A Brief Context

The growing number of books on horsemanship published in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries gathered momentum in the 18th century. Scores of works were published in Great Britain alone between 1700 and 1800—some of them English translations of continental writing, most of them English in origin. Each work fell somewhere on four intersecting axes: horsemanship, farriery, dressage, and equitation. Horsemanship generally included the latter two, and farriery both the shoeing and medical care of horses.

Mounted warfare played a critical role in European affairs of state from the 16th through the 19th centuries, and essentially all English works on horsemanship throughout that period—beginning with Thomas Blundeville’s The Arte of Ryding and Breakinge Greate Horses (1560)— applied either directly or indirectly to the military. Salient among them were a stream of works focused on the British cavalry, particularly the light cavalry, or “light horse,” that emerged in the 17th century and evolved over the course of the 18th century, firmly cementing its value by mid-century.

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Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, by Joshua Reynolds. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

Clustered late in the century, these works included numerous official publications, as well as several unofficial treatises by officers in the cavalry.[i] The latter range from broad works on the discipline, such as Robert Hinde’s The Discipline of the Light-Horse (1778) and Captain L. Neville’s A Treatise on the Discipline of Light Cavalry (1796), to narrower works on equitation for the discipline. Notable among the latter were the Earl of Pembroke’s A Method of Breaking Horses, and Teaching Soldiers to Ride (1761) and William Tyndale’s A Treatise on Military Equitation (1797), published four years after the last edition of Pembroke’s treatise.

Pembroke’s Military Equitation

Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke (1734-1794), self-described as “horse mad” since youth, entered British cavalry service in 1752 and rose quickly through the ranks, eventually attaining major-general in 1761, lieutenant-general in 1770, and general in 1782. A wealthy and raffish aristocrat as well as a soldier, Pembroke saw his influential treatise through four editions: A Method of Breaking Horses, and Teaching Soldiers to Ride (1761 and 1762), revised and retitled, Military Equitation; or, A Method of Breaking Horses, and Teaching Soldiers to Ride (1778 and 1793). It was intended to address “the wretched system of Horsemanship, that at present prevails in the ARMY,” a system that leaves men and horses unprepared “for want of proper instructions and intelligence in this Art.”

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The full-leather cover of Military Equitation by the Earl of Pembroke, 1778. National Sporting Library & Museum, Ludwig von Hunersdorf collection.

Written for “the use of the Cavalry,” Military Equitation outlines a program for proper training of military horse and rider with lessons on specific aspects of that training: it comprises, in short, theory and practice. Pembroke is unsparing in his criticism of current military horsemanship—after Xenophon, “horsemanship was buried for ages, or rather brutalised, which is still too much the case”—and in his contempt for inept riding-masters, farriers, and grooms. But he spares soldiers and remounts (military equines), whose ignorance results from poor training, not lack of virtue, and is therefore correctable. Reason and moderation, patience and gentleness, and simplicity of means are the proper tools for educating soldiers to ride and their horses to be ridden.

Vladimir Littauer, the great 20th century horseman and writer on horsemanship, conceded that “Pembroke’s is a very small and unimportant book,” particularly when compared to earlier 18th century masterworks by Cavendish and de la Guérinière.[iii] Rather than dismissing Pembroke, however, Littauer was praising him as “a follower of the French school [who] was practical enough to suggest its considerable simplification for the army.”[iii] Pembroke, in short, not only understood and appreciated his haute école predecessors, but also successfully repurposed them for the military work at hand. What Pembroke did for the French school, William Tyndale, in effect, would do for Pembroke: he further simplified the simplifier.

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Plate from Military Equitation, Third Edition, by the Earl of Pembroke, 1778. National Sporting Library & Museum, the gift of John H. and Martha Daniels, 1999.

Tyndale’s Treatise on Military Equitation

William Tyndale (17??-1830) was a landowner and Sheriff of Gloucestershire who performed regimental service in the last decades of the 18th century, notably as major and lieutenant-colonel in the 1st Life Guards. The first of Tyndale’s two tracts, Instructions for Young Dragoon Officers (second edition, 1796), “instruct[s] the young officer in the part of his duty required in quarters” and in “the business of the field.” Tyndale’s second tract, A Treatise on Military Equitation (1797), published in one edition only, was intended for “regimental riding masters” who may have knowledge of horsemanship through experience but who cannot transmit it to soldiers because they lack knowledge of its underlying principles.

