Oscar Wilde.

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

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Peter, out of an unknown mare, was also a famous old-time trot-
ter. One of his daughters was bred to Coriander, son of Mes-
senger, and the produce was Topgallant, the fastest horse of his
time. These individual enumerations might be extended in-
definitely, but I have given enough to show that he was not
merely a progenitor of trotting speed in remote generations, but
that speed came directly from his own loins. Another most sig-
nificant fact is here brought to light, namely, that when bred
back upon the blood of his own sire he achieved his greatest suc-

Mambrino. — This great son of Messenger was a bright bay
with a star and one white ankle. He was fully sixteen hands
high, with great length of body and generally of coarse appear-
ance. He was foaled 1806, and was bred by Mr. Lewis Morris, of
Westchester County, New York. His dam was by imported
Sour Crout, out of a mare by imported Whirligig, and she out of
the famous Miss Slammerkin, that is a well-known landmark
reaching beyond the Revolution. The late William T. Porter, of
the Spirit of the Times, stoutly maintained that Mambrino was
not a thoroughbred horse, and his reasons seemed to rest wholly
upon his coarse and cart-horse appearance. Technically, Mr.


Porter was right, but the trouble did not rest with the dam, as
he seems to have supposed, for I have seen the original certificate
of breeding in the handwriting of Mr. Morris, his breeder, and
there is no slip on that side of the pedigree. Mr. Morris was a
prominent breeder and racing man for many years and his char-
acter was without taint. The pedigree is a very long one and I
would be very far from vouching for the truth of the remote
extensions, but back to the mare by Cub, imported by Mr. De
Lancey, who bred Miss Slammerkin, there can be no mistake.

In the spring of 1810, then four years old, he was purchased
of his breeder by Major William Jones, of Queens County, Long
Island, and in the autumn of that year he was trained and ran
for the two-mile parse at the old Newmarket Course, Long
Island, and it is said gave some evidence that he could run, but
after that he was never trained nor started in a race, from which
we may conclude he was not a race horse, or his owner, who bred
and ran his horses, would have given him another trial.

In 1811 he was put in the stud and made the season at Hunt-
ington, Long Island, in charge of Ebenezer G-ould. It is not
known where he made the season of 1813, but probably in Orange
or Dutchess County. The years 1813-14-15 he was in charge of
my late highly esteemed and venerable correspondent, David W.
Jones, on the borders of Queens and Suffolk counties. Long
Island, where he covered about two hundred and fifty mares.
In 1816 he was in one of the river counties, in 1817 at Fishkill,
and 1818 at Townsend Cock's, Long Island. In later years he
changed hands many times, at from two hundred to two hundred
and fifty dollars, and there is no published trace of him till we
find that he made the seasons of 1825 and 1829 at Pleasant Valley,
Dutchess County, and he died the property of Benjamin Grer-
mond, on the farm of Azariah Arnold in Dutchess County, about

He took his beautiful color from his dam and transmitted it
with great uniformity. His general structure was after the Mes-
senger model, especially in the large bones and joints of his
limbs. His head was long and bony and his ears were large and
somewhat heavy. He was too high on his legs and his general
appearance was coarse, all of which he transmitted. In speaking
of his offspring Mr. Jones remarks: ''When young they were
somewhat leggy and lathy, but spirited, stylish and slashing in
action. When matured, he must indeed be fastidious who would

messenger's sons. 237

crave another." With regard to his gait Mr. Jones uses the
following very emphatic language: "I have been the breeder of
some, and the owner of many good horses, and with the best
opportunities of judging, having ridden him (he was never driven)
many, many miles, I say, with entire confidence, he was the best
natural trotter I ever threw a leg over. His walk was free, fling-
ing and elastic; his trot clear, square and distinct, with a beau-
tiful roll of the knee and great reach of the hind leg." In the
absence of actual training and timing, it is hardly possible to get
better evidence that Mambrino was a natural trotter that might
have been developed to a considerable rate of speed. It would
be interesting to know just why the horse "never was driven."
Did he show an unconquerable aversion to harness, and did
Abdallah inherit this aversion? This description of Mambrino 's
gait was written in 1866, and the writer had spent a long lifetime
in an intimate personal knowledge of many, or indeed most, of
the best early trotters that this country had produced.

