Oscar Wilde.

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

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question of the pedigree of Sally Eussell, which had then been in
hot controversy for some months. The subject was not a pleas-
ant one to him and he either parried or negatived the few ques-
tions I asked. A year or two after this I met him at the Gait
House in Louisville, and we had a very pleasant conversation.
The controversy about Sally Russell had then subsided, and I
asked him if be remembered his father's thoroughbred mare
Mary Churchill. "Oh, yes," he said, ''she was the first horse I
ever rode, and my folks were very much afraid I would fall oft"
and get hurt." I then asked him if Mary Churchill was blind of
one eye, and he answered he '"'could not remember." My next
question was, whether he recollected anything about Maria Eus-
sell, and his reply was: "Nothing that is definite." Then fol-
lowed the inquiry, "whether there were any traditions in the
household going to show that his father ever owned Maria Rus-
sell," and he replied: "There are no traditions that are reliable."
These replies were a most grateful surprise to me, and if I have
not given the precise words used I certainly have given the pre-
cise meaning.

Sixth. Llewellyn Holton was sixty-three years old in 1883 and
he was afflicted with physical paralysis, but his mind seems to
have been perfectly sound and memor}- good for a man of his age.
Before he had the slightest intimation that a pedigree was being
investigated that might call him into controversy, he was asked
about Maria Russell by one of the most j)rominent and distin-
guished of all the breeders of Kentucky, and that breeder wrote
me as follows:

"I Lave seen Mr. L. Holton, the son of Captain JoLn A. Holton, of this
county, and be says liis father bred and owned Maria Russell; that sbe was
by Rattler, and out of a mare by Stockholder, and was foaled 1834. He says
he thinks a man by the name of William Duvall can give some information
about these mares. I will see him to-morrow, and write you."

As this information about Maria Russell was elicited from Mr.
Holton on the spur of the moment, and as he gave her pedigree
correctly, and not only this, but gave the year in which she was
foaled correctly, his memory, at least so far as this mare is con-
cerned seems to hav3 been remarkably good.

Seventh. My correspondent wrote a few days later: "I have
just learned from William Duvall, who trained for Captain J. A.


Holton in 1842, that he remembers the mare Maria Russell, and
he thinks she was by Seagull, and out of Limber, by Whipster;
he also remembers a mare owned by Holton that was by Rattler,
but cannot remember any more about her." This confirms Mr.
Holton's recollections in a very striking and satisfactory manner.
As a trainer Mr. Duvall did not handle the brood mares, but
only their produce. He recalled a Seagull mare and a Rattler
mare, that Captain Holton owned, but he attached the name
'•Maria Russell" to the wrong one. This kind of impromptu
inaccuracy is almost always an element of strength, for it goes to
prove that the witness has not been "coached." He remembered
there was a mare by Rattler in the field, and as there was no
other Rattler mare owned by either Holton or Russell, the iden-
tity of Maria Russell is clearly established as the property of
Captain Holton in 1842.

Eiglitli. With the high indorsement of Mr. Llewellyn Holton
as a man of truth and honor, given on page 421 of this chapter;
and with the evidence before me of his clear and unclouded
memory in giving correctly not only the pedigrees but the year
in which Maria Russell was foaled, and all this before there was
any pressure or suspicion on his part as to where his disclosure
might lead, I cannot, as an honest man, fail to believe that he
told the truth. Thus, after leaving out all the minor evidences,
we have the three major points fully and clearly established,
namely, (1) the inscription on the silver cnp that Captain Hol-
ton owned her in 183G; (2) the evidence of William Duvall that
he owned her in 1842; and (3) the statement of Llewellyn Holton
that he owned her always and that she died his.

Ninth. At the Woodburn sale of 18G3 and 1868 there were cer-
tainly at least two hundred experienced horsemen and breeders
present who were able to discriminate concerning a mare repre-
sented to be thirteen years old when she looked ten years more;
or concerning a mare represented to be eighteen years old when
she looked as if she were twenty-eight. Hence, no man was
willing to bid five dollars on her. This I take it, was the per-
sonal judgment of every man who thought anything about it,
and when she died a few weeks after the last sale, nobody could
doubt that she died of old age, and nobody could doubt that Mr.
Alexander represented her to the public just as she had been
represented to him, both in age and breeding, by the rogue who
victimized liim.


