|Mrs. Burton Harrison, nee Constance
Cary of Richmond,
Virginia, wife of Burton Norvell
Harrison, who was Secretary to Confederate
Jefferson Davis during the Civil War and who was an 1859
graduate of Yale College, visited the 1896
Regatta while George, Sr. was competing there. She merely
visit in a book
she later wrote in 1924,
but her biographer,
Gaillynn Bowman, says
Cary wrote an antislavery short story, Leander
of Betsy's Pride.
|The Leander Club was the crew against which Yale competed at Henley, and Leander was then and still is now the oldest and may also remain the best rowing club in the world! One wonders what is the literary link of the myth of Leander between racism and slavery and the oldest rowing club in the world.|
|Below is a cartoon commemorating
the Yale crew's arrival at
the Thames. Below that are the official club portraits and
rosters as well as a fine picture of George Langford, Sr.,
stroking the Yale boat in home waters, also in 1896. George, Sr. remarked in his autobiographical
account that the event was a fine social experience but a flop as a
race. Give me a break; Yale was only three seconds slower than
Here's George, Sr.'s image from the Yale Banner portrait of Yale's Henley Crew:
There's a strong resemblance to the boy in the Punch cartoon at left ...
Here is what Mrs. Burton Harrison specifically had to say in Cosmopolitan Magazine (1900) about the race and the crews (spellings and omissions corrected by GL, III):
"To begin with, she had, on the Saturday evening before, in company with a recent graduate of Yale, and classmate of some of the crew, enjoyed the privilege of taking a pot-luck dinner with them at the training-table in the pretty waterside villa, secured for their stay at Henley. At the right hand of "President" de Silbour, manager of the crew, she had heard discussed the pros and cons of the coming event, the casting of horoscopes hopeful and unhopeful. She knew that the men were in several cases out of condition, owing to recent changes in climate, and other reasons; that, accustomed as they were to races of four miles in length, pulled with a long stroke, they were now to undertake one of a mile and two and one-half furlongs, pulled with a short, quick stroke, unfamilar to them through observation and tradition.
"Finally, it was patent to her that the Yale men were boys in age and strength, compared with the lean-limbed, iron-muscled giants of the Leander crew, to whom the course and method were as second nature.
"Besides, had she not been put into her carriage for the return after dinner by the great and only Capt. Bob Cook himself --- while Langford, Simpson, Brown, [Bailey], Beard, Longacre, Tread[way], Rod[g]ers, and "Tommy" Clarke, the coxswain, had stood waving her party a good-by? Was not this circumstance, combined with her sympathy with the gallant strangers far from home, enough to bias her --- putting aside certain Yale traditions in her family?
"Thus equipped with hope against hope, she had taken place with a little band wearing badges and tokens of Yale blue in the center of the grand stand, not far from the stake that marked the finish.
"When midway, it became apparent that Yale was overmatched, the leaden plummet of despondency began to sound her heart's depth.
"And when they were fairly distanced, those blue boys so often victors in home waters; when Leander, its boat rocking with the mighty impulse, splashed by to victory, encircled by a rainbow-hued cloud of spray --- not a sight of beauty by any means, but one compelling homage to will-power -- there was in her no consolation left.
"Then Yale came along, rowing smooth as clockwork, adepts in style, a beautiful machine to look upon, shedding no water from their blades -- beaten, but game to the bitter end. ...."
images are from the Yale Banner, 1896:
The competing crews' official portraits, Henley, 1896
Yale University Crew and Alternates Leander Club Crew