Vanished horses

Vanished horses

In Brief

As Deasy sits typing his magisterial letter to the editor and reading aloud from it, Stephen takes a seat "before the princely presence" of Albert Edward and surveys the framed "images of vanished horses" that grace the walls. Three are named: "Repulse," who won a race at Newmarket, England in 1866; "Shotover," who won five races starting in 1882 and nearly claimed the English Triple Crown; and "Ceylon," who did in fact win the Grand "prix de Paris, 1866." Stephen thinks again of the Prix de Paris near the end of Proteus.

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The text places Stephen in two kinds of relationship to these British thoroughbreds. He lets his mind drift in fantasy to a racetrack where "Elfin riders," i.e. featherweight jockeys, sit atop their mounts "watchful of a sign." He imagines himself seeing "their speeds" once the race has begun, and shouting along "with the shouts of vanished crowds." But at the same time Stephen is sitting ""noiselessly" in Deasy's office, looking at the static portraits of equine elegance, and a portrait of the English king, and his Unionist employer. The horses themselves seem to be silently contemplating their lords and masters "in homage, their meek heads poised in air."

Gifford notes that Albert Edward "was an ardent horse fancier," and that the horses displayed on the walls of the study implicitly associate Deasy with "Nestor, master charioteer." The narrative also explicitly identifies the owners of the three horses as lords (a marquis and two dukes), so we have in sum a collection of five princely presences before whom the shabby Stephen may wish to humble himself in homage.

Thornton supplies details about the owners, as does Gifford.

John Hunt 2017
The thoroughbred filly Shotover. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Preliminary canter before a Derby, in the Illustrated London News, 24 May 1892. Source:
Caricature of Hugh Grosvenor, later the first Duke of Westminster and owner of Shotover, in Vanity Fair 16 July 1870 with the caption, "Richest Man in England." Source: Wikimedia Commons.