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Title: Pugilistica, Volume 1 (of 2) - The History of British Boxing Containing Lives of the Most - Celebrated Pugilists; Full Reports of Their Battles from - Contemporary Newspapers, With Authentic Portraits, Personal - Anecdotes, and Sketches of the Principal Patrons of the - Prize Ring, Forming a Complete History of the Ring from - Fig and Broughton, 1719-40, to the Last Championship Battle - Between King and Heenan, in December 1863
Author: Miles, Henry Downes
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pugilistica, Volume 1 (of 2) - The History of British Boxing Containing Lives of the Most - Celebrated Pugilists; Full Reports of Their Battles from - Contemporary Newspapers, With Authentic Portraits, Personal - Anecdotes, and Sketches of the Principal Patrons of the - Prize Ring, Forming a Complete History of the Ring from - Fig and Broughton, 1719-40, to the Last Championship Battle - Between King and Heenan, in December 1863" ***

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                              THE HISTORY


                             BRITISH BOXING



  VOL. 1.       _Frontispiece_


                              THE HISTORY


                             BRITISH BOXING


                         BY HENRY DOWNES MILES


                               VOLUME ONE


                               JOHN GRANT



                      PREFACE TO THE FIRST VOLUME.

The history of “the Ring,” its rise and progress, the deeds of the men
whose manly courage illustrate its contests in the days of its
prosperity and popularity, with the story of its decline and fall, as
yet remain unwritten. The author proposes in the pages which follow to
supply this blank in the home-records of the English people in the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The space covered in these volumes
extends over one hundred and forty-four years, from the time when James
Fig (the first acknowledged champion) opened his amphitheatre in the
Oxford Road, in May, 1719, to the championship battle between John Camel
Heenan, the American, and Tom King, the English champion, at Wadhurst,
in Kent, on the 10th of December, 1863.

The author trusts he may claim, without laying himself open to a charge
of egotism, exceptional qualifications for the task he has undertaken.
His acquaintance with the doings of the Ring, and his personal knowledge
of the most eminent professors of pugilism, extend over a retrospect of
more than forty years. For a considerable portion of that period he was
the reporter of its various incidents in _Bell’s Life in London_, in the
_Morning Advertiser_, and various periodical publications which, during
the better days of its career, gave a portion of their space to
chronicle its doings. That the misconduct of its members, the degeneracy
and dishonesty of its followers led to the deserved extinction of the
Ring, he is free to admit: still, as a septuagenarian, he desires to
preserve the memory of many brave and honourable deeds which the reader
will here find recorded.

A few lines will suffice to elucidate the plan of the work.

Having decided that its most readable form would be that of a series of
biographies of the principal boxers, in chronological order, so far as
practicable, it was found convenient to group them in “Periods;” as each
notable champion will be seen to have visibly impressed his style and
characteristics on the period in which he and his imitators, antagonists
or, as we may call it, “school” flourished in popular favour and

A glance at the “Lives of the Boxers” thus thrown into groups will
explain this arrangement:—

                               VOLUME I.

  PERIOD I.—1719 to 1791.—From the Championship of Fig to the first
                  appearance of Daniel Mendoza.

  PERIOD II.—1784 to 1798.—From Daniel Mendoza to the first battle of
                  James Belcher.

  PERIOD III.—1798 to 1809.—From the Championship of Belcher to the
                  appearance of Tom Cribb.

  PERIOD IV.—1805 to 1820.—From Cribb’s first battle to the Championship
                  of Tom Spring.

⁂ To each period there is an Appendix containing notices and sketches of
the minor professors of the ars pugnandi and of the light-weight boxers
of the day.

                               VOLUME II.

  PERIOD V.—1820 to 1824.—From the Championship of Spring to his
                  retirement from the Ring.

  PERIOD VI.—1825 to 1835.—From the Championship of Jem Ward to the
                  appearance of Bendigo (William Thompson) of

                              VOLUME III.

  PERIOD VII.—1835 to 1845.—From the appearance of Bendigo to his last
                  battle with Caunt.

  PERIOD VIII.—1845 to 1857.—The interregnum. Bill Perry (the Tipton
                  Slasher), Harry Broome, Tom Paddock, &c.

  PERIOD IX.—1856 to 1863.—From the appearance of Tom Sayers to the last
                  Championship battle of King and Heenan, December,

In “the Introduction” I have dealt with the “Classic” pugilism of Greece
and Rome. The darkness of the middle ages is as barren of record of “the
art of self-defence” as of other arts. With their revival in Italy we
have an amusing coincidence in the “Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini,” in
which a triumvirate of renowned names are associated with the
common-place event of “un grande punzone del naso”—a mighty punch on the

“Michael-Angelo (Buonarotti’s) nose was flat from a blow which he
received in his youth from Torrigiano,[1] a brother artist and
countryman, who gave me the following account of the occurrence: ‘I
was,’ said Torrigiano, ‘extremely irritated, and, doubling my fist, gave
him such a violent blow on the nose that I felt the cartilages yield as
if they had been made of paste, and the mark I then gave him he will
carry to the grave.’” Cellini adds: “Torrigiano was a handsome man, of
consummate audacity, having rather the air of a bravo than a sculptor:
above all, his strange gestures,” [were they boxing attitudes?] “his
enormous voice, with a manner of knitting his brows, enough to frighten
any man who faced him, gave him a tremendous aspect, and he was
continually talking of his great feats among ‘those bears of
Englishmen,’ whose country he had lately quitted.”

Who knows—_sempre il mal non vien par nocuere_—but we have to thank the
now-neglected art, whose precepts and practice inculcated the use of
Nature’s weapon, that the clenched hand of Torrigiano did not grasp a
stiletto? What then would have been the world’s loss? The majestic
cupola of St. Peter’s, the wondrous frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, “The
Last Judgment,” the “Sleeping Cupid” of Mautua, the “Bacchus” of Rome,
and all the mighty works of the greatest painter, sculptor, and
architect of the 16th century, had probably been uncreated had not
Michael-Angelo’s fellow-student learned among “those bears of
Englishmen,” the art of administering a “mighty punch on the nose” in
lieu of the then ready stab of a lethal weapon.

The testimony of St. Bernard to the merits of boxing as a substitute for
the deadly combats of his time, with an extract from Forsyth’s
“Excursion in Italy,” will be found at page xv. of the Introduction to
this volume; and these may bring us to the period when the first Stuart
ascended the throne of “Merrie Englande.”

In Dr. Noble’s “History of the Cromwell Family,” we find the following
interesting notice of the fistic prowess of the statesman-warrior who,
in after-times, “made the sovereigns of Europe court the alliance and
dread the might of England’s arm.” At p. 94 vol. i., we read:—

“They have a tradition at Huntingdon, that when King Charles I. (then
Duke of York), in his journey from Scotland to London, in the year 1604,
rested in his way at Hinchenbrooke, the seat of Sir Oliver Cromwell; the
knight, to divert the young prince, sent for his nephew Oliver, that he,
with his own sons, might play with his Royal Highness. It so chanced
that the boys had not long been together before Charles and Oliver
disagreed, and came to blows. As the former was a somewhat weakly boy,
and the latter strong, it was no wonder the royal visitor was worsted.
Oliver, even at this age, so little regarded dignity that he made the
royal blood flow copiously from the Prince’s nose. This was looked upon
by many as a bad presage for the King when the civil war had commenced.”
The probability of this incident has been flippantly questioned. The
writer has lighted on the following in the dry pages of “Toone’s
Chronology,” under James I. “1603. April 27th. The King, arriving at
Hinchenbrooke, was magnificently entertained by Sir Oliver Cromwell,
where also the Cambridge Doctors waited upon his Majesty. May 3. The
King arrived at Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, the seat of Mr. Secretary
Cecil’s. He made 200 Knights on his arrival in London and on his journey
thither from Edinburgh.” And in the next page we read: “1604. Jan. 4.
Prince Charles came into England (from Scotland) and was created Duke of
York. He had forty pounds per annum settled on him that he might more
honourably maintain that dignity.” It may be as well to observe that
Charles I. and Cromwell were of an age (both born in 1599), and each of
them five years old in 1604‒5; so that this juvenile encounter is highly
probable, exemplifying that “the child is father of the man.”

Again in Malcolm’s “Manners and Customs of London,” vol. i., p. 425, we
find the subjoined extract from _The Protestant Mercury_, of January,
1681, which we take to be the first prize-fight on newspaper record.

“Yesterday a match of boxing was performed before his Grace the Duke of
Albemarle, between the Duke’s footman and a butcher. The latter won the
prize, as he hath done many before, being accounted, though but a little
man, the best at that exercise in England.”

“Here be proofs”: 1, of ducal patronage; 2, of a stake of money; 3, of
the custom of public boxing; 4, of the skill of the victor, “he being
but a little man;” and all in a five-line paragraph. The names of the
Champions are unwritten.

This brings us to the period at which our first volume opens, in which
will be found the deeds and incidents of the Pugilists, the Prize-ring,
and its patrons, detailed from contemporary and authentic sources, down
to the opening of the present century. We cannot, however, close this
somewhat gossiping preface without an extract from a pleasant paper
which has just fallen under our notice, in which some of the notable men
who admired and upheld the now-fallen fortunes of boxing are vividly
introduced by one whose reminiscences of bygone men and manners are
given in a sketch called “The Last of Limmer’s.” To the younger reader
it may be necessary to premise, that from the days when the Prince
Regent, Sheridan, and Beau Brummel imbibed their beeswing—when the
nineteenth century was in its infancy—down to the year of grace 1860,
the name of “Limmer’s Hotel” was “familiar in sporting men’s mouths as
household words,” and co-extensive in celebrity with “Tattersall’s” and

          My name is John Collins, head-waiter at “Limmer’s,”
            Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square;
          My chief occupation is filling of brimmers,
            For spicy young gentlemen frequenting there.

Said “brimmers,” _hodie_ “bumpers,” being a compound of gin, soda-water,
ice lemon, and sugar, said to have been invented by John Collins, but
recently re-imported as a Yankee novelty. This per parenthesis, and we
return to our author.

“In that little tunnelled recess at the bottom of the dark, low-browed
coffee-oom, the preliminaries of more prize-fights have been arranged by
Sir St. Vincent Cotton, Parson Ambrose, the late Lord Queensberry,
Colonel Berkeley, his son, the Marquis Drumlanrig, Sir Edward Kent, the
famous Marquis of Waterford, Tom Crommelin, the two Jack Myttons, the
late Lord Longford, and the committee of the Fair-play Club, than in the
parlour of No. 5, Norfolk Street (the sanctum of Vincent Dowling, Editor
of _Bell’s Life_), in Tom Spring’s parlour, or Jem Burn’s ‘snuggery.’

“Let it not be imagined that any apology is needed, nor will be here
vouchsafed in defence of those to whom, whatever may have been their
station in life, the prize-ring was formerly dear. The once well-known
and well-liked Tom Crommelin, for instance, is the only survivor among
those whom we chance to have named, but in his far-distant Australian
home he will have no cause to remember with regret that he has often
taken part in the promotion of pugilistic encounters.

“During the present century Great Britain has produced no more manly, no
honester, or more thoroughly English statesman than the uncle of the
present Earl Spencer, better known in political history under the name
of Lord Althorp. The late Sir Denis Le Marchant, in his delightful
memoir of the nobleman who led the House of Commons when the great
Reform Bill was passed, tells us that ‘Lord Althorp made a real study of
boxing, taking lessons from the best instructors, whilst practising most
assiduously, and, as he boasted, with great success. He had many matches
with his school-fellow, Lord Byron, and those who witnessed his exploits
with the gloves, and observed his cool, steady eye, his broad chest and
muscular limbs, and, above all, felt his hard blows, would have been
justified in saying that he was born to be a prize-fighter rather than a
Minister of State.’ Long after the retirement of Lord Althorp from
office, Mr. Evelyn Denison, who died as Lord Ossington, paid him a visit
at Wiseton, ‘The _pros_ and _cons_ of boxing were discussed,’ writes the
late Speaker, ‘and Lord Althorp became eloquent. He said that his
conviction of the advantages of pugilism was so strong that he had been
seriously considering whether it was not a duty that he owed to the
public to go and attend every prize-fight which took place, and thus to
encourage the noble science to the extent of his power. He gave us an
account of prize-fights which he had attended—how he had seen Mendoza
knocked down for the first five or six rounds by Humphries, and seeming
almost beaten until the Jews got their money on, when, a hint being
given, he began in earnest and soon turned the tables. He described the
fight between Gully and the Chicken—how he rode down to Brickhill
himself, and was loitering about the inn door, when a barouche and four
drove up with Lord Byron and a party, and Jackson, the trainer—how they
all dined together, and how pleasant it had been. Next day came the
fight, and he described the men stripping, the intense excitement, the
sparring, then the first round, and the attitudes of the men—it was
really worthy of Homer.’

“A pursuit which was enthusiastically supported and believed in by
William Windham, Charles James Fox, Lord Althorp, and Lord Byron, stands
in little need of modern excuse on behalf of its promoters when Limmer’s
was at its apogee. Full many a well-known pugilist, with Michael-Angelo
nose and square-cut jaw, has stood, cap in hand, at the door of that
historical coffee-room within which Lord Queensberry—then Lord
Drumlanrig—and Captain William Peel and the late Lord Strathmore were
taking their meals. In one window stands Colonel Ouseley Higgins,
Captain Little, and Major Hope Johnstone. A servant of the major’s, with
an unmistakable fighting face, enters with a note for his master. It is
from Lord Longford and Sir St. Vincent Cotton asking him to allow his
valet to be trained by Johnny Walker for a proximate prize fight. The
servant, who is no other than William Nelson, the breeder (before his
death) of Plebeian, winner of the Middle Park Plate, however, firmly
declines the pugilistic honours his aristocratic patrons design for him,
so the fight is off. Hard by maybe seen the stately Lord George
Bentinck, in conference with his chief-commissioner, Harry Hill,” &c.,
&c. We here break off the reminiscences of Limmer’s, as the rest of this
most readable paper deals solely with the celebrities of the turf.

The last time the writer saw the late Sir Robert Peel, was at Willis’s
Rooms, in King Street, on the occasion of an Assault of Arms, given by
the Officers of the Household Brigade, whereat the art of self-defence
was illustrated by the non-commissioned officers of the Life Guards,
Grenadier Guards, and Royal Artillery. Corporal-Majors Limbert and Gray,
Sergeants Dean and Venn, Corporal Toohig (Royal Artillery), with
Professors Gillemand, Shury, and Arnold, displayed their skill with
broadsword, foil, single-stick, and sabre against bayonet. The gloves,
too, were put on, and some sharp and manly bouts played by the stalwart
Guardsmen. The lamented Minister watched these with approving attention.
Then came a glove display in which Alec Keene put on the mittens with
Arnold, the “Professor of the Bond Street Gymnasium.” The sparring was
admirable, and sir Robert, who was in the midst of an aristocratic
group, pressed forward to the woollen boundary-rope. His eyes lighted up
with the memories of Harrow school-days and he clapped his hands in
hearty applause of each well-delivered left or right and each neat stop
or parry. The bout was over, and neither was best man. The writer
perceived the deep interest of Sir Robert, and conveyed to the friendly
antagonists the desire of several gentlemen for “one round more.” It was
complied with, and closed with a pretty rally, in which a clean
cross-counter and first and sharpest home from Keene’s left proved the
finale amid a round of applause. The practised pugilist was too many for
the professor of “mimic warfare.” Next came another clever demonstration
of the arts of attack and defence by Johnny Walker and Ned Donnelly. Sir
Robert was as hilarious as a schoolboy cricketer when the winning run is
got on the second innings. Turning to Mr. C. C. Greville and the Hon.
Robert Grimstone, he exclaimed, “There is nothing that interests me like
good boxing. It asks more steadiness, self-control, aye, and manly
courage than any other combat. You must take as well as give—eye to eye,
toe to toe, and arm to arm. Give my thanks to both the men, they are
brave and clever fellows, and I hope we shall never want such among our
countrymen.” It is gratifying to add that, to our knowledge, these
sentiments are the inheritance of the third Sir Robert, whose manly and
patriotic speech, at Exeter Hall, on the 17th of February, 1878, rings
in our ears as we write these lines.

With such patrons of pugilism as those who faded away in “the last days
of Limmer’s,” departed the fair play, the spirit, and the very honesty,
often tainted, of the Ring. A few exceptional struggles—due rather to
the uncompromising honesty and courage of the men, or the absence of the
blacklegs, low gamblers, Hebrews, and flash publicans from the finding
of the stakes, or making the market odds—occurred from time to time; but
these were mere flickerings of the expiring flame. The Ring was doomed,
not less by the misconduct of its professors than by the discord and
dishonest doings of its so-called patrons and their ruffianly followers,
unchecked by the saving salt of sporting gentlemen and men of honour,
courage, and standing in society. Down, deeper down, and ever downward
it went, till in its last days it became merely a ticket-selling swindle
in the hands of keepers of Haymarket night-houses, and slowly perished
in infamy and indigence. Yet, cannot the writer, looking back through a
long vista of memorable battles, and with the personal recollection of
such men as Cribb (in his latter days), Tom Spring, Jem Ward (still
living), Painter, Neale, Jem Burn, John Martin, Frank Redmond, Owen
Swift, Alec Keene, with Tom Sayers, his opponent John Heenan, and Tom
King, the _Ultimus Romanorum_ (now—1878—taking prizes as a
floriculturist at horticultural shows), believe that the art which was
practised by such men was without redeeming qualities. He would not seek
to revive the “glory of the Ring,” that is past, but he has thought it a
worthy task to collect and preserve its memories and its deeds of
fortitude, skill, courage, and forbearance, of which these pages will be
found to contain memorable, spirit-stirring, and honourable examples.

                       A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOXING.

The curious reader may find some interest in a few paragraphs on the
Bibliography of Boxing; for the Ring had a contemporary literature,
contributed to by the ablest pens; and to this, in the earlier periods
of its history, the author would be an ingrate were he not to
acknowledge his indebtedness.

The earliest monograph is a neatly printed small quarto volume,
entitled, _A Treatise on the Useful Art of Self-Defence_. By Captain
Godfrey. The copy in the British Museum (bearing date 1740) appears to
be a second edition. It has for its title _Characters of the Masters_.
There is also a handsomely bound copy of the work in the Royal Library,
presented to the nation by George III. The volume is dedicated to H.R.H.
William, Duke of Cumberland. Frequent quotations are made from this

_The Gymnasiud, or Boxing Match._ A Poem. By the Champion and Bard of
Leicester House, the Poet Laureate (Paul Whitehead), 1757. See page 19
of this volume.

In _Dodsley’s Collections_, 1777, &c., are various poetic pieces by Dr.
John Byrom, Bramston (_Man of Taste_), and others, containing sketches
of pugilism and allusions to the “fashionable art” of boxing, “or

During this period, _The Gentleman’s Magazine_, _The Carlton House
Magazine_, _The Flying Post_, _The Daily News Letter_, _The World_, _The
Mercury_, _The Daily Advertiser_ (Woodfall’s), and other periodical
publications, contained reports of the principal battles in the Ring.

_Recollections of Pugilism and Sketches of the Ring._ By an Amateur.
8vo. London, 1801.

_Recollections of an Octogenarian._ By J. C. 8vo. London, 1805. (See pp
29, 30.)

_Lives of the Boxers._ By Jon Bee, author of the “Lexicon Balatronium,”
and “The Like o’ That.” 8vo. London, 1811.

_Pancratia: a History of Pugilism._ 1 vol. 8vo. 1811. By J. B. London:
George Smeeton, St. Martin’s Lane.

_Training for Pedestrianism and Boxing._ 8vo. 1816. By Captain Robert
Barclay (Allardyce of Ury).

This pamphlet contains an account of the Captain’s training of Cribb for
his fight with Molineaux.

_The Fancy: A Selection_ from the poetical remains of Peter Corcoran,
Esq., student of Law (Pseudonymous). London: 1820. Quoted p. 313 of this

_Boxiana: Sketches of Antient and Modern Pugilism._ Vol. I. 8vo. London:
G. Smeeton, 139, St. Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, July, 1812.

This very scarce volume, which was the production of George Smeeton, a
well known sporting printer and engraver, was the basis of the larger
work _Boxiana_, subsequently written and edited by Pierce Egan, and of
which _five_ volumes, appeared between 1818 and 1828. The well-written
“Introduction,” much disfigured by the illiterate editor, were
incorporated, and the handsome copperplate title-page will be found
bound into the later work published by Sherwoods, Jones & Co. Pierce
Egan was, at one time, a compositor in Smeeton’s office, and continued
the work for Sherwoods.

_Boxiana. Sketches of Ancient and Modern Pugilism, from the days of the
renowned Broughton and Slack to the Championship of Crib._ By Pierce
Egan. In two volumes. London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster
Row, 1818.

This was the first complete book. A third volume followed in 1825. There
are _two_ fourth volumes owing to a circumstance which requires
explanation. That published by George Virtue, and bearing the name of
Pierce Egan, has for its title _New Series of Boxiana: the only Original
and Complete Lives of the Boxers_. By Pierce Egan. London: George
Virtue, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row. Vol. I., 1828. Vol. II., 1829. These
are generally bound as Vols. IV. and V., in sets of _Boxiana_. The other
volume, IV., is identical in title, but not in contents, with Pierce
Egan’s first volume of the “new series,” omitting those words. It was
written by Jon Bee, for Messrs. Sherwoods, who moved an injunction
against Pierce Egan for selling his fourth volume to another publisher.
Lord Chancellor Eldon merely compelled Pierce Egan to prefix the words
“new series” to his book, and the matter ended.

_A Lecture on Pugilism_: Delivered at the Society for Mutual
Improvement, established by Jeremy Bentham, Esq., at No. 52, Great
Marlborough Street, Oxford Street, April 14th, 1820. By S[eptimus]
M[iles]. 8vo., 24 pp., White, 1820. This curious and elaborate defence
of pugilism seems rather to have been a rhetorical exercitation for
discussion at a debating society than a defence. It is printed at the
end of the third volume of Boxiana.

_Boxing; with a Chronology of the Ring, and a Memoir of Owen Swift._ By
Renton Nicholson. London: Published at 163, Fleet Street. 1837.

_Owen Swift’s Handbook of Boxing._ 1840. With Steel Portrait by Henning.
This was also written by the facetious Renton Nicholson—styled
“Chief-Baron Nicholson,” and originator of the once-famous “Judge and
Jury” Society.

_The Handbook of Boxing and Training for Athletic Sports._ By H. D.
M[iles]. London: W. M. Clark, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, 1838.

_Fistiana; or, the Oracle of the Ring. By the Editor of Bell’s Life in
London._ This pocket volume, containing a Chronology of the Ring, the
revised rules, forms of articles, duties of seconds, umpires, and
referee, reached its 24th and last edition in 1864, and expired only
with the ring itself. Its author, Mr. Vincent George Dowling, the
“Nestor of the Ring,” a gentleman and a scholar, also contributed the
article “Boxing” to Blaine’s “Cyclopædia of Rural Sports,” Longmans,

_Fights for the Championship._ 1 vol., 8vo. By the Editor of _Bell’s
Life in London_. London: published at 170, Strand, 1858.

_Championship Sketches_, with Portraits. By Alfred Henry Holt. London:
Newbold, Strand, 1862.

_The Life of Tom Sayers._ By Philopugilis. 8vo., with Portrait. London:
S. O. Beeton, 248, Strand, 1864. [By the author of the present work.]

Among the authors of the early years of the present century, whose pens
illustrated the current events of boxers and boxing, we may note, Tom
Moore the poet, who contributed occasional squibs to the columns of the
_Morning Chronicle_, and in 1818 published the humorous versicles, _Tom
Cribb’s Memorial to Congress_, quoted at p. 306 of this volume. Lord
Byron. See Moore’s “Life and Letters,” “Memoir of Jackson,” pp. 97, 98.

Christopher North (Professor Wilson) the Editor of Blackwood’s Magazine
in the _Noctes Ambrosiane_, puts into the mouth of the Ettrick Shepherd
(James Hogg) an eloquent defence of pugilism, while he takes
opportunity, through Sir Morgan O’Doherty, to praise the manliness, fair
play, and bravery of contemporary professors of boxing. Several sonnets
and other extracts from Blackwood will be found scattered in these

Dr. Maginn (the Editor of Frazer’s Magazine), also exercised his pen in
classic imitations apropos of our brave boxers.

Last, but not least, the gifted author of _Pendennis_, _The Virginians_,
_Esmond_, _Vanity Fair_, _Jeames’s Diary_, &c., &c., has perpetuated the
greatness of our latest champions in a paraphrase, rather than a parody
of Macaulay’s “Lays of Ancient Rome,” entitled “Sayerinus and Henanus; a
Lay of Ancient London,” which contains lines of power to make the blood
of your Englishmen stir in days to come, should the preachers of
peace-at-any-price, pump water, parsimonious pusillanimity, puritanic
precision and propriety have left our youth any blood to stir. See “Life
of Sayers,” in vol. iii. Volumes cannot better express the contempt
which this keen observer of human nature and satirist of shams
entertained for the mawworms, who “compound for sins they are inclined
to by damning those they have no mind to,” than the subjoined brief

“Fighting, of course, is wrong; but there are occasions when.... I mean
that one-handed fight of Sayers is one of the most spirit-stirring
little stories; and with every love and respect for Morality, my spirit
says to her, ‘Do, for goodness’ sake, my dear madam, keep your true, and
pure, and womanly, and gentle remarks for another day. Have the great
kindness to stand a _leetle_ aside, and just let us see one or two more
rounds between the men. That little man with the one hand powerless on
his breast facing yonder giant for hours, and felling him, too, every
now and then! It is the little Java and the Constitution over
again.’”—W. M. THACKERAY.

Or the following “happy thought,” to which Leech furnished an
illustrative sketch:—

“SERIOUS GOVERNOR.—‘I am surprised, Charles, that you can take any
interest in these repulsive details! How many rounds (I believe you term
them) do you say these ruffians fought? Um, disgraceful! the Legislature
ought to interfere; and it appears that this Benicia Man did not gain
the—hem—best of it? I’ll take the paper when you have done with it,
Charles.’”—_Punch Illustration, April 8, 1860._

                          CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND
                           FROM 1719 TO 1863.

  1719. James Fig, of Thame, Oxfordshire.

  1730‒1733. Pipes and Gretting (with alternate success).

  1734. George Taylor.

  1740. Jack Broughton, the waterman.

  1750. Jack Slack, of Norfolk.

  1760. Bill Stevens, the nailer.

  1761. George Meggs, of Bristol.

  1762. George Millsom, the baker.

  1764. Tom Juchau, the paviour.

  1765‒9. Bill Darts.

  1769. Lyons, the waterman.

  1771. Peter Corcoran (doubtful). He beat Bill Darts, who had
      previously been defeated by Lyons.

  1777. Harry Sellers.

  1780. Jack Harris (doubtful).

  1783‒91. Tom Johnson (Jackling), of York.

  1791. Benjamin Brain (Big Ben), of Bristol.

  1792. Daniel Mendoza.

  1795. John Jackson. (Retired.)

  1800‒5. Jem Belcher, of Bristol.

  1805. Henry Pearce, the “Game Chicken.”

  1808. (Retired). John Gully (afterwards M.P. for Pontefract).

  1809. Tom Cribb, received a belt and cup, and retired.

  1824. Tom Spring, received four cups, and retired.

  1825. Jem Ward, received the belt.

  1833. Jem Burke (the Deaf ’un), claimed the title.

  1839. Bendigo (Wm. Thompson), of Nottingham, beat Burke, and received
      the belt from Ward.

  1841. Benjamin Caunt, of Hucknall, beat Nick Ward, and received belt

  1845. Bendigo beat Caunt, and received the belt.

  1850. Wm. Perry (Tipton Slasher), claimed belt, Bendigo declining his

  1851. Harry Broome beat Perry, and claimed the title.

  1853. Perry again challenged the title, and Broome retired from the

  1857. Tom Sayers beat Perry, and received the belt.

  1860. Tom Sayers retired after his battle with Heenan, and left belt
      for competition.

  1860. Samuel Hurst (the Staleybridge Infant), beat Paddock, the
      claimant, and received the belt.

  1861. Jem Mace, of Norwich, beat Hurst, and claimed the title.

  1863. Tom King beat Mace, and claimed the belt, but retired, and Mace
      claimed the trophy.

  1863. Tom King beat J. C. Heenan for £1,000 a-side at Wadhurst,
      December 10th.



The origin of boxing has been assumed by some superficial writers as
coeval with the earliest contests of man. This view appears to the
writer both crude and unphilosophical. It might be argued with equal
probability that the foil was antecedent to the sword, the sword to the
dagger, or the singlestick to the club with which the first murder was
perpetrated. The clumsiest and, so far as rude and blood-thirsty attack
could contrive them, the most deadly weapons were the first used; the
sudden destruction of life, not the art of defence, being the brutal
instinct of the vengeful, cunning, and cowardly savage, or the
treacherous manslayer. This, too, would lead us fairly to infer—as the
most dangerous forms of the cæstus are the most ancient, and the naked
fist in combat appears nowhere to have been used in the gladiatorial
combats of Greece or Rome—that to England and her Anglo-Saxon race is
due this fairest and least dangerous of all forms of the duel; and to
attribute to a recent period the padded boxing-glove (at present the air
or pneumatic glove), by means of which the truly noble art of
self-defence can be safely and healthfully practised and illustrated.

The most polished people of antiquity included boxing among their
sports. With them it was also a _discipline_, an _exercise_, and an
_art_. A discipline, inasmuch as it was taught to pupils; an exercise,
as followed in the public games; and an art, on account of the previous
trainings and studies it presupposed in those who professed and
practised it. Plutarch indeed asserts that the “pugilate” was the most
ancient of the three gymnic games performed by the athletæ, who were
divided into three classes—the BOXERS, the WRESTLERS, and the RUNNERS.
And thus Homer views the subject, and generally follows this order in
his descriptions of public celebrations. This, too, is the natural
sequence, in what philosopher Square would call “the eternal fitness of
things.” First, the man attacks (or defends himself) with the fist;
secondly, he closes or wrestles; and should fear, inferior skill, or
deficient strength tell him he had better avoid the conflict, he resorts
to the third course, and _runs_.

A word on the derivation of our words, pugilism, pugilist, and boxing,
all of which have a common origin. _Pugilism_ comes to us through the
Latin _pugilatus_, the art of fighting with the fist, as also does
_pugnus_, a fight. The Latin again took these words from the Greek πυγμὴ
(_pugmè_), the fist doubled for fighting; whence also they had πύγμάχος
(_pugmachos_), a fist-fighter, and πύγμαχια (_pugmachia_), a fist-fight.
They had also πυγδον (_pugdon_), a measure of length from the elbow
(_cubitus_) to the end of the hand _with the fingers clenched_. Another
form of the word, the Greek adverb πυξ (_pux_), _pugno vel pugnis_,
gives us πυξος (_puxos_, Lat. _buxus_), in English, BOX; and it is
remarkable that this form of the closed hand is the Greek synonyme for
anything in the shape of a closed _box_ or receptacle, and so it has
passed to the moderns. The πυξ, _box_ or _pyx_, is the chest in which
the sacramental vessels are contained. Thus mine Ancient Pistol pleads
for his red-nosed comrade:—

       “Fortune is Bardolph’s foe, and frowns on him;
       For he hath stolen a PYX, and hanged must ’a be.
       Let gallows gape for dog; let man go free,
       But Exeter hath given the doom of death,
       For PYX of little price.”
                                     HENRY V., act iii., sc. vi.

The French have also imported _le boxe_ into their dictionaries, where
the Germans had it already, as _buchs_, a box. But enough of etymology;
wherever we got the word, the thing itself—fair boxing, as we practise
it—is of pure English origin. The Greeks, however, cultivated the
science in their fashion, confined it by strict rules, and selected
experienced masters and professors, who, by public lessons, delivered
gratis in Palestræ and Gymnasiæ, instructed youth in the theory and
practice of the art. Kings and princes, as we learn from the poets, laid
aside their dignity for a few hours, and exchanged the sceptre for the
cæstus; indeed, in Greece, boxing, as a liberal art, was cultivated with
ardour, and when (once in three years) the whole nation assembled at
Corinth to celebrate their Isthmian games, in honour of Neptune, the
generous admiration of an applauding people placed the crown on the brow
of the successful pugilist, who, on his return home, was hailed as the
supporter of his country’s fame. Even Horace places the pugilist
_before_ the poet:—

                “Quem tu, Melpomene, semel
                  Nascentem placido lumine videris,
                Illum non labor Isthmius
                  Clarabit pugilem.”
                                Lib. iv., Ode 3, l. 1‒4.

And in another place:—

 “Musa debit fidibus divos, puerosque deorum,
 Et PUGILEM victorem, et equum certamine primum.”
                                             _De Arte Poet._, l. 83‒84.

The sententious Cicero also says:—“It is certainly a glorious thing to
_do_ well for the republic, but also to _speak_ well is not

Having alluded to the poets who have celebrated pugilism, we will take a
hasty glance at the demigods and heroes by whom boxing has been
illustrated. POLLUX, the twin brother of Castor—sprung from the intrigue
of Jupiter with the beauteous Leda, wife of Tyndarus, King of Sparta,
and mother of the fair Helen of Troy—presents us with a lofty pedigree
as the tutelary deity of the boxers. The twins fought their way to a
seat on Mount Olympus, as also did Hercules himself:—

                 “_Hac arte_ Pollux, et vagus Hercules
                 Innixus arces attigit igneas;”

the sign Gemini in our zodiac representing this pair of “pugs.” As one
of the unsuccessful competitors with Pollux, we may here mention AMYCUS.
He was a son of Neptune, by Melia, and was king of the Bebryces. When
the Argonauts touched at his port, on their voyage to Colchis, he
received them with much hospitality. Amycus was renowned for his skill
with the cæstus, and he kept up a standing challenge to all strangers
for a trial of skill. Pollux accepted his challenge; but we learn from
Apollonius that Amycus did not fight fair, and tried by a trick to beat
Pollux, whereupon that “out-and-outer” killed him, _pour encourager les
autres_, we presume.[2] There were two other pugilists of the same name
among the “school” taken by Æneas into Italy as we shall presently see.

ERYX, also, figures among the heaven-descended pugilists. He was the son
of Venus, by Butes, a descendant of Amycus, and very skilful in the use
of the cæstus. He, too, kept up a standing challenge to all comers, and
so came to grief. For Hercules, who “barred neither weight, country, nor
colour,” coming that way, took up the gauntlet, and knocked poor Eryx
clean out of time; so they buried him on a hill where he had, like a
pious son, built a beautiful temple in honour of his rather too easy
mamma. It is but fair, however, in this instance, to state that there is
another version of the parentage of Eryx, not quite so lofty, but, to
our poor thinking, quite as creditable. It runs thus:—Butes, being on a
Mediterranean voyage, touched at the three-cornered island of Sicily
(Trinacria), and there, sailor fashion, was hooked by one Lycaste, a
beautiful harlot, who was called by the islanders “Venus.” She was the
mother of Eryx, and so he was called the son of Venus. (See Virgil,
Æneid, b. v., l. 372.) However this may be, the temple of Eryx and the
“Erycinian Venus” were most renowned, and Diodorus, the Sicilian, tells
us that the Carthaginians revered Venus Erycina as much as the Sicilians
themselves, identifying her with the Phœnician Astarte. So much for the
genealogy of the fourth boxer.

ANTÆUS here claims a place. We have had a couple from heaven (by
Jupiter), and one from the sea (by Neptune), our next shall be from
earth and ocean combined. Antæus, though principally renowned as a
wrestler, is represented with the cæstus. He was the son of Terra, by
Neptune; or, as the stud-book would put it, by Neptune out of Terra. He
was certainly dreadfully given to “bounce,” for he threatened to erect a
temple to his father with the skulls of his conquered antagonists; but
he planned his house before he had procured the materials. The story
runs, that whenever he kissed his “mother earth” she renewed his
strength, from which we may fairly infer that he was an adept in the art
of “getting down,” like many of our modern pugilists. Hercules, however,
found out the dodge by which the artful Antæus got “second wind” and
renewed strength. He accordingly put on “the squeeze,” and giving him a
cross-lift, held him off the ground till he expired, which we take to
have been foul play on the part of his Herculean godship.[3] There was
another Antæus, a friend of Turnus, killed by Æneas in the Latin wars.

Of the Homeric boxers, EPEUS and EURYALUS are the most renowned. Epeus
was king of the Epei, a people of the Peloponnesus; he was son of
Endymion, and brother to Pæon and Æolus. As his papa was the paramour of
the goddess of chastity, Diana, the family may be said to have moved in
high society. The story of Endymion and the goddess of the moon has been
a favourite with poets. Epeus was a “big one,” and, like others of
Homer’s heroes, a bit of a bully.

In the twenty-third book of the Iliad we find the father of poetry
places the games at the funeral of Patroclus in this order:—1, The
chariot race; 2, the cæstus fight; 3, the wrestling; 4, the foot race.
As it is with the second of these only that Epeus and Euryalus are
concerned, we shall confine ourselves to the Homeric description.

          “The prizes next are ordered to the field,
          For the bold champions who the cæstus wield;
          A stately mule, as yet by toil unbroke,
          Of six years’ age, unconscious of the yoke,
          Is to the circus led and firmly bound:
          Next stands a goblet, massive, large, and round.
          Achilles, rising, thus: ‘Let Greece excite
          Two heroes equal to this hardy fight;
          Who dares the foe with lifted arms provoke,
          And rush beneath the swift descending stroke,
          On whom Apollo shall the palm bestow,
          And whom the Greeks supreme by conquest know,
          This mule his dauntless labours shall repay:
          The vanquished bear the massy bowl away.’
          This dreadful combat great Epeus chose.
          High o’er the crowd, enormous bulk! he rose,
          And seized the beast, and thus began to say:
          ‘Stand forth some man to bear the bowl away!
          Price of his ruin; for who dares deny
          This mule my right, the undoubted victor I?
          Others, ’tis owned, in fields of battle shine,
          But the first honours of this fight are mine.
          For who excels in all? Then let my foe
          Draw near, but first his certain fortune know,
          Secure, this hand shall his whole frame confound,
          Mash all his bones, and all his body pound:
          So let his friends be nigh, a needful train,
          To heave the battered carcase off the plain.’
          The giant spoke; and in a stupid gaze
          The host beheld him, silent with amaze!
          ’Twas thou, Euryalus! who durst aspire
          To meet his might, and emulate thy sire,
          The great Megestheus, who, in days of yore,
          In Theban games the noblest trophy bore—
          (The games ordain’d dead Œdipus to grace),
          And singly vanquished the Cadmæan race.
          Him great Tydides urges to contend,
          Warm with the hopes of conquest for his friend:
          Officious with the cincture girds him round;
          And to his wrists _the gloves of death_ are bound.
          Amid the circle now each champion stands,
          And poises high in air his iron hands:
          With clashing gauntlets now they fiercely close,
          Their crackling jaws re-echo to the blows,
          And painful sweat from all their members flows.
          At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow
          Full on the cheek of his unwary foe;
          Beneath the ponderous arm’s resistless sway
          Down dropp’d he nerveless, and extended lay.
          As a large fish, when winds and waters roar,
          By some huge billow dash’d against the shore,
          Lies panting: not less battered with the wound
          The bleeding hero pants upon the ground.
          To rear his fallen foe the victor lends,
          Scornful, his hand, and gives him to his friends.
          Whose arms support him reeling through the throng,
          And dragging his disabled legs along,
          Nodding, his head hangs down his shoulders o’er;
          His mouth and nostrils pour the clotted gore:
          Wrapped round in mists he lies, and lost to thought—
          His friends receive the bowl too dearly bought.”

So far the first report of a prize fight, which came off 1184 years
B.C., in the last year of the siege of Troy, anno mundi, 3530.

There was another EPEUS, son of Panopæus, who was a skilful carpenter,
and made the Greek mare, commonly but erroneously called the Trojan
horse,[4] in the womb of which the Argive warriors were introduced to
the ruin of beleaguered Troy, as related in the second book of the

EURYALUS will be known by name to newspaper readers of the present day
as having given name to the steam frigate in which our sailor Prince
Alfred took his earliest voyages to sea: to the scholar he is known as a
valiant Greek prince, who went to the Trojan war with eighty ships, at
least so says Homer, “Iliad,” b. ii.

           “Next move to war the generous Argive train,
           From high Trœzenè and Maseta’s plain;
           And fair Ægina circled by the main,
           Whom strong Tyrinthe’s lofty walls surround,
           And Epidaure with viny harvest crowned,
           And where fair Asinen and Hermion show
           Their cliffs above and ample bay below.
           These by the brave EURYALUS were led,
           Great Sthenelus and greater Diomed.
           But chief Tydides bore the sovereign sway;
           In fourscore barks they plough their watery way.”

We may here note that Tydides (the family name of Diomed, as the son of
Tydeus) was Euryalus’s second in the mill with Epeus, wherein we have
just seen him so soundly thrashed by the big and bounceable Epeus. As
Virgil generally invents a “continuation” or counterpart of the Homeric
heroes for his “Æneid,” we find Euryalus made the hero of an episode,
and celebrated for his immortal friendship with Nisus: with him he had a
partnership in fighting, and they died together in a night encounter
with the troops of the Rutulians, whose camp they had plundered, but
were overtaken and slain. (Virg. Æneid, ix., 176.) We will now therefore
shift the scene from Greece, and come to Sicily and Italy, and the early
boxing matches there.

Æneas’ companions were a “school” of boxers, and met with the like in
Italy, among whom ENTELLUS, ERYX, and ANTÆUS (already mentioned), DARES,
CLOANTHUS, GYGES, GYAS, etc., may be numbered.

ENTELLUS, the intimate of Eryx, and who conquered Dares at the funeral
games of Anchises (father of Æneas) in Sicily, deserves first mention.
He was even then an “old ’un,” but, unlike most who have “trusted a
battle to a waning age,” comes off gloriously in the encounter; which,
as we shall presently see, under Dares, gives an occasion for the second
ring report of antiquity, as well as a minute description of the cæstus
itself. The lines from the fifth book of the “Æneid” need no preface.
After the rowing match (with galleys), in which Cloanthus (see _post_)
is the victor, Æneas thus addresses his assembled companions:—

          “‘If there be here whose dauntless courage dare
          In gauntlet-fight, with back and body bare,
          His opposite sustain in open view,
          Stand forth thou, champion, and the games renew:
          Two prizes I propose, and thus divide—
          A bull with gilded horns and fillets tied,
          Shall be the portion of the conq’ring chief;
          A sword and helm shall cheer the loser’s grief.’
          Then haughty Dares in the lists appears;
          Stalking he strides, his head erected bears;
          His nervous arms the weighty gauntlets wield
          And loud applauses echo through the field.
          Dares alone in combat sued to stand,
          The match of mighty Paris, hand to hand;
          The same at Hector’s funerals undertook
          Gigantic Butes of the Amycian stock,
          And by the stroke of his resistless hand,
          Stretched his vast bulk along the yellow sand.
          Such Dares was, and such he strode along,
          And drew the wonder of the gazing throng.
          His brawny bulk and ample breast he shows,
          His lifted arms around his head he throws,
          And deals, in whistling air, his empty blows.
          His match is sought; but through the trembling band
          Not one dares answer to his proud demand.
          Presuming of his force, with sparkling eyes,
          Already he devours the promised prize.
          He claims the bull with lawless insolence,
          And, having seized his horns, addressed the prince:
          ‘If none my matchless valour dares oppose,
          How long shall Dares wait his dastard foes?
          Permit me, chief, permit without delay,
          To lead this uncontested gift away.’
          The crowd assents, and, with redoubled cries,
          For the proud challenger demands the prize.”

Acestes then reproaches Entellus for allowing the prize to be carried
off uncontested. Entellus pleads “staleness” and “want of condition,”
but accepts the challenge.

        “Acestes fired with just disdain to see
        A plain usurped without a victory,
        Reproached Entellus thus, who sate beside,
        And heard and saw, unmoved, the Trojan’s pride.
        ‘Once, but in vain, a champion of renown,
        So tamely can you bear the ravished crown,
        The prize in triumph borne before your sight,
        And shun for fear the danger of the fight.
        Where is your Eryx now, the boasted name,
        The god who taught your thundering arm the game?
        Where now your baffled honour? where the spoil
        That filled your house, and fame that filled our isle?’
        Entellus thus: ‘My soul is still the same,
        Unmoved with fears, and moved with martial fame;
        But my chill blood is curdled in my veins,
        And scarce the shadow of a man remains.
        Oh! could I turn to that fair prime again,
        That prime of which this boaster is so vain,
        The brave, who this decrepit age defies,
        Should feel my force without the promised prize.’”

Entellus then throws down the gauntlets of Eryx (engraved under Cæstus,
pp. xiii., xiv.), but Dares, declining the ponderous weapons, old
Entellus offers to accommodate him, by permission of the umpires, with a
round or two with a lighter pair.

       “‘But if the challenger these arms refuse,
       And cannot wield their weight, or dare not use;
       If great Æneas and Acestes join
       In his request, these gauntlets I resign:
       Let us with equal arms perform the fight,
       And let him learn to fear since I forego my right.
       This said, Entellus for the fight prepares,
       Stripped of his quilted coat, his body bares:
       Composed of mighty bones and brawn he stands,
       A goodly towering object on the sands.
       Then just Æneas equal arms supplied,
       Which round their shoulders to their wrists they tied.
       Both on the tiptoe stand, at full extent,
       Their arms aloft, their bodies inly bent;
       Their heads from aiming blows they bear afar,
       With clashing gauntlets then provoke the war.
       One on his youth and pliant limbs relies,
       One on his sinews and his giant size.
       This last is stiff with age, his motion slow;
       He heaves for breath, he staggers to and fro,
       And clouds of issuing smoke his nostrils loudly blow
       Yet equal in success, they ward, they strike,
       Their ways are different, but their art alike.
       Before, behind, the blows are dealt; around
       Their hollow sides the rattling thumps resound;
       A storm of strokes, well meant, with fury flies,
       And errs about their temples, ears, and eyes—
       Nor always errs, for oft the gauntlet draws
       A sweeping stroke along the crackling jaws.
       Hoary with age Entellus stands his ground,
       But with his warping body wards the wound.
       His hand and watchful eye keep even pace,
       While Dares traverses and shifts his place,
       And, like a captain who beleaguers round
       Some strong-built castle on a rising ground,
       Views all the approaches with observing eyes;
       This and that other part in vain he tries,
       And more on industry than force relies.
       With hands on high Entellus threats the foe;
       But Dares watched the motion from below,
       And slipped a-side, and shunned the long-descending blow.
       Entellus wastes his forces on the wind,
       And, thus deluded of the stroke designed,
       Headlong and heavy fell, his ample breast
       And weighty limbs his ancient mother pressed.
         So falls a hollow pine that long had stood
       On Ida’s height or Erymanthus’ wood,
       Torn from the roots. The differing nations rise,
       And shouts, with mingled murmurs, rend the skies.
       Acestes runs with eager haste to raise
       The fallen companion of his youthful days.
       Dauntless he rose, and to the fight returned;
       With shame his glowing cheeks, his eyes with fury burned
       Disdain and conscious virtue filled his breast,
       And with redoubled force his foe he pressed.
       He lays on load with either hand amain
       And headlong drives the Trojan o’er the plain;
       Nor stops nor stays nor rests nor breath allows
       But storms of strokes descend about his brows,
       A rattling tempest and a hail of blows.”

At this point of the combat—when, after what ought to have closed round
1, by the fall of old Entellus, the latter jumps up and renews the
fight, driving Dares in confusion before him—we find that the referee
and stakeholder had a judicial discretionary power to stop the fight,
the more necessary on account of the deadly gloves in use. Some such
power, in cases of closing and attempts at garotting (such as occurred
at Farnham and at Wadhurst in 1860 and 1863, and numerous minor
battles), should be vested in the referee; but then where is the man who
in modern times would be efficiently supported or obeyed in this
judicial exercise of authority?

            “But now the prince, who saw the wild increase
            Of wounds, commands the combatants to cease,
            And bounds Entellus’ wrath, and bids the peace.
            First to the Trojan, spent with toil, he came,
            And soothed his sorrow for the suffered shame.
            ‘What fury seized my friend? The gods,’ said he,
            ‘To him propitions, are averse to thee,
            Have given his arm superior force to thine,
            ’Tis madness to contend with strength divine.’
            The gauntlet fight thus ended, from the shore
            His faithful friends the unhappy Dares bore:
            His mouth and nostrils poured a purple flood,
            And pounded teeth came rushing with his blood.
            Faintly he staggered through the hissing throng,
            And hung his head and trailed his legs along.
            The sword and casque are carried by his train,
            But with his foe the palm and ox remain.”

The reader will doubtless be forcibly struck with the close imitation of
Homer by the later epic poet. The length of this account—given, as are
those in the ensuing pages, under the name of the winner—will render
superfluous a lengthy notice of the vanquished—

DARES, another of the companions of Æneas, who also, like St. Patrick,
was “a jontleman, and came of dacent people.” Indeed, we see that he
claimed to be descended from King Amycus. Your ancient pugilists seem to
have been as anxious about “blood” as a modern horse-breeder. Dares was
afterwards slain by Turnus in Italy. See Virg. Æneid, v. 369, xii. 363.

CLOANTHUS, too, fought some good battles; and from him the noble Roman
family of the Cluentii boasted their descent. In “Æneid,” v. 122, he
wins the rowing match.

Of GYGES’ match we merely learn that Turnus also slew him; and of GYAS,
that he greatly distinguished himself by his prowess in the funeral
games of Anchises in Sicily. As to the “pious” ÆNEAS himself, another
son of Venus, by Anchises, he was a fighting man all his days. First, in
the Trojan war, where he engaged in combat with Diomed and with Achilles
himself, and afterwards, on his various voyagings in Sicily, Africa, and
Italy, where he fought for a wife and a kingdom, and won both by killing
his rival Turnus, marrying Lavinia, and succeeding his father-in-law,
Latinus. Despite his “piety” in carrying off his old father Anchises
from the flames of Troy, and giving him such a grand funeral, Æneas
seems to have been a filibustering sort of vagrant; and after getting
rid of poor Turnus, not without suspicions of foul play, he was drowned
in crossing a river in Etruria, which territory he had invaded on a
marauding expedition. We cannot say much against him on the score of
“cruelty and desertion” in the matter of Queen Dido, seeing that
chronology proves that the Carthaginian Queen was not born until about
three hundred years after the fall of Troy, and therefore the whole
story is the pure fabrication of the Roman poets, Virgil and Ovid. This,
however, is by the way, so we will proceed to give a short account of
the implements used in ancient boxing.

These were the CÆSTUS, a formidable gauntlet composed of thongs of raw
hide, with the woollen glove covering the hand with its vellus or
fringe; and the AMPHOTIDES, a kind of helmet or defensive armour for the
head. Four principal forms of the cæstus are known by extant
representations. The first is the most tremendous, and was found in
bronze at Herculaneum. The original hand is somewhat above the natural
size, and appears to have been part of the statue of some armed
gladiator. It is formed of several thicknesses of raw hide strongly
fastened together, and cut into a circular form. These have holes to
admit the four fingers, the thumb being closed on the outer edge to
secure the hold, while the whole is bound by thongs round the wrist and
forearm, with its inner side on the palm of the hand and its outer edge
projecting in front of the knuckles. Our Yankee friends have a small
imitation in their modern “knuckle-dusters.” A glove of thick worsted
was worn beneath the gauntlet, ending in a fringe or bunch of wool,
called _vellus_. Lactantius says: “Pentedactylos laneos sub cæstibus
habent.” The figure given in the Abbé St. Non’s, “Voyage Pittoresque de
Naples et de Sicile,” is here copied.



The second form of cæstus, though less deadly at first aspect, is
capable of administering the most fatal blows. This sort is represented
in a bronze group, engraved in the first volume of the “Bronzi del Museo
Kircheriano,” which represents the battle between Amycus and Pollux,
already noticed.


  FIG. 2.

This (or the fourth form of glove) would also seem to have been that
offered by Entellus to Dares in the fifth book of the Æneid, though the
“knobs of brass,” “blunt points of iron,” “plummets of lead,” and other
superfluities of barbarity, are not visible. Virgil’s description of the
cæstus being the best, we here quote it:—

                                “He (Entellus) threw
          Two pond’rous gauntlets down, in open view;
          Gauntlets, which Eryx wont in fight to wield,
          And sheathe his hands within the listed field.
          With fear and wonder seiz’d the crowd beholds
          The gloves of death,—with sev’n distinguish’d folds
          Of tough bull’s hides; the space within is spread
          With iron or with loads of heavy lead.
          Dares himself was daunted at the sight,
          Renounc’d his challenge, and refused to fight.
          Astonish’d at their weight, the hero stands,
          And pois’d the pond’rous engines in his hands.”

In Smith’s “Antiquities of Greece and Rome,” and in Lenu’s “Costumes des
Peuples de l’Antiquité,” are other patterns. The subjoined is from the
last named work.


  FIG. 3.

The last form (No. 4) we shall give is also from a bas-relief found at
Herculaneum. It is certainly of a less destructive form, the knuckles
and back of the hand being covered by the leather, held in its place by
a thumbhole, and further secured by two crossed straps to the vellus,
which ends half way up the forearm. A similar engraving forms the
tail-piece to the fifty-first page of the second volume of the Abbé St.
Non’s “Voyage Pittoresque,” already quoted.


  FIG. 4.

The AMPHOTIDES, a helmet or head-guard, to secure the temporal bones and
arteries, encompassed the ears with thongs and ligatures, which were
buckled either under the chin or behind the head. They bore some
resemblance to the head guards used in modern broadsword and stick play,
but seem to have fitted close. They were made of hides of bulls, studded
with knobs of iron, and thickly quilted inside to dull the concussion of
the blows. Though it may be doubted whether the amphotides were
introduced until a later period of the pugilistic era, yet as their
representation would prevent the faces or heads of the combatants being
seen, sculptors and fresco painters would leave them out unhesitatingly,
as they do head-dresses, belts, reins, horses’ harness, etc., regardless
of reality, and seeking only what they deemed high art in their

The search after traces of boxing among the barbarism of the Middle
Ages, with their iron cruelty and deadly warfare—not unredeemed,
however, by rude codes of honour, knightly courtesy, and chivalrous
gallantry, in defence of the weak and in honour of the fair—would not be
worth the while. The higher orders jousted and tilted with lance, mace,
and sword, the lower fought with sand-bags and the quarter-staff.

Wrestling, as an art, seems to have only survived among Gothic or
Scandinavian peoples. A “punch on the head,” advocated by Mr. Grantley
Berkeley as a poacher’s punishment, is, however, spoken of by Ariosto as
the result of his romantic hero’s wrath, who gives the offender “un gran
punzone sulla testa,” by way of caution. That there were “men before
their time,” who saw the best remedy for the fatal abuse of deadly
weapons in popular brawls, we have the testimony of no less an authority
than St. Bernard. That holy and peace-loving father of the Church, as we
are told by Forsyth, and numerous other writers, established boxing as a
safety-valve for the pugnacious propensities of the people. He tells us:
“The strongest bond of union among the Italians is only a coincidence of
hatred. Never were the Tuscans so unanimous as in hating the other
States of Italy. The Senesi agreed best in hating all the other Tuscans;
the citizens of Siena in hating the rest of the Senesi; and in the city
itself the same amiable passion was subdivided among the different

“This last ramification of hatred had formerly exposed the town to very
fatal conflicts, till at length, in the year 1200, St. Bernardine
instituted BOXING as a more innocent vent to their hot blood, and laid
the bruisers under certain laws, which are sacredly observed to this
day. As they improved in prowess and skill, the pugilists came forward
on every point of national honour: they were sung by poets and recorded
in inscriptions. The elegant Savini ranks boxing among the holiday
pleasures of Siena.”[5]

These desultory jottings must suffice to bring the history of boxing
among the ancients down to the period of its gradual extinction as an
art and its public and authorised practice. A few sentences from the pen
of the late V. G. Dowling, Esq.[6] will appropriately close this
introductory chapter.

“Both among the Greeks and Romans the practice of pugilism, although
differing in its main features from our modern and less dangerous
combats, was considered essential in the education of their youth, from
its manifest utility in ‘strengthening the body, dissipating all fear,
and infusing a manly courage into the system.’ The power of punishment,
rather than the ‘art of self-defence,’ however, seems to have been the
main object of the ancients; and he who dealt the heaviest blow, without
regard to protecting his own person, stood foremost in the list of
heroes. Not so in modern times; for while the quantum of punishment in
the end must decide the question of victory or defeat, yet the true
British boxer gains most applause by the degree of science which he
displays in defending his own person, while with quickness and precision
he returns the intended compliments of his antagonist, and like a
skilful chess-player, takes advantage of every opening which chance
presents, thereby illustrating the value of coolness and self-possession
at the moment when danger is most imminent. The annals of our country
from the invasion of the Romans downwards sufficiently demonstrates that
the native Briton trusted more to the strength of his arm, the muscular
vigour of his frame, and the fearless attributes of his mind in the hour
of danger, than to any artificial expedients; and that, whether in
attack or defence, the combination of those qualities rendered him at
all times formidable in the eyes of his assailants, however skilled in
the science or practice of warfare. If illustrations were required to
establish this proposition, they are to be found in every page of our
history, from the days of Alfred to the battle of Waterloo; and if it be
asked how it is that Englishmen stand thus pre-eminent in the eyes of
the world, it may be answered that it is to be ascribed to the
encouragement given to those manly games (boxing more especially) which
are characteristic of their country, and which, while they invigorate
the system, sustain and induce that moral courage which experience has
shown us to be the result as much of education as of constitution,
perhaps more of the former than of the latter. The truth of this
conclusion was so strongly impressed on the feelings of our forefathers,
even in the most barbarous ages, that we find all their pastimes were
tinctured with a desire to acquire superiority in their athletic
recreations, thus in peace inculcating those principles which in war
became their safest reliance.” _Esto perpetua!_





  _From_ SIR JAMES THORNHILL’S _Portrait_, 1732.


                     THE HISTORY OF BRITISH BOXING.

                        PERIOD I.—1719 TO 1791.

                               CHAPTER I.


We have collected in our Introductory Chapter the few scattered notices
of pugilism as practised and understood by the earlier Celtic nations.
Despite, however, the proclivity of antiquaries, historians, and
scholars to find a Roman or Greek origin for every manner, custom, and
tradition—as if we had none originally of our own,—we may safely say
that Boxing, in the noble manly forbearing and humane practice of the
art, is the indigenous offspring of British hardihood, steady courage,
and love of gymnic exercise and feats of bodily strength and skill, not
unaccompanied with that amount of risk and severe exertion which lend a
zest to sports unappreciated and unknown to more effeminate, more cruel,
and more cowardly peoples. Let not this be taken as the hasty expression
of insular prejudice. The writer, after deeply considering, and often
witnessing, the personal contests of men in his own country and abroad,
and dispassionately weighing the manner, accessories, and consequences
of such contests, feels it a duty he owes to a half-informed and
prejudiced society to express the result of his experience and his
reflection, without fear, favour, or affection:—fear of the onslaughts
of spiritual and moral quacks; favour for those who have degraded or
debased a useful and laudable national exercise and sport; or affection,
more than is due to an art which he would fain rescue from the obloquy
and condemnation to which blind hostility and canting prejudice have
consigned it. He would fain uphold that pugilistic combat which a fair
field, no favour, and surrender at all times at the will of either
party, distinguishes from every mode of conflict yet devised or
practised for the settlement of those “offences” which the highest
authority has told us “needs must come.” At a period within the earlier
memories of the writer, a school of babblers flooded the press with
theories of the perfectibility of man, the ultimate establishment of
universal freedom, and the sublimation of the human faculties by general
education and popular science; and a period was confidently predicted by
these theorising shallowpates, when war would be an “impossibility” as
against the “interests” of men and nations. We have lived to see the
most sanguinary and ferocious contest in history among the people whom
these sciolists set up as the bright example to the “less educated”
nations of the Old World. We may, therefore, safely despise the “new
light” philosophy, and revert to the eternal truth already cited—“needs
must be that offences will come;” and this necessity being inevitable,
the next logical step is to consider how these “offences” may be best
dealt with and atoned.

So long as man is liable to the imperfections of his nature he will need
the art of defending himself from attack and injury, and of redressing
wrong or insult that may be offered him. All experience has taught us
that the passions of pride and emulation (honourable like every human
attribute within limits), and resentment for injury, are the springs of
some of our noblest actions. It is to the stifling and too severe
repression of the active energies of a resolute and independent spirit
that the soul of man as an individual, and of a nation as a whole, sinks
into the vengeful cowardice and cruel pusillanimity of the abject yet
ferocious slave. As, then, a greater or less portion of evil must be
attached to the best system of popular moral or civil restraint, the
wisest policy is that which legislates for man _as we find him_, and not
as the perfect or perfectible (?) creature which theorists and bigots
pretend that _he ought to be_.

At the risk of repetition we will return to our argument. Individuals,
as well as states, must have their disputes, their quarrels, and
then—their battles. This is, there is no denying, the sad but
natural—the regrettable but inevitable, condition and tenure on which
human life—nay, all animal existence—is held. There must, then, be some
mode through which the passions, when aroused, from whatever cause,—

             Ambition, love, or greed and thirst of gold,—

may be assuaged, subdued, or extinguished; when the necessity for an
appeal to the _ultima ratio_ of conflict is unavoidable. And surely, in
this extremity the _fists_—the symbol of personal courage, of prompt
readiness for defence and attack—are the most harmless, the
ever-present, and the least fatal weapons. We will leave, gentle or
simple reader, the pistol to your higher-born countrymen of the “upper
ten thousand,” if it so please them; the fatal _fleuret_ to the
fire-eating Gaul (whether soldier, _litterateur_, or “pekin”); the
back-handed stiletto to the stabbing Italian; the sharp, triangular
rapier or the dagger to the saturnine Spaniard; the slaughterous
_schlager_ to the beer-bemused burschen[7] of dreamy Vaterland; the
gash-inflicting knife to the Dutch boor or seaman’s snicker-snee; the
death-dealing “bowie,” “Kansas toothpick,” and murderous “six-shooter”
to the catawampous citizen of the “univarsal Yankee nation;” the waved
kreese, to the muck-running Malay; each tawny savage to his sharp
tomahawk, his poisoned arrow, or his barbed assagai; and then we would
ask the scribblers of the anti-pugilistic press which of these they are
prepared to champion against the fist of the British boxer,—a weapon of
defence which, as exemplified in the practice laid down in the latest
code of Ring Law, is the perfection of the practice of cool courage,
self-reticent combat, restraint, skill, and endurance that can
illustrate and adorn the character of an unsophisticated and
true-hearted Englishman in the supreme moment of conquest or of defeat.

It has frequently been urged by magistrates, and even ermined judges[8]
of quasi-liberal sentiments, that pugilism, as a national practice, and
an occasional or fortuitous occurrence, may be winked at by the
authorities, or tacitly allowed, and prohibited or punished at
discretion, as the occasion may seem to require: but that gymnastic
schools where boxing is regularly taught, and pitched battles, are
social nuisances which the law should rigorously suppress. Granting the
possibility of this utter repression, which we deny, it may well be
questioned whether we have not tried to suppress a lesser evil to evolve
a greater.[9]

To boxing-schools and regulated combats we owe that noble system of
fistic ethics, of fair play, which distinguishes and elevates our common
people, and which stern, impartial, unprejudiced and logical minds must
hail and foster as one of the proud attributes of our national
character. We do not in the least undervalue peaceful pursuits, which
constitute and uphold the blessings of peaceful life; yet a nation with
no idea or principle beyond commerce would be unworthy, nay, would be
impotent for national existence, much more for national power and
progress. Subjection, conquest, and hence serfdom and poverty, must be
its fate in presence of strong, rapacious, and encroaching neighbours.
“The people that possesses steel,” said the ancient assailant of the
Lydian Crœsus, “needs not long want for gold.” A portion, then, of a
nation must be set apart, whose vocation it will be to secure and to
defend the lives, liberties, and properties of the whole. Hence the
honourable calling of the soldier and the sailor; and hence, to fit the
people for these, and to prevent the too general indulgence of
effeminacy, dread of enterprise, and the contagious spread of an
enervating and fanatical peace-at-any-price quietism, it is wise and
politic to encourage the manly and athletic sports and contests which
invigorate the frame, brace the nerves, inspire contempt of personal
suffering, and enable man to defend his rights as well as to enjoy them.
Englishmen have learned, and we sincerely hope will continue to learn
and to practise, fair boxing, as they have learned other arts of
defence,—the use of the rifle among others, in which (as their sires of
old did with the yeoman’s bow) they have already excelled Swiss,
American, and Australian mountaineers and woodmen: men from countries
celebrated for their practice of long shots, and constant handling of
the weapon. Let them, therefore, see that the fair use of the fist is
not sneered down by the craven or the canter. Were every pugilistic
school shut up, the practice of boxing discouraged, and the fiat of our
modern intolerant saints carried out, the manly spirit of fair play in
our combats would disappear, and the people of this country lose one of
their fairest characteristics. A retrospect of the last ten years will
answer whether these are times to incur such risk; while at home,
how-much-soever we may have had of the fist, we have indeed had too much
of the loaded bludgeon, the mis-named “life-preserver,” the garotte, the
knife, and the revolver.

