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REMARKS ON M. EUGENE SUE'S ROMANCE,
AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE GODOLPHIN ARABIAN.
When we inserted a brief epitome of M. Eugene Sue's romantic History of the Godolphin Arabian in our February Number, we did so at the request of a valued Correspondent, and from the question raised as to the origin of that celebrated horse by the French Author having created a more than ordinary sensation. It may be said, we ought not to have opened our pages to a fiction, but in doing so we hoped to draw a reply from some of our Correspondents qualified for the task, which would set at rest the disputed point : and we the less regret having complied with our Friends request, as it enables us to give the true history, as far as is known, of that celebrated horse, which will not only prove interesting to our readers, but contains a more authentic statement of facts connected with the Godolphin Arabian than have ever before been made public.”
“Fingere qui non visa potest :
Hic niger est; hunc tu, Romane, caveto."
It is now several weeks since I first observed in the Newspapers a notice of a certain "History of the Godolphin Arabian," by M. Eugene Sue. Having been from my youth up tolerably well versed in the pedigrees of the olden time, and, as I think, having quite as much, if not more information on the subject than any person now in existence, I turned with some degree of avidity to its perusal. However, in a few moments I threw it down in a pet, exclaiming, “ Confound this Frenchman! A pretty fellow is he to write about the Godolphin Arabian! Is there no other subject he can find to exercise his imagination and his pen upon but this which no Frenchman ever did or ever will know anything about? I wish now I were a Reviewer, just for his sake: wouldn't I clap my finger on the crazy bone of his elbow, and stop his scribbling pour la presse for the time to come! Some little time after, I met also with the notice contained in your February Number of this same work of M. Eugene Sue; and although it is evidently written by a gentleman who is at home with his subject, and who can detect at a glance the almost entire falsity of the Frenchman's narrative in the abstract, yet he does not appear sufficiently acquainted with the true history of this celebrated animal to correct his fabrications in detail. I am therefore of opinion that my own observations on the work of M. Eugene Sue will by no means prove uninteresting to your Sporting Readers, since I shall not only point out his errors, but offer perhaps a better and more authentic statement of the facts connected with the Godolphin Arabian than has ever before been made public.
Monsieur Sue's ignorance-and, what is more remarkable, his unparalleled assurance in supposing it possible that a Frenchman could write on any matter connected with the English Turf without making
VOL. XIX.-SECOND SERIES.No. 109.
a fool of himself-reminds me of my old friend Billy Pierce's remarks upon that gallant and distinguished Officer, Sir J. B
now Lord Strd. Sir John, as the Steward of Doncaster Races, had occasion to decide a dispute as to jostling to the prejudice of a horse trained by my old acquaintance, commonly designated on the Yorkshire courses by the name of “ T'au'd one,” that is to say, 56 the old one”-and a very descriptive epithet it was, for everything about old Billy seemed to belong to a different age and generation from the present. We may suppose, as Sir John dismissed the complaint, that it was not substantiated; but Mr. Pierce insisted upon this, that Sir John could not distinguish between a race and a charge of cavalry, and that he could by no earthly explanation be made to comprehend in what a "jostle" in racing consisted. So cantankerous was Billy on the subject, that I remember his accosting an old gentleman, whose erudition he held in high esteem, and who was at that time leaning on my arm, in the following manner:
, you can tell me, Sir, wasn't this Sir J. B -'s father or grandfather hanged ?”—“No, Mr. Pierce,” replied my old friend; “ not hanged, but perhaps you allude to the Admiral who was shot.”—“I thowt,” rejoined Billy, “ it was sommat o't sowort, an it's much of a muchness between hanging and shooting ; but I'll uphoud ye, Mr. this Sir J. B will never do for the Turfhe
may be well enough for a General, but he'll never do for the Turf! He wants it here, Sir,” added Billy Pierce, putting his finger in a most expressive manner on his forehead; “ he wants it here!” Now, though I entertain a very different opinion from Billy respecting the distinguished individual who had excited his spleen, and as to the relative quantity of intellect required in a trainer and a general officer, yet I confidently predicate of M. Eugene Sue that “he wants it herehe will never do for the Turf!" Still, however, the Godolphin Arabian is not a subject for every scribbler to forge memoirs upon, and it is fit that M. Eugene Sue should be shewn to his proper place in the temple of fiction ; and I therefore enter upon my undertaking without any further delay.
