Jess: the whisky loving pet mare

The following story was found in the London Standard newspaper, dated the 3rd July 1829.

Scottish Landscape: Bringing in a Stag (figure and animals by Sir E. Landseer) 1830 Frederick Richard Lee and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer 1799-1879, 1802-1873 Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01788
Scottish Landscape: Bringing in a Stag (figure and animals by Sir E. Landseer) 1830 Frederick Richard Lee and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer 1799-1879, 1802-1873 Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01788

A friend of ours, who travels a good deal in the course of the year – visiting by the way many outlandish corners, where inns and mile-stones are alike scarce – has a mare that follows him like a pet dog, and fares very much as he does himself. Her name is Jess, and when a feed of corn is difficult to be got at, she has no objection to breakfast, dine, or sup on oat-cake, loaf-bread, or barley-meal scones, seasoned with a whang from the gudewife’s kebbuck. In the remotest parishes such viands are generally forthcoming, and failing these, the animal is so little given to fastidiousness, that she will thrust, when invited, her nose into a cofgull of porridge or sowens, or even the kail-pot itself, where the content are thick and sufficiently cool.

The Home Park Windsor with a Grey Mare in the Foreground by Charles Towne, 1830 (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Home Park Windsor with a Grey Mare in the Foreground by Charles Towne, 1830 (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 Though her staple beverage is drawn from the pump-trough, the crystal well, or the running brook, she can tipple at times as well as her betters, particularly when the weather runs in extremes, and is either sultry and oppressively hot, or disagreeably raw, blashy, and cold. In warm days she prefers something cooling, and very lately we had the honour of treating her to a bottle of ale! A toll-keeper, when summoned, came to the door, with a bottle in the one hand and a screw in the other; but a clumsier butler we never saw, and, what with his fumbling, the mare got so impatient, that she seemed ready at one time to knock the lubber down. The liquor, when decanted, was approached in a moment, and swallowed without the intervention of a breath; and for some miles its effects were visible in the increased speed and spirits of the animal; and we were informed that the same thing takes pace, when the cordial is changed in winter to a gill of whiskey!

Sir John Palmer on His Favourite Mare with His Shepherd, John Green, and His Prize Leicester Longwool Sheep by John E. Ferneley I, 1823 (c) Leicestershire County Council Museums Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Sir John Palmer on His Favourite Mare with His Shepherd, John Green, and His Prize Leicester Longwool Sheep
by John E. Ferneley I, 1823
(c) Leicestershire County Council Museums Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The aqua, of course, is diluted in water, several per cents below the proper strength of seamen’s grog; and her master is of opinion that a little spirits, timeously applied, is as useful a preservative against cold in the case of a horse as of a human being. Our friend’s system is certainly peculiar, but his mare thrives well under it; and we will be bold to say that a roadster more sleek, safe, and docile, is not to be found in the whole country. – Dumfries Courier.

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