Pugilistic exhibitions are falsely said to harden the heart, to induce
ferocity of character, and that they are generally attended by the dregs
of society. The last aspersion, for reasons that lie on the surface, has
the most truth in it. The principle only, indeed the utility and
necessity of the practice of boxing, is all we here propose to
vindicate. Pugilism includes nothing essentially vicious; nothing, in
itself, prompting to excess or debauchery. On the contrary, it asks
temperance, exercise, and self-denial. If we are to argue and decide
from the abuse of a custom or institution, where are we to stop? Men are
not to be cured, even of errors, by the mere arbitrary force of laws, or
by a cherished pursuit being vilified and contemned, mostly by those who
are ignorant or averse to it. Teach men to respect themselves—this is
the first step to make them respect others. Let this rule be applied to
the Ring; let it be viewed as a popular institution; it may then, and we
have warrant from experience, and in the history contained in these
pages, become worthy of support and patronage. A series of biographies,
which include the names of Cribb, Jackson, Gully, Shaw, Spring, Sayers,
etc. (within the memory of men yet living) may be pointed to without a
blush; while individual traits of heroism, generosity, forbearance, and
humanity, will be found scattered as bright redeeming points through the
lives of many of the “rough diamonds” preserved in the “setting” of our
pages. We doubt not, were the character of the Ring raised, that
successors of as good repute as these worthies would yet be found and
arise among the brotherhood of the fist. Should this “consummation
devoutly to be wished” ever be realised, our gymnasia, a public
necessity, might then be licensed,—a security for their visitors, and
adding respectability to their proprietors; for every government
possesses the power of making expedient regulations, in the interest of
society, even where it may not have the right to absolutely suppress or
interdict. If free trade, and unrestricted leave to carry on profession
or calling are such fundamental principles with our state economists,
why not free boxing? and why not leave the morale of pugilism, as well
as the morality of its professors, to find its level in the neglect or
the patronage, the esteem or the contempt, of the people at large?
Boxing and boxing schools, as free Britons, we must have. Let us, then,
consider, how they can be best made to serve the cause of regulated
pugilism. On the whole, there is no reason to doubt the practicability,
as well as the desirability, of public boxing-schools as a branch of a
system of national gymnastics. It is absurd as well as scandalous to
assert that they must, _ex necessitate_, be the resort of profligates
and thieves. As to the last named scourges of society, long observation
and experience[10] have convinced us that we have our metropolitan and
even rural nurseries for them; our “sin and crime gardens” for their
special propagation, rearing, and multiplication; and we can
conscientiously say, from an equally long observation, that among those
thieves’ nurseries and “sin-gardens” the much-vilified Prize Ring has no
special claim to be counted.

These remarks have extended to an extreme length, and we will here break
off, premising that many opportunities will present themselves in the
course of our history to illustrate and enforce the arguments and
principles here laid down. Waiving, then, all question as to its origin,
the _ars pugilistica_ may be accepted as interwoven for many generations
in the manners and habits of the English people; that it has become one
of our “popular prejudices,” if you so please to term it; and that we
will not abandon it to be suppressed by force or sneered down by cant or
sophistry. It has long since, in this favoured country, been purged of
its cruelty and barbarism, and restrained within well-considered bounds.
No lacerating or stunning additions, such as we see pictured in our
sketches of the ancient athletes, have been allowed to Nature’s
weapon—the clenched fist. On the contrary, for the practice of the
neophyte and the demonstration of the art by the professor, soft
wool-padded gloves cover the knuckles and backs of the hands of the
sparrers. Finally, foul blows, butting with the head, and deliberate
falls, have been particularised and forbidden, and an unimpeachable
system of fair play established, to be found in the “New Rules of the
Ring.” We have nationally imbibed these principles, and hence among our
lower orders the feeling of “fair play” is more remarkably prevalent
than among any other people of Europe or the New World. Hence personal
safety—the exceptions, though occasionally alarming, prove the
rule[11]—is more general in England than in any other country. Here
alone the fallen combatant is protected; and here the detestable
practices of gouging, biting, kicking in vital parts, practised by
Americans, Hiberno-Americans, and other foreigners, are heartily
denounced and scouted; and to what do we owe these characteristics? We

                       FIG (CHAMPION)—1719‒1734.

Although, doubtless, brave boxers in every shire of “merrie England”
sported their Adam’s livery on the greensward, and stood up toe to toe
for “love and a bellyful,” yet the name of James Fig, a native of Thame,
in Oxfordshire, is, thanks to the pen of Captain Godfrey and the pencil
of the great Hogarth, the first public champion “of the Ring” of whom we
have authentic record. Doubtless—

                    “Vixere fortes ante Agamemnon;”

but their deeds and glories, for want of a chronicler, have lapsed into
oblivion (carent quia vates sacro), and—

              “Sleep where lie the songs and wars of earth
              Before Pelides’ death, or Homer’s birth.”




To Captain Godfrey’s spirited and scarce quarto, entitled “A Treatise on
the Useful Science of Defence,” we are indebted for the preservation of
the names and descriptions of the persons and styles of the athletes who
were his contemporaries. It would seem that though Fig has been
acknowledged as the Father of the Ring, he was as much, if not more,
distinguished as a cudgel and back-sword player then as a pugilist.
Captain Godfrey thus speaks of Fig:—“I have purchased my knowledge with
many a broken head, and bruises in every part of me. I chose mostly to
go to Fig[12] and exercise with him; partly, as I knew him to be the
ablest master, and partly, as he was of a rugged temper, and would spare
no man, high or low, who took up a stick against him. I bore his rough
treatment with determined patience, and followed him so long, that Fig,
at last, finding he could not have the beating of me at so cheap a rate
as usual, did not show such fondness for my company. This is well known
by gentlemen of distinguished rank, who used to be pleased in setting us

The reputation of Fig having induced him to open an academy (A.D. 1719),
known as “Fig’s Amphitheatre,” in Tottenham Court Road, the place became
shortly a great attraction, and was crowded with spectators. It was here
that Captain Godfrey (the Barclay of his time) displayed his skill and
elegance in manly sports with the most determined competitors, the
sports being witnessed by royal and noble personages, who supported the
science as tending to endue the people with hardihood and intrepidity.
About 1720 Fig resided in Oxford Road, now Oxford-street, and at the
period of the curious fac-simile, here for the first time engraved, we
find him still in the same neighbourhood.

The science of pugilism, as we now understand it, was certainly in its
infancy; the system of “give and take” was adopted, and he who could hit
the hardest, or submit to punishment with the best grace, seems to have
been in highest favour with the amateurs. Yet Fig’s placards profess to
teach “defence scientifically,” and his fame for “stops and parries” was
so great, that we find him mentioned in the _Tatler_, _Guardian_, and
_Craftsman_, the foremost miscellanies of the time.[13] Fig, like modern
managers, added to the attractions of his amphitheatre by “stars;” among
these were NED SUTTON, the Pipemaker of Gravesend, Timothy Buck, Thomas
Stokes, and others, of whom only the names remain. Bill Flanders, or
Flinders, “a noted scholar of Fig’s,” fought at the amphitheatre, in
1723, with one Chris. Clarkson, known as “the Old Soldier.” The battle
is highly spoken of for determined courage in the “diurnals” of the

Smithfield, Moorfields, St. George’s Fields, Southwark, and Hyde
Park,[14] during this period also had “booths” and “rings” for the
display of boxing and stick play. In Hogarth’s celebrated picture of
“Southwark Fair” our hero prominently figures, in a caricatured
exaggeration, challenging any of the crowd to enter the lists with him
for “money, love, or a bellyful.” This picture we have also chosen as an
interesting illustration of the great English painter,—a record of
manners in a rude period. As one of the bills relating to this fair
(which was suppressed in 1763) is extant, we subjoin it:

                        FIG’S GREAT TIL’D BOOTH,
                   _On the_ Bowling Green, Southwark,
                     During the Time of the _FAIR_,
           (Which begins on SATURDAY, the 18th of SEPTEMBER),
                 The TOWN will be entertained with the
                             MANLY ARTS OF
             Foil-play, Back-sword, Cudgelling, and Boxing,
                                in which

  The noted PARKS, from Coventry, and the celebrated gentleman
     prize-fighter, Mr. MILLAR,
    will display their skill in a tilting-bout, showing the advantages
       of _Time_ and _Measure_:


  Mr. JOHNSON, the great Swordsman, superior to any man in the world
     for his unrivalled
    display of the _hanging-guard_, in a grand attack of SELF-DEFENCE,
       against the all-powerful
    arm of the renowned SUTTON.

  DELFORCE, the finished Cudgeller, will likewise exhibit his uncommon
     feats with the
    _single-stick_; and who challenges any man in the kingdom to enter
       the lists with him for a
    _broken-head_ or a _belly-full_!

  BUCKHORSE, and several other _Pugilists_, will show the Art of

                              To conclude
      With a GRAND PARADE by the Valiant FIG, who will exhibit his
                          knowledge in various
          Combats—with the Foil, Back-sword, Cudgel, and Fist.
         To begin each Day at Twelve o’clock, and close at Ten.

                                                          _Vivat Rex._

    N.B. The Booth is fitted up in a most commodious manner, for the
                 better reception of Gentlemen, &c. &c.

Besides this nobly patronised amphitheatre of Fig, there were several
booths and rings strongly supported. That in Smithfield, we have it upon
good authority, was presided over by one “Mr. Andrew Johnson,” asserted
to be an uncle of the great lexicographer,[15] There was also that in
Moorfields, called at times “the booth,” at others “the ring.” The
“ring” was kept by an eccentric character known as “Old Vinegar,” the
“booth” by Rimmington, whose _sobriquet_ was “Long Charles.” This, it
appears, had a curious emblazonment,—a skull and cross-bones on a black
ground, inscribed “Death or Victory.” During the high tide of Fig’s
prosperity (1733) occurred the battle between Bob Whitaker and the
Venetian Gondolier, narrated under the head of “WHITAKER.”

Let it not be thought that Fig, among his many antagonists, was without
a rival. Sutton, the Gravesend Pipemaker, already mentioned, publicly
dared the mighty Fig to the combat, and met him with alternate success,
till a third trial “proved the fact” of Fig’s superiority. These
contests, though given in all the “Chronologies” and “Histories” of the
Ring, were neither more nor less than cudgel-matches, as will be seen by
the subjoined contemporary verses by Dr. John Byrom. They are printed in
“Dodsley’s Collection,” vol. vi., p. 312, under the title of—



       Long was the great Fig, by the prize-fighting swains,
       Sole monarch acknowledged of Marybone plains,
       To the towns far and near did his glory extend,
       And swam down the river from Thame to Gravesend,
       Where lived Mister Sutton, pipemaker by trade,
       Who hearing that Fig was thought such a stout blade,
       Resolved to go in for a share of his fame,
       And so sent a challenge to the Champion of Thame.


       With alternate advantage two trials had past,
       When they fought out the rubber on Wednesday last;
       To see such a contest, the house was quite full,
       There hardly was room to thrust in your skull.
       With a prelude of cudgels we first were saluted,
       And two or three shoulders were handsomely fluted,
       Till, weary at last with inferior disasters,
       All the company cried, “The Masters! the Masters!”


       Whereupon the bold Sutton first mounted the stage,
       Made his honours as usual, and yearned to engage;
       When Fig, with a visage so fierce, yet sedate,
       Came and entered the lists with his fresh shaven pate;
       Their arms were encircled with armigers too,
       With a red ribbon Sutton’s, and Fig’s with a blue.
       Thus advanced the two heroes, ’tween shoulder and elbow,
       Shook hands, and went to’t, and the word it was, “Bilbo!”

Stanzas iv. to viii. describe the back-sword play, in which both men
broke their weapons, and Fig has blood drawn by his own broken blade,
whereon he appeals and another bout is granted. Fig then wounds Sutton
in the arm and the sword play is over. Stanzas ix. and x. wind up the
match (with cudgels), as follows:—

      Then after that bout they went on to another,
      But the matter must end in some fashion or other,
      So Jove told the gods he had made a decree,
      That Fig should hit Sutton a stroke on the knee;
      Though Sutton, disabled as soon as he hit him,
      Would still have fought on, strength would not permit him;
      ’Twas his fate, not his fault, that constrained him to yield
      And thus the great Fig remained Lord of the Field.

At length the time arrived when “the valiant Fig’s” “cunning o’ the
fence” no longer availed him. On December 8th, 1734,[16] grim death gave
him his final knock down, as appears from a notice in the _Gentleman’s
Magazine_ for the month of January, 1735.

“In Fig,” says his pupil and admirer Captain Godfrey (in his “Characters
of the Masters,” p. 40, ed. 1747), “strength, resolution, and
unparalleled judgment, conspired to form a matchless master. There was a
majesty shone in his countenance, and blazed in all his actions, beyond
all I ever saw. His right leg bold and firm, and his left, which could
hardly ever be disturbed, gave him the surprising advantage already
proved, and struck his adversary with despair and panic.”

                           BOB WHITAKER—1733.

Two only of Whitaker’s battles have survived the tooth of old Tempus
edax rerum: his victory over the Venetian Gondolier and his defeat by
Ned Peartree.

In the year 1733 a gigantic Venetian came to this country in the suite
of one of our travelling nobility, whose name not being recorded we may
set down this part of the story as apocryphal; in fact, as a managerial
trick to attract aristocratic patronage. Be that as it may, this immense
fellow, who was known by the name of “The Gondolier,” was celebrated for
feats of strength: his fame ran before him, and his length of arm and
jaw-breaking power of fist were loudly trumpeted. Indeed, a challenge
having been issued by the backers of the Venetian, Fig was applied to to
find a man to meet this Goliath. The sequel shall be told in Captain
Godfrey’s own words:—

“Bob Whitaker was the man pitched upon to fight the big Venetian. I was
at Slaughter’s Coffee-house when the match was made by a gentleman of
advanced station: he sent for Fig to procure a proper man for him. He
told him to take care of his man, because it was for a large sum; and
the Venetian was of wonderful strength, and famous for breaking the
jawbone in boxing. Fig replied, in his rough manner, ‘I do not know,
master, but he may break one of his countrymen’s jawbones with his fist;
but I’ll bring him a man, and he shall not be able to break his jawbone
with a sledge hammer.’

“The battle was fought at Fig’s amphitheatre, before a splendid company,
the politest house of that kind I ever saw. While the Gondolier was
stripping my heart yearned for my countryman. His arm took up all
observation; it was surprisingly large, long, and muscular. He pitched
himself forward with his right leg, and his arm full extended; and, as
Whitaker approached, caught him a blow at the side of the head which
knocked him quite off the stage, which was remarkable for its height.
Whitaker’s misfortune in his fall was the grandeur of the company, on
which account they suffered no common people in, that usually sat on the
ground, and lined the stage all round. It was thus all clear, and
Whitaker had nothing to stop him but the bottom. There was a general
foreign huzza on the side of the Venetian, as proclaiming our
countryman’s downfall; but Whitaker took no more time than was required
to get up again, when, finding his fault in standing out to the length
of the other’s arm, he, with a little stoop, dashed boldly in beyond the
heavy mallet, and with one English peg in the stomach,” by which the
captain in another place explains he means what is called “the
mark,”—“quite a new thing to foreigners, brought him on his breech. The
blow carried too much of the English rudeness with it for him to bear,
and finding himself so unmannerly used, he scorned to have any more
doings with such a slovenly fist.” We could not resist transcribing this
graphic, terse, and natural account of a prize-fight; the rarity of
Captain Godfrey’s book, and the bald, diluted, silly amplification of it
in “Boxiana,” pp. 22‒25, vol. i., being the moving reasons thereto.

“So fine a house,” says Captain Godfrey, alluding to the company which
assembled to see Whitaker fight the Gondolier, “was too engaging to Fig
not to court another. He therefore stepped up, and told the gentlemen
that they might think he had picked out the best man in London on this
occasion; but to convince them to the contrary, he said, that if they
would come on that day se’nnight, he would bring a man who should beat
this Whitaker in ten minutes by fair hitting. This brought near as great
and fine a company as the week before. The ‘man’ was Nathaniel Peartree,
who, knowing the other’s bottom, and his deadly way of flinging, took a
most judicious manner to beat him. Let his character come in here.—He
was an admirable boxer, and I do not know one he was not a match for,
before he lost his finger. He was famous, like Pipes, for fighting at
the face, but was stronger in his blows. He knew Whitaker’s hardiness,
and, being doubtful of beating him, cunningly determined to fight at his
eyes. His judgment carried his arm so well, that, in about six minutes,
both Whitaker’s eyes were shut; when, groping about a while for his man,
and finding him not, he wisely gave out (_modernicè_, gave in), with
these odd words—‘Damme, I’m not beat; but what signifies my fighting
when I can’t see my man?’”

The columns of the _Flying Post_ and _Daily News Letter_ have many
advertisements of “battles royal,” but none of sufficient merit to
deserve a place in this history.

                TOM PIPES AND GEORGE GRETTING—1724‒1734.

Two other pugilists only of the school of Fig claim our notice, and
these are Pipes and Gretting. “Pipes was the neatest boxer I remember.
He put in his blows about the face (which he fought at most) with
surprising time and judgment. He maintained his battles for many years
with extraordinary skill, against men of far superior strength. Pipes
was but weakly made: his appearance bespoke activity, but his hand, arm,
and body were small; though by that acquired spring of his arm he hit
prodigious blows; and at last, when he was beat out of his championship,
it was more owing to his debauchery than the merit of those who beat

There is a moral in the downfall of Gretting, as tersely given by
Captain Godfrey:—“Gretting was a strong antagonist to Pipes. They
contended together for some time, and were almost alternate victors.
Gretting had the nearest way of going to the stomach (which is what they
call the ‘mark’) of any man I knew. He was a most artful boxer, much
stronger made than Pipes, and dealt the straightest blows. But what made
Pipes a match for him, was his rare bottom spirit, which would bear a
great deal of beating; and this, in my mind, Gretting was not
sufficiently furnished with; for after he was beaten twice by Pipes, a
mere sloven of a boxer, and everybody that fought him afterwards beat
him. I must, notwithstanding, do that justice to Gretting’s memory to
own that his debauchery contributed to spoil a great boxer; yet, I
think, he had not the bottom of the other.”

It was the opinion throughout Europe, at this period, that the English
nation were more expert than any other, not only in boxing, but in the
use of the back-sword; and sorry should we be were it not so at this
day. The amphitheatre, boxing, foil-play, and cudgelling-schools, were
openly advertised, and the amusements made known, like any of the
regular theatres; the audiences were equally fashionable, and they were
patronised by the noble and great, and not disturbed by the magistrates.
Although it was admitted that these amphitheatrical practices were
productive of some ill, as offering encouragement to idleness and
extravagance among the vulgar, yet there is hardly any useful thing that
does not present some opening for mischief, or is not liable to abuse.

                              CHAPTER II.

                        GEORGE TAYLOR—1734‒1758.


On the decease of Fig the immediate patrons of pugilism seem to have
cooled in their ardour, as we hear but little of the doings at the
amphitheatre. For four years George Taylor was his successor, and in
1740 we find him assuming the title of “Champion,” and proprietor of the
“Great Booth in Tottenham Court Road.” With regard to the title of
“Champion,” at this period, and for nearly a century subsequent, it was
assumed by and applied to almost every boxer who challenged publicly. We
make this remark to clear the way for some observations we shall make
upon George Taylor’s defeat by the renowned Broughton. There is some
curious blundering about the date of the first fight between George
Taylor and Broughton; indeed, we should feel inclined to say that his
first defeat was much earlier than the date of 1740, which is given in
all the Chronologies, John Bee’s “Fistiana” and “Boxiana” included. He
was proprietor of the “Great Booth” from 1734, and we have Captain
Godfrey’s authority for saying that “he was not, when he fought
Broughton, more than twenty years old,” and comments on the imprudence
of such “a first attempt.” It will be seen, too, in the Life of
Broughton, that the Captain speaks (writing in 1746‒7) thus of
Broughton—“for seventeen or eighteen years he has fought, etc., and
never been beaten.” From this we may fairly infer that it was some years
prior to 1740 that Broughton first defeated George Taylor. Taylor, whose
portrait is certainly good-humoured and prepossessing, is described as
being a “strong, able pugilist,” according to the fashion of those
times, but shifty and “deficient in bottom.” George’s skill in the
“cross-buttock fall” is also recorded, and his cleverness in the
“hanging-guard” and “back-sword” favourably spoken of. With these
qualifications he entered Fig’s amphitheatre, and seems almost
immediately to have become its proprietor. His advertisements invite
“champions” of the different branches of “self-defence” to come and
display their skill. The terms were that the proprietor should take
one-third of the door-money, and the remaining two-thirds be divided
among the “champions,” at the rate of one-third to the loser and
two-thirds to the winner. We are told the entrance-money often reached
£150, and occasionally it was more. Among the more noted boxers who
illustrated the art at George Taylor’s “great booth,” were the renowned
Jack Broughton the waterman, the Father of the English P.R., who beat
all opposed to him, especially George Taylor himself; Prince Boswell,
Stevenson the coachman, Will Willis, Tom Smallwood, Buckhorse, Jack
James, Field the sailor, Pipes and Gretting already mentioned, and
others of the school of Fig.


  GEORGE TAYLOR, 1734‒1758.

  _From a Print published in 1740._

One of the most remarkable battles at Taylor’s booth was that of
Broughton and Stevenson, April 24, 1741 (see LIFE of BROUGHTON, _post_,
p. 22).

On the 16th of June, 1741, George Taylor met a formidable gipsy, known
as Prince Boswell. He appears to have been a tricky fighter, and, like
most such over-clever pugilists, deficient in pluck. He had, we are
told, a terrific hit with his left (when he could plant it), but this
being forbid by George’s skill, he made but a poor fight of it. Captain
Godfrey says of this Bohemian, who is stated in “Pancratia” to have been
son to the king of that wandering people, “Praise be to his power of
fighting, his excellent choice of time and measure, his superior
judgment despatching forth his executing arm! But fie upon his dastard
heart, that mars it all! As I knew that fellow’s abilities, and his
worm-dread soul, I never saw him beat but I wished him to be beaten.
Though I am charmed with the idea of his power and manner of fighting, I
am sick at the thoughts of his nurse-wanting courage. Farewell to him,
with this fair acknowledgment, that, if he had true English bottom (the
best fighting epithet for a man of spirit), he would carry all before
him, and be a match even for Broughton himself.” Despite of all these
qualifications, the Gipsy lost heart at finding Taylor so difficult to
get at, and surrendered after a few sharp rounds.

On the 19th of July, 1741, we find recorded the name of Jack James, as
beating one Chicken Harris, a poulterer, after a severe though short

TOM SMALLWOOD, too, was one of Taylor’s team. On the 23rd of November,
1741, one of the severest boxing matches that had taken place for years
was fought between Tom Smallwood and Richard Harris, a backmaker, for
fifty guineas. The fight lasted an hour, with many alternations of
success, Smallwood proving the winner. Smallwood was a mere stripling,
as we shall note hereafter.

On the same day we find a very good bye-battle was fought between
Buckhorse and Harry Gray, the clogmaker (see BUCKHORSE, post).

The advertisements and challenges of the boxers of this period are
matters of curiosity, as illustrating the manners of another age; we
therefore insert a few which have been preserved in connexion with this
period of Taylor’s career

            _From the_ DAILY ADVERTISER, _April 26th, 1742_.

  “At the Great Booth, Tottenham Court, on Wednesday next, the 28th
  instant, will be a trial of manhood, between the two following

  “Whereas I, WILLIAM WILLIS, commonly known by the name of “the
  fighting Quaker,” have fought Mr. SMALLWOOD about twelve months
  since, and held him the tightest to it, and bruised and battered him
  more than any one he ever encountered, though I had the ill-fortune
  to be beat by an accidental fall; the said SMALLWOOD, flushed with
  the success blind Fortune then gave him, and the weak attempts of a
  few vain Irishmen and boys, that have of late fought him for a
  minute or two, makes him think himself unconquerable; to convince
  him of the falsity of which, I invite him to fight me for ONE
  HUNDRED POUNDS, at the time and place above-mentioned, when I doubt
  not but I shall prove the truth of what I have asserted by pegs,
  darts, hard blows, falls, and cross-buttocks.

                                                     “WILLIAM WILLIS.”

  “I, THOMAS SMALLWOOD, known for my intrepid manhood and bravery on
  and off the stage, accept the challenge of this _puffing Quaker_,
  and will shew him that he is led by a false spirit, that means him
  no other good than that he should be chastised for offering to take
  upon him the _arm of the flesh_.

                                                   “THOMAS SMALLWOOD.”

  “_Note._—The Doors will be opened at Ten, and the Combatants mount
  at Twelve.

  “There will be several bye-battles, as usual; and particularly one
  between JOHN DIVINE and JOHN TIPPING, for Five Pounds each.”

The next notice is at the lapse of a month, and runs thus:—

                            “May 4th, 1742.

            “At George Taylor’s Booth, Tottenham Court Road.

  “There will be a trial of manhood here to-morrow, between the
  following champions, viz.:

  “Whereas I, JOHN FRANCIS, commonly known by the name of the JUMPING
  SOLDIER, who have always had the reputation of a good fellow, and
  have fought several bruisers in the street, etc., nor am I ashamed
  to mount the stage when my manhood is called in question by an Irish
  braggadocio, whom I fought some time ago, in a bye-battle, for
  twelve minutes, and though I had not the success due to my courage
  and ability in the art of boxing, I now invite him to fight me for
  two guineas, at the time and place above-mentioned, where I doubt
  not I shall give him the truth of a good beating.

                                                       “JOHN FRANCIS.”

                         THE IRISHMAN’S ANSWER.

  “I, PATRICK HENLEY, known to every one for the truth of a good
  fellow, who never refused any one on or off the stage, and fight as
  often for the diversion of gentlemen as for money, do accept the
  challenge of this JUMPING JACK; and shall, if he don’t take care,
  give him one of my bothering blows, which will convince him of his
  ignorance in the art of boxing.

                                                     “PATRICK HENLEY.”

Pierce Egan says, “Paddy kept his promise, for he so _bothered_ the gig
of the _Jumping Sailor_, that he was not able to _move_, much more to
_jump_, for some time. Paddy gave him a _Tipperary fling_, which so
completely _shook_ all his recollection out of him, that he never
troubled the town afterwards with any of his _epistolary_ challenges!”
For all which Hibernian _perfervidum ingenium_ we have no authority on
record. The “Chronologies” say “Henley bt. Francis (J.),” we suppose on
the faith of the accuracy of “Boxiana.”

In the year 1742 differences arose between Broughton, now in the highest
favour with the Duke William of Cumberland (afterwards so fatally known
at Culloden in the year ’46), and other distinguished patrons of the
Ring. The schism, which was fatal to George Taylor’s establishment, will
be noticed in our LIFE of BROUGHTON, and ended in Taylor’s joining
Broughton’s company of “champions” in 1744‒5, after a sounding challenge
to that boxer.

From this period George Taylor appears to have held his own in numerous
displays, but nothing of importance occurred till his memorable battle
with SLACK (see SLACK), a butcher from Norwich, afterwards so renowned
for his conquest of the great Broughton. Taylor’s battle with Slack has
come down with no details, farther than that it lasted twenty-five
minutes, and was a display of steady coolness and science over rushing
impetuosity. Slack proved an awkward fellow to keep off, but George was
too wary, and in less than half-an-hour the butcher was beaten to a

Among the patrons of “the noble art,” during the period of George
Taylor’s proprietorship of the Great Booth, may be numbered Frederick,
Prince of Wales, the father of George the Third, before whom we may
fairly infer Taylor many times exhibited. It was not then the custom,
except incidentally, to give the people anything like our present “Court
Circular,” thus keeping the general public _au courant_ to the movements
of royalty and its branches. We find, however, among the works of Paul
Whitehead, the poet, who is styled by Captain Thompson, his biographer,
“_The Champion_ and Bard of Leicester House,”[17] a poem entitled, “The
Gymnasiad, or Boxing Match.” It is printed entire in the edition of his
collected works. Dodsley, London, 1777.

Taylor, when he retired from the stage, became landlord of the Fountain
Inn at Deptford. But as the old war-horse is said to prick his ears at
the sound of the trumpet, so, although declining in the vale of years,
he replied to the challenge of Tom Faulkner, “the noted cricketer.” Tom,
it appears, had twice been worsted by Taylor, in bygone days; yet he
felt so confident he could reverse the verdict, that he challenged
George for 200 guineas and “the gate money.” They met on August the 5th,
1758, at a mile and a-half from St. Alban’s, Herts. The betting was
three to one on Taylor, who is called in the account “the old successor
of Fig.” It would appear that there was “no love lost” between the
combatants. It was a complete hammering set-to. For the first twelve or
thirteen rounds, Faulkner was dreadfully punished and floored several
times. The fourteenth round proved a proper trial of skill and strength;
at length, Faulkner levelled Taylor, when the odds began to drop a
little, and Faulkner was getting into favour. George, finding that his
man gained upon him, began to shift, and fell now and then without a
blow, which occasioned considerable murmuring, and the friends of
Faulkner insisted that he had won the battle; but Faulkner was above
taking any advantage and wished to fight it out. The combatants set-to
more furiously than ever.

Taylor, inspired with the thought of his fame and former victories,
stood up like a hero; and Faulkner, recollecting that it must either
make or break him, fought like a lion. After a terrible conflict of an
hour and fifteen minutes, the veteran George Taylor acknowledged he was
conquered. Greater courage and skill could not be displayed; and it was
supposed, that had not Taylor laboured under the manifest disadvantage
of an eye of which he had been blind for some time, Faulkner could not
have beaten him; as the contest was only put an end to by Taylor having
the other eye closed from a blow. The veteran hero thus added another to
the list of great men who have “lingered too long upon the stage,” or
returned to exhibit those powers in their decadence which were admired
in their prime. “We shall have many occasions in the course of this
history to show the unconsciousness of decaying powers among the heroes
of the ring. George Taylor did not recover the shock of this defeat, and
died in the December following (1758) at his house at Deptford.”


                              CHAPTER III.

                  JACK BROUGHTON (CHAMPION)—1734‒1750.

Broughton is indisputably entitled to be regarded as the founder of the
modern art of self-defence. The successor of Fig in popularity, he far
exceeded that stalwart cudgeller in fistic science, and in the
application of those principles which stripped the practice of boxing of
many of those features of ruffianism and barbarity with which the
unregulated contests of mere bruisers had invested it. There was a
neatness and quickness in his style which far distanced his competitors,
and drew crowds to witness his exhibitions. He appears first to have
introduced stopping and barring blows, then hitting and getting away;
before him it appears to have been toe-to-toe work, or downright
hammering; at any rate, his method appears to have had the novelty of a
discovery with his spectators and his antagonists. He stopped the blows
aimed at any part of him by his adversaries with so much skill, and hit
his man away with so much ease, that he astonished and daunted his
opponents, and those persons who had the temerity to enter the lists
with Broughton, were soon convinced of his superior knowledge and
athletic prowess: while most of his competitors, who were compelled to
give in from their exhausted and beaten state, had the mortification to
behold Broughton scarcely touched, displaying as much cheerfulness and
indifference as if he had scarcely been engaged in a set-to.

He was indebted to nature for a good person; his countenance was manly
and open, possessing a sharp and penetrating eye, that almost looked
through the object before him, which gave animation to his face. His
form was athletic and commanding, and denoted uncommon strength. Every
spectator felt impressed who beheld him. Six feet, wanting an inch, in
height, and fourteen stone, or thereabouts, in weight.

Broughton became as a fixed star in the pugilistic hemisphere, His
talents as a boxer gained him many admirers and patrons; but his good
temper, generosity of disposition, and gentleness of manners, ensured
him numerous friends. He was intelligent, communicative, and not
destitute of wit. The system he laid down was plain, and easy to be
understood; and, under his instruction, several of his pupils arrived at
pugilistic eminence, and gave distinguished proofs of the acquirements
they had gained under so great a master.

Broughton was still, up to 1742, an exhibitor at the Great Booth of
George Taylor; we shall, therefore, before giving an account of his
adventures “on his own hook,” turn to his exploits at the Tottenham
Court Road establishment.

Like all great masters, Broughton, we learn, always exhibited something
new in his several contests; and those pugilists who had seen him fight,
and supposed they had observed his method, were awfully deceived when
they entered the lists with him, and expected to “nail” him on “the old

Contrary to most other boxers, he did not depend upon any particular
blow, although he was distinguished for giving some remarkable hits,
which were not easily forgotten. Broughton, when necessary in the
conflict, by putting in “_his_ stomach blow,” often decided the battle;
and his lunge under the ear generally produced terrible consequences to
his opponent. The eye of Broughton was lively, piercing, and acute, soon
perceiving the weakness of any adversary; his arm, keeping pace with
that valuable assistant, protected him from the most destructive blows;
and his quick penetration made him always aware of any direct intent
pursued by his adversary, so as immediately to render it unavailing. His
guard was so complete, that his frame appeared secured as if in a fence,
uncommon strength and bottom often fell before him, and his expertness
in the cross-buttock was great. His various attitudes in the fight were
fine and impressive, and his countenance always animated and cheerful.

Pipes and Gretting, already named, both distinguished pugilists—the
former of whom hardily maintained the title of a “Champion” for a number
of years—appeared nothing in the hands of Broughton, who gave them
several chances to recover their lost laurels; these each proved
beatings to them, and tended to increase his growing fame.

George Taylor, of whom honourable mention has been made, fell as a
conquest to Broughton.



  _From the Painting by_ FRANK HAYMAN, R.A., _formerly in the possession
    of the Duke of Cumberland_.

“George Stevenson, the coachman,” says our perpetual resource, Captain
Godfrey, whose thin quarto we must almost plead guilty to reprinting
piecemeal, “stood up for the length of forty minutes in a most heroic
style to Broughton. It was a hasty match, and although Broughton was
extremely unwell, sooner than make any excuse, he agreed to fight
Stevenson without having that regard for his preparation which he
afterwards found he ought to have had. But here his true bottom was
proved, and his conduct shone and admired. The battle was fought in one
of the fair booths at Tottenham Court Road, railed at the end towards
the pit. After a most desperate conflict of thirty-five minutes, being
both against the rails, and the coachman endeavouring to get the
whip-hand of Broughton, the latter, by his superior genius, got such a
lock upon Stevenson as no mathematician could have devised a better.
There he held him by this artificial lock, depriving him of all power of
rising or falling, till resting his head for about three or four minutes
upon his back, he found himself recovering, then loosed his hold. By
this manœuvre Broughton became as a new man, and, on setting-to again,
he gave the coachman a tremendous blow, as hard as any he had given him
in the whole battle, so that he could no longer stand, and his brave
contending heart, though with reluctance, was forced to yield. Stevenson
was a beautiful hitter; he put in his blows faster than Broughton, but
then one of the latter’s told for three of the former’s. Stevenson had a
most daring spirit, but his strength could not keep pace with it.”

Broughton expressed a very high opinion of Stevenson as a pugilist.

Jack James, a dashing boxer, who ranked high in the annals of pugilism
as a thorough-bred man, was compelled to acknowledge that he had found
his master in Broughton. James’s wrist, which in other contests had been
considered so remarkably “handsome,” lost its attraction when in contact
with the athletic arm of Broughton.

We need not proceed further with an enumeration of his earlier contests,
but come at once to his appearance at his own theatre, in the character

We have noticed his differences with George Taylor. Broughton was
promised liberal support and patronage if he would open a theatre for
the better accommodation of the admirers of boxing.

Under the patronage we have already spoken of, Broughton seceded from
the Tottenham Court Road establishment, rapidly completing a new
building adjoining the Oxford Road, near the spot where Hanway Street,
Oxford Street, now stands, and opened it on March 10th, 1743, with the
subjoined advertisement in the _Daily Advertiser_. From prints yet
existing in the British Museum, it appears that this edifice was
somewhat similar to Astley’s original circus and riding school, in the
Westminster Road, or rather the large temporary and removable theatres,
which have of late travelled with equestrian exhibitions round our
principal provincial towns. There were boxes, pit, and a gallery; a
stage for the combatants in the centre of the ring, and the _tout
ensemble_ bore some resemblance to the pictures of the Old Fives Court,
in Windmill Street. The following is a copy of the announcement:—

                   _The back of the late Mr._ FIG’S,
                   On Tuesday next, the 13th instant,
                           Will be exhibited
                        THE TRUE ART OF BOXING,
              By the _eight famed_ following men, _viz._,

       ABRAHAM EVANS,      |          —— ROGER,
       —— SWEEP,           |          —— ALLEN,
       —— BELAS,           |          ROBERT SPIKES, and
       —— GLOVER,          |          HARRY GRAY, the Clogmaker.

  The above eight men to be brought on the stage, and to be matched
     according to the
  approbation of the gentlemen who shall be pleased to honour them
     with their company.

             N.B.—There will be a BATTLE ROYAL between the
                            NOTED BUCKHORSE,

  And SEVEN or EIGHT more; after which there will be several
     BYE-BATTLES by others.

  Gentlemen are therefore desired to come by times. The doors will be
     open at nine; the
  champions mount at eleven: and no person is to pay more than A

The appearance of this rival was a cruel blow to George Taylor, who saw
the ruinous results which must ensue to his “booth” from Broughton’s
popularity: he, therefore, as a counter hit, instantly let fly in the
following terms:—


  Whereas, Mr. Broughton, well knowing that I was to fight Mr. Field
  on Tuesday next, the 13th of March, 1743, in order to injure me, has
  maliciously advertised to open his Amphitheatre on that day, and
  where several battles are then to be fought. To prevent the public
  from being deceived, I feel it my duty to inform them, that the
  principal part of the persons mentioned were never made acquainted
  with such circumstances, and have no intention of so doing. Mr.
  Broughton wishes to make it appear that he never imposed upon any of
  the pugilists who had been concerned with him in any transaction
  whatever; but his imposition shall soon be made manifest to the
  world. And to show Mr. Broughton that I have no animosity against
  him as a pugilist, or any jealousy concerning his amphitheatre, I am
  willing to fight him, as soon as he may think proper, wherever it
  may please him, not regarding, as he loudly sets forth, the strength
  of his arm.

                                                        GEORGE TAYLOR.

We are inclined to suspect that there was a little “gag” in the names of
the pugilists set forth by Broughton, from subsequent occurrences; be
that as it may, Taylor had already fallen beneath his conquering fist,
and his challenge was viewed as nothing more than mere bounce, to
detract from the triumph of the rival manager.

The charges of Taylor, made from time to time, led to a sort of paper
war. Taylor charged Broughton with appropriating to himself the “Lion’s
Share” of the door-money, to the injury of the other pugilists. This
accusation Broughton replied to by showing to the satisfaction of his
patrons that he had not received one hundred pounds; that his
amphitheatre had cost him upwards of £400; that he had appropriated but
a third part of the door-money for his own individual emolument, and
that the rest had been shared among the pugilists. This account proving
satisfactory, firmly established Broughton; and Taylor, perceiving that
it would be useless to oppose so powerful an opponent, relinquished his
booth, and was engaged at the Amphitheatre, where the most noted of his
“merry men” followed him, under an engagement to fight on no stage but

We now come to one of the most important epochs in the history of
boxing, namely the promulgation of a “Code” for the guidance of the
combatants, and the satisfaction of the judges. These rules were
“produced by Mr. Broughton, for the better regulation of the
Amphitheatre, and approved of by the gentlemen, and agreed to by the
pugilists, August 18th, 1743.” The code promulgated by this Fistic
Napoleon, whose law-making and fall were much like those of his great
successor, had a much longer duration than the “Code Napoleon!” for they
lasted in perfect integrity from the period of their date until 1838,
when, after the fight between Owen Swift and Brighton Bill, the “New
Rules of the Ring” superseded Broughton’s. We here give the original—

                           BROUGHTON’S RULES.

  1. That a square of a yard be chalked in the middle of the stage;
  and every fresh set-to after a fall, or being parted from the rails,
  each second is to bring his man to the side of the square, and place
  him opposite to the other; and till they are fairly set-to at the
  lines, it shall not be lawful for the one to strike the other.

  2. That, in order to prevent any disputes as to the time a man lies
  after a fall, if the second does not bring his man to the side of
  the square, within the space of half a minute, he shall be deemed a
  beaten man.

  3. That, in every main battle, no person whatever shall be upon the
  stage, except the principals and their seconds; the same rule to be
  observed in bye-battles, except that in the latter, Mr. Broughton is
  allowed to be upon the stage to keep decorum, and to assist
  gentlemen in getting to their places; provided always, he does not
  interfere in the battle; and whoever presumes to infringe these
  rules, to be turned immediately out of the house. Everybody is to
  quit the stage as soon as the champions are stripped, before they

  4. That no champion be deemed beaten, unless he fails coming up to
  the line in the limited time; or that his own second declares him
  beaten. No second is to be allowed to ask his man’s adversary any
  questions or advise him to give out.

  5. That, in bye-battles, the winning man to have two-thirds of the
  money given, which shall be publicly divided upon the stage,
  notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.

  6. That to prevent disputes, in every main battle, the principals
  shall, on the coming on the stage, choose from among the gentlemen
  present two umpires, who shall absolutely decide all disputes that
  may arise about the battle; and if the two umpires cannot agree, the
  said umpires to choose a third, who is to determine it.

  7. That no person is to hit his adversary when he is down, or seize
  him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist: a man on
  his knees to be reckoned down.

These rules may be called the groundwork of fair play and manly boxing,
and no man, from his experience, was better able to frame such a code
than Broughton. “It is to be observed,” says the talented author of
‘Fistiana’ (V. G. Dowling, Esq.), “that to them we greatly owe that
spirit of fair play which offers so wide a contrast to the practices of
barbarous ages, when every advantage was admissible when brute strength
or accidental casualties placed a combatant in the power of his
antagonist. It is to be lamented that, even in modern times, the inhuman
practices of uncivilised periods have subsisted to a disgraceful extent,
and hence we have heard of gouging, that is to say, forcing out the eye
of an antagonist with the thumbs or fingers—purring, kicking a man with
nailed shoes as he lies on the ground, striking him in vital parts below
the waistband, seizing him when on his knees, and administering
punishment till life be extinct, and a variety of other savage
expedients by which revenge or passion has been gratified; and it is
remarkable that in those counties in which pugilism or prize-fights have
been least encouraged, these horrors have been most frequent. We refer
to Lancashire in particular, where, even to this day, that species of
contest called up-and-down fighting—that is, when a man is got down he
is kept down and punished till incapable of motion—is permitted with
impunity, unless indeed the death of the victim leads to the
apprehension and trial of the survivor.”

The adoption of Broughton’s rules in the metropolis soon led to their
extensive dissemination in the provinces, and public boxing was thereby
stripped of half its evils; while in the adjustment of private quarrels,
the settlement of the simple issue of “which was the better man” after
“a fair stand up fight,” put an end to all bad feeling, and the
conqueror or the conquered submitted with a good grace to “the fate of
war;” the strongest proof of the effects of cultivation, and the best
test of a manly and honourable feeling.

“To Broughton, then,” continues Mr. Dowling, “is to be ascribed the
credit of two great reforms in the practice of pugilism, namely, the
introduction of science and humanity; and by the moral effects these
inculcated, more has been done to establish the high character of
Englishmen for honour and fair play, than by all the eloquence of the
pulpit or the senate.” To Broughton also do we owe the introduction of
gloves, or mufflers, for conducting mock combats or sparring matches, as
they are now called, by which men receive lessons without injury, or
display the art of self-defence without those painful consequences to
which Captain Godfrey so willingly submitted, and which he so feelingly
describes, but which deterred young aspirants from entering those arenas
in which, after harmless initiation, they often became distinguished
adepts, or were prepared to take their own parts in unavoidable
encounters. Broughton thus announces his new invention in the _Daily
Advertiser_ of February, 1747:—

  “Mr. Broughton proposes, with proper assistance, to open an academy
  at his house in the Haymarket, for the instruction of those who are
  willing to be initiated in the mystery of boxing, where the whole
  theory and practice of that truly British art, with all the various
  stops, blows, cross-buttocks, etc., incident to combatants, will be
  fully taught and explained; and that persons of quality and
  distinction may not be debarred from entering into a course of those
  lectures, they will be given with the utmost tenderness and regard
  to the delicacy of the frame and constitution of the pupil; for
  which reason mufflers are provided, that will effectually secure
  them from the inconveniency of black eyes, broken jaws, and bloody

We have said that Broughton’s original calling was that of a waterman;
it appears that the interest of his royal patron made him one of the
Yeomen of the Guard to the King. He also accompanied the Duke of
Cumberland on a tour to the Continent, of which an anecdote is
preserved, of which we may say, _si non è vero è ben trovato_. “At
Berlin he saw the fine regiment of Grenadiers raised by Frederick the
Great. The champion was asked by his patron what he thought of any of
them for a _set-to_, when Broughton, with a smile, instantly replied,
‘Why, your Royal Highness, I should have no objection to fight the whole
regiment, only be kind enough to allow me a breakfast between each
battle.’” Thomas Carlyle has omitted this.

Thus far, Broughton appears to have sailed on the wave of triumph. His
patrons were numerous and aristocratic; but the confidence which good
fortune begets was to prove to him a snare, as it has to many before and
since. Slack, a butcher, and a pugilist of some note, but who had
already succumbed to George Taylor, had, it appears, a quarrel with
Broughton on a race-course, which led to a threat on the part of the
champion that he would horsewhip Slack. The result was a challenge:
Slack obtained friends, a match was made for £200 a-side, and as the
door money was included in the sum contended for, it was estimated at
£600 clear. Although properly falling under the biography of Slack, we
here give the battle, for the purpose of rendering as complete as
possible the history of the Father of Scientific Pugilism.

Broughton’s overweening confidence proved his ruin; for, as we learn
from a contemporary authority, “he refused to take training
preparation,” although “he had not fought for a long time.” Let others
take warning by his fall.

On the evening previous to the battle (Tuesday, April 10, 1750)
Broughton, who had invited his patrons and numerous friends to witness
the battle, was rather apprehensive that Slack would not fight, and for
fear any disappointment should take place, made the latter a present of
ten guineas not to break his engagement.

For the first five minutes, Broughton’s superiority over Slack was so
evident, that the odds were ten to one in his favour; when Slack,
recovering a little from the effects of his antagonist’s blows, made a
sudden and unexpected jump, planting a desperate hit between the
champion’s eyes, which immediately closed them up. Broughton now
appeared stupefied; and as it was two or three minutes before the
effects of this fatal blow were manifest, the spectators were at a loss
to account for the unusual movements of Broughton, who appeared to feel
for, instead of boldly facing and attacking his man. At length his
patron, the Duke of Cumberland, exclaimed, “What are you about,
Broughton?—you can’t fight!—you’re beat!” To which Broughton instantly
replied, “I can’t see my man, your highness—I’m blind, but not beat:
only let me see my man, and he shall not gain the day yet.” Broughton’s
situation was truly distressing; and Slack, following up this singular
advantage, obtained a victory in fourteen minutes!

The Duke appears to have been most unworthily angered at his loss, which
has been (we suspect extravagantly) stated to have amounted to £10,000.
He always declared he had been “sold.” There seems no cause for such an

This defeat proved Broughton’s ruin. The Duke of Cumberland could never
speak of this contest with any degree of temper, and turned his back on
the beaten man. The legislature interfered, the amphitheatre was closed,
and Broughton never fought more. Previous to this battle, it is said he
had grown plethoric; if so, it requires no great acumen to opine the
cause of the sudden swelling which temporarily blinded him.

The best monument to the memory of Broughton is the character and
description of his pupil and admirer, the gallant Captain, which eulogy,
like that of Lord Byron on the “eminent” Mr. John Jackson, remain
permanent answers to the slanderers of pugilists and pugilism.

“Advance, brave Broughton!” exclaims Captain Godfrey. “Thee I pronounce
captain of the boxers. As far as I can look back, I think I ought to
open the ‘characters’ with him: I know none so fit, so able to lead up
the van. This is giving him the living preference to the rest; but I
hope I have not given any cause to say that there has appeared in any of
my characters a partial tincture. I have thoroughly consulted nothing
but my unbiassed mind, and my heart has known no call but merit.
Wherever I have praised, I have no desire of pleasing; wherever decried,
no fear of offending. Broughton, by his manly merit, has bid the
highest, therefore has my heart. I really think all will poll with me,
who poll with the same principle. Sure there is some standing reason for
this preference: what can be stronger than to say that, for seventeen or
eighteen years, he has fought every able boxer that appeared against
him, and has never yet been beat? This being the case, we may venture to
conclude from it; but not to build alone on this, let us examine farther
into his merits. What is it that he wants? Has he not all that others
want, and all the best can have? Strength equal to what is human, skill
and judgment equal to what can be acquired, undebauched wind, and a
bottom spirit never to pronounce the word ‘enough.’ He fights the stick
as well as most men, and understands a good deal of the small sword.
This practice has given him the distinction of time and measure beyond
the rest. He stops as regularly as the swordsman, and carries his blows
truly in the line; he steps not back, distrusting of himself, to stop a
blow, and puddle in the return, with an arm unaided by his body,
producing but fly-flap blows, such as pastrycooks use to beat those
insects from their tarts and cheese-cakes. No! Broughton steps bold and
firmly in, bids a welcome to the coming blow; receives it with his
guardian arm; then, with a general summons of his swelling muscles, and
his firm body seconding his arm, and supplying it with all its weight,
pours the pile-driving force upon his man.

“That I may not be thought particular in dwelling long upon Broughton, I
leave him with this assertion, that as he, I believe, will scarce trust
a battle to a waning age, I never shall think he is to be beat till I
see him beaten.”[18]

Broughton retired into private life. In his later days he resided in
Walcot Place, Lambeth. He was for many years seen as a constant
frequenter of sales of private property, where he purchased
out-of-the-way things, curiosities, and articles of _vertu_, and adhered
to the costume of the period of the Second George. Of these habits the
author of “Recollections of an Octogenarian,” gives us the following
information:—“He appeared to me,” says the writer, “a heavy, thick,
round-made, large-boned man, about the height of Humphries.[19] To be
sure when I saw him last he was in the vale of years, and had acquired
some corpulency. It might be about the year 1785, when attending a lady,
to look at some household goods, which were to be sold by auction in
Walcot Place, Lambeth, a catalogue could not be procured, and seeing
Broughton with one in his hand, I civilly requested the favour of him to
permit the lady to look at a certain article in it. The old man replied
with a sullen asperity of countenance, ‘I want it myself,’ turning his
back upon me. At the instant, up started a little, pert, natty, humorous
Jew broker, who, with real politeness, made the lady an offer of his
catalogue, and casting an arch look at the testy old champion, who was
still close to us, ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘Master Broughton, then you are a
_bear_ to-day,’ alluding to the bulls and bears of Change Alley, where
Broughton was well known to be daily jobbing with his property.”

The “Octogenarian” confirms the statement given below from the _Annual
Register_:—“He (Broughton) had long before left the ring, and lived
independently on the property he had saved, and on an annuity which he
enjoyed from his Royal Master, the old, or Culloden, Duke of Cumberland,
whom, by the bye, he used in former days to style ‘Duke William.’”
_Boxiana_ says he died January the 8th, 1789, but this can hardly be the
correct date. In the _Annual Register_ for 1789, Chronicle for January,
we read as follows:—“Died, at his house, at Walcot Place, Lambeth, in
his 85th year, the celebrated John Broughton, whose skill in boxing is
well known, and will ever be recorded in the annals of that science. He
was originally bred a waterman. His patron, the late Duke of Cumberland,
got him appointed one of the yeomen of the guard, which place he enjoyed
till his death. He was buried in Lambeth Church on the 21st instant, and
his funeral procession was adorned with the presence of the several
capital professors of boxing. He is supposed to have died worth £7,000.”

His enjoyment of his place and pension till death seems to qualify the
“utter desertion” of his patron, and falsify the “ruin” which is related
in _Boxiana_ apparently to “adorn a tale,” if not “to point a moral.”


                              CHAPTER IV.

                    JACK SLACK (CHAMPION)—1750‒1760.


Though the prestige of Broughton has gone far to illustrate the name of
his conqueror, this lucky, rather than skilful, achievement will not
give him the place he deserves among boxers with those with whom success
is not “the be-all and end-all” in war or in worldly fortune. Slack
fought better battles than that in which he tore the laurel from the
brow of the veteran Broughton. We read of him in a contemporary
journal:—“Slack is a butcher from Norwich; his height is five feet eight
inches and a half, and his weight nearly fourteen stone. He is
remarkably compact” (we should think so at fourteen stone for so short a
man), “superior to the generality of men in strength, and of excellent
bottom. His method of hitting is not regular, and he seldom fights on a
preconcerted plan; but his style being suited to the man contending with
him, few were able to resist him, when he resolved on victory. His blows
were usually given with such force, that his name ‘Slack’ passed into a
slang expression, and ‘a slack’un’ meant a smashing hit. His attitude
was remarkably upright, legs little separated, the right hand covering
the pit of the stomach, and the left placed immediately before the
mouth.”[20] It is not possible to distinguish much science in such an
attitude, and had he not been more resolute in attack, and more game in
taking punishment than his opponents, he might have missed the proud
title of champion. We are told, “with the greatest resolution he
disputed every inch of ground, and was so averse to shifting or
retreating, that he has risked and received a knock-down blow rather
than give up his position. Slack frequently used the _chopper_,[21] and
generally with success (this says little for his opponents’ defence), in
a return. Bringing his fist to his breast, and projecting his elbow, he
threw off a blow describing a segment of a circle(!), the centre of
which was the elbow, unexpectedly striking his antagonist in the face
with the back of his hand. This mode was completely his own, but has
since been adopted by many.” (“Pancratia,” p. 40). We do not know that
we have ever read more nonsense in as many lines; but this is not the
place for a treatise on the art.

Slack, after numerous victories in the provinces, came up to Broughton’s
booth, about 1748, to try his fortune. It may interest some of our
readers to see a challenge of the day in which John Slack figures as the
respondent. The advertisement is curious.

    _October 30, 1744.—At the Castle, in Framlingham, in Suffolk, on
      Monday, the 12th day of November next ensuing, there will be a
      severe trial of manhood between the following Champions, viz._,

  I, DANIEL SMITH, the Suffolk Champion, do once more invite Mr. John
  Slack, the Norfolk Champion, to meet and fight me at the time and
  place above said, for the sum of forty guineas: and though I had the
  misfortune to be defeated by him before, am sure I am much superior
  in the art of boxing, and doubt not but I shall give him and the
  company entire satisfaction.

                                                         DANIEL SMITH.

  I, JOHN SLACK, the Norfolk Champion, do accept the above challenge,
  and will be certain to meet and fight the above hero for the said
  sum, at the time and place above mentioned; and don’t doubt but I
  shall support the character I have hitherto maintained.

                                                           JOHN SLACK.

  N.B. They are to fight upon a stage, and galleries will be erected
  for the reception of gentlemen, &c.

  The doors will be opened at nine o’clock, and the champions mount
  the stage at one.

It will be seen from this that Daniel Smith had already fallen before
Slack’s ponderous arm. When and where we have found no record. That on
this occasion he again made the Suffolk champion strike his colours, may
be fairly assumed from the fact that when, after some successes over
inferior boxers, he had the audacity to challenge George Taylor himself,
it is recorded as Slack’s first defeat. “He had not been hitherto
beaten.” The battle, as already narrated, took place on the last day of
January, 1750, at Broughton’s amphitheatre, and was a desperate contest
on the part of Slack, who rushed in till he was punished to



  _From a Bust sculptured by_ SIVIER.

Shortly after this defeat Slack was present at Hounslow Races. Here a
dispute arose, in the course of which Broughton, considering Slack’s
conduct insolent, assumed a high tone of superiority, threatening to
horsewhip “the butcher” on the spot. With the merits of the quarrel we
have nothing to do. Slack, in whose composition there was certainly no
fear of man, at once challenged the redoubted and highly patronised
waterman, who upon the spot accepted the defiance. Some of the
preliminary incidents of this remarkable battle have been already
touched upon in the memoir of Broughton. That skilful boxer appears to
have viewed the challenge of Slack with a fatal self-confidence. Indeed,
considering that Slack had recently surrendered to Taylor, whose
qualifications none knew better than Broughton, who had long since
defeated him, probably more than once, there was some ground for
confidence, and we have it on authority that he considered there was no
necessity for regular training, imperfectly as that process was carried
out at that period. We prefer copying an account from a paper of the
day, to the embellished apocrypha of later histories.

“On Wednesday, April 11 (1750), was fought the grand boxing match
between the celebrated Broughton, hitherto invincible, and John Slack,
the Norfolk butcher. Before the battle began Broughton gave Slack ten
guineas to fight him, according to a previous promise, which Slack
immediately betted against one hundred guineas offered as odds against
him. The first two minutes the odds were ten to one in favour of
Broughton; but Slack, recovering himself, struck a blow which blinded
his adversary, and following up his advantage, obtained a complete
victory in fourteen minutes, to the great mortification of the knowing
ones, including a peer of the first rank, who, betting ten to one, lost
£10,000. The money received at the doors was £130, besides 200 tickets
at a guinea and a half each; and as the battle was for the whole house,
it is supposed the victor cleared £600.”

We have already said that the downfal of Broughton was the downfal of
public pugilism in the metropolis; whatever there was of good in the art
to a great extent perishing at the caprice of a prince and the power of
a few aristocrats. If these are necessary concomitants to its existence,
it would not have been worth preserving, but it has survived the frowns
of power, and had a better support in the favour of the people. If
Broughton’s theatre was closed, the _ars pugnandi_ dwelt in the
provinces, and we find our hero engaged in 1751 at Harlston, in Norfolk,
with a gigantic Frenchman, whose name, Petit or Pettit, almost savours
of a jest. Pettit appears to have been an exhibitor in a circus as a
“strong man,” and was noted for immense muscular powers. Of his boxing
capabilities, like those of the Gondolier, we cannot form a high
estimate. The following letter appeared in the papers of the time:—

                                “_Harlston, Norfolk, July 30th, 1751._

  “Yesterday, in the afternoon, Slack and Pettit met and fought. At
  the first set-to Pettit seized Slack by the throat, held him up
  against the rails, and _grained_[22] him so much as to make him
  extremely black. This continued for half a minute, before Slack
  could break from Pettit’s hold; after which, for near ten minutes,
  Pettit kept fighting and driving hard at Slack, when at length Slack
  closed with his antagonist, and gave him a severe fall, after that a
  second and a third, but between these falls, Pettit threw Slack
  twice off the stage; indeed Pettit so much dreaded Slack’s falls,
  that he ran directly at his hams, and tumbled him down,[23] and by
  that means gave Slack an opportunity of making the falls easy. When
  they had been fighting 18 minutes the odds run against Slack, a
  guinea to a shilling; whereas, on first setting out, it was three or
  four to one on his head; but after this time Slack _shortened_
  Pettit so as to disable him from running and throwing him down in
  the manner he had done before, but obliged him to stand to _close
  fighting_. Slack then closed one of his eyes, and beat him very much
  about the face; at twenty minutes Pettit grew weaker and Slack
  stronger. This was occasioned by Slack’s straight way of fighting.
  At twenty-two minutes the best judges allowed Slack to have the
  advantage over Pettit very considerably, as he was then _recovering
  his wind_, owing to his game qualities. When they had boxed
  twenty-four minutes, Pettit once more threw Slack over the rails.
  This indeed Slack allowed him to do, for as he got his hold, Slack
  fired a blow under Pettit’s ribs that hurt severely. While Slack was
  again getting upon the stage (it was not half a minute before he
  remounted), Pettit had so much the fear of his antagonist before his
  eyes, that he walked off without so much as civilly taking leave of
  the spectators. The cockers call this rogueing it, for it is
  generally thought that Pettit ran away full strong. The whole time
  of their fighting was twenty-five minutes, and this morning the
  battle was judged to Slack, who drew the first ten guineas out of
  the box.”

From the last sentence it would seem that there was a subscribed fund,
and principal and secondary prizes for the winners.

We read in “Pancratia,” that “the name of Slack was, and not unjustly, a
terror to fightable rustics.” “At a country fair a ‘native,’ depending
on his natural prowess, gave Slack a blow in the face. We may presume it
was returned, and ‘a ring’ being called, a sharp set-to began. It is
said the countryman had the advantage, until Slack exclaimed with
fervour, ‘What! shall it be said a ploughman beat Jack Slack?’ The very
name appalled the countryman, who, imagining his antagonist had been
playing with him, said, ‘Have I been fightin’ wi’ Slack? I’ll ha’ no
more on’t.’ And he was as good as his word, donning his clothes and
leaving the field to the veteran professional.”

The next recorded battle of Slack was for 100 guineas with Cornelius
Harris, a collier of Kingswood, near Bristol. It took place on the 13th
of March, 1755. The skill and tactics of Slack were severely tried,
Harris fighting desperately in Slack’s own early style for twenty
minutes, when he gave in.

On October 20th, 1759, Slack is again recorded as victor in a fight for
£50 aside with one Moreton, who had issued a challenge to the champion.
It came off at Acton Wells. Moreton proved himself a courageous, if not
a good boxer; but at the end of thirty-five minutes he acknowledged his

Ten years had now elapsed since Slack had vanquished the renowned
Broughton, and held the title of champion—but the honour was dazzling,
and another hero put in his claim for the towering prize. Slack’s fame
was well established; and here royalty once more appeared on the
pugilistic scene; for Broughton’s old patron, the Duke of Cumberland,
stepped forward and backed Slack for £100 against Bill Stevens, the
Nailer, whom the Duke of York took under his patronage. The Haymarket
was the scene of action, and a stage was erected in the Tennis Court,
James Street, on the day of the 17th of June, 1760. Slack entered the
field with all the confidence of a veteran, and was acknowledged to have
the advantage in the first part of the battle; but the Nailer, with an
arm like iron, received the ponderous blows of his antagonist on his
left with ease, while with his right arm he so punished the champion’s
nob, that he knocked off the title, picked it up, and wore it. Thus fell
the hitherto invincible Slack.

This second great mistake of William of Cumberland seems to have
disgusted him with the ring, and we hear no more of him. The Duke of
York here spoken of was one of the uncles of George III., whose father,
Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in George II.’s lifetime.

Slack now quitted the pugilistic profession, and returned to his old
trade, opening a butcher’s shop in Chandos Street, Covent Garden. Here
he carried on a good business, but still mixed himself in fistic
matters. He backed and trained George Meggs, of whom more anon, to fight
Bill Stevens, his conqueror, for the championship and 200 guineas. The
fight came off on the 2nd of March, 1761, at the Tennis Court, St.
James’ Street. The reporter says, “At the first onset Stevens missed his
blow, and Meggs struck him that instant on the side of the head and
knocked him down. This error seems to have lost him the battle. After
this the battle lasted seventeen minutes, with scarcely a blow struck,
when Stevens gave in.” We regret to say that this disgraceful affair was
clearly traced to Slack, who gave Stevens 50 guineas and his stake.
“Pancratia” says: “An old supporter of Stevens, meeting him one day,
expressed his surprise at this defeat, when Bill drily answered him,
‘Why, Lord bless you, the day I fought Jack Slack I got 90 guineas; but
I got 50 guineas more than I should otherwise have done by letting
Georgy beat me; and, damme, ain’t I the same man still?’” The Nailer and
Slack both fell into disrepute; but the latter stuck to his business,
and appears to have prospered until his death in 1778.

                BILL STEVENS THE NAILER (CHAMPION)—1760.

This tremendous boxer, whose courage found no counterpart in his
honesty, will aptly come in here. It would be tedious, could they even
be dug up, to give an outline of his many battles before his crowning
victory over Slack, with the exception of one, that with Jacob Taplin,
the coal-eaver.

The winter of 1760 was rendered memorable in the annals of pugilism by a
desperately contested battle, “fought in the month of February between
William Stevens the Nailer and Jacob Taplin. The site fixed on for
deciding the boxing match was the hollow known as Marylebone Basin,
which held about 3,000 spectators. A ring was formed in its centre, and
the champions commenced the combat. Taplin in the first rounds seemed to
have much the best of the Nailer, who received some tremendous blows in
the ‘bread-basket,’ which had several times knocked him down. The last
time Stevens seemed to rise with the fury of a lion roused from slowness
and placidity into excessive irritation. He faced his antagonist and let
fly, levelling him at his feet. The odds, which had been in favour of
Taplin, now became four to one on Stevens. In the next round he repeated
his knock-down by a tremendous blow below the left breast. When Taplin
rose next time, he closed on him suddenly and both fell. The next round
decided the battle in favour of Stevens, who struck Taplin on the left
eye with his left hand, while with the other he followed it by a blow on
the temple, which laid him senseless. Taplin not being prepared in time
to resume the contest, Stevens was declared the victor.”—_Daily
Advertiser, Feb. 20, 1760._

And now the fame of Stevens running abroad he received the highest
patronage, and was matched for 100 guineas aside against the veteran
champion Slack. The result has been already told. He disabled Slack’s
guard by repeated and heavy blows on his left forearm, and followed them
by a right hand lunge at the head, accompanied by a trip at his left
foot, which disturbed the champion’s balance. In the words of the
report, “he with his right hand beat him about the head, while at the
same time tripping him off his centre with his foot.” The champion’s
title fell to Stevens, but he did not long wear it, through his own
misconduct. The battle, or rather sham fight at the Tennis Court with
George Meggs, the collier, has been already noticed. Stevens, after
seventeen minutes of trickery, scarcely knowing how to make a fight of
it, gave in.[24]

Stevens’ later fights were few. His backers had, of course, deserted
him. On July 4, 1769, we find as follows: “William Stevens, the Nailer,
who dexterously played the _cross_ with George Meggs, fought a battle
with M’Guire, an Irish pugilist, on the green stage at the back of
Montague House. M’Guire was beaten.”

Stevens was also defeated by one Turner, but the date and circumstances
are not recorded. We learn this fact from the account of Turner’s
victory over Peter Corcoran, the Irish champion (Sept. 24, 1769).

Stevens’ career closed in defeat and disgrace. Eighteen years after his
victory over Slack, he entered the ring with the rising Harry Sellers
(see SELLERS, _post_). Stevens added another illustration to the ring
proverb—“Youth will be served.” Had Stevens kept the straight course, he
might have emulated Taylor, Broughton, and Slack. The date of his death
is uncertain.

                      THOMAS SMALLWOOD—1741‒1757.

Among the luminaries of George Taylor’s Great Booth, and subsequently of
Broughton’s Amphitheatre, Tom Smallwood, though never opposed to the
very foremost men of his time, was a ready and resolute boxer of no
small pretensions. Captain Godfrey has enshrined him in his curious
pages, so that entire omission of him would be inexcusable in these
sketches of the early heroes of the ring. “Had he but possessed weight
(whence we may infer he was what we should now call a ‘middle weight,’
say 11 stone), he was capable of standing against any man.” It must be
remembered that “rushing,” and “hammering,” and “driving against the
rails,” seem to have been much in vogue in the stage encounters of the
period; and the preposterous weight of thirteen stone and a half and
fourteen stone was thought advantageous for a man of five feet eight or
nine inches! Smallwood’s battles were numerous and creditable, whether
in defeat or success. His first battle recorded in the “Diurnals” was
with one Dimmocks, a powerful carman, at Taylor’s Booth, in May, 1741,
the month after Broughton had defeated Stevenson, the coachman. It was a
desperate affair, and well contested by Smallwood, then a youth. After
three-quarters of an hour of severe fighting, Smallwood was beaten by
the superior strength of his opponent.

In the following November Tom Smallwood again entered the lists with
Richard Harris, a brick-maker, for 50 guineas. It is described as “one
of the severest boxing matches that had taken place for many years,” and
“contested with alternate successes, with the greatest hardihood and
intrepidity, for one hour, when victory decided in favour of Smallwood.”
Broughton expressed a high opinion of the courage and skill of
Smallwood. The day was also noted for the first appearance of
“Buckhorse” (John Smith) upon this stage, who fought “a draw” with Harry
Gray, the clogmaker. See BUCKHORSE, _post_.

