Oscar Wilde.

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

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applied to theft in any form, furnished literally hundreds of
evidences, clear, unmistakable and conclusive, that from begin-
ning to end it had been copied from the "Register" and the
Monthly. Like all works of the kind, those volumes were not
free from errors, the spelling of a name might be wrong, the
initials of a name might have been misplaced or reversed, a date
or a location may have been incorrect, and as all these errors were
copied and not one of them corrected, and there were hundreds
of them, each one stood up as a competent and undisputed wit-
ness and told the story of the theft. But, knowing the character
of the people with whom I had to deal, I Avas prompted to adopt
the methods of the detective in using marked bills, and then
finding those bills on the person of the culprit. Fortunately
there was a very easy way of applying this effective and conclu-
sive method and I adopted it. Instead of marking bills, I
marked pedigrees, by inserting imaginary crosses. As an illus-
tration, there was a horse in Delaware called Frank Pierce Jr.
Nobody ever knew anything about the blood of his dam, and I
supplied the place with "dam by Tom Titmouse, pacer," and
then waited for my marked pedigrees to make their appearance.
Nobody ever heard of a horse called "Tom Titmouse" in Dela-
ware or any other country. In due time the book appeared and
there my "marked bills" came to light in the possession of Lucas
Brodhead and Henry C. McDowell. The piracy was a clean sweep
and the evidence of it was just as complete as the depredation
itself. As a matter of course I did not delay in raising the shout
"stop thief," and after one or two broadsides from the Monthly
giving the extent of the theft and examples of the evidence to-


sustain the charge, the moral sense of the breeders of the whole
country, including Kentucky, was aroused, and I was really sur-
prised at the sudden death of the bantling and its burial out of
sight, but still more surprised that no man opened his head in
explanation or defense of the piracy, and thus was practically con-
fessed the truth of all that was charged against them. It is said
that Mr. Alexander, the proprietor of Woodburn, tightened the
reins on his over-ambitious manager, at this point, and admon-
ished him that his course had done great injury to the good name
of Woodburn, and that he must change it, and not attempt any
defense of Avhat he had done. Whether this really occurred or
not I am not able to say, but it was just such a course as any
wise employer would adopt toward a reckless employee whose
course Avas destroying the good name of an establishment. It
then appeared to be my duty to go forward and under a decree
of the courts have this stolen property confiscated and destroyed,
according to law, but as the bantling was already very dead and
growing deader every day, with nothing left of it but a trace of
Its putrescence in the nostrils of all honest men, I concluded that
the game was not worth the candle.

Among the amusing things that were developed in the progress
of this controversy was Mr. Brodhead's peculiar views as to what
"copyright" really meant. He got the idea of restricting admis-
sion to the "Register" to animals possessing certain qualifica-
tions from the Monthly, and he formulated this idea into five or
six rules, expressed in eight or ten short printed lines and, as he
claimed, c()[)yrighted this idea. He evidently seemed to think
he had invented a rat-trap and got his patent on it. and that no
man dare make any rules restricting registration, so long as he
safely held the patent on his rat-trap. He could see no differ-
ence between a patent right and a copyright. An "idea" cannot
be copyrighted, no difference whether it be expressed in one
printed line, or in a dozen. The copyright law is constructed
for the special and only purpose of protecting the author in the
results and products of his labor. The work of seeking, tracing
and establishing the pedigrees of trotting horses had been pushed
forward persistently, laboriously and expensively for more than
twelve years, and it had grown into a vast accumulation of facts
of imperishable value to the whole horse world, and every line
of it was protected under the copyright law; but because it didn't
conform to his "rat-trap" idea he seems to have persuaded him-


self that it would be justifiable to hire and pay a man to transfer
it from my possession to his own.

