Oscar Wilde.

Lady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest online

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say about them is that they were just alike, and that is all I can
say about the Galloway picture in Maryland and the Houghton
Hall picture in England. The paintings were the same size, and
the pigments used were of precisely the same shades of color and
quality. The colors were peculiar in the fact that the artist had
used no varnish nor oil that would leave a shiny appearance.
The Houghton Hall picture had a black, glossy margin all around
it of about five inches in width on which the names of the most
noted of his progeny were inscribed in gold letters, and at the
bottom was this inscription: "The original picture taken at The
Hills, by D. Murrier, painter to H. R. H. the Duke of Cumber-
land." This explained the modest signature attached to the
Maryland picture, which was a replica of the original. "The
Hills" is the local designation of "Gog Magog Hills." The word
"original" not only implies that the picture was made from life,
but that one or more replicas were made at the same time.

Here, then, in this picture, we have all that we know or proba-
bly ever will know of the origin and pedigree of this horse. It
does not tell us what he was, but it does tell us in the most clear
and unmistakable language what he was not. There is no feature
nor element in his make-up that does not say that he was neither
an Arabian nor a Barb. He was a stout, strong-boned, heavily
muscled, short-legged horse. In his form and shape he was very
far removed from an ideal progenitor of race horses, but he was
that progenitor all the same. About forty years after his death
Mr. Stubbs, who never saw the horse, brought out a painting of
him which all artists laughed at as the picture of an impossible
horse. This picture, however, was engraved on steel and became
the standard representation of Godolphin Arabian, in England,
till this day. Both these pictures are here given, and a com-
parison of many points makes it evident that Stubbs copied from
the original of Murrier or from the painting by Wootton, which
was probably also a copy of Murrier, and he followed his copy
just as closely as he could while converting a big-boned, stout
saddle horse into a long-necked, spindle-shanked race horse.


By actual measurement the neck is longer than the body, but it
is not necessary to point out the Stubbs absurdities, as they are
apparent to every eye. It was simply an awkward and dishonest
attempt to express in his form and shape such a pedigree as a
great racing sire should have had. In these two pictures we have
the real and the imaginary — the honest and the dishonest.

The search for this picture and then for its verification was a
labor of many years. I never expected to find the horse's origin,
but the discovery of his likeness seemed to be in the bounds of a
possibility that was finally realized. Murrier's picture, as a
mere work of art, is of no mean value. It contains within itself
undoubted evidence that it is a true picture of a horse, and it is
shown circumstantially that this horse Avas the great "unknown
and untraced founder" of the English race horse, with nothing
of the race horse in his appearance.

The name of this horse has been a misnomer ever since the
day he fell into the hands of Lord Godolphin, and it has misled
a multitude of men to their financial hurt. Of late years the
more intelligent class of writers, instead of calling him an
"Arabian" call him a "Barb," but there is just as much pro-
priety in using one name as the other, and not a scintilla of
authority for using either. Whatever may have been his origin,
his marvelous structural combination of propelling power sup-
plied what was wanting in the English stock of his day, and gave
him success. Since then thousands of Arabians and Barbs have
been tried and all of them have failed.



England supplied with horses be ore the Christian era — Bred for different
purposes — Markham on the speed of early native horses — Duke of New-
castle on Arabians — Hisch ice of blood to propagate — Size of early English
horses — Difficulties about pedigrees in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries — Early accumulations very trashy — The Galloways and Irish
Hobbies — Discrepancies in size — The old saddle stock — The pacers wiped
out — Partial revision of the English Stud Book.

