Oscar Wilde.

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

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this was the first time in which the records of the trotting turf were


collected and published. This part of the work entailed a vast amount of
research, including a thorough review of all sporting papers, annuals and
other sources where contemporaneous record of racing would be liable to
be made, but it was a very valuable feature; and, besides serving as a
basis for Mr. Wallace's future compilations, was unscrupulously seized upon
by imitators who, from time to time, sought to publish '-record books."

There was also an introduction to the volume entitled, "An Essay on
the True Origin of the American Trotter," which showed a glimmering of
understanding of the truths of history and of breeding as now understood
by students well grounded in the subject. In the second volume, how-
ever, was an essay that marks an epoch in the literature of breeding.
Written less than three years after the introduction to Volume I. , it be-
trays the fact that in the intervening years the author had risen suddenly
and broadened infinitely in his study of the science of breeding, and his
understanding of the application thereto of the facts of trotting history.
It advanced then entirely new views, and it was the first article published,
as far as the writer is aware, that rose to an appreciation of the supremacy
of biological laws in horse breeding, and suggested such a thing as
psychical heredity in the transmission of habits of action. It originated
the term " trotting instinct," so generally used thereafter, began the dis-
cussion of the problem of the increasing number of fast trotters from
pacing ancestors, and wound up with ten sound propositions or conclusions
based throughout on the law that like begets like. It opened up new and
endless lines of investigation and thought, and at once elevated the dis-
cussion t) a scientific plane. This article, written by Mr. Wallace origi-
nally for the Spirit of the Times, marked the advent of the school of
thought on breeding now almost universal.

The second volume of the "Register" was published in 1874, and the third
in 1879. The first three volumes of the "Register" contained about 10,000
pedigrees, and the statistical tables in the second and third volumes were
greatly improved and amplified over those in the first. Volume II. gave
a table of sires of 3:30 horses, with the number to the credit of each sire,
and the number of heats to the credit of each performer — a sort of vague
foreshadowing of the famous " Great Table of Trotters under their Sires,"
later to be conceived and developed by Mr. Wallace, and destined to be-
come the most valuable single trotting compilation yet designed, and the
one now universally used, adopted and imitated. This volume also gave
a table of 3:35 trotters to the close of 1873, arranged in the order of their
speed. The first table of trotters under their sires was published in
Wallace''s Monthly, covering the statistics to the end of 1877.

The third volume was much larger than its predecessors. The industry
of breeding trotting and pacing horses was, under the stimulus of the
" Register " and Wallace^ s Mbnthli/, and other agencies with which Mr.
Wallace was identified, and of a general era of prosperity then dawning,
advancing and extending now at rapid strides, and about this time certain


events of almost inestimable influence on the future of the business

In the autumn of 1876 there -was formed at New York the National
Association of Trotting Horse Breeders, an organization in which Mr.
Wallace's influence predominated from its inception until a short time
before its dissolution, for lack of an excuse for existence. This organiza-
tion was broadly representative of the best elements in the breeding busi-
ness in its virile and useful days, and accepted a sort of advisory and
supervisory control over the "Trotting Register;" and Volume III. and sub-
sequent volumes were compiled under its authority. Questions of dis-
puted pedigrees and other such issues affecting breeding and the record
of pedigrees were decided by a Board of Censors appointed by this associa-
tion; and, aside from its usefulness in connection with the " Trotting
Register," it contributed largely to the advancement and encouragement of
breeding by inaugurating colt stakes, and other stakes designed more
especially to attract the breeder than the professional campaigner.

