Oscar Wilde.

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

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within this province, and that on the first working day after the three grand
festivals of Christmas, Eater and Whitsuntide, etc., etc."


These quotations are sufficiently extended to afford an unmis-
takable comparison, and on their face evidence that cannot be
doubted for one moment that they both purport to be copied
from the same act of the Jersey Colonial legislature. In the
oflScial printed copy which is before me as I write, the mandate
is against "all horse racing, pacing or trotting of horses for
lucre or gain." In Mr. Euren's ''cutting" the mandate is
against '*all Norfolk pacing or trotting of horses for lucre or
gain," etc. The substitution of the word "Norfolk" instead of
"horse racing," is in the nature of a forgery, and I cannot be-
lieve that Mr. Euren would be guilty of any such execrable
piece of trickery. It must have been conceived and written by
some horse sharp who was trying to sell a Hackney to an Ameri-
can with a pocket full of money, and after he had effected his sale
he could mutter quietly, when at a safe distance from his victim,
the couplet from "Hudibras:"

"The paltry story is untrue
And forged to cheat such gulls as you."

Unfortunately, however, for Mr. Euren, he indorsed the
trick, and not only indorsed it, but sent it to the Commissioner
of Agriculture with the hope and possible expectation that it
would receive public recognition and become part of the horse
history of this country. Did he not know that somebody would
be nosing round among the old laws and expose the dirty decep-
tion? But, on the basis that Mr. Euren was deceived by this
wretched interpolation of a fraud into the law, could he not see
that the date of the law — 1748 — Avas before old Shales or Useful
Cub was foaled, and long before the very first "Norfolk trotter"
was ever heard of either in Norfolk or in any other part of Eng-

The exposure of this foolish attempt, wherever it originated, to
incorporate into an old New Jersey statute a fiction, or a forgery,
as it may be called, carries with it a punishment that should be
felt by the most unscrupulous of horse sharps; but when we find
it unequivocally indorsed and given to the world as true by
the compiler of the Hackney Stud Book, it destroys all confi-
dence in the accuracy and reliability of that work. This is a
misfortune that the friends of the Hackney in England as well as
in this country must feel as a blow at the value of the whole
interest. Opinions may change with new light, and opposing:


conclusions may be honestly reached from different standpoints,
but running against a fixed and cei'tain date, as in this case, is
like running against a two-edged sword.

In conclusion, the Hackney is merely the dear-bought and far-
fetched fashion of the hour. A few years ago he was "something
new in horses," just *as the modiste has "something new in
dresses." He was found in England, where there are no flies,
without a tail, and as that was the fashion in England we must
bave horses in America without tails, notwithstanding the mil-
lions of torments they have to endure without the natural means
of defense. As hack-a-bouts they are good horses, but their
"churn-dasher" style of action will never become acceptable to
the American people.

A few years since a quite persistent attempt, backed by un-
limited wealth and all the prestige that metropolitan "fashion"
and "society" could bestow, was made, particularly in New
York, to create a Hackney "boom" in America. All that element
in the social life of our great cities that affects a disdain for
things distinctively American, and particularly for American
horses, and that glories in the stultifying habit of aping things
"English, ye know," took up the Hackney fad with unbounded
■enthusiasm. As a park and road horse the American horse — the
incomparable trotting-bred driver — was to be incontinently
crowded out of the driveways, the markets and the shows. The
National Horse Show Association, whose annual show at Madi-
son Square Garden is the great social fete of the year in New
York, lent all its powerful influence to forward the Hackney
"boom," which was, it must in fairness be said, consistent; for
the miscalled National Horse Show has always catered more to
foreign horses and foreign customs in horsemanship than to
American horses and horsemen. Men of great wealth and prom-
inence established extensive Hackney studs, imported famous
prize-winning stallions and mares, and there was only one thing
left to be done, and that was to convert the American people to
the belief that the driving horse they had been breeding and
■developing with a special purpose and care — the fleetest and most
versatile harness horse in the world — was inferior to an imported
nondescript. In that attempt the Hackney advocates have failed
in America as completely as did Mr. Blunt and others in Eng-
land, when they sought to make racing men believe that the
Arab was a better race horse than the English thoroughbred.