Britain was fully supplied with horses when first invaded by
the Eomaiis, but as there is no history beyond that period we are
only groping in the dark when we attempt to discover when or
whence this supj)ly was procured. The most reasonable theory
is that the first supply came from the Phoenician merchants,
when they were trading for tin in the southwestern part of
Britain. If this theory be correct, the trading between the
Phcenicians and the Britons could hardly have been later than
the fourth century before the Christian era, and it is more prob-
able that it was several centuries earlier. This topic, however,
has been considered in a preceding chapter. Another theory is
that when the tides of migration struck the Atlantic, in the
higher latitudes, there was a natural deflection toward the
warmer countries of the south, the people carrying their horses
with them. But from the primitive condition of the arts and of
maritime affairs among the Norsemen of that very early period,
and from the insular position of Britain, it seems to me that to
reach it with horses, the most probable source of supply was from
that great nation whose "ships of Tarshish" had been trading to
all lands more than a thousand years before the Christian era.
But, laying all theories aside, there are some facts and dates that
we know, and the particular one to which I wish here to call at-
tention is the historical record that when the Eomans first visited
Britain they found an abundant supply of horses; and this was
about four hundred years before Arabia received her supply from
the Emperor Constantius.


From the time of the Romans in Britain, horse-racing has been
a popular and favorite amusement of our ancestors, and from that
time horses have been bred for special purposes. The "Great
Horse/' as he was called, was bred for war, parade, and show,
and was large enough and strong enough to carry a knight in
armor. The smaller horses were bred for the race or the chase,
others for the saddle on account of their easy, gliding motion, and
the comfort of the rider, while others, again, were stout of back and
limb and able to carry burdens. In regard to the speed of the
horses bred for that purpose, Mr. Gerva^e Markham, the second
Englishman who^ undertook to write a book on the horse, has
given us some very interesting and valuable information. He
brought out his work in the latter part of the sixteenth century,
and it passed through several "enlarged and improved" editions.
In the edition of 1606 he says:

"For ssviftuess what nation lias brought forth theho^se which excelled the
English ? When the best Barbanes that ever were in their prime, I saw them
overcome by a black Hobbie, of Salisbury, and yet that black Hobbie was over-
come by a horse called Valt^ntine, which Valentine neither in hunting nor
running was ever equalled, yet was a plain English horse, both by syre and

From this we must conclude that some horses from the Bar-
bary States had been brought over previous to 1606, which doubt-
less antedated the arrival of King James' Arabian. This is the
horse known as the Markham Arabian, and is in the above list of
foundation stallions. In speaking of the Arabian horses as a
breed, the Duke of Newcastle remarks as follows upon this
particular representative of that breed:

"I never saw but one of these horses, which Mr. John Markham, a
merchant, brought over and said he was a right Arabian. He was a bay, but a
little horse, and no rarity for shape, for I have seen many English horses far
finer. Mr. Markham sold him to King .lames for five hundred pounds, and
being trained up for a course (race), when he came to run every horse beat

The duke then goes on to speak of the staying qualities of the

" They talk they will ride fourscore miles in a day and never draw
the bridle. When I was young I could have bought a nag for ten pounds that
•would have done as much very easily."


These remarks are repeated here because they are specially per-
tinent in this connection.

It will be conceded by every one who has any knowledge of the
horse history of this period that the Duke of Newcastle was the
best-informed man of his generation on all subjects connected
with the history and breeding of the horse. His preference for
blood was in the following order: The Barb, the Turk, the
Spaniard, the Neapolitan, and the handsomest of the English
stock. It will be observed that in this classification the Arabian
has no place.