Tyndale invokes Pembroke’s Military Equitation in his opening sentence as “the best work of the kind in our language.” He believes, like Pembroke, that “the present system, which is much the same throughout the cavalry, is contrary to every principle of true horsemanship, both in the instruction of man and horse,” and he argues, after Pembroke, that successful instruction of young men and young horses alike demands reason, patience, and simplicity of means. Tyndale thought Pembroke’s work, however, “beyond the comprehension of those whom it is my wish to teach and reform.” Subordinating theory to practice, his tract aims to educate the instructors of men and horses in the basic principles of “true” horsemanship and their effective application.

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A fold-out plate from A Treatise on Military Equitation, by William Tyndale, 1797, illustrating Tyndale’s plan for a military saddle of his “own invention.” National Sporting Library & Museum.

The British predilection for hunting, Tyndale proposes, has caused the military to neglect proper manège training and riding in the cavalry, but hunting, he argues, offers no preparation for precise maneuvering within “large connected bodies of horsemen.” Instructors have failed to retrain young recruits, adept at hunting, in “the method of riding which is necessarily adopted in regiments of cavalry, and which must be adopted by every individual” to prevent confusion—even chaos—in tight formation. Whether Tyndale was right or not, British writers throughout the next century, ironically, would press the opposite case for hunting as ideal preparation for cavalry.[iv]

National Sporting Library & Museum Holdings

What will 21st century amateur equestrian readers gain from two treatises on military equitation written for 18th century professional soldiers? First, readers will gain historical insight on how broader intellectual currents in 18th century England influenced military training in equitation. Second, they will gain historical knowledge of an important moment in the evolution of horsemanship. And third, they will find principles and lessons applicable to the improvement of their own riding. Whether equestrians or not, finally, readers will converse with two quick and eminently practical 18th century minds and school with two seasoned trainers of horses and men.

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Title page of the Earl of Pembroke’s book, 1752 edition, with a pasted plate on the facing page depicting the horse Sportsman.

NSLM has the good fortune to hold eight copies of Pembroke’s treatise: two copies of the 1st edition, three of the 2nd edition, two of the 3rd edition, and one of the 4th edition. The 3rd and 4th editions call for seventeen plates, and NSLM’s copy of the 4th edition and one of its copies of the 3rd edition each contain the complete set. NSLM also holds a copy of the single edition of the rare Tyndale treatise, complete with its five called-for plates. The copies of both works are clean, clear, and solidly and variously bound—impressively bound in some cases.

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The 1752 edition of the Earl of Pembroke’s book, with the bookplate of the Earl of Lonsdale on the facing page.

A reader with access to NSLM holdings, in short, can experience these two works in their original forms—an experience that provides not only textual authority and aesthetic pleasure, but also palpable historical immediacy. Each copy bears the traces of its provenance in the form of previous owner bookplates and signatures, auction and donor entries, and marginal notations. Travellers through time, these books carry the physical traces of their histories with them.

 

[i] Official works pertaining to cavalry include guidelines in short pamphlet form, such as Warrant for Establishing Certain Regulations Relative to the Clothing and Appointments of the Cavalry (1796) or The Light-Horse Drill: Describing the Several Evolutions in a Progressive Series (1800); and guidelines in somewhat longer form, such as Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry (1796) or Instructions for the Provisional Cavalry (1798). One lengthy manual, Instructions and Regulations for the Formations and Movements of the Cavalry (1796), generated its own gloss: An Elucidation of Several Parts of His Majesty’s Regulations for the Formations and Movements of Cavalry (1798).

[ii] William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, published two treatises on horsemanship: La Méthode nouvelle et invention extraordinaire de dresser les chevaux (1658), translated posthumously into English as A General System of Horsemanship in All It’s Branches (1743), and A New Method, and Extraordinary Invention, to Dress Horses (1667), which Newcastle described as “neither a translation of the first [treatise], nor an absolutely necessary addition to it.” François Robichon de la Guérinière published École de Cavalerie (School of Horsemanship) in 1733.

