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little, and whose eye is less bright than it is well the eye of beauty on promotion should be, through a little over-dancing and over-fagging generally on the great social treadmill. She is still fresh and lovely enough though as she sits 'well back' on her thorough-bred, perfectly-trained horse—who although his mouth is of the finest ‘pulls' ever so slightly — just enough to steady her in fact-as she holds him with the light, firm hand a good horsewoman always possesses, raising a murmur of admiration on the lips of those who do not know her, and a deeper feeling it may be in the hearts of those who do;-surely, as that fairy on the chestnut-the little chestnut with the white offfore-leg and the white star on his forehead-passes, the young artist who only wants a subject might be satisfied. She has rich wavy hair --this lady on the chestnut, hair of a light, golden-tinted brown--something like her horse's—with a long undulating wave in it; not kinked up and down in abrupt hillocks, as if it had been plaited up tight over night to its own destruction, but just undulating gracefully in long waves. She has a broad fair brow. From underneath the brim of her little Spanish hat look out a pair of deep blue, stedfast eyes,-'grave'at most times, but lighting up with flashes of merriment as she speaks to the pretty little sister who rides by her side. The blue eyes are shaded by wonderful lashes-long and dark and heavy, like a silk fringe; and these latter have some what of a haughty droop as she bends in return for the frequently doffed hat. “She is but seventeen; but she is tall and stately,' and a fair sight she is, that young patrician, as she sits there, going along so easily yet so firmly that her little chestnut would find it a hard matter to shake her in the saddle, should he be so minded.
The elderly gentleman, who dreamed not in his youth of the partnership in the house in which he was then toiling as a clerk; and & stately mansion in one of the stateliest of the Regent's Park terhiens; and a stately wife, who, when
she steps from the well-built carriage, horsed by a pair of browns, looks as if she had been all her life a duchess at least; and daughters who are pretty and accomplished, and well-dressed and well-bred, and capable of holding their own should the course of events roll them yet higher; and a well-bound library, containing all the right books and none of the wrong ones, in splendid preservation; and curious old port, and a place in the country ;-who dreamed not, I say, that all this would ever be his, comes pounding over the spongy ground, at a brisk trot on a sturdy cob, very wide between the ears, and broad of chest, and short of leg; not a beautiful horse, but a safe and good one; one who would no more back or shy, or do anything foolish, than his master. Behind him comes his pad-groom, on a fine, handsome, showy bay, with black points, and a martingale, and a prance.
Far different in appearance is the other elderly gentleman who follows close upon the heels of the sturdy cob. He has been riding from the time he was three years old, when he commenced on the great-grandmother of the little black pony his grandson is now careering on by his side. When the rider of the cob was having his little private battle with life in the countinghouse, this one was probably following the hounds three times a week across a stiff bit of country. He is mounted now on a horse with a pedigree as long as his own; amiably as he walks along, suffering himself to be perpetually passed without exhibiting the least trace of emotion, he would, if put to it, “fly the heads' both of the other old gentleman and the groom on the fidgety, prancing steed.
The group that comes rushing by now is a fine one-three young ladies, a brother, and one or two of the brother's friends. They converse as freely as they ride alongthe ladies at a hard canter, which very much resembles a gallop, and the gentlemen at a long slinging trot-as if they were walking slowly along on the promenade out yonder. They never lose their breath, nor catch it; they never swerve in their saddles; they never jerk either their reins or their words. If their horses
lost their heads, they would not, for they have been riding all their lives and know what it means. There are dozens, hundreds, like them here daily.
The lady—the stout lady-who passes along now, offers a fine contrast to the spirited group I have attempted to portray. She has come into a fortune late in life and has, on the strength of it, commenced equestrian exercise. She protests that she thinks riding delightful, but she passes a horrible time up there on that horse, who will keep dragging the reins out of her unaccustomed hands. He shakes her, too, cruelly, for they cannot time their rises together, and she loses her breath, and pants forth involuntary notes of interrogation at every step. And now a troop of children pass her as fast as their little steeds can lay their legs to the ground, and her horse foolishly thinks he would like to do the same; so he starts off suddenly, which sends her forward in a helpless heap on his neck; and then, the absurdity of the thing striking him, he stops even more suddenly, and bumps her in the chest. She has gone to expense as to habit and hat, and whip and gloves, but I fear the investment is a bad one. She is a braver-not to say a more foolishwoman, than she looks, if she ever makes the ascent of a horse's back after that bump.