During its very short life and while the memory of the book
was retained in the recollections of the horsemen of that period,
it was very generally, if not invariably, spoken of as "The Tom
Titmouse Stud Book." It has already been suggested how this
name would aptly fit in among my "marked bills," but the
reason for it has not been made apparent. In Warren's romance
called "Ten Thousand a Year," his "delectable," or to speak
soberly, his "detestable" hero was named "Tittlebat Titmouse,"
and as one of the gentlemen involved in this controversy strongly
reminded me of Warren's hero, by his arrogance and ignorance,
I involuntarily wrote in the "marked bill" "dam by Tittlebat
Titmouse;" but upon looking at it I concluded it was not good
bait, for it was doubtful whether any man in the world who ever
owned a horse would name him after so contemptible a character.
Hence, to make it less conspicuous it was changed to read "dam
by Tom Titmouse, pacer," and the bait was swallowed in a
twinkling. The Kentucky scheme, from its very inception, had
its motive in securing a local and personal advantage over the
breeders of every other section of the country and hence the
provisions of the "Pinafore" standard, from which the promoters
were only driven by exposure and ridicule. The piracy was con-
summated as proved by a hundred witnesses that will never die,
and of which the "marked bill" element, such as "Tom Titmouse,
pacer," is an unmistakable representative. With the inception
and consummation both understood and named, how could we find
another name so fit as "The Tom Titmouse Stud Book?" To
this miglit be added, on an amended title-page: "Edited by a
clerk employed by Lucas Brodhead and Henry C. McDowell of

Some three or four years after the death and burial of the "Tom
Titmouse" book and when its odoriferous memory had become
less offensive, another effort was made to get control of the regis-
tration business, by the same parties in Kentucky. Mr. Brod-
head did not appear prominently in this move, but worked
through his echo, McDowell. The plan was to present a monster
petition to the National Trotting Association, composed chiefly
of track owners and track followers, to establish a trotting regis-
ter. This petition purported to be from breeders, but in fact it
embraced all the "swipes" and stable-boys about Lexington and


Woodburn, I was told, and there were very few actual breeders
in the list, and that few were men who were trying to breed trot-
ters from runners. The movement was inspired and engineered
in good degree from Woodburn, and Brodhead's friends were at
work in all directions securing the names of the "rag, tag and
bobtail" whose names appeared on the petition, and a very great
noise was raised about what was going to be done. Whether the
association took any action on the petition, or what it was, I have
no recollection, but whatever the disposition made of the peti-
tion, it never was heard of again. To the reader not familiar
with the condition of things in Kentucky at that time, these
persistent and renewed attempts to get control of the registra-
tion of trotting' horses can hardly be comprehended. They did
not grow out of ruffled tempers merely, as the result of friction,
but out of strictly business considerations. Kentucky had a
great variety of brood mares from which they were trying to
breed trotters, and practically every one of them was tricked out
with more or less running blood as tail-pieces to their pedigrees,
while others were paraded with pedigrees showing a dozen or
more successive crosses by thoroughbred horses, and not one of
them with a name, a history or a breeder. There were many
purchasers flocking to Kentucky with more money than knowl-
edge for the purpose of buying a few animals to serve as the
nucleus for a breeding stud, and it was no uncommon thing for
such purchasers to estimate the value of a pedigree by its length.
When the purchaser got home with his stock, his next step was to
send them to me for registration, and here came in the "business"
consideration. The pedigree having reached the office of the
"Eegister," unless it were already known to me, every cross had to
be established circumstantially and specifically before it could be
accepted, and at the precise point where reasonable information
failed the pedigree was cut off. The purchaser then goes back
upon the seller, and there the trouble begins. He writes me an
indignant letter. "You're interfering with my business, sah;
that pedigree is just as I got it from Colonel Jones, sah; and he's
a gentleman, sah." It was very seldom, indeed, that a man of
this type could be mollified by assuring him that all pedigrees
were judged by the same rule and requirement, whether they
came from Maine or California or Kentucky. He generally re-
mained an enemy to the "Register" because "it interfered with his
business." From early in the century, three or four counties


