl in prompt, cheerful
tones. "I am Miss Featherstone, the governess, whom Mrs. Pinckney
expects."

"Yes, ma'am," replied the servant in an absent, distracted manner.

"Marie!" shrieked the French voice in shrill tones of alarm and anger.

"Please, miss, I must go. Do come in and sit down: I'll send
somebody - "

"Marie! Marie! - Where is that _vilaine femme?"_

At the second summons she fled, leaving Miss Featherstone and the boy,
standing with her trunk on his shoulders, on the threshold.

The young girl walked in, sat down in a large leathern chair, and was
taking out her purse to pay her driver when a little fat man, with a
very red face and bushy black hair, came flying through the hall,
carrying a child in his arms. He was followed by two or three sobbing
children and the girl whom Miss Featherstone had already seen. "My dear
mees," he said, never stopping until he reached the governess, "see
this leetle enfant, this cher petit Henri. He has already one
contortion - spasm - what you call it? - and I fear he goes to have one
other. Ma chère mademoiselle, have you some experience? Is it that you
know what we shall do?"

The child lay pale and unconscious in the arms of the distressed little
foreigner. Miss Featherstone tore off her gloves; her purse, unheeded,
fell on the floor; she led the way into the nearest room, which proved
to be the dining-room, the helpless group following. "Bring a tub of
hot water for his feet," she said in calm, decided tones. She was
seated, and had taken the child in her arms. - "Now, monsieur" - to the
Frenchman - "will you be kind enough to give me some ice from that
pitcher on the sideboard behind you?"

She drew a delicate little handkerchief from her pocket, and, putting
pieces of ice in it, held it to the child's head. "Some one," she
continued, "take off his shoes and stockings."

Her composure restored a degree of order, although no one seemed to
have recovered their senses sufficiently to obey her as to the child's
shoes. The boy who had acted as her driver knelt down and proceeded to
accomplish it. When the poor little feet were up to the knees in hot
water and the child was evidently reviving, she said, "The doctor
should be sent for immediately. As this boy has a horse and wagon at
the door, it would be best to send him. What is the name of your family
physician?"

"Doctor Harris."

"You know where he lives?"

"Oh yes, ma'am, very well."

"Stop a moment: some one write a line, so that there shall be no
mistake."

The foreigner flung up his hands with a gesture of despair. "It is so
difficile for me to write l'Anglais - " he began.

With the child lying on her left arm she opened her bag with her
right - the little driver, the most collected person besides herself of
the party, holding it up to her - found a scrap of paper and a pencil
and wrote a brief, urgent appeal to the physician to come immediately,
mentioning that the mother was from home, and signing herself "Laura
Featherstone, governess."

Sooner than she would have believed possible Doctor Harris appeared: he
came in his own gig, the little driver who had been so active in the
events of the evening vanishing entirely from the scene, and, as it was
afterward remembered, in the confusion without his douceur.

Doctor Harris, a comparatively young man, was cheerful and reassuring.
"There will probably be no recurrence of the convulsions," he said,
examining the child, who was sleeping tranquilly in the young girl's
arms; "but what was the exciting cause? what has he been eating?"

"I find him with a grand heap of the raisins and the nuts," replied the
French tutor excitedly. "Madame goes to town this morning and takes la
bonne pour s'en servir - le pauvre enfant est abandonné, voilà tout!"


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Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 → online text (page 11 of 20)