The mare Sally Russell, the grandam of Maud S., had been
sold to Mr. Alexander by the foreman of Captain Russell's farm,
and it does not appear that he represented her as having been
bred by Captain Russell. Indeed, it was not claimed at Wood-
burn that Captain Russell bred her until a representative of that
establishment called at my office to examine the service books of
Boston and there found that "John Russell's one-eyed mare"
had been bred in 1849. If a fraud, therefore, was established
the Russell family must bear the odium. Hence all evidence
from that source must be considered in the light of the fact that
every member of the family is deeply interested. But notwith-
standing the efforts of the Russell family to preserve the father's
name from obloquy, and notwithstanding the trip in search of
some superannuated darkey who could remember anything and
everything in consideration of the pour-hoire that would be forth-
coming, there stood that terrible statement of Llewellyn Holton
that could not be met by evidence. The whole matter was
against him, and Mr. Brodhead was not happy. He knew he
could not prove him wrong, and the only course left open was
to get him to take back certain things that he had said on the
ground that his memory had failed and that the fight was be-
tween "Old Kaintuck" and outside parties who had no business
to interfere with Kentucky affairs. On an appointed day, there-
fore, all who were supposed to have any influence with Mr. Hol-
ton, in the whole countryside, met Mr. Brodhead, and they came
down on "the poor old paralytic" hammer and tongs. They
asked him what he remembered about all the horses, each in his
turn, in the whole neighborhood, whether he had ever heard of
them before or not. This was kept up a long time, but they
could not prevail on him to take back a single specific statement
he had made. He had said Captain Russell had never owned
Maria Russell or any of her produce, and he would not take it
back. He had said Maria Russell had two good eyes when she died,
and he would not take it back. At last when the poor old in-
valid was worn out they sprung the patriotic dodge of "Kentucky
against the world" upon him and this had some effect, but not
enough to save the anxious "bulldozers" from a feeling of great
depression. At last Mr. Brodhead seized a pen and indited a
letter for him to sign, addressed to me, with the request that I
would publish it. I am not able to say how many attempts were
made to get such a letter as he would be willing to sign, but


several different drafts were made, and sick and worried, and in-
order to get rid of his tormentors, he signed, and the letter came
to me, and I published it as follows:

"Forks op Elkhorn, June 12, 1883.
"Mr. J. H. Wallace.

" Dear Sir : In answer to your letter to my son, of May 21, 1883, there are
three points suggested. First, in regard to her produce (Maria Russell's). I
have no recollection any further. I have no data from which I could find out
concerning them. Second, I have no remembrance of her death nor the man-
ner of it. Now, in regard to the statement I made to Mr. John K. Stringfield.
I think he has made it too strong, for 1 told him my statement was from mem-
ory only, and that I could not nor would not swear to it. Since that time I
have had sufficient proof to overbalance my memory, and circumstances called
to mind that have convinced me I was in error, I simply stated what I
believed to be true at that time. I have no interest in the matter whatever —
only want to be understood. I trust that you will oblige me by publishing the
above letter. Yours truly,


It must have been a most pitiful sight to see six. or eight able-
bodied men, headed by the stalwart Brodhead, acting as chief
inquisitor, circling round the reclining form of a poor old invalid,
trying to convince him that he had no memory and that he was
a liar, prodding him with questions about horses that he never
had heard of, and when he failed to tell them, torturing him with
remarks that if he couldn't answer that question how could he
know so well about Maria Eussell? But with all their tortures
they couldn't force him to say bis father did not own Maria Eussell
all her life and that she did not die with two good eyes. It was
simply a little Spanish Inquisition on the waters of the Elkhorn
from which came the cry, "Eecant, Eecant," dinged into the
ears of the helpless paralytic. Still, helpless as he was against
so many, he obeyed his conscience and maintained his integrity,
notwithstanding all the satanic arts of Torquemada. When all
else had failed the war-cry was shouted in his ear: "New York is.
trying to destroy the breeding interests of Kentucky, and all true
Kentuckians must stand by each other or we all go under."
The old man brightened up and said: "I'm a Kentuckian, but
you mustn't try to make me a self-convicted liar." The piece of
patchwork given above, in the shape of a letter, was then
shaped up by his tormentors, for the old man was not able to
write a line, and dispatched to the office of Wallace's Monthly,
where it was printed just as it was received. Each one of the