[iii] Vladimir S. Littauer, The Development of Modern Riding. Rpt. 1962. (New York: Macmillan, 1991), pp. 90-91.

[iv] This trend culminated in E. A. H. Alderson, Pink and Scarlet, or Hunting as a School for Soldiering (London: William Heinemann, 1900).


caramelloCharles Caramello is John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum and Professor of English at University of Maryland. He is working on a book called Horsemen, Horse Soldiers, and Grand Illusions. This blog is adapted from the Introduction to a dual edition of Pembroke’s Military Equitation and Tyndale’s Treatise on Military Equitation, completed at NSLM and forthcoming from Xenophon Press.

 

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This is the final post in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. 

Undeterred by his spills the spring and summer of 1900, and against everyone’s advice, Harry entered The Cad in the $10,000, 3 ½ mile Champion Steeplechase at Morris Park, Saturday, October 6, 1900. Ollie Ames met him at the clubhouse that Saturday morning.

“You are not going to run The Cad are you?” Harry recalls Ollie saying. “He’ll break your neck!” Next, Mr. B. F. Clyde of Philadelphia admonished him, “Now, look here, Harry Smith, I have seen you ride a great many times around New York, Philadelphia and Saratoga; I have the greatest admiration for you as a sportsman, in fact I am very fond of you. Now, Please don’t take your life in your hands and ride The Cad today against all those professionals.” It seems Mr. Clyde had his money on another horse; Harry thanked the man and walked away. “Then, about noon,” Harry writes, “a Western Union boy came up and handed me a telegram. It was from Mrs. Smith: ‘Don’t ride, get best professional possible. Signed, ‘Mildred.’”

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Harry Worcester Smith in hunting cap. Image ca. 1910, in the Harry Worcester Smith Archive (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.

Harry went to the stable where he found The Cad “munching a light feed of oats, his lovely mane and foretop shining like black seaweed, his coat smooth as satin, his skin so loose you could pick up a handful of it anywhere, every leg as cold as ice, cords and tendons standing out, muscles hard and tucked up just enough to show that he was ready to go the distance… I never thought of not riding.”

Odds were twenty to one against Harry on The Cad. Silas Veitch was the favorite on “Plato.” “There’s an old Arab saying,” Harry writes, “‘The grave of the horseman is always open’ … I am frank to say, that while I don’t worry, I appreciate the chances.” Harry was an amateur running against a field of six professionals. When it came right down to it, who in his right mind would bet on him?

“As there were only seven horses it took only a moment or two to get us in line, and down went the flag!” From start to finish “right at my left was Veitch with Plato.” The course started and ended on a track, but the jumps were on a left-handed circle up and around a water tower on a hilltop. There was a sod-topped stone wall measuring 4’9”, a wide water jump, a Liverpool with a ditch and several 4’6” hedges.

“The Cad was full of running,” Harry writes. “My mind was running apace as to how I could best win and when to make my run.” Halfway through the race, The Cad “sailed” at the water jump “and landed fully two lengths the best of Plato,” but The Cad took the bit and ran straight instead of rounding the next corner, putting Plato four lengths in front. The Cad caught up at the Liverpool and then, at the sod-covered stone wall Harry “saw Plato change his feet and knew instantly he was tired.” Another horse had earlier crashed through one of the hedges, making a hole, and Harry aimed The Cad straight at the hole.

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Harry Worcester Smith and The Cad winning the Champion Steeplechase at Morris Park in 1900.

William C. Whitney later said to Harry, “Why, I never saw anything like it! You were running at top speed neck and neck and suddenly like a skyrocket The Cad went to the front and you had six lengths going to that hole in the next jump!” Next jump, he “took off at the edge of the wing and must have cleared twenty feet.” Around the track and the last time over the Liverpool: “All my life I shall remember that jump,” Harry writes. “Knowing that I was going to let him go at it at full speed The Cad seemed to spurn the ground and so perfectly did he time his takeoff that he glided over the far side hedge and seemed to only touch the ground lightly as he landed and went on all in perfect rhythm.” Now it’s a horse race.