From these illustrations, to which other similar ones might be
added, it seems to be evident tliat the native English stock did
not lack speed so much as they lacked quality, iinish, and beauty.
Perhaps size should be included in this enumeration. They had
been bred and trained to run for centuries, and they were as stout
and fleet as the exotics, but they lacked the qualifications of
beauty and style. The foreigners possessed what the natives
lacked, and more than all they furnished both the climatic and
the blood outcross that were needed to re-invigorate the native
character. It was the custom of the people in the seventeenth
century to let their horses of both sexes roam at will through
forests and glades, and in this way the average size had been re-
duced and the law of Henry VIII. (prohibiting the running at
large of stallions under a certain size) had become a nullity.
At the time of the restoration of Charles II. (1660) the average
size of the traveling stock of England was very small — perhaps
not over thirteen hands high — and then commenced the serious
work of increasing the size and improving the speed of the light
horse stock, under the direction and influence of the Duke of
Newcastle. The introduction of the new blood would give vigor
to the stock, but as that blood was the blood of Turks and Barbs,
probably but little if any larger than the native stock, the mys-
tery still remains unsolved. In about one hundred years from
that time the average size of the race horse had been brought up
from less than fourteen to about fifteen hands. This increase of
size cannot be accounted for on any other grounds than the in-
troduction of the blood of some larger breed. We cannot con-
ceive of this being the blood of the old Flanders stock that had
been brought over centuries before; hence I am strongly of the
opinion that the duke knew just what he was doing when he
brought in a lot of stallions and mares (the latter called the


"Eoyal Mares") without telling anybody what they were or-
where they came from. This yiew is strengthened by the fact
that none of the descendants of these mares, for several genera-
tions, ever made a mark upon the turf. If we reject this theory
of the "Royal Mares/' we are then forced to the conclusion that
the increase of size came chiefly from the large cold-blooded
mares of the native stock. The fleet running families of the
natives were small, and the imported Turks and Barbs were but
little if any larger; hence, if we accept the evidence of our own
senses and study the great variations in height, we cannot reject
the conclusion that these variations had their origin in the size
of the original elements entering into the formation of the breed.
What was the extent of the influence of the speed of the old
English race horse upon the new race horse that sprang up in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? This is a question that
has not been very much discussed, but every intelligent and
thinking man has given it more or less thought. Britain was
not rapid in the progress of civilization and refinement, but
through all the centuries of her history she had her race horses
and she ran them. There can be no doubt that many of these
native horses could outrun and outlast the best of the exotics,
that were brought in. None of those exotics, so far as we know,
could run and win. Their value, then, was measured, not by
what they could do themselves, but by what their progeny could
do; and that progeny, at the foundation, carried half the blood of
the old tribes. There were no racing calendars in the seven-
teenth century and none till the second decade of the eighteenth,
and during all that time the blood of every man's horse would,
naturally, be fashionable blood. When the racing calendars
were established they were a partial check upon untruthful repre-
sentations, but this check only extended to the sire of the ani-
mal, and was then not always trustworthy. This left the whole
maternal side open to all kinds of misrepresentation, and as the
Anglo-Saxon race is fond of liberty, every man exercised the
liberty of making his pedigrees to suit himself. Thus, through
advertisements, sale papers, etc., great multitudes of fictitious
pedigrees, all shaped on fashionable lines, gained currency and
were propagated from owner to owner, from generation to gener-
ation. On this point I speak from the personal knowledge of a
long lifetime in connection with such affairs in our own country,
and I take it for granted that our English ancestors were no


better and no worse than we are ourselves. This was the condi-
tion of things in Enghind for about one hundred and fifty years,
and when Mr. Weatherby was at work on the Stud Book he was
overflowed with a flood of those bald-headed fictions, concocted by
generations long past, and nobody could disprove them. In
this way a large portion of the accumulated rubbish of past gen-
erations found its way into the English Stud Book and there it
stands to-day, serving only to misguide the seeker after truth.

The earliest records of English racing commence with the year
1709, and at Newmarket 1716. There have been several racing
calendars published at different times, but probably the best and
most convenient for office use is the Racing Register published
by Bailey Bros., commencing with tlie first and now filling several
large volumes. In the early days very few of the winners even
had any pedigree, but after the lapse of about fifty years we find
it the rule to insert the sire of all winners, although there were
still some exceptions. Under this usage it became possible in
the course of time to establish the leading facts on the paternal
side, and thus the work of the stud-book compiler was greatly
facilitated. Those racing calendars, although intended merely
to serve the convenience of men who bet their money, caring
nothing for blood, served the more permanent and valuable pur-
pose of fixing the paternal lines in the genealogy of the English
race horse.

