Oscar Wilde.

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

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Packer has given it a pseudo-type of regularity as a national
convention of horsemen, and this idea of 'regularity' will carry
weight with many who know nothing of the bottom facts.

"The members of the press will, substantially, be a unit against


me, and ring all the changes on 'the National convention' at.
Chicago, and labor to make it appear as an uprising of the horse-
men of the whole country against me.

"The meeting is packed by Brodhead with his own satellites,
whose expenses he has paid, and embraces a good many rogues
who have failed in passing upon me dishonest pedigrees and
spurious records. Besides these there are several men here, and
very active, whose names have never been heard of before in the
horse world.

"Taking these elements together, they are in numbers more^
formidable than dangerous, but when led by Brodhead, with
what they consider a fair price in one hand and a club in the-
other, with the demand 'take the price or we'll take the property,'
the occasion becomes serious.

"The latter alternative means a battle that may last ten years.
Ten years ago these same people employed a man who purloined
my literary property and it was found in their possession. The
evidence of the piracy was so clear that it never was denied.

"Have I time enough, am I strong enough, am I young enough
to enter upon this long battle? Ten years ago I was robbed of
my property, but I was then vigorous and strong; one year ago
another thief robbed me of my money and it was a terrific and
lasting strain upon my vitality.

"The days of my years number nearly threescore and ten, so
there is no time to enter ujDon the uncertainties 'of the law's
delays.' From overwork and the anxieties growing out of family
afflictions and the robbery, my health is shattered. It is time,
therefore, that I should seek to rest rather than to struggle.

"And what about the work to which I have devoted the best,
years of a long life? Will it be attacked? Certainly it will be
attacked for the reason that it does not suit Woodburn. Will it
be overthrown? No, the laws of nature cannot be overthrown.
The trotter can come only from the trotter and nobody but an
ignoramus or a fool can doubt the truth of this declaration.
The experiences of every year, of every track, and in every race
confirm this central truth and will continue to do so as long as
the world stands."

From the above reasonings and conclusions, when the offer of
one hundred and thirty thousand dollars was made, in a business
form, it was accepted.

When the property was transferred it was on the individual


and joint responsibility of some half a dozen rich men, and they
were as gleeful and happy over their investment as though they
had obtained a gold mine for a song. But, while these men were
rejoicing over their acquisition, there were many others cursing
the deception that had been practiced upon them by promising
them places and perquisites and, in short, whatever they wanted
in order to secure their adherence to the conspiracy. Of all this
numerous class, Messrs. Mali and Packer had so little sense as to
make the nature and terms of their agreement public, namely,
that they were to be clothed with the power to annually appoint
the Board of Censors for the new organization. Poor fools! they
didn't know Brodhead. For a consideration of place they had
betrayed a trust to him that as honorable men they should have
sacredly guarded, and the more they complained the more bit-
terly they were condemned by all right-thinking men. Hence,
after they had served his purpose he kicked them aside as he
would an old shoe, and thus he punished the traitors Avith whom
he had dealt. When the multitude of writers, statisticians, etc.,
who had received private assurances of "something equally as
good" in the new deal, saw the fate of Mali and Packer, they
had sense enough to keep their mouths shut. A man who knew
anything about the trotting families and their lines of descent
was not the kind of man that Mr. Brodhead wanted to put in
charge of registration. The only man who could suit Mr. Brod-
head was the man who would implicitly and without doubt follow
his instructions, right or wrong. When Mr. J. H. Steiner was
appointed Registrar it was wholly evident that this was the pur-
pose of the proprietor, for of all the men in my knowledge, in
any way connected with trotting horse interests, Mr. Steiner
seems to be the most profoundly ignorant of horse history and
liorse lineage, and till this day he does not seem to have learned
anything thereof.