I see, by your notice of the work in the Number for February, that the narrative of M. Sue begins in the year 1732 with the visit of a Quaker Gentleman to Paris in that year, who, by a train of incidents bordering upon romance, is led to purchase the Godolphin Arabian out of a wood-cart at three times his estimated value. This last incident is not by any means in keeping with the character of the stiffnecked and broad-brimmed race; for, without at all impugning their general benevolence, I may safely assert that friend Obadiah is a very good hand at making a bargain, and a most unlikely person unnecessarily to make a present of ten Louis-d'ors to a brute of a carter. That this is all fiction is certain, because the horse in 1732 had been in England at least two years. On this point there can be no mistake, as he was in the possession of one of the most wealthy gentlemen in the country, by whom he was imported—namely, Mr. Coke, of Norfolk, ancestor of the present Earl of Leicester. It is unlucky for M. Eugene Sue that the authentic records of the Turf attest the fact of the Godolphin Arabian having been in Mr. Coke's possession as early as 1730: he could not, therefore, be one of the eight Barbary steeds sent
to Louis the Fifteenth by the Bey of Tunis in 1731–M. Sue's own date of the present.
The age of the horse when bought by Mr. Coke was supposed to be six years, a fact which it is obvious his mouth would determine with quite sufficient accuracy at that time.
I cannot pretend to guess the exact train of ideas by which M. Sue arrived at his own particular fiction, but Mr. Weatherby observes in his Stud Book, “ the Editor was once informed by a French Gentleman, whom he had not had an opportunity of seeing since, that this horse had actually drawn a cart in the streets of Paris.” This is the sole authority for the tradition—an anonymous French Gentleman ! At all events the Arab was acting in the stud of Mr. Coke (not of Lord Godolphin) in the unenviable capacity of teazer to Hobgoblin in the year 1730, two years before the fictitious story of the Arabian is dated in the work of M. Eugene Sue : nor is there any confirmation of the story of his having drawn a cart, though it seems probable, that, having casually fallen upon this anecdote, he, not having read it in Mr. Weatherby's book, furnished M. Sue with the first idea of his
Again, this is confirmed by the fact of the brief account given by Mr. Weatherby, stating two or three things, which, if M. Eugene Sue had known, he would not have fallen into the mistakes of which he had been guilty : for Mr. W. states explicitly, that the Arabian was still in Mr. Coke's hands in 1731, when Lath, his first progeny, was first begotten. Had this Frenchman ever consulted our Stud Books, he would have dated his narrative two or three years earlier in order to have given it something like probability. I may as well observe in this place, that the previous history of the horse's earlier life is false, even supposing M. Sue to have made an error in his dates; because, had he been one of eight Barbary coursers belonging to the King of France, Mr. Coke who imported him must have known this fact. How he came into France is perfectly uncertain ; but the total absence of any pedigree or usual attestation is supposed to be a sufficient evidence that he had been stolen when very young, though whence we know not. Popular opinion stamped him an Arab, but we are informed that good judges thought it more probable that he was really a Barb.
The story of the Quaker, the wood-cart, and the Mute being cast aside, let us proceed to the hørse's career in England. M. Eugene Sue sells him to one Rogers, who kept the Golden Lion, Charing Cross. This again is a blundering edition of the account given by Mr. Pick, of York, in his Stud Book, who seems to be of opinion that Mr. Coke, after importing the Godolphin Arabian, presented him to Roger Williams (the Rogers of M. Sue), who kept, not the Golden Lion, Charing Cross, but the St. James's Coffee House, further westward, and represents Mr. Williams as presenting him to Lord Godolphin, by whom he was sent down to his stud at the Gogmagogs previously to the season of 1730. All this, however, is wrong. In addition to Mr. Weatherby's statement, I have at this moment before me the assurance of a Clergyman, that in his father's copy of the Stud Book (Weatherby's), there is a MS, note in the margin, opposite to Mr. Weatherby's account of the Godolphin Arabian, which states that the writer (decidedly the best judge of such matters then in England) had been