Perhaps nothing illustrates better what I have called the
versatility of the trotter than this contest with the Hackney in
the latter's own especial field — if he may be said to have any.
Of course there could be no contest bstweenthe horse of a special
breed and the nondescript as a harness horse for speed or useful-
ness on the road, whether the distance were half a mile or a
hundred miles; but in the show-ring the Hackney men claimed
absolute pre-eminence for their "high-acting" horses. They
did not dare contest with the trotter in the matter of road speed,
so to have any contest at all the trotting horse men had to
"carry the war into Africa." This they have done with a venge-
ance. They have taken the pure-bred trotting horse, dressed
him in the fashion dictated by the Hackney "faddists," taught
him the Hackney tricks, the preposterous Hackney action and all
that, and have beaten the Hackneys not once but time and again
right on their own ground, viz., at the National Horse Show in
Madison Square Garden. In almost all cases in classes where
trotters have been admitted to compete with Hackneys, the
former have carried off the honors within the past two years.
Many notable instances might be cited, but one will suffice. At
the National Horse Show, 1896, a class was offered for "half-bred
Hackneys," sires to be shown with four of their get. The Hack-
ney end of the argument was upheld by Mr. A. J. Cassatt's re-
nowned prize-winner, imported Cadet, with four of his get.
Against him was entered the well-known trotting sire Almont
Jr., 2:26, with four of his get, and though the judges were gen-
tlemen identified more or less with the Hackney interest, so
superior in form, action and style were the four youngsters by
the trotting sire that they carried away the honors from the
chosen progeny of one of the most noted Hackney show horses in
the Avorld.

In the sale ring this verdict has been corroborated. The
highest prices — the record figures — paid in the fashionable New
York market for park horses, "high steppers," or by whatever
name the merely spectacular harness horse may from time to
time be called, have been paid for trotting-bred horses: and in
advertised sales of "Hackneys" it has become somewhat common
to encounter half-trotting-bred and full-trotting-bred horses.

While no genuine American and horseman can without regret
see a typical American horse mutilated and his action perverted
in the manner required to bring him into "Hackney" classes at


the National Horse Show, or in the markets where New York
society people buy their stub-tailed horses, it is some compensa-
tion to know that these experiments have demonstrated the
superiority of the American-bred horse even in the field claimed
as especially that of the Hackney. And the Hackney "fad" in
America, while it lasted, accomplished a good end in so far as it
directed the attention of American breeders more to the impor-
tance of form and style, and taught them that in their own trot-
ting families they have the material from which may best be
produced, in form and style and quality as well as in speedy
pre-eminently the most excellent park horses in the world.



Tendency to misrepresentation — The Bald Galloway and Darley Arabian —
Godolphin Arabian — Early experiences with trotting pedigrees — Mr.
Backnian's honest methods — Shanghai Mary — Capt. Rynders and Widow
Machree — Woodburn Farm and its pedigree methods — Victimized by
"horse sharps" and pedigree makers — Alleged pedigree of Pilot Jr.
conclusively overthrown — Pedigrees of Edwin Forrest, Norman, Bay
Chief and Black Rose — Maud S.'s pedigree exhaustively considered — Cap-
tain John W. Russell never owned the mare Maria Russell — The deadly
parallel columns settle it.

A FEW years more than forty have slipped away since I first
began to give serious attention to the subject of horse history
and to contribute an occasional article to the press on that sub-
ject. Among my very earliest observations, or I might say, ex-
periences, was the realization of the fact that exaggeration as a
habit of thought and utterance was practically universal among
horsemen. Sometimes I have thought this tendency to the un-
true resulted from the ammoniacal exhalations of the stable, but
this thought is not a satisfactory solution, for some of the great-
est liars about horses have never known anything about stables.
Then, again, I have thought that a really skillful metaphysician
might write a learned disquisition of the question and satisfy
himself as to the cause of this moral delinquency, but nobody
Avould be able to understand him when he had completed it.
This wretched vice, so prevalent everywhere, was not restricted
to the professional country *'hoss jockey," ready to "swap" with
every man he met on the road, but it reached up to men of
otherwise excellent character, and these men would "stretch the
blanket" tremendously about the blood and other qualities of
the horses they were selling. The only way we can account for
an otherwise honest and truthful man exaggerating the merits
and blood of his horses must be (1) in the fact that he has be-
come attached to him and thinks him better than he is, or it may
be (2) that he bought with a false pedigree and without examin-