The only one of his immediate progeny that attained distinc-
tion as a trotter was the famous Betsey Baker. This mare was
very prominent among the best of her day, and was able, on one
occasion at least, to beat the great Topgallant, and in tandem
with Grey Harry when she was old she trotted in 3:41|-2:43|.
Others of his progeny were trotters of some merit, but none of
them especially distinguished on the turf. His three sons, Abdal-
lah, Almack and Mambrino Paymaster, are the bright links in the
chain extending from Messenger to the two-minute trotter that
will keep his memory green as long as there is a trotting horse
on the earth. Abdallah at the head of the Hambletonians,
Almack at the head of the Champions, and Mambrino Paymaster
at the head of the Mambrino Chiefs embrace the major portion
of the great trotters of this generation.

WiNTHROP, OR Maine Messenger. — Perhaps no son of Mes-
senger, not excepting Hambletonian and Mambrino, produced a
more marked effect upon the stock of any part of the country
than this horse did in the State of Maine. The impress he there
made was not only remarkable at the time, but it is still felt and
acknowledged in his descendants to this day. There have been
many conflicting statements made to the public about him and
his history, but I think I am now able to give, in authentic and
reliable form, all that is really known of his origin and history.
He was foaled about 1807 and was among the last colts by the


imported horse, but unfortunately we know nothing of the blood
of his dam. Mr. Alvan Hay ward, for many years a citizen of
Kennebec County, Maine, but more recently of York, Livingston
County, New York, says his dam possessed some imported blood;
but as all his records and memoranda were burned up in 1845 he
is not able to give the pedigree of the mare that produced him.

Mr. Hayward bought the horse about 1817 or 1818, in the
village of Paris, Oneida County, New York, of a man by the
name of Rice or Wright, but did not remember which. He
took him to Winthrop, Maine, where he was first known as
"Messenger," then as "Kennebec Messenger," or "Winthrop
Messenger," and when he became old, as "Old Messenger." The
earliest contemporaneous account I have of this horse is his
advertisement for the season of 1819, which I copy from the
Hallowell Gazette of May 12, of that year, and is as follows:


" The subscriber hereby recommends to the public and all who feel interested
to improve in the breed of good and serviceable horses, the good horse Mes-
senger, tliat stock so well known and approved of on Long Island, New York,
and Pennsylvania. Said horse was raised on Long Island, and owned by Mr.
Rylander, a gentleman who has taken the greatest pains to import the best
breed of horses that came to his knowledge. Said horse is a silver grey, well
proportioned, of a large size, and a good traveler. Gentlemen who are desirous
of raising good horses will do well to call and see for themselves.

" The Messenger will stand for the most part of the time in the village at
Withrop Mills. Alvan Hayward.

'• Winthrop, May 1st, 1819."

From the foregoing it will be seen that the new element
brought out in the history of this horse is the statement that he
was owned at one time by Mr. Rylander, of Long Island. There
were two brothers of this name, and they imported a great many
horses, but never before had I heard their names connected with
Winthrop Messenger. This carries us back to a period in the
history of the horse before he was taken to Oneida County.

Colonel Stanley, a prominent banker of Augusta, and at one
time a leading horseman and stage proprietor, bought Messenger
of his kinsman, Hayward, and owned him some seven years. He
says the horse was brought to Maine as early as 1816, and that
his Uncle Hayward had certificates that he was got by imported
Messenger, out of a mare well-bred and part of imported blood.

In a communication from Mr. Sanford Howard, who had been

messenger's sons. 239

prominently connected with the breeding interests of the coun-
try for many years, the following description is given:

" I saw him several times, first in 1828. In the latter years of his life he
stood mostly at Anson, on the Kennebec River, and I think died there about
1831 [he died at Dixfieldj. He appeared like an old horse when I first saw
him, older, perhaps, from being much afflicted with grease, which had become
chronic, and at length had almost destroyed his hoofs; so that the last time I
saw him he was nearly incapable of locomotion. His feet and legs looked like
those of an elephant. This trouble was transmitted to his offspring through
several generations (though not invariably so), and constituted, perhaps, in con-
nection with, in many cases, a flat foot and low heels, their greatest defect.