One of the greatest charins about riding is, that you rarely meet with an instance of glaring bad taste in point of costume. Ladies are not allowed much scope, certainly, and the result is harmonious and pleasing. There are some very few who will persist in wearing a scarf, or veil, or feather, which will of course fly and look odious; but, as a rule, the habit ends at the throat in a small white collar, and at the waist in a little six-inch basque or jockey. Altogether, the riding-habit, well made and without even a button more than is necessary about it, is, without any exception, the prettiest costume in the world
Taken in conjunction with a wellshaped and by all means small, hat, and white gauntlets, if in the country-dark short kids if in town-it is nearly perfection.
But the glories of Rotten Row, attractive as they are, must not be allowed entirely to overshadow the claims of the drive and promenade.
Here, through the hot hours of this summer afternoon, I stand and watch an almost unbroken line of well-appointed carriages and matchless horses.
The mail phaeton, driven by one who would in other days have taken high honours on the road.' The heavy chariot, with its gorgeous hammer-cloth and severe-looking driver and magnificent footmen; with its rather hearse-like horses and pretty occupants—an aristocratic mamma, and three or four pretty, fair-haired children. The phaeton of the lovely bride - a countess-drawn by a pair of ponies fourteen hands high, and matched to a hair: she drives them herself, and the whole turn-out causes seas of envy and admiration to ebb through the hearts of her old friends the yet expectant ones, who are still sitting in the parental coach-which is magnificent, and heavy, and comfortable - and from which they would gladly step into a small park phaeton, with a pair of ponies fourteen hands high, and matched to a hair. The waggonette, and every possible description of bodies upon wheels, are here in endless number.
The promenade is, after all, perhaps the gayest and most glittering portion of this gay and glittering Park.
Pretty, elegant, well-dressed women are always a delightful spectacle, and here they are in such force.
How dresses so light, so web-like, can ever have been got together and persuaded to remain together, is wonderful. Colossal cobwebs, they bear down hazily upon you on every side. So fragile are they, that as they trail in orthodox fashion half a yard on the ground behind their bearers, you sympathize with them as with a bruised butterfly's wing.
Such “beauty,' too! I have just decided that anything more superb than the eldest of those sisters who have passed with their still handsome, dignified mother, the lady with the tall form and dark, pale face and plainly-banded, smooth, glossy, light hair — hair that is neither flaxen, nor golden, nor auburn, but a peculiar tint between lemon and straw-colour--and brown velvet eyes ;-I have just decided, I say, that anything more superb than this lady cannot be; I vow that she shall reign queen of beauty in my heart for ever, when my mind is unsettled again by the conflicting claims of this blonde, in her first season, who now comes along with her father. She is very beautiful. She has the face we all love-the white brow and delicately tinted cheeks, and 'upward' eye and lash of the true English girl. The face may not be met with very frequently in life, but we all know it. It has always a broad brow, and the frank eyes are nearly always grey - a bluish grey.
But this lady who passes now, the centre of a group in which the foreign element is easily distinguishable-what has this woman, with the low, narrow forehead, and sharp, brown eyes, and dingy complexion, and rather protruding jaw, done to herself that she should pass for a
beauty?' I have to look at her, to study her face well before I discover that she is not one. What has she done? I do not know; her dress, even, I cannot undertake to describe, though a sense of its beauty pervades my spirit. I only know that she wears nothing that astonishes you into admiration. She has only two colours about her—that wonderful blue which harmonizes with every shade and order of complexion --and black, great quantities of cloudy black lace, which she causes to take all sorts of graceful folds as she walks along so easily. She is well-gloved, and that foot in the black silk boot is so arched that she could if she liked upset her waterjug and bridge the stream with it, as poor Albert Smith used to recommend ladies to do in order to prove to themselves satisfactorily
whether or not their feet were as well-formed as those of the boatgirls of Macao. She is a Frenchwoman, and against the testimony of your eyes you are compelled to think her a 'beauty. The pretty girls who follow her stand no manner of chance against her. “More millinery' would be tedious to wade through, or I would endeavour to show the reason why they are at such a disadvantage when seen near the less beautiful Frenchwoman. As it is, I will only just hint that they have dresses of one colour and bonnet-ribbons of another; and white clear cloaks, of the shape Mrs. Dion Boucicault has rendered popular; and parasols with the richest chintz borders Sangster has in his shop. Perhaps this is the reason why, with far prettier faces, they stand no chance against the elegant lady in cloudy black lace.
