Oscar Wilde.

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

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Messenger tlie greatest of all trotting progenitors — Record of pedigrees inEng-
lisli Stud Booli — Pedigrees made from unreliable sources — Messenger's right
male line examined — Flying Cbikiers' "mile in a minute" — Blaze short
of being thoroughbred — Sampson, a good race horse — His size; short in
his breeding — Engineer short also — Mambrino was a race horse with at
least two pacing crosses; distinguished only as a progenitor of coach
horses and fast trotters — Messenger's dam cannot be traced nor identified —
Among all the horses claiming to be thomughbred he is the only one that
founded a family of trotters — This fact conceded by eminent writers in
attempting to find others.

Having completed a brief historical sketch of horse history
from the beginning, and many events connected therewith, we
are now ready to consider the American Trotting Horse, as the
culmination of what has been written. Tims far we have met
with much pretentious nonsense, claiming to be history and
written by men who never gave the subject the study of an
honest hour. The horse is honest enough, but the rule seems
to be almost universal that whenever men commence to write
about him they are guided by their imagination and not by the
facts. As to what we are to meet in the coming chapters, I can
only say that, unfortunately, "the fathers have eaten sour grapes
and the children's teeth are set on edge." The instinct to mis-
represent has been transmitted, and I cannot promise that we
will find any great moral improvement among the horsemen of
our own country and generation.

For more than three-quarters of a century, and indeed from
the first trotting experiences of this country that have been pre-
served, it has been the unanimous judgment of all who have
given any thought or attention to the subject that the imported
English horse, Messenger, was the great central source of trot-
ting speed. As the years have rolled by this opinion has
increased in strength until it has become an intelligent and
demonstrated belief. When, forty years ago, a horse was found


able to trot a mile in two mini\tes and thirty seconds, the speed
was deemed wholly phenomenal, but that speed has been in-
creased, second by second, until we are now on the very brink of
two minutes. In this process every second and fraction of a
second that has been cut off has been so much additonal proof of
the universal belief that Messenger was the chief progenitor of
the American trotter. He is not the only source of trotting
speed, but he is the chief source. Whence he derived this dis-
tinctive power to transmit trotting speed will be made more
clear as we proceed. His blood left no deep nor lasting impress
upon the running horses of the country, and it is seldom-
we meet with any trace of it in the running horse of to-day, but
it is prominent and conspicuous at the winning post of every
trotting track on this continent. This will be made apparent
when we come to consider the details and the merits of the
mighty tribes and families that have descended from him.

Several years ago I promised to write a volume on "Messenger
and his Descendants," and I have often been reminded of that
unfulfilled promise, which I will here try to rsdeem. When that
promise was made I had written many things about Messenger,
but since then I have secured very many valuable facts that, I
think, will far more than compensate for the delay. There is
still much that is unknown and much that is only partially
known of the origin and history of Messenger and his ancestors,,
and in considering the questions that will arise as the discussion
progresses, I will not submit to a slavish acceptance of what-
ever has come down in the shape of stallion advertisements, or as
unsupported traditions, and then recorded as facts by people who
knew nothing about them, and made no effort to know. I shall
look for the facts that are known to be facts, or such evidence as
is reasonable and commends itself to an unbiased judgment, and
then reach such conclusions as right reason shall dictate. The
pedigree of Messenger, or rather the pedigree of Messenger's
reputed grandam, appears in the English Stud Book in the
editions of 1803 and 1827, in the following form:

Regulus Mare (Sister to Figurante). Her dam by Starling, out of Snap's
JISS- k; f-by Herod (dam of Alert). } ^j^ y^^^^^^

1770, bl. c. Hyacinth, by Turf. )

1771, bl. c. Lematlian (aft. Mungo), by Marske. Lord Abingdon*.


1773, — f. by Turf. ]

1774. — f. b> Ditto (dam of Messenger). ! ^ . ftrosvenor
1777, bl. f. by Dux. \ ^°^^ wrosvenor.
1780, b. f. by Justice (dam of Equity). J

1782, b. c. Vulcan, by Justice. Mr. Panton.