At this point the public confidence received a shock from
which it has never recovered, and never will recover. From that
day till the present the estimate of value of the publications
of the company, in the minds of breeders, has been on the
"down grade," and coupled with this is the ever-obtruding doubt
as to whether these publications are managed for the advantage
of the general breeding public, or for the little clique of which
Woodburn is the center. The lack of knowledge displayed has
resulted in a profound disgust. This has been shown most con-


clusively in the fate of the poor old MontJily. It started out
under its new owners to controvert breeding history and breeding
law in which the public had been thoroughly and conscientiously
indoctrinated. The sham pretense of using the title Wallace's
Monthly instead of Brodhead' s Monthly was "too thin" to deceive
any one except the most ignorant. The labored productions of
the weaklings hired to overthrow the truth only tended to deepen
the disgust. The price was lowered as an inducement to sup-
port, but nobody wanted the miserable thing about his house,
and thus it died without a tear except from the eyes of the rich
fools who put their money into it supposing it would live and
prosper in the hands of ignorant and incompetent men.

It is natural for the rich men who put their money so gleefully
into this publishing enterprise, at the instigation of Mr. Brodhead,
to try to get some of it back before the final smash, which is evi-
dently not far removed, and hence the ignorant and blundering
emasculation of the Year Book, in order to reduce its cost.
"The Great Table," as it was called for years, embraces all
others, and all others are merely subsidiary to that. This table
should be restored in its entirety, for it is worth the whole of
them and double as many more. With every other table thrown
out and this one restored, complete, the breeders would be con-
tent. The Year Book — the great instructor of the past — I have
just learned is no longer published for the breeders or for the
press, but for the tracks. The operation is explained as fol-
lows: Every year the secretaries of the National and the Ameri-
can Trotting Associations send out by express a lot of blank
books, blanks, etc., to each track in good standing and in this
outfit for the year is a copy of the Year Book, which is charged
at the long price. The tables of fastest records, I am told, are
quite carefully made in the offices of these associations them-
selves, and the book is thus made a convenience for the tracks.
Thus, by this system of forced loans on the tracks, the Year
Book is kept alive. This method of financing the company will
not last long.

A different method has been adopted in order to secure funds
from registration. Money for registration must come from the
breeders themselves directly, and there is no way of forcing them
to put up through the manipulation of intermediary officials.
Hence the plan has been tried of scaring them into it, but with
what success I am not informed. At the annual meeting in


April, 1895, 1 think it was, a committee was appointed, consist-
ing of Messrs. Brodhead and Boyle, if I remember, to consider
and report to the next meeting amendments to the standard ad-
vancing the requirements for registration, and everybody was
advised to hurry in their pedigrees or they might be excluded.
At the meeting in 1896 the committee did not report, but Mr.
Brodhead reported in a series of resolutions, in which the num-
ber of standard dams was advanced, which suited Woodburn
exactly, but there was no advance in the time to be made, and
the tin-cup record against time was carefully protected. The
resolutions were adopted unanimously, and went before the
breeding public as the new advanced standard that would be de-
cided at the next annual meeting. From time to time the breed-
ers were duly informed of the proposed advance and cautioned
many times to get in while they could. The annual meeting in
April, 1897, came, and instead of a rush of breeders interested one
way or another in the proposed advance, the same stereotyped
half a dozen men were there who had been manipulating the
scare for two years, and not one of them, even Brodhead himself,
voted for the advance. This is no advance at all, in a practical
sense, and would accomplish nothing, and would do no good to
anybody except Woodburn or some other establishment that like
her has been breeding trotters for forty years. It was merely in-
tended for a scare, and it failed under such circumstances as to
fully disclose the object in jjlacing it before the breeders. The
scare is all out of this kind of humbug and deception, and now
what? When the standard was adopted on the basis of 2:30 that
rate of speed was sixteen seconds behind the fastest record then
made. To-day if the standard were placed at 2:30 it would be
about sixteen seconds slower than the fastest time now on record.
But this real advance, which is imperatively demanded by all the
considerations of philosophy and progress, will never be made so
long as the standai'd is under the control of Woodburn. The
reason for this is made obvious by reference to page 504, etc.
Mr. Brodhead's ambition has been fully gratified, he is in full and
absolute control of the registration of the country, he has com-
pletely demonstrated his incompetency for such a position, and
he has the satisfaction of knowing, if it be a satisfaction, that no
sensible business man on the face of the globe would be willing
to pay ten per cent, of the cost for the property he now controls..