Harry was determined not to take any chances over the last three jumps. The Cad was “going like a steam engine, not one sign of tire, so going down at the last jump I steadied [him], shortened his stride and really bucked him over the jump.” Just as he landed, “a wide scarlet nostril flashed close to my knee,” and Veitch was beside him again, then nosed in front. Harry wasn’t worried: “I knew the gameness of my gallant bay, grandson of Lexington.” As they reached the edge of the grandstand for the home stretch on the track, the crowd was going wild, and “I pulled up even with Veitch and The Cad went on to win by three-quarters of a length.”

There was a victory dinner that night at The Waldorf. “I insisted on Wheeler coming,” Harry writes, “even though he was colored.” Harry drank in his success. “As I walked down ‘Peacock Alley’ I could see people nudging each other and hear them saying, ‘There is the gentleman rider who won the big race.’”

The Cad
The Cad

Though he never raced again due to a bowed tendon, The Cad spent the rest of his life as Harry’s favorite hunt horse. “He was one of the most intelligent horses I have ever known,” Harry writes. “I used to wear a blue sapphire scarf pin, and when I stood beside his box he would reach over and pick the pin out of my tie in his teeth…the glint of the stone seemed to magnetize him, but oh, he was so careful about it, he opened his lips away back and would not soil my tie, and then he would hold it in his mouth until I took it away. He was clever as a monkey in undoing the latch of his box and time and time again we would find him loose in the morning, and alas! One morning he stole his way out of the box, then it being warm the door of the kennels was open and out he went, and as he was a hearty feeder, just filled up with apples, and a dose of colic, which we were unable to fight off, carried him away.”

The Cad was one of Harry’s mounts in The Great Hound Match of 1905, the contest between Smith’s American-bred foxhounds and Alexander Henry Higginson’s English hounds in November of that year. But that’s another story.


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

This is the third in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. 

I’m not sure that many people would have characterized Harry Worcester Smith as a good-for-nothing “cad;” on the other hand, neither might they have called him a gentleman. He was highly opinionated and he had a temper; he had a wicked sense of humor and he suffered no fool. He was a scalawag, a bit of a braggart, maybe a knave, possibly a scoundrel. It’s perhaps divine providence or poetic justice that his favorite horse, his horse-of-a-lifetime, was named “The Cad.”

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Harry Worcester Smith at his writing desk. Possibly in Aiken, SC or Grafton, MA.

The Cad’s given name was The Cid, “but on account of a misspelling in the Stud book entry,” Harry writes in the “Steeplechasing” chapter of his unpublished autobiography, “the gamest thoroughbred I ever threw a leg over went through life carrying the name which means good-for-nothing.” The Cad’s breeding certainly wasn’t good-for-nothing. His equine ancestors included shining stars in America’s Thoroughbred foundation stock: his sire, Uncas, was descended from Lexington, Glencoe, and Tranby. His dam, Parasol, was descended from Mortimer, Virginia, and Nottingham. The extraordinary Tranby is the horse that carried Squire Osbaldeston in early November, 1831, in his outrageous wager to complete a two-hundred mile ride around England’s Newmarket race course in under ten hours. Osbaldeston was allowed an unlimited number of horses to do the job: he brought twenty. Changing mounts fifty times during the Squire’s race against the clock, Tranby was the only horse to complete four of the four-mile laps at racing speed. It’s clear that The Cad’s ancestors had “staying power.”

“The Cad was very high-mettled,” Harry writes of his favorite’s temperament. “When they were trying to break him at the track to start from the barrier, like a gentleman he resisted the whip in the jockey’s hands, the spur on his heels and the bull-whip with which the assistant starter cut him, and it did not take more than two or three mornings for him to get so bad that they decided that they could do nothing with him; so he was shipped back to Genesee and stabled with ‘Jim Sam’s’ string down near the horse show grounds.” Jim Sam was a Wadsworth, of the well-known hunting family in upstate New York’s Genesee Valley where Harry hunted regularly behind Colonel Wadsworth’s hounds. Here, in the broadly gorged valley, is where Harry first laid eyes on The Cad.