In the notice of GEORGE TAYLOR will be found a couple of specimens of
his booth advertisements. They contain the names of Tom Smallwood and
Will Willis (the Fighting Quaker). On this occasion (April 28, 1742) our
hero despised Willis, who derived his nickname from a remarkably plain
and formal appearance, and a sedateness of manner not common among
“knights of the fives,” with whom fun and flash appear to have been ever
prevalent. At this point, after an imaginary account of Smallwood’s
victory, stuffed with the slang of the first quarter of the present
century, and bald attempts at facetiousness, the “Historian” adds, “Tom
Smallwood fought several other battles, in _all_ of which he proved
victorious; but the combatants were not of sufficient importance to
claim mention.”—Boxiana, vol. i., p. 33. He then proceeds, p. 67, to
give a memoir of Edward Hunt, on whom he lavishes just praises, and
records his _defeat_ by Smallwood, as one out of the many specimens of
_method_ with which his hash is concocted.

Smallwood, after the closing of Taylor’s Booth in 1744, does not appear
to have belonged to Broughton’s company, for we find him fighting one
King, a butcher, at Stanton Green, who beat him, in January, 1746. The
particulars of this battle are not recorded, but King is said to have
also “fought several good battles at the Booth.” There is something
obscure about this battle, as Captain Godfrey, writing in 1747, a
constant visitor at Broughton’s, and _au courant_ with every man in the
fistic world, says, “If I was to choose a boxer for my money, and could
but purchase him strength equal to his resolution, Smallwood should be
the man.”

The most remarkable of Smallwood’s triumphs was his victory over
Broughton’s favourite pupil and _protegé_, Edward Hunt, whose defeat of
Hawksley, the Life-guardsman, had made him the talk of the town. The
battle had been long talked of, and was fought on a stage at Hounslow,
July 14, 1757. The stake was 150 guineas. For thirty minutes the combat
was carried on with equal resolution, and without any leading advantage.
“For the first 35 minutes the odds were alternately on each man. After
this time, Tom, who was the heavier man, closed with Hunt more
frequently, and by superior strength followed it up with such advantage,
that in 50 minutes the battle was decided in his favour.” Hunt is said
to have weighed but nine stone. Smallwood was seconded by “Old George
Taylor,” and Hunt by the champion, Jack Slack.

Smallwood, who had now been at least seventeen years before the public,
seems to have retired a conqueror, as we have no further mention of his

                         EDWARD HUNT—1746‒1758.

This favourite pupil of Broughton continually appears in his master’s
advertisements. He was a boxer of first-rate science, as then practised,
with unquestionable courage, extreme hardihood, and remarkable activity.
Though barely five feet five inches, and weighing but nine stone, he
often fought and defeated men of large stature, and vastly his superiors
in weight. “Being constantly overmatched, he had more difficulties to
encounter than any other boxer on the list, and of the few instances of
‘shifting’ which occurred in his time, he is the most singular, for he
conquered the stoutest men by his admirable art. With strength so much
beyond his own opposed to him he might have been allowed to drop, but he
seldom fell without a blow. He never confined himself to one attitude,
for, being extremely active, he found he could more effectually confuse
his antagonist by continually changing his guard. He endeavoured to
avoid blows aimed at his body by stepping aside, and then took an
opportunity of dexterously ‘winding’ his man, who was driven forward by
his own force. If a blow was aimed at his head, he stooped to let his
adversary’s arm pass over him, and then succeeded in general in planting
a good body blow. These manœuvres proved highly advantageous to Hunt in
his pugilistic career, for his opponents became aware of these
practices, and accordingly fought on the defensive, by which means he
became the assailant, and avoided being overwhelmed by their superior
power.” This is the description of a consummate boxer by a master hand;
quoted in “Pancratia,” pp. 50, 51. “What a picture of a combination of
the styles of Young Dutch Sam and Bendigo! With this before you read
Pierce Egan’s stuff about Hunt’s not “fearing the _disparagement_
(_sic_) between him and his _lofty_ opponent,” and “stood up to Hawksley
prime as a _game_ cock,” etc. The contemporary account of Hunt’s battle
with Hawksley is brief:—

“On June 11th (1746) a very severe battle was contested at the
Amphitheatre between Edward Hunt, a pupil of Mr. Broughton’s, weighing
only nine stone,[25] and one Hawksley a Life-guardsman, who weighed
seventeen stone. The odds before fighting were ten to one in favour of
Hawksley. The battle lasted only ten minutes, during which the odds
changed in favour of Hunt, who was declared the victor.” This affair is
most unaccountable; shifting, and the “planting” of a nine stone man,
could hardly have beaten Hawksley in ten minutes, unless he was out of
condition, drunk, or a coward.

His next great battle was with Smallwood (1757), already narrated; and
his last recorded appearance was with Richard Mills, a game boxer, known
by the name of “the Onion Boy,” May 17, 1758, at Islington. After an
hour’s severe fighting, Hunt, upon whom large odds were betted, was
compelled to surrender.

                   BUCKHORSE (JOHN SMITH)—1732‒1746.

There was one pugilist of this period, whose name we rather introduce as
a remarkable _lusus naturæ_ than as an illustrator of the noble art.
This individual was John Smith, more commonly known as BUCKHORSE. The
following particulars are chiefly derived from a memoir which appeared
in the “Eccentric Magazine.”


  BUCKHORSE (JOHN SMITH), 1732‒1746.

  _After an Etching by_ WILLIAM HOGARTH.

“BUCKHORSE, whose real name is said to have been John Smith, first saw
the light in the house of a sinner, in that part of London known by the
name of Lewkner’s Lane, a place notorious in the extreme for the
eccentricity of the characters it contained: here the disciples of
Bamfylde Moore Carew were to be found in crowds, and cadgers of all
descriptions resorted to regale themselves upon the good things of this
life, laughing at the credulity of the public in being so easily duped
by their impositions; and here the juvenile prig was soon taught to
become an adept in the profession, by taking out a handkerchief or a
snuff-box, from the pocket of a coat covered with bells, without ringing
any of them. In these slums the finished thief roosted from the prying
eyes of society, and laid plans for his future depredations.

“It appears, then, that few places could boast of more originality of
character than that from which BUCKHORSE sprang; and, from the variety
of talents here displayed, there is little doubt he did not remain long
a novice. As we have never been troubled with any account to what
good-natured personage he owed his origin, we cannot determine; but
suffice it to observe, that little BUCKHORSE and his mother were turned
out upon the wide world, long before he knew its slippery qualities, by
the cruel publican, their landlord, which inhuman circumstance took
place about the year 1720.

“This freak of nature, it would seem, was indebted to his mother for
what little instruction he received, the principal of which was an
extraordinary volubility of speech; and from his early acquaintance with
the streets he picked up the rest of his qualifications.

“Buckhorse’s composition, however rude and unsightly, was not without
harmony; and although his fist might not appear musical to his
antagonist by its potent touch, yet when applied to his own chin, was
capable of producing a variety of popular tunes, to the astonishment of
all those who heard and saw him, and by which peculiar trait he mostly
subsisted, added to selling little switches for a halfpenny a-piece, his
cry of which was so singular, that Shuter, the celebrated comedian,
among his other imitations, was more than successful in his mimicry of
Buckhorse, which was repeatedly called for a second time.

“As a pugilist, BUCKHORSE ranked high for strength and endurance among
the boxers of the day, and displayed great muscular power in the battles
he contested.”

“Boxiana” says, under date 1742, after the fight of Smallwood and
Willis, “About this time the noted Buckhorse fought Harry Gray, when the
latter got severely punished by this ugly customer.” It is true that
this battle took place in 1742, but if Mr. Egan had read Fig’s bill,
which he prints at p. 44, vol. i., he would have seen there that, ten
years previous (Sept. 18, 1732), it is announced that “BUCKHORSE and
several other pugilists will show the art of boxing.” Unless the infant
was eight years old in 1720, he must have been “noted” enough to be
specially underlined in capital letters at twelve years old! Fig died in
1734 (see p. 12, _ante_). Buckhorse continues, too, it will be seen, in
Broughton’s bill for his “New Amphitheatre,” on the 13th of March, 1743
(p. 24, _ante_), and is there advertised, not for a match among the
eight men specially named as to be paired, but in a singular manner,
indicative of a _mêlée_ rather than a boxing match. Thus: “N.B. There
will be a battle royal by the NOTED BUCKHORSE and seven or _eight
others_, after which there will be several _bye-battles_ with others.”
Buckhorse seems to have fought previously in these bye-battles, _e.g._,
that with Harry Gray (who here appears among the men to be matched), two
years previously (23rd Nov., 1741), after Tom Smallwood had defeated
Harris. (See _ante_, p. 38.)

There is something truly Hogarthian in the portrait handed down to us;
and as he was a contemporary of “the valiant Fig,” it is no strained
supposition that it came originally from the great English master’s
pencil, as well as that of the champion himself.

“As ugly as Buckhorse” was for a long time the uncomplimentary
expression for a remarkably ugly man. This singular being is said to
have been in the custom of allowing himself to be knocked down for a
trifling gratuity by any one who might fancy a trial of the strength of
his own arm.

                 TOM FAULKNER, THE CRICKETER—1758‒1791.

One of the best men of his day, and who divided his attention between
the two great English games, cricket and boxing, both, in a scientific
form, nearly contemporaneous, was Tom Faulkner. Twice, fired with the
ambition of holding the champion’s title, did he enter the lists with
the renowned George Taylor, and twice, after a good fight, he succumbed
to his master in skill. But Tom feared not an uphill game. He felt that
he had the key to the secret of his former defeats, and a third time, in
1758, challenged Taylor to the field. Taylor had now retired, and, as
already stated, kept the Fountain at Deptford. The “old ’un” accepted
the challenge without hesitation, and in Hertfordshire, one mile and a
half from St. Alban’s, on the 13th of August, 1758, the heroes met, the
stakes being 200 guineas and the door money. Faulkner, it is said, with
the odds of three to one against him, risked all he possessed upon the
event. Faulkner, knowing his man, determined to keep him to fighting.
“He began the attack with astonishing courage, amounting almost to
ferocity. For several of the earlier rounds Faulkner was either knocked
down or thrown. About the fifteenth, Taylor was blowing, but in a rally
each put in a dozen hard blows before Faulkner levelled his opponent.
Taylor now began to shift, and several times fell without a blow.[26]
This created much disapprobation and confusion, but Faulkner easily
consented to proceed. Afterwards they set to more resolutely, if
possible, than before, when after a severe contest of one hour and a
quarter, Taylor acknowledged himself beaten. They were both carried off
the ground, and it was the general opinion that more skill and courage
never was displayed by any pugilist in this country. Taylor’s loss of an
eye and a blow at the close of the fight on the other were the aiding
excuses of his defeat.”

In the next year (1759) Tom Faulkner was in turn challenged by Joe
James. Joe came of a fighting family, and his brother Jack James, “the
bruiser at Broughton’s Amphitheatre,” with his father, “old Jockey
James, of Newmarket,” seconded young Joe. The battle came off at Putney,
Surrey, on April 8, 1759, for 100 guineas. “A stage was erected near the
White Lion Inn, and they set-to about two o’clock. Before a blow was
struck the odds were two to one (they betted preposterously tempting
odds in those green and early days) in favour of James, and after the
third round five to one. Joe knocked Faulkner down several times (here
was piling up the agony), when, in the last round, _which was not more
than ten minutes from the commencement of the contest_, Faulkner, by a
well-aimed blow, brought down James (!), on which, though apparently not
hurt or even fatigued, he gave in.” We should think so: it would have
been mere tempting fortune to go on. The chronicler adds, “the
indignation of the spectators was very highly expressed by their hissing
him off the ground,”[27] which did not, it seems, prevent the bets going
with the battle-money. Verily, as Bildad the Shuhite said of the man of
Uz, so may we say of this ancient ring-scribe, “Behold, he is yet in his
greenness.” “Old Jockey James” seems to have known when to give “the
office” that the “book was full.”

Tom appears now to have betaken himself to attacking his opponents’
_stumps_, and bowling them out with “underhand twisters,” for as yet the
hand above the elbow was not, the curve-bladed bat was like a
butter-knife, and two stumps with a cross-piece gave every chance that a
straight ball would go harmlessly through the wicket. Yet were there
skill and enjoyment in those days of our forefathers, and the village
green and its May-pole were institutions of “Merrie England.” The
May-pole is as extinct as the megatherium, and what has modern science
given us in its place? Among those who—

                          “At foot-ball or at cricket,
                  At prison-base or touching-chase
                  Right featly then could prick it,”

Tom Faulkner was long remembered. Yet does his name again occur in 1789.
The bruisers of Birmingham challenged those of the best note in London.
Isaac Perrins challenged Tom Johnson, the champion (See life of JOHNSON,
_post_.) Jacombs challenged Bryan (Big Ben); Pickard, George Ingleston,
the brewer; and these fights came off, as we shall see, in favour of the
metropolis. Fired with the idea, Tom FAULKNER (at 53 years of age!)
challenged Watson, and Thornhill threw down the gauntlet to Hooper, the
tinman. These two last matches went off; a proof, we think, that the
Birmingham backers were not without judgment, though they did lose the
first three events.

Tom Faulkner was certainly an evergreen of amazing sap and pith. Early
in 1791 he was challenged by Thornhill (called in the report “the
Warwickshire bruiser”), who had been disappointed in his match with
Hooper, the tinman. The veteran Tom accepted the cartel, and they met at
Studley, in Warwickshire, March 21, 1791. “Ryan seconded Faulkner, and
Williams was his bottleholder. Jack Lea waited upon Thornhill, with
Biggs his bottleholder.” We copy the report. “At two o’clock the
combatants set-to, and throughout the battle Tom’s superiority in
judgment and distance was manifestly evident. Thornhill was much the
stronger man, and only fell by one knock-down blow during the contest,
except the last, which Tom struck him in the neck, too forcibly to be
withstood, and Thornhill gave in. The conflict was extremely severe, and
lasted fifty minutes. The door money amounted to upwards of £80,
two-thirds of which became the property of the winner, and the remainder
to the unsuccessful combatant.” Faulkner was one of those lucky men who
closed a career of exceptional length with the garland of victory on his
grey head. Tom was living in 1798.

                    BILL DARTS (CHAMPION)—1764‒1771.

Among the boxers of his day, Bill Darts, the dyer, held a high
reputation for steady courage and hard hitting, and by no means a
contemptible amount of science. One of the most remarkable of his
battles was with Tom Juchau,[28] at Guildford, Surrey, in May, 1766. It
was a famous fight for forty minutes, when Juchau was beaten out of
time. The stakes were 1,000 guineas.

Dogget, the West Country Bargeman, had secured so high a name among the
“twoads” that an invite was given to Bill Darts to come down to
Marlborough to be thrashed. With the first part of the invitation Bill
complied; the second he not only declined, but, _per contra_, gave Mr.
Dogget such a thrashing, that he carried off the honours of the day and
the irate countryman’s 100 guineas staked upon the event.

Swansey, the butcher, found friends to back him for 50 guineas, and he
and Darts met, Oct. 13, 1767, on Epping Forest. The butcher was soon
knocked down and thoroughly cut up.

Bill Darts now invited all comers for the championship, which he had
held for five years, when Lyons,[29] a waterman of Kingston-upon-Thames,
disputed his title. They met, and Darts, for the first time, was
defeated in forty-five minutes, on the 27th of June, 1769.

Bill Darts next entered the lists with a competitor of formidable
name—Death (Stephen Oliver). Oliver was certainly “stale,” as he had
been one of Broughton’s favourite pupils. (See DEATH.) It was a
well-contested fight, Oliver proving extremely game and skilful; but the
superior strength and weight of Darts’ hits overcame the darts of Death,
and the namesake of the universal conqueror fell before Bill’s
victorious arm. This battle was fought at Putney, on a stage, March
25th, 1770. “Boxiana” has not given a single date to any of Darts’
fights; accordingly, “Fights for the Championship,” 1855, informs its
readers that, “the dates of these battles,” as well as those of George
Meggs, Millsom, etc., “are not recorded!”

On the 18th of May, 1771, during Epsom races, Bill Darts fought Peter
Corcoran, an Irish bruiser of vast pretensions, about whom Pierce Egan
has indited his usual amount of rhodomontade, which we shall correct
under his name. The match was made for £100 aside, by the notorious
black-leg and bully, Captain O’Kelly, the lucky owner of Eclipse, who,
“before the fight gave Bill Darts 100 guineas to play _cross_.”[30] The
rest of this nefarious swindle we will give, according to our plan,
under the notice of the so-called victor Corcoran. Bill had now sold his
reputation, and was a lost man; his seducer, the greater scoundrel,
fared, like woman’s seducer, none the worse

            “Through tattered clothes small vices do appear—
            Robes and furred gowns hide all.”

Perhaps one of the funniest pieces of historical perversion on record is
Pierce Egan’s account (without a date) of this scandalous affair. It
would be injustice to mutilate it. “The famous Bill Darts now mounted
the stage with Corcoran for £200, to give additional sport to Epsom
races. The set-to commenced with cautious sparring on the part of Darts,
who soon discovered that he could not win (!), and in a short time gave
in. A singular report crept into circulation, accounting for Darts
losing the battle, that Colonel O’Kelly (one of the most celebrated
sportsmen on the turf) backed his countryman to a large amount; but to
make his bets dead sure, on the night previous to the fight, he
presented Darts with £100 not to win the battle, but positively to lose
it. Surely no thoroughbred sportsman could commit so barefaced a
robbery!” This is rather modest, considering the Colonel’s character;
what follows, however, distances it by lengths. “And upon the best
information, we are assured that Darts in his prime was never half man
enough for Peter Corcoran!” The notes of admiration are Pierce’s: we
have omitted his emphasised italics and small capitals. The reader may
form his own conclusion by reading Corcoran’s actual battles.

Darts appears several times as a second during 1771 and the following
years; notedly in a fight between Sam Peters, of Birmingham, and
Rossemus Gregory, an Irishman, in which Darts seconded the Hibernian,
but behaved so unfairly to save his man that Peters refused to fight on.
The result will be found under PETERS.

                             PETER CORCORAN

We may as well here dispatch Peter Corcoran, to whom Pierce Egan has
devoted several pages of fabrication in honour of “ould Ireland.” First
he thrashed all the potato diggers in the vicinity of his father’s mud
edifice; then he, and perhaps another, beat an English butcher who
refused to let him and a friend have a shoulder of mutton at their own
price: Pierce almost hints they had no money. It seems that Paddy not
only thrashed the butcher “Master Steel” in a few minutes, but “shortly
afterwards enjoyed his mutton (is the reader or the mutton roasted?)
with as keen an appetite as if nothing had happened (which we suppose
was the case), and next day pursued his journey to London.”[31] At
Portsmouth, after a trip to sea, he performed a number of feats of
strength; one among them was “_beating a whole press gang_, and breaking
the lieutenant’s sword over his head.” Here’s a scene for a new
“Black-eyed Susan.” The promotion of Billy Taylor’s sweetheart did not,
however, fall to the lot of Peter, and “on leaving the navy, he came to
London,” etc.

The first authenticated notice of his name we find under the date of,

“Sept. 4th (1769). A boxing match was decided between Turner, a pugilist
who had beaten Bill Stevens, and Peter Corcoran, an Irishman, for £20
aside, which was won by _the former_.” The battle took place in Hyde
Park, and is correctly given in “Fistiana,” though without a date. Now
let us turn to “Boxiana,” p. 59, vol. i. “Peter beat one Turner, who
fought him for £20, and although the latter had beaten the Nailer, yet,
in the hands of Corcoran, he was soon disposed of.” Three others, “good
men,” Dalton and Davis and “Smiler, the bricklayer,” were also,
according to the same veracious chronicler, “beaten dreadfully.” These
exploits bring us to Corcoran’s two “crosses” and his final thrashing.
That with Bill Darts we have said enough about. Of this we read in a
contemporary print—“After a little sparring, Corcoran gave Darts a blow
on the side of the head, which drove him against the rail of the stage,
when he immediately gave in. It was said that Darts had played booty,
and none of the sporting men would afterwards back him; thus by one
dirty action Darts lost all the fame he had been for so many years
acquiring.” This reflection has a peculiar moral squint, as we have
already said. “What about the Colonel who bought the poor fellow?”

Whether his next battle with Peters was a victory we will just leave to
the reader of the report. “The long expected match between Sam Peters
and Peter Corcoran took place at Waltham Abbey, Essex, in June, 1774. At
setting-to the bets were three to one in favour of Peters (this, we
should say, was a good thing), who, though he maintained the
superiority, gave in without any apparent cause at the expiry of fifteen
minutes, greatly to the disappointment of the sporting ones.” We should
think so. Here is the account from “Boxiana,” p. 86, “Sam Peters was the
best man, according to Corcoran’s account, that ever set-to with him. It
was a complete hammering fight (!), and at the expiration of _ten
minutes_ Peters declared he was satisfied, and Corcoran’s body for
several days afterwards was entirely black, the bruises being extremely
severe.” Heavy work on both sides for _ten_ minutes. The fastest moderns
cannot go this pace. The account of Corcoran’s battle with Harry
Sellers, October 16th, 1776, will be found under HARRY SELLERS. As Peter
was thrashed, it was of course “a sell,” though it looks like a victory
on its merits, and “Boxiana” “points a moral,” which is applicable to
this as to all other cases of betrayal of backers by pugilists, who
should never forget—

               “’Tis not in mortals to command success,”

but “do more, deserve it,” is very good—if the case warranted it.

The favourable notice in “Pancratia,” whence Pierce drew the staple he
has spun out so absurdly, thus speaks of Corcoran: “Peter, as a pugilist
of his period, stands first rank as a fair fighter; being generally
engaged with powerful pugilists, he was _unfortunate_ in the _events_ of
his contests, and indeed he had little reason to triumph when
victorious, for as he never shifted or fell, unless accidentally,
without a blow, he seldom escaped a severe drubbing.” These are the
words of truth and soberness, and place Corcoran’s courage and game on a
fair footing, despite the extravagant eulogies of his compatriot.
Perhaps, however, Mr. Vincent Dowling, in his “Fistiana,” has exercised
the wisest discretion; finding the accounts too discrepant for
reconciling, he has left the name of Corcoran out of the letter C

                  HARRY SELLERS (CHAMPION)—1776‒1785.

Harry Sellers, a west country boxer of deserved provincial reputation,
was chosen by some friends as a likely young fellow to reduce the
braggadocia of Corcoran, whose challenges were of the true Hibernian cut
of some hedge-schoolmaster transplanted to the Seven Dials. The match
was made for 100 guineas “and a bet of £500 or £600 on the event,”—we do
not profess to know what the last phrase means—and the combatants met at
the Crown Inn, Staines, October 10, 1776. The attendance appears to have
been remarkably good. Corcoran, with the “gift of the gab,” was the
landlord of the Blakeney’s Head, St. Giles’s, and was a sort of
“Stunning Joe Banks” of his day: what he was good for as a pugilist we
cannot say. “At the first onset,” says the report, “Corcoran gave his
antagonist a violent blow, which threw him to the farthest end of the
stage, and the odds increased from three to four to one in Peter’s
favour. Sellers now fought very shy for about eighteen minutes, in order
to wind his antagonist, which having accomplished, he advanced boldly
and beat him by straight-forward hitting in ten minutes.” Did any one
ever read a more “plain unvarnished tale” of how a natural fighter and
good boxer beat a bounceable publican? What need of the farrago we find
at pages 86, 87, 88, vol. i. of “Boxiana,” to explain that which needs
no explanation? Corcoran was thrashed, and, we believe, couldn’t help
it. Pierce tells us a story of his house in St. Giles’s flowing with
“all sorts of spirits, plenty of new pots, etc., inside and outside
painted, and got up in superior style to what it was ever witnessed
before,” etc. Moreover—and here is the detail that clinches it—“Peter
was playing skittles next morning with all the activity and cheerfulness
of a man who had never been engaged in pugilism.”

As Pierce about this period was a Dublin “gossoon,” he must have had an
exact knowledge of the decorations, interior and exterior, of Peter’s
hostelrie, and a reliable tradition of his morning’s amusements. For
ourselves, a much more careful search than that of the inventor of
“Boxiana” (who made none, by the way), fails to tell us more than we
have hereinbefore set down.

On the 4th of June, 1777, at Ascot Heath races, Joe Hood,[32] a hardy
and successful boxer, fought Harry Sellers for 50 guineas aside. Joe
fought with great courage and skill, but the science and activity of
Sellers secured the victory. Hood fought Sellers again, four weeks
afterwards (June 2), and was again beaten.

In June, 1778, Harry Sellers met the once formidable champion, Bill
Stevens, the Nailer. It was a one-sided affair. Stevens, still
courageous, could not stand against the rapidity, skill, and freshness
of Harry, and was defeated. The stake was but £25, which shows how the
mighty Stevens had fallen.

The Crown, at Slough, a favourite rendezvous of the swell patrons of
pugilism, was the scene, on the 25th of September, 1780, of a boxing
match between Harry Sellers and Duggan Fearns, an Irish boatswain
(called Jack Fearns in “Boxiana”). The accounts read very like a cross,
though we can hardly say that there is clear evidence. “The battle
lasted _one minute and a half_, when victory was declared in favour of
Duggan.” We are not told _how_ the event was brought about, but the
reporter adds his own opinion: “the amateurs were swindled to a large
amount,” and certainly very clumsily.

On the 7th of June (1785), we find that Harry Sellers contested a battle
with William Harvey, an Irishman, in the Ass Field, near Holywell Mount,
Grays Inn Road, “in which, notwithstanding he exerted himself to the
utmost, he was conquered by dint of the Irishman’s strength in twenty
minutes.” The reader will observe the date is the 7th of June. This may
give him sufficient insight to value accordingly the story of “St.
Patrick’s evening” (17th March), the “insult to Mr. Harvey’s shamrock in
his hat,” the “leg of mutton and trimmings,” offered by Sellers to be
let off a thrashing, and the wretched rubbish in “Boxiana,” pp. 88, 89,
“for the greater glory of ould Ireland.” The red hot ire of Mr. Harvey
remained to cool from March 17th to the 7th of the following June, if
there be any truth in the periodical contemporary press.

The appearance of Humphries, Big Ben (Brain), and the rise of the great
Tom Johnson, seem to have quite extinguished the minor pugilistic stars,
and so occupied the whole attention of the patrons and historians of the
ring, that Sellers disappears from the scene. In “Pancratia,” p. 63, we
read, “It has been reported that Sellers actually died with grief, on
account of his friends refusing to match him with the celebrated
pugilist Tom Johnson when first he rose into fame.” This proves, at any
rate, that Sellers was what the west countrymen call “a good woolled
one:” there was no deficiency in breed, whatever there might be in his
probity or judgment.

              STEPHEN OLIVER (NICKNAMED DEATH).—1770‒1788.

OF Stephen Oliver, whose singular sobriquet, “Death,” had a less
terrible derivation than it might suggest, we have but scant
contemporary notices, yet these have been neglected, and “Boxiana”
dismisses him with an incidental mention in the notice under DARTS (see
p. 45, _ante_), and four lines in reference to his battle with Small.
Oliver seems, by general consent of the best judges, to have been a
remarkably skilful, steady, and formidable boxer. The deadly paleness of
his visage during his pugilistic contests procured him the nickname of
“Death.” Oliver, as one of Broughton’s pupils, stood high on the list of
his favourites. The veteran often commended him as the best teacher and
exponent of his system. “He was a well made man, and light (as they
reckoned it then), never exceeding twelve stone; he did not possess
great strength, but this he fully compensated by his astonishing
agility. Oliver fought more battles than any man in England, and though
frequently overmatched, often conquered against odds. But his sparring,”
adds the author of “Historical Sketches,”[33] “notwithstanding it was
thought excellent some years back, is now equalled by any pupil of
Mendoza and Humphries. This indisputably shows we moderns have improved
in science.”

We pass over a long interval of Stephen Oliver’s performances to come to
his great fight with Bill Darts, March 25, 1770, wherein he was defeated
by youth, length, weight, and strength.

Six years afterwards, July 3rd, 1776, Death fought a short battle at
Barnet for £20 with a butcher of the name of William Small, a name by no
means corresponding with his bulk. A diurnal print tried a small piece
of wit in the form of what it called “an epigram.” Here it is—

           “Ah! foolish wight, why strive to conquer Death?
           When he, thou know’st, can stop thy vital breath;
           That ruthless tyrant rules the lives of all,
           And vanquishes the Great, as well as SMALL.”

The renowned Tom Johnson, of whom anon, had already beaten several
commoners, and especially Jarvis, “the fighting carman.” Stephen
accepted his general challenge, and, though stale and old, made a
creditable fight, at Blackheath, in 1784. (See JOHNSON, _post_.) Though
Jack Towers (brother of William, the bricklayer) is called the
“conqueror of the celebrated DEATH,” we cannot find the record of his

Oliver still lingered on the stage till 1788, in which year, on April
17th, “he fought one Elisha Crabbe,[34] a Jew, _on the turf_, at
Blackheath.” It was observed in the course of the contest that Death had
the lead in fair boxing, but that Crabbe got the best in closing, when
he was generally successful in flinging his adversary so as to pitch him
on his head. Although Crabbe had received many sharp blows, they did not
impair his strength, but Death was wounded badly in the face by a fall,
and had a severe gash over his right eyebrow. This obstructed his sight,
and very much contributed to lose him the battle. At the end of
thirty-five minutes Crabbe succeeded in giving Death a knock-down blow,
and the Jew was declared the conqueror. (“Pancratia,” p. 78.) The Prince
of Wales (afterwards George IV.), Colonel Hanger (Lord Coleraine), and
the leading patrons of the ring, were present on this occasion. A
bye-battle between Doyle, a well known pugilist, and a sawyer from
Deptford, which followed, ended in the anonymous sawyer beating the
professional in twenty minutes.

                  SAM PETERS, OF BIRMINGHAM—1771‒1774.

SAM PETERS, of Birmingham, is one of the second rates demanding notice
previous to closing this chapter. After many victories in Warwickshire
and the midland counties, Sam made his way to the metropolis, and was
backed for £20 against Trainer, a stalwart Irish chairman. They met at
Epping Forest, June 7, 1771, but Sam was so overmatched that, after a
clever fight of thirty-seven minutes, he fell before the heavier metal
of his antagonist.

The next month, on the 13th of July, Sam entered the ring at Fair Mead
Bottom, near Epping, with Rossemus Gregory, another Hibernian pugilist.
Bill Darts seconded Gregory, and Peters gave in on the ground of Darts
interfering unfairly in favour of his man. Another match was accordingly
made, and came off in the Riding School at the Three Hats,
Islington.[35] Here Master Gregory found he had better not have “bitten
his thumb” at Sam, for he got a most undeniable thrashing in half an
hour. Sam Peters’ “sell” with Corcoran, in 1774, has been already
commented on. From this time he ceased to find backers.

                          JOE HOOD—1773‒1780.

JOE HOOD, a weaver, fought some good battles between 1773 and 1780. His
first important contest was with the noted Jem Parrot, on the 9th of
November, 1773, in White Conduit Fields, Islington, for a stake of 20
guineas. Rossemus Gregory (see SAM PETERS, of Birmingham, _ante_)
seconded Parrot, and Sam Peters attended upon Joe Hood. The fight was
obstinately contested for thirty-five minutes, when a dispute arose
between the seconds as to a foul blow. Rossy Gregory would not allow his
man to fight longer, and Parrot left the ground, refusing to return. The
battle, upon a reference, was awarded to Hood.

On the 31st of March, 1775, Joe Hood met and conquered Dennis Kellyhorn,
“a famous Irish bruiser.” The battle was for 50 guineas, and took place
at Chingford Hatch, Essex.

Macdonald, a sawyer, of great strength and stature, issued a challenge
to Joe for £10. The set-to is described by the reporter as “furious on
the part of Macdonald.” Joe fought on the defensive for half an hour,
when the rush of Macdonald having slackened, Joe completely turned the
tables, and milled the sawyer all over the ring. Macdonald fought
obstinately: “he was beaten so dreadfully before he gave in, that both
eyes were closed, and it was found that his jaw was broken.”

Joe’s next battle with the champion, Harry Sellers, June 4, 1777, ended
in a defeat, though “Hood displayed astonishing judgment and bottom.”
This important battle is not mentioned in “Boxiana” (JOE HOOD, p. 81),
nor in “Fistiana,” under HOOD (p. 58, edit. 1864); nor does Hood’s
second defeat (July 2, 1774) appear under his name in either authority.

A noted Birmingham pugilist (the “Hardware Village” has always been
renowned for boxers) hight Joe Higgins, “who had fought fifteen battles,
in all of which he had been the conqueror,”[36] challenged Hood. He had
miscalculated his skill. They met July 23, 1778, when Hood gave him so
severe a beating as, says the authority just quoted, “taught him the
proper respect due to a scientific pugilist.”

The tide of battle now turned against Hood. On the 8th of September,
1778, after a severe attack of illness, Joe met “the Bristol Boy,” Peter
Bath, at Maidenhead races, for £50 a-side. “The bets were two to one in
Joe’s favour, notwithstanding his indifferent health.” Joe soon “found
himself entirely unable to cope with his opponent, and gave in after
fighting twenty minutes, when Bath[37] was hailed the conqueror.”

On the 4th of September, 1779, Hood was again unsuccessful in a pitched
battle in Smithfield with William Day, an active and game pugilist. This
seems to have been Joe’s last appearance as a principal, his
constitution being impaired.


                               CHAPTER V.


Tom Johnson, whose real name was Jackling, was a native of Derby,
although a general claim of Yorkshire extraction has been made for him,
and “Boxiana” so states it; followed, of course, by “Fights for the
Championship,” London, 1855. However, as he signs himself “Thomas
Jackling, of Derby,” in a printed letter, the point is not worth
disputing. He surely could himself have no motive for such a

Johnson, for we shall retain his popular name, was certainly a hero
among heroes; and if Tom was inferior to Broughton in science, he came
certainly nearest of any man that had hitherto appeared to that phœnix
of pugilistic skill. Nature had endowed him with unusual strength of
body, and he was universally admitted to possess a careful and precise
style of hitting. His courage was of the highest order, and he possessed
a constitutional coolness of disposition and temper. Johnson was born in
1750, the very year that Jack Slack defeated his prototype, the champion
Broughton, and at an early age repaired to London, where he followed the
laborious occupation of a corn-porter, on a wharf near Old Swan Stairs.
His surprising strength was paralleled by his kindness of heart; and
while in this employment an anecdote is recorded of him which deserves
preservation. Johnson’s fellow porter was taken ill, and being burdened
with a wife and a numerous family, dependent on his labour for support,
they were likely to be reduced to want, had not Johnson immediately
undertaken (unknown to them) to do his fellow porter’s work, as well as
his own. The warehouses where the corn was deposited were situated at
some distance from the wharf, at the end of a court, denominated, from
its steepness, “Labour-in-vain Court,” and to which place Tom carried
every journey two sacks of corn instead of one, and gave the money to
his family, till his fellow porter was able to return to his work. We
would recommend this anecdote for extract in the next number of the
“Evangelical Magazine;” it can be much better authenticated than most of
the “lose-nothing” benevolences of their portrait-loving “labourers in
the vineyard.”

As we prefer truth unadorned to clumsy rhetoric we have here merely
paraphrased what we find in contemporaries, and, where advisable,
resorted to acknowledged quotations. “After he (Johnson) had assumed the
profession of the gymnasium (somewhat pedantic this, but the writer as
he goes on becomes more natural), he soon proved the most effective
among the whole race of modern athletæ. His strength, science, and
astonishing bottom gave him rank superior to all his contemporaries, but
his greatest excellence was his surprising coolness and judgment. It may
appear somewhat ridiculous to the inconsiderate, and those prejudiced
against the art, to attempt panegyric upon the mental gifts of a
pugilist, but where such a merit did or does exist, it is a duty
incumbent on those who are just and impartial to record it. The natural
powers of Johnson’s mind, although not developed by the care of what the
schoolmaster calls fostering education, were remarkably extensive and
capable of the accomplishment of great difficulties. Unlike many
pugilists, who seldom form any rules for their guidance in emergencies
until they find themselves on the stage, he invariably, long before,
determined on a system of conduct adapted to his own advantage, and
calculated to defeat the style of his adversary. To effect this, he
calmly balanced the respective abilities of his opponents, their
tempers, power, and mode of attack, and particularly noted the
constitution and disposition of his opponent. His grand principle in
fighting was never unnecessarily to expose himself to danger, nor hazard
anything which could be obtained with certainty by waiting. By acting on
this plan, he frequently at the conclusion of a battle, was nearly in as
good condition as at its commencement; for though confident when first
setting-to of an easy conquest, his prudence led him to protract an
engagement, which perhaps he could not speedily terminate, unless by
endangering himself. He usually, therefore, acted on the defensive, and
never made a blow but when confident of getting home. If his opponent
was cool, he was cooler; if warm and precipitate, he endeavoured to make
him still more so, by using every justifiable measure to disappoint and
baffle him; but he never took advantage of his man by unfair
manœuvres.”[38] This description, despite a certain stiffness of the old
school, is written by a master, and an appreciator of the art.

A few casual turns-up had shown the bent of Johnson’s natural genius for
fistic fame; and at 23 years of age, in June, 1783, he met a carman of
the name of Jarvis in Lock’s Fields, Walworth. The skill of Johnson, a
supposed novice opposed to a practised boxer, astonished the spectators.
Jarvis was severely thrashed, and Tom’s fame spread abroad.

A desperate rough, known as “the Croydon Drover,” next challenged
Johnson, and they fought on Kennington Common, in March, 1784. The
Drover was completely polished off in twenty-seven minutes.

Stephen Oliver (Death), though a decided “ould ’un,” would not believe
in Johnson’s vast superiority until he tried him, on Blackheath, in
June, 1784, when he had ocular demonstration by being beaten blind in
thirty-five minutes.

Johnson now seems to have reposed on his laurels without a competitor
till 1786. On the 11th of January in that year, Bill Love,[39] a
butcher, fancied Tom for 50 guineas a-side. Johnson disposed of Bill
Love’s pretensions in a few minutes.

Jack Towers, “the celebrated conqueror of Death,” says the reporter,
though we have not met with the record, met Johnson (for a stake not
stated), at Barnet, in February, 1786, and was soundly beaten without a
chance of retrieving his fame.

About this period, 1786, Humphries, Martin, the Bath butcher, and
Mendoza appeared. These celebrated men will be found duly chronicled “in
their right place.”

Fry, a big, heavy, and powerful man, next challenged Johnson for 50
guineas, and they fought at Kingston, in June, 1786, but in less than
half an hour Fry got so much broiled as to be very glad to put an end to
the contest; and Tom walked off the ground almost without a scratch.

Johnson, about this period (1787) beat every one that was opposed to
him, and the sporting world was almost nonplussed to find a man who
might stand something like a chance with him. As the metropolis could
produce no such character, Bristol was searched (the _parsley-bed_ of
pugilists), when Bill Warr[40] was selected as an article that could be
depended upon. He was backed to fight Johnson for 200 guineas, on a
stage, at Oakingham, in Berkshire, on January 18, 1787.

In the first round Warr found out he had got a trump to deal with, by
receiving a doubler from Johnson. He immediately assumed the defensive.
In fact, it was scarcely worthy of being called a fight, and the
amateurs were not only disappointed but much displeased. Warr was
convinced that he could not beat Johnson by standing up to him, and
therefore determined to try whether he could not tire him out by
shifting and falling; accordingly, whenever Tom seemed likely to make a
blow, Bill Warr was on his knees praying for pluck, _à la_ Tass Parker
and Nick Ward of more modern days. This humbugging lasted for nearly an
hour and a half, Johnson’s intentions being continually frustrated by
Warr’s dropping. At length an ugly hit nailed him as he was falling. He
insisted on a “foul!” which not being admitted, he instantly bolted,
notwithstanding the remonstrances of his seconds to come back and finish
the fight. In the words of the report: “Warr jumped up from his knees,
crying ‘foul!’ and jumped from the stage. His second called him several
times to return, but he ‘mizzled’ clean off.” Johnson was now firmly
established as the champion; his fame ran before him, and it was some
months before any person could be found hardy enough to dispute his
well-earned title; at length, a brave Hibernian chief, who, like Tom
Johnson, had milled all his opponents, came forward, and soon found

How this came about must be told by an episode. On November 22, 1787, a
severe contest was decided, in Stepney Fields, between W. Savage and
Doyle. Tom Johnson seconded Savage, and Ryan, his countryman Doyle.
After a sharp battle of forty-five minutes, Doyle was defeated, and Ryan
in some heat challenged Johnson.

Michael Ryan, the Irish champion’s skill and courage stood so high, that
the odds were six to four before the fight, which took place at
Wradisbury, in Buckinghamshire, on December 19, 1787, for 300 guineas
a-side. The seconds were chosen from the first-rate pugilists, Humphries
for Johnson, and Dunn for Ryan; and even the bottle-holders were of
fistic eminence, being Tom Tring for the latter, and Mendoza for the
former. The spectators were numerous. The celebrated Mr. Windham, Sir
Richard Symonds, Colonel Hanger, Colonel Hamilton, Mr. Bradyl, General
Fitzpatrick, etc., were more than spectators on this occasion.

The contest long hung doubtful, though, at the commencement, the odds
were in favour of Ryan. What follows is from “Boxiana.” “After the fight
had continued nearly twenty minutes, and at the close of a most
tremendous round, Ryan put in a blow upon Johnson’s temple, which so
completely stunned him that his arms fell by his side, and was following
up this advantage with another hit, which must have decided the contest,
when Humphries ran in to save Johnson, and caught Ryan in his arms.
Cries of ‘Foul! foul!’ resounded from all parts, and the friends of Ryan
instantly demanded the money, by observing that, as long as Johnson had
not fallen, it was perfectly fair on the part of Ryan to strike him, and
that the latter had won the battle. Here a general clamour took place,
during which Ryan, with the warmth peculiar to his country, indignantly
told his second, Dunn, that he had not done his duty by him as a man, in
suffering such conduct to take place without resenting it, and, had he
not been prevented, he would have milled Dunn upon the spot, his rage
was so great. Considerable time having now elapsed, Johnson was
recovered, and challenged Ryan to renew the combat: the latter, like a
man, notwithstanding it was considered there was no necessity for so
doing, agreed to it, thinking he could beat Johnson.

“The battle was at length renewed; but it was soon perceived that Ryan’s
strength was exhausted by passion, and he now, in about ten minutes,
became an easy conquest to Johnson, by giving away the chance. Ryan’s
conduct in the battle was so noble, and his manly courage and science so
truly apparent, that the amateurs were still left in doubt to decide
accurately which was the best man” (“Boxiana,” pp. 94, 95).

In consequence of this opinion, a second battle was determined upon, and
fought upon a stage in the Rabbit Dell in Cashiobury Park, near
Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire, for 300 guineas a-side, on February 11,
1789. This was a contest of great anxiety, and the whole sporting world
was there, from the Corinthian to the costermonger.

Johnson, who had for his second, Humphries, and Jackson as his
bottleholder, mounted the stage at three o’clock, and were immediately
followed by Ryan, who was seconded by Mr. Rolfe, a baker, and Nowlan his
bottleholder. The set-to was one of the finest ever witnessed, and much
science was displayed; the parries and feints eliciting general
admiration. At length Ryan put in a severe blow on Johnson’s chest,
which floored him.

The second round, which continued about two minutes, was terrible beyond
description—science seemed forgotten—when Ryan received a knock-down
blow. The battle was well sustained on both sides for some time; but
Ryan’s passion getting the better of him, he began to lose ground.
“Johnson,” says “Pancratia,” p. 83, “stopped Ryan’s blows with the
greatest dexterity, and, hitting over his guard, cut him under the
eyes.” Ryan’s head and eyes made a dreadful appearance. The contest
lasted for thirty-three minutes, when Ryan gave in. A hat, ornamented
with blue ribbons was placed upon the conqueror’s head; and Johnson
gained a considerable sum of money, as, besides the 300 guineas stakes,
and £512 door money, equally divided between the combatants, Mr.
Hollingsworth, a cornfactor, and a former master of Johnson, settled £20
a year upon him for life, in consideration of the money he had won by
backing him.

Brain, better known as Big Ben (see _post_), was now considered the only
man capable of meeting Johnson, and a match was made for £1,000; but
Ben, being taken ill at the appointed time, forfeited the deposit, which
was £100.

We now approach one of the most interesting and remarkable contests in
the annals of pugilism. The various coloured accounts of more modern
writers cannot be excused of exaggerating the incidents of this fight,
yet, as our object is rather authenticity than “sensation,” we shall
simply transcribe the report from the old _Sporting Magazine_, for the
month of September, 1789.

Birmingham having challenged London to produce its most noted men to
meet their best pugilists, the matter has been put in train, and the
combatants paired thus:—Isaac Perrins[41] challenges Tom Johnson, the
champion; Jacombs will fight Bryan (Big Ben); Pickard, George Ingleston
(the brewer); Tom Faulkner (the cricketer), Watson; and Thornhill,
Hooper (the tinman). The challenges of the three first heroes were
accepted, and the terms proposed by “the bruisers” agreed to.

The meeting of Johnson and Perrins was arranged for the first October
meeting at Newmarket, to be fought on the turf, for 250 guineas a-side,
and two-thirds of the door money to the winner, one-third to the
defeated combatant. We continue from the contemporary report:—

“Perrins was an uncommonly strong man, gigantic in height and weight,
with force adapted to his form, and, for his size, of astonishing
activity. He stood six feet two inches in his stocking feet, and weighed
seventeen stone, three stone heavier than Johnson. Perrins is stated to
have lifted eight hundred weight of iron into a waggon, and to have
performed other feats of strength almost beyond credibility. He was
universally allowed to possess much skill in boxing, and excellent
bottom. He had won many battles with ease, beating every competitor in
Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire, and undoubtedly thought
himself superior to every athlete, as is shown by his advertisement,
challenging to fight any man in England for 500 guineas. His Birmingham
friends considered him invincible, and backed him in the contest for
many thousands of pounds, at two, and even three, to one against

“The combatants, however, were not permitted to fight at Newmarket, and
Banbury, in Oxfordshire, was then fixed upon, where they accordingly met
on the 22nd of October, 1789. The battle was fought on a turfed stage,
raised five feet from the ground, twenty-four feet square, and railed
in. Johnson’s second was Will Ward (Warr), and his bottle-holder Joe
Ward; Pickard seconded Perrins, and his brother was his bottle-holder.
Colonel Tarleton was umpire for Johnson, and Mr. Meadows, of Birmingham,
for Perrins.

“At a little before one the combatants set-to, and Johnson’s friends,
who before had flattered themselves with certain success, when they
viewed the wonderful difference of size between the bruisers, began to
tremble for the event.

“For five minutes all was anxious expectation; Perrins then with great
force aimed a blow, which Johnson very dexterously eluded, and gave the
first blow, by which Perrins fell. The three next rounds terminated also
in Johnson’s favour, who confused his antagonist by dancing round him,
and occasionally planting an unexpected hit. Perrins became excessively
irritated at this conduct, and throwing off the caution he had shown at
the beginning, followed Johnson with vast resolution, and appearing to
treat his manœuvres with contempt, he, despite of several sharp hits, at
last got in a successful knock-down blow, which success he followed up
for several rounds, in one of which he brought blood by a severe cut on
Johnson’s lip.

“Johnson watched his opportunity, and in reply to a taunt from the
Birmingham Goliath jumped in, and planting a blow over Perrins’ left
eye, cut the eyebrow, and completely closed it up. This blow, and the
failure of Perrins’ wind, which was now very visible, raised the bets
amazingly in Johnson’s favour; the odds, however, again changed upon
Perrins closing one of Johnson’s eyes; after this Johnson began once
more to fight cunning, and having skilfully parried a violent attack of
Perrins, he caught him so severe and swift a blow in the face as laid
his nose completely open. Odds now rose 100 to 10 on Johnson.

“Perrins recovered his breath, and with great vigour and resolution
attacked Johnson, who retreated parrying, but Perrins got in a blow over
Johnson’s right eye that again brought down the odds, but not to even.
Forty rounds of resolute boxing had now taken place.

“In the following round Johnson fell when not struck, and Perrins
claimed the victory, but the umpires decided it was allowable,[42] as
the articles did not specify to the contrary.” We suspect the Birmingham
men, for Perrins was as brave a boxer as ever pulled off a shirt, were
trying to “snatch a verdict,” as the day was clearly going against them.

“Perrins, in turn, seemed now to lose much of his strength. He tried to
imitate his antagonist’s mode of fighting, with which he was totally
unacquainted.[43] He fought low, and had recourse to chopping
back-handed strokes, which at first drove back Johnson and disconcerted
him, but against which he soon guarded himself very collectedly; often
getting home a sharp return.



  _From an Engraving published in 1790._

“Johnson seemed to improve in strength as the battle went on, never
beginning the attack. Perrins, in aiming several heavy blows, fell, as
if from weakness. Johnson watched his falling, and hit him in the face,
generally falling at the same time. He seemed now to hit Perrins
whenever he tried. At the end of one hour and a quarter Johnson gathered
himself for a blow, and it took effect directly, in the centre of the
face,[44] and finished as severe a contest as stands recorded in the
annals of pugilism; the combatants having fought sixty-two rounds of
fair hard boxing.”

Mr. Bullock won £20,000 by the battle. He backed Johnson, taking high
odds, and afterwards made him a present of £1000 (and he deserved the
generous gift). The door-money amounted to £800, of which Johnson had
£533, after expenses deducted. As the song says,

                   “Shall we ever, shall we ever;
                   Shall we ever see the like again?”

The remarkable print from which our engraving is furnished, is
certainly, when we compare it with most of the art-productions of the
day, a most creditable production. The descriptions which we have quoted
from witnesses of the fight, and from persons who well knew the
combatants, are fully realised. Although the stoop of Johnson certainly
exaggerated the vast proportion of Perrins, the disparity, upon closer
examination, is not so extreme. The faces, you feel, must be portraits.

The fights which followed will be found under BRAIN (Big Ben) and GEORGE

Johnson now seemed to be without a rival to dispute his supremacy; but
about the year 1790, the Duke of Hamilton, who had been the firm friend
and patron of Ben Brain of Bristol (Big Ben), was extremely anxious to
back his _protégé_ against the renowned, and as yet invincible Johnson.
A challenge was accordingly published, the Duke backing Ben for 500

“Johnson,” says “Pancratia,” “who the year before possessed the amount
of £5000 acquired by his astonishing success in the battles he had
fought, by an unlucky ‘_leter_’ of shaking the elbow, found himself
obliged, in order to replenish the exchequer, to accept Ben’s offer. The
conditions were agreed upon, and the day fixed for January 17th, 1791.
Never was public curiosity more on tiptoe;” but as this battle belongs
by our system to the memoir of the victor, it will be found in the
memoir of BIG BEN. This was the last fight of both these celebrated

Johnson’s name appears from time to time as second to Hooper, the
tinman, “Gentleman Jackson,” and other pugilists, but no more as
principal. We find Bell soon after his victory over Stanyard, the
Birmingham boxer, (in December 1792) challenging Johnson to “mill for a
guinea;” whereon the reporter remarks: “Tom, however, has lost too many
of the yellow-boys lately to trouble himself to win a single one, and
left the stage.” A sufficient allusion to Tom’s improvidence.

Johnson, becoming a Boniface, took the “Grapes” in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields.
Here he failed in business, owing to his gambling propensities, which
also caused the loss of his license. He then became the proprietor of an
EO table at races, etc. This, too, failing, he migrated to Ireland. In
Dublin he kept, as we see by advertisements, a public house in
Cooper-Alley: but here again the gaming practices and frequenters
incensed the magistrates, and he was deprived of his license. He next is
found in Cork, where he advertised for pupils in the art of boxing, and
where, on the 21st of January, 1797, aged forty-seven years, the
Champion fell before the arm of the great leveller—death.

“Johnson’s appearance,” says a contemporary, “indicated, when stripped,
more of strength than beauty of form. He was in height nearly five feet
nine inches, and about fourteen stone in weight; a remarkably round-made
man, with very fine chest and shoulders, and displaying immensely strong
loins. He was by no means a showy fighter, and his guard was generally
considered inelegant, and his attitudes more defensive than otherwise.
In the fight he was peculiarly steady, watching every movement of his
antagonist with a coolness unequalled, receiving the attack unappalled,
and scarcely ever failing in the return of planting a most desperate
hit. The head was his favourite object, and if his adversary did not
possess considerable science, he was in extreme danger of being put in
the dark. Johnson walked round his antagonist in a way peculiar to
himself, that so puzzled his adversary to find out his intent, that he
was frequently thrown off his guard, by which manœuvring Johnson often
gained the most important advantages. Tom was thorough game, and showed
the utmost contempt for retreating; at the same time careful to avoid
exposing his person too much to the attacks of his antagonist. One
pugilist,” continues the author of “Pancratia,” “may be superior in
strength, a second in science, a third in endurance, but in Johnson have
been more fully combined the requisites of a complete boxer than in any
pugilist up to this day.”


                              CHAPTER VI.

             BENJAMIN BRAIN (BIG BEN). CHAMPION—1786‒1791.

Benjamin Brain (called in the chronologies Brian and Bryan) was a native
of Bristol, where he was born in the year 1753. His familiar nickname,
“Big Ben,” was scarcely justified by his size, his weight being rather
under that of Johnson (14 stone), and his height 5 feet 10 inches. Brain
was a powerful pugilist, celebrated for his straight and severe
right-handed deliveries, though remarkably good with both hands. Ben’s
early years were passed as a collier at Kingswood, near his native
place; and it was here that the future champion first signalised himself
by a battle with Clayton, “the Shropshire champion.” A fellow collier,
also of Kingswood, called Bob Harris, who had earned a provincial
reputation in that nursery for pugilists, Bristol, also succumbed to
Ben, after a game and determined conquest.

Brain arrived in London in 1774, shortly after these battles, and passed
several years as a coal-porter, at a wharf in the Strand. He was a
good-looking man, and when out of his business always appeared clean and
respectable, mild and sociable in his demeanour, and never ridiculously
presuming upon his qualities as a boxer.

Ben’s first set-to in London was with “the Fighting Grenadier,” in the
Long Fields, Bloomsbury, on October 31, 1786, in which, had it not been
for the assistance of a medical man, who witnessed the contest, Ben must
have been defeated. The soldier was a first-rate punisher, and Ben’s
eyes were so swelled, from the heavy blows he received, that he could
not see, when just at this juncture the ring was broken, during which
accident the swellings were skilfully lanced by a surgeon, and Ben
restored to vision. A fresh ring was made, and the combat renewed; and
in the course of a few minutes the Grenadier gave in.

Corbally, an Irish chairman, fought Ben, upon a stage, twenty-five feet
square, at Navestock in Essex, on December 31, 1788, after Bill Warr had
defeated Wood, the coachman. Notwithstanding the weather was extremely
severe, the combatants stripped with the most perfect indifference, and
the fight was carried on with determined courage on both sides; Corbally
was eventually defeated. Mr. John Jackson seconded Ben on this occasion.

In 1789 he forfeited £100 to Johnson, as already noticed, which sum was
deposited in part of £500, Brain being in a bad state of health.

Ben received a challenge from Jacombs, a Birmingham pugilist, which he
accepted (See JOHNSON and PERRINS), and the battle came off at Banbury,
in Oxfordshire, on a twenty-four feet square stage, October 23, 1789.
Jacombs[45] was a stout made man, of high courage, and not without
science. In the early part of the combat, Jacombs exhibited determined
resolution, and went into Brain in a style that would take no denial.
Whether Ben felt any doubt about the battle, he did not conduct himself
after his accustomed method, but fought on the retreat, shifting often
to avoid Jacombs’ blows, and fell frequently. Jacombs, on the contrary,
received Ben’s attacks undauntedly. Considerable disapprobation was
expressed by the spectators, particularly the Warwickshire men, who were
getting outrageous at Ben’s manœuvring. Brain at length stood to his
adversary, and showed what he was capable of performing by putting in a
tremendous floorer, which quickly convinced the spectators of his
quality. First-rate courage was displayed upon both sides; but after a
most dreadful battle of one hour and twenty-six minutes, the brave
Jacombs was conquered.

Tom Tring (the Big Porter at Carlton House) was matched, as a sort of
bye-battle, with Ben, who, as we gather from contemporary prints, had so
very “little” opinion of his really “big” opponent’s boxing
qualifications, that he met him at Dartford, for the paltry stake of 10
guineas a-side. Pierce Egan has invented a dreadful battle, in which
“Ben was nearly blind,” “the blows that passed between them were
tremendous in the extreme,” and that Big Ben “refused to enter the lists
with Tom Tring a second time, but declared before his death that his
constitution had suffered most materially from the severe blows which he
had encountered at Dartford,” etc. (see “Boxiana,” vol i., pp. 298, 299,
TOM TRING). The fact is, Tom could not hit his man, and was thoroughly
beaten in twelve rounds, occupying under twenty minutes.[46]

In the following year (1790), the battle, long anxiously looked for
between Big Ben and Hooper, the tinman (see HOOPER’S other battles in
Period II.) at Chapel Row Revel, near Newbury, Berkshire, on August 30,
for 100 guineas.

Hooper’s patron had completely miscalculated his man’s powers. The
affair could not be called a fight. Ben treated his opponent with
perfect contempt. In a close at the end of the first round Ben hit
Hooper so heavily in the body, that he could not be induced again to
come within distance. He fell every time Ben’s hand reached him, and
even before; ran all over the stage, filled his mouth with water and
spirted it in Ben’s face, accompanied by provoking and blackguard
epithets to irritate Ben and throw him off his guard. It is true Hooper
got in some few “facers” by his trickery and activity, and he was on the
ground before Ben could get in a return. At length Ben determined not to
follow him, and none of the stratagems of the tinman could induce him to
break ground. He stood firmly at the scratch, in the middle of the
stage, and called upon Hooper to face him: this the latter did for a few
seconds, and was then off and away. This piece of diversion took place
on August 30, 1790, at Chapel Row Revel, near Newbury, in Berkshire, and
continued for three hours and a half. The night coming on fast, several
of the amateurs asked Ben if he should be able to finish the battle that
day? He jocularly replied, “That it entirely depended upon his
antagonist;” and observed, “they had better begin the next morning at
six o’clock, and have the whole day before them.” The Fancy were
completely disgusted with such treatment. After what was termed one
hundred and eighty rounds had taken place, and it being nearly dark, it
was declared a drawn battle, and Ben walked off without receiving any
particular hurt.[47]

And now came Ben’s crowning victory over the renowned, brave, and
skilful, but imprudent and reckless champion, Tom Johnson.

Towards the close of the year 1790, the Duke of Hamilton, the patron and
firm supporter of Ben Brain in all his matches, was anxious to match him
against the hitherto invincible Johnson, and offered to back his man for
500 guineas. We have already noticed Tom’s reckless prodigality and
gambling, and necessity spurred him not to let pass the chance of such a
golden prize. “Public expectation,” says the _Oracle_ newspaper, “never
was raised so high by any pugilistic contest; great bets were laid, and
it is estimated £20,000 was wagered on this occasion.”

On a stage twenty feet square,[48] at Wrotham, in Kent, on January the
17th, 1791, the two best boxers in England met to decide the
Championship. Punctually at one o’clock, the time named in the articles,
Johnson ascended the theatre of combat, followed by Joe Ward, as second,
and Dan Munday as his bottle-holder. He bore an aspect of steady
composure and modest confidence. Big Ben immediately followed, with a
cheerful countenance, having Will Warr as his second,[49] and Humphries
as his bottle-holder. “The betting, from the first making of the match,”
says the reporter, “was seven to four in favour of Johnson.” Truly our
grandfathers were bold, nay reckless, layers of odds. What follows is a
verbatim transcript of the contemporary report.

“The combatants being prepared, set to, and in the first round, which
was much more violent and quickly terminated than usual, Johnson fell
upon his forehead, from a violent blow on the nose. This blow determined
the fate of the battle, for Johnson never was capable of recovering

“In the second round he also fell by a severe blow; bets became even.

“Third round he knocked Ben down, and odds again increased in his

“After this, Ben reassumed his advantage, and kept it to the end. In
this round (the fourth) both combatants seemed to throw aside skill,
and, entering upon a rally, totally depended on strength and courage. At
the expiration of twenty minutes, Johnson drew back, and springing in
with a desperate blow at Ben, which the latter evaded, broke the
metacarpal bone of his middle finger by striking the rail of the stage.
At first this severe accident did not seem to affect his spirits and he
manœuvred actively; but shortly afterwards Ben put in two successive
blows which decided the turn of battle. One struck him in the ribs,
another dreadfully cut his lip.” Another account describes Johnson as
“holding Ben by the hair to prevent his striking, so unlike his conduct
in former fights.” All, however, did not avail; the die was cast, and
Ben Brain was the undisputed conqueror in eighteen rounds, occupying no
more than twenty-one minutes. We resume the report:—“Johnson, in this
battle, did not preserve that coolness and regularity of temper which
hitherto have caused him to be considered so admirably pre-eminent as a
safe boxer. His wind was good, but the first knock-down blow so much
disconcerted him that he frequently shifted, and went back. Ben,
however, seldom advanced, at least not at the instant, and when he did,
he kept up good guard, and penned Johnson in without room to manœuvre,
compelling him to fight out of it if he could. Though Johnson was so
heavily punished, in appearance Ben seemed little hurt, and on the
Monday following he displayed great agility in a sparring match at the
Grecian Theatre, in the Strand.”[50]

After four years’ interval, during which Ben appears now and then as a
second, our hero accepted a challenge from Will Wood, the coachman, to
fight on the 24th of February, 1794. Though Ben’s health had been in a
precarious state, the odds were largely in his favour. But a more
formidable adversary declared himself: a scirrhous liver deranged Ben’s
vital functions; his disease ran on rapidly, and on the 8th of April,
1794, the Champion died in full possession of the honour, at his
dwelling in Gray’s-Inn-Road. On the Friday following (the 11th) we find
him among the burials in St. Sepulchre’s churchyard. His funeral, which
was conducted with the solemnity such occasions demand, was attended by
his old friends and professional brothers, Johnson, Warr, Wood, Symonds,
and several others of inferior note.

A pugilist wrote the following epitaph for his tombstone:—

                  “Farewell, ye honours of my brow,
                    Victorious wreaths, farewell!
                  One blow from Death has laid me low,
                    By whom such brave ones fell.

                  Yet bravely I’ll dispute the prize,
                    Nor yield, though out of breath,
                  ’Tis not a fall—I yet shall rise,
                    And conquer even Death!”

Of which rhymes we can conscientiously say the anonymous “brother
pugilist” of Ben need not have been ashamed; for far worse have been
written on marble by “unco’ guid folk” who would scorn to bestow a
glance on the grave of a boxer.

                            END OF PERIOD I.

                         PERIOD II.—1784‒1798.

                               CHAPTER I.

                     DANIEL MENDOZA—1784‒1820.[51]

The conveniences of the plan of a biographical history the editor
flatters himself are by this time sufficiently obvious to the reader:
the index of names and of events at the end of the volume, and the
grouping of the memoirs into Periods, bringing the men who contended
their most important battles with each other into close companionship in
our pages.

As the introducer of a new, a more rapid, and more elegant style of
boxing, and a more artistic _tactique_, the Israelitish champion Mendoza
deserves the distinction of heading a division of followers and pupils.
Accordingly we begin with his pugilistic career, to be succeeded by
those of his clever antagonists, Richard Humphries and Mr. John Jackson,
Bill Warr, Tom Owen, Paddington (Tom) Jones, etc., with Stanyard, George
Ingleston, Fewterel, and many minor stars in the Appendix, and in
foot-notes, where their conflicts with more distinguished boxers have
preserved their names from oblivion.

DANIEL MENDOZA, one of the most elegant and scientific boxers recorded
in the annals of pugilism, was born in the year 1763, of Jewish parents,
in the vicinity of Whitechapel. Of his earlier years nothing worthy of
record is known. His first noted pugilistic contest took place at Mile
End, in 1784, with a big rough, known by the name of Harry the
Coalheaver. Dan appears to have polished off this black diamond in forty
minutes—at least, so says “Boxiana;” yet so far from being drawn from
his regular employment and pursuits by this triumph, his name does not
figure until 1787. Shortly after, Dan rose like a phenomenon in the
fistic horizon, where he long sparkled a star of the first magnitude.
His advent was unquestionably a new feature in the practice of the art,
and his style of fighting gave rise to much controversy and
animadversion among the cognoscenti.[52] So far as it was illustrated in
his own practice, it was substantial and complete; and it may be
candidly allowed that whenever Mendoza failed, it was rather from
insufficient muscular strength, and being overmatched in weight, than
any deficiency of skill or courage. It has been contended that there was
more elegance about his positions than strength, and more show than
utility. No pugilist ever stopped with greater neatness, hit oftener, or
put in his blows quicker, than Mendoza; but they often failed in doing
that execution which might have been expected from want of force. In
height about five feet seven inches, with a well-formed manly chest, and
arms of a strong athletic nature; a courage never impeached; and
possessing wind that was seldom disordered, his battles were numerous
and well-contested.

On the 17th of April, 1787, Mendoza made his first public appearance in
the lists, on Barnet race-course, with Martin, the Bath butcher, an
opponent of Humphries, and of great provincial reputation. The victory
was well disputed, Mendoza exhibiting thus early those points of
excellence which soon afterwards ripened to perfection. The battle was
for 25 guineas, and in twenty minutes the Bath boxer acknowledged that
the young Israelite was his master in the art. Humphries, who had last
fought Martin, in the previous year, had taken 105 minutes to dispose of

This victory was much talked of, and already the youthful Jew was
mentioned as “the coming man” to lower the pretensions of “the Gentleman
Boxer.” In 1787, a casual rencontre took place between these great
rivals, at the Cock, at Epping, in which rumour gave Humphries so much
the best that it led to a match in 1788, which, as Mendoza was defeated,
will be found in Chapter II., under Humphries. The superiority of the
latter was, however, a matter of very serious question with the most
competent judges, and their doubts were proved valid by the sequel, for
a second match was made, the progress and result of which we now proceed
to detail.