ing it, he assumes it is true and represents it accordingly. But
underlying all this, the representation cannot be disproved, and
(3) it may add to the market value of the horse.

l^his weakness of human nature, so pervasive of all interests
connected with the horse, did not originate in this country, but
came from the old world. We inherit it from our ancestors.
"The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth
are set on edge." Take the case of the little bald-faced, pacing-
bred horse known in the old records as "The Bald Galloway" and
while it is not probable he had a single drop of Saracenic blood
in his veins, he is fitted out with a grand pedigree, full of that
blood. Although I have already referred to this horse as an ex-
emplification of the dishonesty of the early records of English
pedigrees, I will again look at it in a more specific manner. He
was nothing more nor less than a little native horse, belonging
to a tribe of noted pacers in the southwestern part of Scotland
and in the northern part of England. These Galloways were
probably the very last remnant of pacers to be found in Great
Britain. He is represented in the books to have been by a horse
called "St. Victor's Barb;" dam by Whynot; grandam a Royal
Mare. The Bald Galloway was foaled not later than 1708, and it
was probably a few years earlier. His reputed sire, "St. Victor's
Barb," is not to be found anywhere and was probably fictitious.
His dam was represented to be by Whynot, and this horse was not
foaled till 1744 — thirty-six years after his grandson was foaled.
The grandam is given as a "Royal Mare," which in that day
was a convenient way of rounding out a pedigree, just as we now
attempt to round them out when we know nothing of the blood
by saying "dam thoroughbred." "The Bald Galloway" was one
of the most successful stallions of his day, and yet he was noth-
ing in the world but a good representative of the old pacing Gal-
loways of that portion of Scotland then called Galloway. He
was low in stature, but he was esteemed as one of the greatest
and most valuable racing sires of his generation. One of his
sons — the Carlisle Gelding — was- still a race horse when he was
eighteen years old.

"The Darley Arabian" was contemporaneous with the Bald
Galloway, and they commenced service in England about the
same year. It is said he was brought from Aleppo, in Syria, or,
perhaps I had better say Asia Minor. Aleppo is but a short dis-
tance from the borders of ancient Cappadocia and Cilicia, coun-


tries that were famous in history for the great numbers of fine
horses that they produced far more than a thousand years before
the first horse was taken to Arabia. This horse is called an
"Arabian," and in the brief record of his importation we have
the same venerable "chestnut" served up to us that has served
so many generations of speculators in "Arabian blood." The
record says that Mr. Darley had a brother who was an agent for
merchandise abroad, who "became a member of a hunting club,
by which means he acquired interest to procure this horse."
This "gag" has been played too often to give eclat to horses
claimed to be brought from Arabia, in the past two hundred
years, to have much effect on the minds of people who have any
sense. That it required great social or political influence to in-
duce the old Arab sheik to part with him, was intended merely
to secure the attention of prospective customers to his superla-
tive excellence in order to obtain their patronage. This horse
probably never was within five hundred miles of the nearest part
of Arabia, and to call him an Arabian is a misnomer wholly un-
justifiable. He came from a country where horses were abundant
and cheap on all sides, and of a quality far superior to any
Arabian. He was simply a Turk, he was for sale, and it required
no influence to buy him except the contents of the purchaser's
purse. This horse has always been classed as one of the twa
great founders of the English race horse. His progeny from
well-bred mares were not numerous, and his greatest distinction
is in the fact that he was the sire of Flying Childers. In accord-
ance with the truth, he should be known in the records as.
"Darley 's Turk."

