Reminiscences of Captain Gronow

Author: R. H. Gronow

Coaching and Racing in 1815

Stage-coaches, or four-in-hand teams, were introduced in Paris in 1815 by Captain Bacon, of the 10th Hussars (afterwards a general in the Portuguese service), Sir Charles Smith, Mr. Roles, the brewer, and Arnold, of the 10th. They used to meet opposite Demidoff’s house, afterwards the Cafe de Paris, and drive to the Boulevard Beaumarchais, and then back again, proceeding to the then unfinished Arc du Triomphe. Crowds assembled to witness the departure of the teams; and it created no little amusement to the Parisian to see perched upon Sir C. Smith’s coach one or two smartly-dressed ladies, who appeared quite at home. Sir Charles was likewise a great supporter of the turf, and was the first man who brought over from England thorough-bred horses. By his indefatigable energy he contrived to get up very fair racing in the neighbourhood of Valenciennes; his trainer at this time being Tom Hurst, who is now, I believe, at Chantilly; and all the officers of our several cavalry and infantry regiments contributed their efforts to make these races respectable in the eyes of foreigners. Be this as it may, they were superior to those in the Champs de Mars, though under the patronage of the King.

I shall not forget the first time I witnessed racing in Paris, for it was more like a review of Gensdarmes and National Guards; the course was kept by a forest of bayonets, while mounted police galloped after the running horses, and, in some instances, reached the goal before them. The Duc d’ Angouleme, with the Duc de Guiche and the Prefet, were present; but there was only one small stand, opposite to a sentry-box where the judge was placed. The running, to say the least of it, was ridiculous: horses and riders fell; and the fete, as it was called, ended with a flourish of trumpets. Wonderful changes have taken place since that time, and at the Bois de Boulogne and at Chantilly may be seen running equal to that of our best races in England; and our neighbours produce horses, bred in France, that can carry off some of the great prizes in our own "Isthmian games."


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Chicago: R. H. Gronow, "Coaching and Racing in 1815," Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, ed. F. N. Maude and trans. Oliver Elton in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow (New York: Norroena Society, 1857), Original Sources, accessed March 29, 2023,

MLA: Gronow, R. H. "Coaching and Racing in 1815." Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, edited by F. N. Maude, and translated by Oliver Elton, in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, New York, Norroena Society, 1857, Original Sources. 29 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Gronow, RH, 'Coaching and Racing in 1815' in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, ed. and trans. . cited in 1857, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, Norroena Society, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 29 March 2023, from