May the 6th, 1789, was the day fixed for the long and anxiously expected
battle. The place fixed upon was Mr. Thornton’s park, near Stilton,
Hunts. In order to accommodate the spectators, a building was erected,
enclosing a space of forty-eight feet in diameter (“Boxiana” says “in
circumference”), with seats raised one above the other, capable of
containing nearly three thousand persons, the highest seat being
eighteen feet from the ground.

Humphries, attended by Tom Johnson, as his second, entered between one
and two o’clock, followed by Butcher, as his bottle-holder, and Harvey
Combe, Esq., the brewer and alderman, as his umpire. Mendoza immediately
afterwards made his appearance, attended by Captain Brown and Michael
Ryan, as his second and bottle-holder, having Sir Thomas Apreece for his
umpire. The seconds, according to agreement, retired to separate comers
on the setting-to. The reporter continues: “The first blow was struck by
Humphries at the face of his antagonist, which Mendoza stopping with
great adroitness, returned and knocked Humphries down. The second and
third rounds terminated in precisely the same manner. Astonishment at
the confidence and quickness of Mendoza was expressed by every

“After the contest had lasted about forty minutes, in which Mendoza, by
generally catching his opponent’s blows on his arm and returning with
his left hand, or throwing him, had indisputably the advantage of the
combat, it was stopped by a circumstance that created the greatest
confusion on both sides.

“In the twenty-second round, Mendoza having struck at Humphries, the
latter dropped. The articles of agreement particularly specified that
whichever combatant fell ‘without a blow,’ should lose the battle.
Consequently a general cry of ‘Foul! foul!’ took place, and it was
declared by Mendoza’s friends that he had won the battle. Humphries,
Johnson, and the spectators interested on that side of the question,
contended it was fair, asserting that Humphries had stopped the blow
before he fell. The partizans on the opposite side as vehemently
insisted on the contrary, and the whole was a scene of uproar and
confusion. Sir Thomas Apreece, as the umpire of Mendoza, declared it
foul, but Alderman Combe refused giving an opinion. During this affray,
Captain Brown (Mendoza’s second) in a moment of irritation called
Johnson a liar and a blackguard, which was answered by the approach of
Johnson in a stern and menacing manner. This led to the expectation of a
bye-battle between the seconds. Humphries came several times to his
adversary, calling on him to fight out the battle, but Mendoza’s friends
would not permit him. Humphries then threw up his hat, and challenged
him again to the combat. However, numbers present said, that this went
no way to the decision of the point in dispute, and the battle most
likely would have been a drawn one, had not Mendoza, by the advice of
his friends, or perhaps irritated by his adversary’s continually
taunting him for not continuing the fight, consented to resume the

“They again set-to, and the first two rounds terminated by Mendoza’s
knocking down his adversary. They fought for about half an hour, Mendoza
all the time evidently holding the advantage, and at last gained the
victory, by Humphries again violating the articles of agreement. In the
last round, after some blows had passed, Humphries had given way,
Mendoza followed him up, and was preparing to strike, when his opponent
fell, obviously without receiving any blow. Mendoza was immediately
declared the conqueror.

“Mendoza in this battle displayed great superiority of skill. Humphries
allowed his antagonist to gain ground upon him during the whole combat;
and when he was preparing to strike, he always flinched. Mendoza, on the
contrary, stood up to his man manfully, and followed him with coolness
and resolution, which proved much more serviceable to him than the
impetuosity of temper he displayed in his last contest with Humphries at
Odiham. Several times, when Humphries was in the act of setting-to, he
walked up to him, and viewing him with a keen look, seemed
contemptuously to drop his guard. When Humphries closed, he several
times said to Mendoza, ‘Very well, indeed—very well!’ and which Mendoza,
when he succeeded in throwing him, repeated in a mocking tone of irony.
Nevertheless, during the whole contest, up to his fall, the bets were in
favour of Humphries.

“The only blows of consequence received by Mendoza were one on the
cheek, and several on the ribs and back at the time of closing. Towards
the end of the contest Humphries aimed several very severe darts at the
pit of the stomach, which were admirably stopped by Mendoza; had they
reached their aim, they might have proved fatal to his chance. Humphries
was much beaten about the face; one eye was closed, and his forehead cut
above the other; his lip was also cut, and he frequently spat blood, but
we think the hemorrhage was merely from the last-mentioned wound.”

Humphries was by no means satisfied of the Jew’s superiority, and
persisted he had been “wrangled” out of the fight. A third trial by
battle was therefore sought by him, and readily agreed to. We copy the


    SEPTEMBER 29TH, 1790.

  _From an original Picture._

“September 29th, 1790, is rendered memorable in the annals of pugilism
by the well-fought third battle between the celebrated champions
Humphries and Mendoza. An inn-yard at Doncaster was pitched upon as the
spot for the decision of the contest. The time (the Sellinger and Cup
week), and the place were capitally chosen. The ground was bounded on
two sides by the backs of houses, at one end by the inn, at the other by
a strong palisade, behind which ran the river Don.” Upwards of 500
tickets at half-a-guinea were sold, and the persons admitted. But the
Yorkshire “tykes” of humbler means were not to be baffled; and a ‘cute
ferryman having brought over some hundreds at sixpence a-head, the crowd
outside soon demolished the paling, stout as it was, and an immense
concourse got in. The spectators seated around the stage, however,
prevented any inconvenience or interruption of the principal performers.

“At about half-past ten Humphries made his appearance, immediately
followed by Mendoza; the former mounted the stage, which was about four
feet high, and twenty-four square, with astonishing agility, evidently
in high spirits. Mendoza also seemed equally alert and devoid of
apprehension. Ward seconded Humphries, and Jackson was his
bottle-holder; Colonel Hamilton being chosen by him as his umpire. Tom
Johnson was second to Mendoza, and his bottle-holder Butcher. Sir Thomas
Apreece, who was umpire for Mendoza on his last battle with Humphries,
at Stilton, was also chosen on this occasion, and Mr. Harvey Aston was
mutually agreed upon as the third umpire, should any altercation arise
during the combat, and a difference of opinion arise between the Colonel
and Sir Thomas with respect to its decision.

“Everything being thus arranged, the combatants began to strip. Odds
were laid five to four in favour of Mendoza, and readily accepted by
Humphries’s friends, who considered that although perhaps it might be
impossible for him to beat the Jew by carrying on the fight regularly
and in a scientific style, yet, by his impetuous exertions at the
commencement, would be able to overcome his antagonist, and bear away
the palm.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            ROUND 1.—The onset of Humphries was bold and
            astonishingly vigorous, but was repelled by
            Mendoza with equal force; they mutually closed,
            struggled, and both fell.

            2.—The same vigorous spirit was manifested on
            both sides, but Humphries struck the most blows,
            though apparently without overpowering Mendoza.

            3.—This round was fought with much caution on
            both sides, each being equally careful of giving
            or receiving a blow; what passed, however, were
            in Mendoza’s favour, and it terminated by his
            giving Humphries a knock-down blow.

            4.—They engaged, but only for a few moments.

            5.—Humphries aimed a severe blow at Mendoza’s
            stomach, which he dexterously stopped, and
            struck him in the face; this blow, however,
            Humphries returned, but at the same time fell.

            “A number of rounds after this took place, but
            in every one of them Mendoza evidently had the
            advantage, and odds had risen forty to five, and
            ten to one in his favour; Humphries continually
            fell, sometimes in consequence of blows, but
            more frequently from a policy often used in
            boxing, which perhaps may be considered fair;
            several times he sunk without a blow, which
            conduct, although contrary to the articles of
            agreement, was passed unnoticed, as his general
            manners placed him above the suspicion of
            cowardice. For although he had undoubtedly the
            worst throughout the battle, he fought with
            great resolution, and even when his friends,
            perceiving him conquered, and one eye perfectly
            closed, persuaded him to yield, he solicited to
            fight a little longer. Notwithstanding all this
            display of excellent bottom, he was again
            obliged to acknowledge the ascendancy of the

            “Mendoza was very much cut about the left side
            of his head, his left eye and ear being much
            mutilated, and he had received a severe cut
            in the ribs on the right side by a projectile
            left-handed blow of his antagonist.

            “Humphries had several hits which drew blood
            under his left arm; his right eye was closed
            early in the battle, and he had a severe cut
            over his left. He had a wound clear as a razor
            cut by the left side of his nose by a
            straight-forward springing blow of Mendoza’s.
            The same hit also split his upper lip. He was
            carried through the crowd on the shoulders of
            his friends, who conveyed him in a post-chaise
            out of the town. Mendoza walked on the
            race-ground on the Town Moor for some time after
            the combat, ‘the observed of all observers.’”

“Money was collected from the spectators and amateurs present, as a
prize to be fought for between Aaron Mendoza, a cousin of the successful
champion, and Packer, a West-country boxer; the former was seconded by
Johnson, and the latter by Ward. It was a most severe contest; they
fought for an hour with the greatest violence, when on closing, they
fell, and when down, Aaron being uppermost, Packer raised his knee, and
so threw him a perfect somerset against the railing.[53] This decided
the battle, and Packer was declared the conqueror.”

Dan spent the year 1791 in a sparring tour; for like most of the
“prophets” he had an eye to the “jewels of gold and the jewels of
silver” to be collected from the Gentiles. He crossed from Liverpool to
Ireland, and there we find one “Squire Fitzgerald,” a swell of “great
weight” and little prudence, tried his “prentice han’” on Dan. He soon
found he had a workman to deal with, for Mendoza soundly thrashed him in
twenty minutes, on the 2nd of August, 1791, fully demonstrating the
striking difference between professionals and amateurs in boxing as in
most other arts and sciences.

On his return to “Duke’s Plashe,” the Fancy, who had been looking out
for the triumphant Jew, decided that Bill Warr[54] was a likely man to
lower the pride of Dan, and a match was made to come off in June, 1791.
Stokenchurch, in Oxfordshire, was named as the rendezvous. As, however,
the company were on the road, they received intimation that the
magistrates of Oxfordshire were resolved to prevent the battle. Upon
this the cavalcade stopped at Uxbridge, and an arrangement was made to
fight in Fenner’s Cricket Ground. Objections were, however, started, and
the Duke of Hamilton, on the part of Warr, and Alderman Macaulay, on the
part of Mendoza, agreed that they should postpone the affair till the
Doncaster Meeting in September; all bets to stand over. Here, however,
the old cup and lip proverb was verified; the authorities interposed,
and the treat was postponed till May 14th, 1792, when the venue was
changed to Smitham Bottom, near Croydon. On this eventful morn
pedestrians out of number, and vehicles of every quality, were seen in
rapid motion, eager to arrive at the destined spot. Between one and two
the combatants appeared upon the stage, and were greeted with shouts of
applause. Mendoza had for his second and bottle-holder, Tom Johnson and
Butcher, with Harvey Aston, Esq., as his umpire; Warr was attended by
Joe Ward and Jackson, and Mr. Watson as umpire.

At the commencement of the fight the odds were in favour of Warr; and
much was expected from his well-known skill and strength. For the first
eight rounds of the battle he fought tremendously; and in the fourteenth
he succeeded in nailing Mendoza on the jaw in such a style that the Star
of Israel came down with uncommon violence. Warr’s friends were now in
high spirits, as it was thought that Dan had received a sickener; but
his game soon brought him about, and he finished two successive rounds
by flooring his opponent cleverly. The superiority of Mendoza now became
manifest, Warr perceived he was in the hands of his master, and the
spectators began to change their opinions. Mendoza knocked down his
antagonist every round; nevertheless, Warr fought gamely an uphill
battle, and put in some good hits. In the twenty-third round the
combatants closed, Warr was completely exhausted, and Mendoza falling on
him, he reluctantly gave in. This victory established Dan’s fame as a
game man.

Nevertheless, Bill Warr fancied that in another trial he might regain
his laurels; accordingly a match was made to come off in January, 1794,
near Hounslow, but the magistrates interfering, it was postponed till
the 12th of November following, when it was decided upon Bexley Common.

The opening of the battle was good, and Warr seemed to feel that he
should accomplish his wish; as before, in the earlier rounds he seemed
to have a slight advantage, and his opponent fell before him. Whether
Mendoza permitted him to show himself off in this manner that he might
be enabled to exhibit his great superiority afterwards, or that he could
not resist the efforts of his antagonist, cannot be ascertained; but it
was evident that he treated all the attempts of Warr with perfect
coolness, and seemed quite confident of the success of his waiting game.
In the fifth round he went in, stopped the hits of his opponent with the
greatest ease, and returned so tremendously, that Bill was disposed of
in the short space of fifteen minutes! It was clear that Warr, from the
moment Mendoza assumed the offensive, was lost; his opponent’s
confidence completely overawed him, and it was visible that he laboured
under its depressing effects.

But amid all his glory he was doomed to experience the vicissitudes of
fortune by a mortifying defeat in his contest with Mr. Jackson, at
Hornchurch, on April 15, 1795, which will be detailed in the memoir of
Mr. JOHN JACKSON. This preyed so much upon his feelings that, after six
years had elapsed, they burst forth with fury, occasioned by the
following circumstance. Jem Belcher, after defeating Burke at Hurley
Bottom, challenged Dan to fight, who immediately replied, that he had
given up pugilism, and supported by his industry (as a publican, at the
Lord Nelson, in Whitechapel), a wife and six children, and only wished
to fight Jackson, who had dealt unhandsomely by him as a pugilist; and
he now publicly declared himself ready to enter the lists with him for
100 guineas, provided that he would not take the unmanly and cowardly
advantage of holding his hair. This speech of Mendoza’s was soon
trumpeted abroad, and some busy persons inserted a sort of challenge to
Mr. Jackson in the _Oracle_ and _Daily Advertiser_, which was
immediately answered by the latter. The letters, as mere specimens of
the ring correspondence of the time are given under the head of JACKSON.
It will be observed that Mendoza asserts therein that he had fought
_thirty-two_ pitched battles, and Pierce Egan makes up a list to that
amount of names, which, for aught the records of pugilism show, may have
been selected from the London Directory.[55] It will be, however, to the
point to give one of Mendoza’s letters, from which it would seem that
Dan’s challenge was not, in the first instance, inserted with his

  _To the Editor of the_ DAILY ADVERTISER.

  MR. EDITOR,—It was with inexpressible concern that, in your paper of
  Wednesday last, I observed a letter signed “John Jackson,”
  purporting to be an answer to a supposed challenge from me, inserted
  in your detailed account of the recent pugilistic contest at
  Maidenhead. Mistake me not, Sir. I was not concerned at the contents
  of Mr. Jackson’s elegant effusion, nor in the least affected or
  surprised at the opprobrious falsity, brazen impudence, or malignant
  calumny of his assertions, which I deny _in toto_; but felt
  particularly hurt at the idea that I was compelled either to sit
  down tamely under injury, or incur the risk of offending my best
  friends, and particularly the respectable magistrates of this
  division, by resuming a profession which, both from principle and
  conviction, I had wholly relinquished.

  In order satisfactorily to refute Mr. Jackson’s allegations, it is
  only necessary to observe that a month after our battle at
  Hornchurch I waited on him, upbraided him with his unmanly conduct,
  by laying hold of my hair, and offered to fight him for 200 guineas.
  Jackson proposed to fight for 100 guineas; and upon that sum being
  procured, declined fighting under 500 guineas. Here was courage,
  here was consistency, here was bottom, and yet Mr. Jackson is a man
  of honour and of his word!!!

  Mr. Editor, after this I left London for five years, which may
  easily account to Mr. Jackson for the interval of silence. I have
  fought thirty-two pitched battles—four with Humphries (three of
  which I won), and two with Will Warr, in both of which I was
  victorious; these two men were both game, and good fighters, and of
  course, having received so many blows, my only motive for wishing
  again to fight Mr. Jackson must be that spirit of honour and
  retaliation ever inherent in the breast of man.

  Mr. Editor, I repeat that I am delicately situated. I wish to fight
  Mr. Jackson, and intend it; but that, from a dread of injuring my
  family, by offending the magistrates as a challenger in a newspaper
  (which would be indecorous in a publican), I can only observe, that
  I should be very happy to see, as soon as possible, either Mr.
  Jackson or his friends, at my house, where they shall receive every
  attention from me, as I wish most earnestly to convince the world
  what a deep and just sense I entertain of all Mr. Jackson’s favours
  conferred upon

  “Admiral Nelson,” Whitechapel.

                                                       DANIEL MENDOZA.

Mendoza, in the year 1806, again introduced himself to the notice of the
public in a diffuse correspondence, arising out of a personal quarrel
with Harry Lee. Those curious may read the whole in “Boxiana,” vol. i.
pp. 272‒276. We learn from it incidentally that Dan, after his
retirement from the ring, was an officer of the Sheriff of Middlesex, a
favourite Jewish calling in the days of arrest on mesne process and of
sponging-houses. Harry, in his last letter, accepts the challenge of
Dan, which is all we care about the quarrel.

Harry was well known as an elegant sparrer, but his ring capabilities
were untried. He was also taller, younger, and more active than the
veteran Dan.

On March 21, 1806, at Grinstead Green, a short distance beyond Bromley,
in Kent, the combatants met, and 50 guineas were the stakes deposited.
It was a roped ring of twenty-five feet. Mendoza had for his second his
old opponent and firm friend, Bill Warr, and for his bottleholder, Bill
Gibbons; Harry Lee was attended by the Game Chicken and John Gully. The
odds were three to one that Dan proved the conqueror.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Mendoza, with his piercing black eye,
            looked at his opponent with scornful contempt,
            and a more than usual degree of confidence.
            Lee soon showed he was no novice in the art.
            He stood well up, with his left arm extended,
            and tried rather artfully to pop in a hit over
            Mendoza’s guard; but the latter stopped several
            of these, and eventually sent Harry down. The
            odds rose ten to one on Dan, and the bets were
            decided respecting the first knock-down and
            first blood.

            2.—Lee rose exasperated, the claret flowing
            copiously. Mendoza made a hit, which was neatly
            returned by Lee upon Dan’s nose—they closed and

            3.—Lee, out of temper, went in to mill away; but
            Mendoza punished him right and left for his
            temerity, and he saluted his mother earth.

            4.—Lee now convinced the spectators that he
            was something more than a sparrer, by showing
            game—he put in a good hit over the left eye of
            Mendoza; but Dan threw him in the close. The
            opinions of the cognoscenti began to waver,
            for it appeared not quite so easy a thing as
            imagined; and two to one was sported that
            Mendoza did not beat Lee in half an hour.

            5.—Lee, not destitute of pluck, attempted to
            rally; but Mendoza, aware of his intentions, put
            in so severe a blow, that Harry went under the
            ropes. Three to one against Lee.

            6.—Mendoza, experienced in all the manœuvres of
            the art, with the coolness of the veteran,
            judging that his opponent would attempt another
            rally, waited for him with the greatest
            composure; as he came in Dan put in a tremendous
            hit over Harry’s nose, and threw him.

            7.—Of no account.

            8.—Lee, trusting to impetuosity more than
            judgment, went in rapidly; but the folly of such
            conduct was self-evident—Mendoza hit him away
            with the greatest ease, following him, and, in
            the event, throwing him a cross-buttock. Lee’s
            frontispiece had now a variegated appearance.

            9.—Lee, full of gaiety, rallied; but Mendoza hit
            him sharply over the left eye, which was already
            terribly swelled. Five to one on Mendoza.

            10.—Dan laughed at his opponent; who made a
            feeble hit and fell upon his knees.

            11.—It appeared from Lee’s conduct that he
            entertained an idea that his opponent was to be
            conquered by impetuosity. He rushed in most
            furiously, when the latter hit him; Harry
            retreated and took refuge upon the ground.

            12.—Mendoza thought it was necessary to show a
            little fight, and, in a sharp rally, quickly
            punished his opponent out of the ring.

            13.—Rallying was the order of the day with Lee;
            Dan put in a severe hit, and, to avoid going
            down, Harry caught hold of his opponent.

            14.—Mendoza struck his adversary, who, to the
            astonishment of the spectators, laid himself
            down as before. (Some hisses and disapprobation
            occurred; and cries of “Foul—take him away!”)

            15.—Trifling away time; Lee went down without a
            hit, and Dan laughed at him. (Six to one against

            16.—Mendoza waiting for his opponent, hit him in
            the throat, which more than tickled him, and he
            fell from its effects, to all appearance
            extremely weak. (The odds now were out of
            comparison: a guinea to half-a-crown was

            17.—Lee went to the ground on the first blow.

            18.—Mere flourishing-the men closed and fell.

            19.—Harry, quite gay, tried what effect another
            rally might produce; but Mendoza’s sagacity
            rendered the attempt futile. He gave Lee a
            desperate blow upon the chin, which not only cut
            it severely, but sent him under the ropes.

            20.—Mendoza laughing at the insufficiency of his
            opponent’s attempts—who now appeared quite
            passionate—stopped Harry’s blows with the
            greatest _sang froid_. In closing, both went to
            the ground.

            21.—Dan gave Lee so severe a body hit that it
            instantly floored him. (All betters, no takers.)

            22.—As Mendoza made himself up to strike his
            opponent, Lee fell. (Cries of “Foul!”)

            23.—Of no consequence-both closed and fell.

            24.—Lee, still fond of rallying, tried it on;
            but Mendoza hit him away easily, and Lee slipped

            25.—Mendoza, as if expecting Lee would rally
            again, was perfectly prepared for the attempt.
            Lee went in, and got punished right and left,
            finally going to the ground, much exhausted.

            26.—Dan, full of spirits and vigour, as soon as
            Lee stood up gave him a floorer.

            27.—Lee, in making a hit, lost his distance and

            28.—This was a most singular round. Harry went
            in to his opponent, and by main force threw him
            down by the arm.

            29.—A rally on both sides—Lee, undismayed, put
            in several hits: in the close Mendoza was

            30.—The science of Dan was truly conspicuous, he
            stopped every blow; but happening to slip, Lee
            put in some facers as Mendoza was going down.

            31.—Of no note whatever.

            32.—Dan appeared rather fatigued, in making a
            blow he went down upon his knees.

            33.—Lee now endeavoured to show that his spirits
            were in good trim, and made the best use of his
            knowledge, which was by no means mediocre; but
            it was in vain: his heart was better than his
            skill, and Dan milled him down.

            34.—Both the combatants fought well; but the
            turn was in Dan’s favour.

            35.—Mendoza sent Lee under the ropes, from a
            well-directed blow.

            36.—Dan repeated the dose.

            37. 38, 39.—In all these rounds the superiority
            of Mendoza was manifest: Dan stopped and hit as
            he pleased.

            40.—Mendoza punished Lee’s ribs severely; he
            fell from the effects of the blows.

            41.—Lee was now becoming much exhausted: he fell
            from a mere touch.

            42.—Lee began to be convinced that the chances
            were against him; his exertions were on the
            decline. Mendoza did as he pleased, and closed
            the round by throwing him.

            53.—For the last ten rounds Lee had not the
            smallest prospect of success; still his game
            prompted him to continue the fight in hopes
            that some lucky chance might offer; but having
            fallen a second time without a blow, Mendoza
            was declared the conqueror.

The amateurs were completely surprised at the protraction of the above
fight, for one hour and ten minutes. It is certain that Lee was not
equal to the task of encountering so experienced and finished a pugilist
as Mendoza; but it is equally true that his conduct was entitled to
honourable mention; and, considering it was his first appearance in the
ring, Lee acquitted himself in a superior manner. That he was not
wanting either in courage or resolution was evident; and his scientific
efforts, in several instances, were entitled to much praise; indeed, he
eradicated the prevalent idea that he was nothing more than a sparrer.

Among the amateurs present the reporter enumerates, Lords Albemarle and
Seften, Count Beaujolais, Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, Sir John Shelley,
Sir Eden Nagle, Captain Halliday, Squire Thornhill, General Keppel,
Messrs. Baxter, Fletcher Reid, Bagley, Challis, Robert Allen, etc.

Year after year we find “Ould Dan,” with an eye to business, making
tours and exhibiting the “noble art,” of which he was unquestionably a
talented demonstrator. In the summer of 1819, Dan made a most successful
sparring tour, and we find him at Lincoln issuing a hand-bill, of which
the following is an extract:—

“Mr. Mendoza has the authority of members of the Senate and Judges on
the Bench in asserting the tendency of the practice of boxing to prevent
the more fatal resort to the knife or other deadly weapons. To gentlemen
it may prove more than an exercise or an amusement, by initiating them
in the principles of a science by which the skilful, though of inferior
strength, may protect themselves from the ruffian assault of the
powerful vulgar, or save their friends and those who are defenceless
from insult and imposition.”

We have already had occasion to observe the rarity of men believing in
the decline of their own physical capabilities; and Mendoza,
unfortunately, must be added to the list of those who, in the words of
Captain Godfrey, when speaking of Broughton, allow their “valour” so far
to get the upper hand of their “discretion” as to “trust a battle to
waning age.” But other men, as well as pugilists, are guilty of this
mistake: we shall not therefore dwell upon it further than to say that
Dan ended his career, like so many other celebrated men, in defeat,
though by no means in disgrace.

In July, 1820, being fourteen years from his last appearance within the
roped ring, Mendoza met Tom Owen, in a contest for fame and 50 guineas.
The battle arose from an old grudge; and although no one can doubt the
game of Tom Owen, as we shall duly note in our memoir of that boxer, yet
the frothy outpourings of the “Historian” in honour of his friend “Tom,”
and at the expense of Mendoza,[56] are as bad in taste as they are
extravagant in phrase. Be that as it may, Dan was defeated, and we need
hardly add it was his “last appearance” within the ropes, though not
“upon any stage,” the Fives Court being occasionally illuminated by his
displays. In August, 1820, he made an “appeal” to the amateurs for “past
services” to the pugilistic state, and delivered the subjoined address,
which breathes a tone of reproach to the boxers as well as gratitude to
his patrons:—

“GENTLEMEN,—I return you my most sincere thanks for the patronage you
have afforded me to-day, and likewise for all past favours. To those
persons who have set-to for me to-day, I also acknowledge my gratitude;
and their services will never be forgotten by me. Gentlemen, after what
I have done for the pugilists belonging to the prize ring, I do say they
have not used me well upon this occasion; in fact, the principal men
have deserted me _in toto_. Gentlemen, I think I have a right to call
myself the father of the science; for it is well known that prize
fighting lay dormant for several years after the time of Broughton and
Slack. It was myself and Humphries that revived it in our three contests
for superiority, and the science of pugilism has been highly patronised
ever since. (Hear, hear, from some old amateurs.) Gentlemen, I have once
more to thank you for the present, and all other past favours; nay,
more, I now take my leave of you, and I trust that I shall never trouble
you for another benefit. (Applause.) I have now only to say—Farewell.”

From this period Dan’s life no longer belongs to the history of the
ring. We may, however, observe that for several years he supported a
large family, a wife and eleven children, as a publican, keeping the
Admiral Nelson, in Whitechapel. He died on the 3rd of September, 1836,
among his “peoplesh” in the East, in the region where he had been so
long the milling star, at the advanced age of 73.

Mendoza was, in company, a shrewd, intelligent, and communicative man.
As a scientific professor of the art of self-defence it was Mendoza who
trod most immediately in the steps of Broughton. His success as a
professor was unrivalled; and there was scarcely a town in the kingdom
where he did not exhibit his finished talents to admiring and applauding
assemblages. It seems, from a work we have before us, published by
Mendoza himself, and containing much forgotten squabbling between
himself and Humphries, that he derived his first knowledge of the art,
scientifically, from his elegant competitor, “the Gentleman Boxer.” But
he so rapidly improved upon his master’s system as to stand for years
without a rival. No man of his time united the _theory_ of sparring with
the _practice_ of boxing so successfully as Daniel Mendoza; and hence,
as a distinctive feature, the “School of Mendoza” marks a period in the

                              CHAPTER II.


The popular cognomen of the “Gentleman Boxer” may give the cue to the
prepossessing appearance, quiet self-possession, and amenity of manners,
which contemporary writers agree in attributing to Richard Humphries.
“His attitudes,” says the author of “Sketches and Reminiscences,”
already quoted, “were remarkable for their impressive grace;” of course
according to the taste of the old school. We doubt if modern
cognoscenti, as they inspect our faithful copy of a contemporary
engraving, will endorse the opinion; but, as the Latin poet told us two
thousand years ago, “times change, and men change with them:”[57] though
we must admit that our progress has brought improvement.

Humphries was about the middle size, 5 feet 8 inches, well-limbed, and
had practised boxing to great advantage. He was apt and ready; his blows
were effective; and his aims at the “mark,” or wind, and under the ear,
are talked of by contemporaries. Contrary to our modern notions,
Humphries puzzled his antagonists by hitting with his right at leading
off, and stopping with his left. He did not, however, like Mendoza, use
both hands with equal facility. His game was unquestionable, and he was
justly esteemed a model of pugilistic excellence. He was so attractive
as to give a new and increased impetus to the art of self-defence; and
on the public announcement that “the Gentleman Boxer” would fight Samuel
Martin, the Bath Butcher, on a stage at Newmarket, on the 3rd of May,
1786, the battle was attended by their Royal Highnesses the Prince of
Wales and Duke of York (_arcades ambo_), the Dukes of Orleans and De
Fitzjames, and most of the French nobility then in England, with a crowd
of the best and bravest of the land. A guinea was the admission-fee,
which hundreds cheerfully paid, to go to the winner, and between £30,000
and £40,000 awaited the wager of battle.

Sam Martin[58] was a boxer of some repute, shorter than Humphries,
strongly made, a little heavier, and had seen some service in the field
of battle. The set-to was remarkable for science, Humphries parrying
Martin’s attacks with singular adroitness, and standing up to Martin
manfully. Martin seemed deficient in distance, and occasionally fell;
hence his deliveries were ineffective. Humphries retained his position
of favourite. Martin, finding himself kept out of distance, went in
boldly. Humphries exchanged, and fought “with” his man, till the betting
became equal. Humphries appeared the stronger man, giving his opponent a
most tremendous knock down, which brought the odds to his favour.
Martin, notwithstanding, appeared game, and fought well, contesting
every inch of ground; and it was not until after a determined combat of
an hour and three quarters, (“Boxiana” states three quarters of an hour)
that Martin declared he had had enough. The distinguished company were
highly gratified, and Humphries won—“golden opinions from all sorts of

Numerous sporting men rallied round pugilism, and the professors of the
science were not without high and noble patrons. Royalty now frequently
witnessed the display of the art, accompanied by dukes, earls,
honourables, etc.; and men of the first distinction did not feel ashamed
of being seen in the ring, or acting as umpires at a manly boxing match.

The science, courage, and gentleman-like conduct of Humphries had
secured him many friends; and, with a mind by no means destitute of
intelligence, he could not fail in obtaining admiration and respect.
But, deservedly distinguished as Humphries stood in the boxing
hemisphere, a competitor arose to share his fame and glory, if not to
aspire to superiority. He was not only a daring, but a most formidable
rival, as his pretensions to pugilistic excellence were known to be
sound. He had been proved, and his displays of skill in trying conflicts
had made a deep impression upon the best judges. As there was beyond
this a personal jealousy and rivalry, there was little difficulty in
bringing together Daniel Mendoza and Richard Humphries.

We have already noticed the preliminary brush between the rivals at the
“Cock,” at Epping.

Preliminaries being agreed to, Odiham, in Hampshire, was fixed upon as
the place, and 400 guineas as the sum for which these masters of the art
should contend. A raised twenty-four feet stage was prepared, in a
paddock, and the door-money was to be divided between the combatants. On
the day (January 9, 1788) being announced, the anxiety which prevailed
upon the decision of this tourney was unprecedented. Odiham was then a
distance from town; it is now a steam steed’s “stride.” Everybody was
there, for Humphries and Mendoza were to fight. In the towns and
villages near the scene of action, the country people were equally
interested, and innumerable pedestrians were seen in all directions
moving towards the fight, so that within an hour previous to the battle
the multitude collected was truly astonishing. To prevent the combatants
from being bilked of the door-money (which was half a guinea each), the
most athletic of the milling _corps_ were selected for the protection of
the entrance, and the potent arms of Dunn, Ryan, Warr, and Tring,
assisted by other powerful pugilists, kept for some time order in the
crowd. But, as the time drew near for the combatants to mount the stage,
John Bull’s anxiety increased beyond every other thought; and, with one
desperate effort, the “majesty of the people,” like a mighty flood,
swept all before it. The door-keepers were soon lost in the violence of
the torrent, and thousands never gave themselves the trouble of asking
the price of admission. All was noise, uproar, and confusion, for some
minutes; but upon the appearance of the combatants their attention was
so completely riveted that silence instantly prevailed.

According to our practice, whenever procurable we quote the report:—

“About one o’clock on Wednesday (January 9th, 1788), Humphries ascended
the stage amid the cheers of the spectators, attended by Tom Johnson as
his second, Tom Tring as his bottle-holder, and Mr. Allen as his chosen
umpire. After bowing to all around, he proceeded to strip. His dress,
when prepared for the contest, was a pair of fine flannel drawers, white
silk stockings with gold-coloured clocks, pumps, and black shoe-ribands.
While Humphries was preparing, Mendoza mounted the stage, and was
received with reiterated plaudits. His second was David Benjamin; his
bottle-holder, Jacobs, both Jews; and his umpire, Mr. Moravia. Mendoza’s
dress was more plain than his opponent’s.

“In a few minutes the combatants were prepared for the onset, shook
hands, and immediately Mendoza assumed his attitude with the air of a
man determined on victory. Humphries appeared astonished, and both
remained in serious expectation for some minutes before a blow was
offered. Mendoza struck first, but recoiling, slipped and fell;
Humphries caught it, and retreated. The second blow Mendoza gave his
opponent brought him down, and in the next round they closed, and
Mendoza threw his adversary. For full fifteen minutes did Mendoza attack
with such violence and superiority, that the odds, which at the
beginning were two to one against him, changed considerably in his
favour; and during this time Humphries had many falls, but still
remained undaunted.

“Whether the defensive mode of fighting adopted by Humphries in his
first onset was manœuvre, or the _nouvelle_ style in which he was
attacked, and the unexpected vigour of his antagonist, made him give
way, cannot but remain a matter of dispute. At the commencement of the
battle Mendoza drove him to the side of the rail, and, while his body
was suspended, aimed a blow at the bottom of his ribs, which undoubtedly
would have decided the battle, had not Johnson caught it. Mendoza’s
friends immediately exclaimed, ‘foul, foul;’ but the umpires decided
Johnson was perfectly justified in acting as he had done, for that
Humphries must be considered as being knocked down.[59]

“From the wetness of the day, the stage was extremely slippery, and this
was particularly unfavourable to Humphries: he therefore took off his
shoes; but silk stockings were ill calculated to remedy the
inconvenience, and he afterwards put on a pair of worsted stockings, in
which he stood more firm, and began to manifest great superiority.
Having very much recovered himself, he stood up to his antagonist, and
with great dexterity threw Mendoza, pitching him on the face, which cut
his forehead above the right eye, and very much bruised his nose. From
this moment odds changed again in favour of Humphries. He threw in a
blow near the loins of his antagonist, and in the next round planted a
most severe one in the neck. In this round Mendoza also struck him in
the face; but slipping, he fell with his leg under him, sprained his
foot, and immediately gave in: he shortly after fainted, and was carried
off the stage.

“The contest lasted twenty-nine minutes (twenty-eight minutes fifty-four
seconds), and it was acknowledged there never was more skill and science
displayed in any boxing match in this kingdom.

“Mr. Bradyl, Humphries’ patron, not being on the ground, he immediately
forwarded to him the result in the following laconic style:—

  “SIR,—I have done the Jew, and am in good health.

                                                  “RICHARD HUMPHRIES.”

The Israelites were severe sufferers; but although Mendoza was defeated,
his fame and character as a pugilist were considerably increased. His
style of fighting was highly spoken of by the scientific; and at close
quarters, and as a quick hitter, he was evidently superior to his
antagonist. The advantage was also upon the side of Mendoza in strength
of arm; and, when struggling to obtain the throw, he punished his
adversary considerably by keeping down his head. His guard was
excellent, and displayed a thorough knowledge of the art; in consequence
of keeping it closer to his body than that of his adversary, his blows
were given with more force when he hit out; and with respect to stopping
he was not inferior to Humphries. For elegance of position, cool and
prompt judgment, fortitude of manner, and force of blow, however, he was
thought much inferior. He wanted also that manly bearing which was so
apparent in Humphries, whose confidence rendered him so apparently
indifferent of self. In throwing, Mendoza, to the great surprise of
many, had the advantage.

Humphries’ attitudes were of the most manly and tasteful description,
and, even in the most trying moments of the fight, his postures were
considered graceful. His intellectual capacity had rendered him more
acquainted with the properties of the human frame than pugilists in
general; and his habits of life had tended to make him more conversant
and attractive in society than fighting men perhaps think essentially
necessary. His manners were conciliatory, and he endeavoured through
life to enact the gentleman. His friends were materially increased by
such conduct.

It was extremely difficult to decide which was the neatest pugilist; so
much activity, science, elegance, and courage, were displayed upon both
sides, though extremely different as to character and manner: but it
appeared that Humphries, in the defensive position, although he kept his
adversary at a distance by extending his arms, lost that celerity and
power which his hits might have possessed had his arms been nearer his

Thenceforward, the pugilistic career of Humphries was a fruitless
attempt to prevent his victor’s wreath from falling into the hands and
adorning the brow of his able Israelitish rival. Twice did he do all
that man can do—his best—to stem the advancing tide of fate, but in
vain. How he struggled is already written in the memoir of MENDOZA.
Humphries lived for many years after their last contest (September 29th,
1790), and died in respectable circumstances, his calling being that of
a coal-merchant in the Adelphi, Strand.

                              CHAPTER III.

                      MR. JOHN JACKSON—1788‒1795.

In penning the History of Pugilism, one object has been our polestar—a
desire on the one hand to avoid fulsome adulation, and, on the other,
never to cast undeserved censure: to “nothing extenuate, nor set down
aught in malice,” but to speak of men as they were, and as their actions
proved them.

These remarks appear appropriate to a notice of John Jackson, inasmuch
as, blinded by early prejudices, which no after information has tended
to dispel, and imposed upon by the contemptible sophisms and paltry
libels of lily-livered scribes, who “earn their dirty pay” by pandering
to what they suppose the taste of the reading public, no small
proportion of that public has taken it for granted that pugilism and
blackguardism are synonymes. It is as an antidote to these slanderers
that we pen a candid history of the boxers; and, taking the general
habits of men of humble origin (elevated by their courage and bodily
gifts to be the associates of those more fortunate in worldly position),
we fearlessly maintain that the best of our boxers (we take no account
of outsiders, inasmuch as they have no claim to the designation,)
present as good samples of honesty, generosity of spirit, goodness of
heart, and humanity, as an equal number of men of any class of society.
But the manly art of self-defence—one of the most generous, noble, and
national traits of the English character—has never lacked detractors.
The mean-spirited, the treacherous, and the cruel can never be its
admirers. But does it appear that the mind is debased from witnessing
such public displays? would the usages of society be infringed upon if
such exhibitions were legalised? Are the feelings of men so blunted from
these specimens of hardihood and valour, as to prevent them from
fulfilling those public situations in life which many are called upon to
perform, with fidelity, justice, and reputation? We reply, no! and
experience corroborates our assertion. Were it otherwise, we should
admit pugilism to be a disgrace to the country where it is permitted,
and boxers obnoxious to society.

The “great moralist,” Samuel Johnson, surely saw the rough side of
pugilism in his day; yet we read in his works, “Courage is a quality so
necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when
found associated with vice.” Without accepting the corollary of the
ponderous Doctor, himself—as in the case of the brewer’s servant in
Fleet Street, and of Davies, the bookseller in Covent Garden—a practical
exponent of the _ars pugnandi_, we are ready to appeal to the readers of
these pages, whether courage of the highest order, in the case of the
leading pugilists, is not associated with forbearance, humanity, and
active benevolence?

One of the most respected public characters in the early part of this
century, whose patriotic attention to the preservation and due
administration of the laws; whose firmness in supporting, upon all
occasions, the liberty of the subject; whose dignity and consistency of
conduct in representing the first city in the world in Parliament; and
who filled the office of Lord Mayor of London, with honour to himself,
and advantage to his fellow citizens, was an ardent and firm patron of
pugilism, and “a friend” of John Jackson. We allude to Harvey Christian
Coombe, Esq., whose name never suffered the slightest tarnish from his
patronage of the Old English custom of boxing in the early part of his
life; but, through a long and distinguished career, proved his
pretensions so clearly to the character of a real Englishman, an honest
citizen, and an independent senator, that in 1816 he was returned a
fourth time as member for the City of London.

Another member of the senate, whose enlightened mind, classical
acquirements, and transcendent talents, shone at a time when wits and
orators were rife in St. Stephen’s Chapel, was the friend of John
Jackson, and of pugilism. To a mind stored with ancient and modern
literature, conversant with popular recreations in all their gradations,
from the rusticity of a cudgelling bout at a country fair to an _assaut
d’armes_ in the aristocratic fencing-school, the Right Hon. William
Windham added a true English spirit of fair play, when he thus publicly
declared his sentiments:—“A smart contest this, between Maddox and
Richmond! Why are we to boast so much of the native valour of our
troops, as shown at Talavera, at Vimiera, and at Maida, yet to
discourage all the practices and habits which tend to keep alive the
same sentiments and feelings?” The sentiments that filled the minds of
three thousand spectators who witnessed those two pugilists were the
same in kind as those which inspired the higher combatants on that
occasion. It is the circumstances only in which they are displayed that
make the difference.

                  ‘He that the world subdued, had been
                  But the best wrestler on the green.’



  _From an original Painting in possession of_ SIR HENRY SMYTHE, Bart.

There is no sense in the answer always made to this, ‘Are no men brave
but boxers?’ Bravery is found in all habits, classes, circumstances, and
conditions. But have habits and institutions of one sort no tendency to
form it more than another? Longevity is found in persons of habits the
most opposite; but are not certain habits more favourable to it than
others? The courage does not arise from mere boxing, from the mere
beating, or being beat, but from the sentiments excited by the
contemplation and cultivation of such practices. “Will it make no
difference in the mass of people, whether their amusements are all of a
pacific, pleasurable, and effeminate nature; or whether they are of a
sort that calls forth a continued admiration of prowess and hardihood?”

A slight anecdote, apropos of the prevalence of the taste for the use of
the “muffles,” as boxing-gloves were then called, will take us back to
the days when Vauxhall was in the height of its splendour. Old Tyers,
then the proprietor of the Gardens, had commissioned Hayman, the
painter, to panel the “Hall of British Worthies” with portraits of the
heroes of our land. The gallant and good-natured Marquis of Granby was
waited upon by Tyers, with a request that he would honour Hayman with a
sitting. In consequence, the hero of Minden dropped in at the artist’s
studio in St. Martin’s Lane. “But, Frank,” said the peer, “before I sit
to you, I insist upon having a set-to with you.” Hayman, astonished at
the oddity of the observation, affected not to understand his visitor,
whereupon the Marquis exclaimed, “I have been told that you are one of
the last boxers of the school of Broughton, and I flatter myself not
altogether deficient in the pugilistic art; but since I have been in
Germany I have got out of practice, therefore I want a little trial of
your skill.” Hayman pleaded age and gout as obstacles to his consent. To
the first the Marquis replied, “There was very little difference between
them; and to the second, that he considered exercise as a specific
remedy,” adding, laughing, “besides, a few rounds will cause a glow of
countenance that will give animation to the canvass.” Hayman no longer
resisted; the gloves were donned, and to it they went. After a good
display of strength and science, Hayman delivered such a straight hit in
the “breadbasket,” that down they both went with a tremendous crash.
This brought up stairs the affrighted Mrs. Hayman, who found the
academician and commander-in-chief rolling over each other on the carpet
like two unchained bears. Frank, who was a humourist and _bon vivant_,
often narrated this anecdote of the nobleman,

           “Who filled our sign-posts then as Wellesley now,”

over a social glass at his own and his friends’ merry meetings.

We cannot but think the reader will consider these slight notices of how
our fathers viewed the science of self-defence—now, for a season only,
as we trust, “fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf”—as a fitting
preface to the life of Jackson, who flourished in the palmy days of
pugilism; one of “nature’s gentlemen,” who not only supplanted Mendoza,
but took a higher position in the social scale than any boxer who
preceded or followed him, no less from the firmness and urbanity of his
manners, than the high requisites he possessed for shining as an

John Jackson was born in London, in 1768, and was the son of an eminent
builder, by whom the arch was thrown over the Old Fleet Ditch, near the
mouth of the River Fleet, flowing from the Hampstead and Highgate Hills,
and crossed by bridges at Holborn and Ludgate. This forms the great
sewer of Blackfriars from the north into the new Low Level, over which
run Farringdon Street (the site of the old Fleet Market), and Bridge
Street, leading to the splendid bridge by Cubitt, with its ugly iron
companion carrying the L. C. & D. R. John Jackson’s uncles were farmers,
and tenants of the Duke of Bedford and the Marquis of Hertford. Nature
had bestowed upon him all those athletic requisites which constitute the
_beau ideal_ of perfect manhood. There was a happy combination of
muscular development with proportionate symmetry in his frame (his
height was five feet eleven, and his weight fourteen stone), which
rendered him a fitting model for the sculptor, and excited the
admiration of all those by whom these qualities are appreciated. At the
age of nineteen he became a frequenter of the sparring schools, and
displayed such talents as proved that he was destined to eclipse the
most favoured of his cotemporaries; added to which, possessing as he did
the _suaviter in modo_ as well as the _fortiter in re_, he soon found
patrons of the highest grade.

It is stated that a conversation with Colonel Harvey Aston[60] led to
his first encounter in the prize ring. Fewterel, a Birmingham boxer, as
yet unbeaten, had been the conqueror, says “Pancratia,” in eighteen
battles. The meeting took place at Smitham Bottom, near Croydon, June
9th, 1788. We copy the report.

“This day there were decided three boxing matches, which had been long
depending, and great bets were depending on. The first was between
Jackson, a fine young man of nineteen years only, and Fewterel,[61] of
Birmingham. Tom Johnson seconded Jackson, and Bill Warr, Fewterel;
Humphries and Dunn were the bottle-holders. Fewterel is a man of
extremely great bulk, so much so that, at first setting-to, it was
doubted whether Jackson would ever level such an opponent. Yet this he
never failed to do when he could plant his blows at distance. The
contest lasted one hour and seven minutes; its decision being very much
procrastinated by Fewterel fighting shifty, getting down to avoid a
blow, and then remaining so long on the floor as often to require the
interposition of the umpires to remind his seconds of ‘time.’ Fewterel
at last gave up the contest, and Major Hanger, by command of the Prince
of Wales, who was present, gave young Jackson a bank note.”[62]

Jackson’s next contest (March 12th, 1789) was with George Ingleston, the
brewer. It closed by an untoward accident, by which Jackson broke the
small-bone of his leg, as will be seen under the head of Ingleston, in
the Appendix to Period II.

Jackson’s next contest was one of the greatest interest to the
pugilistic world. The victories of Mendoza had placed him on the
pinnacle of fame; and the attempt to defeat the conqueror of Sam Martin,
of Humphries (twice), of Bill Warr (twice), to say nothing of minor
boxers, was viewed as indeed a bold flight of young ambition. On April
15th, 1795, the men met at Hornchurch, in Essex, for a stake of 200
guineas aside. We copy the contemporary report:—

“A twenty-four feet stage was erected in a most advantageous hollow,
which accommodated upwards of three thousand spectators, and so
excellently adapted that no one could claim a superiority of situation.
All the eminent patrons and amateurs were present: the Duke of Hamilton,
Lord Delaval, Sir John Phillipson, Mr. Clark, Mr. Bullock, Mr. Lee, Mr.
Fawcett, etc.; and among the pugilists of note were Jackling, Will Warr
and Joe Warr, George the Brewer, Tom Tyne, Fearby (the Young Ruffian),

“At one o’clock Mendoza mounted the spot of combat, accompanied by his
second, Harry Lea, and Symonds (the Old Ruffian), as his bottle-holder.
Jackson immediately followed, with Tom Johnson as his second, and Wood,
the coachman, for his bottle-holder. The chosen umpires were Mr.
Alexander and Mr. Allen.

“They each politely bowed to the people, and were received with general
acclamations. About five minutes after one they, as usual, saluted each
other by shaking hands, and immediately set-to. Bets five to four in
favour of Mendoza.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Both having assumed their attitude,
            displayed the greatest caution; full a minute
            expired before a blow was struck, when Jackson
            made a hit, and his antagonist fell.

            2.—Mendoza guarded with great science, avoided
            the blows of his opponent, and put in several
            severe ones.

            3.—In this round there was much hard fighting.
            Odds rose two to one in favour of Mendoza, but
            the round terminated by Mendoza falling.

            4.—This was the most severely contested round
            throughout the battle. Jackson seemed to hold
            his opponent’s manœuvres in contempt, followed
            him up with great resolution, and put in some
            dreadfully severe blows, by the last of which
            Mendoza fell, and his right eye was much cut;
            Jackson now evidently had the advantage.

            5.—In this round Jackson caught his opponent by
            the hair, and holding him down, gave him several
            severe blows, which brought him to the ground;
            Mendoza’s friends called “foul,” but the umpires
            decided on the contrary. Odds had now changed
            two to one on Jackson.

            6, 7, 8.—Throughout these three rounds Jackson
            supported his superiority. Mendoza acted
            entirely on the defensive.

            9.—This was the last round. Jackson manifestly
            displayed astonishing advantage; he several
            times struck his adversary, when he fell quite
            exhausted, and gave in.

            The battle only lasted ten minutes and a-half,
            and was acknowledged by every spectator to be
            the hardest contested that ever was fought in so
            short a time. Jackson was very little hurt,
            leaping from the stage with great agility, but
            Mendoza was quite cut up.

“A subscription purse was made and fought for between a Jew called Black
Baruk, who was seconded by Symonds (the Old Ruffian), and Burk a
glass-blower, seconded by James the waterman. It was very well contested
for half an hour, when a dispute arose about a foul blow, and it was
terminated by sharing the money between them.”

Nearly seven years after his combat with Mendoza, a “gag” paragraph
having appeared in the newspaper, announcing a forthcoming fight as in
arrangement between Mendoza and Jackson, the latter inserted the
following letter to the Editor of the _Oracle and Daily Advertiser_ of
Wednesday, December 1, 1801:—

  “SIR,—I was somewhat astonished on my return to town on Saturday, to
  learn that a challenge was inserted in your paper on Thursday last,
  as if from Mr. Mendoza. Should I be right in my conclusion, by
  believing that it came from that celebrated pugilist, I beg you will
  inform the public through the medium of your paper, that for some
  years I have entirely withdrawn from a public life, and am more and
  more convinced of the propriety of my conduct by the happiness which
  I enjoy in private among many friends of great respectability, with
  whom it is my pride to be received on terms of familiarity and
  friendship: goaded, however, as I am to a petty conflict, I hope
  that it will not be considered too much arrogance on my part simply
  to observe, that, after waiting for more than three years to accept
  the challenge of any pugilist, however dexterous in the science, and
  however highly flattered by his friends, I think it rather
  extraordinary that Mr. Mendoza should add a silence of four years to
  those three, it being nearly seven years since I had the
  satisfaction of chastising him; but Mr. Mendoza derived one great
  good from the issue of that contest—he was taught to be less hasty
  in forming his resolutions, more slow in carrying them into effect.

  “This cautious and wise principle of action deserves much
  commendation; and having served an apprenticeship of seven years to
  learn a certain portion of artificial courage, he now comes forward
  with a stock of impudence (the only capital which during that time
  he seems to have acquired) to force me to appear once more in that
  situation which I have for years cheerfully avoided.

  “Reluctant, however, as I am to attract again, even for a moment,
  the public attention, I shall have no objection to vindicate my
  character by a meeting with Mr. Mendoza when and where he pleases,
  provided he’ll promise to fight, and provided he’ll also promise not
  to give previous information to the magistrates at Bow Street, or

               “I am, Sir, yours and the public’s most respectfully,
                                                       “JOHN JACKSON.”

  _Nov. 20, 1801._

Need we say that this was on the part of Mendoza a mere piece of that
absurd system of gagging then so much in vogue, and on which we have
elsewhere commented.

Independent of his pugilistic prowess, Mr. Jackson was distinguished for
his extraordinary powers as a runner of a short distance, and as a
leaper no man of his day was equal to him at a standing jump, of which
many extraordinary feats are on record. His muscular strength was equal
to his bodily activity, and in the presence of Mr. Harvey Coombe, and
other gentlemen, he lifted ten hundred weight and one quarter, and wrote
his own name with eighty-four pounds weight suspended from his little

One of the most able and experienced sporting writers, the late Vincent
George Dowling, Esq., the founder, and for more than thirty years the
editor of _Bell’s Life in London_, has left on record a graceful tribute
to the memory of his friend of many years, John Jackson, in the form of
an obituary notice. From this we shall here make a few extracts.

“John Jackson was an instance of the glorious truth which this country
is constantly evolving—that if a man be true to himself, he may defy the
obloquy and malice of millions. No matter in what grade of life a
creature be thrown; no matter whether from necessity or choice he
mingles with the learned or the illiterate, the high or the low; give
him the attribute of genius, or, if that be denied, honesty and
perseverance, and he must distinguish himself. The choice of a
profession is the puzzle of boyhood—be it so. _A profession never
degraded a man, if that man took care not to degrade his profession._”
This last axiom deserves to be written in letters of adamant; it
contains the philosophy we hope to inculcate by our pages. Mr. Dowling
continues: “As there always have been, and always will be, ruffians
loose upon society, who can only be met and quelled by the arguments
such brutes can appreciate; and as

               “Heads, nineteen in twenty, ’tis confest,
               Can feel a crabstick quicker than a jest,”

it is essential that boxing, as an art, should not fall into
desuetude. It empowers the little man to defend himself against the
big one; makes the weaker man, to a considerable extent, able to
protect himself against the onset of the stronger one, and, in some
cases, to punish his want of skill and his presumption. Doubtless much
has been done in our great cities by gas and an improved police; but
even now things do occasionally occur to call upon every man to know
how with his own hands to defend his own head, or, what is doubtless
of more consequence, the heads of those near and dear to him, or under
his protection. Such a power is a _corps de reserve_, which, though it
_may_ never be called into action, it is valuable and assuring to
possess. So thought our grandfathers, so thought our grandfathers’
fathers in the days of Fielding. Boxing, to a gentleman, was a more
modern and practical application of knight-errantry; it enabled a man
to protect himself against aggression, and yet more, to defend an
insulted woman. ‘Good,’ exclaims the anti-pugilist, ‘but what say you
to the prize-fighter?’ The response is plain: He is the exemplar, the
professor, the demonstrator of a practice, of an exercise. Could or
can the sword or the bow be taught without professors, and can they
teach without exemplifying?” * * * After a few facts, which will be
found embodied in our Memoir, Mr. Dowling concludes: “From 1785, Mr.
Jackson ceased to be a public pugilist, having fought but three
battles, winning two, and not gaining (for it cannot be called losing)
the third by an accident. On what basis, then, rests his fame as a
thoroughly tried boxer? On none whatever; the pedestal of his
popularity was conduct, the keystone to fortune in every grade of
life. There is a singular similarity in the career of John Jackson and
John Gully: the latter fought but thrice, was beaten once, won the
other two, and then retired to enjoy a better fortune in a higher
sphere of society.”

Ere quitting the mere active sporting career of Mr. Jackson, it may be
as well to state that as a runner his speed was extraordinary, but he
could not last: he also excelled as a jumper until the celebrated
Ireland “took the shine out of all England.”

The opening of “Jackson’s Rooms, 13, Old Bond Street,” was literally an
era in the gymnastic education of the aristocracy. Not to have had
lessons of Jackson was a reproach. To attempt a list of his pupils would
be to copy one-third of the then peerage. Byron, who was proud of being
thought a pugilist, has in his correspondence spoken highly of his
tutor; but the fact is, from lameness, the poet could neither hit nor
stop effectively. When Jackson taught the author of “Childe Harold,” he
was forty-four, Byron about twenty-three; the latter therefore stood a
boy before a veteran. In a note to the 11th Canto of “Don Juan,” we find
this: “My friend and corporeal pastor and master, John Jackson, Esquire,
professor of pugilism, who I trust still retains the strength and
symmetry of his model of a form, together with his good humour, and
athletic as well as mental accomplishments.”

And in his diary we read:—“Jackson has been here; the boxing world much
as usual, but the club increases (_i.e._ Pugilistic Club). I shall dine
at Cribb’s to-morrow.”

He records going to this dinner thus: “Just returned from dinner with
Jackson (the Emperor of Pugilism), and another of the select, at
Cribb’s, the Champion’s.”

The next extract shows the author of “Childe Harold” actually in
training: “I have been sparring with Jackson for exercise this morning,
and mean to continue and renew my acquaintance with my muffles. My
chest, and arms, and wind are in very good plight, and I am not in
flesh. I used to be a hard hitter, and my arms are very long for my
height (5 feet 8¼ inches); at any rate exercise is good, and this the
severest of all; fencing and the broadsword never fatigued me half so
much.” This latter is dated the 17th of March, 1814.

“Got up, if anything, earlier than usual; sparred with Jackson _ad
sudorem_, and have been much better in health for many days.”

Byron kept at his work, for we find him writing thus on the 9th of
April, 1814: “I have been boxing for exercise for the last month daily.”

In returning to the younger days of the “finest formed man in Europe,”
we shall take the liberty of borrowing a graphic colloquial sketch from
the lips of a veteran: “There were the Lades, the Hangers, the Bullocks,
the Vernons, but give me Jack Jackson, as he stood alone amid the
throng. I can see him now, as I saw him in ’84, walking down Holborn
Hill, towards Smithfield. He had on a scarlet coat, worked in gold at
the buttonholes, ruffles, and frill of fine lace, a small white stock,
no collar (they were not then invented), a looped hat with a broad black
band, buff knee-breeches, and long silk strings, striped white silk
stockings, pumps, and paste buckles; his waistcoat was pale blue satin,
sprigged with white. It was impossible to look on his fine ample chest,
his noble shoulders, his waist, (if anything too small), his large, but
not too large hips (the fulcrum of the human form, whether male or
female), his limbs, his balustrade calf and beautifully turned but not
over delicate ankle, his firm foot, and peculiarly small hand, without
thinking that nature had sent him on earth as a model. On he went at a
good five miles and a half an hour, the envy of all men, and the
admiration of all women.”

As regards his face nature had not been bountiful; his forehead was
rather low, and the mode he wore his hair made it peculiarly so. His
cheek bones were high, and his nose and mouth coarse. His ears projected
too much from his head, but his eyes were eyes to look at rather than
look with; they were full and piercing, and formed a great portion of
his power as a pugilist—with them he riveted his men.

Anatomists of the first standing examined Jackson, and artists and
sculptors without number took sketches and models of his arm; but it was
the extraordinary proportion of the man throughout that formed the

After 1795 Mr. Jackson resolved to teach others the art in which he
himself excelled. For an instructor he had that invaluable requisite,
temper; he was never too fast with his pupils. This made his initiatory
lessons tedious to young gentlemen who go ahead, and it may readily be
conceived that amid the aristocracy of England he had plenty of rough
assailants to deal with. But he was always on his guard; there was no
chance of rushing suddenly in and taking Jackson by surprise—he could
not be flurried. Amid the other qualifications he had studied Lavater,
and managed to reckon up his customers at first sight, and knew what he
had to trust to. It has been said “he defied any man to hit him;” this
is the truth, but not the whole truth—he defied any man to hit him
whilst he (Jackson) stood merely on the defensive; in a fight, of
course, it is impossible to avoid being hit.

“His sparring was elegant and easy. He was peculiarly light upon his
feet, a good judge of distance, and when he indulged his friends with a
taste of his real quality, the delivery of his blow was only observable
in its effect. It literally came like lightning, and was felt before it
was seen. Most big men are comparatively slow, but he was as rapid as
Owen Swift or Johnny Walker, and this, too, when upwards of fifty years
of age.

“Jackson not only told you what to do, but why you should do it; in this
essential point many capital instructors are and have been deficient.
The want of this power of explaining the purpose of an action made Young
Dutch Sam and Richard Curtis bad instructors, though they were finished
pugilists, and, which does not always follow, capital sparrers.

“Jackson was not unmindful of the fact that art never ends. If there was
anything new in the gymnastic, equestrian, or pedestrian way, there be
assured was Jackson; not merely witnessing the exhibition, but examining
the means by which the effects were produced. He was consequently often
at Astley’s and at the Surrey, when Ireland, the jumper, was there, and
knew all the famous fencers, funambulists, dancers, and riders of his
day, and his day was a long one.

“Of his private character, what can be said more than that all his
pupils became his friends. Save with Dan Mendoza, it is not known that
he ever had a quarrel. He was a careful man, not a mean man—saving, but
not penurious. It is to be remembered, too, from his peculiar situation,
continued calls were made upon his purse by the ruffianly and
profligate, who claimed a brotherhood that he utterly and properly

In 1811, he procured a benefit at the Fives Court, in aid of the
subscription for the suffering Portuguese; it realised £114. Next year
he did the same for the British prisoners in France; this benefit
amounted to £132 6_s._ He also aided the benefit for the Lancashire
weavers (1826).

One old boxer (but who was not of Jackson’s day) pestered him
incessantly for money. “No,” said Jackson, “I’ll give you no money; but
you may go to the Horse and Groom, and you will find a clean bed, three
meals, and a pot of beer a day; stay there until matters mend.” The man
was thankful in the extreme; but a week had not elapsed ere he was found
in the taproom bartering his dinner for gin!

Of course a “lion” like Jackson could not avoid being made a “show” of
on particular occasions; accordingly, when the allied sovereigns were in
England, his aid was required. On the 15th of June, 1814, at the house
of Lord Lowther, in Pall Mall, a pugilistic fete came off in the
presence of the Emperor of Russia, Platoff, Blucher, etc. The display so
delighted those illustrious fighting men that it was resolved to carry
the thing out on a grander scale; accordingly, the King of Prussia, the
Prince Royal, Prince of Mecklenburg, and others assembled. Jackson,
Cribb, Belcher, Oliver, Painter, and Richmond, were the principal
performers. The foreign nobility now wanted a peep, and at Angelo’s
rooms some splendid displays took place. It was said that Jackson had
inoculated them with a pugilistic fever, but it is believed he never
obtained a single pupil from among them. If this be a fact, it is an
extraordinary one.

At the coronation of George the Fourth, 1821, Mr. Jackson was applied to
to furnish an unarmed force “to preserve order.” Cribb, Spring, Belcher,
Carter, Richmond, Ben Burn, Harmer, Harry Lee, Tom Owen, Joshua Hudson,
Tom Oliver, Harry Holt, Crawley, Curtis, Medley, Purcell, Sampson, and
Eales, with Jackson at their head, formed the corps, dressed as Royal

One gold coronation medal was given to the boxers—they raffled for it at
a dinner. Tom Belcher won and wore it.

In 1822, a number of noblemen and gentlemen, admirers of the gymnastic
sports of their country, with a Royal Duke (Clarence) at their head,
presented John Jackson with a service of plate. The salver, which bears
the subjoined inscription, is of magnificent workmanship, weighing one
hundred and eighty-seven ounces.

                              THIS SALVER
                          (With other Plate),
                 _Was purchased by Subscriptions from_
                              A ROYAL DUKE
                            And presented to
                          JOHN JACKSON, ESQ.,
        _Under the Superintendence of the following Committee_:

  The Most Noble the Marquis of      |      Admiral Tollemache,
      Worcester,                     |      Major General Barton, and
      Henry Smith, Bart, M.P.,       |      John Harrison, Esq.

Mr. Jackson had for many years been stakeholder, frequently referee, and
was always ready to go round personally to solicit a subscription for
the beaten man—and who could refuse John Jackson? A match was made in
1822, between Randall and Martin for 500 guineas a side, but Mr. Elliot,
Martin’s backer, “cried for his toy again,” in fact, demanded his money
back. Mr. Jackson declared he would never again be a stakeholder, and he
kept his word. Thus virtually he retired from the ring, and from that
moment the ring declined. Its progress downwards has been checked, now
and then, by men of good conduct, and battles of great interest. Spring
and Langan (1824) revived the hopes of many. Dutch Sam from 1827 to
1839, rallied a few of the right sort around him, so did Burn and Owen
Swift. A sort of reaction took place when Broome fought Bungaree;
another, when Caunt fought Bendigo; again on the occasion of the great
resultless battle of Farnborough between Sayers and Heenan in 1861; and
lastly, the Benicia Boy’s pulley-hauley match with Tom King, awakened
attention; but down, down, down, the ring was doomed to go, and in 1879
we may safely say that in writing its later history we have penned its
epitaph. The management of fights fell into the hands of Jew speculators
in special railway trains, whose interest it became _not_ to allow the
announced battle to come off, and to repeat the process of plunder in
the shape of extortionately charged “excursion tickets,” at one to three
pounds each, until the fraud would no longer be submitted to.[63]

John Jackson lived for many years at the house in which he died, No. 4,
Lower Grosvenor Street West. The Old “Tattersall’s” may be said to have
divided his residence from that of another great artist, the late John
Liston. “It is with pleasing melancholy we remember,” says his old
friend Vincent Dowling, “the Yarmouths, the Coombes, the Lades, the
Ashtons, wending their way to the house of the one, while the Kembles,
with perhaps Charles Mathews and Charles Taylor, Theodore Hook and
Young, were standing in converse near, or visiting the low-roofed house
of the latter.”[64]

There is little more to say. Loved by many, respected by all, enjoying a
large circle of excellent society, John Jackson passed his later days.
Affluent, but not rich in the vulgar sense, he wanted less than he had,
and his income exceeded his expenditure. He was a cheerful companion,
sang a good song, told his anecdotes with great tact, and never obtruded
them. For the last year or two before his death his health declined, but
until then he rarely had a day’s illness. Peacefully and trustfully,
with his hand in that of his niece (whom he loved, and had assisted as a
daughter), John Jackson expired on the 7th of October, 1845, in the
seventy-seventh year of his age. His death was as calm and resigned as
his life had been exemplary.

The remains of John Jackson rest in Brompton Cemetery, beneath a
handsome monument, by Mr. Thomas Butler, of which we give a faithful
representation. On the side of the mausoleum nearest to the entrance is
inscribed on each side of a medallion portrait of the deceased:—

          HERE LIE THE                      Born, Sept. 28,
           REMAINS OF                            1769,
          JOHN JACKSON,                   Died, Oct. 7, 1845.

                        HIC VICTOR CÆSTUS
                        ARTEMQUE REPONO.