The Cad
The Cad

“He was perfectly balanced, with an intelligent head and eyes that spoke and followed you as he looked through the upper door as you walked around…I was so taken with him that when at the end of the hunting season I had a chance to buy him at $150 I jumped at the opportunity.”

Along with his trusted trainer Dolph Wheeler, Harry rode and trained his own string of steeplechasers: “King T.,” “Sacket,” “George Keene” and “The Cad.” “Living in snowy, frost-bound New England,” he writes, “there was only now and then a day through the winter when one could school his hunters or steeplechasers over the walls about Grafton…Many is the day I would push through business, telephone to Wheeler and, if the going was soft, out we’d go no matter how deep the snow was, and so my horses got their schooling.”

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“Upon the turf and beneath the turf all men are equal.” This drawing is found in a sample collection of illustrations for Smith’s unpublished autobiography. Smith’s lavender and white silks are depicted in the center.

Harry had his eye on the Championship Meadow Brook Cup Hunter’s race at Brookline in the spring of 1900. His confidence got a big boost while training over the course’s water jump. The Cad was four strides out when his hoof beats startled two workmen who had been cementing the basin on the far side of the jump. The men stood, “and as the jump was quite shallow they were fully three feet higher than the hedge itself, but this was nothing to The Cad. He stood off, cleared the hedge, sailed over the top of one man and landed way into the grass far beyond the edge of the cement.” Later, Harry went back with a measuring tape and found that The Cad had cleared twenty-eight feet.

The race itself started well, but ended badly for Harry. At the fourth hedge The Cad “took the bit in his teeth and literally tore at the next jump. I knew he was going too fast but there was no chance to take a pull and in a second he was too close to the jump and so caught it under his knees,” resulting in a bad fall.

Harry hovered “between life and death” for nearly a week. “The concussion was so bad,” he writes, “that [a few months later] a spot two or three inches square” on the crown of his head turned white. “In addition, on both sides, the tops of my back teeth were cracked off.” His convalescence was long and shook his confidence, but The Cad was uninjured and Wheeler kept him fit through the summer and fall. The upside of his accident was that Boston’s provocative socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner “sent me flowers every day.”

That August Harry entered the Hunter’s Steeplechase at Saratoga. Through no fault of The Cad’s or Harry’s, he fell again and the horse’s reputation grew rank.


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

This is the second in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. Many fascinating things came out of NSLM’s extensive archive collection of Smith’s papers, including today’s highlight, The Grafton Long Jump.

Harry Worcester Smith was an inventor. He held dozens of patents associated with the cotton weaving industry where he worked as a mill owner and patent expert until he retired in his forties to foxhunt and live the life of a sportsman. But his retirement from industry didn’t mean that he retired his brain from invention. Take, for instance, “The Grafton Long Jump.”

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“Grafton Long Jump,” a pamphlet in the Harry Worcester Smith Archive Collection (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.

“For many years at Lordvale,” he writes, referring to his country estate in Grafton, Massachusetts, just outside Worcester, “I had been trying to work out a method to teach my steeplechasers and hunters to jump over a distance of ground so that when they met a ditch, brook or water jump, they would cover it.”

Well, anyone who has approached a ditch or a brook or a strange (to a young horse) looking gap in the ground can understand Harry’s inclination toward a better training method.  “A shallow water jump proved useless as they [his horses] soon paid no attention to it; a deep one was difficult to arrange and dangerous, and an open ditch of depth enough to be of service proved still more dangerous.”

Enter the common cardboard box.

“The boxes being white, when the horses are first shown them over the other side of the hedge they take good notice, and when they are put at them they invariably jump cleanly out to 10 or 12 feet.” If your horse happens to be “badly ridden or not taking off just right,” not to worry, he will land amidst the harmless boxes, “which scares them as much as jumping into a melon frame, as the expression of their faces clearly shows, and their wild desire to rid themselves of the boxes, which often times hang about their legs for a few yards.”

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Harry Worcester Smith demonstrating his “Grafton Long Jump,” training method.