In 1786 Mr. William Pick, of York, England, published "A
Careful Collection of all the Pedigrees it was then Possible to
Obtain," thus antedating Mr. VVeatherby's "Introduction" by
five years. In 1785 Mr. Pick had commenced the publication of
a racing calendar called "The Sportsman and Breeder's Vade
Mecum," which was continued a good many years. These little
annual volumes were well received, and they were the forerunners
of Pick's Turf Register, the first volume of which was brought
out in 1703. This was the same year that the first volume of
Weatherby 's Stud Book appeared, and there was a sharp rivalry
between the two authors, not merely as two men, but as repre-
senting two divisions of the country. Mr. Pick was a Yorkshire
man and Mr. Weatherby was a Londoner. Yorkshire claimed to
be the "race-horse region" of England, and the Southrons were
ready to fight rather than concede that claim. This rivalry sur-
vived two or three generations of racing men, and it is a question


whether it lias yet subsided. In the north Pick was the author-
ity and in the south, Weatherby.

These two men worked on different plans, and each had its ad-
vantages. Pick limited his labors to the great animals of the
past, and took them up in chronological order, giving a brief
sketch of the history and performances of each. This plan re-
quired space, and when he had completed his first volume of five
hundred and twenty-eight pages he had only reached the close of
1763. The second volume, bringing the work down to the close
of 1772, made its appearance in 1805. Mr. Pick did not live to
continue the work, and it fell into the hands of Mr. E. Johnson,
who brought out the third volume in 1822, which continued the
chronological order to the close of 1782. After the lapse of forty-
five years, namely 1867, the fourth volume appeared under Mr.
Johnson's name, bringing the work to the close of 1792, and I am
not aware that the work has been continued. These four volumes
contained much that cannot be found elsewhere, and are very

When we come to study these assemblages of impossible things
put together and called pedigrees, we begin to realize the abso-
lute rottenness of the alleged pedigrees of that whole early period.
Take, for instance, the case of the horse called the Bald G-alloway.
lie bore this name because he had a bald face, and was of the
Galloway breed. This Galloway breed took its name from the
old Province of Galloway, in the southwestern part of Scotland.
They were small, active horses and were famous for many genera-
tions as a breed of pacers. It has been said that the last pacers in
Great Britain were found in Galloway. This horse, Bald Gallo-
way, was foaled some time about 1708 and was famous as a fast
race horse till he trained oif at five years old. I think there is
no doubt about his being a genuine Galloway, and if so how
could he have a pedigree all of foreign blood and ending in a
'"Royal Mare?" This Galloway horse was the sire ot the famous
Roxana, that produced Lath and his full brother Cade, that
made the early reputation of the great Godolphin Arabian. I
will ask my readers to refer to the Ourwen Bay Barb, No. 11,
near the commencement of this chapter. This was one of the
very best of all the Barbs imj)orted, and his origin and history are
given with unusual fullness, as well as an enumeration of the best
of his get. In examining this enumeration it will be seen that a
good number of his best foals were out of Galloway mares and