The horse bearing the dishonest misnomer of "Godolphin
Arabian" was really the greatest regenerator and upbuilder of
the running horse that England ever possessed. There seems to
be no historical doubt that he was brought from France, and that
is all we know about his origin and early history. It may be laid
down, therefore, as a safe proposition, that the odds are as a thou-
sand to one that he was a French horse. The only evidence that
can ever be furnished as to the strain of blood that he may have
possessed must be found and studied in his portrait, which ap-
pears in this volume. I believe this portrait to be a correct and
true delineation of the horse, and there is not a single lineament
in or about it that indicates the blood of either the Arabian or
the Barb. His pedigree is in his picture, and, from what is-


Jcnown in history and from what has been preserved in art, in-
stead of "Godolphin Arabian" his true title should be "Godolphin
Frenchman." But this subject has been discussed at greater
length in the chapter on the English Race Horse, to which my
reader is here referred.

In the chapter on the American Race Horse, I think sufficient
.attention has been given to the frauds and impossibilities that
are to be found everywhere in the extended pedigrees of our own
running horses to satisfy any one that the remote extensions of
pedigrees are a great mass of dishonest rubbish, with scarcely a
.speck of truth to be found. I will, therefore, pass along to the
<;onsideration of some of the difficulties, of the same nature, that
have been developed in investigating and recording the pedigrees
of the American Trotting Horse. In entering the untrodden
wilderness of trotting-horse history it became the ambition of
my life to reach the truth in every possible instance and to cut
off and reject all frauds wherever they showed their heads. This
meant war from the beginning with a great many horsemen, but
it also meant the enthusiastic support of a great many honest
men. The trouble, at this point, was in the fact that a number
of prominent, wealthy and influential breeders insisted upon
their right to state their pedigrees in their own way and thus
compel me to indorse them by inserting them in the Trotting
Register. When at work on the early volumes of the Register,
especially the first, if a man of unblemished reputation and intel-
ligence sent me a list of his stock to be registered, I assumed
that he had too much regard for his reputation and standing as
a breeder to print a lot of pedigrees in his catalogue that he did
not knoto to be correct, and hence I accepted many a pedigree
that was based upon fiction. In course of time it began to dawn
upon my understanding that there were many men in the world
of unsullied reputation, as they were known in their business
relations, who would stand up boldly for a fiction or a fraud in
the pedigrees of their stock. It is but just to say that all the men
who uttered fraudulent pedigrees were not equally guilty, for in
some cases the owners had been victimized by unscrupulous
rogues from whom they had purchased, and in others they had
been betrayed by the still more unscrupulous rogues whom they
had employed to make up their catalogues on the supposition
that they were capable and honest. This state of things soon
•developed another line of thought and observation in my mind


which evolved a rule by which I could determine the difference be •
tween the degrees of honesty among horsemen. One man, when
a fiction in a pedigree was pointed out, would go to work and
carefully investigate it; while another would hang and higgle
about it and finally investigate, not to find the truth, but to find
how many old rummies, swipes and negroes he could get to-
gether, who would support his claim and swear to it for a half-
dollar each. The first man investigates to find the truth wher-
ever it may lead; while the second man investigates merely, not
to find the truth, but to find some kind of evidence to sustain
the untruth. In the everyday affairs of life these two men may
stand on the same plane, but, at heart, the one is honest and the
other a rogue.