And who will say this is not a righteous retribution for the disrep-
utable means employed, first and last, to obtain this control?

My life-work in building up a breed of trotting horses and
thereby adding many millions to the value of the horse stock of
the country had been more effective than I had even hoped for.
I knew that I had laid the foundation on the bed-rock of truth,
and I knew that the superstructure had been honestly erected,
but I did not know what a deep root my teachings had taken in
the minds of all intelligent and thinking men. In transferring
the property the chief source of my unhappiness was in the
thought that heaven an^ earth would be moved to destroy what
I had done and overthrow Avhat I had taught. But I had
builded wiser and stronger than I knew, and when the "feather-
weights'* were hired to pull the house down and tear up the very
roots of the seed I had planted, the people would not listen to
them and nobody would read their vapid utterances. And thus
the effort ended in the death of the Monthly. The harvest of
thought was much nearer the reaping time when the transfer was
made than I had supposed, and since then it has been ripening
and ripening, and to-day if any man were heard advocating more
running blood in the trotter, he would with very great unanimity
be pronounced either an ignoramus or a fool, on that question at

But, much as I disliked to surrender my life-work to a man
whose moral fiber I had tested and found brittle, the transfer
was really "a blessing in disguise." It gave me rest, it gave me
health, and it gave me leisure to prosecute the study of the horse
of history in fields hitherto untrodden. The years thus employed
in digging after the very roots of history in the libraries, at home
and abroad, have glided by, affording a continuous enjoyment in
the discovery of many things that are very old and yet entirely
new to this generation. Very often, when the work went slowly,
I thought I could again hear the quiet, sympathetic voice of a
Pennsylvania Friend gently prompting me with the remark,
"Thee should remember that thee is no longer a young man."
And now that my long-promised and pleasant undertaking is
completed, it is my very earnest wish that the thousand friends
who have been waiting for it may enjoy the pleasant surprises it
will furnish them as much as I have enjoyed their exhumation
from the archives of long-buried centuries.




Mr. Wallace's early life and education — Removal to Iowa, 1845 — Secretary
Iowa State Board of Agriculture — Begins work, 1856, on " Wallace's
American Stud Book," published 1867 — Method of gathering pedigrees —
Trotting Supplement — Abandons Stud Book, 1870, and devotes exclusive
attention to trotting literature — "American Trotting Register," Vol. I.,
published in 1871 — Vol. II. follows in 1874 — The valuable essay on breed-
ing the lorerunner of present ideas — Standard adopted 1879 — Its history —
Battles for control of the " Register" — Wallace's Monthly founded 1875 —
Its character, purposes, history, writers, and artists — " Wallace's Year
Book " founded 1885 — Great popularity and value — Transfer of the Wal-
lace publications, and their degeneration.

The history of the series of works known as the Wallace publications,
even in the brief form here contemplated, involves in a large degree the
biography of Mr. Wallace. It is indeed more than the sketch of a long
and indefatigably industrious life-work. It involves as well, in the forty
years of creative labor, the development of a great productive industry,
and of a distinct branch of literature. Mr, Wallace's labors in the field
of gathering and systematizing American horse iiistory began at a day
when there was no breed of trotters, or no trotting literature. When he
laid aside active work there were both, well established and clearly defined
factors in the nation's progress, and in all the years from the commence-
ment he was the central figure in the work of establishing a breed of trot-
ters, and incora.jarably the clearest and strongest force in the direction
and upbuilding of a trotting literature. That is the simple truth of his-
tory, which the verdict of time will render it puerile to deny.