■out of about one hundred and twenty in Kentucky bred running
horses and grades and raced them, but no records were kept of
their breeding and nobody knows with certainty to-day anything
about the more remote crosses. For a time the union of two or
three trotting horses upon the top of a line of nameless dams ex-
tending ten or fifteen generations was looked upon as the perfec-
tion of a trotting pedigree. This notion, foolish as it was, gave
Kentucky a great advantage over the breeders of all other sec-
tions of the country, and every exposure, with the evidence, that
in nine cases out of ten these lines of nameless dams were in
whole or in part pure fictions, was cutting the ground from under
their supposed superiority in the breeding of their trotters.
Under the arguments and illustrations of the Monthly, supported
by the incontrovertible statistics of the ''Year Book," the Ken-
tucky cry for "more running blood in the trotter," was silenced
as the child of ignorance and prejudice, and instead of looking
for pedigrees tracing back to Godolphin Arabian, everybody began
to look for pedigrees that traced to individuals and families dis-
tinguished for producing trotters, no difference what blood they
possessed. Here the public mind reached the truth, and in
grasping it the boasted predominance of Kentucky was crushed,
and producing trotting blood was again placed on an equality in
all parts of the land. The loss of the pretensions of one section
could not be of any specific pecuniary advantage to any other
section, but the establishing of the truth was of inestimable ad-
vantage to all. The loss of mere "pretentions" would not, in
ordinary affairs, be considered a very great loss, but in this in-
stance it was looked upon as a grievous wrong, because it inter-
fered with their "business." Every slippery fellow who failed to
pass a bogus pedigree complained that it interfered with his
"business." Every gang of cheats that got together and hired
the use of a track for a few days for the purpose of giving their
horses bogus records, when detected, cried out vigorously that
this was interfering with their "business." Besides these, there
were scores, perhaps hundreds, of others, ready for some such
game to cheat the public, but when they learned the ordeal was
severe, their courage failed and they contented themselves by
threatening the "Register" for interfering with their "business."
Here was an army of jockeys and cheats, and all they needed to
make their numbers formidable was a leader with courage and
money, and whose "business" was their own, to seize regis-


tration and thus recoup the losses they had sustained in their

In considering the conspiracy that resulted in the sale and
transfer of the Wallace publications to the American Trotting Reg-
ister Association, which means simply Lucas Brodhead, there are
some antecedent conditions connected with these publications
that need a brief explanation. The first volume of "Wallace's
American Trotting Register" was published in this city in 1871
and the second in 1874, An office was opened in this city in
1875 and the first number of Wallace's Monthly was issued in
October of that year. The National Association of Trotting
Horse Breeders was organized December 20, 1876. The attend-
ance was large and many of the States were represented by men
of influence and standing. Mr. Charles Backman was elected
president, and L. D. Packer secretary. From the favor with
which the idea of a national organization was received and from
the character of the men participating in it, I voluntarily and
without judicial advice placed in the association the authority to
appoint annually a Board of Censors to examine and decide all
questions relating to disputed pedigrees sent for registration.
The plan worked smoothly and satisfactorily for several years,
in some of which there was not a single case to be examined. My
publications were soon past the critical point, and they seemed to
grow from their inherent strength, and not from pushing or ad-
vertising. The Breeders' Association seemed to take the opposite
chute, and after three or four years it became merely a name.
At first there was trouble in finding a man to take the presidency,
but at last a rich dry goods merchant was found who was willing
to take the presidency, and add five hundred dollars a year to
some stake for the honor conferred; and the secretary, L. D.
Packer, was the mere satellite of the president, and was willing
to give two weeks' work every year for the privilege of drawing
a thousand dollars a year from the treasury. The annual meet-
ings became a mere formality, with an attendance of three or
four and the two officers, who seemed to re-elect each other year
after year, until the association was finally buried somewhere out
in Michigan, I think, and the money that had accumulated in
the treasury was, on his petition, donated to the secretary in
consideration of his valuable services for so many years in carrying
the association from the cradle to the tomb.