When Mr. Charles Backman founded the great Stonyford
breeding farm in Orange County, New York, he was an excellent
horseman, in a general sense, although he did not pretend to
know much about pedigrees. About 1869 he placed all his pedi-
grees in my hands with the request that I would give them a
careful examination, strike out everything that was wrong and
note everything that was doubtful or uncertain, that it might be
investigated and the truth fully determined, no difference where
it might lead. Many investigations followed which were con-
ducted by his secretary, Mr. Shipman, either by mail or
by personal visitation — so many, indeed, that Mr. Shipman
became quite an expert in this kind of difficult work. As
an illustration of the methods pursued, one instance will
serve to show how it was done, and more than this, it is a
very interesting history in itself. In the first volume of the
Register I had entered Green Mountain Maid, the dam of the
famous Electioneer and all that family, as "by Harry Clay, dam
said to be by Lexington." This was the form in which Mr.
Backman had received the pedigree, except that it was stated
positively and without any "said to be" that the dam was by
Lexington, the great running horse. After a time I called Mr.
Backman's attention to this "said to be" and suggested that if
the mare was really a daughter of Lexington she could certainly
be traced and established. The next day, Mr. Shipman started
to Western New York and to Ohio. On his trip he found the
mare had been known in AVestern New York as the "Angelica
Mare" and afterward as "Shanghai Mary," that she was a trot-
ter, well known locally, and that she had trotted a race and won


at a state fair, in very fast time for tliat day. She had been
brought from Ohio by some sheep -dealers, who were able to give
her exact age, and it was thus found that she was older than her
reputed sire. Several expert horsemen, from a picture secured
by Mr. Shipman on his trip, have not hesitated to give it as a
strong conviction that she belonged to the Cadmus family, in
Southern Ohio. In the last two or three years a correspondent
of the Chicago Hovfie Review brings out some local facts that
make it almost morally certain that she was bred by Goldsmith
Coffein, of Red Lion, Ohio, and that she was got by Iron's Cad-
mus, the sire of the great Pocahontas. The final nail has not
been clinched in establishing this pedigree, and probably never
will be, but the circumstances are so fully detailed as to scarcely
leave room for a doubt that she was a half-sister to the famous

From what has here been said about the methods of Mr.
Backman, the leading breeder of that Deriod, in the North,
it should not be inferred that all Northern breeders were
like him. The first real battle I ever had against fraudulent
pedigrees originated in Orange County, New York, with the
notorious Captain Rynders, in which the pedigree of the once
famous Widow Machree, the dam of Aberdeen, was involved. The
pedigree of this mare had been registered as obtained from Mr.
James W. Hoyt, who once owned her, and her dam was given as
by Durland's Messenger Duroc. When Aberdeen came before
the public for patronage, his owner, Rynders, advertised him as
out of Widow Machree and she out of a mare by Abdallah.
This was challenged as untrue by Mr. Guy Miller and Mr. Joseph
Gavin, of Orange County, and I was called upon to demand the
evidence upon which the change had been made from Messenger
Duroc to Abdallah. As a matter of course "the fat was in the
fire" at once, and out came Rynders with a terrific explosion of
anger, abounding in threats and denunciations against anybody
and everybody who attempted to interfere with his "business."
The good names of Guy Miller and Joseph Gavin carried too
much weight as against that of Isaiah Rynders, and, as his last
card, he brought out a duly and formally executed affidavit,
sworn to by a man whose name I will not here mention, stating
that he bred the Abdallah mare; all of which was the very rankest
perjury, which was so easily exposed that it did Rynders far
more harm than good. At last the whole truth came out in a


iorm that was complete and conclusive, showing that the mare
in question was bred by Garrett Duryea, of Bethel, Sullivan
County, New York, and was got by a horse known as Pintler's
Bolivar. Eynders had been a leader in New York politics so
long that he knew just how to manage things where the truth
must be suppressed. He was a liberal advertiser, the two sport-
ing papers were needy for patronage in that line, and their
oolumns were closed to any and all communications against his
side of the question. But all this failed to suppress the truth
and uphold a fraud, and I doubt whether there is a man living
to-day who does not believe that the fight was fairly and honestly
won. This contest taught me a very important lesson, and that
was, that if I expected to fight bogus pedigrees I must have a
channel of communication of my own. Hence Wallace's Monthly,
which, in its day, was not only able to expose bogus pedigrees,
but lead intelligent thought and experience on all breeding sub-
jects, till it fell into the hands of an unscrupulous neocracy,
where it soon died for want of brains.

Having given a very brief illustration of the methods which
governed Mr. Backman in ascertaining and determining the
blood elements which entered into the foundation of his great
breeding establishment, and the care and promptness with which

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 43 of 61)