On the opposite side to the footpath is a nude gladiator, holding a
laurel wreath, and plunged in grief. On the top is a lion couchant, and
on the farther end we read the following:—

            “Stay, traveller,” the Roman records said,
            To mark the classic dust beneath it laid;—
            “Stay, traveller,” this brief memorial cries,
            And read the record with attentive eyes.
            Hast thou a lion’s heart, a giant’s strength?
            Exult not, for these gifts must yield at length.
            Do health and symmetry adorn thy frame?
            The mouldering bones below possessed the same.
            Does love, does friendship every step attend?
            This man ne’er made a foe, ne’er lost a friend.
            But death too soon dissolves all human ties,
            And, his last combat o’er, here Jackson lies.

             THIS MONUMENT was erected by the subscriptions
                   of several noblemen and gentlemen,
                   to record their admiration of one
           whose excellence of heart and incorruptible worth
                   endeared him to all who knew him.



  THOMAS BUTLER, _Sculpsit_, 1847.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                  BILL HOOPER (THE TINMAN)—1789‒1797.

As a foil to the bright memoir of a high-minded, self-respecting, and
honoured athlete, we cannot better “point a moral” than by devoting a
brief chapter to the sudden rise and inglorious fall of the
“lion-hearted” boxer, known in the latter part of his career as “Bully
Hooper;” his story is a beacon of warning to the successful pugilist in
the day of his patronage, prosperity, and success.

William Hooper was born at Bristol in 1766, and previously to his
unfortunate connexion with the notorious Lord Barrymore, followed his
trade as a tinman in Tottenham Court Road, where he had the character of
a smart, industrious, well-behaved young man. His qualifications as a
pugilist were undoubted. Fear formed no part of his composition. His
confidence was innate; and neither the size nor strength of his
antagonist deterred him any more than a thorough-bred bull-dog would
calculate the bulk of his unwieldy bovine foe. Transplanted from making
saucepans to the festivities of Wargrave, and made the personal
companion of a _roué_ nobleman, he lost his head, as many better
nurtured men than poor Hooper have done. The transition from narrow
means and humble station made him insolent, overbearing, and
ostentatious, and finally the petted pugilist sunk into the ferocious
“bully,” thence from dissipation and violent excess into a shattered
human wreck, his melancholy end marked by poverty, desertion, and

In person Hooper was compact and symmetrical. His shoulders and arms
were fine, his chest deep and broad; his height under five feet eight
inches, giving him the weight of 11 stone, showing him to have been
nowhere overloaded.

He is said to have fought “a number of good battles,” of which we have
no evidence, save Pierce Egan’s assertion, to set against the _per
contra_ of a contemporary, that he had “fought but twice before he met
Lord Barrymore’s man.” We suspect, however, an incidental trace of our
hero to lurk in the following paragraph at the end of the account of the
great battle between Tom Johnson and Ryan, at Cashiobury Park (see
_ante_, page 59).

“Two other battles were likewise fought on the 11th of February, 1789,
on the same stage. The first between Solly Sodicky, the Jew, and Wilson,
in which the Jew beat. The second was between the Welchman and _a
Tinman_, in which the former was cleverly defeated.” Be this as it may,
on the 19th of August, 1789, Hooper was matched with a local celebrity,
Bill Clarke, the plasterer, and the affair came off in Bloomsbury
Fields, a plot now covered with streets and squares, adjacent to
Tottenham Court Road, where Hooper exercised his vocation of a tinman.
The battle was obstinately contested, Clarke being a powerful man, but
the intuitive skill, activity, and courage of Hooper carried him
through, and his fame as a boxer spread.

Cotterel, the shoemaker, challenged Hooper for 10 guineas a side, and
they met on Barnet Common, September 5th, 1789. There was a numerous
assemblage, for Hooper was looked upon as something surprising, and was
seconded by Tom Johnson, the Champion, while Bill Warr picked up
Cotterel. Thirty-five minutes’ desperate fighting on the part of
Cotterel led to his utter defeat, and Hooper, little the worse for the
conflict, was proclaimed the conqueror.

A carpenter at Binfield Heath, of the name of Wright, having acquired
much fame in Berkshire for his fistic skill, was proposed by Lord
Falkland as a competitor for the Tinman, and Lord Barrymore, who had
witnessed Hooper’s prowess, at once accepted the cartel on Hooper’s
behalf, naming his own seat of Wargrave as the place of battle. Whatever
might have been Wright’s pretensions among the yokels, he made a poor
figure before Hooper, who fought with such skill and rapidity at his
opponent’s head, that in twenty minutes Wright[66] was all wrong, and so
punished as to be compelled to give in. This battle took place December
3, 1789.

Bob Watson, of Bristol, whom we shall have occasion to mention elsewhere
(see WATSON, Appendix to Period II.), was next introduced as an
antagonist for Hooper. This proved a most remarkable battle. The place
was Langley Close, near Salt Hill, in the neighbourhood of Windsor, and
the day February 17th, 1790. Bill Warr seconded, and Joe Ward was
bottleholder to Watson; Hooper was waited on by Tom Johnson and Butcher.
Major Churchill and Colonel Harvey Aston acted as umpires, but called in
a referee, owing to several differences of opinion during the prolonged
contest. In the third round the Tinman cleverly floored his opponent,
being the first knock-down blow; and this success he repeated in the
three following rounds: the odds were now high in favour of Hooper, and
continued to increase as the battle went on. Watson, though he could not
ward off Hooper’s attacks, proved thorough game, and rallied strongly at
the close of each bout. Two hours and a half, and one hundred rounds
were fought, not without several appeals as to Watson’s style of
delivering a blow and falling, and other unfair practices. Finally,
after Watson had been “seven times accused of striking unfairly,” Hooper
was acknowledged the victor.

Lord Barrymore’s increasing folly now led to Hooper being matched with
Brain (Big Ben). This mockery of boxing took place at Chapel Row Revel,
near Newbury, Berks, August 30th, 1790; night coming on, after three
hours and a half harlequinade by Hooper, it was declared “a drawn
battle!”[67] (See _ante_, p. 67).

This exhibition much tarnished the fame of Hooper, who was now the boon
companion of the depraved Lord Barrymore’s excesses, and for more than
two years he did not appear within the ropes, save in the capacity of a
second. As on one of these occasions we find him officiating for Bill
Treadway in a combat which brings under our notice the earliest record
of a black pugilist, we preserve the paragraph as we find it, under the
date of—

“June 13th, 1791. A pitched match was contested in Marylebone Fields,
between an excellent African pugilist and the well-known Treadway. Peter
Bath seconded the Black, and Hooper, the Tinman, his antagonist. The
battle lasted thirty-five minutes, when Treadway was carried senseless
from the field. During the combat the African showed great agility,
excellent bottom, and a thorough knowledge of the art, not to be
exceeded by the most skilful among the boxers.” This black diamond’s
name is not preserved.

In September, 1792 an announcement appeared in the _Chelmsford
Advertiser_ that two pugilistic contests would take place at Colchester
on the 4th of that month. “The grand jury who were at that time sitting,
addressed the mayor, recorder, and magistrates, expressing their wish
that they might not be permitted within the corporate jurisdiction. The
mayor accordingly, by the public wish, forbad the erection of any public
stage or any prize fight within the limits of his jurisdiction.”

In consequence of this notice, “orders were given for the erection of a
stage eighteen feet square at Bentley, about nine miles from

On Thursday, September 4, 1792, the men met, according to arrangement,
and at four o’clock the first two combatants, Hooper, the Tinman, and
Bunner of Colchester, mounted the stage. Tom Johnson seconded Hooper,
with Sharp as bottle-holder. Bunner’s second was Williams, and his
bottle-holder Johnson’s old opponent Ryan. The stakes were 50 guineas a
side. Bunner, who was a young fellow of great strength and resolution,
began so vigorously that he bored down Hooper, and in the second round
closing upon him, brought him down heavily. The odds went up on Bunner,
and the Essex men were triumphant. Hooper found it would not do to
trifle with his opponent: he kept out, and displayed his superiority in
the art in great style, punishing his man sharply. In the sixth round,
however, Bunner fell by an overreach, and broke his right arm, thus
giving Hooper an easy conquest.[68]

George Maddox,[69] whose battle with the young Tom Cribb, has preserved
his name and memory, next challenged Hooper. They met for a stake of 50
guineas, at Sydenham Common, Kent, Monday, February 10, 1794. Tom
Johnson once more seconded Hooper; Maddox was attended by Joe Ward and
Bill Gibbons, the renowned of Westminster, as his bottle-holder. George
had proved himself a good man, and great expectations were entertained
of his ability to dispose of Hooper, who was much the lighter man.
Betting was five to four on Maddox. The Duke of Hamilton and a number of
the aristocratic patrons of pugilism were present. For the first three
or four rounds Maddox appeared to have the lead, and his friends were
confident. Hooper, however, met him with undaunted courage, hitting
straight, and putting in his blows with cutting severity. After three
quarters of an hour’s sharp fighting, Maddox fell off, while Hooper
increased in activity, and at the end of fifty-five minutes, Maddox gave
in with much reluctance, and the Tinman was hailed the victor.

So high had Hooper’s fame now risen that a match was made by his backer
in March, 1794, for him to fight the renowned Dan Mendoza on a
twenty-four foot stage, for 50 guineas within a month. Dan, however, was
not to be had at such a bargain. The Israelite preferred forfeiting his
friends’ £20 deposit to risking his reputation on such terms.

That determined boxer, Bill Wood[70] was anxious to try his abilities
with our hero. His friends assisted him with £50, and on Monday, June
22nd, 1795, they met and fought upon a stage erected on Hounslow Heath,
in the dangerous vicinity of the powder mills. At two o’clock the
combatants set-to. The contemporary accounts describe it as “a truly
desperate battle.” After the first few minutes, the odds rose five to
one, ten to one, and twenty to one on Wood. After fighting twenty-five
minutes, during which the punishment was heavy, Hooper levelled Wood
with a stupefying blow under the left ear. From this time Wood, though
he struggled gallantly, never entirely recovered, and the blow being
repeated, at the end of forty-eight minutes[71] Hooper was victorious.
Towards the close of the fight the odds had changed to twenty to one on
the Tinman. “The Duke of Hamilton, Colonel Hamilton, and a distinguished
party of amateurs were present,” says the chronicler of the day.

Hooper had now arrived at the summit of his success by the conquest of
so game and experienced a pugilist as Wood. His time had come to tread
the downward path that leads to the cold shade of poverty, disgrace, and
neglect. Within one year of his conquest of Wood his excesses and riot
began to tell on a constitution shaken by hard living, night-riot, and
debauchery, and Tom Owen,[72] a powerful young fellow, then known as
“the Fighting Oilman,” having been quarrelled with by Hooper, professed
his desire for a fight with “the Bully,” as he was now generally called.
Charley Coant, then a boxer of some note, forming a high opinion of Tom,
introduced him to Mr. John Jackson, and that good judge, approving the
new candidate for the honours of the P. R., obtained friends for “the
Young Oilman,” and a match was made for 100 guineas, which came off at
Harrow on the 14th of November, 1796. Owen proved himself a resolute and
steady fighter, and in the words of the reporter, “constantly kept a
straight guard of such prodigious strength that Hooper could never beat
it down, and very seldom put in a hit. Hooper, in striking a blow,
dislocated his shoulder, and being dreadfully bruised, gave in” after
fifty rounds of hard fighting. (See Life of TOM OWEN, _post_, p. 110).
As we have already said, Hooper was but a shadow of his former self;
luxury and debauchery had spoiled him.[73]

Few men are more obnoxious to the smiles and frowns of fickle fortune
than the pugilist: victory brings him fame, riches, and patrons; his
bruises are unheeded in the smiles of success; and, basking in the
sunshine of prosperity, his life passes pleasantly, till defeat comes,
and reverses the scene. Covered with aches and pains, distressed in mind
and body, assailed by poverty, wretchedness, and misery, friends forsake
him—his fame waxes dim—his character is suspected by the losers; no
longer the “plaything of fashion,” he flies to inebriation for relief,
and a premature death puts a period to his misfortunes. Thus it was with
Hooper: sheltered under the wings of nobility, he became pampered,
insolent, and mischievous. His courage was undoubted, and though his
frame was but small, it contained the heart of a lion; big men struck no
terror to his feelings, and he opposed them with all the hardihood of an
equal competitor, determined to conquer. Lord Barrymore, as already
noted, was fond of larking and practical jokes, and whenever he could
not come through the piece in style, Hooper appeared as his bully—his
name overawed, and many a time saved his patron a deserved thrashing.
One evening his Lordship took Hooper to Vauxhall, “disguised in liquor,”
yet farther disguised in band and cassock, as a clergyman. The visitors
discovered “the bully and his patron,” and after some rough handling,
they were summarily expelled from what Old Simpson, the M. C.,
grandiloquently termed “the Royal Property.” At length his lordship cast
him off, which, as he had cast himself away before, is not surprising.
Hooper soon afterwards became wretched, disease overtook him, repeated
intoxication brought him to the brink of the grave. One evening he was
found insensible on the step of a door in St. Giles’s, and conveyed to
the watch-house; on enquiring who he was, he could but faintly
articulate, “Hoop—Hoop—.” Being recognised as the miserable remnant of
that once powerful pugilistic hero, he was humanely taken to the
workhouse, where he immediately expired!—_Sic transit gloria athletæ!_


                               CHAPTER V.

                     TOM OWEN—1796‒1799 (1820).[74]

Tom Owen, though living only in the memory of the present generation as
a landlord combining liquor and literature, some fancy, more fun, a
certain amount of old-school pugilism and much pretence, deserves a
niche in this period of the History of British Boxing.

True it is the clumsy bespattering of praise with which, in bad English
and worst taste, his name is loaded in “Boxiana,” may induce many of
better judgment to turn from his biography; yet is there enough to
furnish matter worthy the pen of the chronicler of deeds of courage and
of skill.

Tom Owen was a native of Hampshire, being born at Portsea, on the 21st
December, 1768.

Of the apocryphal rigmaroles which disfigure “Boxiana,” we shall not
condescend to take any account; suffice it to say, that after several
provincial encounters with the Smiths, Joneses, Greens, and Browns of
his vicinity, Tom Owen came to London, where he followed the occupation
of an oilman; a calling which the reader will perhaps condescend to
remember was much more followed than now; for, as Byron says, “in those
days we had not got to gas.”

A casual turn up caused an introduction to Mr. Jackson, who, perceiving
the germ of future greatness in Tom, took him in hand, and, fancying his
style, he was matched against the then celebrated Bully Hooper, for 100

On the 14th, Nov., 1796, Owen met his formidable antagonist, who, it
must be remembered (with the exception of his draw with Big Ben) was as
yet unconquered. The battle-field was near Harrow. Owen was seconded by
Joe Ward and Jack Bartholomew, Hooper by Symonds and Paddington Jones.
“The contest,” says the reporter, “lasted rather more than an hour,
during which the men fought fifty rounds of hard fighting, but for the
most part of which Owen constantly kept a straight guard of such
prodigious strength, that Hooper could never beat it down, and very
seldom put in a hit. Hooper, in striking a blow, dislocated his
shoulder, and being also dreadfully bruised, gave in. Owen was so little
hurt, that he leisurely put on his clothes and walked away.”


  TOM OWEN, 1820.

  _From a Portrait by_ GEORGE SHARPLES.

Pierce Egan tells us of a second fight (Hooper not being satisfied) for
100 guineas, at the same place (Harrow), a few weeks afterwards, which
“Owen won in equally good style.” We fail to find it in contemporary
records, though Pierce adds, “the stakeholder had his pocket picked of
the 100 guineas, and Owen never got a single farthing afterwards,” vol.
ii., p. 194.

The fame of Owen now spread, and a match for 25 guineas a-side was made
between Jack Bartholomew and Tom, which took place at Moulsey Hurst,
August 22, 1797. George Maddox and Goff seconded Owen upon this
occasion. It was a desperate battle, and highly spoken of at the time,
for the courage displayed on both sides; but here Tom was forced to
succumb; Bartholomew overfought him, both at close quarters and
out-fighting, and the contest was finished by Owen being hit out of

On September 2, 1799, Tom entered the lists with one Houssa, a Jew, for
10 guineas a-side, on the race-ground at Enfield. Joe Ward was second to
Owen. But here again Owen was so desperately beaten, that, after a
struggle of forty minutes, he was incapable of coming to the scratch,
and the Jew was the conqueror.

Davis, of Deptford, an excavator, weighing fourteen stone, was beaten by
Owen in one hour, at Deptford, in December, 1799.

At a benefit which took place at the Horse-shoe and Hoop, Tower Hill,
Owen and Jack Bartholomew had some words about their fight at Moulsey.
The result was an exchange of blows. Pierce Egan tells us, “the smiles
of victory crowned the exertions of Owen in a quarter of an hour.”
Perhaps so—but old Tom was his own reporter.

At the Surrey Sessions, in January, 1805, Owen was indicted for a riot
and conspiracy, on Putney Common, in aiding and abetting Joe Berks and
Pearce to fight a pitched battle. The jury found Owen guilty, and he was
sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in Horsemonger Lane.

From this period Tom figured as a trainer and second, and his judgment
was generally considered good in all matters pugilistic; he also
flourishes immensely in the benefit-taking line, and was, as the
“Historian” terms him, “fly to every movement on the board.”

We shall decline transferring the trash of the Apocrypha of Boxing
respecting the exploits of Owen, as no traces of them are to be found in
the “canonical books,”—which, we take to be the journals of the time.
Leaving him, therefore, as a blind guide, we proceed to the contest with
Mendoza. This, although a very foolish affair on the part of the Jew, as
the follies of great men, even in pugilism, outweigh in interest the
wiser doings of lesser ones, is our chief reason for giving Owen a
separate chapter in the history of pugilism—despite the immense,
intense, and absurd gaggery of his injudicious friend and biographer.

In 1820, Tom (being no bad judge at match-making) proposed to Daniel
Mendoza a “passage at arms” to settle an old grudge. Dan, like an old
war-horse at the sound of the trumpet, though physically but a shadow of
his former self, met the twelve stone Tom Owen. Thirty-three years had
elapsed since the “Star of the East” had first peeled in the lists, and
fourteen since his last appearance. Although, however, his deeds were,
even to the existing generation of ring-goers, rather matter of
tradition than evidence, the fame of Mendoza made him the favourite at
six and five to four. Owen was known to be a good man, but it was
thought he had not science enough to oppose the accomplished Israelite.
Hence a great number of the oldest amateurs were induced to be present.
It is worthy of note, that Sir Thomas Apreece, Bart., who was Mendoza’s
umpire at Odiham, acted in that capacity on this occasion.

Owen, attended by Cribb and Josh. Hudson, threw up his hat first; and
Mendoza, followed by Randall and Harry Lee, repeated the token of
defiance. Mendoza was loudly cheered, and backed at five to four.
Mendoza was quickly ready, and walked about the ring with a coat thrown
over him. Owen was a considerable time preparing himself, and in making
his shoes right; instead of drawers he fought in a pair of nankeen
breeches. Mendoza’s colours were a blue silk bird’s eye, and tied over

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Mendoza, on stripping, exhibited a fine
            manly bust; his eyes sparkled with confidence,
            and there was altogether an appearance about
            him that seldom characterises an individual of
            fifty-five years of age. Owen, on the contrary,
            looked thin; and his general appearance was
            rather meagre than otherwise. On setting-to,
            both the ould ones were extremely cautious, and
            a minute elapsed before a hit was made. Owen at
            length let fly, but without any effect. Some
            exchanges took place, when they closed at the
            ropes, and, after an attempt to fib on the part
            of Mendoza, which was frustrated by Owen, a
            struggle for throw ensued: in going down, Dan
            was the undermost.

            2.—Mendoza ran in with great alacrity, made
            a sort of push forward, and got Owen on the
            ropes; the latter went down, and his neck got
            scored from them. (Great applause for Mendoza.
            While Tom was on the knee of Josh, the latter
            said, “Master!”—Owen, smiling, “What says my
            boy?”—“Have you brought the pepper castor with
            you?—“Yes, my lad, and the mustard and vinegar
            cruet too!”)

            3.—The Jew behaved very handsomely, and
            showed some good fighting; but Owen planted
            a tremendous hit on his left cheek, just
            under the eye, whence the claret flowed
            copiously: Mendoza went down, yet jumped up
            gaily. (Randall told Mendoza he should not
            have done so. “Let these ould ones alone,”
            said Josh; “they know more about fighting
            than you or I do.” Even betting, but Owen
            for choice. “I say, master,” says Josh, “you
            furnished Danny with some sour crout then!”)

            4.—Owen now showed the spectators that he was
            the younger man. Mendoza was again nobbed, and
            the claret profusely running down his cheek.
            In going down Owen was undermost. (“When am I
            to have the tobacco-stopper, master?” cries
            Josh.—“Leave it all to the cook yet!” Owen
            smilingly observed.)

            5.—Mendoza now showed he was completely gone
            by as to any superiority of fighting. Owen,
            having nothing to oppose him, “displayed talents
            that astonished the ring.” Mendoza received a
            dreadful fall.

            6.—Owen, in retreating from his antagonist, ran
            against the stakes, but the latter again planted
            a heavy facer. In struggling, both went down.

            7.—Here Tom was the hero of the tale. He nobbed
            Mendoza, and got away with all the dexterity of
            a youth: it was now only Mendoza by name; his
            excellence as a fighter had evaporated, and his
            hits were generally short. Owen, in a close at
            the ropes, held Mendoza as firm as if the latter
            had been screwed in a vice, and pummelled him at
            the back of the neck so dreadfully, that Dan at
            length fell exhausted.

            8.—Mendoza came to the scratch bleeding, and
            almost in a state of stupor, from the severity
            of the last round. Owen planted such a
            tremendous hit on Dan’s face, that he went back,
            and slipped down at the corner of the ring. The
            Jews were still backing Mendoza with confidence.

            9.—Long sparring: Owen convinced the spectators
            that he was a perfect master of the art. He hit
            Mendoza in the eye, jobbed him also in the face,
            and at the end of the ropes held Mendoza by the
            arm, and punished him till he went down. (Two to
            one on Owen.)

            10.—The appearance of Mendoza’s face was much
            changed; his left eye was encircled in claret.
            Owen got away from his antagonist in good style.
            Mendoza was punished all over the ring; Owen
            threw his opponent, and fell heavily upon him.
            (Three to one. Indeed, it was any odds.)

            11.—Owen was determined not to give a chance
            away; and he also appeared determined not to
            have any more body blows. He accordingly kept at
            out-fighting. A short but sharp rally occurred,
            when Owen fell; and Mendoza likewise, at about
            two yards distance, came heavily down upon his
            face on the turf.

            12th and last.—Mendoza was quite abroad, and
            hit short, and at the ropes was again held by
            Owen, and fibbed down. Mendoza said he would not
            fight any more, as he could not win it. He was
            terribly punished, and defeated in fourteen
            minutes and twenty-seven seconds and a quarter;
            while, on the contrary, Owen had not a scratch
            on his face. The latter was carried out of the
            ring by Cribb and Hudson, amidst the cheers of
            the spectators.

Mendoza, while being dressed, seemed sensibly affected at his defeat. He
had not the least idea of losing the battle.

Mr. Jackson collected £20 on the ground for Mendoza, who was put into a
coach. Owen soon returned to the ring, decorated in the spoils attendant
upon conquest. Mendoza’s blue trophy was hung round Owen’s neck,
surmounted by the yellow-man of Hooper; now doubly won.

This battle hardly deserves comment, after the observations we have
already made under the memoir of Mendoza; yet it is valuable as a
warning. The merits of the combatants remain, except in the balderdash
of “the historian” of the P. R., just where they stood previous to the

Tom’s judgment as a second was unquestionable. His coolness and
readiness as second to Turner in his victory over Scroggins, and in the
remarkable fight with Sutton and Painter, may be cited.

Tom was known for many years as a pleasant companion, a good convivial
singer, and the landlord of a house on the ground now occupied by the
basin of St. Katherine’s Docks, whence the hand of improvement compelled
him to migrate. For several years he was well known as the landlord of
the Shipwrights’ Arms at Northfleet, where the fancy of all grades found
him a civil, pleasant, and obliging host. Owen died at Plumstead in 1843
aged 76 years.

                              CHAPTER VI.

          TOM JONES (KNOWN AS “PADDINGTON JONES”).—1786‒1805.

This well-remembered pugilist, whose career forms a link between the
Second and Third Periods of the History of the Ring, well deserves a
chapter, from his numerous and game contests, his attentive civility
during his protracted connexion with fistic affairs, and yet more from
his identification with the renowned Jem Belcher, for whose first
metropolitan competitor he had the honour to be selected. Tom, including
his numerous “outside” or “bye-battles,” is supposed to have fought more
battles than any other pugilist. The Ring in Hyde Park was the frequent
arena of his contests, which in his noviciate were chiefly with roughs
and commoners.

About the year 1766, Paddington gave birth to this hero, from which
place he derived his pugilistic title. Tom commenced boxer when quite a
youth, and, from the intuitive science which he displayed at that early
period, attracted the notice of the veteran Tom Johnson, who pronounced
him to be a promising pugilist. Jones’s weight was ten stone and a half,
his height five feet eight inches, and his frame of much symmetry and

Tom’s first regular contest was about the year 1786, with one Jack
Holmes, in Harley Fields, near where Cavendish Square stands, for the
important sum of _half-a-crown_, and it appears it was as well-contested
as if £100 had been the stakes; but Jones being a mere novice, and quite
a stripling, and Holmes a full grown man, the latter proved the

A match was made between a one-eyed sailor, a most determined boxer, and
Tom Jones, for 10 guineas a-side, in February, 1786, which was decided
in the Ring, in Hyde Park. The contest proved a desperate one. The
Sailor was considered as ugly a customer as ever stood up for a mill;
but, in the event, Jones was declared victor. This hardy son of Neptune
was not satisfied with the first broadside, and soon afterwards entered
the lists for another 10 guineas, when he was again vanquished; yet,
like a perfect true blue, he was valiant enough to endure a third
engagement, in which he was also beaten. The Sailor displayed great
bottom, and was punished severely before he gave in.

In the course of the twelvemonth, however, smarting under the
recollection of defeat, Tom challenged Jack Holmes to a second trial
(half-minute time), for a guinea and a half, when Jones obtained an easy
conquest. This was on the 19th of December, 1786.

Aldridge, the Life-guardsman, who had been vaunting of his great deeds
of pugilism at Tom Johnson’s house, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, was told
by Joe Ward that he would produce a boy who should soon take the conceit
out of him: accordingly, a match was made for two guineas against a
watch, and Paddington Jones was brought forward as the man to accept the
challenge. It was to have been decided in the street, in the first
instance, but was removed to Harley Fields. On stripping, the guardsman
smiled with contempt at his boy-like antagonist, and, from his long
arms, had the advantage at the first part of the battle, dealing out
some sharp punishment; but the science and bottom of Tom soon stopped
his career. After a most desperate conflict, which was witnessed by most
of the celebrated pugilists of that day, who were astonished at the
intrepidity displayed by Jones, the “_boy_” succeeded in milling his
opponent in sixty rounds. Joe Ward seconded Jones.

Shortly after the above circumstance, in the same fields, Jones fought
one Jack Blackwell, a lime-burner, for 10 shillings; and, although the
latter showed complete ruffianism in the battle, he was easily disposed
of by Tom. Tom Burley, a companion of Blackwell, thought he could now
vanquish Jones, and had the temerity to enter the ring, immediately on
the fight being over, and challenged him for the like sum. Tom instantly
accepted the cartel. Burley was also a complete ruffian, and tried what
downright force could effect; but Jones so completely foiled his
attacks, and returned blows with so much science and effect, that Burley
was perfectly satisfied. These contests were rendered somewhat
conspicuous from the celebrated Major Hanger (afterwards Lord Coleraine)
and his black servant performing the office of second and bottle-holder
to Jones.[75]

On May 14, 1792, immediately after the fight of Mendoza and Bill Warr,
at Smitham Bottom, near Croydon, upon the same stage, Jones fought Caleb
Baldwin. The battle was for a purse of £20, but a dispute arising
between the parties, although Caleb claimed the victory, it was declared
a drawn battle.

Soon after the above contest, Jones entered the ring in Hyde Park, with
Dick Horton, a baker, for 20 guineas. The latter was considered to have
some pretensions to pugilism; but Jones dealt out his hits so hard and
fast, that the baker was glad to cry enough.

Jones, in company with Pardo Wilson, anxious to witness the fight
between Hooper and Bunner, at Bentley Green (September 4, 1792) walked
down to Colchester, and was extremely stiff from the effects of his
journey. The following day, a man of the name of Abraham Challice,
standing six feet high, and weighing fourteen stone (a perfect terror to
the inhabitants of that part of the country from his great strength),
observing Tom Jones upon the race-ground, and to show his dexterity, out
of mere wantonness, endeavoured to trip up Jones’s heels, and otherwise
insulted him, also threatening to give him a good hiding. Tom,
notwithstanding the great disparity between them, was not to be insulted
with impunity, and, perhaps with more pluck than prudence, instantly
showed fight. Challice laughed at him with the most sovereign contempt,
bidding him get along for “a boy,” or he would kick his breech for his
impudence. The spectators were alarmed at the youthful appearance of
Jones, who weighed but ten stone five pounds, and begged of him to
desist, as the consequences might prove of the most serious nature; but
Tom was not to be deterred, and soon pulled off his clothes. Upon
setting-to, Challice had the advantage from his superior strength, and
kept it for three rounds; but in the fourth, Jones put in a hit under
Challice’s ear, that knocked him down, when Tom Johnson offered to back
Jones for £100. Challice, on standing up, appeared much confused, and
Tom served him out in the same style, and continued punishing him every
round till he could scarcely move, and he soon acknowledged he had never
received such a complete milling before. The farmers and others who
witnessed the contest were so pleased that this insolent fellow, who had
rendered himself so disgusting about that neighbourhood, had received a
good thrashing, immediately made a subscription purse, which soon
amounted to 30 guineas, and presented it to Jones for his bravery.

The next day a countryman, well known in the neighbourhood of Bentley
Green under the name of “Leather Jacket,” mounted the stage, and, with
considerable vaunting, publicly challenged any Londoner to enter the
lists with him. The words had scarcely escaped from his lips, when up
jumped Tom, without any consideration for his hands, which were bruised
from the effects of the severe punishment he had bestowed upon the nob
of Abraham Challice the preceding day, and instantly began to prepare
for action. The countryman seemed thunderstruck with astonishment, and
with faltering speech exclaimed, “Na! na! you be the man that beat Ab.
Challice yesterday—I mean ony one but thee!” and made a hasty retreat
from the stage, amid the laughter and sneers of the spectators at
Leather Jacket’s vain boasting.

Jones beat Keely Lyons, the Jew, at Blackheath, on the 10th of May,
1794, for a purse of 20 guineas. Tom Johnson was second to Jones. It was
a well-contested battle, in which much science and bottom were displayed
on both sides.

In a second attempt on a stage at Hounslow, June 22, 1795, Jones
disposed of the same boxer in nine rounds, occupying sixteen minutes.
Lyons was a courageous pugilist, and a boxer above mediocrity.

In the August of 1795 Jones was at Bristol, the pugilistic nursery, with
Tom Johnson and other celebrities: a match for a purse with Spaniard
Harris took place. After twenty minutes’ fighting, Harris, during a
wrangle, got hold of the purse, and bolted with it, leaving Jones and
Co. “lamenting.”

On the renowned Jem Belcher’s appearance in the metropolis as a
pugilist, Tom Jones was the man selected to have the trial set-to with
him. This came off at Old Oak Common, Wormwood Scrubs, on April 12,

Belcher was seconded by Bill Warr, and Bill Gibbons acted as his
bottle-holder. Jones had for his attendants, Joe Ward and Dick Hall.
Belcher was, at this period, only nineteen years of age. The odds were
six to four upon Jem. The spectators were much interested upon the
commencement of the battle, from the very high character which had been
promulgated by Bill Warr, as to the astonishing abilities that his pupil
possessed, and the feats which he had achieved at Bristol. The first
round, considerable science was displayed upon both sides—the experience
and skill of Jones were well displayed; and the dexterity and new mode
of fighting, so exclusively Belcher’s own, were soon exhibited. On the
termination of the first round Belcher was knocked down. The advantages
in the second and third rounds were evenly balanced; but in the fourth
and fifth Jones was levelled. In the sixth and seventh rounds Jones
showed off in most excellent style: skill, manliness, and fortitude, no
shifting, nothing shy, hugging out of the question, and hauling not
resorted to: it was a clean fight throughout, stopping and hitting were
the order of the day, and it might be deemed a model for pugilists in
general to follow. Belcher, with all the gaiety and confidence of youth,
now exhibited a new feature as a boxer. The odds had changed five to
four on Jones. The eighth and ninth were spiritedly contested; but, in
the tenth round, Belcher put in some tremendous hits, with the rapidity
of lightning. This immediately altered the appearance of things, Jem was
looked upon as the favourite, and the odds were laid accordingly. Yet
Jones nobly contested for victory for the space of thirty-three minutes,
before he gave in. Jem weighed twelve stone six pounds, and Tom Jones
but ten stone five pounds. It should not escape the memory, that Jones
stood up to Belcher (before that distinguished pugilist lost his eye)
considerably longer than any other man ever did.

In 1798 Jones was matched in London to fight George Nicholls (the
conqueror of Cribb). Mendoza and Johnson took Tom down to Lansdown, near
Bath, for that purpose; but upon the combatants stripping, and just as
they were about commencing the set-to, the following singular
circumstance occurred:—Nicholls cried out “Stop!” and observing that
Jones was above his height, declared he would not fight him, and, _sans
ceremonie_, immediately left the ring, to the great astonishment and
disappointment of the spectators. After some years had elapsed, upon
Nicholls arriving in London, a match was made for 20 guineas, and they
tried their skill at Norwood, in March, 1802. Three rounds were well
contested, and considerable science was displayed; but in the fourth,
Nicholls ran furiously in, and getting his head between Jones’s legs,
and catching fast hold of both his ankles, threw Tom with considerable
violence. This was deemed an infringement upon the rules of pugilism by
the friends of Jones: a considerable interruption was the consequence,
and the fight was at an end. The stakes were demanded on the part of
Jones; but Bill Warr, who seconded Nicholls, would not suffer them to be
given up. Respecting which was the best man, it was impossible to form
anything like a decision. Jones, on his road home, had a turn up with a
man of the name of Carter, who had insulted him about a challenge from
Simpson. Tom, who was not much hurt from the above contest, set-to with
good pluck, and so soon convinced Carter he was in the wrong, that he
sheered off.

Isaac Bittoon, the Jew, had offered himself to Jones’s notice, when Jem
Belcher, who had beaten Jones, generously undertook to find him backers.
Forty guineas were put down, and they met on Wimbledon Common, July 13,
1801. Jem Belcher seconded Jones. It was a severely-contested fight, but
Bittoon was the heavier and stronger man, and although Tom displayed
great science and courage, he was unable to come to time (half-minute)
at the end of twenty-two minutes, being hit senseless.

Simpson, a pupil of Tom Johnson’s, upon whom considerable expectations
had been raised, was matched against Jones for 10 guineas a-side, which
battle was decided on the Green, near Putney, in June 1804. It was
termed a good fight, and Tom proved the conqueror.

On August 6th, 1805, Tom Jones fought another Lyons, known as “the Yokel
Jew,” at Hounslow, for 10 guineas a-side. This was one of the most
terrible conflicts in which Tom had been engaged. Yokel was a desperate
punisher, and Jones suffered severely in the fight; nevertheless Yokel
gave in.

Notwithstanding the numerous lists of battles which have been mentioned,
it does not appear that Paddington Jones ever made pugilism his peculiar
profession, but industriously followed through life his occupation, much
respected by his friends for his civility and good nature. Jones was a
man of mild and civil behaviour, and for a long series of years was well
known as master of the ceremonies at the Fives and Tennis Courts, as a
second and an attendant upon sparring exhibitions.

As a pugilist, Jones is entitled to honourable mention; to a respectable
amount of skill he united game of the first quality. He turned out
several good pupils. His guard was good and his position ready, with his
left arm firm and extended to protect his body from assault, while his
right was on the alert to give the return. Tom was a hard hitter, used
both his hands with equal facility, stood well upon his legs, and met
his man with fortitude.

Notwithstanding the evident disadvantages that Jones had to contend
against in his battle with Jem Belcher—the disparagement of having been
severely punished in numerous battles, and other hurts from skirmishes,
contrasted with Belcher who had scarcely been pinked, and was blooming
from the country—Tom’s conduct was far above mediocrity.

No man appeared oftener in the character of a second than Tom Jones, and
few understood that duty better than himself. In most of Randall’s
battles Tom performed that office.

It is impossible that we can take our leave of Paddington Jones without
characterising him as a brave pugilist, and well deserving to occupy a
niche in the temple of fame as a straightforward, courageous, and
deserving man. Jones died at his birthplace, Paddington, August 22,
1833, at the age of 67.

                         APPENDIX TO PERIOD II.

                    BILL WARR, OF BRISTOL—1787‒1792.

William Warr (incorrectly spelt Ward in many chronologies, etc.) was one
of the many boxers of the Bristol nursery. He was expressly brought to
London to lower the pretensions of Tom Johnson, with what success we
have already seen. He was five feet nine inches in height, strongly
made, with symmetrical breast and arms, robust in appearance, extremely
active, and altogether well framed for a pugilist. As a second, Will
Warr figures in numerous fights of his period, and was of acknowledged

After his defeat by Johnson, Warr’s next battle was with Wood, the
coachman, December 31, 1788, at Navestock, Essex. It snowed incessantly
during the combat, “yet,” says the report, “the ardour of the combatants
was not chilled, nor even the curiosity of the spectators damped. The
snow, however, did not fail to have its effects upon the battle; for the
boards of the stage being rendered extremely slippery, the pugilists
were unable to keep their feet, and each in his turn, as well in giving
as receiving blows, was brought to the ground. Warr fought in his usual
style, with much clever shifting, and displayed great agility and
science. Considering this Wood’s first essay, and against one of such
experience in the pugilistic art, he showed great courage and
determination. He fought, however, with too much impetuosity, and by
this means exposed himself to the more deliberate defence of his
opponent. For the first twenty minutes the battle was most admirably
contested on both sides. In five minutes after setting-to Warr succeeded
in closing Wood’s right eye, yet he continued the fight for half an hour
with astonishing firmness, until Warr got some heavy hits in succession
on the other eye, when he was forced to yield the victory.”

His two defeats by Mendoza are reported in the memoir of that pugilist
(pp. 76, 77).

On the 5th of May, 1789, as Bill Warr and Watson were going down to
Stilton to be present at the battle between Mendoza and Humphries, he
met with an unfortunate occurrence. A man of the name of Swaine, a
smith, who was an outside passenger of the same coach, having had some
words with Warr about the merits of Mendoza, challenged Warr to fight.
Accordingly, at the Bell Inn, Enfield, they turned out, when Warr struck
him an unlucky blow in the chest: Swaine fell and instantly expired.
Warr was taken into custody, and the following Sessions, at the Old
Bailey, was convicted of manslaughter. The whole tenour of the evidence
went to show that Warr tried everything short of cowardice to avoid the

Stanyard, of Birmingham, who had fought a draw with Andrew Gamble, an
Irishman (one of Pierce Egan’s Irish heroes, renowned for being beaten,
despite the most wondrous qualifications[76]), was liberally backed
against Warr for 100 guineas, and they fought at Colnbrook, October 27,
1792. We may observe that “the fight was fixed to take place at Langley
Broom, but was interrupted by the interference of the magistrates, and a
move took place to Colnbrook.” We give, as shall be our custom, a report
instead of an embellished paraphrase:—“A stage having been erected, at
half-past two Stanyard ascended, accompanied by Tom Johnson as his
second, and Butcher as his bottle-holder. Shortly afterwards Warr made
his appearance, with Watson for his second, and Joe Ward as his
bottle-holder. Captain Halliday and Mr. Sharp were chosen umpires. Mr.
Harvey Aston, Lord Say and Sele, Mr. Dashwood, Sir Thomas Apreece,
Colonel Hamilton, Mr. Bedingfield, and other distinguished persons were

At forty-six minutes to two, the combatants being prepared, set-to.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Warr acted on the defensive; some
            minutes were lost in sparring, when Stanyard put
            in a body blow, but without much effect; they
            then exchanged several blows, and Warr was
            knocked down.

            2.—Stanyard displayed superiority, and Warr

            3.—Warr gave his adversary a severe blow on the
            right cheek, which broke his jaw at the angle.
            It was generally allowed to be the severest blow
            thrown in.

            4.—Notwithstanding this misfortune, Stanyard
            stood, and never even complained to his second.
            In this round Warr was knocked down.

            5.—Warr was again knocked down, and at the
            conclusion held up his open hand to protect his

            6.—In this round Stanyard displayed most
            astonishing strength, for he fairly held Warr
            up, struck him most severely, and threw him down
            on the stage with astonishing violence.

            7 and 8.—Both these rounds Stanyard terminated
            by giving his antagonist a knock-down blow.

            9.—Stanyard gave Warr a severe blow under the
            right eye, and he again fell.

            10.—This was the last and best round, being the
            only one of any continuance, and during which
            much hard fighting was displayed; Warr gave his
            opponent four severe blows on his broken jaw,
            and it finished by both coming down.

            At the conclusion of this round, although they
            had only fought thirteen minutes, Stanyard gave
            in. His appearance was in his favour, but no one
            had any idea of the injury he had sustained.
            He was immediately conveyed to Colnbrook, and
            medical assistance procured, when it was found
            his jawbone was fractured near the articulation.
            Warr was in prime condition, and never displayed
            greater skill and courage. He challenged Tom
            Johnson to fight for a guinea; an empty boast,
            as we have elsewhere observed.

Will Warr, miscalculating his skill, sought another trial with the
accomplished Mendoza, who disposed of him in fifteen minutes (see
MENDOZA). Warr became a publican at the One Tun, Jermyn Street, in after
life, and seconded Jem Belcher, Tom Belcher, Henry Pearce (the Game
Chicken), Mendoza, Tom Cribb, and others in important battles. In
December, 1808, we find a benefit advertised at the Fives Court, for
Warr, at which John Gully, Tom Cribb, Dutch Sam, Dogherty, Tom Belcher,
and Richmond, set-to for the veteran. Warr died in March, 1809, and was
buried in St. James’s burial ground, St. Pancras.

                   WILL WOOD, THE COACHMAN—1788‒1804.

Bill Wood, although his defeats were preponderant, deserves honourable
mention at the hands of the historian of pugilism as one of the bravest
and hardiest of boxers. His opponents were the very best men of their
day. Bill Warr, George the brewer, whom he beat, Hooper the tinman, Jack
Bartholomew (beat), and Isaac Bittoon, were his antagonists. Wood was a
fine straight-limbed man of five feet eleven inches in height, and
twelve stone in weight. He fought well with both hands, and possessed
unquestionable courage. His style was impetuous, and his attack
formidable to all but the most skilful of defensive boxers.

Wood’s _coup d’essai_ was at Navestock, Essex, as “Captain Robinson’s
coachman,” on the last day of the year 1788. Although looked upon as a
novice in the art pugilistic, he tried all the skill of Bill Warr before
he surrendered. (See Life of WARR, APPENDIX, p. 120).

So well had our hero acquitted himself that George the brewer
(Ingleston), “renowned as a stand-up fighter,” who had, as we have seen,
beaten John Jackson, and Pickard (twice), having issued a challenge as
Champion, it was accepted by Wood. The stake was 100 guineas, and on the
13th of February, 1793, at Hornchurch, in Essex, the men met on a stage
twenty-four feet square. Wood was seconded by Joe Ward, while Dan
Mendoza attended upon Ingleston. At one o’clock, the combatants, fully
prepared, mounted the stage, and having shaken hands, set-to
immediately. “In the first round Wood knocked down his antagonist with
great violence. George rose immediately, and with inconsiderate
impetuosity attacked his opponent. Wood, taking advantage of his fury
and want of caution, retreated, and put in a tremendous blow on the
point of the jaw, which broke it: every spectator,” says the report in
“Pancratia,” “heard the crush, and immediately perceived the swelling
consequent on the fracture. The battle was supposed to be at an end, but
George, with unsubdued courage, renewed the attack, and in the rally
dealt Wood a blow upon the head which almost stunned him. The odds now
rose to two to one in favour of George. However, after twenty-five
minutes of severe fighting, in which George received many heavy blows
about the head, he, being almost senseless, gave in.” The reporter adds:
“Wood was much beaten, but every one feared George would pay the forfeit
of his life.”

Wood’s fame now stood so high, that in January, 1794, he was matched
with the renowned Ben Brain (Big Ben) the Champion. Ben was now
approaching his last illness, and a forfeit took place.

Our hero was not allowed to stand without a customer. Hooper was in the
height of his fame, having beaten Wright and Watson, made a draw with
Big Ben, and defeated Bunner and George Maddox. Yet Wood was thought by
many good enough to lower his pride. They met at Hounslow, June 22,
1794, as related in the memoir of Hooper (p. 107); and Wood was beaten,
but not ingloriously.

In the first month of 1797, we find Wood matched with the famous Jack
Bartholomew, who had just beaten Firby (the young Ruffian). See
BARTHOLOMEW, Appendix to Period III. The battle came off between Ealing
and Harrow, on a stage, January 30th, 1797.[77] “At two o’clock the men
set-to; but the amateurs were sadly disappointed. Bartholomew was sadly
out of condition, and not only made no good defence against Wood’s
attacks, but shifted, and struck foul; repeating the offence at the end
of fifteen minutes, the battle was given in favour of Wood. The Duke of
Hamilton and other distinguished ring-patrons were present, and Wood
told his Grace he would fight Bartholomew again in a fortnight for £500,
or when he pleased, if the Duke would back him.”

Wood, who was always a steady and industrious man, now retired for a
while, pursuing the then flourishing avocation of a hackney coachman,
and driving his own horses and lumbering leathern convenience. He often,
however, figures in the interval as second or bottle-holder in the
battles of the day. Isaac Bittoon, the Jew, having beaten Paddington
Jones, and fought a drawn battle with George Maddox, was anxious for a
shy at Wood, now a veteran in the field; the match was long talked
about, but at length arranged for the 16th of July, 1804, for a purse of
50 guineas and some bye bets to be received by the winner. The
magistrates were upon the alert, but the secret of the chosen spot was
well kept, Willesden Green being named as the Campus Martius so late as
the evening before the battle, which took place as early as ten o’clock
on the Monday morning. It would have been well had the same secrecy and
promptitude been practised in many more recent fights, which have come
to grief from the publicity given to their probable whereabouts, and
above all, from the abominable delays at the ring side.

The field at Willesden was early filled, and at three quarters past ten
the combatants entered “a roped-ring.” Wood immediately began to strip,
and appeared to be in robust condition. Bittoon followed in high
spirits, and after the usual ceremony, the men set-to. Wood was defeated
in thirty-six rounds, occupying fifty-six minutes; Wood, in the words of
the contemporary report, “being quite worn out.” (See BITTOON, for the

This was Wood’s last appearance within the ropes. He was for many years
a well-known character among the Jehus at the West End. In May of the
year 1821, we find under the head of “Some Slight Sketches of Boxers,
who have retired from Public Contests, on account of Age or other
Infirmities,” the following: “Bill Wood, the coachman, once the
formidable opponent of Bill Warr, Bartholomew, George the Brewer, and
Bittoon, enjoys a fine green old age, and frequently takes a peep into
the Fives Court to see the young ’uns exhibit.” Wood died in St.
Pancras, in January, 1839, aged 64.

                GEORGE INGLESTON, THE BREWER—1789‒1793.

George Ingleston, known as George the Brewer, was a powerful six-foot
man, of somewhat heavy build, undoubted courage, but, like many big
ones, fought slowly in comparison with lighter and more agile men. He
was, however, “acknowledged to be a tremendous hard hitter,” says
“Pancratia.” “He was first introduced to the notice of the amateurs by
the celebrated Tom Johnson,” says the same authority, “who tried to
cultivate his powers, but did not form any high opinion of his skill.
His guard was low, like his renowned master’s; he never shifted, but
unflinchingly met the coming blow, and trusted rather to a return than
the quick and effective method of a counter hit.”

We shall pass the earlier and unimportant battles of George the Brewer
to come to his most important contest, that with John Jackson, which
came off in presence of a distinguished company, in the yard of the Swan
Inn, at Ingatestone, in Essex, on the 12th of May, 1789. Brain (Big Ben)
seconded Jackson, Tom Tring (the Carlton House porter) attended upon

On setting-to the betting was even, but the superior skill of Jackson
was evident in the first round, when after some skilful stops and
parries, Jackson at the close of the round brought down the brewer. In
the second and third rounds the skill and activity of Jackson brought
the odds to seven to four in his favour. In this round, owing to a heavy
rain which had fallen in the forenoon, the boards of the stage were
extremely slippery, and in breaking ground Jackson slipped, and fell
with such violence that his ankle was dislocated and the small-bone of
his leg broken. There was no alternative but surrender; although the
report of the day states that Jackson “offered to be fastened down to a
chair (after the fashion of sailors on a chest in their boxing matches),
provided the Brewer would do the like, and thus fight it out.” There was
pluck at any rate in the proposition; but George, who saw the stakes
within grasp, was not so green as to let go “the bird in hand.”

On the 23rd of October, 1789, Ingleston met and defeated Pickard, called
“the Birmingham Champion.” The battle took place on a twenty-four foot
stage, at Banbury, in Oxfordshire. It is described in the report as a
desperate stand-up fight, in which, after thirty-four minutes of
“fierce” rallying, Pickard cried “enough!” and Ingleston was hailed the
victor. This was fought the day after the great battle of Johnson and
Perrins. See _ante_, Life of TOM JOHNSON.

Pickard was not, however, satisfied of his inferiority to George, and
again found friends to back him for 50 guineas against his old opponent.
They met at Shipston-upon-Stour, Staffordshire, September 25, 1791, when
the former decision was re-affirmed, and Pickard cleverly defeated.

Ingleston’s last battle was with Bill Wood, the coachman, at Hornchurch,
for 100 guineas, February 13, 1793, which will be found under the
pugilistic doings of WOOD (p. 122). George Ingleston, on his retirement,
resumed his calling of a brewer, and was for years known as a civil and
industrious man in the neighbourhood of Enfield, where one of his old
patrons, Captain Brailsford, held a brewery of some extent.

                   BOB WATSON, OF BRISTOL—1788‒1791.

Bristol, for more than half a century renowned for its pugilistic
champions, gave birth to Watson, a well-known man in the ring doings of
the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Watson was related by
marriage to the family of the Belchers, having married the sister of Jem
and Tom Belcher, while his daughter was the wife of the late Jem Burn
(see vol. iii., life of Burn). Watson was another sample of a large
heart in a small body. His height was no more than five feet five
inches, his weight nine stone two pounds, yet by courage and science,
Bob went far to compensate these deficiencies. After many provincial
victories, Watson entered the ring, after the victory of Jackson over
Fewterel (June 9, 1788), at Croydon, in presence of the Prince of Wales
and a distinguished company. His opponent was Elisha Crabbe, an
Israelite, who had won fame by defeating old Stephen Oliver, known as
“Death.” “This,” says the reporter, “was by far the best battle of the
three, and lasted three quarters of an hour. Warr seconded Watson; Ryan
(the opponent of the champion) attended upon Crabbe. Watson, though much
the smaller man, displayed great science and activity, and in the end
proved the conqueror.”

The skill and courage exhibited by Watson on this occasion, led to his
being noticed by Jackson, then in high patronage. He was accordingly
selected to contend with Bill Jones, mentioned under TYNE (p. 128).[78]
The battle came off before the Prince, Colonel Hanger, and other guests
at the Pavilion, and residents at Brighton, August 6th, 1788. The battle
was spirited and scientific for about fifteen minutes, but so much to
the advantage of Watson that Jones fell from weakness, and got down
suspiciously more than once. (It must be remembered that only a month
had elapsed since he was defeated by Tyne). At the end of eighteen
minutes, Watson having hit him down heavily with both hands, Jones

A strong outsider, named Anderson, a tinman, from the “land o’ cakes,”
challenged Watson, and the day was fixed for April 25, 1789; accordingly
the men met at Langley Broom, near Colnbrook, on the Windsor Road.
Watson went in so resolutely that Anderson fell in two minutes, and
nothing could induce him again to face his antagonist. The reporter
adds, “the amateurs complained loudly that Anderson had played
_cross_.”[79] A second fight was got up for a purse between Joe Ward and
Townsend, which Joe won in twenty minutes; Townsend being _said_ to have
broken his arm.

Watson’s next encounter was with the formidable Hooper, by whom he was
defeated, after a long fight of 150 minutes and 100 rounds, at Langley
Broom, February 17, 1790. (See HOOPER, p. 105.)

A townsman of Watson’s, and a brother “kill-bull,” of the name of
Davies, proposed a “passage of arms” to our hero, and despite disparity
of weight and size, Bob accepted the cartel. They met at Coalharbour,
Gloucestershire, January 10, 1791. Watson was the favourite at long
odds; but after the first ten minutes they changed rapidly. Bob’s
science and shifting did not avail against the strength and quickness of
Davis, who was by no means destitute of skill. Though at such a
disadvantage, however, Watson never lost heart, and disputed every inch
of ground with firmness and occasional advantage for three quarters of
an hour, despite the remonstrances of his second, Bill Warr, till he
could no longer stand. His second then gave in for him. Bob’s appearance
upon any stage raised his character even in defeat.

Watson now returned to the regular pursuit of his trade, and was in
business as a master butcher in Bristol for more than forty years from
this period. He still took an interest in matters pugilistic, as we
shall see incidentally in these pages, and often seconded, more
especially in the neighbourhood of Bristol. Watson frequently gave
expositions of the art on the stage of the Bristol theatre and in
London. In 1810 he was engaged at Covent Garden with the younger Warr
(son of Will Warr) and demonstrated the art in a scene in the pantomime.
Warr, in an impetuous onset, knocked out one of Watson’s teeth, who
proposed a combat then and there. This would have been an unrehearsed
effect, and was of course prevented. Bob threw up his engagement, but
was pacified by having another boxer to perform with him. He died in
September, 1837, aged 71 years, generally respected.

                   TOM TYNE, “THE TAILOR”—1788‒1792.

Among the minor pugilists, Tom Tyne deserves a passing notice. The
vulgar proverb of “nine tailors make a man” found its exception in this
small-sized but large-souled boxer, who always fought “up-hill” against
weight and inches, displaying much science, and in those rough days what
was called too much “shiftiness.” Tyne’s first recorded fight came off
at Croydon on the 1st of July, 1788, for 50 guineas. His opponent was
Bill Jones, a powerful boxer, and who had earned a name by defeating
Dunn, a clumsy and game Irishman, in Bloomsbury Fields, in 1786, besides
other bye-battles. On this occasion Jones was seconded by Joe Ward, and
Tyne by the renowned Tom Johnson. As it is our plan nothing to extenuate
nor set down aught in malice, we shall, as is our practice, where
possible, print the contemporary report.

“Tyne evidently possessed the advantage in science, independent of his
great superiority arising from the shy mode of shifting and dropping.
Jones, on the contrary, stood manfully up to his man, and made many
dexterous efforts, which, however, were frustrated by the illusive and
evasive system of his antagonist, who always fell whenever he received
or put in a blow. Jones had in point of beating the worst of the battle,
but still the best prospect of ultimate success, from his superior
strength and bottom; until by following up a blow too far, he struck his
antagonist unfairly, somewhere about the waistband of the breeches, when
Tyne was immediately declared the conqueror.”

Tom’s next display was in the presence of royalty, and proved most
unfortunate in its result. On August 6th, 1788, the Grand Stand on
Brighton Race-course was crowded with nobility and gentry to witness the
decision of three matches on a stage erected for that purpose. The
Prince of Wales and a large party from the Pavilion were present. The
first combatants were Bill Jones, already mentioned, and Watson, of
Bristol (see WATSON); the second, Joe Ward and Reynolds (see WARD); the
third, between our hero and Earl.

This contest, unhappily for Tom, ended in a fatal accident. Earl was a
powerful rustic, far heavier and taller than Tom, whose height was five
feet seven inches, and weight nine stone seven pounds. Earl from his
appearance was the favourite at odds, and “was becoming triumphant very
fast, when Tyne struck him a sharp left-handed blow on the side of the
head, which drove him against the rail of the stage. He fell insensible,
and immediately expired. The Prince of Wales, greatly to his honour,”
adds the reporter, “immediately settled an annuity on the wife and
family of Earl, and took the determination never to be present at
another pugilistic contest.” We hope the first promise was kept better
than the second, otherwise the prince’s annuity was merely another stone
in the pavement of that place where “good intentions” are said to make
the roadway smooth.

Tom was now matched against a clever boxer, Elisha Crabbe, the Jew, who
had earned some fame by beating “Old Oliver,” as he was termed. The
battle took place in a field adjoining Boston Moor, on Monday, March 24,
1790. We copy the report from the _Daily Advertiser_.

“Tyne had Johnson for his second, and James, the waterman, for his
bottle-holder. Lee seconded the Jew, and Joe Ward held the bottle. At
about half-past two the contending bruisers appeared, amidst at least
2,000 spectators, and on stripping, six to four was betted in favour of
the tailor.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—There was some extremely good sparring;
            they both closed, and Crabbe fell, but gave
            his adversary a severe blow on the nose which
            produced great effusion of blood.

            8.—The Jew gave his opponent a real knock-down
            blow, and fell upon him.

            14.—Tyne again fell by his antagonist’s blow.

            16.—Tyne received another knock-down blow, but
            gave the Jew a most severe cut on the left eye,
            and another on the mouth.

            18.—Tyne dropped, and it was generally
            considered by design; great cry of “foul, foul,”
            and the odds sunk five to four on the tailor.

            22.—Was the best round during the contest, and
            in which science was most admirably displayed by
            both combatants; it lasted above a minute, and
            afforded some most skilful blows.

            32.—Crabbe fell by a severe blow on the eye.

            33.—Tyne most adroitly fell, and his antagonist
            making a severe blow, flew over him, and falling
            on the stage, cut his face dreadfully.

            39.—This was the last round; Tyne again fell
            by a slight blow, and Crabbe was so exhausted
            that he fell on his belly, being utterly
            incapable of standing the contest any longer.
            In the intermediate rounds there was good
            sparring, but no blows of consequence.

“The battle lasted thirty-five minutes. Crabbe sparred the best, but
Tyne never failed to make his blows tell, notwithstanding he frequently
fell himself. The Jew several times attempted to chop, but in this
failed. Johnson on this occasion displayed most excellent qualities as a
second, and the event of the contest depended much on his conduct.”

Tom’s next appearance was in the ring in Hyde Park, on Friday, December
31, 1792. Firby, previously known as “Jack the waiter,” from his being
employed in that capacity, at the London Tavern, though a civil fellow,
had earned the title of “The Young Ruffian,” from his victory over
Symonds, “The Old Ruffian,” in the previous year. Firby made a severe
fight with Tyne, and, despite Tom’s cleverness in shifting and dropping,
managed to force the fighting so cleverly, that he beat him off in
twenty-two minutes.

Tom Tyne has two fights with Mendoza credited to his name in “Fistiana,”
which appear nowhere in “the books.” This was Tyne’s last public
appearance as a principal. He is named once or twice afterwards as a
second. He returned to his trade, and became “_Sartor Resartus_.”

              SYMONDS, NICKNAMED “THE RUFFIAN.”—1791‒1795.

The repulsive _sobriquet_ given to this boxer had, we find from
contemporary authority, no relation to his personal appearance, nor to
his ordinary behaviour, but was merely applied in ring slang to his mode
of attacking his opponents in the twenty-four feet square, in defiance
of mathematics called “the ring.” The ugly part of his cognomen
descended to his juvenile conqueror, Firby, the waiter, who was
designated “the Young Ruffian,” and Symonds thereafter was known by the
epithet of “the Old Ruffian.”

Symonds’ first recorded ring fight was with Bill Jackling (called
Ginger, from the colour of his hair), brother to the renowned Tom
Johnson, the champion. This took place at Wrotham in Kent, on January
17, 1791, after his brother had been defeated by Big Ben (see _ante_, p.
68). It was a severe fight for twenty-three minutes, when Symonds was
hit out of time.

His next encounter was at Fenner’s cricket ground, Uxbridge, with
Gowlett, for 10 guineas, on the 22nd June, 1791. The battle was got up
as a sort of compensation for the disappointment of the amateurs who
were about to journey to Stokenchurch, Oxfordshire, to witness the
battle between Dan Mendoza and Bill Warr. The Oxfordshire magistrates,
however, had given notice of their intention to stop the “big” fight,
and it was postponed. (See Life of MENDOZA, _ante_, p. 76.) The men
fought on the turf. The opponent of Symonds, Gowlett, was a big
countrymen of provincial repute. Symonds, who was more practised than
his huge opponent, delivered heavily, and then, _à la_ Bendigo, found
his way cleverly to the ground. In the words of the report, “Symonds
sprung in, struck, and then fell, without being struck in return.” This
is very obscure. However, “Gowlett, being irritated, kicked him as he
lay on the ground. This decided the battle immediately in favour of
Symonds.” We should think so. What follows is curious: “Many bets were
paid; but after a consultation, the amateurs deciding it to be a drawn
battle, the bets were refunded.” Our grandfathers were somewhat at sea
as to betting law. However, as the Duke of Hamilton, Alderman Macauley,
and other “distinguished patrons” were present, we suppose they acted
equitably, according to their view of the case.

A fine young fellow, Jack Firby, a waiter at the London Tavern, met
Symonds for a stake at Wimbledon, on the Ridgway, August 2, 1791, and
defeated him, after a slashing fight of forty-five minutes.

On Saturday, December 4, 1792, Symonds fought a most resolute battle of
two hours with George Maddox at Datchet Sward, Berks, resulting in a
draw. (See MADDOX, _post_, p. 206.)

Symonds’ last appearance in the ring was on the 15th of April, 1795,
when he fought a draw with a Jew, called Ugly Baruk, at Hornchurch; it
lasted half an hour. For some years Symonds was an attendant at the
Fives Court, and elsewhere, and was, like Firby, a good-tempered,
obliging fellow, always ready to lend a hand to a brother pugilist in
distress. Symonds died in 1820.

                           END OF PERIOD II.

                         PERIOD III.—1798‒1809.

                               CHAPTER I.

                   JEM BELCHER (CHAMPION)—1798‒1809.

On the roll of fistic heroes to whom Bristol has given birth, the name
of JEM BELCHER may claim precedence. He came of a good fighting stock,
being descended by the mother’s side from the renowned Jem Slack, the
conqueror of Broughton, the former being the grandsire of the subject of
this memoir.

On his first appearance in the London Ring, he was justly considered a
phenomenon in the pugilistic art. Jem’s height was five feet eleven and
a half inches; his weight under twelve stone. Though graceful and finely
proportioned, he had none of those muscular exaggerations in his form
when stripped, and still less when attired, which go, in the artistic as
well as the popular notion, to make up a Hercules. Jem was formed more
after the sculptor’s Apollo than the not-very-accurate classical idea,
derived from bronze and marble, of a gladiator. In horse, as in man,
this antique blunder is laughed at by those who have read and seen
something more than Greek and Latin books or monuments can teach them.
The horses of the Parthenon might do for Pickford’s vans, “a black job,”
or a man in armour in my Lord Mayor’s show (and they would not carry
_him_ well); while Jem Belcher, Henry Pearce, Tom Spring, Jem Ward, or
Tom Sayers, could thrash all your shoulder-tied, muscle-knotted,
chairman-calved Milos that ever didn’t do the impossibles which ancient
poets and fabulists, called historians, have attributed to them in verse
and prose. But this is digression, and we return.



James Belcher struggled into the battle of life in St. James’s
Churchyard, Bristol, on the 15th of April, 1781. He there, for some
time, followed the occupation of a butcher, and early signalised himself
by feats of pugilism and activity at Lansdown Fair.[80] At twenty years
of age his skill with the gloves was the talk of the town, and he
baffled the cleverest professors of the old school on their visits to
Bristol, which were then neither few nor far between. His method
appeared so peculiarly his own that it looked like intuition, and some
of the “ould ’uns” who were sceptical as to his prowess, would not
believe in it until they had experienced in their own persons the
irresistibility of his attack and the cleverness of his almost
invulnerable and ever-varying defence. Gaiety and intrepidity were
combined in Jem’s style with curious felicity, and the rapidity with
which he “got in” upon his opponent, the skill with which he retreated,
armed at all points, and the masterly manner in which he “got out of
trouble,” to the surprise of his assailant, were truly astonishing—in
two words, Jem Belcher was a “natural fighter,” perfected by the
practice of his art.

The first recorded fight of Belcher was with Britton, a pugilist of some
notoriety, who afterwards contended with Dutch Sam; the contest took
place near Bristol, on the 6th of March, 1798; it was a sharp and severe
contest, in which Belcher, the boy of seventeen, disposed of his
antagonist in thirty-three minutes, Britton being beaten to a
stand-still, to the utter surprise of the spectators.

Our hero now came up to town, where his reputation accompanied him;
being introduced to old Bill Warr, who then kept a house in Covent
Garden, the “ould ’un” had a mind to judge personally of the merits of
the young aspirant for pugilistic fame, and accordingly put on the
gloves with him for a little “breathing” in his (Warr’s) own
dining-room. The veteran, who in his best days was no Belcher, was so
astounded at Jem’s quickness in hitting and recovering guard, that he
puffed out, as he reeled against one of his tables, impelled thither by
a “Belcherian” tip, “That’ll do; this youngster can go in with any man
in the kingdom!” Jem quietly observed, during the discussion after
dinner, “I could have done better, sir, but I was afraid I might hit you
too hard, and that you would be offended.”—“Oh!” cried the undaunted
veteran, “I was never afraid of a crack, my boy, and am not now; we’ll
have a round, and you may do your best.” So saying, they instantly
set-to, when Jem, almost at the request of his host, quietly hit him
down several times, despite of the “ould ’un’s” attempts at stopping or
countering. Warr was fully satisfied of Belcher’s talents; they sat down
sociably, and Bill offered to back the young Bristolian against anything
on the pugilistic list.

Tom Jones, of Paddington, whose career closed the final chapter of the
Second Period, was selected as the trial-horse of the new competitor in
the race for fame and its more substantial rewards. The battle took
place on Wormwood Scrubbs, on the 12th of April, 1799, for 25 guineas
aside. The peculiar features of Belcher’s science were well displayed;
and although Jones contended for victory with desperate determination,
unflinching courage, and no small amount of skill and readiness, he was
doomed to “pale his ineffective fires” before the rising luminary of
Belcher’s fame. Thirty-three minutes of courageous and determined
fighting placed the future champion’s star in the ascendant.