John H. Wallace was born August 16, 1832, and reared on a farm
in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. As a boy he evinced no par-
ticular liking for farm work, but had a great fondness for reading. He
was educated chiefly at the Frankfort Springs Academy, where he was
prepared to enter the junior class at college. There occurred a little
incident at this time that illustrates how seemingly slight a thing may
change the current of a life. The then member of Congress for that dis-
trict, Mr. Dickey, a scholarly man, advised Professor Nicholson, of the
Academy, that if he had a young man in his institution whom he could
recommend, he (Mr. Dickey) would appoint him a cadet to West Point,
Mr. Wallace was selected, provided his father's consent was forthcoming.
When Mr. Wallace, Sr., was approached on the subject his reply was.


" John, I think there is some better employment in the world for you than
studying the most approved methods of killing men " — and that ended the
West Point incident. Young Mr. Wallace, about this time, became
alarmed, however, at his then persistently delicate health, and decided to
seek an outdoor life rather than one of study. In 1845 he married Miss
Ellen Ewing (who died in 1891), of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and
settled on a farm at Muscatine, Iowa. Iowa was then a new country, and
Mr. Wallace did much in the way of organizing the industrial and educa-
tional interests of the State. There, as related below, he began work in
the line in which he became famous. With an invalid wife he returned to
Allegheny in 1872; andin 1875in company with the late Benjamin Singerly,
of Pittsburg, started Wallace^s Monthly at New York, which has been his
home ever since. Mr. Wallace in 1893 married Miss Ellen Wallace Veech,
a niece of the first Mrs. Wallace ; and since his retirement from active busi-
ness he has spent his time, at home and abroad, chiefly in prosecuting
investigations into the horse history of the remote periods, the results of
which are seen in this, his crowning life-work.

We will endeavor here to sketch, in the abstract, the history of Mr.
Wallace's publications to as great a degree as possible separately, though
they cannot be entirely separated. The " Trotting Register" was an out-
growth of the "Stud Book," and Wallace's Monthly ?a\6. the "Year Book"
outgrowths of the "Register," and both auxiliary thereto. The career
and usefulness of all were intertwined, yet each had its own peculiar mis-
sion, and to that extent their histories will be kept distinct.

" Wallace's American Stud Book."

During the early "fifties" Mr. Wallace, then in the prime of early man-
hood, was Secretary of the Iowa State Board of Agriculture, and as such had
much to do with the management of State fairs. He was thus frequently
called upon for information about the pedigrees of animals, and the need
of an authority on horse pedigrees was pointedly and constantly forced
upon his attention. If the pedigree of a cow was asked for he had only
to turn to the "American Herd Book" to find it, but when the breeding
of a horse was wanted there was no authority to which to turn. Mr. Wal-
lace had been dabbling more or less in such horse literature as there was
at that day, and in 1856 began collecting information with the ultimate
purpose of publishing a stud book of thoroughbred horses — for the thor-
oughbred was then here, as in England, supreme as the only horse of
literature. He already possessed certain of the publications that were the
best horse authorities of the day— a file of the Spirit of the Times, Skin-
ner's American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, and a number
of volumes of the "English Stud Book," and English Sporting Magazine.
Added to these, later, were other sources of information and misinformation
most notable in this latter class being the alleged " Stud Book " published
bv Patrick Nesbitt Edgar, of North Carolina, in 1833— an utterly unreliable


work, but the only American stud book in existence prior to Wallace's.
From these, and every other available source, Mr. Wallace began to glean
and systematically compile the pedigrees of thoroughbred and so-called
thoroughbred horses. Of these sources by far the most valuable was
Skinner's periodical, begun in Baltimore in 1839. Novice as he was at
tlie time, Edgar's work was regarded with more than suspicion by Mr.
Wallace, and, as a matter of caution as well as of honesty, whenever he
borrowed pedigrees from Edgar they were so credited.

Modern methods of investigating pedigrees were not dreamed of by our
compiler then. His principal aim seems to liave been to get as large a
<;ollection as possible, and whatever was found in print, whether news-
paper, book, or hand-bill, was taken for granted; and pedigrees gathered
from private sources were, like the others, submitted to little scrutiny.
Neither men's motives nor their knowledge of what they represented to
know were questioned, and in this way, after years of labor, a great mass
of pedigrees was gathered, written in new form and order, and the thor-
oughbred stallions numbered — which was the first instance of numbering
horses in registration. While compiling the thoroughbred pedigrees, Mr.
Wallace also incidentally seized upon such information as he found about
trotting pedigrees and records, and these he arranged as an appendix
to his work. Finally, in 1867, "Wallace's American Stud Book," a
great, handsome volume of 1,017 pages, bound pretentiously in green and
gold, was published in New York.

