AN INCORRIGIBLE UNIONIST.
THE Bog of Allen slid past the window of the railway carriage, in long floors of grey and brown, rifted with mauve; the horizon was level as a bow-string, and the grey sky arched to it. The unrest of Dublin fell back into its place among lesser things; the pageant of the Horse Show, the almost audible rastle of cheque-book and bank-note, the strikers standing ominously in Sackville Street with the mounted Police watching them—all these were left behind like the heat of the day, and the mood of the sovereign country- side enforced itself. Like a sovereign it sent forth its repre- sentative, and be, the Horse, has with inimitable grace and distinction played his part before the Nations, and added yet another touch of the paramount and the inexplicable to the reputation of Ireland. It is his prerogative to preserve and present, without incongruity or effort, the age of chivalry, to move, year after year, through the changeful crowd in the Dublin street as though be carried a Knight of the Round Table, to pass in through the soulless monotony of motors to his palace at Ball's Bridge, wild-eyed and splendid, or soft-eyed and wise, as he passed into the lists of Ashby-de-la.Zonch. Even as he stands, sheeted and dignified, in his place in the long streets of stalls, the turn of his polished quarters tells of his high lineage, of his power and his elegance: down to the clean straw his legs are unquestionably a gentleman's, longer, perhaps, than the English eye is accustomed to, but that is Ireland, and we like it so. There are more specimens of him this year than ever before, and more people to look at him, five or six thousand more people, but that is nothing to him; he has been looked at hard from the hour of his birth, and his virtues have been proclaimed before his shy face, he has evoked simile and epigram even while yet he hid behind his mother. He has also heard his detractors; they may even have accused him very loudly of having "no more bone than a dog," or of a habit of " boxing himself," or of having "a fashion of twining the leg," even of " going light on the former leg" (which, it may be explained, means being slightly lame in a fore), a matter at once met by the extenuating circumstance that he was "growing a splinter." Intense and untiring observation has been accorded to him throughout his life, therefore he moves in stately docility in the big rings, where the people lean thick to follow his move- ments, and the dealer beckons him to the rails, and the heated tide of encomium is met by the glacier stream of detraction, and out of these is brought forth, like a chaud- froid, the Bargain. He is passed on, probably, almost certainly, to England and to Germany, but that early life of his, among a clever people who expected him to be as clever and intuitive as they, has made him what ht is, as surely as Galway limestone or Minister pastures have entered into his bones. Has not an English cavalry sergeant-major told the present writer, while looking on at "stables " at Aldershot, that the Irish horses who passed into the regiment learned their work in a noticeably shorter time than any other? So it should be with those of their upbringing.
It is, of course, in that unique jumping enclosure of Ball's Bridge, when be springs to his work, ignoring, in spite of his sensitive soul, the slope of faces in the enormous stand, the solid ring of them framing the long oval of grass, that he displays his greatest qualities. There, with every eye fastened on him, he rejoices as a giant to run his course, bold, resource- fill, and fulfilled with that enthusiasm that be squanders so lavishly in the chase. That intellectual countenance of his is set towards his old friends, the bank and the stone wall, taking their measure with practised eyes and pricked ears as he comes at them over the dainty grass; he seizes the tall bank, poises on it like an acrobat, and as he kicks it from him is already making up his mind about the stone wall that follows on it. Over the stones he enjoys himself with less reserve than ie demanded by that excellent piece of brainwork, the negotiation of the bank, but he does not forget the final upward fling of the hind legs to avoid the dislodging of a stone. Bank, water-jump, and hurdle follow, but water-jump and hurdle are tame after bank and wall, and do not exhibit the higher qualities of the artist in horse or rider. When
a horse, in his eagerness,- took off too soon and pecked heavily upon the bank, his rider most justifiably lost his stirrups, and every face- followed the problem of whether or not he would recover them before the wall was reached.
The pulling horse fought for his head, and spread himself mightily over the stones ; the rider, stirrupless but unshaken, lay back- to the big lift, and a " Ha " of skilled approval
broke hard and simultaneous from. the oval frame of spec- tators. It was somewhere here, while the pairs of competitors charged their fences, and the horses waiting for their turn danced like thistledown in the- background, that lines by one of our own poets drifted_ back to me :-
" So bold and frank his bearing, boy,
Did you meet him onward faring, boy,
In Lapland's snow or Chili's glow,
You'd say What news from Erin, boy ? "
Over here we scarcely know what the news is, or will be. During this week people have asked each other, at Leopards-
town, at the Show, at the- Bloodstock. Sales, at Phoenix Park Races, how things will be next year, when the Royal Dublin Society opens the doors of its forty-sixth Horse Show, and there has been no satisfactory answer. That incorrigible-
Unionist, the Horse, alone remains where he- was, and will remain, like charity, the- bond of peace. The army- of foals
now in the fields are pushing on towards- their vocations ; the men or women who watch over each have their hearts in his future, and that future- is pure of politics.- The world wants him more than ever now ; Ulster and the-South are producing him with an equal intentness in response to the great desire of other countries for him; Ireland herself will want him when the latest horse-drawn farming machinery is placed by co-operation within the reach of small farmers as well as large. He-is knitting Ireland together; the political situation, heavy and black as it is, opens to let. him through. When the wondrously blended crowd moves in the enclosured area of the Horse Show, and the- seldom-seen Union Jack lounges there on its staff, and the- National Anthem makes there its resounding statement of faith, the Horse might laugh in his
heart at his power to. place such matters in. a secondary position. But, unlike the dog, the Horse seldom. laughs.