tormentors made a copy of it, and no one of them was satisfied
with it; even the inquisitoi:-general said it fell far short of what
they wanted, but that by industriously speaking of it as a re-
cantation, the public would soon come to treat it as a recantation.
When, after years of fruitless effort, Mr. Brodhead, manager
at Woodburn Farm, got control of registration, he made an early
move to have the cloud removed from the pedigree of the stal-
lion Lord Eussell, and brought the matter before the neocracy of
his own creation, of which he was himself the head and brains,
and the action thereon was published in Wallace's Monilily for
February, 1893. The presentation is imposing in length and
abounds in many things that have no possible bearing on the
question at issue. Unfortunately I have no means of determin-
ing the extent to which the crime of the interpolation or excision
has been made manifest except in two of the exhibits which I
will give. In Exhibit 1 (Holton's letter above) the following
words are interpolated: "and in justice to all I correct my state-
ment." These words are not very important to the meaning,
but they are very important as indicating the accuracy, and hence
reliability, of a witness. In the same exhibit Mr. Brodhead says:
"I insist that you will oblige me/' etc., while the original uses
the word "trust" instead of "insist." Again, Mr. Brodhead has
his letter dated June 11, 1893, instead of June 12, 1883, as it is
in the original. The variation of the dates here seems to have
had a purpose, whatever it may have been. This letter must
have been a great trouble, for I liave seen three or four copies
of it, so called, and no two of them alike.

I was duly notified that the question of Sally Eussell's pedigree
would be brought up at that meeting, and requested to be there,
to sustain my view of that question. The court and the jury
were made up of Brodhead's creatures, and organized simply to
register his edicts. The wise man said, "Surely in vain the net
is spread in the sight of any bird." The bird looked on, from a
safe distance, and saw the fowler impaled in his own snare, by his
own act, and his true character revealed to the Avorld. It is very
difficult to understand just why it should have been deemed
necessary to cut out the very pith and heart of Mr. Holton's
letter, Avhen he knew that it Avould make no difference Avith his
court whether there was any evidence at all. Under the law of
retribution, a man's character may be determined by his own



" Forks of Elkiioiin, May 24, 1883.
"This is to certify that my father,
Captain John A. Holton, was for a
number of years interested with Cap-
tain John Russell in a number of
thoroughbreds, and they raced them
in partnership. When they dissolved
and divided the stock, I am positively
certain that my father retained all the
descendants of the Stockholder mare
— among thein Maria Russell and all
of her produce AND I KNOW
DUCE. And I further know to my
certain knowledge that said mare,
Maria Russell, had two good eyes
from the time of her foaling until
the day of her death. If my father
bred a mare to Boston in 1848, I incline
to the opinion that it was a bay mare
we owned called Limber, for the rea-
son that she. Limber, was very uncer-
tain, having missed several seasons.
There is one point, however, that I
feel very certain upon, and that is,
that neither my father nor Captain
Russell, during their racing or breed-
ing career, evt-r owned a Boston filly.
As Boston was the most famous horse
of his time, it is not at all possible
that there could have been a Boston
colt or filly on my father's farm and I
not knowing of the fact. I was born
in the old homestead the 15th of No-
vember, 1820, and have resided either
there or adjoining all my life ; there-
fore I had constant opportunity to
know all about my father's stock of
horses. L. Holton.

" I hereby attest that tlie above is my
father's signature. — J. A. Holton, son
of Llewellyn Holton."



"Forks, Elkhorn, May 24, 1883.