1783, b. c. Savage, by Sweetbriar. )

1784 b. f. Ariel by Higli flyer (dam of Mr. ^ Mr. Bullock.
Hamilton's Swindler, by Bagot). )

This is all we have of the pedigree of Messenger as recorded in
the English Stud Book, and this record, on its face, has a very
suspicious appearance. Messenger had run some races at New-
market and a place must be provided for him in the Stud Book.
He always ran as a son of Mambrino, and there is no doubt this
is correct, as it so appeared in the Racing Calendar, long before
the days of the Stud Book. But nobody, either then or later,
seemed to know anything about his dam. Toward the close of
this chapter I will give an exhaustive review of the many troubles
in which these two fillies by Turf seem to be involved.

Messenger was by Mambrino, he by Engineer, he by Sampson,
he by Blaze, he by Flying Childers, and he by tlie Darley Ara-
bian. We give the right male line here for the reason that there
can be no doubt as to the accuracy of this line, for it has been
preserved in contemporaneous racing records. The trouble, where
any trouble exists, is all with the dams of these horses which at
best are only matters of the most uncertain tradition. A writer
in the Edinburgh Beview for July, 1864, covers the whole ground
Avhen he says: "The early pedigrees (in the Stud Book) are but
little to be relied upon, as they seem for the most part to have
been taken from traditional accounts in the stable, from descrip-
tions at the back of old pictures, and from advertisements, none
of which had to pass muster at the Herald's College." This is
in full accordance with our American experiences and it is en-
tirely safe to say that the great body of our old American pedi-
grees, especially in their remote extensions, are more or less ficti-
tious. The industry of producing great pedigrees out of little
or nothing has long been pursued on both sides of the water, and
it would be very difficult to determine which side had the better
of it.

Before attempting to analyze the pedigree of Messenger, or
rather that of his dam, with which the chief difficulty lies, we
will go back to the head of the male line and consider each suc-
cessive generation. The Darley Arabian, one of the most dis-
tinguished of all the founders of the English thoroughbred horse.


was brought from Aleppo, about the year 1710. He did not
cover many mares except those of his owner in Yorkshire, but he
was very successful. Childers, commonly called Flying Childers,
was foaled 1715. He was got by the Darley Arabian out of
Betty Leeds, a distinguished lightweight runner, by Careless.
Childers was the most distinguished race horse of his day, and
the fabulous story of his having run a mile in a minute was cir-
culated, believed and written about for generations. He ran a
trial against Almanzor and Brown Betty over the round course
at Newmarket (three miles, six furlongs and ninety-three yards)
in six minutes and forty seconds, "and it was thought," says the
old record, "that he moved eighty-two feet and a half in a second
.of time, which is nearly at the rate of one mile in a minute."
This was the basis of the legend "A Mile in a Minute," and it
has lived till our own day, just as many a traditional pedigree
has lived. If we accept the time as given by the old chroniclers,
of which we have very grave doubts, Childers ran at the rate of
one minute and forty-five seconds to the mile, and he covered a
distance of fifty feet and about two inches to the second of time.
The pedigree of Childers on the maternal side is one of the old-
est in the Stud Book, and we are not aware that any charges
have ever been made against its substantial authenticity.

Blaze, the son of Childers, was foaled 1733, and was out of a
mare known as "The Confederate Filly," by Grey Grantham; her
dam was by the Duke of Rutland's Black Barb, and her grandam
was a mare of unknown breeding, called "Bright's Roan." Here
the maternal line runs into the woods, but this is not the only
defect in the pedigree, for the dam of Grey Grantham was also
unknown. In order to give a clear idea of just how Blaze was
bred, taking the Stud Book for our authority, we will here tabu-
late the pedigree for a few crosses.



Darley Arabian

fCWlders Jt,,, , , j Careless.

(Betty Leeds... j gj^t^r to Leeds.

i„ ^ ., ( Browlow Turk.
Grey Grantham Blood unknown.
^ , , , Black Barb.

Daughter of. . . - Wright's Roan, unknown.

Certainly this horse cannot be ranked as thoroughbred under
any rule, English or American, that has ever been formulated.
Only three generations away we find two animals of hopelessly