It’s easy to picture a horse with a couple of white cardboard boxes up around his fetlocks, trying to get free of the horrible things; the boxes would soon be shredded and come off safely.  “In using the long jump [training method] for five years,” Harry assures his readers, “no hunter has ever been hurt.”

Harry had such great success with his long-jump invention that he published a white paper and sent it to his sporting friends “around the world, believing that perhaps it will be a benefit not only to many who wish to train their horses to jump a distance but also as a clean-cut sporting contest at Exhibitions and Hippiques.”

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Crompton Smith Sr., father of the famous jockey, “Tommy” Smith, jumps Nattie Bumppo over cardboard boxes to demonstrate the long jump.

Never satisfied with simplicity, Harry took his show on the road. June, 1914, in front of twenty thousand people at the Fall River Horse Show, “we had a cracking Long Jump contest” with Peter Roche winning, jumping twenty-four feet. At the Barre [MA] fair in 1912, Harry and friends took his “crack” hunters Success, Sir Ritchie and The Cad over the same span three abreast. (Ok, that’s about as long as my living room!)

Of course this is no big deal for you eventers and show jumpers out there. It’s the method in the madness that piqued Harry’s imagination and made his Grafton Long Jump a good bet “For the Sake of Sport in America.”


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

This is the first in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. This first post focuses on a bound rough draft volume in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Within Harry Worcester Smith’s archives at the National Sporting Library & Museum is an undated note written in Harry’s shaky hand on the front of an envelope: “Who will continue my accumulation of thought, feeling and art?” It’s as though he’s about to send his question out to the world at large, minus postage. When did he transcribe his fear that all he had done, contemplated, worked for and completed would go unnoticed, or worse, forgotten?

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A draft title page for Harry Worcester Smith’s unpublished autobiography. Smith worked on the project for years but it was never brought to publication.

What was Harry Worcester Smith’s work? Besides the industry of cotton—patents, mergers and acquisitions—there were horses, hounds, flat and steeplechase racing, dog and horse show judging and the politics of each. He considered his work not just the doing of these things, but the fairness of each act—the transparency, the egalitarian and pragmatic roots of every endeavor.

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The title page of The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith. The volume a bound book outlining the autobiography project and collecting illustrations. The title page was closely inspired by A Sporting Tour of France by Col. Thomas Thornton.

When Harry asked the world at large, “Who will carry on?” he meant who will see what needs to be done and do it, which compelled him to tell his life’s story in first person. His archival papers include an unpublished autobiography—nine typewritten chapters edited by an unknown editor. He worked on his book between 1924 and 1943, but he never saw its publication. The closest he came is what amounts to a scrapbook: a twelve-page buckram-bound volume titled The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcester Smith, privately printed in 1932 when Harry was sixty-eight years old. As evidenced by the long title page written in the Old English style, he intended his final product to be in two volumes fashioned after A Sporting Tour of France by Col. Thomas Thorton. To find these and other titles held at the NSLM, click here.

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A watermark portrait of Smith in The Life of an American Sportsman. The draft volume included images intended for inclusion as illustrations in the final work.

It’s a mystery as to whether Harry Worcester Smith is the publisher of this slender volume. The pages are numbered in his own hand and some are annotated likewise, but the printer is not listed and the only identifying mark on the book as to its origins is a small sticker inside the back cover: “Sydney R. Smith Sporting Books, Canaan, New York 12029,” a publisher and bookseller in New York from 1938 to 1961.

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A typed draft of the long-form title page. Smith was inspired by long-form English titles for the project, and drafted several varying titles for the work.

Harry clearly envisioned his autobiography as a lesson to the young, a word to the not-yet wise, a glimpse of his past and, yes, a platform for some bragging rights. “Of what use,” he writes in the Preface, “are great achievements to the maker unless he is alive to look back on them with pride, learn their worth to mankind and see their value realized by others.” Reading his stories about the places he went, the meals he enjoyed, the horses he bought and sold, loved and even killed, the hounds he bred and hunted, the fights he fought “For the Sake of Sport in America,” there emerges a portrait of a pragmatist, a patriot, a naturalist, an industrialist. He was serious about each, but he was very, very serious about fun.


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.