Before the third volume was through the press the need of some meas-
ure for restricting registration became apparent to Mr. Wallace. The eco-
nomics of the "Register" demanded it, but beyond tliis the need of system-
atizing and establishing a specific breed called for some definition as to
what rightfully belonged to that breed. Up to this time the only rule was
the indefinite provision that ' ' anything well related to trotting blood "
might be acceptable as eligible by the compiler of the "Register." The
problem that confronted those who took a broad and comprehensive view
was to educate public opinion up to that point where the possibility of
establishing a breed of trotters would be appreciated. As early as April,
1878, Wallace's Monthhj strongly urged the necessity of a standard, and
this was the first suggestion of one that had been made. At the Novem-
ber meeting of the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders that
year the Board of Censors in their report presented a letter from Mr.
Wallace advising the adoption of a standard, a recommendation which the
Board indorsed. Meanwhile the matter was being agitated and discussed
in Wallace's Monthly, and affairs were gradually shaping for action. In
the March, 1879, number of the Monthly a standard formulated by certain
Kentucky breeders and forwarded by Major H. C. McDowell was printed
and commented upon. It was fair on its face, but under discussion its
weak points were made clear. For instance, its fourth rule made stand-
ard "Any mare the dam of any mare or stallion that has produced or
sired a horse, mare, or gelding with a record of 2:30." It was pointed
out that under this rule the celebrated English thoroughbred mare
Queen Mary would become a standard trotter, for her son, the race horse
Bonnie Scotland, had sired the trotter Scotland. As other provisions
made the sisters and brothers of standard animals standard, the defects of
the Kentucky standard were made patent, and the Breeders' Association
failed to approve it. Instead, at a meeting at the Everett House, New


York, November 19, 1879, the standard as printed on pages 519-20, in the
framing of which Mr. Wallace and General B. F. Tracy did the active
work, was unanimously adopted.

Under this standard the work of compiling Volume IV. , which involved
bringing forward animals registere i in preceding volumes, that met its
requirements, and numbering stallions, was carried on.

Meanwhile, some Kentucky gentlemen failed to acquiesce in the stand-
ard decision, and had, or believed they had, other grievances against the
compiler of the "Register." They proceeded to plan to control the "Regis-
ter," but as in the last chapter of this work Mr. Wallace gives full details
of this and subsequent battles for the control of registration, this history
need not be here repeated.

In the meantime the breeding interest was enjoying remarkable pros-
perity, and this was reflected upon and through the "Trotting Register"
and Wallace's Monthly. In 1882 Volume IV. was published, Volume V.
in 1886, and Volume VI. in 1887, these containing about 6,000 pedigrees
each. Volume VII. appeared in 1888, Volume VIII. in 1890, and
Volume IX., the last published by Mr. Wallace, appeared in 1891.

While an adequate discussion of the standard is neither necessary or
possible in this article, it was so obviously part and parcel of the "Trot-
ting Register" that its history must be briefly outlined. The standard
formulated in 1879 served its purpose well, but it was but an initial step,
and it was fully recognized by Mr. Wallace at the time that it would have
to be revised and strengthened from tim^ to time so as to keep pace with
the progress of the breeders. If the standard to-day is held in slight
esteem, or even in contempt, it is clearly because it has been allowed to
lag far behind the progress of the breed.

Evils grew out of the standard, even in its early years, simply through a
quite general misunderstanding of its purposes and its full meaning. Stand-
ard rank became instantly so popular and so sought after that thousands of
breeders aimed solely to breed into the standard, without much regard for
other necessary qualifications. They seemed to forget that it was merely a
definition of the blood that was eligible to the "Register," and not,
nor ever intended, to be taken as a general measuring stick of value. Soon
after its adoption an era of great prosperity came in trotting affairs, with
recklessly high prices for standard animals. With an apparently insatiable
market there came an abnormal expansion of the industry. Thousands" of
men began breeding without knowing anything, either practically or
theoretically, about the industry, except how to get into the standard.
Hence the overproduction of not only standard trotting horses, but all
kinds of trotting horses of inferior breeding and little excellence, and the
subsequent break in prices, for all of which the standard has been by
inconsiderate persons blamed.

Not long after its adoption Mr. Wallace saw these dangerous tendencies,
and in the Monthly warned the breeders against them, and early began


agitating for a revision of the rules. But nothing could stem that rising
tide, and at first the opposition to any change in the rules was vehement
and general. The obviously easy gateway into the standard was through
rule seven, and this became the storm center of the discussion. Mr. Wal-
lace led in the call for the abolition of . his rule, and did it so persistently
and well that gradually the leading breeders and thinkers were won over,
but the outci'y against a change was so earnest and so general among the
smaller breeders that the National Association hesitated long. Though a
Committee on Revision was appointed as early as December, 1885, it was
not until December 14, 1887, that a revision was finally effected, the
standard being then adopted as printed on pages 530-21.