"This is to certify that my father.
Captain John A. Holton, was for a num-
ber of years interested with Captain
John Russell in a number of thorough-
breds, and they raced them in partner-
ship. When they dissolved, and divided
the stock, I am positively certain that
my father retained all the descendants
of the Stockholder mare, among them
Maria Russell and all her produce, and
I know to my certain knowledge that
said Maria Russell had two good eyes
from the time of her foaling until the
day of her death. If my father bred a
mare to Boston in 1848, I incline to the
opinion that it was a bay mare he
owned called Limber, for the reason
that she. Limber, was very uncertain,
having missed several seasons. There
is one point, however, that I feel very
certain upon, and that is that neither
my father nor Captain Russell during
their racing or breeding career ever
owned a Boston filly. As Boston was
the most famous horse of his time, it
is not at all possible that there could
haye been a Boston colt or filly on my
father's farm and I not knowing of the
fact. I was born in the old homestead
the 15th of November, 1820, and have
resided either there or adjoining all my
life ; therefore I had constant oppor-
tunity to know all about my father's
stoclc of horses. L. Holton.

"I hereby attest that the above is my
father's signature. — J, A. HOLTON,
son of L. Holton."


The deadly parallel columns tell the whole story. The central
and most important fact in Mr. Holton's statement has been de-
liberately and carefully cut out by Mr. Brodhead, and the evi-
dence that he did so cannot be wiped out either by money or by
the torture of invalids. The testimony of cold type remains for-
ever. Has Mr. Brodhead, it is asked, professed to have given
the whole of Mr. Holton's statement, and suppressed a vital part
of it? He has given every word and letter of the statement,
from the date line to the signature, except the one sentence that
is the life and soul of the whole statement, and that sentence I
have printed above in capital letters, so that it may be easily dis-
tinguished and compared. For years I have known that Mr.
Brodhead possessed most remarkable visual powers. When he
wanted to see a thing he could see it through a stone wall and
without any assistance from the ''X-rays," and when he didn't
watit to see a thing he couldn't see it even when held up to his
very nose under an arc light. The deception practiced here
might justly be designated by a harder name, for it Avas deliber-
ately planned and carried out in order to gain an end by suppress-
ing the truth. AVhy did he not free himself from his marvelous
powers of vision, and looking out of the natural eyes of his mind,
see the imminent danger of a terrible exposure? In keeping back
part of the truth with the pretension that he had given it all,
how could he avoid recalling the fate of Annanias and Sappljira
for keeping back part of the price with the pretension that they
had given it all?

As an exercise in ethical athletics I will submit the following
abstract question to the debating clubs, especially in Kentucky,
viz., "Is the man who suppresses the truth in order to sustain a
fraudulent pedigree any more worthy of belief than the man who
made the pedigree and sold the horse u]3on it?"



How Belle of Wabash got her pedigree — Specimen of pedigree making in
that day and locality — Search for the dam of Thomas Jefferson — True
origin and history of Belle of Wabash — Facts about the old-time gelding
Prince — The truth about Waxy, the grandam of Sunol — Remarkable at-
tempts to make a pedigree out of nothing — How "Jim" Eoff worked a
"tenderfoot" — Pedigree of American Eclipse — Pedigree of Boston — Tom
Bowling and Aaron Pennington — Chenery's Gray Eagle — Pedigree of
George W^ilkes in doubt.

At Louisville, Kentucky, October, 1860, a ten-mile race was
trotted which excited a good deal of local interest and commento
The contestants in this race were entered as follows:

"Captain Magowan. by imp. Sovereign, dam by American Eclipse."

"Gip.'^y Queen, by Wagner, dam by imp. Glencoe."

"Belle of Wabash (Indiana Belle), by Bassinger, dam by imp. William."

The names of the j)arties making the entries are given in the
entries of the first and second, and the Louisville Journal of the
week before remarks that "J. J. Alexander will represent his
State honorably with the Belle of Lidiana." Captain Magowan
held the lead from start to finish, and at the end of the eighth
mile, some say the seventh. Belle of Wabash was drawn. It will
be observed that, so far as given, each one of these animals was
furnished with a first-class race-horse pedigree; for it Avas then
held as firmly as any religious tenet that no horse could go that
distance at any gait unless he was strictly thoroughbred, and, in
Kentucky, if he did not have such a pedigree they gave him one
on the spot. At that time they never bothered their heads hunt-
ing up the breeder of an animal to learn how it was bred. They
simply wanted to see the performance and then make the pedi-
gree to suit it. These three pedigrees were all bogus in all their
elements, and I knew so little of the ways of the horse world, at
that time, that I accepted and recorded them as genuine.