" Mr. Hayv/ard states, in concluding his letter, that he has no doubt the
horse he took to Maine was got by imp. Messenger. The remark is probably
elicited by intimations that he might have been gotten by a son of Messenger.
I presume Mr. Hayward's belief was well founded. As imported Messenger
did not die until the 28th of January, 1808, there is no discrepancy between
that event and the age of Mr. H.'s horse. At the same time I must admit that
Maine Messenger hardly looked like a half-blood horse. He was pretty large,
rather short-legged, thick-set, with heavy mane and tail, very hairy legs, long
hair on his jaws, and was heavy coated (in winter) all over his body. These
characteristics were sometimes accounted for by saying he was probably out of
a Dutcb mare, meaning such mares as the Dutch farmers of New York kept.
I never heard of any claim being set up for his speed in trotting, and I pre-
sume he was never tried at running. He was strong and plucky, and the story
was told at Winthrop that on an occasion when all the stallions of tlie neighbor-
hood were brought out to be shown, they were put to a trot in sleighs for half
a mile or so, and Messenger was beaten. Whereupon his owner proposed that
the horses should each draw a sled with six men on it up to Winthrop hill,
and be timed. It was done, and Messenger beat them all. I think the first of
his offspring that became noted for fast trotting was a gelding called Lion,
taken to Boston by a well-known horse 'dealer by the name of Hodges, of
Hallowell, Maine. He was sold, I think, for four hundred dollars, which
made quite a sensation among the Kennebec farmers who had any stock of the
same sort. I do not recollect the rate of speed this horse showed, but a mile
in three minutes was then considered wonderful, and probably this was about
his rate. Other horses of the stock were soon brought out as fast travelers. I
remember a friend of mine showing me some young horses he was training,
and I rode with him after several of them. They were vatural trotters, and
would do nothing but trot, even under severe applications of the whip. But I
think the second generation from Mr. Hayward's horse were generally faster
trotters than the first. They were also generally handsomer horses, not so
rough looking. Nearly all the horses of this stock which have acquired a
reputation in Massachusetts, New York, etc. , as fast trotters, had not more
than a quarter of the blood of the horse that jNIr. Hayward took to Maine, and
consequently had not more than an eighth of the blood of imported Messenger.

" The mares that produced these horses were of no particular blood.
Various stallions had been kept in that section. Morgans from New Ham p-


sliire and Vermont, witt an occasional change to the French Canadians, and
now and then a quarter or half bred horse from New York or New Jersey."

This excellent communication from Mr. Howard is especially
valuable, as the conclusions drawn by an accurate and competent
observer from a personal acquaintance with the original horse
and his progeny. There are some inferences, however, that may
be drawn from Mr. Howard's letter that would be unjust to this
distinguished animal. His general coarse appearance, in con-
nection with which Mr. H. says, "he hardly looked like a half
bred horse," was a prominent feature in the family. Mambrino,
a very high-bred son of old Messenger, was very coarse, and the
same remark was often made about him. The quantity and
length of his coat in the winter of his old age are not conclusive
against his pretensions to a large share of good and pure blood.
They are the results oftentimes of neglect and ill health. It is
somewhere stated that the famous Sir Archy before he died
looked exceedingly shaggy, his hair being fully three inches long.
Mr. Howard expresses the opinion that "the second generation
from Mr. Hay ward's horse were generally faster trotters than the
first." In many instances this, no doubt, is true, for it would
be altogether contrary to the uniform laws which govern these
things if development and use did not strengthen and intensify
the instinct to trot in successive generations. If Mr. Howard is
right, and we do not doubt he is, the increased capacity did not
grow out of the dilution of the blood, but out of the strengthen-
ing of the instinct by culture and use. At the time Mr. Howard
made this remark he evidently did not know that the famous
old-time trotters, Daniel D. Tompkins and Fanny Pullen, were
both immediately from the loins of AVinthrop Messenger. In
their day these two were classed among the best and fastest trot-
ters that the world had then produced. The facts that both
these animals were the immediate progeny of "Winthrop Messen-
ger were never brought to light for many years, and all I will say
about them now is that they do not rest on shadowy traditions or
suppositions, but are fully and circumstantially established.