Owing to my relations to the Breeders' Association, I felt that


I was in honor bound to maintain its good name in the minds of
the people, while every publication in the whole country was
laughing at it, and that this was my duty as well as my interest
until the time came for a final separation from it. True, when
I made these efforts to uphold it I had to put my tongue in my
nheek, for I knew that its management, like "the Old Man of
the Sea," was riding it to death. As my business continued to
grow and prosper, I began to consider the propriety of forming a
joint stock company of breeders, to own and control the property
absolutely when I was ready to retire. Greatly to my surprise
this proposition gave oilense to the two gentlemen who managed
the association, for I had not alluded to that in any possible
manner. When explained to me it became perfectly plain that
the offense was in the fact that making a legal corporation to
own and control the property would leave no "position" for the
president, no salary for the secretary and no further need for the
N. A. of T. H. B.

The Wallace Trotting Register Company, in due time, was in-
corporated under the laws of the State of "N^ew York, and com-
menced business October 1, 1889. The publications of the com-
pany were the "Register," the Montlily and the "Year Book."
The capital stock of the company was fixed at one hundred thou-
sand dollars, and as work came pouring in upon us more rapidly
than we could handle it, labor became a burden and I had no
time to distribute this stock among the breeders of every State,
as I intended. This was the condition of things in the office in
the following spring when, to my horror, I discovered I had been
robbed of something over fifty-four thousand dollars and the thief
escaped to Cuba. The blow was a stunner, and messages of
sympathy came pouring in from all quarters, with many tenders
of pecuniary assistance all of which were thankfully acknoAvledged,
but all tenders of assistance were declined.

The capitalization at one hundred thousand dollars, and the
robbery of fifty-four thousand dollars, and the company still not
crushed, gave Mr. Brodhead a new view of the possibilities of the
future, and inspired him with a new hope that he might yet reach
the ambition of his life and gain control of the registration of all
the trotting pedigrees of the country. Without much violence
to the processes of Brodhead's mind we can imagine the way in
which he reasoned out the problem. "This has become a valua-
ble property and is bound to be still more valuable," he doubtless


reasoned, ''and it is possible it can be bought, but if bought it must
be done before that stock is scattered among the breeders of the
different States. There are Russell Allen and Malcolm Forbes
and a whole lot of rich fellows just coming into the trotting
horse business and I can show them that this property would be
a good investment. With the money in one hand and the bluff
of starting an opposition Register in the other, it is possible the
property might be got for something like its value." He next
probably reasoned: "The first thing to consider here, is how to
make that bluff sufficiently imposing and effective, in an authori-
tative way; and shall it be a mass meeting or a delegate meeting,
and where shall it be held? I have seen Packer and he evi-
dently wants to know what there is in it for him and Mali, in case
they agree to call a National convention. They want to perpetu-
ate their offices in their present so-called National Association.
If it should be a mass convention, and held at Chicago, I could
send up a few carloads of farmers' sons from around here and
every one of them would swear he was a breeder. If it should
be a delegate convention from State Breeders' Associations, there
are several States that have no such associations, but I could get
a few friends to organize for the purpose of sending delegates.
The horse papers would be a unit on our side, for they have been
'set on' so often and so hard that they would like to see the old
bear superseded. Beside this, every one of those papers has at
least the one man who is competent to succeed Wallace, and
every editor who has been in the business six months thinks he
is fully qualified for that place. But the real roar of the shout-
ing would come from the angry men whom Wallace has disap-
pointed in refusing to accept their pedigrees or their perform-
ances because they were irregular. These men are very numer-
ous and we must have as many of them present as possible. I
think this plan will work," he doubtless reasoned with himself,
"if we can only keep Wallace in the dark till we get things fixed,
and to throw him off his guard I will send him three or four
pedigrees to register."