Jack Bartholomew, a pugilist whose victories over the gluttonous Firby
(known as the “Young Ruffian”), Tom Owen, and others, had placed him
high in the estimation of “the fancy,” was now picked out as a customer
very likely to try the mettle of Belcher. Bartholomew was in high favour
among the ring-goers, his weight between twelve and thirteen stone, his
qualifications considerable, and his game of the first order. The stakes
in the first instance were small, being but £20 a-side, owing to the
affair arising out of a longing desire on the part of Bartholomew to try
his skill with the Bristol “Phenomenon,” he himself feeling no
apprehension as to the result. He accordingly challenged Jem for this
sum, offering to “fight him for love,” rather than lose the opportunity
of a “shy.” The mill came off, almost extemporaneously, August 15, 1799,
at George’s Row, on the Uxbridge Road, and was so severely and evenly
contested (Belcher was declared to be out of condition), that neither
could be declared the conqueror. Towards the end of the fight
Bartholomew was so completely exhausted that he fainted away, and could
not come to time; and Jem so much done up, that it was with difficulty
he was got up to the scratch. In fact, both men were out of time.
Bartholomew, in the interval, recovering a little from his weakness,
insisted upon renewing the combat, when the ring was again made; but he
staggered about without command of himself, and appeared literally
stupid. His game was so good, but his state so pitiable, that
Cullington,[81] feeling for his bravery, exclaimed, “For heaven’s sake,
Jem, don’t hit him!” upon which Belcher merely pushed him down; in fact,
he was himself so exhausted as to be unable to make an effectual hit.
The umpires pronounced it a drawn battle; and the stakes, which were
held by Bill Gibbons’s brother, were drawn the same night at

As Bartholomew possessed pluck of the first order, it was not to be
supposed the matter would rest here; accordingly the world pugilistic
was soon on the _qui vive_ for another match, which was arranged for 300
guineas. This was fought upon a stage on Finchley Common, on Thursday,
May 15, 1800. Bartholomew was at this time 37 years of age, Belcher just
turned 20.

The combatants mounted the stage at half-past one o’clock, and little
time was lost in preliminaries. Bartholomew had determined that sparring
should avail Belcher but little, and ding-dong rushes were the game he
had resolved on. Belcher, even in the early rounds of the fight,
exhibited the tactics, afterwards conspicuous in some of Cribb’s
battles, of “milling on the retreat;” but Bartholomew would not be
denied, and seconded by his great strength and weight, he got in,
planted upon Belcher, and hit him clean down with such violence, as to
induce his over-sanguine friends to start off an express, per pigeon, to
London, with the intelligence of their man’s victory. They were,
however, premature, for Jem, taught by experience, did not give
Bartholomew a chance of thus stealing a march on him; after pinking
Bartholomew once or twice, he warded off his lunge, and catching him
cleverly, threw him so dreadful a cross-buttock, that he was never
entirely himself again during the fight. The odds now changed. Yet
Bartholomew bravely contended, disputing every round with unyielding
firmness, till the close of the seventeenth round, and the expiration of
twenty minutes, when Belcher floored him with so terrific a body blow
that all was U-P. The contest, considering the shortness of its
duration, was considered the most desperate which had been witnessed for
many years, and the loser was severely punished. It is erroneously
stated in “Boxiana” (p. 129, vol. i.) that Belcher and Bartholomew
fought again; but no date or place is mentioned, nor did any such battle
ever come off. “Immediately after the fight,” says the report,
“Bartholomew was taken into custody on a judge’s warrant, for breaking
the peace before the expiration of his bond. He was brought to town in a
coach, but bailed out immediately.”

Andrew Gamble, the “Irish champion,” was now backed by several
influential amateurs to enter the lists with Belcher. Accordingly a
match was made for 100 guineas, to be decided on Wimbledon Common, on
Monday, December 22, 1800; and on that day vehicles of all descriptions,
and crowds of pedestrians, flocked to witness this combat.

The journals of the day give on many occasions a sort of _Morning Post_
list of “fashionables” on these occasions. On the present we find
enumerated Lord Say and Sele, Colonels Montgomery and Ogle, Captain
Desmond, Squire Mountain, Messrs. Cullington, Lee, Kelly, Aldridge,
etc.; and among the professionals, John Jackson, Paddington Jones, Bill
Gibbons, Caleb Baldwin, etc.

Belcher entered the ring about twelve o’clock, accompanied by his
second, Joe Ward, with Bill Gibbons as his bottle-holder, and Tom Tring
as an assistant. Mendoza was second to Gamble; his bottle-holder, Coady;
and old Elisha Crabbe as deputy. Messrs. Mountain, Lee, and Cullington
were chosen umpires; the latter also was stakeholder.

Notwithstanding Gamble had beat Noah James, the Cheshire champion, a
pugilist who had been successful in seventeen pitched battles, and whose
game was said to be superior to any man in the kingdom, still the bets
from the first making of the match were six to four in favour of
Belcher; and Bill Warr, before the combatants stripped, offered
twenty-five guineas to twenty. On stripping, Gamble appeared much the
heavier man, and his friends and countrymen offered five to four on him;
but that was by no means the opinion of the London cognoscenti. A few
minutes before one the fight commenced.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—After some sparring, Gamble made play,
            but was prettily parried by Belcher, who, with
            unequalled celerity, planted in return three
            severe facers: they soon closed, and Belcher,
            being well aware of the superiority of his
            opponent’s strength, dropped. (The Paddies, in
            their eagerness to support their countryman,
            here offered five to four.)

            2.—Belcher, full of spirit, advanced towards
            Gamble, who retreated. Jem made a feint with his
            right hand, and with his left struck Gamble so
            severely over the right eye, as not only to
            close it immediately, but knock him down with
            uncommon violence. (Two to one on Belcher.)

            3.—Gamble again retreated, but put in several
            severe blows in the body of his antagonist with
            some cleverness. Belcher, by a sharp hit, made
            the claret fly copiously; but Gamble,
            notwithstanding, threw Belcher with considerable
            violence, and fell upon him cross-ways. (The
            odds rose four to one upon Jem.)

            4.—Belcher, full of coolness and
            self-possession, showed first-rate science. His
            blows were well directed, and severe,
            particularly one in the neck, which brought
            Gamble down. (Ten to one Belcher was the

            5th and last round.—Gamble received two such
            blows that struck him all of a heap—one in the
            mark, that nearly deprived him of breath, and
            the other on the side, which instantly swelled
            considerably. Gamble fell almost breathless, and
            when “time” was called, gave in. It is reported
            that not less than £20,000 changed hands on this
            occasion. The Irish were full of murmurings at
            Gamble’s conduct, who was beaten in five rounds,
            and in the short space of nine minutes! Gamble
            fought very badly. From his former experience
            much was expected, but he appeared utterly
            confused at his opponent’s quickness. Belcher
            treated Gamble’s knowledge of the art with the
            utmost contempt.

It may be worth noticing that the “Pride of Westminster,” in after years
known as Caleb Baldwin, described in the report as a “dealer in greens,”
polished off a big Irishman, named Kelly, in fifteen minutes, twelve
rounds, for a purse of 20 guineas, in the same ring.

While Belcher was witnessing the battle between Bittoon the Jew and Tom
Jones, on Wimbledon Common, on Monday, July 13, 1801, Joe Berks, who was
excited and quarrelsome, made a disturbance in the outer ring,[82] and
offensively called out, “Where’s young Jem Belcher? where’s your
champion?” Jem went up to him and asked him what he wanted; the reply to
which was a blow, cleverly warded off. A fierce set-to followed, for Jem
was _semper paratus_, when Berks displayed so much courage and strength,
that the spectators did not know what to think about the finish of this
impromptu affair. The combat lasted nineteen minutes, and although Berks
was beaten, an opinion became prevalent that had not Belcher applied all
he knew of the science, and Berks fought, as it was termed, “hand over
hand,” there was great probability of Jem’s falling before the resolute
onslaught of the Shropshire man.

Berks having shown so much game under such evident disadvantages, Lord
Camelford determined to back him for a second combat in a more regular
manner, for 100 guineas. He was accordingly put out to nurse; a teacher
appointed to initiate him into the mysteries of the science; and it was
reported of Berks that he was a promising child—took his food regularly,
minded what his master said to him, and, for the short time that he had
taken to study, great improvement was visible. Berks ultimately turned
out one of the most troublesome customers, and the hardest to be
disposed of, that ever entered the lists with Belcher.

On Saturday, September 12, 1801, Belcher met Berks, at the Cock, in Sun
Street, Spitalfields, when Jem accepted his formal challenge for 100
guineas, and seven days after, on the 19th, they met at the same house,
to proceed to the battle-field—a rare instance of promptitude and
eagerness on both sides; but the police having scent of the affair, a
magistrate’s warrant was issued, and the battle postponed to the 12th of
the next month. As there is no trace of these proceedings in “Boxiana,”
and they are amusing as well as curious to the ring-goer, showing the
disappointments and _modus operandi_ of the ring in the olden times, we
reprint the account from a contemporary newspaper; and as a specimen of
what then was thought smart writing in the fashionable world.

“On Monday (12th October, 1801), as had been agreed upon, the long
expected battle between James Belcher and Joseph Bourkes (Joe Berks) was
to have taken place at Enfield, but much to the chagrin of the amateurs
and lovers of the pugilistic art, it was prevented by the interposition
of Mr. Ford, the magistrate of Bow Street, who, having received
information of the intended combat, issued a warrant against Belcher,
and on the Sunday night previous Townsend took him into limbo. Many
circumstances combined to excite a most extraordinary degree of
expectation, and produced a multitudinous attendance on this attractive
occasion. The late ratification of peace had tended to annihilate
fighting;[83] conversation which had been so lively supported by the
race of two famous horses, Sir Solomon and Cock-fighter, had now become
exhausted in the sporting circle; the combatants being of the highest
renown in the science, could not fail to animate every amateur; and, to
add still greater numbers to the assembly, a violent thunder-storm on
the Saturday night had kept the heroes, who on that evening enjoy
themselves, altogether inactive. All the loose cash, all the turbulence
that had been amassed that night, now prompted by curiosity, broke forth
with increased avidity. The ‘fight’ was the very goal of attraction; it
consolidated every vagrant wish, every undecided mind, and every idle

“This match first became the subject of contemplation from an accidental
skirmish during the fight between Bittoon and Tom Jones, at Wimbledon,
in which, although Berks seemingly had the worst of it, the amateurs
considered it as a matter of surprise; and no previous training having
taken place on either side, much consequence was not attached to the
defeat, nor was it considered decisive of the merits of the rival
heroes. Many knowing ones indeed conceived that Berks got thrashed in
this contest only through his own rashness, and entertaining flattering
hopes of his powers, took him into private nursing. Raw eggs to improve
his wind, and raw beef to make him savage, were the glorious
non-naturals that composed his regimen, and in all his exercises he
topped even expectation’s self. All this was done in the anxious trust
that Belcher would be backed with great odds, as he was thought to be
the favourite with all, excepting those in the secret. They, however,
did not manage with all that address which experience proves so
requisite to gull the world; it soon spread that Berks had been in
training, and had considerably improved in his sparring. Odds then took
a contrary direction, but when the amateurs who con o’er these sublime
subjects began to consider that Belcher, although not in training, had
lived temperately, was in good condition, and full of stiff meat, he
again became the favorite, and on the ground six to four were the
standing odds.

“The hours appointed in the articles for the decision of the contest
were between twelve and two. At about one o’clock Berks appeared on the
stage, stripped, and began to show play for the amusement of his
friends, who did not forget to make the welkin ring with their plaudits;
however, Belcher not ascending the stage as expected, he dressed himself
again, amidst cries of ‘Where is Belcher?’ Berks immediately assumed the
attitude, not of a fighter, but of an orator, and in the following
eloquent manner addressed the multitude:—

“‘Gemmen, I com’d here, d’ye see, to fight Jim Belcher. I’m here, and he
isn’t. I wish he had; for, on the word of a butcher, I’d have cleaved
his calf’s head, and given him such a chop in the kidneys, as would soon
have brought him on his marrow bones.’

“The cry of ‘Where is Belcher?’ still continued, when Gamble, the Irish
bruiser, came forward—‘Where is he? why at Bow-street, to be sure; he
was grabbed on the road.’ This was not the fact, but something near it.
The suspense, however, was not of long duration: two friends of Jemmy’s
arrived with the sad and melancholy tidings of the ‘queer tip’ he had
met with the last night.

“Bill Warr, Gamble, Lee, Jackson, many amateurs, and the usual number of
pickpockets, were present.”

On Wednesday, November 25th, 1801, this oft postponed contest was
brought to a decision. The greatest secrecy was observed, and “it was
only on the Tuesday afternoon that the field of battle was precisely
determined on. A stage was erected at Hurley Bottom, four and a-half
miles from Maidenhead, between the Henley and Reading roads, thirty-two
miles from Hyde Park turnpike.

“At ten minutes after twelve Belcher made his appearance, accompanied by
his second, Joe Ward, and by a Bristol youth, as his bottle-holder, who
was unknown to the London bruisers. He immediately began to strip, and
when prepared, took the precaution of particularly examining the stage,
lest any roughness or nail might do him an eventual injury. Shortly
after Berks appeared, attended by Harry Lee, as his second, and George
Rhodes, his bottle-holder.

“The combatants shook hands, and immediately set to. Bets, seven to four
and two to one on Belcher.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Several severe blows were exchanged.
            Berks showed in better style than usual. He put
            in a well directed hit under his antagonist’s
            right eye, who staggered. The men closed, and
            both fell.

            2, 3, and 4.—During these rounds neither
            combatant displayed science, notwithstanding
            some good blows were reciprocally given and

            5.—Belcher made a feint with his left hand, and
            with his right put in so sharp a hit on the
            nose of his opponent, that he laid it open, and
            brought him down with great violence. (Bets ten
            to one offered, but refused.)

            6.—Much shy fighting, Berks keeping out at
            distance. Belcher at length struck Berks over
            the forehead, and cut him again severely; the
            blood now issued so freely from his wounds, that
            Lee could scarcely find handkerchiefs sufficient
            to keep him clean.

            7 and 8.—Little done; Belcher propped Berks, who

            9.—Berks being the stronger man, rushed in, got
            a hold, and threw his antagonist with great

            13.—This was the best contested round throughout
            the battle, and was truly desperate fighting.

            16.—At the conclusion of this round Berks was
            quite exhausted, and it is but justice to his
            gallantry and courage to record that, although
            in so dreadful a state, he refused to give in,
            and the yielding word was uttered by his second.

            REMARKS.—“The battle, which undoubtedly was the
            most desperately contested of any since that of
            Big Ben and Johnson in the year 1791, lasted
            twenty-five minutes; but although it displayed
            the height of courage on both sides, it was
            by no means so gratifying to the scientific
            amateur as many battles of the old school; very
            few straight blows were struck, but both the
            combatants fought round, and made a hugging
            fight of it.

            “Berks was much cut and dreadfully bruised in
            the body. During the fight he displayed
            wonderful activity and bottom, but not an equal
            portion of skill. At the conclusion he was
            immediately put into a post-chaise, but very
            cruelly left there until after the decision of
            another battle, and then conveyed to town.

            “Belcher appeared not the least hurt, and
            declared he never felt a blow during the whole
            of the battle; he was very highly elated by
            having gained the laurel, and still more perhaps
            the stake. He challenged Mendoza, who was
            present, and offered to fight him in a month for
            300 to 200 guineas. To this bravado, Mendoza,
            greatly to his commendation, calmly answered,
            that he had given up the pugilistic profession;
            that he supported by his exertions, as landlord
            of the Lord Nelson, in Whitechapel, a family of
            six children. There was only one man he would
            fight, which was Jackson; his unhandsome and
            unfair conduct in a prior contest having excited
            his greatest indignation.” Dan ended a wily
            speech by declaring he would fight Jackson for
            100 guineas, with a proviso that he should not
            avail himself of what he called the “base and
            cowardly advantage” of holding the hair of his
            antagonist. See MENDOZA, _ante_, p. 79.

Caleb Baldwin, on this occasion also, added a second fight to the day’s
proceedings, his antagonist being Lee, the butcher, whom he beat in
twenty-three minutes.—See Life of CALEB BALDWIN, Appendix to Period IV.

Lord Say and Sele, the Hon. Berkeley Craven, Sir Thomas Apreece, Colonel
Montgomery, Captain Taylor, and other distinguished amateurs, were among
the spectators.

We read in the newspapers of the day that “Lord Radnor, as Lord
Lieutenant of the county of Berks., soon after the fight, issued
warrants for the apprehension of James Belcher and Joseph Berks, as
combatants, and Harry Lee and Joe Ward, the seconds, ‘for unlawfully
assembling and publicly fighting at Hurley, in the county of Berkshire.’
They were taken into custody, and on Friday, January 29th, 1802,
Belcher, Lee, and Ward, appeared at Bow Street, before Mr. Bond, and Mr.
Reed, of Chelsea, with their bail (Mr. Brown, and Mr. Evans, an oyster
merchant in Hungerford Market), where they entered into sureties for
their appearance to answer this charge in the county of Berks.,
themselves in £200, and their bail in £100 each. Poor Berks was most
shamefully deserted and neglected by all his friends, in this hour of
need, and not being able to procure bail, remained ‘in durance vile’ at
the common gaol of Reading.”

The then chief magistrate of Bow-street seems to have been particularly
busy in the proceedings of Belcher, for we find, in the interim between
his bail and surrender, that he stopped even a sparring match. “On
Tuesday, April 6th, 1802, Belcher had announced a display of the art of
self-defence, at a public-house called the Peahen, in Gray’s Inn Lane.
Gamble, Belcher, and several pugilists of fame set-to, and highly
diverted an immense concourse of persons until about ten o’clock, when
Mr. Bond having received information, despatched officers, who very
kindly paid them a visit, and took into custody not only the principals
but the whole of the company, and lodged them in the Compter for the
night.” The paragraph writer then becomes clumsily facetious about the
appropriate transfer of the population of the Peahen to the Poultry

In May, 1802, “on the last day of the Quarter Sessions at Newbury,
Belcher, Joe Ward, and Harry Lee, appeared with their bail,” and poor
Berks was brought up from the gaol. Jem’s aristocratic patrons had been
busy, for we read, “Mr. Dundas, the Chairman of the Sessions, addressed
them: he said the prosecution was at the instance of the county, but had
been moved by certiorari into the Court of King’s Bench. He admonished
them to leave off the pugilistic profession, and particularly directed
his observations to Belcher, of whose generally peaceable conduct he had
heard so favourable a report. The Court was very highly pleased at the
respectful manner in which they all surrendered themselves to the laws
of their country; and it was understood, that unless they were again
sufficiently atrocious to violate them, they would not be called upon to
answer for their misconduct.”

At the latter end of this month, May, notwithstanding this advice, the
following paragraph appeared in the _Oracle_: “Belcher and Berks have
been matched at Newmarket by Captain Fletcher and Fletcher Reid, Esq.,
for 200 guineas a-side. Belcher has already set off to Yorkshire, to put
himself in training, accompanied by Joe Ward, and Berks remains in the
neighbourhood of Newmarket for the same purpose. The battle is agreed to
take place within six weeks, but where or when will be kept as much a
secret as possible.”

The best accounts of the disappointments these olden gymnasts met with
in their attempts to decide this contest, may be collected from the
following excerpts:—

                           BELCHER AND BERKS.

                        _From the_ YORK HERALD.

  “The boxing match made some time since, at Newmarket, to be fought
  by the above-named, it was agreed by the parties, should be decided
  on Thursday, June 17, between the hours of twelve and two, at the
  village of Grewelthorpe, about six miles from Ripon. The above
  village is in the West Riding; the division of that part of the
  county and the North Riding taking place there. Accordingly, on the
  morning of Thursday, a stage was erected at the bottom of a close
  adjoining the house of Mr. Pickersgill; the money, amounting to
  £1,450 a-side, deposited by the parties, and every necessary
  preparation made. In consequence of information having been
  previously sent to the magistrates, the Very Reverend the Deans of
  Ripon and Middleham, with several of the justices for the North and
  West Ridings, attended at Grewelthorpe, and signified their
  determination to put a stop to all such outrageous proceedings; but
  finding that the business was likely to be proceeded with, and that
  a number of people were assembling, they ordered the Riot Act to be
  read, which was accordingly done about twelve o’clock, by Mr.
  Taylors, the Town Clerk. However, between one and two o’clock,
  Belcher, with his second, etc., went upon the stage, and was
  followed by Berks, upon which Mr. Trapps went down to inform them,
  that if they did not instantly quit the stage, and the
  neighbourhood, they and their parties would be apprehended. They
  immediately obeyed, and left Grewelthorpe soon after.”

                        _From the_ MORNING POST.

  “It appears that on Thursday, June 17, a stage, on which it was
  intended that Belcher and Berks should exhibit a fresh trial of
  their skill and strength, was erected in a bye place, about twenty
  miles distant from Middleham, in Yorkshire, and so conveniently
  situated for the purpose, that no persons present could have been
  deprived of a full view of the fight. At one o’clock, Fletcher Reid,
  Esq., on the part of Belcher, and Captain Fletcher, on behalf of
  Berks, met on the appointed spot, to make good the stake of 1,450
  guineas a-side, being the sum for which Belcher and Berks were
  matched to fight. The conditions having been fulfilled, Belcher
  appeared on the stage at a quarter before two o’clock, attended by
  Joe Ward as his second, and Bill Gibbons as his bottle-holder; and
  shortly after Berks joined them, with Crabbe as his bottle-holder,
  but no second. The two bruisers shook hands, and Berks observed,
  ‘that it would now be determined which was the best man;’ to which
  Belcher replied, ‘he was surprised he did not know that already.’
  There were several hundred persons present on the tiptoe of
  expectation to see the conflict commence; but the combatants could
  not set-to, as Harry Lee had not ascended the stage, who was Berks’
  promised second. On his name being called out among the crowd, he
  answered to it; but when asked why he did not appear in his place,
  he gave no other explanation than that he would have nothing to do
  with the fight. This circumstance produced general dissatisfaction,
  as it was declared that this determination on the part of Lee could
  only have been occasioned by a previous understanding between him
  and Berks’ friends, who now began to think of the large sums they
  had betted, and the little chance they had of success. No bets could
  be procured on the ground, without staking considerable odds. As
  Berks refused to accept any other second in the room of Lee, all
  hopes of a contest now vanished, and the champions retired from the
  stage. Belcher, however, unwilling to disappoint the company,
  offered to have a few rounds with Berks for pure ‘love,’ but he
  declined, and immediately set off in a post-chaise.”

Mr. Fletcher Reid, who backed Belcher, made him a present of £50 for his
trouble, and £5 to bear his expenses to London. He also made a present
to Ward, his second, and to the bottle-holder, with money to bear their
expenses to town.

In the beginning of July, 1802, the following letter from Berks appeared
in the _Oracle_ and _Daily Advertiser_:—

  “_To the Editor of the_ DAILY ADVERTISER.

  “SIR,—The wager for which I was to have fought with Belcher, at
  Grewelthorpe, in Yorkshire, was 1,450 guineas a-side; Captain
  Fletcher betting upon me, and Mr. Fletcher Reid upon Belcher; the
  match was to be fought between twelve and two.

  “Captain Fletcher was on the stage half an hour before Mr. Fletcher
  Reid could make up the sum betted. Belcher did not come upon the
  stage until half past one, and then appeared in boots, consequently
  not very likely with an intention to fight. Immediately on his
  coming on the stage, Captain Fletcher came to me at the house, and
  desired me to put on my fighting dress, and be ready immediately,
  which I directly did. I was then asked by Fletcher Reid, ‘Where is
  your second?’ I answered, ‘Let us fight without seconds, for Harry
  Lee has refused to be one, on account of the magistrates.’

  “I had wished to fight before the hour named, to prevent the
  interposition of the magistrates; for though no man can more respect
  their authority, which I would not attempt to resist, I thought it
  would be fair enough to get a start of them.

  “Mr. Bolton, of York, held the bets, to the amount of 2,900 guineas.

  “I had been in training seven weeks at Middleham, and was never in
  better condition. I ran and leaped with many people, and always beat
  them. I was exceedingly well treated by the people there, and must
  say that Captain Fletcher behaved amazingly well, and like a
  gentleman to me. I told him it was not for the sake of money, but of
  my honour, that I wanted to fight.

  “Belcher had not been ten minutes on the stage, when two or three
  gentlemen came and told him to get off, for that the magistrates had
  issued their warrants.

  “Belcher on this was directly going off, when I said, ‘Belcher, stop
  and fight at all risks, and we shall see who is the best man.’ I
  must say it is not true, as stated in some of the papers, that
  Belcher made a reply, ‘that he thought I knew already,’ for he made
  no answer, but acted the part of ‘Orator Mum.’

  “It appears odd to me that Joe Ward was at Grewelthorpe the day
  before, but did not appear the day appointed for the fight at all. I
  do not wish to impute anything wrong to him, but think it very

  “The above is a true statement, which nobody will deny, and which
  Belcher, if he has a regard for truth, dares not contradict.—I am,
  sir, yours, etc.,

                                                       “JOSEPH BERKS.”

  “_London, July 1._”

On the 19th of August, it being Camberwell Fair, those two disappointed
and hitherto considered equal champions accidentally met, never having
seen each other since their proposed match in Yorkshire. “Belcher first
espied his pugilistic rival entertaining a number of people with the
manner in which he would serve out Belcher the first time he met him;
but this seeming to have happened unexpectedly, their first salute was
at least civil. Belcher, however, could not help expressing his regret
that Berks should boast everywhere of his superior prowess, that he
could beat Belcher with ease, that Belcher was afraid to fight, etc.
Berks did not deny these accusations, and offered to fight him
immediately. They then adjourned to the bowling-green belonging to the
house where they met, and Berks attacked Belcher before he could get his
shirt off. However, when they fairly met, Belcher put in a well-directed
hit, knocked out one of Berks’ front teeth, and following it up with a
blow under the ear, brought him down. Berks not being quite sober, and
Belcher indisposed, their friends agreed that they should meet next day
at Oxendon Street, Leicester Square. This being settled, they

August 20.—“This day they met according to agreement, and after some
negotiation respecting the order of proceeding, they went, each in a
separate hackney coach, accompanied by their friends.

“At a little before one o’clock the parties arrived at Tyburn Turnpike,
where they immediately fixed on the first open space, a large field
directly behind St. George’s Chapel, which faces Hyde Park. The combat
having been so suddenly determined on, very few amateurs were present,
excepting Mr. Fletcher Reid and Mr. Crook. There not being time to build
a stage, an extensive ring was immediately formed, and the multitude,
which was immense, placed around it. The first row almost lying, the
second sitting, the third kneeling, and the remainder standing; those
behind thinking themselves well favoured if they now and then got a

“After walking about for a few minutes they began to strip, and when
prepared, Berks asked Mr. Fletcher Reid ‘Whether it should be a fair
stand-up fight.’—‘Certainly, in every way,’ said Mr. R., and immediately
called Belcher to acquaint him with what Berks had asked, when he said
‘Certainly, I can do no otherwise.’ Berks then requested that the pauses
between each round might be three quarters of a minute, but Belcher’s
friends insisted on the old established interval of half a minute.

“A purse of thirty guineas was subscribed for the winner, and five for
the loser, by the amateurs present. A few minutes after one they entered
the ring; Belcher, accompanied by Joe Ward as his second, and Bill
Gibbons as his bottle-holder; and Berks, by Tom Owen as his second, and
Yokel, the Jew, for his bottle-holder. After the accustomed salutation
they set-to.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Berks showed in this round that his
            hope of gaining the battle rested upon his
            superior strength. He ran in, closed upon
            Belcher, and tried to throw him, but failed,
            when Belcher dexterously accomplished what his
            antagonist was so desirous of doing, and had his
            man down on the grass. Some blows were struck,
            but no blood drawn.

            2.—Berks followed the plan he had commenced
            with, ran in, and received a well-aimed blow
            from Belcher in the throat, which drew blood.
            They closed, and Belcher again threw his

            3.—Berks once more ran in with great pluck, and
            with much adroitness planted a sharp blow on
            Belcher’s right cheek bone with his left hand;
            he then put in a severe blow between the
            shoulder and the breast, which, had it been
            lower, would have done execution. While aiming
            another blow with his left hand, Belcher
            rallied, closed, and a third time brought Berks
            down with a hit and a close.

            4.—Berks rushed upon his adversary, missed his
            blow, and fell. Here some groaned, calling out,
            “Berks is at his old tricks,” supposing him to
            be shifting, but his subsequent conduct showed
            the fallacy of such a charge.

            5.—Berks ran in with great force, caught Belcher
            by the hams, doubled him up, and threw him in
            the style of a cross-buttock; Belcher pitched on
            his head with such force it was feared his neck
            was broken. A cry of “Foul! foul!” ran round,
            but Belcher rose as sprightly as ever, said he
            was not hurt, and in answer to the cries of
            “Foul,” said “No, never mind.”

            6.—This was one of the most severe rounds
            that had been fought. Berks ran in as usual:
            several severe blows struck on each side.
            Belcher tremendously struck Berks on the
            side of the head, a second on the neck, and
            a third on the throat, all truly severe.
            They closed, struggled, changed legs, and
            each displayed his utmost skill and strength
            in wrestling; at last both fell, neither
            being able to claim any advantage.

            7.—Berks had lost his gaiety; he seemed less
            eager, and his strength evidently began to fail:
            when put to the test, he still, however, showed
            great spirit. They closed, and Berks was a
            fourth time thrown.

            8.—Berks during this round fought on the
            defensive, but at that he had no chance. Belcher
            put in several good blows, and terminated the
            round by bringing Berks down the fifth time.

            9.—Bets at this time were twenty to one in
            favour of Belcher, who did not appear the least
            exhausted. While sparring, he was nodding and
            talking to his antagonist, at the same time
            putting in some most severe and unexpected
            blows. Poor Berks was again brought down.

            10.—Berks set-to with spirit, and came to close
            quarters. Belcher put in some awful hits, and
            struck unusually sharp: he cut Berks under the
            left eye, then under the right, and thirdly,
            planted a most dreadful blow between the throat
            and chin, so severe that it lifted Berks off his
            feet, and his head came first to the ground.
            Belcher fell from the force of his blow, and as
            they both lay, the blood gushing up Berks’
            throat, he collected it in his mouth, and
            squirted it over Belcher. This he did not
            relish, and swore he would pay him for it in the
            next round. Berks, however, declared he did not
            do it intentionally.

            11.—Although Berks was evidently beaten, he
            still showed fight. Some blows were struck, they
            closed, and Belcher threw Berks, at the same
            time falling on his own hands, not wishing to
            hurt Berks more by falling on him, though the
            practice is customary, and considered fair in

            12.—Berks now showed considerable weakness,
            sat longer on the ground, and required greater
            assistance from his second than before. This
            round ended by Belcher’s throwing him.

            13.—Berks again came up; Belcher struck five or
            six blows, closed, and again threw him. Berks
            was now heard to express a wish to give in,
            but his second desiring him to persevere, put
            a handkerchief to his mouth, and stopped his
            utterance. (This was disgraceful, and opposed to
            all rules of the ring.)

            14.—Berks showed game, but his strength was
            gone; in short, he only stood up to be beat;
            every one manifestly saw he had no chance of
            success. After a few sharpish blows, Belcher
            closed and threw him on the chest, where he
            laid for some seconds, and then yielded the
            palm. He was several times asked by Joe Ward
            if he had given in, and distinctly answered
            “Yes.” He could scarcely see or stand, and was
            so shockingly cut about the face, that it was
            impossible to distinguish a feature. His friends
            placed him in a hackney coach, and carried him
            to a house in the neighbourhood of Grosvenor

            REMARKS.—Belcher carried no marks of the battle,
            excepting the bruise on the cheek bone and his
            left shoulder. After the battle was over he
            leaped with great agility, and having walked
            three times round the field, left it on foot.
            His style of fighting in this contest was his
            own peculiarly, putting in with astonishing
            rapidity his three successive blows, and knowing
            Berks’ superiority of strength, avoided closing
            whenever he was able. The whole of the bets
            depending on the intended Yorkshire battle were
            decided by this contest.

Tuesday, August 24th, Mr. Fletcher Reid, the pugilistic amateur, gave a
dinner at the One Tun public-house, in St. James’s Market, to a number
of the professors of boxing. Berks was there, and in the evening Belcher
called in, when Mr. Reid addressed Berks, telling him he must now be
convinced it was impossible for him to beat Belcher, and asked him to
give him his hand, which he immediately consented to do, and the two
champions sat down at the same table, and spent the remainder of the day
in good humour. Berks was astonishingly recovered, and said he felt no
inconvenience now from the fight, but being a little stiff. In the
course of the evening a wager was made between him and Jack Warr, Bill’s
son, to run one hundred yards, for two guineas, which they immediately
decided, and Berks won by five yards.

On Friday, October 8, 1802, James Belcher was carried before his
attentive friend, Nicholas Bond, Esq., and Sir William Parsons, at the
Public Office, Bow Street, being taken into custody on a warrant of Lord
Ellenborough’s, dated the 22nd of July, 1802, in order to give bail for
his appearance next term in the Court of King’s Bench, to answer an
indictment found against him for certain riots and misdemeanours;
alluding to the battle he fought with Berks at Hurley Bottom, in
Berkshire, and which had been removed from the Quarter Sessions to that
Court, where it would have rested, as before understood, had he not
lately fought another battle.

The recognizance was himself in £200, and two sureties in £100 each.

This meddling Midas appears to have been one of those public nuisances
that are occasionally entrusted with in-discretionary power. Belcher had
engaged Sadler’s Wells Theatre for the evening of October 26th, 1802,
for his benefit. But Mr. Bond and his brother magistrates disappointed
hundreds, and robbed Belcher, by “closing the house for the season,”
declaring sparring an “unlawful exhibition!” Such are the fantastic
tricks of men “dressed in a little brief authority.”

John Firby (the Young Ruffian), who at this time, 1803, stood high in
reputation, offered himself, though certainly stale, as a candidate for
“the Bristol youth’s” favors. A purse of 100 guineas was subscribed by
“the dons of Newmarket race-course,” as the prize; and they were to meet
on Tuesday, April 12th, 1803. But the magistrates of Suffolk and
Cambridge getting wind of the meeting, exerted their authority to
prevent it, and on the Monday evening before, sent notices to the men
that a fight would not be permitted. A secret meeting was immediately
held, and it was determined to repair to the nearest spot in the county
of Essex, where they might fight unmolested by the magistrates.
Accordingly, by six o’clock the next morning, every one in the secret
was in bustle, procuring vehicles and horses for their conveyance. “At
seven o’clock Belcher started in a post-chaise, seated between Joe Ward,
his second, and Bill Warr, his bottle-holder. They pursued the London
Road, followed by an immense retinue, until they arrived at Bone Bridge,
where they turned to the left, passed through Linton, instilling awe
into the astonished inhabitants, who could conceive nothing else but
that the French were come. When they had got to the distance of
half-a-mile beyond Linton, and about fifteen from Newmarket, being in
the appointed county, they turned out of the road on to a level piece of
ground, and there resolved to decide the contest. To prevent a
possibility of any interruption it was judged expedient to be as active
as possible. They immediately commenced the formation of a ring, which
was accomplished without much difficulty, there not being many
pedestrians. This being executed, the combatants were called, and
informed that the collection was 100 guineas, but with regard to the
terms on which they contested, they must themselves decide. They
immediately agreed 90 guineas for the winner, and 10 for the loser.

“The combatants without loss of time began to strip, and after the usual
ceremony, at a quarter past nine, began.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Every countenance expressed the
            greatest anxiety, while each stood on his guard,
            in expectation of his opponent’s blow. The
            disparity in size was considerable, Firby
            standing six feet one, and weighing fifteen
            stone; Belcher five feet eleven, and barely
            twelve stone. The combatants remained inactive
            for some seconds, when Firby put in a blow at
            the head, which Belcher avoided, and immediately
            returned by two blows left and right, but
            without much effect; they closed, and both fell,
            Belcher underneath. Many offers to take two to
            one that “the Ruffian” would win, but few

            2.—Belcher immediately struck Firby in the
            mouth, from which blood flowed copiously, and
            following it up by a right-handed blow on the
            side, brought his antagonist down. (Odds were
            now three to one in favour of Belcher.)

            3.—No harm on either side. This round, Firby at
            the commencement aimed a blow at his opponent’s
            head, which he caught, and gave a returning
            blow, which Firby likewise parried with much
            dexterity. Belcher again made a blow which was
            also stopped; he, however, made a blow, followed
            up his opponent fighting half armed, and Firby

            4.—Both combatants rallied, and both put in some
            severe blows. They closed, Belcher fell, and
            while on his knees Firby struck him. A cry of
            “Foul! foul!” resounded from all sides. Belcher
            appealed for a decision of the point, but wished
            to go on rather than take advantage of such
            a circumstance. At this time a parson and a
            constable arrived from Linton, and endeavoured
            to prevent the further progress of the battle;
            but the combatants not paying much attention to
            the sacred cloth, or the legal staff, commenced

            5th round.—Firby, who now had a black eye, and
            spit up blood, shifted, and seemed afraid to
            approach his antagonist. Belcher facetiously
            beckoned to him, when he came up and struck, but
            so slowly, that Belcher avoided it by a jerk of
            the head, and while he was making a violent hit
            at Firby’s side, he fell. Belcher smiled; his
            opponent was evidently distressed.

            6.—In this round, which undoubtedly was the best
            contested throughout the battle, it became
            apparent that Belcher’s strength increased,
            whilst that of his adversary was much exhausted.
            Firby, with much irritability, made some severe
            hits at Belcher, which he, however, either
            parried or avoided, so that not one of them
            told. Belcher smiled and looked about him with
            the greatest composure, even in the heat of the
            round, and carefully watching, put in a well
            directed blow in the stomach, at the same time
            closing, he gave his antagonist a cross buttock
            with great violence.

            7.—Much hard straight-forward fighting on both
            sides, but Firby had the worst of it. (Odds ten
            to one on Belcher.)

            8.—Firby rallied, made a hit, which Belcher
            stopped with great adroitness, and immediately
            struck Firby over the mouth, cutting his lip
            severely; Firby, however, returned it by a sharp
            hit, but did not draw blood. (Odds in this round
            sunk from ten to five to one.)

            9.—At the first onset Belcher put in a severe
            blow over his antagonist’s right eye, and
            immediately resuming a defensive attitude, very
            cheerfully said, “How do you like that, Johnny?”
            Firby made a desperate blow, but over-reached
            himself, and fell; Belcher smiled, and while he
            was down pointed at him with great irony.

            11.—Belcher followed his opponent round the
            ring, and put in some severe blows, which Firby
            stopped, but not effectually; Belcher at length
            gave him a knock-down blow, when his friends
            insisted he should give in.

            The contest lasted twenty minutes, during which
            time Firby never had any chance of success. He
            had ever been considered a first-rate pugilist,
            and consequently the amateurs expected one of
            the best displays of science that ever had been
            witnessed; but whether Belcher’s name overawed
            him, or he really had fallen off in his style of
            fighting, he in this contest fell much short of
            what was anticipated. Belcher after the battle
            had not the mark of a blow perceivable.

Thursday, May 12, 1803.—“Mr. Garrow this day moved for the judgment of
the Court on four defendants, James Belcher, Joseph (but in the
indictment erroneously called Edmund) Burke, Joe Ward, called also
erroneously James, and Henry Lee, who were described to be labourers.
These defendants had allowed judgment to go by default.”

The indictment charged, that they, being persons of evil and malicious
dispositions, and fighters, duellers, rioters, etc., had, on the 25th of
November, in the county of Berks, conspired and combined together, that
James Belcher and Edmund Burke (!) should fight a duel, and that the
other two defendants should be aiding and assisting in the said fight
and duel; and that in pursuance of the said conspiracy, the said James
Belcher and Edmund Burke unlawfully and riotously assembled together,
with fifty others, to the disturbance of the public peace; and that
Belcher and Burke “fought a duel,” and the other two “were present,
aiding and assisting, together with fifty other persons.” Mr. Garrow,
afterwards a brutal Tory attorney-general and truculent judge, earned
his dirty fee by a more than ordinary amount of hireling abuse of
pugilism. Of course he said little of the deadly weapons with which the
prisoners’ “betters” settled their duels. The celebrated Erskine,
afterwards Lord Chancellor, and Mr. Const defended the prisoners, merely
asking the lenity of the Court. Lord Ellenborough finally bound the
prisoners, each in his own recognizance of £400, to come up when called
on for the judgment of the Court; a nominal judgment, upon which the
defendants were discharged.

An unfortunate accident now struck down the skill of this talented
boxer, and clouded his after life in every sense. While playing at
rackets with Mr. Stuart at the Court in Little St. Martin’s Lane, on the
24th of July, 1803, Belcher received a blow from a ball struck by the
marker, of such extraordinary violence as literally to almost knock his
eyeball from its socket. This distressing accident and the heavy
recognizance on which he was bound, had a most depressing effect on
Jem’s spirits and health, and he announced his retirement from the ring.
His friends rallied round him, and placed him in a public-house, the
Jolly Brewers, in Wardour Street, Soho, where he was well supported. But
Jem’s spirit was active, though prudence dictated entire retirement. A
quarrel between a brother of Jem’s (who soon after died) and Hen.
Pearce, the Game Chicken, his fellow townsman and _protegé_, led to this
unfortunate rencontre. The lavish praises too of Pearce’s friends
excited Belcher’s envy: he declared he had taught Pearce all he knew,
and spoke slightingly of “the Chicken’s” ability and skill; but we are

Joe Berks, upon Belcher’s retirement, claimed the championship; but
Pearce of whom we shall soon give the pugilistic career, was invited to
London by Jem, with a promise to procure him patronage and a match with
Berks. These matters will be found hereafter in our Life of PEARCE, who
had in the interim twice beaten Berks, and subsequently, Elias Spray,
Carte, and lastly John Gully, when Belcher rashly challenged “the
Chicken” for 500 guineas, to fight within two months. Pearce appears to
have been much mortified at this challenge, but his position as champion
forbade him to decline it. Mr. Fletcher Reid, Belcher’s firm friend,
staked for Jem, and Captain Halliday posted the 500 for “the Chicken.”
This, the first defeat of the renowned Jem, will be found fully detailed
under the memoir of his conqueror.

Belcher had materially declined in constitution, independently of the
loss of his eye. Among the serious effects of that accident was a
nervous depression and irrepressible irritability, which, according to
the testimony of many who knew him intimately, he tried in vain to
control. Upwards of two years had passed in retirement from active
pursuits, and in the ease and free living of a publican’s calling, when
Belcher came forward, upon Pearce’s claim to the championship, to
dispute his title. He could not be persuaded of the difficulties of
meeting so skilful and formidable a boxer with the loss of an eye; and
when too late he discovered his inferiority. How he did fight was long
remembered by those who witnessed the lamentable but truly heroic and
honourable combat, in which more unaffected courage, manly forbearance
and true humanity were displayed and applauded, than ever entered into
the narrow soul of craven slanderers of pugilism to conceive. Animosity
was merged in honourable emulation, and the struggle for fair and
unimpeachable victory. Belcher fought in his accustomed style, and tried
his usual hits with adroit rapidity; but it was noticed that they were
often out of distance, and that his defective eyesight was painfully
made evident. When this was aggravated by blows over the good eye, his
aim became utterly confused, and he became a victim to his own fatuity.
Nevertheless, poor Jem endeavoured to make up for deficiency of sight
and aim by an astonishing and unequalled display of courage and gaiety;
and though the skill and science on both sides deserved respect, the
spectators could not avoid seeing that Belcher’s guard was no longer
ready, and his rapid antagonist planted on him so severely and
frequently as to excite the regret of his friends that such a combat
should have been provoked, and that the envious infirmity of human
nature should have thus blinded the mental judgment as well as the
bodily sight of so able a champion. Jem’s spirits, however, never
forsook him during the fight; and at its close he declared, “That his
sorrow was more occasioned by the recollection of the severe loss of a
particular friend, who, in fact, had sported everything he possessed
upon his head, and had been one of his most staunch backers and
supporters through life, than as to any particular consideration
respecting himself!” a generous sentiment and well worthy of record.
Notwithstanding the somewhat ill-natured remark of John Gully, “That had
Jem been in possession of _four eyes_, he never could have beaten
Pearce,” it must be remembered that the future M.P. had been thrashed by
Pearce, and had not even seen Belcher in his prime. Fully conceding the
excellence evinced by the Chicken in science, wind, strength, and game,
we may yet be allowed the supposition, that had this contest taken place
when Jem Belcher possessed his eyesight in full perfection, its
termination would, to say the least, have been very doubtful.

Respecting Belcher’s two battles with Cribb, when the circumstances of
the case are duly appreciated; when it is recollected that his spirits
must have been somewhat damped by previous defeat; and that his powers
were known to be on the decay previous to his fight with the Chicken, it
must be allowed that his heroism and science shone resplendently.

In the first fight with Cribb, as may be traced, Jem’s superiority in
tactics was manifest. The former was severely punished; and not until
Belcher had received a most violent hit over his good eye, and sprained
his right hand, did Cribb appear to have an opening for a lead. In the
seventeenth round the odds were two to one on Belcher, and in the
eighteenth five to one, when Cribb was so much beaten, that considerable
doubts were entertained whether he would be able to come again; and even
at the conclusion of the battle Cribb was in a very exhausted state.
Until Belcher lost his distance, from his confused sight, victory
appeared to hover over him.

In the last battle that Belcher fought his courage was principally
displayed, and he by no means proved an easy conquest to Cribb. Since
the loss of his eye, it was the positive wish of his best friends that
he should fight no more, but he was not to be deterred, obstinately
neglected good advice, and would not believe in the decline of his
physical powers. In this last battle, his disadvantages were great. His
opponent had made rapid improvement in science, was in full vigour, and
a glutton that was not to be satisfied in a common way; still Jem gave
specimens of his former skill; but they were rather showy than
effective, for the strength had departed. His hands, too, failed him,
and for several of the latter rounds he endeavoured fruitlessly to
prolong the contest without the _indispensable_ weapons to bring it to a
successful issue. Youth, weight, courage, freshness, and no mean amount
of skill, were too much for the waning stamina and skill of even a
Belcher to bear up against.

At the end of the report of his fight with Firby, a correspondent of the
_Morning Post_ thus sketches Belcher’s qualifications from personal
acquaintance. “Belcher is a dashing, genteel young fellow, extremely
placid in his behaviour, and agreeable in his address. He is without any
remarkable appearance of superior bodily strength, but strips remarkably
well, displaying much muscle. Considered merely as a bruiser, I should
say he was not so much a man of science according to the rules of the
pugilistic art, as that he possessed a style peculiar or rather natural
to himself, capable of baffling all regular science, and what appeared
self-taught or invented, rather than acquired by practice. He was
remarkably quick, springing backwards and forwards with the rapidity of
lightning. You heard his blows, but did not see them. At the conclusion
of a round his antagonist was struck and bleeding; but he threw in his
hits with such adroitness that you could not discern how the damage was
done. His style was perfectly original, and extremely difficult to avoid
or to withstand.” Again, “His style, like that of the great masters in
every line, was truly ‘his own;’ the spectator was struck with its
neatness and elegance—his opponent confused and terrified by its
effects; while his gravity, coolness, and readiness, utterly
disconcerted the fighting men with whom he was often opposed in mimic as
well as actual combat. Add to this, that a braver boxer never pulled off
a shirt, and we need hardly wonder at his eminent success, until an
accident deprived him of one of the most valuable organs of man’s
complex frame.”

In his social hours, Jem was good-natured in the extreme, and modest and
unassuming to a degree almost bordering upon bashfulness. In the
character of a publican, no man entertained a better sense of propriety
and decorum; and the stranger, in casually mixing with the Fancy in his
house, never felt any danger of being offended or molested. It would be
well if as much could be said of all sporting publicans.

After his last defeat by Cribb, much of Belcher’s fine animal spirits
departed. He was depressed and taciturn, and his health much broken by
twenty-eight days’ imprisonment to which, with a fine, he was condemned
for his breach of the peace by that battle. The old story too, for Jem
was not prudent, is again to be told. His worldly circumstances had
suffered with his health, and

                               “The summer friends
             That ever wing the breeze of fair success,
             But fly to sunnier spots when winter frowns,”

forgot to take what old Pierce would have called their nightly “perch,”
or “roost,” at Jem’s “lush-crib.” His last illness approached, and, with
at most two of his firmest friends, the once formidable champion
departed this life on Tuesday, July 30, 1811, at the sign of the Coach
and Horses, in Frith Street, Soho, in the thirty-first year of his age,
and, on the following Sunday, was interred in the burial ground of
Marylebone. The concourse of people to witness the funeral was immense;
and a more general sympathy has rarely been witnessed. The proximate
cause of his death was a family complaint, having its origin in an
enlargement of the liver. The following inscription may be yet read upon
his tombstone:—

                              IN MEMORY OF
                             JAMES BELCHER,
                    Late of St. Anne’s Parish, Soho,
                                Who died
                        The 30th of July, 1811,
                                AGED 30.
               Universally regretted by all who knew him.


                              CHAPTER II.

                       TOM BELCHER—1804‒1822.[86]

The third of the Belchers, Tom, remains in the memory of a few old ’uns
as, for many years, “mine host of the Castle,” a jolly, rubicund,
pleasant, and generous fellow, and the worthy predecessor of the
departed Tom Spring, in that ancient head quarters of the Fancy, now
also Pythagorised into a feeding-shop, named after Sir Charles
Napier—another fighting hero. Tom came to London in the year 1803, when
his brother Jem was at the zenith of his fame, having beaten every man
with whom he had fought, and attained the position of undisputed
Champion of England. Although Tom’s ring career was not so brilliant as
his elder brother’s, it had a less striking culmination and fall, and
his thirteen battles, with eight victories and a draw (with the
phenomenon Dutch Sam), tell well for Tom’s descent from the Slacks and

Tom Belcher was born at Bristol, in the same house as his brother Jem,
on the 14th of April, 1783. On his earlier years we need not dwell, and
where there is little or no authentic material, we hold nothing in
deeper contempt than the system of “gagging” a parcel of clumsy
apocryphal battles, some of which there is inherent chronological and
circumstantial evidence could never have taken place.

We have said Tom came to town at twenty years of age, and he was soon
matched. His first salaam in the ring (which on this occasion was forty
feet in diameter, instead of the customary twenty or twenty-four feet)
was on the 26th of June, 1804. His opponent on this occasion was of a
noted fighting stock, being Jack Warr, the son of the celebrated Bill
Warr. The prize contested for was 50 guineas, and—hear it, ye who have
in modern times travelled even to Ireland to see no fight—the
battle-ground was no farther off than Tothill Fields, Westminster; the
day, Tuesday, June 26, 1804.

Warr was much the firmer set and stouter man, though the youthful Tom
had the advantage in the reach, and, upon stripping, the odds were a
trifle in favour of Belcher, from the _prestige_ of his family name, and
the predilection of the amateurs for the school from which he came. We
quote the contemporary report.

“On the Monday night the knowing ones determined that the scene of
action should be Tothill Fields, and on the following day they
accordingly met about two o’clock, attended by their friends. A ring was
immediately formed, not exceeding forty feet in diameter, by driving
stakes and attaching to them the reins lent them by the various hackney
coachmen. On stripping, Warr appeared stouter than Belcher, but the
latter was taller and longer in the reach. After the usual ceremonies
they set-to. Odds six to four in favour of Belcher.

“The set-to was in clever style, both displaying excellent science. Warr
put in the first blow and followed it up with a second, both of which
took effect; no return. Had they taken place as aimed their violence
might have settled the battle. Belcher rallied, and some desperate hits
were exchanged. At the conclusion of the round bets became even. From
this to the eighth round both combatants fought desperately. It was a
scene of thorough hard fighting, each endeavouring to make his hits
tell, without once shrinking from the blow of his opponent. Belcher
evidently imitated his brother in his plan of fighting, putting in his
blows with his left hand, straight, and with the rapidity of a dart.
Odds rose in favour of Belcher six to four again, but not from any
advantage he had as yet gained in the battle. Warr stood up manfully,
and never once gave way.

“For the three following rounds Warr put in his blows so forcibly, and
so well directed, that they were almost irresistible, and he undoubtedly
had the advantage. It being considered, however, that Belcher’s bottom
was good, betting did not go lower than par; he, however, at this time
displayed great weakness, and evidently was greatly exhausted.

“Warr supported the superiority to the sixteenth round, and put in
several desperate body blows. Belcher, on the contrary, fought all at
the head, by which plan Warr’s eyes became greatly affected.

“The seventeenth round was most admirably contested. Belcher seemed to
recruit his strength, changed his mode of fighting, and put in
successfully several severe body blows. Warr persevered with undaunted
fire throughout the round; they closed, and both fell.

“On rising, Warr appeared weak; however, the eighteenth round was
another truly severe trial, both combatants being apparently determined
to exert their greatest strength, and bring into action all their
science. Warr stood his ground, and Belcher put in some severe blows
over his eyes, which, already much cut, were entirely closed at the end
of the round.



  _From a Portrait published in 1810._

“Although in this state, Warr obstinately contested another round, in
which he could not fail to be completely worsted. His friends now
interfered, and insisted on his giving in. But he refused; and then
fainting, was immediately carried off the ground almost lifeless, every
one complimenting him by calling him ‘A chip off the old block.’

“The nineteen rounds were fought in thirty-three minutes.”

The son, emulous of the sire, seems at this time to have found favour
with the pugilistic world as with the turf, on an absurd application of
the “like begets like” principle.[87] Accordingly, Bill Ryan, son of
Michael,[88] was selected to lower the pretensions of “Young Tom.” The
“amateurs” might have done worse, as the event proved, for Bill polished
off the youthful Tom in thirty-eight rounds, November 30, 1804, as we
shall notice in the Appendix to this Period. (See RYAN, BILL, p. 229,

It appears that Tom was not only dissatisfied with this defeat, but
considered it a “snatched battle.” On Saturday, April 27, 1805, Pearce
triumphantly beat Carte, the Birmingham bruiser (see PEARCE), at
Shepperton Common, Surrey, in thirty-five minutes. The “fancy” were
unsatisfied, and a subscription purse being collected of 20 guineas,
O’Donnel,[89] “the celebrated Irish hero,” offered himself. Pierce Egan
says, “O’Donnel showed himself entitled to respectful attention; but who
was completely satisfied in fifteen rounds.” The reporter from whom he
copies says, in better English and with more sense, “Tom displayed his
known dexterity, and showed good science; but O’Donnel, who fought well
at the commencement, at the end of the fifteenth round played _a cross,
and gave in_.” We suspect he was tired of the job.

Tom fretted, it appears, after the lost laurel with Bill Ryan, and
challenged him a second time to the lists. They accordingly met for 25
guineas a-side, at Laleham Burway, near Chertsey, Surrey, June 4, 1805.
Belcher was seconded by Tom Blake (Tom Tough), and was backed by Mr.
Fletcher Reid; Bill Ryan was waited on by George Maddox and a “friend.”
The Hon. Berkeley Craven posted his stake, and laid the odds of seven to
four on Ryan. At one o’clock the men stripped, and two to one was
offered on Ryan. We quote the report.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Both men kept at distance; but after
            some little sparring Ryan put in the first blow.
            Tom parried it extremely well; Ryan bored in and
            both fell, Ryan uppermost.

            2.—Some good straight blows exchanged; Belcher
            struck, Ryan parried, and Belcher fell from the
            force of his own blow.

            3.—Excellent fighting; as many as ten blows
            passed, when Belcher cleanly knocked down his

            4.—Some sharp blows; Ryan threw Belcher a cross
            buttock with great violence.

            5.—A tightly contested round; Belcher fell.

            6.—No fighting; they closed and both came down.

            7.—In this round Ryan displayed to advantage,
            but closing he fell.

            8.—Very short; Ryan again fell.

            9.—Both having received some desperate blows,
            now began to be more cautious, sparred a good
            deal, and the round was terminated rather
            favourably for Ryan.

            10.—Some sharp blows quickly plied. Belcher
            fell. (Odds were now generally two to one on

            11.—The men instantly closed, and Ryan fell.

            12.—In this round Ryan put in some good hits and
            brought down his opponent.

            13.—Both closed, struggled, and fell, Belcher

            14.—Ryan threw in a severe blow, which Belcher
            very scientifically stopped; he rallied, and
            both fell with great violence. When down,
            Belcher patted Ryan’s cheek, and said, laughing,
            “Bill, you’re done over.”

            15.—No fighting, and the men closed and fell,
            Ryan uppermost.

            16.—Both showed fight; Ryan down.

            17.—Ryan very adroitly threw his opponent, still
            Belcher appeared very gay.

            18.—Good fighting. Ryan brought down his
            opponent again, but not a clear fall.

            19.—After some good hits exchanged, Ryan put in
            a severe blow in the kidneys, and threw Belcher.

            20.—Ryan now appeared distressed in his wind;
            but he made a neat hit, but slipped and fell.

            21.—Both fought with great resolution, and each
            showed courage. Ryan had the superiority in
            strength, and got his opponent down again.

            22.—Both appeared fatigued; no fighting, they
            closed and both fell.

            23.—Well contested; Belcher showed good fight,
            and his friends began to have a better opinion
            of his chance; he hit his man and got away,
            Ryan, however, threw him.

            24.—Belcher recruited, stood up boldly, and by
            an excellent hit, brought down his opponent.

            25.—Both very weak, closed, and fell.

            26.—No fighting, at least no impression. Ryan

            27.—Both combatants seemed distressed. Belcher

            28.—Belcher at the end of this round fell, and
            laughing, fairly pulled his antagonist after

            29.—Belcher immediately on setting to, put in a
            blow on the head, and Ryan gave in, not without
            a supposition of cross play. The fight lasted
            fifty minutes.

            “Lord Craven, Lord Albemarle, General
            Fitzpatrick, Hon. Berkeley Craven, Mr. Fletcher
            Reid, Mr. Mellish, Mendoza, Jackson, Bill Warr,
            and others were present.”

On February the 8th, 1806, Tom was defeated by “the phenomenon,” Dutch
Sam (Elias Samuels). See DUTCH SAM, Chapter V. of this Period.

In the interval between this and his next contest he disposed of an
aspirant (who took the name of “Jack in the Green”) for a ten pound

His next was a brave but ineffectual attempt to reverse the verdict in
the case of Dutch Sam. Tom, though not _quite_ beaten, fought a draw,
July 20, 1807. This led to the final appeal, on August 21, 1807, when
Tom’s objections to Sam’s superiority were finally disposed of. See

After these reverses, Dogherty, who had twice beaten Cribb’s younger
brother, George, now challenged Tom, to fight in a month, and the 5th of
April, 1803, was fixed for the tourney (the same day as Dutch Sam and
Cropley’s fight was appointed); but it was interrupted by the Bow Street
“redbreasts,” and postponed until Thursday, the 14th of April, when it
came off near the Rubbing House on Epsom Downs. A roped ring of
twenty-one feet was formed on the turf, and about twelve o’clock the
combatants entered, Belcher accompanied by Mendoza and Clark, Dogherty
by Cropley and Dick Hall. Without loss of time they set-to. Six to four
on Belcher.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—More than a minute elapsed before any
            blows were exchanged, both sparring to obtain
            the advantage. Belcher stopped his opponent’s
            attempts with great neatness; a rally took
            place, when they closed, but broke away. Some
            trifling hits took place; they again closed, and
            Dogherty threw Belcher. (The odds six to four
            were unchanged.)

            2.—Belcher stopped a terrible left-hander which
            Dogherty aimed at his head; the latter rushed
            in, but Belcher knocked him off his legs.

            3.—Skill and courage by no means deficient on
            either side. Dogherty tried to bustle his man,
            but Belcher was cool and prepared; he stopped
            his plunges, and put in some severe blows on
            Dogherty’s face, who, nevertheless, closed the
            round by throwing Tom.

            4.—The skill of both men was conspicuous in this
            round; but Belcher had the best of it. Dogherty
            received a tremendous facer in endeavouring to
            plant a hit, and Belcher in settled in fine
            style. Dogherty convinced the spectators that he
            was no novice, by his dexterity in stopping—yet
            Tom, following his opponent round the ring,
            punished his head most terribly, and brought him
            down by a blow under the jaw. (Three to one on

            5.—Belcher, with uncommon dexterity, broke
            through Dogherty’s guard, and with his left hand
            planted a most dreadful blow in his throat,
            which struck Dogherty so completely abroad, that
            he repeated the hit three times before Dogherty
            could recover himself, when they closed and

            6.—Belcher upon setting-to dropped his opponent
            from the first two blows.

            7.—Dogherty’s efforts were completely defensive;
            he stopped Belcher’s blows with great neatness;
            nevertheless, Belcher rallied him down.

            8.—Belcher had enough to do in warding off
            the well-aimed hits of his adversary, who
            now went in impetuously, yet not without
            science; in closing, Tom was thrown upon the
            ropes by Dogherty, and to all appearance
            without difficulty. The betting fell, for
            though Dogherty had been hit heavily, he was
            strong and dangerous.

            9.—Several good blows were exchanged; but
            Belcher was not seen to so much advantage in
            this round. In closing, Belcher was underneath.

            10.—Belcher sparred cautiously and retreated;
            when Dogherty, conceiving something might be
            gained by following him, put in two good hits.
            In closing the round, Dogherty was thrown.

            11.—Belcher put in two facers, when both the
            combatants fell out of the ring.

            12.—Dogherty was again thrown, previously to
            which Belcher planted two good hits.

            13.—Dogherty, full of pluck, rattled in, but Tom
            threw him with considerable force.

            14.—Tom, evidently superior in this round,
            rendered the bustling of Dogherty unavailing,
            and again threw him violently. (Three and four
            to one on Belcher.)

            15.—The game of Dogherty claimed admiration,
            his appearance commiseration—his head was
            terrific, and his strength was nearly exhausted;
            nevertheless, he still forced the fighting,
            but his blows were of no effect, and he fell
            beneath the superiority of his opponent.
            Belcher’s half-arm hits were as swift as they
            were punishing, till Dogherty fell. (Any odds on

            16 and 17.—In both these rounds the exhaustion
            of Dogherty was visible, and, to the honour of
            Belcher, be it recorded, he disdained taking any
            more advantage than was necessary to insure
            his contest: as his opponent fell on the ropes
            at his mercy, he walked away from him. Such
            humanity ought not to be forgotten.

            18 and 19.—Dogherty’s spirits were good, but his
            stamina was exhausted; his blows did not tell,
            although he still stopped with considerable
            science. Belcher kept the lead in fine style; in
            closing, both men fell.

            24.—Up to this round it was evident that Tom
            must win; but his game opponent was determined
            to try every effort while the least chance
            remained of success. Tom put in three desperate
            facers, and followed them by so severe a
            body-blow, that Dogherty fell quite bent and

            25‒33.—Dogherty, still determined, contended for
            eight more rounds, but was nothing more than a
            mere object of punishment to his opponent, who
            continually hit him down with ease. This could
            not last long, and in the thirty-third round, at
            the end of forty-five minutes’ sharp fighting,
            Belcher was declared the conqueror.

            “Belcher was so little hurt,” continues the
            reporter, “that upon hearing of his adversary’s
            surrender, he immediately threw a somersault,
            and ran off to the Rubbing House (nearly half a
            mile) without stopping to put on his clothes. In
            this battle Belcher fought with greater skill
            and science, and more after the manner of his
            brother, than in any one he had contested. His
            distances were measured with exactness—every
            hit told. Dogherty’s only chance against such
            superior skill and steadiness was his sheer
            strength and game; but in this last Belcher
            showed himself his equal.”

Bill Richmond, whose memoir will appear hereafter, thrashed a countryman
in the same ring.

On the 25th of October, 1808, a day memorable as that whereon Gregson
was beaten after his desperate battle with Tom Cribb at Moulsey, Tom
Belcher entered the same thirty-feet ring to fight Cropley for a purse
of 50 guineas. At setting-to the odds were seven to four on Belcher.
Cropley was seconded by Tom Jones; Dick Hall acted as his bottle-holder;
and Belcher was waited on by Mendoza and Dutch Sam. The combatants were
looked upon as well matched, and considerable expectation of a fine
display of the art was entertained. During a contest of thirty-four
rounds, which occupied fifty-six minutes—and it is but justice to
observe that a more scientific fight was rarely seen—Cropley proved
himself an excellent boxer, and possessed of undeniable game. But his
attitude was bad; and his defeat was principally attributed to a knack
of bringing his head too forward when putting in his blows. Belcher saw
this advantage, and accepting the present thus made him, punished his
face so dreadfully, that in the latter part of the battle Cropley was no
longer recognizable. Tom’s blows, however, seem to have been rather more
showy than effective, for it was with the utmost difficulty that Cropley
was persuaded to give in, and he was still steady and strong; though,
says the reporter, “all but blind, he even then felt desirous to try
another round.”

One Farnborough, who rested his pretensions upon weight, strength, and
pluck, three good points certainly, had the temerity to fight Tom
Belcher, on Epsom race-ground, in a thirty-feet ring, on February 1,
1809. He proved a mere pretender; and after the first round Belcher
treated him with the utmost _sang froid_. In the course of twenty
minutes he so completely polished him off that Farnborough was glad to
cry “enough,” while Belcher was scarcely touched. This was a small
consolation for the Belchers, for in the same ring on the same day Tom
Cribb beat Jem Belcher, as detailed in the Life of CRIBB.

Silverthorne, a pugilist of some note and success (see Appendix to
Period IV.), was matched for 100 guineas, and a subscription purse of
£50, against Belcher. This battle was decided upon Crawley Heath, near
Copthall, June 6, 1811. Silverthorne was seconded by the veteran Caleb
Baldwin, and his bottle-holder was Bill Gibbons; Belcher was attended by
Mr. John Gully and Tom Jones. Four to one upon Belcher.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Belcher, upon the alert, stopped a
            tremendous body blow, and returned two sharp
            hits right and left in Silverthorne’s face,
            which immediately produced blood; after
            disengaging themselves, Belcher pelted away most
            effectually, putting in hits as quick as
            lightning. It was declared by several old
            ring-goers that such a first round was never
            before witnessed. Silverthorne went down during
            the hitting from the severe effects of Belcher’s

            2.—Silverthorne came to the scratch with
            something more than caution in his attitudes; he
            began by retreating from his adversary, who hit
            him right and left upon the head. Silverthorne,
            in planting a hit upon Belcher’s throat, was
            stopped; nevertheless he got in a severe body
            blow, which Belcher retaliated by hitting him

            3.—Silverthorne, who bled profusely, rattled in,
            game as a pebble, but without effect—Belcher put
            in several severe blows. Silverthorne showed he
            was not without science by stopping several
            nasty ones; Belcher losing his distance closed,
            and was thrown by Silverthorne.