unknown breeding. Mr. Henry F. Euren, compiler of the Eng-
lish Hackney Stud Book, has given Blaze a new place in horse
genealogy, and this new place affects the American trotter, re-
motely, outside of the line through Messenger. Mr. Lawrence,
the best English authority on horse matters in the latter part of
the last and the beginning of the present century, had main-
tained, confessedly on tradition only, that Old Shales, the great
fountain head of the English trotters of a hundred years ago, was
a son of Blank, by Godolphin Arabian. On this point Mr. Euren
has got farther back and found earlier evidence in printed form
that Blaze and not Blank was the sire of Old Shales. We com-
bated this claim for a time, but in the introduction to his Stud
Book he has made out a very good case, and we have hardly a
doubt but that he is correct. In speaking of the breeding of Shales,
and of his dam being a "strong common-bred mare," he says: "It
is of interest to examine the pedigree of the sire (Blaze) to deter-
mine whether yet stronger racing or pacing elements existed on
that side." After giving a tabulation of the pedigree he con-
tinues: "There would thus appear to have been a large propor-
tion of English (native) blood in the dam of Blaze, though no
one can say what was its character — whether running, trotting,
or ambling." In referring to the fact that Bellfounder was a
descendant of Old Shales, the son of Blaze, Mr. Euren makes
this practical application of the incident:

" The fact that in tlie seventh generation from Blaze, on each side, the re-
union of the blood in Rysdyk's Hambletonian, the sire of so many fast Ameri-
can trotting horses, should have proved to be of the most impressive character,
would appear to warrant the conclusion that there was a strong latent trotting
tendency in the near ancestors, on one. if not on both, sides of Blaze."

These two points from a very high English authority — that
Blaze was not thoroughbred and that he was the sire of Shales,
a great trotting progenitor, must have due weight in reaching
sound conclusions.

Sampson, the son of Blaze, was foaled 1745, and he has occu-
pied a very prominent and at the same time unique place in run-
ning-horse history. He was not only a great race horse, at heavy
weights, but he was considered phenomenal in his size and
strength, and in his lack of the appearance of a race horse.
Some of his measurements have come down to us, and as they are
reliable data as to what was considered a remarkably large and


strong race horse a hundred and forty years ago, we will repro-
duce them here in order that the curious may compare them with,
the average race horse of this generation:

Height on the withers, 15 hands 2 inches; dimensions of fore leg from the
hair of the hoof to middle of fetlock joint, 4 inches; from fetlock joint to bend
of the knee, 11 inches; from bend of knee to elbow, 19 inches; round fore leg
below knee, narrowest part, Scinches; round hind leg, narrowest part, 9 inches.

These measurements may not seem to merit any particular at-
tention at this day, but a hundred and fifty years ago they were
considered phenomenal in the race horse. But we are not left
to the dry details of a certain number of inches and fractions of
an inch upon which to base a just conception of the strength and
substance of this horse. A number of historians have told us of
the merriment among the grooms and jockeys when Sampson
made his first appearance on the turf. The question was, "Has-
Mr. Robinson brought a coach horse here to run for the plate?"
The laugh was on the other side at Malton that day, however,,
when the "coach horse," carrying one hundred and forty pounds,,
won the plate in three heats. The distance was three miles, and
Sampson was then five years old. At long distances and at high
weights Sampson was a first-class race horse for his day. But,
notwithstanding all this, we are told that his blood never became
fashionable, for there was a widespread conviction that he was
not running-bred on the side of his dam. The historians tell us.
that he transmitted his own coarseness and lack of the true run-
ning ty2ie in a marked degree, which was very evident in his
grandson, Mambrino.

His pedigree has been questioned from the day of his first
appearance to the present time, and we have made a very careful
study of all the facts at our command. In the first edition of
his Stud Book (18(33) Mr. Weatherby gives his dam as by Hip; g. d.
by Spark, son of Honeycomb Punch; g. g. d. by Snake and out of
Lord D'Arcy's Queen. This has not been materially changed in
any of the subsequent editions, and we think it may be taken for-
granted that the horse was advertised under this pedigree. Mr.
Weatherby commenced work on pedigrees in 1791, and avowedly
accepted the best information he could get with regard to old
pedigrees, regardless of the source. We are not aware that he-
ever investigated anything outside of his office work, or if he did
he never gave the public the benefit of the details of his investi-


gations. Jolm Lawrence commenced work on horse history long
before Mr. Weatherby commenced as a compiler of pedigrees, and
he was altogether the ablest writer of his day, or perhaps we
might add, of any other day. He was a clear and independent
thinker and a vigorous writer. In his "History of the Horse in
all His Varieties and Uses," on page 281, he thus discusses the
question of Sampson's pedigree:

" Nobody yet ever did, or ever could assert positively that Jiirg was not
tborougbbred, but tbe case is very different witb respect to Sampson; since
nobody in tbe sporting world, eitber of past or present days, ever supposed
Mm so. Nor was tbe said world at all surprised at Robinson's people furnisb-
ing tbeir stallion witb a good and true pedigree, a tbing so uiucb to tbeir ad-
vantage. Having seen a number of Sampson's immediate get, tbose in tbe
Lord Marquis of Rockingbam's stud and otbers, and all of them, Bay Malton
perbaps less than any otber, in tbeir heads, size and form, baving tbe appear-
ance of being a degree or two deficient in racing blood, I was convinced that
tbe tben universal opinion on that point was well grounded. I was (in 1778)
an enthusiast, collecting materials for a book on tbe borse. It bappened tbat
I wanted a trusty and steady man for a particular service, and opportunely for
tbe matter now under discussion, a Yorksbire man about tbreescore years of
age was recommended to me, wbo had recently been employed in certain stables.
I soon found tbat bis early life bad been spent in tbe running stables of tbe
North, and tbat be bad known Sampson, whence be was alwaj's afterward
named by us 'Old Sampson.' He was very intelligent on tbe subject of racing
•t )ck and bis report was as follows. He took the mare to Blaze, for tbe cover
^^!lif•b produced Sampson, helped to bit and break tbe colt, rode bim in exer-
■ ise and afterward took him to Malton for bis first start, where, before tbe race,
iie was ridiculed for bringing a great coach borse to contend against racers.
On tbe sale of Sampson this man left tbe service of James Preston, E.sq., and
went witb the colt into tbat of Mr. Robinson. His account of Sampson's dam was
that she appeared about three parts bred, a bunting figure and by report a
daughter of Hip, wbicb, however, could not be authenticated; and tbe fact
was tben notorious and not disputed in tbe Yorksbire stables. . . . Mr.
Tattersall lately slowed me a portrait of Sampson in bis flesb, in wbicb this
defect of blood appears far more obvious tban in one wbicb I bad of bim

Again, in his great quarto work, issued 1809, Mr. Lawrence
reiterates his belief that Sampson was not thoroughbred. He

"I am by no means disposed to retract my opinion concerning Robinson's
Sampson. Not only did tbe account of tbe groom appear to me to be entitled
to credit, but tbe internal evidence of tbe horse's baving bad in bim a cross of
common blood is sufficiently strong by tbe appearance botb of tbe borse him-
self and of bis stock; an idea in wbicb every sportsman, I believe, wbo re-
members Engineer, Mambrino and otbers will agree witb me."



Here then, we have the answer to the whole inquiry reduced
to its simplest form. The groom who coupled the mare with
Blaze from which came Sampson says the mare was called a Hip
mare, but that her pedigree was really unknown. For the intel-
ligence and honesty of this groom Mr. Lawrence does not hesi-
tate to vouch, and he adds the common belief of all the York-
shire sportsmen of that day, who knew the mare, that she was of
unknown breeding. This, evidence is further supplemented by
the family characteristics of the stock descended from Sampson,
to say nothing of the great lack of "blood" in tiie appearance of
Sampson himself. As against this we have the dry, unsupported
assertion of Mr. Weatherby, forty years after the event, and prob-
ably copied from an advertisement of the horse. In view of all
this we must tabulate the pedigree of Sampson as follows:


f Blaze.

Called a Hip Mare
^ (Unknown),

^„ .,j ( Darby Arabian.

^^^^'^^'■^ ] Bett/ Leeds.

n c A t TT'Mi i Grey Grantham.
Confederate Filly -j j^ -^ ^^^^^ ^^^^

Engineer, son of Sampson, was a brown horse, foaled 1755, and
was out of Miner's dam, by Young Greyhound; grandam by Our-
wen's Bay Barb, and the next dam unknoAvn. This is all the
pedigree that has ever been even claimed for this horse, and it
falls far short of the rank of thoroughbred. That the eye may
take it all in at a glance we will here put it into tabular form.
There is a discrepancy of one year between AVeatherby and Pick
in the age of the horse, and we find Pick is right in giving his
date as 1755.

Engineer. . ,

' Sampson.

Miner's dam.


Blaze .

( Cbilders.

} Confederate Filly.


^r /-I 1 J I Greyhound.

Young Greyhound, -j p^tmare.


/ Unknown.

D. of Bav Barb

Notwithstanding the absence of Eastern blood. Engineer was a
race horse of above average ability, although not so good as an-
other son of Sampson called Bay Malton. A few of his sons
aside from Mambrino ran respectably, and his daughters were, at
one time, highly prized as brood mares.