are called *'GaIloways." Brocklesby Betty was one of the great
mares of her day, and the Stud Book says that "as a runner, she
was thought to be the superior of any horse or mare of her time."
She was foaled 1711, was got by Ourwen Bay Barb and out of Mr.
Leedes' Hobby Mare. She was a brood mare before she was
trained, and her performances were soon after the establishment
of the Racing Calendars, which show her great superiority. The
"Hobbies" were a breed of Irish pacing horses that had been
noted for more than a hundred years, on both sides of the Irish
channel, as saddle horses, hunters, and runners. The theory
that these "Irish Hobbies" were descended from the horses on
board one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, that was wrecked
on the Irish coast, is purely fanciful, for they were known as a
breed long before the Spanish Armada was projected. The Hob-
bies were larger and better formed, as a rule, than the Gralloways,
and more highly esteemed. These illustrations of the influence
and power of indigenous blood in the formation of the breed
known throughout the world as the English race horse might be
extended indefinitely, but let these suffice. With the "Gallo-
ways" and the "Hobbies," well known to our ancestors two hun-
dred years ago as established breeds or tribes of horses, we cannot
avoid the conclusion that they were very prodigal of fancy and
very economical of" truth when they attempted to clothe Bald
Galloway, Leedes' Hobby, etc., in foreign pedigrees to make
them fashionable. Aside from the matters of evidence here intro-
duced going to show the composite material entering into the
constitution, structure and instincts of the race horse as he is to-
day, there is another that plays a very prominent part in the
combination. When we see a race horse fourteen hands high,
and another of equally pure blood standing beside him seventeen
hands high, we naturally wonder, and ask. Why this difference
in size? The Turk, the Barb, the Hobby, the Galloway, and in-
deed all the old English racing stock, were very small, scarcely
averaging fourteen hands. After we have made every allowance
for a salubrious climate and a generous and unstinted dietary we
must concede a gradual increase of growth, but these things fail to
account for a difference of twelve inches in the height of two
horses bred in the same lines for untold generations. The con-
clusion seems to be inevitable that there were big horses as well
as little ones in the original combination of ancestors. From
these diverse sources of his inheritance, it becomes plain to the


mind of every one that the English race horse is thoroughly com-
posite in the blood he inherits, and it is beyond the powers of
analysis to determine whether one element did more than another
in making him the fastest running horse in the world.

While it might be forcibly, if not conclusively, argued that the
native English horse had in him all the elements necessary to the
development of a breed of race horses as great as the breed of
our own day, there is one fact ever present to the senses which
goes to show that the influence of exotic blood was very wide and
very powerful in controlling the action of the race horse. The
popular and prevailing pacing action of the Hobbies, the Gal-
loways, and other hunting, racing and saddle tribes was com-
pletely wiped out more than a hundred years ago. Any attempt
to account for this revolution in the gait of the English horse as
a fancy of fashion, or on the introduction of wheeled vehicles,
fails to satisfy the understanding. In the first half of the seven-
teenth century pacers were popular, common, and abounded
everywhere. In the second half of the eighteenth century not
one could be found in all Britain, "from Land's End to John
O'Groat's House." Of all the facts that are known and estab-
lished in the history of the English horse, the wiping out of the
pacer is the most striking and significant. This exterminating
process was not limited to the families that were intended for
hunting or racing purposes, but extended to all types and breeds
of English horses. The little English pacers that had been the
favorites of kings and princes and nobles for so many centuries
were submerged in the streams of Saracenic blood that flowed in
upon them, and their only legitimate descendants left upon the
face of the earth found homes in the American colonies.
Their blood is one of the principal elements in the foundation of
the English race horse, but the "lateral action" in his progeny
was esteemed a bar-sinister on the escutcheon of the stallion, and
it Avas sought to be covered up with something more fashionable
in name. The old saddle horses of England were not all pacers,
although that habit of action was very general among them, and
in some families it was more uniform and confirmed than in
others, and my authority for this conclusion will be found in the
detailed account of the horses brought from England to the
American colonies early in the seventeenth century. It is evi-
dent that from the day the blood of the Saracenic horse was
brought in contact with that of the indigenous saddle horse, they


were antagonistic, if in nothing more, certainly in the habit of
miction. The one never moved in the hiteral action and the other
Tery generally adopted that form of progression because it was
his inheritance. What might have been the result if left to the
laws of ''natural selection," it would be impossible to decide;
but with the dictates of profit to the master, the mandates of
fashion, and above all the accepted teachings of the Duke of
Newcastle, the little pacer had no "friends at court," and all he
could do was to get out of the way, with his lateral action. In
our own country and under the observation of everybody the
pacer shows great tenacity to his long-inherited habit of action,
and although buried in non-pacing blood, as supposed, for two or

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 10 of 61)