Every reader can observe, by comparison with the previous standard,
that there was a wise and conservative strengthening of the rules all along
the line. The next step contemplated by Mr. Wallace was not only a further
restricting revision on blood lines, but also an increase in the speed rate
required, an advance from 2:30 to 2:25, then ultimately to 2:20, his pur-
pose being that the standard should keep pace with the progress of the
breed. But before any of these steps were made the "Register" pa.ssed
into other hands — and other theories and practices have prevailed, with
the result that the standard is to-day held in derision and the value of the
"Register" has sunk to the vanishing point. But before reaching this
phase of our history some account of Mr. Wallace's other publications is in

"Wallace's Monthly."

At a very early period in the history of the " Trotting Register" Mr.
Wallace perceived the necessity of there being some medium of communi-
cation with the breeders which he could control. This was one of several
reasons, which need not here be detailed, the outcome of which was the
establishment of the publication which has played a greater part than any
other in developing tie trotting literature of to-day, and in leading Amer-
ican thought on the science of hveeding— Wallace's MontJily. The first
number came out in October, 1875, with Benjamin Singerly, publishei',
and John H. Wallace, editor. Mr. Singerly was an uncle of Hon. William
M. Singerly, of the Philadelphia. i2eeo/-d, and had large printing establish-
ments in Harrisburg and Pittsburg, Pa. The first twelve numbers of
Wallace's Monthly were printed in Harrisburg, though published from the
outset from New York. Benjamin Singerly died in August, 1876, from
which time Mr. Wallace carried on the publication himself, from the little
office at 170 Fulton Street, overlooking St. Paul's churchyard.

In accordance with the time-honored custom in Journalism, the first
number of Wallace\s Monthly contained a salutatory outlining its purposes
and its policy, and in almost every detail that policy was honestly lived up
to while Mr. Wallace controlled the magazine. The horse was to be made the
leading, but not the exclusive feature; full trotting and running summaries


with indexes were to be published; correspondence was invited; and, as a
cardinal principle of poli -y, gambling in any and all forms was to be un-
compromisingly fought against. This last detail of policy Mr. Wallace
rigidly adhered to always. He opposed public betting in any fo.rm and
under any pretense, and believed, and acted up to the belief, that if racing
could not be maintained without betting it were better that grass should
grow on the tracks. The first number of the Monthly contained a
descriptive article by " Hark Oomstock," and some selected matter, but
was chiefly the editor's work — mostly concise historical matter, dealing
with the early progenitors of the trotting breed.

With each number the MontJily strengthened, until soon it had gath-
ered around it the brightest writers in the country. Notwithstanding this,
however, the editorial department was always its strongest feature, and it
rapidly became a power in the Ian I . Among the earliest contributors were
" Hark Comstoek" (Peter C. Kellogg), always a fluent writer, and one of
the most versatile special pleaders on horse topics known to the turf press;
Charles J. Foster, the gifted "Privateer," whose work, from a literary
standpoint, was of te:i times a model of finish; " Yah Amerikanski" (Spen-
cer Borden), and " S. T. H." (S. T. Harris), both brilliant, especially in
controversy; H. T. Helm, Levi S. Gould, and many others prominently
known in turf literature a quaiter of a century ago.

Spirited controversy early became a feature of the Monthly, and in these
passages-at-arms the editor was generally found taking a leading hand.
As a writer Mr. Wallace was always above all things forceful. He fortified
himself in theory and fact amply, and his style was so direct, yet compre-
hensive, that every shot told, and even those who disagreed with him were
forced to read and admire these spirited discussions. Mr. Wallace more-
over early impressed the public with his uncompromising honesty, and
with the fact that, above all things, he had the courage of his convictions.
There was no dodging issues, no dallying or compromising with humbug
of any sort; a spade was called a spade, and no consideration of " policy"
brought a note of indirection into the Monthly's editorial pages. The
personality of the editor was ineffaceably stamped on his magazine, and
its influence became potent for good far beyond the limitations of mere

