Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/Astley's horse (Philippus)

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Letter to the editor in response to William Pinkerton's article "Astley's;" the identity of the writer is unknown. See also another letter by Abraham Cooper.


[The following interesting communication has reached us from an Irish gentleman, who was for many years a well-known Member of the House of Commons.—Ed. O. a W.]

To the Editor of “Once a Week.”


Your Correspondent, “Abr. Cooper, R.A.” (in your Number of the 10th of January last),[1] painted the Spanish horse in the possession of Davis, Astley’s successor. I have ridden him.

He was an entire horse of a rich dark bay, as playful at his great age as a foal, and as easy as a pony in his action. I rode him in 1805-6. His wind was gone, but he could canter a few turns round the circle handsomely, and was used occasionally for Davis’s pupils (of whom I was one), and every night of the performances for various tricks. He would take a kettle off a fire of shavings; and he was ridden by Davis himself to show that most difficult of all “airs” to teach a horse, viz., performing the perfect action of the trot without moving from one spot. I think it is called the Piaffe. He used to do this to the tune of “Nancy Dawson,” surrounded by blazing fireworks.

A horse in performing this “air” to music is supposed by the vulgar to dance to the music; but of course the truth is that the music plays to the horse. Davis used to say that the horse was then forty-two years old.

I enclose my card, and remain,
Your obedient servant,

  1. See No. clxxxiii., p. 8, and No. clxxxv., p. 82.