In a letter written by Mr. Hayward, May 12, 1852, in speaking
of the useful and everyday qualities of this horse's progeny,
he used the following language:

" The stock produced by that horse I consider superior, as combining more
properties useful in a horse than any other stock I have ever been acquainted

messenger's soxs. 241

-with, being good for draft, for carriage, for travel, for parade, or any place
wliere liorses are required. They had great bottom and strength, and were of
hardy constitution. There are some horses in this town twenty-two years old,
that were by a son of Winthrop Messenger, which I brought with me when I
left Maine. They have always been accustomed to draw the plow and to per-
form other hard labor, and yet they have the appearance of young horses, and
will now do more service than many horses of seven or eight years old."

Among the several sons of imported Messenger whose names
are conspicuous as the progenitors of great tribes of tlie most
distinguished trotters I know of no one entitled to a higher
place on the roll of fame, all things considered, than this one
that went to Maine, and there laid a foundation that has made
the State famous throughout the length and breadth of the land
for the speed and stoutness of its trotting horses.

With such noted performers from his own loins as Fanny
Pullen and Daniel D. Tompkins, and in the next generation the
famous Zachary Taylor, this horse made about the best showing
■of all the sons of Messenger, but as his line failed to produce a
Kysdyk's Hambletonian or a Mambrino Chief, it dropped to a
place somewhat removed from the front of the procession.

Engineer was a grey horse, about sixteen hands high and very
elegant in his form, style and proportions. The earliest account
we have of him is in the spring of 1816, when he was advertised
in Tlie Long Island Star to stand at the stable of Daniel Seely,
near Suffolk Court House, and at Jericho, in Queens County.
He was in charge of Thomas Jackson, Jr., generally designated
as "Long Tom." He was then well advanced in years, but no
attempt was made to give his age. Mr. Daniel T. Cock, in
charge of Duroc and one or two other stallions, was then in sharp
competition with Engineer, and he assures me he was a horse of
large size, great share of bone and sinew, most elegant form, and
a fine mover. His elegant appearance was so captivating that he
was a very troublesome competitor.

The advertisement referred to contains the following very
unsatisfactory paragraph relating to his pedigree, viz., "The
manner he came into this country is such that I cannot give an
account of his pedigree, but his courage and activity show the
purity of his blood, which is much better than the empty sound
of a long pedigree." This was a most unexpected discovery, for
I had always understood that Engineer was a son of Messenger
and never had heard of this mystery before. It is here intimated


that the horse was imported, and the story that Jackson told was.
that he was brought from England to Canada by a British officer,,
and by some surreptitious means found his way from Canada to-
Long Island. What appears to be the real history of the horse,,
and the version accepted afterward by everybody on "the island,
will be found in the following extract from a letter written by-
David W. Jones, February 28, 1870. He says:

" I can well account for Mr. Cock's recollections of the history of the first-
Engineer. Thomas Jackson and George Tappan, noted owners and keepers of
stallions on Long Island and in the counties of Orange and Dutchess, in the
course of their peregrinations met with a person in possession of this horse,
who offered him for sale. Impressed with his fine appearance and pedigree,
they at once entered into negotiations for his purchase, and finally obtained
him at so low a price as to cause strong suspicions that he was not honestly iu
his vendor's possession. They, however, determined to take the chances, and
at once brought him to Long Island, their place of residence, and determined
on what they deemed a harmless representation in regard to his history; for
this they had several motives. First, Messenger stallions were then very
numerous on Long Island; their blood coursed in the veins of nearly every
brood mare. Secondly, imported stallions were much desired, and by a little
added fiction they could give him considerable eclat, and thirdly, in case of his
having been unjustly obtained this would afford the best means of disguise.
Accordingly they represented him as having been imported from England to
Canada and ridden in the army by Gen. Brock, who, in an engagement with our
troops, was shot and killed. The horse, escaping into our lines, was secured
by our soldiers and brought to the State of New York. On these representa-
tions they claimed to have purchased him. No pedigree, as I recollect, was
attempted to be given, and though many doubted the truth of this statement,
there was no evidence to controvert it. For a length of time this story was
adhered to; but after several years, when all fears of difficulty had subsided,
they acknowledged the deception. Mr. Tappan, who resided but a few miles
from me, was a man of more than ordinary candor and fairness, for one of his
position and employment. I knew him well, and occasionally rendered him a
favor by preparing his horse bills. On one of these occasions, at my house, he
gave a full and particular statement of the whole affair. Some of the details
have escaped me, but the essential facts are distinctly recollected. The owner,
with Engineer in possession, was met at some public place and the purchase
completed, and this statement then made, 'ihat he had become involved in debt,
and that his creditor had begun a prosecution, with a view to levy on the horse,
the only property he possessed, and he was determined not to lose all.* This
was certainly enough to arouse their suspicions with regard to his history. He
declared the horse was bred and raised in Pennsylvania and that he was got
by imported Messenger. Whether any further pedigree was given is not
recollected. He was at this time (1814) a horse considerably advanced in years
and perfectly white. Mr. Tappan also told me that he had afterward traced
the horse, and was entirely satisfied of the former owner's veracity. I will