The magazine became quickly the leader in thought on breeding sub-
jects, and hardly an advanced idea that to-day prevails in this field of
literature but can be found first suggested in the Monthly. The first
taole of trotters under their sires was published in Wallace's Monthly for
1877; the standard was first suggested in its pages; the pacer as an origin
of trotting speed was first advanced in February and March, 1883; it was
the flist to formulate and advocate and put to the test a scale of points for
judging horses; and above all it was the power that educated breeders to
an understanding of breeding on truly scientific principles, and brought
about an acceptance and appreciation of the laws of heredity as applied to


breeding the trotter. And, interspersed with this continual seeking for
the light and the right, there was an amount of historical matLer pub-
lished that would make the compilation of a valuable book on the Ameri-
can trotter possible from the Monthly alone. It was, moreover, continu-
ally exposing frauds of history and of pedigrees, and was as potent in
guarding as it was in discovering the truth. It was the recognized enemy
of fraud, of humbug, of false pretense everywhere, and attacked them iu
high places as well as low, and that its editor incurred the enmity of many
whose designs attracted the Monthly''s searchlight, and were thwarted
by it, is a fact known of all men.

This, in brief, was the character of the Monthly from its foundation,
until it passed out of Mr. Wallace's hands. To follow its detailed history
through the nearly sixteen years of Mr. Wallace's editorship is not the
purpose of this article, but the rather to group the salient factors that
made it what it was, and that have secured for it an enduring place in
trotting history.

The Monthly was from the first illustrated, and the progress in horse
art is well demonstrated by tracing through its pages. Its first drawings
were made by James C. Beard, who came of a race of artists, but whose
attempts at horse portraits were wretched caricatures, one and all. Still,
they seemed to be the best, or rather the least bad, then- obtainable. Mr.
Wallace, however, was painfully cognizant of the lack of truthful por-
traits of horses, and was not less delighted than surprised when, one Sep-
tember day in 1878, a young man came into his office, and exhibited
drawings that were so obviously truthful portraitures that they were a
revelation in horse art. A rapid questioning as to whether he had drawn
them, and where he had hidden his light so long, developed that the young
genius was Herbert S. Kittredge, of Pennsylvania. He was immediately
engaged, and his work in the Monthly was the first reputable horse por-
traiture in American literature. This gifted, self-educated genius died in
May, 1881, long before his prime, and when his powers were daily develop-
ing. He was the forerunner of Whitney, Dickey, Morris, and others
whose ability to faithfully portray horses is acknowledged to-day. He
had not the mechanical aids — notably the camera — or processes which
they so freely call into play, but in true artistic ability to draw faithfully,
it is doubtful whether this undeveloped master was the inferior of any
artist who has yet made horse portraiture a specialty in any country.

From year to year the contributory staff of Wallace's Monthly increased,
and always had in its membership a number of the leading breeders and
students. For many years Mr. Wallace did practically all the editorial
work himself, as in fact he did the registration work. But this gradually
outgrew him, and soon his office staff began to increase. First he removed
the office to 212 Broadway, not far from its first location. Then in May,
1887, the final move was made to commodious offices in the Stewart Build-
ing, at Broadway and Chambers Street, when the office staff had grown


until more than a dozen assistants were employed on all the publi-

Among the earliest editorial assistants on the Monthly was C. T. Harris,
later trotting editor of the Spirit of the Times, and still more recently of
The Horse Revieiv, a faithful and conscientious worker. Later Gurney C.
Gue, a clever writer, and exceptionally well grounded in facts of pedigree
and record, occupied a desk with the Monthly, and is now one of Mr.
Dana's " bright young men " on the Sun. In 1886 Leslie E. Macleod be-
came associate editor, and continued in that capacity until 1890. He
subsequently became managing editor of The Horseman, and later edito-
rial writer of The Horse Review.

