CHAPTER XLV. THE PEKINESE AND THE JAPANESE
Few of the many breeds of foreign dogs now established in England have attained such a measure of popularity in so short a time as the Pekinese. Of their early history little is known, beyond the fact that at the looting of the Summer Palace of Pekin, in 1860, bronze effigies of these dogs, known to be more than two thousand years old, were found within the sacred precincts. The dogs were, and are to this day, jealously guarded under the supervision of the Chief Eunuch of the Court, and few have ever found their way into the outer world.
So far as the writer is aware, the history of the breed in England dates from the importation in 1860 of five dogs taken from the Summer Palace, where they had, no doubt, been forgotten on the flight of the Court to the interior. Admiral Lord John Hay, who was present on active service, gives a graphic account of the finding of these little dogs in a part of the garden frequented by an aunt of the Emperor, who had committed suicide on the approach of the Allied Forces. Lord John and another naval officer, a cousin of the late Duchess of Richmond's, each secured two dogs; the fifth was taken by General Dunne, who presented it to Queen Victoria. Lord John took pains to ascertain that none had found their way into the French camp, and he heard then that the others had all been removed to Jehal with the Court. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that these five were the only Palace dogs, or Sacred Temple dogs of Pekin, which reached England, and it is from the pair which lived to a respectable old age at Goodwood that so many of the breed now in England trace their descent.
Many years ago Mr. Alfred de Rothschild tried, through his agents in China, to secure a specimen of the Palace dog for the writer, in order to carry on the Goodwood strain, but without success, even after a correspondence with Pekin which lasted more than two years; but we succeeded in obtaining confirmation of what we had always understood: namely, that the Palace dogs are rigidly guarded, and that their theft is punishable by death. At the time of the Boxer Rebellion only Spaniels, Pugs, and Poodles were found in the Imperial Palace when it was occupied by the Allied Forces, the little dogs having once more preceded the court in the flight to Si-gnanfu.
The Duchess of Richmond occasionally gave away a dog to intimate friends, such as the Dowager Lady Wharncliffe, Lady Dorothy Nevill, and others, but in those days the Pekinese was practically an unknown quantity, and it can therefore be more readily understood what interest was aroused about eleven years ago by the appearance of a small dog, similar in size, colour, and general type to those so carefully cherished at Goodwood. This proved to be none other than the since well-known sire Ah Cum, owned by Mrs. Douglas Murray, whose husband, having extensive interests in China, had managed after many years to secure a true Palace dog, smuggled in a box of hay, placed inside a crate which contained Japanese deer!
Ah Cum was mated without delay to two Goodwood bitches, the result being, in the first litters, Ch. Goodwood Lo and Goodwood Put-Sing. To these three sires, some of the bluest Pekinese blood is traceable, vide Ch. Goodwood Chum, Ch. Chu-Erh of Alderbourne, Ch. Gia-Gia, Manchu Tao-Tai, Goodwood Ming, Marland Myth, and others.
It must, however, be clearly admitted that since the popularity of the breed has become established we unluckily see scores of Pekinese in the show-ring who have lost all resemblance to the original type, and for this the Pekinese Club is in some measure to blame. The original points for the guidance of breeders and judges were drawn up by Lady Samuelson, Mrs. Douglas Murray, and Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox, who fixed the maximum size at 10 lb.—a very generous margin. Since then the club has amended the scale of points, no doubt in order to secure a larger membership, and the maximum now stands at 18 lb.
Is it therefore to be wondered at that confusion exists as to what is the true type? At shows there should be two distinct classes; the Palace dog and the Pekin Spaniel, or any other name which would enable the breeds to be kept distinct.
The following is the scale of points as issued by the Pekinese Club:—
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