Captain Magowan was a roan gelding, willful and bad tem-
pered, and all that seems to be known about his origin is the con-
ceded fact that he was bred in Kentucky and that he was proba-
bly descended from the tribe of Copperbottoms, or possibly the
Tom Hals. The roan color prevailed in both tribes and the
horse himself looked like the Copperbottoms.

Gipsy Queen, at the time of the above race in 1860, was
owned by a "sporting man" named George Bidwell, of Chicago,
or at least she raced under his direction. About the time of this
race, Mr. Thomas J. Vail bought the mare and took her to
Hartford, Connecticut. He bred her to Toronto Chief and she
produced a black colt. The mare and colt afterward passed into
the hands of Mr. William B. Smith, and this colt grew up to be
the famous Thomas Jefferson— "The Whirlwind of the East."
In connection with Mr. Smith I devoted a good deal of labor to a
futile search for the origin and pedigree of this mare, and the re-
sult of our search amounted to nothing more than a reasonable
probability that she was bred at Rochester, New York; was got
by a son or grandson of Vermont Black Hawk and was taken
from there to Chicago. This latter point of the transfer to
Chicago seemed to be quite circumstantially fixed in Mr. Smith's

Mr. Allen W. Thomson, of Woodstock, Vermont — a man of
great industry and a lover of the truth for the truth's sake — also
made an exhaustive search, and from a recent contribution to the
press he evidently thinks he has found it, and possibly he has;
but while I generally agree with Mr. Thomson's conclusions, and
prize them as honest and carefully reached, I am forced to dis-
sent in this case. Without going into details, he brings the
mare from Williamstown, Vermont, and takes her to Woodstock,
Illinois, where she is paired with another black mare, and after
passing through two or three hands tliey at last land in a public
livery stable in Chicago, and there the identity of the supposi-
tious Gipsy Queen is lost, and so far as known she never came
out of that stable. One or two years afterward a black mare
from Chicago, in possession of George Bidwell, appeared in some
jjublic races, notably the one given above, and the conclusion ij
at once reached that this black mare, Gipsy Queen, was the
black filly brought from Williamstown, Vermont. To this all
the intermediate owners between Williamstown and Behrens'
livery stable were ready to insist that this black mare was the


Williamstown filly, but not one of them had ever seen the mare
that George Bidwell was handling, and some of them evidently
were not worthy of belief if they had seen her. There is the
''missing link" between Behrens' stable and George Bidwell, that
has not been supplied and probably never can be supplied. The
chances that the Williamstown filly was the real Gipsy Queen,
all things considered, seem to stand as about one to a thousand.
AVe must, therefore, conclude that we have no satisfactory in-
formation as to how or where this mare was bred.

Belle of Wabash. — My first inquiry about this mare was
made more than twenty-five years ago, and I did not then suppose
that her pedigree would ever become a question of any general
interest. In the first volume of the Eegister I had entered her
as a black mare, foaled 1852, got by Bassinger, son of Lieutenant
Bassinger, and dam said to be by imported William IV. She was
then owned by George C. Stevens of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
After her son — The Moor — proved himself a great sire of trot-
ters in getting Beautiful Bells, Sultan and other good ones, her
pedigree became a question of very great imjjortance. As the
search for it would occupy more space, in detail, than I can give
to it in these pages, I will here give the references in Wallace's
Monthly, where the principal correspondence may be found: Vol.
XIV., p. 510; XV., p. 441; XVI., p. 43; and for a complete un-
derstanding of the matter the references here given should be
carefully examined.

Mr. S. D. Puett, of Indiana, was the first to give me a starting
point in the investigation of the pedigree of this mare. In all
tliat had been said about her I never was able to find a man who
really knew anything about her origin, until Mr. Puett gave me
the address of Cyrus Romaine, who had owned her when very
young and handled her for speed. He says "she was sired by a
colt from her own dam, tliat was got by a Copperbottom stal-
lion from Kentucky." He was not able to give any information
about the sire of the dam, and as to the gait of the dam he says:
''Her dam was a natural pacer. I cannot say as to her sire, as he
was unbroken at the time." He bought the mare at three years

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 45 of 61)