            4.—It was now evident that Silverthorne was much
            inferior to his opponent, who frustrated all his
            attempts with ease and coolness. Silverthorne
            endeavoured to plant a severe body blow, which
            Tom stopped, when a rally commenced, which
            turned out to Belcher’s advantage, for he put in
            a terrible blow, then closed, and threw his
            opponent a cross-buttock enough to knock the
            breath out of him.

            5.—Silverthorne came to the scratch anything but
            improved in appearance; he received two facers,
            and fell in an attempt to get in. (All betters
            but no takers.)

            6.—Notwithstanding the chance was against him,
            Silverthorne showed play, and stopped very
            neatly a right-handed blow which was intended
            for his head. Belcher, however, got in one on
            the body, and Silverthorne fell in attempting to
            return the hit.

            7.—It was now bellows to mend with Silverthorne,
            who was completely exhausted, but still wished
            to try another chance—Belcher did as he liked
            with him, and finished the contest by a hit in
            the throat, which knocked him down. The game
            Silverthorne could come no more, and Belcher was
            proclaimed the conqueror. Silverthorne was at
            once conveyed to a post-chaise, carried to the
            nearest inn, and put to bed. Belcher, as on
            a former occasion, threw a somersault, then
            mounted the box of a patron’s barouche, and
            started for town.

            “In this battle Belcher had as fine an
            opportunity, despite Silverthorne’s experience,
            of showing off his superior science, as with the
            slow and unwieldy Farnborough. He fought
            cautiously, drawing his opponent, when he never
            had any difficulty in getting on to him.
            Silverthorne was beaten in spirit in the first
            round, though he did not give in till nature
            deserted him.”

After this triumph Belcher reposed awhile on his laurels; and in the
early part of 1813 he started on a sparring tour through the provinces,
visiting the northern parts of the island. In Liverpool he was
particularly attractive, and numerous pupils attended his school, who,
from their rapid progress in the science, gave proofs of the excellence
of the master under whom they studied. His engagement being completed at
this seaport, and being so near to the “tight boys of the sod,” he
determined, previous to his return to the metropolis, to take a peep at
“the land that gave Paddy his birth.” Tom’s arrival in Ireland, while it
gave pleasure to the patrons of the science, created jealousy in another
professor of boxing, who had been there some time previous, teaching the
natives the advantages of the complete use of their fives, an art never
properly understood or appreciated by Irishmen. Dogherty resented Tom’s
visit as a sort of intrusion on his domain; added to which his scholars
ran after the newly arrived “Sassenach.” This was unendurable. Dogherty
issued a cartel to his former conqueror, and all other preliminaries
being arranged, the rivals met on the Curragh of Kildare, on Friday, the
23rd of April, 1813, for a subscription purse of 100 guineas, and “the
honour of ould Ireland,” as the “historian” expresses it.

The spot where the fight took place, known to this day as “Belcher’s
Valley,” was particularly convenient for spectators, being in a glen on
the Curragh, surrounded by sloping hills, forming a natural

Belcher appeared first in the enclosure, dressed in a great coat, but,
whilst it was completing, retired to a barouche, in which he had
arrived. Dogherty now showed himself to the spectators, wrapped up in a
box-coat of no trifling dimensions, and instantly gave his caster a toss
in the air, loudly vociferating, “Ireland for ever.” This sentence,
which came so directly home to the natives of Paddy’s Land, occasioned
an electric expression of approbation from the surrounding multitude,
accompanied by repeated shouts and huzzas. It might spontaneously have
escaped the lips of Dogherty, from a warmth of feeling to his native
soil, but it certainly was not calculated to place Belcher in a
favourable point of view with the assembled multitude. Tom accordingly
again entered the enclosure, seeming to feel (whatever the intention of
it might be toward him) that, if suffered to pass over without notice,
it might operate to his prejudice. After bowing to the spectators, he
solicited a gentleman who had been chosen the umpire to address the
public, that no improper impression might go forth respecting his
character. This the gentleman did, nearly to the following
effect:—“Gentlemen, Mr. Belcher wishes it to be understood that, if any
aspersions have been levelled at him, stating that he has spoken
disrespectfully of the Irish nation, he begs leave to assure you it is
an absolute falsehood; and, as a proof of the truth of his statement, he
is ready at any time to fight those who may dare assert to the
contrary.” This pithy oration was favourably received; the combatants
immediately stripped, and the ceremony of shaking hands having been gone
through, the seconds took their stations. Isle of Wight Hall seconded
Belcher, and Gamble attended upon Dogherty. Belcher, from his well-known
excellence, was the favourite, two to one, yet, notwithstanding this
great odds, there were scarcely any takers. Both the combatants appeared
to possess confidence in themselves. Belcher having beaten Dogherty in
England, felt that superiority which belongs to experience and practical
knowledge. On the other hand, Dogherty was considerably improved, and
for “the honour of Ireland,” and surrounded by his countrymen, felt an
additional stimulus to win, and was determined not to yield the palm so
long as he could struggle for it. With these feelings they set-to
exactly at one o’clock.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—The excellent attitude and neatness of
            style exhibited by Belcher, much attracted the
            attention of the Irish amateurs. Good science
            on both sides, when they both hit together;
            Dogherty received a sharp facer, and the blood
            issuing from his lip, Belcher exclaimed, “First
            blood,” several bets depending upon that event.
            Belcher received Dogherty’s return upon the
            ear. Some severe hits were exchanged, and, in
            closing, both went down, but Belcher undermost.

            2.—Both combatants went sharply to work, and
            much good fighting was displayed. In closing,
            Belcher was thrown, but received no injury from
            his fall. Loud shouting occurred, and Dogherty
            was so elated with his dexterity, that in the
            pride of the moment, he offered 100 to 10, but
            it received no attention.

            3.—Some excellent sparring opened the round, in
            which Dogherty showed that he was much improved
            since his former contest at Epsom; it was
            followed by the exchange of several severe
            blows. Dogherty’s mug was rather pinked, his
            temper seemed a little ruffled, and the round
            was concluded by his being thrown.

            4.—Milling without ceremony was the order of the
            day; but the advantage was on the side of
            Belcher, from his superior science: he hit much
            more rapidly than his opponent, and his
            defensive tactics displayed a like superiority;
            he punished the face of his opponent terribly,
            and finally sent Dogherty down by a one, two,
            right and left.

            5.—Caution became rather necessary on the part
            of Dogherty. Belcher was thrown, but not before
            some severe hits had been exchanged.

            6.—Belcher punished the nob of his antagonist
            throughout this round. They closed and both

            7.—The combatants made play, when an opening
            appearing, Belcher put in so severe a hit on
            Dogherty’s ribs that he reeled down.

            8.—The contrast between the styles of the two
            pugilists at that early period of the battle was
            manifest to all the spectators. Dogherty had
            been most terribly punished. His face was
            materially altered, one of his eyes being
            closed; the claret trickled from his olfactories
            and potato trap, and the round was terminated by
            Dogherty’s receiving so severe a hit upon the
            thorax that he instantly went down. (Belcher a
            guinea to a shilling!)

            9.—The game of Dogherty deserves peculiar
            notice, from the sharp milling he took without
            flinching; Belcher serving it out so hard and
            fast as to knock him down. In going over him,
            Belcher disengaged himself from Dogherty in neat

            10.—Belcher full of gaiety showed his leading
            superiority by planting several hits;
            notwithstanding, in closing, Dogherty threw him.

            11.—The combatants were determined to convince
            the lookers on there was no trifling between
            them; both milling away in every direction. The
            left eye of Belcher received an ugly blow, and
            Dogherty, still strong, threw him under the

            12.—Fighting without intermission, and bravery
            truly conspicuous on both sides. The round was
            terminated by Belcher putting in a tremendous
            teaser on Dogherty’s throat, which not only
            floored him, but rendered him unable to move for
            a few seconds.

            13.—Belcher held the advantage by punishing the
            face of Dogherty dreadfully, and ended the round
            by knocking him down.

            14.—No alteration. Dogherty rather groggy, and
            Belcher getting second wind; still taking the
            lead in milling, and closing the round by
            throwing Dogherty, and falling upon him.

            15.—The game of the latter was the theme of
            every one. He proved himself a perfect trump,
            rallying with good spirit, but receiving a
            straight hit under the eye, he went down.

            16.—On setting-to Dogherty made play, but the
            judgment of Belcher foiled him; the latter
            putting in several blows in succession, fibbing
            him, and ending by throwing his man cleverly.

            17.—Dogherty planted some severe body blows;
            nevertheless, Belcher closed and threw him.

            18.—A smart rally, both men keeping up the game
            gaily. Belcher, in endeavouring to throw his
            antagonist, went down.

            19.—Dogherty sparred with considerable judgment,
            to gain time, and put in a sharp blow upon the
            body of Belcher, who went down from a slip.

            20.—Belcher seemed perfectly at home; as if
            he felt convinced how things were going. The
            advantage of superior science, enabled him to
            serve out Dogherty about the head with such
            severity as to occasion the latter to fall at
            his feet. (A bet could not be obtained at any

            21.—Dogherty, still at the scratch, contended
            with the utmost bravery to prolong the fight,
            but it appeared only to receive additional
            punishment. His head and face exhibited a rueful
            aspect—he was covered with claret, and in the
            event milled to the ground.

            22.—To the astonishment of every one present,
            the spirit of Dogherty was not broken. He
            attempted to put in some good hits upon the body
            of Belcher, but the wary guard of Tom stopped
            them with ease; in throwing Dogherty, he went
            down with him.

            23.—Punishment was the lot of Dogherty, and
            his face and neck were terribly mauled; but in
            closing, he showed his strength by throwing
            Tom on his hip.

            24.—Manœuvring again resorted to. Dogherty
            felt for Belcher’s body; but Tom returned the
            favour most liberally on his opponent’s mug.
            In closing, Dogherty experienced so severe a
            fall, as to remain a short period insensible.

            25.—The pluck of Dogherty was not yet taken out
            of him, and whilst he entertained the smallest
            notion of a chance remaining, he was determined
            to stand up, although so dreadfully worsted
            every round. A desperate hit from Belcher again
            made him measure his length on the ground.

            26 and last.—Dogherty, with the most determined
            resolution, endeavoured to rise superior to
            exhausted nature, and would not cry “enough!”
            He made a desperate rally to effect a change
            in his favour, evincing that no common caterer
            could satisfy his inordinate gluttony. Belcher,
            however, hit him almost where he pleased, and
            wound up the piece by throwing and falling on
            him. Dogherty could not come again; he was
            decidedly finished; and some time elapsed before
            he could get up. He was bled in both arms upon
            the ground, and instantly conveyed home and put
            to bed.

            This well-contested fight continued thirty-five
            minutes, and upon Belcher’s being declared the
            conqueror, he threw a somersault, and
            immediately got into a barouche and drove off to
            Dublin to a dinner provided for him by a party
            of gentlemen.

            If this distinguished boxer claimed the
            admiration of the spectators from the scientific
            manner in which he won the battle, and the
            superior adroitness he displayed in protecting
            himself from scarcely receiving any injury, it
            is but justice to observe, that Dan Dogherty
            proved himself a milling hero of the first
            stamp; and the true courage he displayed ought
            not to be forgotten. As a proof that his efforts
            made considerable impression, a subscription,
            amounting to upwards of £70, was immediately
            made for him, the Marquis of Sligo putting down
            5 guineas; to this Belcher subscribed a guinea.
            Tom continued several months after this battle
            in Ireland, exhibiting specimens of his skill,
            in company with Hall, with increased reputation
            and success. At Cork and Dublin his well-earned
            fame produced him numerous respectable scholars,
            among whom several persons of rank were

            The advantages of superior science were never
            more clearly shown, than in this combat. The
            dexterity, ease, and perfect _sang froid_ with
            which Belcher defeated Dogherty surprised even
            those who were somewhat acquainted with the art,
            but, generally speaking, among the mere lookers
            on it excited astonishment—to view one man (and
            a scientific professor too) hit all to pieces,
            his head so transmogrified that few traces of
            his former phiz remained, completely doubled
            up, and perfectly insensible to his defeat;
            while the other combatant was seen retiring from
            the contest with barely a scratch, and driving
            away from the Curragh with all the gaiety of a
            spectator. It was impossible that such a vast
            superiority could be passed without remark.

On Belcher’s return to England, he took a benefit at the Fives Court
(May 20, 1814), which was numerously patronised, preparatory to his
commencing tavern keeper, at the Castle, in Holborn, previously in the
occupation of Gregson, afterwards the caravansera of the respected Tom
Spring; and here we must make room for a slight anecdote recorded by
Pierce Egan.

“Tom, in company with Shelton, about a week after he had defeated
Dogherty, upon coming down Highgate Hill, in a chaise, was challenged to
have a trotting match, by a couple of fellows in a gig. Belcher
endeavoured to give them the go-by, but they kept continually crossing
him. At length, one of those heroes, determined upon kicking up a row,
jumped out of his chaise, and without further ceremony, seized Tom by
the leg, in order to pull him out to fight, threatening, at the same
time, to mill both Belcher and Shelton.

“‘Let go,’ said Tom, ‘and as soon as I get upon the ground, we will have
a fair trial, depend upon it.’—One of Belcher’s fingers, at this period,
was in a poultice, and his hand so sore that he could scarcely touch
anything with it; however, this did not prevent the turn up from taking
place. The cove’s nob was metamorphosed in a twinkling, and, by way of a
finisher, he received a blow that sent him rolling down the hill, to the
no small diversion of Shelton and Tom. The latter now mounted his gig
with all the _sang froid_ possible, good-naturedly advising this would
be fighting man never to threaten, in future, beating two persons at
once. Upon the blade’s stopping at the nearest inn to clean his face
from the claret it was deluged with, he learnt, to his great surprise,
he had been engaged with the celebrated Tom Belcher.”

“Belcher, whose desire for punishing his opponents always ceased on
quitting the prize-ring, was attacked one evening, in June, 1817, upon
his entering a genteel parlour in the vicinity of Holborn, in a most
unhandsome manner, by Jack Firby (a fifteen stone man, and six feet
high, but better known by the appellation of the Young Ruffian, and from
his defeat by Jem Belcher). In spite of all his ruffianism and knowledge
of boxing, his nob was instantly placed in chancery—his peepers were
taken measure of for a suit of mourning—and his mug exhibited all the
high vermilion touches of colouring, without the aid of a painter. In a
few minutes he was so completely satisfied, from the celerity of his
expert opponent, as scarcely to be able to retire, covered with shame
and confusion for his insolence. Tom politely expressed himself sorry
for the trifling interruption the company had experienced, without
receiving the slightest scratch from his overgrown bully.”

In conclusion, we may take a glance at Belcher as the “retired
pugilist,” a character which, in our own time, we have seen a
sufficiency of examples to respect, despite the libels and lies of
“Craven” and other calumniators.

Not to cite bygone landlords of “The Castle,” in themselves a tower of
strength, we may mention that one pugilist (Mr. John Gully) whose memoir
will appear in an early chapter, has risen to senatorial honours;
another (Langan, the antagonist of Spring), received a piece of plate
(on his retirement from business with a handsome fortune), as a
testimonial of the high respect of his neighbours and acquaintance in
the town of Liverpool; while the best conducted sporting houses, and
those which least frequently figure before magistrates, are—we
fearlessly assert it—those kept by ex-pugilists of the higher caste.
_Teste_ Belcher’s, Spring’s, Jem Burn’s, Owen Swift’s, in London, and
many sporting houses in the provinces. There are exceptions, of course,
but if the slanderers of pugilists and fair pugilism will insist on
descending to personal or individual libel, to bolster up their cowardly
onslaughts on this manly art, we pledge ourselves for every pugilist of
note, whose name they produce as having come under the lash of the law
for any dishonourable offence, to pick out a parson, a magistrate, or a
doctor to match him; and if the highest criminality be the test of class
profligacy and brutality, we will go higher and find them Quakers,
military officers, aye, even bishops, guilty of capital felony. Truly it
is enough to make one’s blood boil to read such canting drivel, such
impotent spleen vented on bravery and courageous endurance. For
ourselves, some acquaintance with the world has taught us that we had
rather trust to the honour and generosity of a soldier than a priest, or
a pugilist than a professing puritan. But to return to Belcher.

For several years Tom was a frequent exhibitor at the Tennis Court,
where no boxer more decisively established the superiority of art over
strength. The following instance may tend, in some degree, to illustrate
the above opinion. Ikey Pig, the antagonist of Cribb, who possessed a
smattering of the science, was not only knocked about like a child, but
ultimately hit clean off the stage. Shaw, the life-guardsman, a Hercules
in appearance, a man of undeniable courage, and with strength to match
his mighty heart, was dead-beat with the gloves by Tom; although this
son of Mars, but a day or two before, in a bout with Captain Barclay,
had put the captain’s upper works to much confusion, and made his teeth
chatter again. Gully, whose knowledge of boxing was far above
mediocrity, appeared considerably inferior in his sets-to with Tom.
Molineaux, too, when in his prime, was milled in all directions over the
stage, and ultimately floored by Belcher. During the time Tom was in
training at Norwich to fight with Farnborough, in an exhibition of
sparring at the above place, he levelled the Champion Cribb, to the no
small surprise of the spectators. The memorable disposal of Shock Jem (a
lad of most determined spirit, and who had made the art of self-defence
his study, under the tuition of the scientific George Head), was so
complete and satisfactory upon the point in question by Belcher, as to
need no further comment. Shock was “hit to pieces.” In competition with
Cribb or any of the “big ones,” Tom’s excellence as a sparrer was never
in the slightest degree doubtful; and of this a marked demonstration
took place on the occasion of Cribb’s benefit, May 31, 1814. The massive
bulky appearance of the champion standing over the compact elegant form
of Belcher, reminded the spectator not inaptly of the difference between
a small frigate contending with a first-rate man-of-war; and that
however the former might, from its compact size and high state of
discipline, perform its movements with greater celerity, and even create
considerable annoyance by superiority of tactics, yet ultimately, in a
decisive engagement, where there was no room for manœuvring, it must
strike to heavier metal. So with these combatants. The ponderosity of
Cribb, when in close quarters with his opponent, or he bored in upon
him, was manifest; but when at arm’s length, and while there remained
room for a display of adroitness and skill, Belcher appeared the greater
man. The exclamations, which made the court resound again, with “well
done, little Tom,” decided this point. Belcher put in some neat touches
upon the nob of the Champion, on his resolutely boring in, and stopped,
in several instances, the well-meant heavy blows of Cribb in the return,
with considerable dexterity and judgment. True, when the Champion did
get in, he drove Belcher to the corner of the stage, and the strength
and resolution of Cribb prevailed.

In concluding our remarks on Belcher’s sparring, the following
circumstance is worthy of note. It occurred on the 26th of February,
1817, at the benefit of Cribb. Upon Belcher ascending the stage with H.
Lancaster, they were interrupted from all parts of the court, with the
cry of “Scroggins.” Mr. Jackson also requested it, for the satisfaction
of several amateurs of rank present. Upon this, that hardy little hero
appeared, and Lancaster retired. The spectators were uncommonly anxious
to witness this set-to, which might be denominated first-rate science
against the most determined ruffianism. Scroggins, immediately on
shaking hands with his opponent, rushed at him with all the impetuosity
of an English bull-dog, and, for three rounds, it was a downright mill
with the gloves. Belcher, from the fury of his antagonist, was driven
more than once against the rails, and from want of room his science
seemed somewhat at a discount. In the fourth, however, Tom began to feel
his way with more certainty, faced his opponent sharply with his
one-two, on his boring in, and had the best of the round, when Scroggins
bowed and took off the gloves; and, although loudly and repeatedly
solicited by the spectators to have another round, and particularly by
Belcher, he immediately quitted the stage. A slight tint of the claret
appeared on both their mugs, but was first visible from the mouth of

This little episode, with a man of Scroggins’s character, might
reasonably be expected to result in something like a trial without the
mufflers, and so it eventually proved. For on the 10th April, 1822, a
sporting dinner having taken place at the Castle, Scroggins, who was
bacchi plenis, got into a “skrimmage” with Belcher. The little hero
would not be denied, and Tom feeling his character for courage touched,
cast aside the counsel of discretion, and a mill took place. Twenty
minutes ruffianing, boring in, and hard fighting on one side, and
scientific administration of punishment on the other, settled the
question, and Scroggins was forced to give in. This was a gratuitous and
somewhat ill-advised exhibition on the part of Belcher, who needed no
such triumph, yet it showed the spirit of the “old war-horse ready for
the fray,” was still within him.

Tom Belcher was in height about five feet nine inches, weighing nearly
eleven stone. His appearance was gentlemanly, and his manners and
deportment of the most mild and inoffensive nature, well calculated to
prepossess the stranger in his favour; who also found in his company the
perfection of the pugilist, unmingled with the coarseness which the
ignorant and the prejudiced are too apt to associate with their ideal of
every brave boxer.

Belcher died at Bristol on the 9th of December, 1854, aged 71 years,
universally respected.


                              CHAPTER III.


Brilliant as a meteor Hen. Pearce shot across the pugilistic horizon, as
quickly to fall extinguished. When Jem Belcher had reached the zenith of
his fame, he cast his eyes toward Bristol for a successor, and the early
reputation of Pearce pointed him out as a likely holder of the belt of
championship on behalf of his own native city.

We shall not here dilate on the fistic capabilities of Pearce, convinced
that a simple record of his deeds will far outweigh pompous panegyric
and fulsome laudation. Pearce was another among the many scientific sons
of boxing Bristol, and among the many ring recruits which that ancient
city furnished to the metropolitan arena must ever hold a distinguished

The year of Pearce’s birth was 1777, and after serving his
apprenticeship duly to the age of twenty-one, to a tradesman in Bristol,
some of the cognoscenti were attracted by his remarkable skill in
sparring, and in boxing matches, for which that city and its rival,
Bath, were then famous.

After Jem Belcher’s accident, in July, 1803, the champion made a
flattering overture to the young Bristolian[90] to come to London.
Berks, as we have already observed, now asserted his title to the
championship, and Jem soon found Pearce an introduction to that
bumptious personage, who was as much a bully as a bruiser, at the
well-known rendezvous in St. Martin’s Street, Leicester-square. Belcher,
as might be expected, after himself testing Pearce’s qualifications,
readily backed his townsman, and their first serious rencontre is thus
told in “Pancratia,” pp. 182 et seq.:—

“Thursday, August 11, 1803, was a great day out with the sporting
classes of the metropolis, and ‘the Chicken’ was there (at Shooter’s
Hill) with other visitors. Joe Berks also was present. On the road home
these already talked-of rivals for the championship eyed each other with
minute attention, and doubtless with some feelings of envy. In the
course of the evening they met again at the Fives Court, St. Martin’s
Lane, and stories were industriously circulated of the utter contempt
which each had formed for the other’s pugilistic powers. In the course
of the evening Pearce having retired, the gluttonous butcher became
offensively insolent towards Pearce’s friends, boasting his capability
of making it an affair of a few minutes, with such a thread paper. The
challenge was communicated to the Chicken, who rose with alacrity from
his bed (he then lodged in Wardour-street, Soho), and everything was
quickly got ready. A well-lighted room was selected, and notice sent
round to some leading patrons, that a trial of skill was to take place
between the new Bristol youth, and the celebrated glutton Berks; numbers
soon assembled, and between the hours of eleven and twelve the battle
commenced. Berks’ inferiority was soon manifest. His slow and round
method of fighting failed in doing any execution when opposed to the
straight rapid hits of his active adversary, and his pluck only enabled
him to receive uncommon punishment. The Chicken lost no time in
displaying the graces of the science, yet put in his blows so sharply
that Berks soon exhibited signs of weakness. During a desperate contest
of twenty minutes, in which fifteen rounds of tremendous milling took
place, Berks evinced great courage, and endeavoured in the latter round
to fight defensively, and parry the blows of the Chicken, but the latter
followed him up so straight-forward, that it was impossible for Berks to
resist the consequences, and he was twice floored by the Chicken, so
decidedly that he lay stupefied. The two blows were allowed by all
present, to have been the most tremendously effective they had ever
witnessed. Berks was dreadfully milled, yet had the candour to
acknowledge that he had never before met with such a rapid antagonist.”

It should be observed that the cause of this unusual mode of settling an
important fight, was that Berks was at this time under recognizances of
£200, and the conditions of a published prize-fight were supposed to be
hereby evaded.

From the time “the Game Chicken” first appeared in London, the patrons
of the pugilate felt desirous to match him regularly against Berks, but
the latter’s recognizances proved an insurmountable obstacle. Time at
length eradicated all fear of that process, and the match was made.



  _From a Drawing by_ REEVES, of Bristol, 1805.

The sum staked was £100, and the combatants agreed to fight upon the
terms of £90 to the winner, and £10 to be appropriated to the loser.
Accordingly “on Monday, January 23, 1804, the heroes of the fist again
graced the well-known spot on Wimbledon Common, and at eleven o’clock a
ring was formed upon the highest part of the common near Coombe Wood;
but receiving information that they were in a parish wherein they were
liable to be molested, they immediately gave the word to form another
near the telegraph. A race ensued of a curious description, some
thousands of pedestrians and equestrians, with lots of carriages and
carts, all were set in commotion, trying who should obtain the best
situation for seeing the fight.

“A ring being formed, after the bustle had subsided, Berks entered,
accompanied by Tom Owen for his second, and Paddington Jones his
bottle-holder. Shortly afterwards Pearce appeared, attended by Bill
Gibbons and Caleb Baldwin. They immediately began to strip; Berks was
the tallest and displaying immense muscle appeared to possess uncommon
strength. Pearce stood about five feet eight inches and three quarters;
the conformation of his chest and limbs brought to recollection the
athletic form of the noted Tom Johnson, but on a smaller and lighter

“At precisely at eleven minutes before twelve they set to. Odds seven to
four in favour of Pearce, from the former rencontre.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Pearce showed great caution, opposing
            himself indirectly to superior strength; and
            Berks had learnt from the brushing he had got at
            St. Martin’s Lane, not to rush in. Without any
            blows being exchanged, both men closed and fell.
            (Two to one on Pearce.)

            2.—The Shropshireman upon his mettle, game to
            the back-bone, went in desperately, and fought
            into a rally like a hero; but the Chicken, awake
            to his intent, milled on the retreat, and at
            length put in a stopper on Berks’ forehead, that
            made him reel again, when the Chicken caught him
            staggering, and threw him.

            3.—Berks, though bleeding profusely, stood up
            well to his man, and a good display of hits was
            made on both sides. Berks again thrown.

            4, 5.—Ditto repeated, the exchanges in favour of
            the Chicken.

            6.—Pearce put in a blow, which Berks countered
            so heavily as to bring down Pearce on his knee.
            (Bravo, Berks!)

            7 to 11.—Berks exceedingly shy of his opponent,
            always waiting for his antagonist to break
            ground, and suffering much from the repetition
            of his blows. From this to

            15.—The Chicken so much the favourite, that
            the odds were four to one upon him. It was
            manifest that Berks was not a match for his
            man. His style of fighting was considerably
            inferior to that of his opponent’s, and he began
            to appear much distressed; he occasionally tried
            to affect the scientific style of his opponent,
            but at a still greater disadvantage than his own
            natural mode of fighting. The severe blows he
            received from the Chicken made him unruly and
            intemperate, and he was becoming fast an easy
            conquest up to the

            20th round.—Berks’ passion was now exhausting
            his strength. His nose bleeding considerably,
            and, irritated in mind that no chance offered of
            proving successful, he ran in furiously upon
            his opponent. His intemperance rendered him a
            complete object for punishment, and the Chicken
            milled him in every direction. (Twenty to one
            the winner is named; and even bets that Berks
            don’t come again.)

            21.—Passion uppermost; Berks desperate in the
            extreme, and by running in headlong, missed
            putting in a hit, and fell. Pearce smiling at
            his want of prudence, and holding up both his
            hands in triumph.

            22.—A good rally, but Berks received a most
            tremendous floorer.

            24 and last.—Berks still insensible to prudence,
            and determined to get at his man, received a
            severe milling. He was several times advised
            by his backers and seconds to give in, but
            resolutely refused, soliciting each time to
            “fight another round.” However, at the close
            of the twenty-fourth bout, he was hit down
            stupefied, but suddenly recovering, gave in. The
            battle lasted one hour and seventeen minutes,
            and Berks, we had almost said as usual, was
            severely punished. Pearce fought the last round
            as gaily as the first, and when it was over
            challenged Isaac Bittoon[91] for 200 guineas,
            but this match went off.

After this battle Maddox beat Seabrook in three rounds, and the
afterwards well-known Bill Richmond in three more.

There was a little _désagrément_ arising out of this “field day.” Tom
Owen was indicted at the ensuing Surrey Sessions, for a “riot and
conspiracy,” in seconding Berks, in a pitched battle on Wimbledon
Common, and refusing to depart when warned by a warrant officer, sent by
Mr. Conant, the magistrate, upon information laid. Tom was sentenced to
three months’ imprisonment.

Elias Spray, the coppersmith, a boxer of renown in the neighbourhood of
Bristol, and who had twice beaten Bill Jackling (Ginger), the brother of
Tom Johnson, the champion, was next selected to try the mettle of our

Monday, March 11, 1805, was the day appointed, and the fixture was
Hampton Court; but fearing an interruption, they agreed to cross the
water, and decide the contest upon Molesworth (Moulsey) Meadow.
Considerable confusion took place in procuring boats to convey the
numerous followers across the river, where several not only experienced
a good ducking, but some narrowly escaped drowning, in their eagerness
to reach the destined spot. At length, everything being completed,
Pearce, attended by Maddox and Hall, as his second and bottle-holder,
entered the ring (twenty feet square) and threw up his hat in defiance.
Spray soon made his appearance, followed by Wood as his second, and
Mountain as bottle-holder. Betting was seven to four on Pearce, even
that the fight did not last twenty-five minutes, and ten to one that
Pearce was not beaten in half an hour.

The combatants lost no time in stripping, and after shaking hands
smilingly set-to at a little before one o’clock.

                             THE FIGHT.[92]

            Round 1.—A little sparring; Spray made a short
            hit; the Chicken put in a severe blow and
            brought down his opponent.

            2.—Good blows exchanged. Spray put in a blow in
            his antagonist’s breast. Pearce rallied, and
            again knocked Spray down. (Odds nine to four in
            favour of the Chicken.)

            3.—The Coppersmith showed good courage, and
            fought well. The men closed, and both fell.

            4.—Spray rather hastily made some hard
            blows, but they failed. Pearce gave him a

            5.—In this round Spray already appeared
            distressed. The Chicken showed excellent
            science, and a third time completely knocked
            down his opponent. As he fell, Pearce smiled.

            6.—Both fought well; some sharp blows exchanged.
            Spray struck his opponent in the stomach. Pearce
            rallied, and threw him very cleverly.

            7.—Pearce seemed much affected by Spray’s last
            blow in the bread-basket. He made a hit, but
            failed, and fell. (Odds fell to two to one.)

            11.—No good blows, but Pearce again had the
            advantage the whole of these four rounds.

            12.—Spray put in some good determined blows,
            but they mostly fell short; at length, by a
            successful blow on the nose, he brought down
            the Chicken.

            13.—Pearce bled profusely. Spray evinced
            weakness, made a short blow, and fell.

            14.—Pearce met his antagonist with determined
            resolution, and put in so severe a blow on the
            jaw, that every one feared lest he had broken
            it; Spray fell. (Odds now rose ten to one on

            15.—Spray stood up to his man boldly, but
            quickly received a floorer from the Chicken.

            16.—Courage displayed on both sides. Spray put
            in some well directed hits; but in closing,
            Pearce threw him a cross-buttock.

            17.—Spray attempted to rally, but received a
            most desperate blow upon his temple that nearly
            deprived him of his recollection, and which
            spoilt him for the remainder of the fight. The
            ensuing five rounds upon the part of Spray were
            little better than mere exhibitions of animal

            23.—All in favour of the Chicken. (Twenty to
            one, but no takers.)

            24.—Spray again showed himself, but his efforts
            to turn the tide were futile. The Chicken smiled
            at his attempts; yet the Coppersmith showed
            considerable skill, and continued the battle to

            27.—Hardly to be called fighting. Spray was down
            as soon as he appeared.

            28.—Spray could scarcely stand, yet could not
            bring himself to say “No.” He put up his hands
            and endeavoured to face his opponent. It was all
            up: the Chicken hit him as he liked, and finally
            knocked him off his legs.

            29 and last.—Spray stood up, but only to exhibit
            the spectacle of a game man struggling against
            fate. Pearce put in a thrust rather than a blow,
            and poor Spray was persuaded to give in. The
            battle lasted thirty-five minutes. Pearce
            immediately sprang over the ropes, laid down on
            the grass for a few minutes, during which he
            accepted a challenge from Carte, the Birmingham
            “champion,” for 50 guineas. The money was
            immediately staked, and they agreed to fight
            within six weeks. The Chicken then started for
            town in a chaise, full of spirits.

On Saturday, the 27th April, 1805, the day appointed for Carte to enter
the lists with the Chicken, the parties met at Shepperton Common, near
Chertsey, in Surrey. The superiority of the Chicken was so manifest,
that Carte had not the least chance whatever, although six feet three
and a half inches in height, and weighing upwards of fifteen stone. It
would be a waste of time and paper to give the rounds in the detail.
Suffice it to observe, that after a contest of thirty-five minutes, in
which twenty-five rounds took place, Carte, from his ignorance of the
art, received a most terrible milling; while, on the contrary, the
science of the Chicken so protected him from the attacks of his
adversary, that he scarcely had a mark visible.

A new, young, and formidable rival now sought the notice of Pearce. This
was the afterwards celebrated John Gully,[93] then a young man of
twenty-one years of age: as we prefer the chronicler’s account where his
details are available, we quote a contemporary journalist:—

“Henry Pearce, the Game Chicken, by the unprecedented adroitness and
success with which he has contested every combatant matched against him,
in London, has acquired, with almost universal assent, the proud title
of Champion of England. It has ever been found, throughout the annals of
pugilism, that whenever any hero has, however meritoriously, acquired
such a flattering distinction, some emulous aspirant has sprung up to
dispute his claim, and it has also as generally happened that at last
the hero has been obliged, notwithstanding his accumulated honours, to
acknowledge the triumph of a more youthful rival. Pearce has at this
time conquered three most formidable practisers of the gymnasium, Berks,
Spray, and Carte, and, after a general challenge, no one coming to take
up the gauntlet, he quietly set himself to rest, to enjoy the enviable
honour which no one dared dispute his title to. There was, however, yet
to be produced, in order to keep up the spirit of pugilism, some one who
possessed courage enough to enter the ring against this invincible hero.
This was considered not easy to be accomplished; there happens, however,
to be a man of the name of Gully, a native of Bristol, and fellow
townsman of the Chicken’s, who for some time has followed the avocation
of a butcher, but being unsuccessful, had taken country lodgings in the
neighbourhood of St. George’s Fields,[94] in a fine open situation,
where he found room enough to exert his muscles in the active amusement
of rackets. Here Pearce, through generosity and goodwill, which were
ever two prominent features of his mind, visited his townsman and
acquaintance, to afford condolence. As every don fellow now does not
consider his equipage complete, unless graced with the Broughtonian
mufflers, Gully had a set, and to fill up the chasm in the afternoon’s
amusement the host and guest must have a set-to. Good humour, as it
always should, prevailed, but Gully did not fail to give the Chicken a
few severe hits; in short Gully became fired with his success, and
immediately took it into his head that it was, perhaps, not impossible
to beat the champion. Mr. Fletcher Reid, always actively alive, like a
true sportsman, soon got scent; ‘Gully,’ said he, ‘shall fight the
Chicken:’ his debts were accordingly discharged, and he was taken to
Virginia Water, about two miles beyond Egham, on the western road, to be
put in training. Gully at this time was little known in London, having
never signalized himself as a pugilist. In make he was much such a man
as Jem Belcher, but taller, and longer in the reach. In point of
muscular appearance, a knowing one would not set him down as altogether
built for fighting; however, from the commencement he never funked,
being always sanguine in his hopes of victory. Pearce found some of his
old friends, who backed him 600 guineas to 400, and the day was fixed to
be Saturday, July 20, on which day, in order to keep up the sport, two
other matches were to be decided, between Tom Belcher and Dutch Sam, and
between Ryan and Caleb Baldwin.

“Virginia Water was appointed as rendezvous, where Gully, Tom Belcher,
and Ryan, had been two months in training, under the auspices of Mr.
Fletcher Reid; and it being understood that the first and main battle
would be fought by eight o’clock in the morning, the whole Fancy were in
commotion and arrived there betimes. Hence they all proceeded to
Chobham, three miles further, where a ring was formed, and all was
anxious expectation.

“Whenever John Bull does not see all straight before him,
notwithstanding his being a very drowsy hand at it, he begins to
theorise, and this was the case now. Some said it was ‘all my eye,’ and
others more certainly, ‘there’ll be no fight;’ while others deep in the
secret said it would be a cross. For Mr. Chersey, a knowing one who had
formerly backed Pearce very heavily, had turned round and backed Gully,
‘and by this no one could tell the enormous money he could win.’ So the
sages and chiefs went to council, and first they decided that ‘_all
bets_ should be void.’ But during this awful crisis news arrived that
the Surrey magistrates (_dii minores_) had interfered, that officers
with warrants were abroad, and that _that_ county was no land for them.
Blackwater, beyond Bagshot, was named, and off started the whole
cavalcade. Dutch Sam was mounted in a stylish buggy, but by some
accident the reins broke, the driver jumped out, and left the Jew with a
fast clutch of one rein. Away went the horse, Mishter Shamuels
vociferating to all the heroes of the Pentateuch to save him. He was,
however, soon unshipped, and so severely bruised as to be unable to
fight, and so his match was lost. Blackwater was reached, but the day
was advanced, and disputes went on. Mr. Fletcher Reid declared that if
bets did not stand there should be no fight. Mr. Mellish and the Hon.
Berkeley Craven, offered to back the Chicken to any amount, say 600
guineas to 500. The amateurs having covered thirty-two miles from
London, raised a purse, and for this Tom Cribb (afterwards the renowned
champion of England), entered the lists with George Nicholls, of
Bristol, and was thrashed, for the first and last time.” See NICHOLLS,
in Appendix to Period IV.

Tuesday, October 8th, 1805, was next named as “the great important day
big with the fate” of Gully and of Pearce, and Hailsham, a small village
in Sussex, between Brighton and Lewes, was pitched upon for the Campus
Martius. The number of spectators was immense; the Downs being covered
with equestrians and pedestrians, and the “swells” of royal and
aristocratic Brighton being in unusual force. The Duke of Clarence,
afterwards William IV., often referred to witnessing this fight.

At ten o’clock the combatants met at the place appointed, and, after a
short conference, a 24‒feet rope ring was formed on a green adjoining
the village. At one o’clock the contending champions entered; Gully was
seconded by Tom Jones and Dick Whale; Pearce had Clarke and Joe Ward for
his attendants.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—The anxiety round the ring was intense.
            Gully made a desperate hit at his opponent, but
            fell short, and Pearce immediately knocked him
            down. (“Three to one on the Chicken!” cried a
            leading amateur.)

            2.—Gully put in first blow again. The Chicken
            returned sharply, and Gully fell.

            3.—Pearce threw in a blow at his opponent’s
            head, which fell short. Gully hit out and

            4.—Pearce stood up with a smile of confidence on
            his brow. Both combatants struck at once, and
            both hits were well stopped, but Gully fell.

            5.—Pearce put in a heavy blow in the neck, and
            brought down his opponent.

            6.—Pearce put in two good hits right and left,
            and brought Gully down once more. (Odds now rose
            to ten to two on the Chicken).

            7.—Immediately on setting-to Pearce knocked down
            his opponent.

            8.—Much sparring, Pearce put in a hit; Gully
            parried in style, and returned with a knock down
            blow; Pearce fell for the first time. Cheers for
            Gully, and cries, “They are both Bristol men.”

            9.—Pearce appeared touched: he went in and
            knocked Gully down, then turning to his backers
            smiled in triumph.

            10.—Gully struck out with spirit; Pearce
            stopped, and with a thump on the breast brought
            down Gully.

            11.—Gully put in a neat hit, but the round
            terminated by the Chicken’s knocking him
            completely off his legs.

            12.—Gully threw in a most severe blow, struck
            Pearce on the mouth, and brought him down.
            Cheers for Gully.

            13.—In this round Gully displayed both good
            science and courage; he put in two good blows,
            but fell from the force of the last.

            14.—Gully came up in good spirits, but the first
            blow of the Chicken’s knocked him off his legs.

            15.—Both combatants struck, and both hits went
            home. Gully struck again and fell.

            16.—Gully appeared rather shy, and fell without
            a blow being struck.[95]

            17.—The best round during the battle, if not
            that ever was contested. Pearce seemed confident
            of beating his man, and stood up well. Gully
            rallied, and put in several good blows, which
            were returned by the Chicken without any
            stopping. Gully brought down his opponent, after
            having successfully planted two good hits on his
            left eye. This round was undoubtedly greatly in
            Gully’s favour, and the odds fell, bets being
            now six to four on the Chicken.

            18.—No fighting. Pearce bled profusely, and
            Gully slipped while making play.

            19.—Another excellent round. Gully rallied;
            Pearce returned; and after some good blows they
            closed, and both fell.

            20.—Pearce seemed almost blind with his left
            eye, and as the blood issued freely, he fought
            very shy, and retreated. Gully followed him up
            round the ring, and by a good hit brought Pearce

            21.—Pearce was very careful, and Gully in
            hitting fell.

            23.—Some good blows exchanged. Gully fell; while
            falling, Pearce struck him a tremendous blow on
            the side of the head, and Gully vomited.

            24.—Pearce struck, but fell short. Gully put
            in a good blow over his opponent’s right eye,
            and endeavoured to fall, but only being on his
            knees, Pearce struck him. Some cries of “Foul,”
            but the fight went on.

            25.—Pearce very cautious. Gully stuck to him and
            followed him round the ring. Some good blows
            were exchanged, and Gully fell again.

            29.—Pearce was now every round gaining

            30.—Gully put in a good hit, and fell. This
            irritated Pearce, and he stood over him
            apparently much exasperated.

            31.—Long sparring. Pearce struck, but fell
            short; Gully struck over his guard, and it was
            thought almost blinded his right eye.

            33.—Pearce very shy. Gully followed him round
            the ring, but Pearce knocked him down with a
            blow in his throat.

            36.—Gully appeared very weak. He made a hit at
            the Chicken’s head, which he caught, and Pearce
            made a slight return. Gully made a good hit,
            which Pearce parried with his left hand, and
            with his right knocked down his opponent.

            37 to 43.—In all these rounds the Chicken had
            the advantage; both were bleeding freely,
            particularly Gully, whose ear flowed copiously.
            Gully appeared shy of advancing; his head was
            dreadfully swollen, and his eyes appeared nearly

            44.—Pearce dexterously put in his favourite hit
            in the throat, and his antagonist fell. Gully
            had now received so many severe blows, that he
            could not face his man; he, however, continued
            to protract the fight by making a feint hit, and
            falling, until the

            64th round, when, by great persuasion, he
            yielded the palm, after a contest of one hour
            and seventeen minutes.

            REMARKS.—Both combatants were dreadfully beaten,
            neither being hardly able to see out of either
            eye. A subscription was immediately made for the
            unfortunate champion. Soon after Gully had given
            in, Pearce came up to him, shook hands with him,
            and said, “You’re a d——d good fellow; I’m hard
            put to it to stand. You are the only man that
            ever stood up to me.”

            This was, as Pearce afterwards said in private
            conversation, the severest battle he ever
            fought, and that he was never so near being
            deprived of his hard-earned position. As to
            Gully’s being “a novice,” as he was termed,
            Pearce laughed at the notion. He had all the
            tactics of a good general, backed by weight,
            strength, youth, and resolution. “He has ‘a
            head’ for fighting,” said the Chicken, in his
            own rough but figurative language; “he must be a
            sharp chap, and get up early, as beats John
            Gully, I can tell you.”

To compliment Pearce on this battle would be unnecessary. His success,
however, had an unexpected and unfortunate influence on the fortunes and
fame of his patron and townsman Jem Belcher, who rashly challenged
Pearce to fight for 500 guineas, play or pay, within two months. The
Chicken, who claimed the championship, had no alternative but to resign
the honour, or take up the gage thus ill-advisedly thrown down.

The opinions of the amateurs were, however, much divided. Many, true to
their predilection, stuck to Jem’s irresistibility, and Mr. Fletcher
Reid readily came forward to back Belcher. Captain Halliday covered the
500 on the part of Pearce. To avoid disappointment it was agreed that
the battle should come off not less than 150 miles from the metropolis,
to be decided by a toss between the parties. This Belcher won, and named
a small common three miles from Barnby Moor, and nine miles from
Doncaster. The ground was a short half mile from the seat of Captain
Mellish, at Blythe, and 150 miles from London.

“On Friday, December 6th, 1805, Pearce, who had been staying at the Blue
Bell Inn, Bamby Moor, started about eleven o’clock for Blythe,
accompanied by his father. There they met Captain Mellish, Lord Say and
Sele, Lord Eardley, Captain Halliday, the Hon. Berkeley Craven, and
other gentlemen, who accompanied Pearce across the park to the appointed
spot, where Belcher already awaited them. A ring of twenty feet diameter
was formed within another of forty feet, to prevent interruption from
the ‘outsiders.’ The partisans on this occasion sported ‘colours.’ Those
favouring Pearce sported a blue silk handkerchief with a white spot,
since called ‘bird’s-eye’ and ‘Chicken;’ whilst those adhering to
Belcher, sported, with much pride, the yellow striped flag, known before
by the name of the ‘Belcher,’ in honour of the hero. The combatants
entered the ring, Will Ward seconded Pearce, and Bill Gibbons acted as
bottle-holder; Joe Ward and Dick Whale performing the same offices for
Belcher. On stripping Pearce appeared the stronger man and in best
condition, but Belcher was not in the least daunted, and seemed
confident of success. They performed the well-known salutation, and at
half past twelve they set-to. Betting five to four on the Chicken.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—The attitudes of both men were
            masterly; and the cleverness in sparring for an
            opening excited general admiration. There was
            much cautious but active manœuvring. Each seemed
            aware that to throw away a chance might lose the
            battle. Belcher made several feints, and at
            length put in a severe blow on the Chicken’s
            eye, over his guard, that drew blood copiously.
            The Chicken returned the blow slightly, they
            closed, and the Chicken threw his man.

            2.—Belcher remarkably active. He again made
            several feints, and the Chicken, whose face was
            covered with blood, stopped cautiously, then
            made a hit. Belcher put in two blows on the
            Chicken’s body, and they closed. The men
            disengaged themselves. The Chicken aimed a
            well-directed hit, which Belcher stopped
            dexterously; a rally, when the Chicken hit one,
            two, and threw his man. (Six to four on the

            3.—A hard round, rather in favour of the
            Chicken. Several blows were exchanged in a rally
            made by him. A close, and Belcher was thrown
            upon the ropes.

            4.—Chicken hit twice at his man, but was out of
            distance. Belcher rallied with some success, but
            was thrown at the end of the round.

            5.—The Chicken continued to bleed freely from
            the blow he received in the first round. He
            smiled with confidence, however, went in, and
            rallied. The struggle closed, in favour of
            Belcher, who threw him.

            6.—Belcher displayed a good deal of his
            accustomed science, and appeared to meet his man
            cautiously. In a rally several blows were
            exchanged; they closed and fell, Belcher

            7.—This round was much in favour of Belcher.
            The Chicken made a hit, which Belcher stopped
            dexterously, and with his right hand hit the
            Chicken a severe blow in the face. A rally
            followed, in which Belcher had the advantage;
            they closed. The Chicken got his opponent’s
            head under his left arm, and hit him several
            blows with his right hand: both fell.

            8.—Belcher went in, rallied courageously, and
            displayed his skill in pugilism to perfection.
            He struck several blows with his right hand,
            whilst he parried those of the Chicken with his
            left. He had considerable advantage during the
            round, and ultimately succeeded in throwing his
            man over the rope out of the ring. (The betting
            became level.)

            9.—Both on their mettle, and apparently fresh.
            Belcher hit the Chicken a sharp blow in the
            face, which cut him severely; several other
            blows were exchanged before the men closed and

            10.—Somewhat in favour of the Chicken, without
            any blows of consequence. Belcher appeared to be
            fast growing weak.

            11.—The Chicken overreached himself in making
            a hit, and the combatants closed. Belcher
            disengaged himself by a twist, and hit his
            man, who, nevertheless, threw him.

            12.—The Chicken went in and rallied furiously,
            and it was evident Belcher had fallen off in
            strength. He had materially the worst of the
            rally. The Chicken closed, and threw him on
            the rope, and had a fair opportunity of ending
            the fight, for Belcher balanced upon his back,
            and had the Chicken given him one of his heavy
            blows, might have ended the battle at once.
            But just as he raised his hand, the spirit of
            a fair fighter rose within him: his foe was
            defenceless. He put himself in the attitude for
            delivering a blow, to show his advantage, then
            looking round the ring, he exclaimed, “No, Jem,
            I won’t take advantage of thee! no, lest I hurt
            thy other eye!” and raising his hands, went back
            to his second. “This honourable step,” says the
            reporter drily, “was applauded with shouts from
            the spectators.”

            13.—Belcher came up slowly. The Chicken went
            in for a rally. To the surprise of many, the
            men got locked, when Belcher cleverly got
            hold of Pearce and sent him over, a severe

            14.—Tedious sparring. Belcher shy, and bleeding
            in the head and body with blows given in the
            former round. The Chicken followed him to the
            ropes, when he gave him a hard blow under the
            blind eye, through his guard, and threw him

            15.—This round left no hopes for Belcher; it
            also decided many bets respecting the first
            knock-down blow. The Chicken went in very gay,
            and gave his opponent two hits; they closed,
            and the Chicken hit Belcher a blow underneath,
            on the lower rib, which, to use the sporting
            phrase, doubled him together, and he fell. The
            umpire, for the satisfaction of the sporting
            men, declared this to be a knock-down blow.

            16.—Belcher hit the Chicken a well-directed
            but feeble blow in the face, whilst sparring.
            The Chicken smiled, shook his head, and then
            went into a rally. Once more he got him on the
            ropes, as in the twelfth round, when he repeated
            his honourable conduct, and walked away without
            hitting him. This round decided the fight,
            notwithstanding Belcher fought one more. In
            the rally he was first thrown upon one of the
            stakes to which the ropes were fastened, and it
            was supposed he had broken the lower rib, the
            Chicken having hit him in the same place shortly
            before. (Ten to one.)

            17.—Belcher summoned up all his efforts to put
            in a blow, but the Chicken again followed him to
            the ropes, and threw him.

            18.—Belcher could not move his left arm from his
            side; he, however, stood up to fight the
            eighteenth round, but finding himself totally
            disabled, he resigned the contest, after
            fighting thirty-five minutes. The Chicken
            immediately leaped over the rope out of the
            ring, and entered it again in the same manner,
            displaying his agility by a somersault.

            “On this day the wreath of victory, which had
            so long encircled the brow of Belcher, was torn
            off by the powerful grasp of the very man for
            whose success Belcher had evinced so much
            anxiety. Envy appeared the principal excitement
            in the mind of Jem to the contest, and to that
            passion he undoubtedly sacrificed his honours,
            and fell a pitiable victim. Under a mistaken
            impulse, after having successfully triumphed
            over such formidable opponents as Paddington
            Jones, Bartholomew, Gamble, Berks, and Firby,
            his well gained fame expired. It was evident,
            independent of the great disadvantage which
            Belcher unhappily sustained in the loss of an
            eye, that neither his strength nor constitution
            at this time could enable him to encounter with
            any chance of success, an opponent possessing
            such an astonishing degree of skill, agility,
            wind, muscular power, and, in short, every
            requisite that the most theoretic mind could
            suggest for a pugilist. Belcher, in the course
            of the combat, put in several of his favourite
            blows, and got off in his accustomed happy
            manner; but the longer the fight lasted, so much
            the greater became his disadvantage, and every
            one conversant in boxing allowed, that had he
            planted more hits, instead of employing his
            time in unavailing and useless sparring, he
            would have stood a better chance of gaining a
            victory. Pearce, throughout the combat, without
            a doubt, aimed the generality of his blows at
            Belcher’s good eye, well aware of the result of
            closing it, and in closing, Pearce gave him some
            tremendous falls.

            “Upon the whole, if the combat was not so
            obstinately contested as might have been
            anticipated, there was in it a display of
            science perhaps unprecedented. Those, however,
            who had witnessed Belcher in any of his former
            battles, could perceive a deficiency in his
            fighting in many points, notwithstanding he
            displayed all his former courage. After they
            had fought a quarter of an hour, Belcher
            displayed marks of some violent hits in his
            face, and his firm bright eye rolled in the
            briny flood. The loss of his eyes was a greater
            disadvantage to him than _à priori_ was
            supposed; it rendered him unable to judge the
            length of his opponent, nor could he perceive
            the hits coming towards him until it was too
            late to guard against them. With respect to his
            own blows, as he himself observed, after the
            fight, they were merely casual attempts, for his
            sight was not sufficiently quick and strong to
            plant them judiciously. Every one who had on
            former occasions admired with enthusiasm the
            unexampled courage and skill of Belcher, felt
            deeply for his unfortunate situation, and in
            many an eye was seen the sympathetic tear to
            start. His spirits were good to the last; and
            after its conclusion he exclaimed, not without
            seeming to feel the assertion, ‘I don’t mind for
            myself, but I’m sorry for a friend of mine, who
            has lost everything he had.’ A subscription
            was set on foot by Jackson, and very liberally
            supplied. Belcher was taken to a surgeon’s and
            bled, where, upon examination, they found the
            rib expected to have been broken was perfect.”

The Game Chicken retired to the Blue Bell Inn, at Barnby Moor, and
seriously declared that once or twice he had it in his power to have
killed Belcher. Elated with his victory, he cried out in the
Somersetshire dialect, “Dang it, I’m not hurt, I have only cut my crook
against his teeth;” and pulling out of his pocket a new blue silk
handkerchief, spotted with white, tied it round his neck, and laughing,
said, “Since I’ve won it I’ll wear it; no more Belchers now.” After
taking some refreshment, they set off for Grantham, where Captain
Halliday had ordered dinner for a large party.

The Chicken had now entirely proved himself thorough game; and was
without a competitor for a while. A man of the name of Ford, a stalwart
gamekeeper from Leicestershire, came up to London about this time, and
challenged Pearce for fifty guineas. The Chicken offered to accommodate
him for 200 guineas, as a minimum stake for the champion. Ford came to
town in April, 1807, while Pearce was at Bristol, and vapoured greatly
of his willingness to fight the absent champion for a glass of
Liptrap.[96] It was probably fortunate the Chicken was not there, or Mr.
Ford might have found himself out of his depth. We hear no more of
“Master Ford,” who showed better wisdom in minding “buck-washing.”

Pearce, like too many of his predecessors of pugilistic notoriety,
foundered on the same rock on which they had split. Examples, advice,
and lessons, it should seem, all lose their effect upon persons, who, in
the bloom of youth, health and vigour, laugh at the idea of incurring
any serious consequences from intemperance, till they find it out for
themselves, when, generally it is too late to be remedied. The Chicken
during his residence in the metropolis had made rather too free with his
constitution; yet we have authority for observing that it originated
more from circumstances and place, than sheer inclination. His health
became impaired, and he retired to his native city, to enjoy the
comforts of domesticated life; and by the advice of his friends, he
relinquished the calling of a pugilist for that of a publican.

We have now arrived at an episode in the life of Pearce, which we would
earnestly recommend to the perusal of the calumniators of pugilists and
pugilism; we doubt if a similar deed can be recorded of many of the
canters who decry prize-fighters as “inhuman savages!”

In the month of November, 1807, a fire broke out at Mrs. Denzill’s, a
silk-mercer, in Thomas Street, Bristol, and the flames had made such
rapid progress, that the servant in the house, a poor girl, who had
retired to rest in the attic story, was nearly enveloped in flames
before she awoke to her dreadful situation. Frantic with despair, she
presented herself at the window imploring help—her screams pierced the
hearts of the spectators, who appeared riveted with terror to the spot,
expecting every moment her threatened destruction. But none move; all
are petrified with fear and horror. At length, Pearce (“the
prize-fighter by profession and the savage by nature,” according to
“Craven,”) appears in the crowd; he sees the life of a human being in
danger, and feels prompted to the perilous endeavour of an immediate
rescue. By the aid of the adjoining house, he reaches the parapet, and,
hanging over it, firmly grasps the wrist of the wretched girl—the
multitude are lost in astonishment, and never did a more interesting
moment present itself—hope, fear, and all the stronger emotions are on
the rack at the intrepidity of a man losing every thought of self in the
hope of delivering a fellow-creature from a dreadful death. The
additional weight, added to the height from the parapet, was almost too
much for the nearly exhausted energies of Pearce.

              “Cowards die many times before their deaths,
              The valiant never taste of death but once;”

and so it proved—Pearce’s brave heart leaped within him, and with a
supreme effort he drew his trembling charge from the window, placed her
safe upon the parapet, and in an instant she was out of danger. The
delighted multitude was loud in their plaudits—and the almost lifeless
sufferer clinging round the knees of her deliverer, invoked blessings on
his name. This was the proudest moment of Pearce’s life. The shouts of
victory, and the flattering praises that had so often attended him in
the hour of battle, were mere shadows compared with that of an approving
conscience. Yet this was the act of a pugilist!—one who had entered the
field to obtain a purse of gold as a prize-fighter. Here was no gold to
tempt him to risk his life: the smallest deviation of balance must have
precipitated him headlong to destruction; and no opportunity of
retreating from the consequences. The gallant soldier in mounting the
forlorn hope, and the hardy tar in boarding the ship of the enemy, are
stimulated by a thirst of glory and love of country, but Pearce was
actuated by no other motive than that of humanity; and when that
“recording angel,” who dropped a tear and blotted out for ever the
intemperate expression of my Uncle Toby, shall turn the page of the evil
deeds of this pugilist, let us trust they may be similarly obliterated.

In _Arliss’s Magazine_, and the “Poets’ Corner” of _Farley’s Bristol
Journal_, we find the subjoined lines, more remarkable for their good
feeling than poetic merit:—

           “In Bristol city, while a house in flames
             Fills the beholders with amazement dire,
           A damsel at an upper window claims
             Their utmost pity, for th’ approaching fire—
           Which every moment seems to gather near,
           Nor hope of rescue does there aught appear.

           “At length upon the neighb’ring house-top seen,
             A gallant youth now hastens to her aid,
           And o’er the fearful parapet does lean,
             With spirit dauntless, to assist the maid;
           Endowed by heaven with more than common might,
           He grasps her arms, and draws her to the height.

           “Oh, glorious act! Oh, courage well applied!
             Oh, strength exerted in its proper cause!
           Thy name, O Pearce! be sounded far and wide,
             Live, ever honour’d, midst the world’s applause;
           Be this thy triumph! know one creature saved,
           Is greater glory than a world enslav’d.”

A short time after the noble deed we have narrated the Game Chicken
again distinguished himself in rescuing one of the fair sex from insult
and danger. In his way over Clifton Downs, near Bristol, Pearce
perceived a young woman suffering much from the rude attacks of three
men. Regardless of the consequences Pearce instantly interposed, when
they fell upon him with fury; but the courage and science of Pearce soon
made them repent of their temerity. The Chicken received their onset
with such coolness and intrepidity, and so successfully planted his
levelling hits, that one of them of the name of Hood, was so satisfied,
in seven minutes, that he bolted, and left his companions to the care of
Pearce. In a quarter of an hour, the Chicken so served out Morris and
Francis, the other two, that they declined the strife, and apologised
for their rudeness, while the terrified female could only thank her
gallant defender for his seasonable protection.

It would seem that, however Pearce might have been crowned with honour,
gratified by the enviable title of champion, and admired by his friends
in general—he was not happy. That source of true felicity and real
consolation, to which a man flies to alleviate his troubles or
participate in his honours, was unhappily polluted, and his wife’s
incontinence had rendered home so miserable, that he left his native
place never more to return.

Pearce now went to different country towns exhibiting sparring, and
teaching the art of self-defence, and we need hardly say was much
patronised. The Chicken was in the neighbourhood of Oxford when Jem
Belcher and Cribb fought their last battle, and felt so anxious as to
the issue of the combat, that he set off in a post-chaise overnight lest
he should fail to witness the fight. On Cribb’s proving victorious, he
exclaimed with great earnestness, “he hoped he should get well, that he
might teach Cribb how to fight!”

Pearce took a benefit at the Fives Court, on February 9, 1809, when some
good sparring was exhibited. Every interest was exerted to give him
support. Pearce was now the victim of pulmonary consumption, and in the
last stage of that afflicting disease; he was scarcely able to walk to
the Court to thank his friends.

The appearance of the Chicken was muscular; his height about five feet
nine inches; and the roundness of his chest and limbs denoted
considerable strength, in some degree resembling the contour of the
champion, Tom Johnson. During the time Pearce enjoyed sound health, his
excellence as a pugilist was admitted by all parties; and he stood above
all competitors. In uniting the courage of a lion with true kindness of
heart, Pearce must command our praise. He was a tremendous hard hitter,
and his left-handed blow was so terrible in its effects, that his
opponents have been seen in a complete state of stupor for several
seconds, and often never recovered the proper use of their faculties
during the fight.

As a proof that he was not fond of vainly courting the popularity of the
multitude, or of making a show of himself by figuring upon the box of
some spoilt child of fortune’s four-in-hand—a fashion in full power in
those days; we may state, that immediately upon putting on his clothes,
after his memorable fight with Berks, on Wimbledon Common, he stole away
unobserved. Being missed, a general inquiry took place among his
friends, to know what had become of him. After considerable time lost in
search of the Chicken, some person recollected that they saw a man like
Pearce run and jump up behind a coach; upon which information his
second, Bill Gibbons, endeavoured to trace him along the road, and at
length found the Chicken in a public-house at Chelsea, cooking himself
mutton-chops at the fire, with the most perfect indifference. Pearce
immediately invited Gibbons to partake of them without alluding to his
singularity in leaving the ground, instead of making his return to town
in triumph on some swell-drag, in the style of the days of which we are

At the Coach and Horses, St. Martin’s Lane,[97] on Sunday, April 30,
1809, the Game Chicken departed this life. His fortitude never forsook
him, and in the most trying moments he displayed calmness and
resignation; he experienced no terrors from his approaching end,
expressing a wish to die in friendship with all mankind. He expressed a
strong desire to be buried by the side of Bill Warr, in St. James’
burying ground, Pancras; and this wish was complied with. Pearce was in
his thirty-second year.

         “Strength, too; thou surly, and less gentle boast
         Of those that laugh loud at the village ring;
         A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
         With greater ease than e’er thou didst the strippling
         That rashly dared thee to th’ unequal fight.”

                              CHAPTER IV.

                         JOHN GULLY—1805‒1808.

When Hen. Pearce, compelled by severe bodily illness to retire from the
fistic arena, seceded from the position of champion, John Gully was
looked to by common consent as his successor. He was one of those who
achieve a high fame by defeat, and we have Pearce’s own recorded opinion
that he was the best man he had ever fought with. Gully’s ambition was
of a high order; like Jackson, second and third-rate pugilists were
beneath his aim, and spurning the better and safer mode of acquiring
greatness step by step, his daring spirit made the essay of

               “Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself,
               And falls o’ the other side.”

Yet here he showed an exception to the approved rule, for, by at once
attacking the justly renowned Game Chicken, though he fell, he rose
indisputably a greater man, from the excellent qualities he displayed on
this bold but unsuccessful attempt. Gully convinced the sporting world
that he was able to contend with honour, and even with a considerable
chance of success, with the supposed invincibility of that eminent
pugilist, whose generosity of disposition would not permit him to quit
his vanquished adversary without complimenting him upon his uncommon
bravery and fortitude.

In these two years (1805, 1806), Gully does not seem to have publicly
desired the title of champion, which was rather conceded to him. In
September, 1807, by an incidental passage in the daily papers, it would
seem he was so considered. On the 5th of that month (September), Horton
beat George Cribb (brother of Tom the after champion) and offered to
fight either Gully “for the championship,” or Tom Cribb for fifty
guineas, but both declined.



  _From a Miniature by_ HUDSON, 1815.

Gully, by the science and game he displayed, had become a distinguished
favourite with the Fancy in general. His knowledge of the art of boxing
was considered complete, and his courage an able second to his judgment.
His supporters were numerous, and his fame stood so high, that upwards
of two years elapsed, from the time of his battle with the Chicken,
October 8, 1805, before any one had the temerity to call on him to
defend his title to the championship. At length he entered the lists
with the formidable and burly Bob Gregson, a boxer, who had been picked
out by some of his friends in Lancashire, as likely to lower the crest
of the champion. Gregson’s size was considerably in his favour, he being
nearly six feet two inches high, of prodigious strength, and had
signalised himself in several pugilistic contests in that part of the
country; but, notwithstanding such striking advantages, his pretensions
were considered on the score of strength rather than of science.
Gregson’s game was unquestionable, and the amateurs wishing to see him
enter the lists with so distinguished a boxer as Gully, a subscription
was immediately entered into for that purpose.

On the 14th October, 1807, the contest took place in a valley, called
Six Mile Bottom, on the Newmarket Road, on the spot where, in later
days, the writer witnessed the defeat of Jemmy Massey, of Manchester,
and Edwards, of Cheltenham. For miles round this part of the country the
bustle commenced at an early hour, groups of people thronging from every
direction, to witness the battle. Between nine and ten Gully and Gregson
entered the ring, both in excellent spirits and good condition. The
former was seconded by Cribb, Cropley acting as bottle holder. Richmond
was Gregson’s mentor, and Harry Lee was his bottle holder. Bill Warr and
John Jackson were also in the ring; “lest,” says the report, “occasion
might demand their services.” On setting-to the odds were six to four in
favour of Gully.

