My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915 Chapter X: Newmarket and Melton is in My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915.
I made my first acquaintance with Newmarket when I was ten years old. I went there with my dear mother, and we stayed at the Rutland Arms Hotel, and I remember being very much interested at seeing handsome old Sir Henry Mildmay (46) lifted on his horse to ride to the course. People always rode or drove there, and there was only one stand, which was reserved for members of the Jockey Club and their friends.
After my marriage Lord Cardigan and I always went to the different meetings, and generally met all our friends; among others, Lord and Baroness Westmorland, Lord and Baroness Hastings, the Duchess of Beaufort, Willie Craven, George Bruce, and Prince Batthyany. Newmarket was quite a charming rendezvous of society then, so different from the mixed crowd that goes there nowadays, and it could be easily re-christened "Jewmarket", for the Chosen are everywhere.
Poor Henry Blackwood, the highwayman of Cassiobury, met his death when he was riding to the course with Lord Cardigan and myself. A rope had been stretched across the road for some reason or other, and Henry Blackwood, who never saw it, rode right into it and was pitched off his horse. He was picked up insensible and carried back to Newmarket. He lingered in an unconscious state for three days and then died. It was a curious coincidence that Lord Cardigan was to die in almost exactly the same way through a fall from his horse, and that he also was to lie in a stupor for three days.
Lady Amelia Blackwood was with her husband until he died, but another lady whom he had dearly loved would not be denied admittance to the death-chamber. Lady Amelia did not object, so the dying man's mistress and his wife waited for the end together — truly a strange situation !
My uncle, Admiral Rous, was a great personage at Newmarket, and I cannot describe him better than by quoting what has been written by a well-known sporting judge.
" There was the old Admiral himself, the King of Sportsmen and good fellows. Horse or man-o'-war, it was all one to him; and although sport may not be regarded as of the same importance with politics, who knows which has the more beneficial effect on man-kind .'* I would have backed Admiral Rous to save us from war, and if we drifted into it, to save us from the enemy against any men in the world"..
Mrs. Rous was very dictatorial, and I remember one day after her death calling to inquire how my uncle was. " Indeed, my Lady", said the servant, " I may say the Admiral is a deal better since Mrs. Rous's death". I believe the same answer was given to all callers, and how angry my aunt would have been could she have heard it !
After I became a widow I often stayed with my uncle, and later on I bought the house associated with so many pleasant memories of the dear Admiral.
Caroline, Duchess of Montrose, was a very well-known figure at Newmarket, but she was highly unpopular, and was once mobbed on the course for having Mr. Crawfurd's horse pulled as there was not enough money on it! She was very much in love with Mr. Crawfurd, whom she afterwards married.
Crawfurd owned a horse called "Corrie Roy", and as the Duchess was nicknamed "Carrie Red", these names were the subject of some amusing doggerel written by Lord Winchilsea ... "Corrie Roy and Carry Red, One for the course, the other for bed, Is not Craw a lucky boy, To have Carry Red and Corrie Roy ? ".
George Bruce, the Duchess's nephew, was a source of great annoyance to her, " Hullo, Auntie Craw ! " he used to call out when he saw her on the course. George was known as "The Duffer", but duffer or no, he could say spiteful things which were very much to the point. He always warned me to be very careful of his mother, Lady Ernest Bruce, whom he generally referred to as " Bellona, the goddess of war and discord". They were always quarrelling, and he disliked her intensely.
George Bruce married Lady Evelyn Craven. He afterwards went to Corsica for his health, and he died at Ajaccio in 1868. He was strikingly like Napoleon Bonaparte, and wherever he went in the island the people idolised him on account of his resemblance to the great Emperor.
Deene is in the midst of the best hunting country, so I hunted for thirty years with the Quorn, the Belvoir, the Pytchley, the Cottesmore, the Fitzwilliams, and the Woodland.
I was particularly proud of my mounts, and always rode splendid horses.
Baroness Grey de Wilton was one of the most graceful riders I have ever seen, and I do not believe her equal now exists in the hunting-field ! She, and her favourite horse "Shannon", took all the fences in a way that compelled every one's admiration, and it was a positive delight to watch her. She was a lovely woman, and her second husband, Mr. Arthur Prior was sometimes jokingly called " The Prior of Orders Grey"..
I used often to meet Louise, Duchess of Devonshire (then Duchess of Manchester) in the country. At that time she was in the freshness of her somewhat opulent German beauty, but we were never intimate, and have always disliked each other.
The beautiful and unfortunate Empress Elizabeth of Austria (39) rented Cottesbroke from my cousins the Langhams, and her exploits in the hunting-field are well known. Bay Middleton was always staying at Cottesbroke, and used generally to give the Empress a "lead"..
The Empress found Sunday rather a dull day at Cottesbroke, so she had jumps made all round the park, and at 6 o'clock every Sunday morning she and Bay Middleton used to ride together, and taking the jumps became her unvarying Sunday amusement.
Her biographers have not flattered her when they describe her as being singularly handsome, for she was indeed a queenly figure, and I think her only personal defects were her hands and feet, which were large and ungainly. It is said that when Elizabeth (39) first met the Empress Eugenie (50) she was very jealous of her tiny extremities, for Eugenie's hands and feet were exceptionally small.
My hunting recollections would not be complete without including among them the occasion in '73 when I went to a meet at Belvoir, and met his Majesty King Edward VII (31), then Prince of Wales, who was staying at the Castle. I was riding my famous horse "Dandy", who won the Billesdon Coplow Stakes at Croxton Park, and that morning I was much exercised in my mind about a proposal of marriage I had just received from Disraeli (68). My uncle Admiral Rous (77), had said to me, " My dear, you can't marry that d---d old Jew", but I had known Disraeli (68) all my life, and I liked him very well. He had, however, one drawback so far as I was concerned, and that was his breath — the ill odour of politics perhaps ! In ancient Rome a wife could divorce her husband if his breath were unpleasant, and had Dizzy (68) lived in those days his wife would have been able to divorce him without any difficulty. I was wondering whether I could possibly put up with this unfortunate attribute in a great man, when I met the King, who was graciously pleased to ride with me. In the course of our conver- sation I told him about Disraeli's (68) proposal and asked him whether he would advise me to accept it, but the King (31) said he did not think the marriage would be a very happy one.
I lunched with the Royal party at Belvoir Castle, and as I rode home afterwards I felt well pleased that I had decided not to become the wife of a politician !