MAMBRiifO, the son of Engineer, was a great strong-boned grey
horse, bred by John Atkinson near Leeds in Yorkshire, and was
foaled 1768. His dam was by Cade, son of the Godolphin
Arabian; g. d. by Bolton Little John; g. g. d. Favorite by a
son of Bald Galloway, etc. The Cade mare produced Dulcine, a
a noted performer, and the mare Favorite was a distinguished
performer herself. The poverty of this pedigree is all on the
side of the sire, as will be seen by a brief tabulation.

So ( Blaze.

^ / unknown.

Miner's dam. Uou^^B^'lT'-

, , , . , ^ D. of Bay Barb.

(iTeS).' ( Cade \ ^"d^^P^"'^ ^" - bian

Daughter of. ■]

Daughterof -j ^__^ ^ i Bolron Little John.


It is worthy of note here, as a curious fact, that Mambrino had
two pacing crosses. RoxaT)a, the dam of Cade, was by Bald Gal-
loway and Favorite was by a son of Bald Galloway. This horse
Bald Galloway was a distinguished representative of the famous
old tribe of pacers known as the "Galloways," from the province
of Galloway in Southwestern Scotland.

Mambrino was not put upon the turf till he was five years old,
and he proved himself a great race horse in the best company
and for the largest class of stakes. He was on the turf most of
the time for five or six years and until he was beaten by Wood-
pecker in 1779, in which race he broke down. He was beaten,
but four times, and paid four forfeits. He went into the stud in
the spring of 1777, although he ran after that, at lOgs. 10s. 6d.
to cover thirty mares besides those of his owners. In 1779 he
was again in the stud, in Cambridgeshire as before, at the same
price; 1781 he covered at 50gs. 10. 6d.; 1784 at 15gs. 10. 6d.;
1785 at 2ogs. 10s. 6d.; 1786 he dropped back to logs. 10s. 6d.

We give these prices to show the variations in the estimated
value of his services. As a sire of race horses Mambrino was not
successful. Some fifteen or twenty of his progeny ran more or
less respectably, but none of them was at all comparable with
himself. While he was a comparative failure as a racing sire
there was another qualification in Avhich he attained great emi-
nence and distinction. In the second volume of Pick's Turf Reg-
ister, published 1805, on page 266, we find the following para-
graph appended to the history there given of this horse:


" Mambrino was likewise sire of a great many excellent hunters and strong,
useful road horses. And it has been said that from his blood the breed of
horses for the coach was brought nearly to perfection."

This paragraph, considering its date (1805), the authority
from which it comes, and the peculiar circumstances which
prompted its utterance, has a most striking significance. After
years of familiarity with Mr. Pick's works we can say freely that
we never have been able to find any allusion or reference to the
qualities of any horse portrayed by him other than his running
qualities. This reference to the adaptabilities of the progeny of
Mambrino stands alone. The "blood that brought the breed of
coach horses nearly to perfection" must have been blood that
gave the "breed" a long, slinging, road-devouring trot, as well
as size and strength. The very same qualifications were observed
and noted in the descendants of Mambrino in this country forty
and fifty years ago, and at no time in our history have we had
such unapproachable coach horses as the great-grandsons of
Mambrino. What has been said, therefore, by Mr. Pick of the
"coach-horse" qualities of the descendants of Mambrino in Eng-
land has been fully realized and verified in his descendants,
through Messenger, in this country.

The question here arises whether Mambrino ever showed any
remarkable trotting action himself that would seem to justify
this estimate of the trotting action of his descendants? Several
writers, and among them Mr. Lawrence, have spoken of this
peculiarity of Mambrino's incidentally, but the most tangible
account we have of it is furnished by an English writer to the
Sporting Magazixe, who dates his letter from the "Subscrip-
tion Rooms, Tattersall's, 1814." These "subscription rooms"
were the very focus of sporting events, and this writer seems to
be uilusually intelligent on this class of subjects. The object
and point of his communication is to prove that no thoroughbred
hor.e could be developed into a fast trotter. "Hence," he says,
*'no thoroughbred was ever known capable of trotting sixteen
miles within the hour, and only one stands on record as having
trotted fifteen miles within one hour. That was Infidel, by
Turk, who performed it in the North, carrying nine or ten stone.
Several race horses have been supposed capable of trotting four-
teen miles in one hour, and it is reported that the late Lord

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 23 of 61)