Thus the plan of the conspiracy, with all the elements to be
employed, were evidently matured in Mr. Brodhead's mind.
There were two points about which he was specially solicitous.
The first was that I should be kept wholly in the dark as to his
movements and purposes, and the second was some apparently
official authority for calling a convention at Chicago that would


be of a nominally "national" character. On invitation Secretary-
Packer visited Woodburn, and for a promised consideration it
was all arranged that the President and Secretary of the N. A. of
T. H. B. would call a convention. With the initial step thus
safely provided for, Mr. Brodhead was everywhere, east and west,
north and south, beating up recruits. In a short time, evidently
by preconcerted arrangement, there was an unusual number of
horsemen in town, some of them very rich men, while the greater
number were blowers of the Dr. Day type with a grievance. The
horsemen were hustled together by Secretary Packer, in what
was called an impromptu meeting, and there President Mali,
after some apparent hesitation, fulfilled his part of the agree-
ment and called the convention at Chicago, and thus Mr. Brod-
head secured his share — and we will see how the other side fared
further on.

When the convention assembled at Chicago it was indeed a
motley mass. President Mali took his place as president, and
called the convention to order, and Secretary Packer took his
place as secretary. This, as I understand, was not by the choice of
the convention, but by virtue of their positions in the N. A. of T.
n. B. It was eventually determined that the meeting should be
composed of delegates from State associations, and when the as-
sociations were called, several of them had never been heard of
before and never have been heard of since. They were bogus
associations, and were gotten up especially for the occasion.
Some of the delegates bore names that never had been heard of
in the office of the ''Register," and it may be inferred they never
bred a standard horse. The names of others, again, were well
known in the office from their efforts to get spurious and un-
known crosses accepted. All these men were anxious for a new
management. One man whom I had discharged from my office
a few weeks before represented a New England State. He was
guilty of a flagrant attempt at deception. He was a fawning
sycophant, always laughing at his own supposed wit, and he was
known in the office as "Uriah Heep." The man who domi-
nated the convention from beginning to end had not been ap-
pointed a delegate by his own association. The whole thing, as
a convention, was about as hollow a sham as was ever enacted in
Chicago. Next behind the gentlemen who by courtesy may be
designated as delegates, sat the moneyed men who were anxiously
looking for a good investment for some of their loose funds, and


Brodhead had told them this property was paying twenty-five
per cent, on a capitalization of one hundred thousand dollars, and
he thought it could be made to pay more. Like many other
fools, they thought it was a machine that when fired up in the
morning would run itself. Next to the rich men sat a good
isprinkling of farmers' sons, some carloads of whom had been
brought from Kentucky, and all ready to swear they were breed-
ers. As Brodhead explained this incident to a gentleman who
stated it to me: "If there was any attempt to pack the convention
he was ready to do some packing himself, with these young men
he had brought from Kentucky."

On the outside circle there was a large number of young men
and some older ones watching the proceedings with great in-
tensity. They were restless, and some of them looked huugry,
and every one of them was looking for a place if the purchase
Avent through. One had a copy of the Bungtown Bugle in his
pocket containing a rej)ort of the racing at the last county fair,
written by him, and he thought that was sufficient evidence that
he was qualified to take charge of the Monthly. Another had
made, with his own hands, as he asserted, a tabulated pedigree on
a large scale and shaded the letters beautifully and artistically
with pokeberry juice; and what evidence could be more satisfac-
tory that he was qualified to take charge of the department of
registration? Every one of them seemed to think that there,
would be a good place for him in the new deal, and hence his
•enthusiasm at every incident that seemed to point in that direc-
tion. Thus the little cormorants as well as the big cormorants
were all anxious for the prey.

While the soreheads were wrangling over how best to get hold
of my property, and what they would do with it Avhen they got
it, I had several hours in the privacy of my ov/n apartments to
look over all the conditions of the situation, and the conclusions
I then reached I have never had reason to change. It, there-
fore, may be of interest to all to know just what I thought at
that crucial period, and I will give these thoughts as contem-
poraneous with the event:

"This meeting is a miserable sham, but the action of Mali and

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 56 of 61)