Of contributors, among the best known may be named, in addition to
those enumerated as identified with the Monthly at tlie start, General B.
F. Tracy, Allen W. Thompson, Samuel Hough Terry, "Mark Field" (Jas.
M. Hiatt), "O. W. C." (0. W. Cook), Thos. B. Armitage, "Mambrino"
(H. D. McKinney), Otto Holstein, -'Bill Arp," " Aurelius" (Rev. T. A.
Hendrick), A. B. Allen, "Fidelis," Harvey W. Peek, Benjamin W. Hunt,
"Roland" (Leslie E. Macleod), Major Campbell Brown, F. G.Smith,
Judge M. W. Oliver, Prof. Chas. T. Luthy, Colonel F. G. Buford, John
P. Ray, "Vision" (W. H. Marrett), H. C. Goodspeed, and others.

The last number of Wallace''s Monthly issued under Mr. Wallace's

editorship was published in July, 1891. It then passed to the American

Trotting Register Company, at Chicago, and its degeneration was rapid,

and in a few months it died for lack of brains. Robbed of its virility and

of its purpose, without editorial direction, and aiming only to lead a

harmless existence, and to say or do nothing to offend any one of a score

of directors and hundreds of stockholders, it soon began to lead a useless

existence, and dropped out of the notice of thinking men. It became the

antithesis of all that it had been, and its end was a pitiable one for a

publication with a history of sixteen years of fearless, honest, able


" Wallace's Year Book."

Early in the history of the Monthly Mr. Wallace decided to drop run-
ning summaries, and give exclusive attention to trotting and pacing
statistics. These grew so rapidly that they soon became burdensome, and
an outlet became inevitable. Furthermore the adoption of the standard,
depending as it did on records of performances, necessitated for its appli-
cation a bureau of statistics, and these considerations and others — not the
least of which was the recognition of "a long-felt want "—prompted Mr.
Wallace to start "Wallace's Year Book." The first volume of this valu-
able annual was published in May, 1886, covering the performances for
1885. and contained, besides summaries of all races in which a heat was
trotted in 2:50 or less, a 2:30 list for the year, and the Great Table of
Trotters under their sires. The book contained 273 pages, was bound in
flexible cloth, and sold at $1.


An improvement of the greatest value and importance was made in the-
Great Table in the first volume of the "Year Book." This'was the addi-
tion after the list of performers under each sire of the names of 'his sons
that had sired performers, with the number to the ci*edit of each, and of
the performers out of his daughters. It furnished at a glance what a.
horse had done, not only of himself, but through his sons and daughters,
and the Great Table thus improved became at once the gauge of trotting
blood by which breeders everywhere estimated the comparative values of
the different families and different sires. It was the most clear, con-
densed, yet comprehensive and perfect summing up of all the facts and
experiences of trotting history imaginable, and so apparent is this fact
that nothing original has ever been attempted to replace it, while all com-
pilers, without exception, imitate it. The Great Table of itself would
have carried any book to success.

The second volume of the " Year Book,'' 330 pages, contained in addi-
tion to the same class of matter as its predecessor, tables of sires and
dams, great brood mares, and fastest records. Still further improvements
were made in every year. Volume VI., published for 1890, was a hand-
somely bound book of 642 pages, with summaries of all races in which,
heats were trotted or paced in 2:40 or better, list of best records slower
than 2:40, complete 2:30 lists with extended pedi.;rees, the Great Table
with the pedigrees of the sires extended, list of 2:20 trotters according to
records, list of 2:20 trotters under their sires, list of great brood mares,,
sires of dams, mares the dams of producing sons or daughters, tables of
fastest records, champion trotters from 1845 to 1890, champions at all
ages from yearlings to five-year-olds, champion stallions, table of 2:20*
pacers, and of 2:30 pacers under sires. No such comprehensive and
valuable mass of statistics was ever arranged, and this volume was in.
itself a perfect encyclopedia of trotting literature.

No eulogy of the "Year Book" is necessai'y, for every farmer's boy
knew before it was three years old that it was indispensable to all horse-
men. It instantly bounded into a place of authority, and to thousands
who felt the "Register" out of reach it was at once "Stud Book" and
"Racing Calendar," and none of Mr, Wallace's creations performed a.
wider public service, or attained a popularity so broadcast and sudden.
The new work was peculiarly fortunate in having back of it the authority

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 58 of 61)