The trotting supplement embraced about 100 pages, and that the editor
was pretty well satisfied with it is shown by a sentence in the preface:
*'It is believed that this compilation of trotting horses, embracing over
700 animals, is very nearly perfect, but it is not claimed to be entirely so."
Of coui'se, from the method of its compilation it was decidedly imper-
fect, but it was the best and only compilation of trotting pedigrees up to
that time.

Meanwhile Mr. Wallace was pushing forward the compilation of the sec-
ond volume of the "Stud Book," and in this traveled much, making per-
sonal investigations. In 1870 this was completed, all the ground up to
that year having been gone over, but in tlie course of the work " a great
light"' began to dawn upon the compiler. He found that he had been
proceeding on a wrong plan entirely. Experience in compiling and inves-
tigating taught him that a pedigree may be printed in a newspaper, or
even in a book, and still not be true. He discovered that the sources from
wliich he had drawn were largely unreliable, that hundreds of pedigrees,
through ignorance or dishonesty, or both, were fabrications and frauds,
especially in their extensions in the maternal lines, and with the realiza-
tion in full force of this knowledge came the determination, even though
the last page of the manuscript for the second volume of the "Stud
Book" was complete, that it should never see the light.

At the same time Mr. Wallace had discovered that the trotting sup-


plement was the part of his "Stud Book" most used and appreciated.
He saw that the trotter was coming to be the horse of the American
people, and that there was a great and new field opening in wfiich a lit-
erature had yet to be formed. His experience with the " Stud Book " gave
him the training necessary for the work before him, and thus equipped,
with little capital outside of his newly acquired knowledge, and marvel-
ous natural industry and perseverance, with an unusual capacity for
hard work, he turned in 1870 to the work before him— the literature of the

" Wallace's American Trotting Register."

He had as a nucleus the supplement to Volume I. of the " Stud Book,"
added to which was the work done and knowledge gained in compiling
the second volume, together with an increasing library and written data.
Thus in incidentally adding a few pages of trotting pedigrees to his " Stud
Book," Mr. Wallace had builded better than he knew, but he even now
had little conception of the extent and richness of his new field of explora-
tion. He traveled all over the country, levying upon every source of in-
formation for his "Trotting Register;" but, taught in the dear school of
experience, depended chiefly upon personal investigation, taking monthly
and yearly less and less for granted. He gradually became more trained
in meeting the natural human fondness for embellishing, extending and
completing pedigrees without reference to fact or evidence, and the
equally common predilection for stating as known facts those thing.s con-
cerning pedigrees that were only of common report. This work was
excellent training for the more extended duties of the future, and it gave
Mr. Wallace an insight into methods of the olden time, and a knowledge
of men and horses that later made him, backed by uncompromising
honesty, absolute fearlessness, and a quite unusual disregard for " policy,"
a "terror to evil-doers" in the realm of manufacturing in whole or in
part fraudulent pedigrees.

Still the knowledge, the caution, the system that made it almost im-
possible in the last years of Mr. Wallace's administration to impose a fraud
upon the "Register" were of slow, gradual, but constant growth. The work
improved with every volume, with every year of experience, and the evi-
dence that would be accepted in the compilation of the early volumes
would not suffice later. Mr. Wallace had also the quality of just as re-
morselessly overthrowing his own errors as those of others, and thus a
system of correction was continually going along, in which work Wallace^s
Monthly, founded in 1875, was a particularly efifective agency.

The first volume of the "Trotting Register" was published in 1871, and
was a neat book of 504 pages. It contained, besides the pedigrees gathered,
tables of all trotting and pacing performances up to the close of 1870, and

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 57 of 61)