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to any one, whilst they tend to develop the muscular powers in no small degree, and to call forth the more manly feelings of our nature.
There is nothing, however, so innocent and harmless in itself that the evil passions of men cannot turn to abuse, and one sordid and debasing vice is indeed the canker-worm which has utterly destroyed the credit of the prize-ring, and materially damaged the character of the racecourse. I need hardly say that avarice, and the gambling spirit it creates amongst men, is the vice to which I allude. I was once witness to a striking and disgraceful instance of the power of this vile passion over men by no means of the lowest grade, to judge by the outside appearance, and will relate it in a few words.
I was stopping with a friend at B-, in H-shire, and hearing that a race was to come off between two men at W—, I was easily persuaded to witness it.
The rival pedestrians were men of very different mould, and came to the ground under widely different circumstances, which must have had powerful influence over them at starting. Scanlon — to give their names
was a native of the county, and had long enjoyed a high reputation amongst his acquaintance. He lived — was
born I believe-at F, and had long rejoiced in the soubriquet of the Antelope. He was a man of about thirty years of age, five feet seven inches in height, of a spare but wiry form, well proportioned, and carrying himself remarkably erect.
His countenance wore a smiling and self-confident expression, which bespoke him on the best terms with himself, He was dressed with much care and attention to appearance, nay, there was something almost foppish about him.
He wore an elastic web frock of fine cotton, striped with blue, a pair of white jean trowsers, confined to his waist by a broad leathern belt and buckle, and had his head bound about with a blue silk handkerchief, spotted with white. His feet were encased in a pair of white leather shoes, coming high up the instep, what are termed Oxford's, I believe, and he had on white silk stockings.
No sooner did he alight from the carriage in which he had been driven to the ground, than he was greeted with loud shouts of triumph by his friends, and several pushed forward and grasped his hand with much warmth and good will.
He received their friendly salutations with evident satisfaction, and Ainging off the handsome paletot which partly concealed the dress I have
before described, he moved about with a jaunty air, as one to whom success was certain.
There was little in the appearance of Jopling, as he stepped from the gig which conveyed him to the scene of combat, and leisurely divested himself of the white upper coat which he wore, and which had long since seen its best days, to win one's favourable opinion, or incline one to back him in the coming race.
He stood about five feet nine inches, or possibly even more, for a stooping, slouching gait took off very much from his apparent stature. He was round shouldered, narrow chested, broad across the hips, and had very long arms and legs : the length of the latter being principally in the thigh bones,
His face was of heavy expression, and had rather a sickly hue. Altogether I do not remember to have ever seen so awkward and unprepossessing a person stand forward as a competitor for public applause.
His dress agreed very well with his appearance. There was nothing of smartness about it. He wore an old flannel jacket and trowsers, had his head bound round with a printed cotton handkerchief, and one of similar description, but different pattern, supported his trowsers. A pair of old shoes and gray worsted stockings completed his apparel.
On arriving on the ground he was met by no encouraging cheers, and no one proffered him the hand of friendship.
Some, indeed, who were his backers, came up to him and said a few words, but even they seemed to have no knowledge of him; and although they quietly took the odds offered against him by the friends of Scanlan, it seemed almost as if they were ashamed of their man.
I could not find out exactly where he came from, but believe it was from some part of W-shire. From all I could glean he was almost an untried man, who had attracted the attention of a certain person of sporting celebrity, and been matched by him against the Antelope.
Spite of his ungainly appearance, he must have had the advantage over his rival considerably in point of age, being at least five or six years his junior. There was much of awkwardness in his build, which must have been natural to him; but I was led to believe, in the sequel, that his slouching air was partly assumed to give the spectators an unfavourable impression respecting him, and induce them to stake their money freely against him.
The feeling against the stranger, for such Jopling was, was evidently so strong from the first, that I found my compassionate sympathies insensibly enlisted in his favour. I never bet; but, had I been inclined to do so, I should hardly have ventured to back my protégé with my purse, although he had my hearty good wishes.
The ground selected for the trial of speed, was a measured half-mile of tolerably level and smooth turf on M
The race was to be a fair toe and heel walk, of a mile in length, the men starting together, and going over the same ground. A post was erected at each end of the course, with umpires and referee stationed by them to watch the proceedings and see all was fair. The men were to start from one post, walk round the other, and so back to the first to win.
Before starting it was evident that a feeling nearly allied to contempt was entertained for
poor Jopling, and the odds were very freely laid on the Antelope. The men had not walked a hundred yards, however, before it was plain that a revolution had taken place in the opinions of the spectators respecting the powers of the pedestrians. But with a favourable impression of Jopling's prowess came the dread of losing the money staked against him, and a very bitter feeling of