messenger's sons. 243

not apologize for the length of this statement, being desirous of giving you all
the information here possessed and probably all that can now be obtained."

I am not aware that in the past sixty years any question has
ever been raised as to the truth of the universally accepted state-
ment that Engineer was a true son of Messenger, and I would
not have disturbed it now, nor thought of doing so, had it not
been for that remarkable advertisement discovered in the obscure
Long Island paper. That was contemporaneous history, how-
ever, and it must either be explained or accepted. The question
has been examined down to the bottom by one of the most con-
scientious and capable men of his generation, in this department
oi knowledge. His verdict has been accepted as the truth by all
parties of that day, and I cannot reject it.

It is not known that any of his immediate progeny attained
distinction on the trotting turf. Several of his sons bore his
name in the stud and while their blood seemed to be helpful in
the right direction, only one of them made any mark as a sire of
speed, and that was the horse known as Lewis' Engineer, the
sire of the world beater. Lady Suffolk. Burdick's Engineer,
another son, was taken to Washington County, New York, and
got the dam of the famous Princess, which produced the great
Happy Medium. In all these instances there was commingling
with other strains from Messenger.

Commander. — This was a grey horse, fully sixteen hands high
and of massive proportions. He was a son of imported Messen-
ger and out of a mare by imported Rockingham. This Rocking-
ham was not a thoroughbred horse. Commander was bred in
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and found his way to Long Island
about 1812, where he was liberally patronized. His name fre-
quently occurs among the remote crosses of good pedigrees, but
his fame rests wholly on the progeny of his son. Young Com-
mander, who was the sire of Screwdriver, Screws, Bull Calf and
other good ones. This horse Young Commander was sometimes
called "Bull" and sometimes "American Commander."

Messenger, (Bush's), generally known as Bush Messenger.
This son of Messenger was bred by James Dearin, of Dutchess
County, New York, and was foaled 1807. His dam was a Vir-
ginia mare, named Queen Ann, by Celer, son of imported Janus,
and out of a mare by Skipwith's Figure, son of imported Figure,
and she out of a mare imported by Colonel Miland, of Virginia.
This pedigree was not accepted Avithout some misgivings, but as.


it was possible and as it had been indorsed sixty years ago by
Cadwallader R. Golden and published before that by Mr. Dearin, I
am disposed to accept it as reliable.

He was sixteen hands high, a light grey, becoming white with
age. He was excellent in form and probably the most handsome
and attractive of all the sons of Messenger. The first public
notice we have of him, he was advertised at the stable of his
breeder, six miles south uf Poughkeepsie, in 1813. Soon after
this he became the property of Philo 0. Bush, and this was the
first horse, he says, that he ever owned. This Mr. Bush was a
noted "character" in his day. From early manhood, through
good and evil report, and until he died a very old man in poverty
and want, he was a habitue of the race track. He knew all about
race horses and their breeding, and he could prattle pedigrees
from morning till night. Added to this knowledge which his
life pursuits had placed in his possession, he was endowed with a

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 26 of 61)