But this is a trifling, seldom-made error. Such cases, though they exist, are exceptional. As a rule, my countrywomen have ceased to believe in anything florid. Their fresh, fair beauty is as generally set off by elegant attire as is a Frenchwoman's less faultless appearance; and though all have not yet arrived at that artistic perception of the exact thing to be worn to best become them, as well as the time and place, which knowledge on nearly all occasions characterizes our neighbours although they have not yet attained this, I say, they soon will. The constant communication between the two nations will soon graft permanently on us what is innate with them. And if Buckingham, and the matchless Norman and Dorset, and the like, whose names always seem to sparkle on the page of romance, once rendered brilliant the old 'Ring' with their charms of wit and superb, manly beauty and clothes, surely there are many who may be fairly instanced as competing with them now. Though not set off by velvet coat, powdered peruke and jewelled sword; though shorn of the glittering, make-believe, diamond buckle on knee and shoe and of the point-lace ruffle, the Englishman of the present day is worthy of mention with the proudest of them
all. The general type is the tall, well-formed, fair, fresh-faced man, with the long, drooping, tawny moustache and whisker-that shape which the 'military cut' has rendered fashionable. If they had a little less of that repose of manner about which Mr. N. P. Willis has raved so much, some of them would be more pleasing objects to contemplate, perhaps; but it is wrong to find fault with what is so nearly perfect of its kind. Quiet as they look, when occasion offers these 'curled darlings' can do and dare anything, as has been proved often and often.
Looking on this constant succession of bright and pretty faces, on this long and never-ending line of lovely women, fine men, splendid horses and stately equipages, one is tempted to congratulate oneself, after all, as having fallen upon the best days of The Park.
That building rising at Kensing ton, away to the south there. Charles the 'merry monarch, nor Villiers the unfortunate, nor staid Mary Fairfax, nor the 'impudent comedian' Nell Gwynne (of whom, remembering Chelsea Hospital, we should always think kindly)—not one of these ever witnessed anything half so wonderful as will be that building and its contents. Nor did they see anything much more humorous, probably, than will be some of the performances we shall be treated to in Rotten Row by visitors from non-riding but obligingly-imitative nations.
The chief glory of the International Exhibition of 1862 departed 'ere ever 1862 was born--departed on that sad Saturday night for England when the great bell of St. Paul's boomed forth on the silent air, telling its tale of woe to anxious, listening thousands. Not the grey mist, hanging cloudily over these leafless trees, looms with a drearier darkness under the wintry sky than
does the shadow of the funeral-pall now overspreading the land. The sorrow that bows the most honoured head in it, is the sorrow of the whole nation. But time is good to us, and we shall still look forward to the opening of that building with interest — with interest painful and subdued—but strong and earnest, nevertheless.
They have all passed away as I bring my gaze back from Kensington--all these spirits who have been bearing me company. Passed, and left a dreary void. The cloudy mists wreathe themselves away as the sun (what there is of him) lowers in the west, leaving the afternoon clear enough, but rapidly ending, and very, very cold. There is no ice on the Serpentine, consequently the banks are not thronged with admiring thousands watching the progress of the best cutter of the outside edge. A moisture is over everything: it pervades the Ride, and causes the composition to cling to the hoofs of the solitary horse who has brought a solitary rider here to look for an appetite. The rumbling of the wheels of a carriage going through at a business-like pace rouses me from the dreamy state I have fallen into while strolling here alone through the summers of the past. I wake to find it winterto find the trees leafless, and to hear the pathetic twitter of a robinredbreast, whose crumbs have not been forthcoming to-day, instead of the clear carol of the lark high up in the air.
But the song-bird of summer will come back, and soon, very soon the gay riders, and vehicles, and forms of those who walk the earth will fill again the ‘Row' and 'Ladies' Mile.' And once more the present shall be so gay that the past shall not be a 'sorrow's crown of sorrow' by bringing back the memories of happier things.'
A. H. T.