The combatants shook hands and bowed to the spectators, as if at a
sparring benefit; and at a few minutes after ten o’clock, threw
themselves into position for

                             THE FIGHT.[98]

            Round 1.—The combatants fixed each other with a
            steady eye; a pause; some excellent sparring.
            Gully put in a well-aimed blow in his opponent’s
            face. Gregson returned on the side of the head.
            They closed and both fell.

            2.—Gully now appeared conscious of his
            opponent’s strength, was very careful, and
            showed some excellent science; he put in another
            severe hit in Gregson’s face, blood ran
            profusely, and Gregson fell. (Odds rose 100 to
            20 on Gully.)

            6.—In every round some excellent hits were
            exchanged, and no advantage could be claimed.

            7.—After some neat sparring, Gregson broke
            through his adversary’s guard, and put in a
            straight forward blow on his right eye. This
            drew blood; the eye swelled and nearly closed;
            Gully fell and lay quite stunned for three
            seconds. Among Gully’s friends the greatest
            anxiety remained for some moments, and the odds
            fell five to one.

            8.—Gregson stood up, seemingly inspired with
            his success in the last round, summoned all
            his strength, and exerted all his science. Gully
            rallied; some good sparring, and afterwards
            both put in some excellent blows, and great
            skill was displayed in stopping; at last
            Gregson, by a sudden effort of power, caught
            up Gully in his arms, and flung him with
            astonishing force upon the ground; every one
            expected he would have fallen on him, but this,
            with the greatest generosity, he declined, for
            which he was cheered by every spectator. By the
            amateurs present this was thought to be the
            finest round that was ever fought, and now all
            felt convinced that it was only Gully’s superior
            science that could enable him to stand against
            so formidable an opponent. (Odds changed in
            favour of Gregson.)

            9.—Gully put in another hit in the face, and
            Gregson very deliberately laid himself down on
            his hands and knees. This was thought to be
            something of the cur, but his conduct afterwards
            did away with such unfavourable impressions.

            11.—Gully struck; Gregson closed, and threw his

            12.—Gully in this round evinced great weakness,
            and the odds continued in Gregson’s favour;
            after some feeble hits from Gully, Gregson
            knocked him down by a most tremendous blow on
            the forehead.

            13.—Gully’s science gave him a superiority again
            in this round. But he was very weak, and his
            deliveries devoid of force.

            14.—Gregson struck Gully in the face, right and
            left; they rallied severely, and Gregson fell on
            his knees, apparently very weak.

            15.—After exchanging a few hits, Gregson knocked
            Gully down.

            16.—Gully carried the most marks in the face,
            and his eye was quite closed; they rallied, and
            Gully struck his adversary off his legs.

            19.—At the end of the last round Gully had a
            severe fall, but the advantage throughout the

            20.—Gregson endeavoured to repeat his successful
            straight-forward blow, but missed, and while
            falling Gully struck him. “Foul!” and “Fair!”
            were vociferated, but the latter was correct, as
            Gregson was not down.

            23.—Gully began to appear more gay, and both
            combatants rallied desperately; both appeared
            very weak, but Gully’s bottom was known, and
            odds were now eight to one in his favour.

            25.—Here it was anybody’s battle; the combatants
            both appeared beaten and exhausted. They were
            dreadfully disfigured, and neither hardly
            capable of getting off his second’s knee.

            Notwithstanding each from the great loss of
            blood had the utmost difficulty in making
            fight, the battle lasted eleven more rounds,
            each alternately having the advantage, and
            betting became even. At length they met like
            two inebriated men, helpless, and almost
            incapable of holding up their hands either to
            stop or hit, and every round finished by both
            rolling down together. Still Gully was the
            favourite, and by an astonishing effort of
            nature, in the thirty-sixth round he put in a
            blow, which, although feeble, was sufficiently
            strong to prevent Gregson’s rising again in
            time. Gregson laid for some minutes, incapable
            of either moving or speaking, but Gully, even
            now, elated with victory, leaped with joy.

            REMARKS.—It would be difficult to say which was
            the most beaten, such spectacles were never
            before witnessed. The battle was allowed to
            excel everything, in point of game and slashing
            exchanges, that ever had been displayed. Even
            those who had seen Johnson, Big Ben, Jackson,
            and Symonds contend, allowed this to exceed all.
            Captain Barclay took Gully off the ground in his
            carriage, and the next day both combatants
            appeared on the race-course, but Gregson could
            not remain long, and on returning home was
            forced to call in medical aid. Gully in this
            contest showed he had become much more expert
            than when he contended with the Game Chicken.
            He, however, certainly fought at great
            disadvantage against a man of such superior
            strength and length as Gregson. He could never
            make a hit until his opponent chose to begin, as
            Gregson sparred with his left arm fully
            extended, which was much longer and stronger
            than Gully’s. Gregson’s favourite hit is a
            desperate lunge with his right hand, which
            nothing can resist, and by that means Gully
            became so much beaten. Gregson was mostly
            abroad, and Gully generally returned with great
            adroitness and advantage. His left arm was
            severely hurt in the commencement of the battle,
            in endeavouring to parry the right-handed hits
            of his adversary.

November, 1807. Notwithstanding Gregson was so severely beaten by Gully
in the last month, he still felt some confidence, that in the event of
another battle he should prove victorious. His friends gave him all
encouragement, and he sent Gully the following challenge, which was
forwarded to Norwich, where he was then staying:—

  “Mr. GULLY,—It is the wish of myself and friends that I should try
  my fortune with you in another battle, for £200 a-side. If you are
  inclined to give me the opportunity, I will thank you to say so, and
  also to name the time when it will be convenient to meet, to put
  down stakes, and arrange particulars.

                                                         “R. GREGSON.”

To this Gully immediately returned the following answer:—

  “Mr. GREGSON,—I accept your challenge, but wish you would make the
  match for £250 instead of £200 a-side. I shall not delay a moment in
  returning to town to make the necessary arrangements as to time,
  place, etc.

                                                         “JOHN GULLY.”

As soon as Gully came to town, the heroes met, and the following
agreement was entered into, which we give as a specimen of how they
managed these matters some “sixty years since:”—

                                         “LONDON, _December 22, 1807_.

  “Major Morgan, on the part of Gregson, and Mr. Jackson, on the part
  of Gully, agree to deposit 50 guineas each this day, and a further
  deposit of 50 guineas on the 1st of March, 1808, or forfeit the
  first 50 guineas; and on the Monday following the Craven meeting,
  the remainder of the stakes to be made good by the contracting
  parties, or the 100 guineas to be also forfeited; and that the Hon.
  Berkeley Craven be requested to hold the stakes on the day of

                       “CONDITIONS OF THE BATTLE.

  “1st.—The battle to take place on the Tuesday following the first
  Spring Meeting, between the hours of ten and twelve, a.m.

  “2nd.—To fight in a roped square of forty feet.

  “3rd.—Neither to fall without a knock-down blow, subject to the
  decision of the umpires.

  “4th.—Three umpires to be chosen upon the ground, viz., two, and one
  in reference.

                                        “Signed       “CHARLES MORGAN,
                                                      “JOHN JACKSON.”

Gregson went immediately into training under Mendoza, at the Load of
Hay, on the Hampstead Road.

Wednesday, May 10th, 1808, was soon known to be the day fixed for the
“big fight for the championship.” On the previous Saturday it was
understood in the privileged circle that those who repaired to the
confines of the counties of Bedford and Bucks., about a couple of miles
from Woburn, would be handy to the spot. This “tip” it would seem
reached others than those for whom it was intended for. The Marquis of
Buckingham publicly gave notice of his determination to frustrate the
sport, by publishing the following notice in the _County Chronicle_:—

                             “BUCKINGHAM HOUSE, LONDON, _May 8, 1808_.

  “Information having been transmitted to me, His Majesty’s Custos
  Rotulorum in and for the county of Bucks., of an intended riotous
  assembly, aiding and assisting in a breach of the peace, by a boxing
  match, within that part of the county of Bucks which touches or
  joins on the counties of Bedford and Herts, near the town of
  Dunstable; and that the said illegal and riotous assembly will take
  place on Tuesday, the 10th instant, notice is hereby given that
  proper steps have been taken for the detection and punishment of all
  persons acting as aforesaid, in breach of the peace, by the
  attendance of the magistrates, high constables, petty constables,
  and other peace officers, entrusted with the execution of the law
  within the said county.

                                      “NUGENT BUCKINGHAM,
                                          “Custos Rotulorum of Bucks.”

What follows may give a lively picture of an expedition to “see a fight”
in the days of the “Third George.” We extract from the _Morning

“Some hundreds, whose leisure and disposition prompted them to be in
action, started on the Saturday and Sunday, and secured beds and
stabling in all the villages and hamlets contiguous to Woburn. The town
of Woburn was on Monday in continual motion, all was uproar and
confusion, people of all ranks continually arriving on foot, on
horseback, and in carriages of all description, and all seeking
accommodation which only a few comparatively could find. To add to the
confusion, the Marquis of Buckingham did not fail to exert himself for
the fulfilment of his threat; all the magistracy of Bedfordshire and
Buckinghamshire, at the head of their constables and _posse comitatus_,
with a subsidiary force of volunteers from the surrounding districts,
appeared determined to resist this unlicensed incursion into their
territories, and to stand an insurmountable barrier to the amusement.
The Dunstable volunteers were out very early on the Monday morning, with
drums beating, colours flying, cartouch-boxes doubly provided, bayonets
fixed, and all in awful military array. The peasantry were shaking with
fear, supposing the French had landed, and those who had arrived began
to think they were hoaxed, and that they should return without being
gratified by the fight. Many who itched to be betting, began to sport on
the question whether the fight was ‘to be or not to be,’ and ten to one
was frequently betted, that no fight would take place.

“When Monday night arrived hundreds had flocked into the town, and all
were eagerly enquiring for beds. Nothing could be obtained of this kind,
for the night’s lodging, under 30_s._ a head, and to sit or lie on the
chairs of the public rooms the usual price of a bed was extorted. In one
room at Woburn fifteen gentlemen laid on the floor, and were happy to
pay for this hard fare, and hundreds reposed in their carriages. The
horses, notwithstanding the weather was severe, were obliged to stand
without covering. Tuesday came, and these glorious comforts were yet to
be endured; pay the price asked you must, as the landlord was generally
sharp enough to secure the boots of every traveller, if he had nothing
else to lay hold of for security.

“About five o’clock on the Wednesday morning all was again in commotion,
and notwithstanding the endeavours of the magistrates, a ring was formed
upon Ashley Common, raised with sods about twelve inches from the
ground, and about forty feet in circumference. Between six and seven
o’clock many of the amateurs came dashing direct from London, in their
barouches and four, and in order to direct them to the proper spot, Bill
Richmond was placed at the Magpie. The multitude soon got the hint, and
followed the bang-up leaders. By nine o’clock a number of carriages had
arrived, and were safely penned up. The amateurs viewed the ring, and
were expressing their high approbation at its appearance, when a
messenger arrived with fresh information that the magistrates had seen
the ring in the morning, and were still determined to prevent the
battle. Many of the knowing ones suspected that this was a hoax, and
immediately sent off an express to Hogstale, a public-house about a mile
distant, where Gregson held his head quarters. Before the answer,
however, returned, Mendoza, dressed in green, and mounted in style,
dashed up with two or three well-known amateurs, and gave positive
assurances that the battle would not be fought there. Upon this solemn
assurance every one started for Gregson’s lodgings, where they found the
hero seated in Lord Barrymore’s barouche, with the horses’ heads turned
towards Woburn, and escorted by about 150 noblemen and gentlemen on
horseback, and an immense retinue of gigs, tandems, curricles, and every
species of vehicle. Hundreds not apprised of the change in the seat of
combat, were advancing from Woburn. Soon the two streams met, and
forming one almost irresistible current, returned through Woburn with
accumulated force, the knowing ones leading the way, having been before
apprised, that in case of any unforeseen disappointment at the original
spot, they were to rendezvous at several places in reversion; the first
of which was Sir John Sebright’s, in Hertfordshire, about seventeen
miles distant from Ashley Common, the whole extent of which was covered
by one solid mass of passengers; and although many had sorely repented
their expedition, and returned homewards, the multitude appeared not the
least diminished. Broken down carriages obstructed the road; knocked up
horses fell and could not be got any farther; a guinea a mile was
offered for conveyance, and many hundreds of gentlemen were happy in
being jolted in brick carts for a shilling a mile. By two o’clock they
arrived at Sir John Sebright’s park; a flat spot immediately opposite
the house, but about half-a-mile distant, was pitched upon for the
battle, and upon the whole the uninvited guests behaved with tolerable
decorum. A ring was formed, the exterior circle was nearly an acre,
surrounded by a triple ring of horsemen, and a double row of
pedestrians, who, notwithstanding the wetness of the ground, laid down
with great pleasure, and the forty feet ring was soon completed.

“About three o’clock a torrent of rain poured down, and every one began
to be anxious for the fight; very shortly after Gregson, Gully, Mendoza,
Harry Lee, Joe Ward, Hen. Pearce, Cribb, Horton, Dutch Sam, Cropley,
Gibbons, Richmond, and several other pugilists and amateurs, entered the
ring. It is impossible to describe the pleasure that beamed in the eyes
of every spectator at this moment, and the welkin echoed their repeated

“Cribb and Horton, who, according to their articles, were to fight in
the same ring as Gully and Gregson, directly stripped and set-to, both
in excellent spirits. Odds four to five on Cribb who very easily gained
the conquest.

“Immediately on the conclusion of this combat the champions stripped.
Both fought in silk stockings without shoes, and white breeches. Harry
Lee seconded Gregson, and Joe Word, Gully. Captain Barclay was appointed
deciding umpire. After the usual etiquette they set-to.”

                             THE FIGHT.[99]

            Round 1.—The combatants both sparred about a
            minute; the utmost silence prevailing in every
            part of the ring, and every one had his eye
            fixed stedfastly on the contending champions.
            Here Gully displayed one of the most signal
            specimens of the art of boxing that perhaps ever
            was witnessed, by putting in two most dexterous
            hits through his opponent’s guard, at the same
            moment, in the mouth and throat. Gregson fell
            like a log, and was instantly covered with
            blood. The greatest commotion was now excited,
            and peal succeeded peal of applause. (The odds
            rose six to four on Gully.)

            2.—Gregson ineffectually aimed a hit at his
            opponent’s head, who shifted, and pointed at
            him. Gully now commenced a rally, and some blows
            were exchanged to his advantage. Gregson turned
            round and put in a back-handed blow in the
            loins; both fell.

            3.—Gregson successfully planted a right-handed
            hit in Gully’s breast, and rallied; but Gully
            had the advantage of putting in most blows,
            although Gregson threw him. Gregson’s head had
            now began to swell, and he continued to bleed
            freely. (Odds two to one on Gully.)

            4.—Gully made play, and after planting two good
            hits on his adversary’s head, slipped up.

            5.—Gregson made a determined hit, which Gully
            scientifically parried, upon which he ran in,
            grasped Gully by the thighs, held him in his
            arms, and threw him down. Great disapprobation.

            6.—Some good rallying, but in favour of Gully.
            Gregson appeared incapable of stopping, and
            Gully hit him as he pleased. At the close of the
            round Gregson put in a tremendous blow on the
            side of his adversary’s head, and both fell out
            of the ring.

            7.—Gully rallied; put in six successive hits on
            Gregson’s head, and at length knocked him off
            his legs, without the latter getting home one

            8.—In this round Gregson slightly had the
            advantage. They closed, and Gully received a
            heavy fall; Gregson’s left eye was now almost
            closed, his nose broken, the blood flowed
            copiously, and his head was most hideously

            9.—Gregson evinced distress, and Gully hit him
            again severely in the face. Gregson fell on his

            10.—As early as this round the result of the
            battle was considered decided. Gregson fought
            shy, both eyes being nearly closed. He struck
            Gully, who was down, but it appeared to be with
            his own choice.

            11.—Gregson excited commiseration; he put his
            hand to his left eye, and afterwards looked at
            it; but instantly commenced a rally, which ended
            again in his discomfiture. Gully knocked him
            down, but while falling he put in a back-handed

            12.—Gregson struck Gully on the breast, who
            immediately knocked him off his legs by a flush
            hit in the mouth.

            13.—In making play Gully slipped.

            14.—Gully again hit his opponent through his
            guard, both right and left, which brought him

            15 and 16.—In both rounds Gregson ineffectually
            attempted to hold his ground. He seemed
            confused; however, he ran in, and completely
            bored Gully down.

            17.—In this round Gregson became intemperate,
            and ran in upon his adversary, who continued
            hitting and avoiding him in a most surprising
            manner. Gregson twice turned his back upon his
            opponent, and made towards the ropes, but Gully
            followed him, changed his front, fibbed him, and
            kept him from falling, until he had hit him into
            an almost senseless state, and then dropped him
            quietly between his arms.

            18.—Like the former, Gregson was again severely

            25.—In this round Gully put in two tremendous

            27.—Gregson was brought down by a heavy blow
            under the ear; and the

            28th round decided the contest, Gregson being
            too much exhausted to be brought to the mark in
            time. The battle lasted one hour and a quarter.

            The superiority of Gully in this battle was
            evident, and throughout the fight there was no
            comparison between the quickness, hitting, and
            confidence of the combatants. Several of the
            fighting men, and many good judges of pugilism,
            had great doubts as to the event, from the
            determined manner in which the former battle had
            been contested and several entertained a strong
            opinion that Gregson, having added science to
            his great strength, from the improvement he had
            evinced in sparring, had much increased his
            chances of success. Gully possessed so much
            confidence in his own abilities, that, a few
            minutes before he entered the ring, he offered
            to back himself for £50 (in addition to what he
            had already betted) that he was the winner.

Without offering further comments of our own on this most remarkable
battle, as we do not find any worthy of preservation, in a pugilistic
sense, in the published reports, we may take it as a significant fact of
the excellence of Gully’s condition, that, _before putting on his outer
clothes_, he advanced to the ropes and addressed the referee and leading
patrons of the ring to the effect, that being now in business in a
tavern in Carey Street, he was in hopes that he should have enjoyed
peace unchallenged. That he had not intended to fight again, nor would
he have done so in this instance, had he not considered himself bound in
honour to accept Gregson’s challenge. That he had fought with a
partially disabled left arm, and that Gregson surely would not urge him
to another combat. “Gully then dressed himself, and was brought to town
in Lord Barrymore’s barouche. The following morning he was facetiously
answering questions respecting the fight, and serving his numerous
customers at the Plough, in Carey Street.”[100]

The defeated Gregson was conveyed to the principal inn in Markyate
Street, Herts., where he remained until the following Saturday, by which
time he was well enough to return to Highgate, on the box of one of the
Northampton coaches. Here he remained with a friend at the Bowling Green
tavern for some time. Captain Barclay, the Marquis of Tweeddale, and
other gentlemen and noblemen made a liberal subscription for him; and at
his urgent request he was soon after matched with Tom Cribb, to fight
for 500 guineas, in a thirty foot ring. (See CRIBB, Period IV.)

In the beginning of the following month (June, 1808), Gully and Cribb
took a joint benefit at the Fives Court; Gully and Jem Belcher, Cribb
and Tom Belcher, Tom Jones and Tom Blake, Cropley and Dogherty, George
Cribb and Wood, were among the leading exhibitors. Gully repeated his
declaration of retirement from the ring, and public opinion looked upon
the coming fight of Tom Cribb and Gregson as a sort of test as to
Gully’s successor.

In taking leave of so remarkable a man as the subject of the present
memoir, a man who after many years of intercourse with the most eminent
public men of his time, arrived at fortune, fame, and even senatorial
honours, we may be suspected of panegyric from personal knowledge, and a
desire to dilate on a theme so immediately connected with the history of
British pugilism as the merits of its professors, while it yet had the
name and standing which it has, much through the misconduct of its
members, temporarily lost.

Gully, as a pugilist, has well earned a niche in the temple of pancratic
fame; and if his battles were not so numerous as many other professors
have been, they were contested with a decision of science and game,
rarely equalled, perhaps never excelled, and justly entitle him to
honourable mention in the records of boxing. His practice, it was well
known, had been very confined, and his theoretical knowledge of the
science could not have been very extensive, yet his natural courage and
quickness surmounted these difficulties, and, with a fortitude equal to
any man, he entered the ring a most consummate pugilist. Though his
frame was never a model of symmetry, he had many points of the athletic
build. His height was about six feet.

We cannot conclude this sketch of Mr. Gully without remarking that, with
the knowledge of the world, he united the manners of a well-bred man;
intelligent and quick of observation, he united with those
qualifications, when moving in a less elevated sphere, that proper sense
of his own capabilities, which generally attends intelligence and merit.
After a few years passed in the occupation of a tavern-keeper, in which
he earned general respect, he was so fortunate in turf speculations, and
so well served by sound judgment in racing matters, that he retired and
became the purchaser of Ware Park, Hertfordshire. Here he associated
with the first circles of the county; fortune still smiling on him, he
became a spirited breeder and racehorse proprietor, an owner of
collieries, and lastly, in 1832, attained the proud position of one of
England’s senators; being returned to parliament as representative for
Pontefract, in the first reformed parliament. We recently heard a
blockhead object that Mr. Gully was originally a butcher: his father,
whom he succeeded, was a master butcher of respectability—so was the
father of Cardinal Wolsey. We have had among succeeding occupants of the
woolsack, a Newcastle barber’s son, and the offspring of a grocer; one
prime minister, the son of an actress; another the descendant of a
cotton spinner; the greatest engineering genius of our age, the son of a
pitman, himself a furnace-stoker, and, as we shall presently see, a
pugilist; so that surely such sneers at self-made men by those who have
certainly not made themselves are too snobbish and contemptible to
affect any but their utterers. A paragraph from the pen of a sportsman
must find a place here:

  “It was the late Mr. Buckland who, when on a visit to Lord
  Fitzwilliam, told me of the impression made upon him by the
  appearance of a fine handsome gentleman coming up the staircase with
  a beautiful girl in green velvet on either arm—the member for
  Pontefract, with two of his daughters. Poor “Sylvanus” thus
  portrayed Mr. Gully in the very zenith of his career:—‘He had
  permanent lodgings at Newmarket, well and tastily furnished, and
  dispensed his hospitality to his friends with no sparing hand. An
  excellent cook, claret from Griffiths’, with an entertaining
  gentleman-like host, left little to be desired at the dinner
  awaiting us. Mr. Gully is justly esteemed, having raised himself
  from the lowest paths of life to the position, not merely of wealth,
  but to that of intimacy amongst gentlemen, on or off the turf, but
  still gentlemen in taste, which nought but the undeviating good
  manners, and entertaining, unpresuming deportment of Gully could for
  a moment, or rather for any length of time beyond a moment, suffer
  them to tolerate. No man ever possessed these qualifications, gained
  through innate acuteness, great common sense, and a plastic
  disposition to observe and benefit by the chance _rencontres_ with
  the courtly patrons of his day to a greater degree, taking the early
  disadvantages he had to contend with into consideration, than John
  Gully. No man could be more above pretence, or less shy at any
  allusions to his early and not very polished career, than himself.
  When I dined with him at Newmarket, as well as upon subsequent
  occasions, I was most gratified by his manly openness, and lack of
  all sensitive false shame, on any occasional appeal being made to
  the bygone. He, on the contrary, entered freely into many
  entertaining portions of his history, answered all my questions _con
  amore_, and with perfect good nature, as to the mode of training,
  hitting so as not to injure the hand, wrestling, and other minutiæ
  of the ring; passing the claret and slicing the pine, as if foaled
  at Knowsley or Bretby. He had a quiet sly way of joking on any turf
  affair, on which, bear in mind, he was as _au fait_ as Zamiel making
  a book for the Derby. The turbot came from Billingsgate by express,
  and the haunch from his own park. Moët purveyed the champagne,
  Marjoribanks the port, and, as I have before said, Griffiths the
  Lafitte. We had no skulking host be assured, but the most
  entertaining and liberal one alive.’ There is a genial tone about
  this sketch that tells at once for its truth, and it would be
  difficult to give any man a better character. Gully’s position at
  every turn and phase of fortune was still a trying one, but no man
  more fairly earned the respect he gained. There is a very moral of
  good manners in such a man’s history.”

Mr. Gully died at Durham, on Monday, the 9th of March, 1863, in the 80th
year of his age, being born at Bristol, August 21, 1783. He was buried
at Ackworth Hall, near that city, on Saturday, March 14, leaving a
family of five sons and five daughters, moving in the best circles of


                               CHAPTER V.

                  DUTCH SAM (SAMUEL ELIAS).—1801‒1814.

One of the most remarkable boxers of his time was the Israelitish
phenomenon whose name heads this fifth chapter. In height about five
feet six inches and a half; in weight nine stone four pounds, never more
than nine stone eight pounds, Samuel Elias conquered some of the best
eleven and twelve stone men of his time. When stripped Sam looked, in
bust and ribs, more like a twelve stone than a nine stone man, showing
he had his muscular power and weight in the right place. His shoulders
were remarkably square, his arms round, long, muscular and hard; his
hands seemed positively of iron, never puffing or knocking up from the
punishing hits inflicted on his antagonist; while the quickness of his
eagle eye, and the fierceness of his rally were unexampled among his
fellow pugilists. A contemporary writer says: “As a hard hitter we
except no pugilist whatever; Gully never struck with more force, nor
Cribb more heavily than Sam, whose blows were truly dreadful to
encounter.” It was the publicly expressed opinion of one of the most
experienced and scientific pugilists of the day, that Sam would be a
complete match for the mighty Cribb himself, if they could agree to give
alternately merely blow for blow. Bill Cropley,[101] who was a burly and
game boxer, declared he would rather stand half-an-hour’s milling from
Tom Belcher (see TOM BELCHER and CROPLEY, _ante_.), than five minutes of
Sam’s punishment.

Samuel Elias was born on the 4th of April, 1775, in Petticoat Lane,
Whitechapel. As we intend this work, so far as research will make it, to
be reliable history, we shall omit the vamped up skirmishes of Pierce
Egan, which he says “would fill a volume,” and come to the first
authentic record of Sam’s fistic prowess.[102]


  SAMUEL ELIAS (“DUTCH SAM”), 1801‒1814.

If, as we conjecture, Sam had fought the battle mentioned below, the
claim, urged by Pierce Egan, for Harry Lee of “first introducing Sam to
the circle of boxers,” is mere bosh. We read in “Boxiana” (vol. i. 301):

“Harry Lee, on his return home from Enfield, on the day that Belcher and
Bourke (Joe Berks) were to have fought (October 12, 1801), witnessed Sam
fighting with a man by the roadside, very much his superior as to size
and weight, and from the excellence which he displayed in that contest,
Lee distinguished those peculiar traits in the youthful tyro which have
since proved his judgment correct, and matured by time and practice,
placed Sam as a first-rate boxer, and stamped him a complete pugilistic

In “Fistiana” (we know not on what authority), this battle is elevated
to the dignity of a regular affair, and indexed as “beat Baker, five
guineas, Enfield, October 12, 1801.” Possibly Mr. Dowling, who had
access to every source of information, and was quite another sort of
scribe from “the Historian,” found warrant for the stake and for his

With the exception of one Shipley, who is represented as the “champion
of the Broadway” (Whitechapel), whom he met for a trifling sum in 1803,
we do not hear of Sam in the doings of the ring. Shipley is stated to
have been fourteen stone, “a scientific fighter, and to have beaten
every one hitherto opposed to him.” He laughed at the presumption of Sam
in offering to box with him—and treated the Jew in the most contemptuous
manner, by making Sam a present of five shillings to stand before him
for only ten minutes. The Jew pocketed the cash with the utmost _sang
froid_, and after a contest of fifteen minutes, Shipley experienced such
severe punishment that he was compelled to acknowledge the vast
superiority of the arm of this iron-like pugilist. Warren, an East End
boxer of some note, was also beaten, with ease, by Dutch Sam.

Despite “Harry Lee’s patronage,” obtained in 1801, the Hebrew
phenomenon’s entrance upon the regular stage seems to have been delayed
till Tuesday, the 7th of August, 1804, when he met the renowned “Pride
of Westminster,” Caleb Baldwin,[103] at Wood Green, near Hornsey, for a
stake of twenty-five guineas a-side. “On the Monday night it had been
resolved that Fairlop, in Essex, should be the battle-field, but late at
night the amateurs were informed that the ‘beaks’ of the county were up
and active to stop the fight. Accordingly a council was held, Wood
Green, near Muswell Hill, agreed upon, and towards there equestrians and
pedestrians made the best of their way. On their arrival a ring was
quickly formed; but owing to the delay occasioned by their being obliged
to change the scene of action, it was past one o’clock before the
combatants entered. Caleb first made his appearance, accompanied by
George Maddox and Bill Gibbons; Dutch Sam following with Wood the
coachman, the unsuccessful opponent of Bittoon, for his second, and Puss
as his bottle-holder; they immediately stripped and set-to. Odds two to
one in favour of Caleb.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—A little sparring. Sam put in the first
            blow with his left hand, but without effect;
            Caleb returned with his right, and following it
            up, put in a desperate left-handed hit over
            Sam’s forehead, and brought him down. (Odds rose
            three to one in favour of Caleb.)

            2.—Sam shifted, but Caleb stuck to him manfully,
            put in two well-aimed blows right and left, and
            brought his opponent down the second time.

            3.—In this round Sam displayed more resolution,
            both put in some good hits, and Caleb’s eye
            being cut much, bled very freely. Sam
            undoubtedly had the best of the round. (Odds
            fell two to one on Caleb.)

            8.—From the last related round to this was one
            continued succession of severe hitting on both
            sides. Every amateur allowed that better
            fighting never was displayed. Both were cut and
            bled profusely, but no one could attribute to
            either any advantage. (Betting now became even.)

            9.—Caleb put in a successful blow in Sam’s
            temple, which completely knocked him down. Sam
            putting his hand to his face was considered
            ominous of great severity, and odds rose again
            on Caleb.

            13.—Caleb supported the superiority he had
            gained in the last round until this time.
            Caleb thought Sam appeared weak, and followed
            him up; Sam, however, put in several severe
            blows. At the end of this round Caleb showed
            great irritability, but Sam appeared perfectly

            20.—Caleb, through his exertions, began to
            show symptoms of exhaustion, and to avoid his
            antagonist’s blows, frequently endeavoured to
            close, and while struggling for the fall, Sam
            by a peculiar mode struck his blows upwards,
            which told dreadfully in Caleb’s face.[104]

            23.—For the last three rounds Caleb evinced
            great distress. After making a blow or two,
            he was so excessively weak, as scarcely to be
            able to keep his hands straight before him; he,
            however, still put in his blows, but devoid of
            any force. Sam, on the contrary, seemed to gain
            fresh vigour from his opponent’s exhaustion, and
            gave no quarter.

            26.—Sam now began to display imbecility, and
            both hit each other blow after blow without
            making any impression, and so completely were
            both combatants served out, that neither came
            to their time. Sam, however appeared least
            bruised, and the odds were slightly betted in
            his favour. In this round Sam displayed all that
            heroism and manly conduct which characterise
            the courageous pugilist. Having put in a most
            severe blow on his opponent’s head, over his
            guard, which stunned him, he was prepared to
            follow it by a right-handed hit, but desisted,
            drawing back his hand on seeing his adversary
            was already falling. Every one present applauded
            the generosity of the action.

            From this to the 37th round, which closed the
            contest, Caleb fell off in strength; and in his
            distress several times fell from losing his
            balance or missing a blow. He became sick, and
            finally the luckless champion of Westminster was
            carried off almost insensible. Sam towards the
            close fought upon the saving system, husbanding
            his strength. The reporter adds, “in this
            unequal state of things, it was undoubtedly very
            wrong to bring Caleb to face his man, who, poor
            fellow, came willingly up to the last, though he
            could not hold up his hands, much less hit a
            blow.” The ring was broken by Caleb’s friends,
            on a claim of “foul,” “but the umpires would not
            be imposed upon by so stale a trick, and
            declared Sam to be the conqueror.”

Caleb, assigning illness as the cause of his defeat, proposed a second
trial with Sam. Accordingly in September a match was made for twenty
guineas a-side. Sam however assigned “business reasons” for declining,
and forfeited the deposit down.

On Saturday, the 27th April, 1805, there were three battles decided at
Shepperton, Surrey. The first between Pearce, the Game Chicken, and
Carte, of Birmingham; the second between Tom Belcher and O’Donnell; the
third between our hero, and Britton of Bristol. For this battle of
thirty rounds, Sam was, according to the report, totally unprepared;
indeed he was positively inebriated when it began. Britton was
introduced as “a yokel” who was ready to fight for a purse. A spectator
says, “For the first four rounds Britton held a lead, when Sam was given
to understand that his adversary was a _plant_ upon him. Sam nodded his
head, and forcing his man to fight, in a rapid rally dealt out such
severe punishment that Britton went down almost done over. Sam’s conduct
in this fight was most singular. After milling poor Britton down, he
threw himself by his side, and patting him on the back, exclaimed “What,
you are a _plant_ are you? S’elp me Cot, I’ll soon _plant_ you;” and
once during the battle when Britton rushed wildly in, Sam, with the
utmost contempt, threw up both his open hands, calling out to the
spectators, “See the vay this _plant_ is trying to kiss me,” and then
stepping back quickly, he hit Britton clean off his legs!”

Sam’s fame now spread far and wide; but it would be utterly inconsistent
with the character we would wish to impress upon this work, were we to
omit a circumstance which occurred about this time, in which the
pre-eminence of Dutch Sam was successfully disputed.

In the month of June, 1805, Sam was in training at Thames-Ditton, and on
his way to town, over Wimbledon Common, he met one James Brown, a
butcher of Wandsworth. A quarrel, how originating we have no account,
ensued; and after some altercation, Sam, expecting to strike terror into
his opponent, informed him he was “Dutch Sam.” The man very calmly
answered as they stood in attitude, “Be you the devil as well, I’ll bang
you, now I am at it,” and nobly he kept his word, for he brought Sam
down with such terrible arguments every round, that Sam at the close of
a dozen bouts, acknowledged he would have “no more of it”; adding that
he was beaten for the first time in his life.[105] Such a casual turn-up
as this proves surely that Brown was a natural boxer, as well as a
plucky, game, strong, and active fellow; Sam’s reasons for not going on,
need hardly be dwelt on, as he was in training to fight Tom Belcher. He
was, however, very much mortified, and deservedly so, when the affair
got into the newspapers.

After two postponements, Sam’s match with the celebrated Tom Belcher,
was brought to an issue. In our memoir of John Gully, the reader will
find the accident narrated which led to one of the postponements. Sam,
it was thought by many, considered Belcher too clever as well as too big
for him, and wished to shirk the encounter; when unexpectedly, at the
latter end of January, Belcher received a challenge from Sam to fight
for 100 guineas, naming the 8th of the following month, if suitable. Tom
instantly accepted the offer, and his friends covered Sam’s hundred
golden pieces, with the most sanguine hopes of the result.

Virginia Water was settled as the rendezvous, and accordingly, on
Saturday morning, the 8th of February, 1806, all the amateurs attended,
held a short consultation, and decided Sendon Heath, near the village of
Thorpe, as the field of battle.[106] The combatants immediately repaired
there, a rope ring was formed, and Dutch Sam entered, attended by Dan
Mendoza for his second, and Tom Blake, bottle-holder. Tom Belcher soon
followed with John Gully and Dick Whale. Betting was lively, but no odds
offered. At one o’clock the heroes set-to.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Sam made a feint. Belcher put in a good
            hit; Sam returned it, and Belcher, putting in
            another blow, overreached himself and fell.

            2.—Belcher put in two good hits right and left.
            Sam struck in return, but slightly; they closed,
            and both fell.

            3.—Sam aimed a well-directed blow at his
            opponent’s ribs; Belcher parried well, and with
            his right put in a tolerably good hit; they
            closed and fell. (Odds five to four on Belcher.)

            4.—A good round. Sam was very gay, went in and
            rallied; but Belcher parried most of his blows
            with his left hand, while he advantageously
            used his right. Many blows were exchanged, when
            Sam, by dint of superior activity, threw his
            antagonist. (Betting again even.)

            5.—Belcher put in two slight blows, and in the
            struggle fell.

            6.—An obstinately contested round, but much in
            favour of Tom. Sam went in and rallied; Belcher
            shifted, and stopped his hits, which were truly
            desperate, with great dexterity.

            7.—Belcher rallied, and put in a most severe
            blow on the temple. Sam, however, stood firmly,
            and returned it on the eye; they closed, and
            both fell.

            8.—Belcher’s eye evidently showed the force with
            which Sam’s blow had been struck. Some good
            blows exchanged, and Belcher threw his opponent.
            (Odds two to one in favour of Tom.)

            9.—Belcher appeared fatigued. Sam ran in,
            avoided rallying, and by jobbing at his
            antagonist’s head and throat, knocked him down.

            10.—Belcher made some ineffectual attempts at
            his adversary’s head. Sam rallied, and Belcher
            fell through weakness. (Odds now changed in
            favour of Sam seven to four.)

            11.—Sam put in some good hits, which were well
            parried by Belcher. They closed and both fell,
            Sam uppermost.

            12.—Belcher exerted himself, and appeared not so
            much distressed in his wind; all Belcher’s blows
            were very feeble, and he again fell seemingly
            exhausted. (Odds were now two to one on Sam.)

            13.—Belcher recruited, and put in two good blows
            on his opponent’s head, Sam now appeared rather
            shy. Belcher went in and threw him.

            14 and 15.—No blows either round. Sam still shy,
            and evinced fatigue. Bets level again, Belcher
            being known to be game.

            16.—A good round. Sam, in a passion, went in and
            followed Belcher round the ring, who put in
            several good blows.

            17.—On this round Tom displayed excellent
            science; threw in some good hits, but appeared
            very weak. (Odds six to five on Belcher.)

            24.—Belcher kept up a slight superiority. Both
            combatants very much exhausted, and their hits
            made no impression.

            25.—Sam very shy; did not face his adversary.

            26.—Belcher immediately made play at the face,
            and put in a good hit, and terminated the round
            by throwing his opponent. (Odds rose in Tom’s

            29.—Belcher in this round was so much exhausted,
            that all hopes of victory on his part were

            The contest was, however, spun out to the
            fifty-seventh round, when Belcher, severely
            punished, was forced to yield, not having
            strength enough to keep him on his legs.

            REMARKS.—This was, without dispute, one of the
            best contested and most skilful battles that
            ever had been witnessed. Sam proved himself
            a truly desperate hitter, and a very powerful
            man; to the latter quality may principally be
            attributed his success, for notwithstanding
            Tom Belcher was this day unfortunate, he stands
            as one of the prettiest fighters of the day;
            great allowance also must be made for his
            indisposition. Sam fought greatly in the Mendoza
            style, and his having that excellent pugilist at
            his elbow was no mean advantage.

The friends of Belcher considered this battle by no means decisive of
the men’s merits. Belcher himself urged that he was labouring under a
debilitating disorder, and moreover that the notice was too short for
proper preparation. They proposed to fight for 200 guineas, and named
Tuesday, July 28th, 1807, as the day.[107] Moulsey Hurst was the
fixture, and as early as nine o’clock in the morning a roped ring was
formed, twenty-eight feet in diameter, but before twelve o’clock it was
found that the space allotted to pedestrians would not hold the immense
concourse attending, and two hours were employed in removing to a more
convenient place. As soon as the ring was completed, Belcher entered,
attended by Bill Warr and Watson; Dutch Sam soon followed, with Mendoza
and Bittoon. In a few minutes the combatants set-to, both appearing in
good confidence as to the result.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Not much ceremony in sparring. Sam made
            a hit at Tom’s ribs, which fell short, and Tom
            put in two desperate blows at his opponent’s
            head, and retreated. Both now sparred very
            cautiously; Sam rallied, they closed, and both
            fell, Sam uppermost.

            2.—Sam threw away many hits, at length put in a
            good right-hand blow in Belcher’s loins, which
            Tom returned by a severe hit in the face.
            Cautious sparring again, and Sam put in a
            desperate blow in the neck, and brought his
            adversary down. (Even betting yet.)

            3.—Sam stood up with great courage and
            confidence; both put in some good hits, which
            were dexterously parried. Sam went in, and
            closing threw Belcher again.

            4.—Belcher showed some marks of severe blows
            in the last rally, and bled profusely at the
            nose; Sam was not without a few evidences of
            his opponent’s skill, his eye was dreadfully
            swelled. Belcher put in a very clean blow over
            his opponent’s guard, in the face, when Sam
            closed, and threw Tom with great violence.

            5.—It would be difficult to describe the courage
            and skill displayed in this round. Sam rallied,
            some good hits exchanged, and they closed; again
            disengaged, and Belcher rallied, but Sam had a
            most decided advantage throughout the round,
            driving his opponent to all parts of the ring,
            and at length brought Belcher down by a very
            feeble blow. (Odds five to four on Sam, but
            betting shy.)

            6.—This was also an excellently contested round.
            After some blows had been exchanged, Sam put in
            two forcible blows at Belcher’s head, which were
            well stopped, but he fell, apparently very weak.
            (Odds six to four on Sam.)

            7.—Sam appeared to judge his distances very
            badly, frequently striking short blows; they
            closed very irregularly, but Sam threw Belcher,
            and pitched him on his head.

            9.—In this round Belcher gained considerable
            advantage, hit his antagonist severely in the
            face right and left, and after another very
            irregular close, threw Sam as heavy a fall as he
            had before experienced. Sam, however, still
            remained the favourite.

            10.—Sam made a long body hit, and threw his

            11.—Sam made two attempts at Belcher’s head,
            both of which were dexterously parried. After
            Sam had thrown away several blows they closed,
            and Belcher threw him.

            12.—Belcher appeared fresher, but was very
            cautious; he retreated round the ring; Sam
            followed him closely, and ran him down on the

            13.—Sam made two unsuccessful hits, which were
            again stopped, and Belcher returned one with
            great violence; by a slight hit Sam fell, and
            evinced great distress.

            14.—On setting to, it was observed Sam had two
            black eyes, and Belcher showed severe punishment
            on his left side. Sam repeated a hit on this
            spot, and Belcher immediately closed and threw

            15.—Belcher retreated; Sam followed; no
            fighting; a hugging close, and Belcher fell,
            seemingly from weakness. (Odds seven to four on

            16.—A good rallying round, and some good blows
            made. Sam put in a good hit in the throat, and
            they closed, and Belcher threw his opponent.

            17 and 18.—No blow of importance.

            19.—A hard fought round; each exerted himself to
            the utmost, and excellent blows were exchanged
            in a rally at arm’s length, until both fell, as
            though it had been preconcerted.

            20.—Sam hit Belcher on the nose, but was thrown
            in closing.

            21.—A desperate round, all rallying at arm’s
            length, each hitting and stopping. Sam had the
            advantage, Belcher being very weak.

            26.—In this round Belcher exerted his utmost,
            followed his opponent with great courage, and
            displayed great skill in hitting and stopping.

            27.—At the end of this round very faint hopes
            were entertained for Belcher’s success. Sam made
            play, rallied, and hit three severe blows on
            Tom’s left side; Tom, however, threw him. (Odds
            three to one on Sam.)

            28.—Greatly in favour of Sam, who put in several
            severe blows on Belcher’s head, and he fell.

            29.—A good round. Sam still kept the
            superiority; Belcher’s blows were too feeble to
            make any impression. Sam threw him.

            30.—Sam appeared in great spirits, and as fresh
            as ever, but his eyes were almost closed. He
            rallied, and Tom, being almost exhausted, was
            knocked down. (Odds four to one on Sam.)

            31.—Every one felt commiseration for Tom. His
            exertions to maintain the fight received
            applause, and were truly courageous; but Sam,
            elated at the state to which he had reduced his
            opponent, mustering all fire, beat him out of
            the ring.

            32.—Belcher struck twice, but very feebly, and
            in vainly endeavouring to rally, fell.

            33.—Tom had no chance whatever, his blows were
            perfectly useless. He fell without receiving a

            34.—This was the last round, and it
            unfortunately created a dispute. Belcher made a
            blow at Sam, and fell on his knees; Sam made a
            hit, intending to strike his adversary while on
            his legs and before his hands reached the earth;
            Sam’s blow reached him while on his knees. A cry
            of “Foul” was immediately raised, particularly
            by those on the wrong side with their bets, and
            the matter was referred to the two umpires. One
            of these declared it “fair,” the other “foul.”
            Mr. Jackson now stepped forward and explained
            that a man was not to be considered down until
            his hand had reached the floor, consequently the
            blow was fair, and Sam must be acknowledged the
            conqueror. “Notwithstanding this flowing
            declaration of Jackson’s,” says the reporter,
            “the umpires, Captain Barclay and the Hon.
            Berkeley Craven, agreed to refer the matter to
            Lord Say and Sele. His lordship declined giving
            a decision, when Lord Archibald Hamilton was
            immediately solicited, and he undertook the
            office of judge of appeal. Many meetings of the
            amateurs took place, and the subject of this
            foul play was warmly discussed. The rules of
            Broughton and all the first rate authorities
            were adduced, but the only case considered as in
            point throughout the annals of pugilism, was
            that of Humphries and Mendoza, in the battle
            they fought at Stilton, in May, 1789 (see p.
            73); but from the irritability of Mendoza, the
            battle in that case was renewed. An offer was
            now made to Sam to draw stakes, but this was
            refused, on the plea that, if even Belcher was
            on his knees, he was doing his best still on the
            defensive. At length it was agreed on all sides
            that there should be a new trial.”

The third meeting accordingly was arranged for the 21st August, 1807.
The men met at Lowfield Common, near Crawley, Sussex, in a thirty feet
ring upon the turf. In the articles it was specified that the following
article of Broughton’s rules should be decisive:—

  “7.—That no person is to hit his adversary when down, or seize him
  by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist: a man on his
  knees to be reckoned down.”

Sam was seconded by Mendoza, and Bittoon was his bottle-holder. Tom
Belcher was attended by Gully and Ward.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Considerable anxiety was manifested
            upon the combatants setting to, and the
            interested spectators were much agitated with
            hopes and fears, upon the decision of this third
            contest between two such distinguished
            pugilists. Sam made a feint with his left hand,
            and endeavoured with his right to hit Tom’s
            ribs; but they were stopped, and Belcher
            returned feebly with his left hand; in closing,
            Sam was underneath.

            2.—Sam going in to rally. Tom hit him right
            and left, and likewise stopped two blows. In
            closing, Belcher was thrown. (Betting now
            commenced—five to two on Sam.)

            3.—Sam extremely cautious till he had got
            his proper distance, when, after making a
            left-handed feint, he put in a terrible blow
            under Belcher’s left eye that brought the
            claret out in abundance, and its effects
            were so severe that Tom was confused, and,
            upon exchanging a hit, was thrown. (Three to
            one on Sam.)

            4.—Both rallying, and exchanging hits at arm’s
            length; no advantage on either side; but the
            strength of Sam was prominent in closing. He
            threw his opponent.

            5.—A most excellent round, but rather in favour
            of Belcher. Sam rallied, but without effect,
            as Belcher hit him off. Notwithstanding, Sam
            closed, disengaged, and commenced another rally,
            when Tom put in a most tremendous blow upon the
            left eye of his opponent, and also threw him a
            heavy fall.

            6.—Desperate fighting; both exhausted, and fell

            7.—Belcher put in two slight hits; when they
            closed irregularly and fell.

            8.—Rallying and good science on both sides;
            hitting and stopping in good style, till they
            both fell. Belcher manifested first weakness.

            9.—Sam incorrect in his distances; Belcher gave
            him a severe fall. (Four to one on Sam.)

            10.—Belcher hit his opponent slightly, when Sam
            threw him.

            11.—Sam, full of strength, rallied desperately,
            which was followed up by Tom, but in favour
            of the Jew. Sam’s blows were dreadful, and
            Belcher’s face and body suffered materially. He
            fell from weakness.

            12.—No blows given. Tom ran himself down. (All
            betters, but no one sanguine enough to take

            13.—Sam followed the style of his opponent, and
            ran himself down.

            14.—Belcher somewhat shy from the severe beating
            he had received. He fell from two of Sam’s
            right-handed body blows.

            15.—Belcher made every effort to put in some
            good hits, but they were too feeble to do
            execution. He fell from weakness, while

            16.—Of no importance, except both the
            combatants, after closing, appeared to fall from

            17.—Belcher, in attempting to hit his opponent,
            was stopped, and, in closing, Tom fell between
            his adversary’s arms on his knees. Sam, who was
            strongly impressed with the articles, cleverly
            held up his hands, to show that no foul blows
            should put an end to this contest.

            18.—Sam, in closing, got his opponent’s head
            under his arm, and fibbed Belcher so severely
            that he dropped.

            19.—Tom fell on his knees; but Sam was on his
            guard, and only smiled.

            20.—Sam beat his opponent to the ropes with
            considerable ease.

            21.—Belcher still giving way under Sam’s
            superior strength.

            22.—Belcher, rather recovered, obtained some
            little advantage.

            23.—Belcher, still livelier, contended
            spiritedly, till they both fell and lay along on
            the ground.

            24.—Belcher completely astonished his friends
            by his fine game and resolution, and obtained
            advantage in a desperate rally, when they both
            fell, quite exhausted.

            25.—Tom’s excellence in the science of boxing
            was truly conspicuous in this round; his blows
            were well directed, but not effective.

            26.—Sam, to avoid Tom’s favourite right-handed
            body blow, threw himself on his face.

            27.—Sam received a heavy fall, after some
            irregular fighting.

            28.—Belcher claimed considerable respect and
            attention, from the fine style in which he
            gained the superiority over his opponent, and
            also in giving Sam a very severe fall.

            29 and 30.—Good rallies took place in both these
            rounds; rather in favour of Belcher.

            From the thirty-first to the thirty-sixth round
            it was evident to the spectators that Belcher
            could not win. The onslaughts of Sam were
            tremendous in the extreme. He followed his
            opponent to all parts of the ring, putting in
            dreadful facers and body blows, dealing out
            punishment till his brave opponent fell, quite
            exhausted. His brother Jem took him out of the
            ring in the most feeble state, and placed him in
            a gentleman’s chariot. It was on the left side,
            from the kidneys to the crown of the head, where
            Tom was so severely beaten. Sam’s principal
            injury was a blow under the left eye, and some
            trifling marks. The Dutchman dressed himself
            with perfect indifference before he left the
            ring. The superiority of Sam’s hitting, and the
            severity of his blows, were visible throughout
            this battle. Belcher’s skill was apparent, but
            there was no comparison in the effectiveness of
            the two men’s mode of fighting.

Bill Cropley, as yet unconquered, challenged Dutch Sam for fifty
guineas, and was accepted. The battle was fixed for April 5, 1808, the
same day as that between Belcher and Dogherty, but the officers from Bow
Street, appeared with special warrants, and took Sam and his opponent
into custody; they were then bound over to keep the peace in four
contiguous counties named in the bonds.

A new arrangement was therefore entered into, and on the 10th May, 1808,
after Gully’s memorable defeat of Gregson, Sam and Cropley entered the
enclosure and immediately set-to. Cropley stood over Sam in an alarming
manner, and in the first round caught Sam heavily on the eye. On this
success, however, he never improved; he tried every manœuvre to get at
his head again, but ineffectually; Sam always got away, and punished him
cuttingly for following him up. In twenty-five minutes Cropley was a
piteous spectacle, and by the advice of his seconds, gave in.

Sam’s irregularity of living, and what he called his “gin training,”
began now to tell upon his wonderful constitution; and though his name
is of continual recurrence in affairs of the ring during two years, it
is not until a quarrel again brought him within the ropes in May, 1810,
that Sam publicly doffed his shirt. A series of bickerings and slight
disputes had led to an ill feeling between Sam and a tradesman of the
name of Medley, for many years after known in sporting circles. These at
last came to a crisis in a challenge from Medley, to fight for 200
guineas, Medley putting down his own money. The affair created immense
excitement at the time. The _Daily Advertiser_ thus notices Sam’s
opponent: “Ben Medley, as he is called by his intimates, is a muscular
man, some twenty pounds heavier than Samuels (Elias). He has never
before entered the ring for a stake, but fame records great things of
him in resenting a personal injury, and as a setter-to with the gloves
his excellence is well known at the Fives Court. Sam has regarded this
fame so much, that, to avoid risking a chance, he preferred to forfeit
some time ago, because he did not think himself in good condition at the
appointed time.”

Famed Moulsey Hurst, on the 31st May, 1810, was crowded to excess, and
it was with great difficulty that the ring could be kept clear. At one
o’clock the champions entered, Sam waited on by Harry Lee and Puss; Joe
Ward and Tom Cribb seconded Medley. They were not long in stripping. The
betting varied, but the current price was two to one on Sam.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—After a little sparring Sam put in a
            left-handed hit, which Medley stopped cleverly;
            they closed, but disengaged themselves. Medley
            stopped Sam’s left again, closed, and threw his

            2.—Medley led off. They closed and broke away.
            Sam got in a left-hander on the ribs, and
            following it up, forced a rally, in which he
            caught Medley a tremendous blow on the temple.
            Medley fought hurriedly, and slipt down.

            3.—Medley appeared quite confused from the
            violence of the blow on his temple. It evidently
            had taken much of the fight out of him. He,
            however, stood up with courage, and rallied. Sam
            stopped with great dexterity, and by a well
            planted hit under the chin, knocked Medley off
            his legs. (Odds four to one on Sam.)

            4.—Medley rallied, but Sam brought him down by a
            body blow.

            5.—Medley struck; Sam parried, and threw in
            right and left; both hits told. They closed, and
            Sam threw Medley by dint of superior strength.

            6.—Medley’s eye was greatly swollen; he appeared
            shy, retreated. Sam, however, waited for his
            coming up, and threw in a violent blow on the
            face, which re-echoed again; they closed, and
            Sam threw Medley again.

            7.—Sam quite gay, went in, and putting in a
            most tremendous blow in the breast, brought
            his opponent down.

            8.—Medley bled profusely. Sam was coming in to
            rally, when Medley knocked him down and laughed
            at him; but his countenance was ghastly, from
            the tremendous blows he had received in the

            9.—Sam appeared angry, ran in, and missed his
            distance. Medley displayed a great deal of
            science, but was at last knocked down.

            10.—Medley was making play, when Sam knocked him

            11.—An excellent round, and the longest in the
            battle. Medley showed weakness, yet he put in a
            good hit on Sam’s nose, who directly knocked him

            12.—It would be impossible to describe the
            spectacle Medley’s face and head exhibited, the
            blood flowing in all directions. Before any blow
            was struck Medley fell from weakness.

            13.—Medley was again making play, when Sam put
            in a severe blow in the ribs, and Medley again
            fell. His side now began to swell.

            14.—Sam slipped, but it was thought a trick to
            gain wind.

            16.—Sam went in and rallied. Medley very weak,
            but gamely bored in upon Sam, who continued
            plying right and left until Medley fell.

            Notwithstanding Medley was in this dreadful
            state, he continued the fight for thirty-three
            more rounds; but nature being at length
            exhausted, and his wounds bleeding beyond the
            skill of his second’s stopping, his brother
            declared him conquered.

            Sam in this battle displayed great science, and
            his mercy to his opponent did him still greater
            honour. Medley showed game, but his hits were
            too light for a fighter, being in fact the taps
            of the sparring school.

Sam now resolved to retire from the ring as a principal. He was
thirty-five years of age, and had always fought what is termed
“up-hill;” that is, men of greater weight and size than himself. It
would have been well for him had he adhered to this resolution, as we
shall presently see.

Five years had elapsed during which Sam’s intemperance was the subject
of regret among his acquaintance, when Bill Nosworthy, the baker, a
wrestler and boxer of some repute with the “dead men” of the metropolis,
offered himself to Sam’s notice; by whom, as we have already said, the
poet’s warning was as unheeded as it was probably unknown:—

             “Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty;
             For, in my youth, I never did apply
             Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood:
             Nor did I, with unbashful forehead, woo
             The means of weakness and debility;
             Therefore my age is as a lusty winter,
             Frosty, but kindly.”

This, Sam’s final ring encounter, took place at Moulsey, on Tuesday,
December 8th, 1814. Four to one had been betted on Sam previous to this
fight, and he was backed, when fighting, till near the end of the
battle, by the best judges in the pugilistic circles.

This defeat (which will be found detailed in the Appendix to Period IV.,
under NOSWORTHY), ruined him, and he sunk into dejection, misery, and
want. Like many others of the headstrong race of hard drinkers, he was
infatuated with the idea that nothing in the shape of excess could harm
his iron frame. Indeed, Sam had been heard insanely to boast that he
could train on “three glasses of gin, three times a day.” What wonder,
then, that he fell? Excess, pride, and conceit destroyed his vigour and
stamina, and on this occasion he might exclaim,—

          “I’ve touched the highest point of all my greatness,
          And from that full meridian of my glory,
          I haste now to my setting.”

A few anecdotes from contemporary sources may show Sam’s fistic
capabilities even in his decadence. Passing through Wapping, one
evening, when it was almost dark, he observed a poor Jew and a sailor
fighting, and, upon enquiring the cause, he was soon recognized by the
unfortunate Mordecai, who had been several times floored by the rough
son of Neptune. Sam stooped to pick up his Israelitish brother, when the
latter whispered in his ear, “So help my Cot, Sam, I can’t fight any
more.” “Hold your tongue, you fool,” replied Sam, at the same time
falling down by his side: “you get up and pretend to pick me up: I’ll
let fly at him.” This imposition was practised with success, and Sam,
staggering on to his legs with well feigned grogginess, went bang in
with his one-two at the Jack Tar, in such style that he saluted mother
earth in a twinkling. The sailor, upon getting upon his pins, roughly
exclaimed, “D—— my ——, this ain’t the man I was fighting with—it’s
another. Shiver me, but his blows are like the kicks of a horse—I’ll
have no more of this.” He instantly sheered off, while Sam and his
friend dropped into a neighbouring gin-shop to laugh over the trick.

It is impossible correctly to ascertain the number of bye-battles in
which Sam was engaged; but it is certainly within compass to assert,
that he fought above one hundred.

In the vicinity of St. George’s Fields, a stout fellow of the name of
Jones, a painter, and a neighbour of Dutch Sam’s, who valued himself
upon his milling qualities, publicly declared that he was the champion
of that quarter, and frequently had importuned Sam to have a set-to; the
latter always declined. It happened one evening that Sam was regaling
himself at a public-house, and glass succeeding glass of Deady’s
brilliant fluid, had nearly obliterated worldly things from Sam’s
pericranium, when Jones, learning the circumstance, entered the
premises, and endeavoured to provoke him to a combat, but in vain. At
length Jones struck him. This was too much, the staggering Sam returned
it, and inquired “whether he was doing right or wrong to defend
himself?” An adjournment to the street took place, when Sam,
notwithstanding his intoxicated state, appeared to have the advantage,
until Jones, seizing him by the hair of his head, threw him down, and
struck him violently upon the stones. This unmanly act appeared to have
a most unusual and electric effect, for it awoke Sam to a recollection
of what he was about; and, to the surprise of the spectators, the
Israelite started up exclaiming, “Take care, take care, I’m coming now!”
put in such a bodier as nearly deprived Jones of his breath, following
it up by a slashing hit over his eye, which levelled the brute in his
congenial mud. Utterly flabbergasted by the severity and impetuosity of
Sam’s hitting, he fairly bolted. Jones weighed thirteen stone six
pounds; and, though destitute of propriety, was not without pretensions
to science; this lesson taught him summarily the folly of vain boasting,
and the superiority of a master in the art.

We cannot omit one bright trait in Sam’s character, and this was his
honest determination to win his fight if he could. We read in his
obituary notice, “Sam’s integrity was a bright jewel; it was undoubtedly
of the first water; he was once tampered with by a large offer to lose a
fight (Egan says 1000_l._), but he at once disclosed the affair to his
backers. If all our pugilists had displayed the like honesty, the ring
would be in a very different state.”

Sam’s constitution originally was of the finest quality, and his
strength, for his stature and weight, amazing. The day he fought with
Cropley he asserted that he was able to “floor an ox.” The Game Chicken
once affronted Sam, when the latter informed that formidable boxer that
he could not beat him in a quarter of an hour. In private life, Sam
possessed a good deal of comic humour; and he passed much of his latter
time in the service of Saunders, the equestrian circus keeper, of
Bartholomew Fair notoriety.

He suffered considerably in his illness, and died in the London
Hospital, on Wednesday, July 3, 1816, in the forty-second year of his
age. He was buried on the 4th of the same month, in the Jews’ burying
ground, Whitechapel.

As a boxer, “take him for all in all,” while he lived he had no equal;
but latterly his stamina was utterly ruined by excessive indulgence in
ardent spirits.


                              CHAPTER VI.


As a connecting link between the Second and Third Periods, George Maddox
furnishes a career of some interest. He was a civil, facetious,
illiterate man, but possessed of manly courage and forbearance.
“Though,” says one who knew him, “George Maddox fought more battles than
any man I knew of his time, he never had a spark of resentment in his
composition. His hardihood and resolution in the battle were not more
remarkable than the coolness, almost stoical, with which he spoke of
victory or defeat, in his own natural and rough manner. He seemed
satisfied, that having done his best, the best could do no more, and
generally spoke strongly of the ‘goodness’ of the men who had given in
to him.” Maddox was born in Tothill Fields, Westminster, in 1756. In his
fiftieth year he entered the lists with the powerful Tom Cribb, then in
the prime of his youth and freshness, and, after fighting an hour and a
half, the odds were still in his favour. Seventy-six rounds and two
hours and ten minutes of courageous fighting passed before “the Veteran”
cried “enough!” Once more in his fifty-fifth year he met Bill Richmond,
the black (whom he had formerly beaten in three rounds), and after an
hour yielded to exhaustion. The spirit did not surrender, but nature
left him.[108] There can be nothing added to this but the record of
George’s boxing career.

George Maddox was as modest and independent as he was courageous. He
never hung about sporting public-houses or low tap-rooms, and never
sponged upon gentlemen, nor sought the patronage of the great. After a
memorable fight he sunk into his desired obscurity, following his humble
occupation, and content with his moderate earnings, as an industrious
costermonger, a calling much more lucrative and numerous than in our
times. Indeed the “donkey dragoons” of Westminster, as they were then
termed, formed a formidable squadron; and, among the lower classes, the
proprietor of a “neddy and tumbler”—as in the days of slang a donkey and
cart were termed—was often a velveteened fancy-dressed person with gold
as well as silver and copper in his pocket, or “skin,” a taste for “the
Fancy,” an attendant at every sport, the owner of a “tyke” or two, and a
“dealer in curiosities,”—rats, squirrels, ferrets, badgers, an
occasional mongoose, and fancy “pets,” coming particularly within the
range of his tastes and trading.

After many bye-battles, Maddox’s first regular contest was with Symonds
(the Ruffian). This took place at Datchet, near Windsor, on Saturday,
December 4, 1792. See SYMONDS, _ante_, 130.

This battle stands unparalleled for desperation and unflinching
resolution in the annals of pugilism. The spot first named was Langley
Broom, in Buckinghamshire, but magisterial interference preventing the
rencontre, “the wayfarers crossed the Thames carrying their boards and
quartering with them, and in a very few minutes erected a stage,” in the
renowned Shaksperian “Datchet Mead.” We must here remark, that Maddox
was two inches shorter and more than two stone lighter than Symonds, to
appreciate the battle which followed. There is no report worthy of
transcription of this tremendous fight which is described in
generalities. “Columns of our paper would not suffice to detail the
rallies, the knock-down blows, the alternate advantages and the gluttony
which marked this surprising battle. ‘The Ruffian,’ who was nearly two
stone heavier than his antagonist, was by far the most beaten, and
totally blind, from the closing of both his eyes, before he would allow
himself to be carried from off the stage. Maddox, of course, was not
quite in so desperate a condition, as he had the best of the hitting in
the rallies, especially towards the latter rounds. It was stated by an
experienced amateur that Maddox put in two, sometimes three blows to
Symonds’s one throughout the contest,” which lasted two hours, during
which 100 rounds were fought.

On Monday, February 10, 1794, Maddox met Hooper, the tinman, but after a
game fight of nearly an hour, surrendered to that formidable boxer. (See
HOOPER, _ante_, p. 107.)

Isaac Bittoon, a Jew, known for many years after to the visitors of the
Fives Court and sparring saloons of the metropolis, was Maddox’s next
opponent. Bittoon’s qualifications as a boxer will be found noticed
under his name. The battle came off on Monday, December 13th, 1802, on
Wimbledon Common. The ground first named was Wormwood Scrubs, but “on
arriving there a goodly posse of the Bow Street runners, with a number
of special constables, had possession of the ground. A council of war
now directed that each man’s party should separate and meet again at the
five-mile-stone on the Edgware road, to elude the vigilance of the
myrmidons of the law. When George and his friends reached the
rendezvous, no Jew was there, and they waited two hours in anxious
expectation. All hopes of a battle that day were given up, when a
messenger on horseback arrived with the information that Bittoon was
waiting for his opponent at Wimbledon Common, when off went gig, cart,
curricle, carriage, buggy, and tumbler, over Putney Bridge, on a visit
once again to the shrine of Jerry Abbershaw. At a quarter before three
the pilgrims arrived, the ring was formed, and precisely at five minutes
before three they set-to. Bittoon was seconded by Lyons, and Maddox by
Joe Ward.

“For the first three rounds the Jew had a clear advantage, having three
successive times brought down his opponent at the close of the round,
but not without some sharp returns. The combatants manœuvred, then laid
aside science for a display of unflinching courage, forcing the fighting
rapidly, taking and giving heavily; but in this the agility of Maddox
and his superior quickness in advancing and retreating brought the odds
to seven to four in his favour. From the sixty-eighth to the
seventy-third round, Bittoon recovered strength and well supported the
contest. In the seventy-fourth round he threw Maddox heavily, who was
also sadly beaten both in the face and body. It was now getting dark,
and Maddox persevered to make it a ‘draw.’ Maddox’s brother and friends
now entered the ring and stopped the battle, stating that no one could
see fair. A general engagement with sticks and fists ensued, to clear
the ring. A parley ensued, when it was agreed the battle should be
postponed to a future day; the men having been engaged one hour and ten
minutes, and fought seventy-four rounds, the seventy-fifth being
interrupted as above stated.” The reporter adds, “in the fight both men
displayed ‘bottom’ unequalled in the annals of pugilism.” At a further
conference between the backers of the men, they humanely decided, that
two such brave and evenly matched men should not meet again for the same
stake, but each have his backer’s stake-money.

George, now, as on former occasions, like Caleb Baldwin and others of
his time, returned to his humble and laborious calling. He however,
_more majorum_, attended whenever there was a “good thing” on. Thus, on
the 23rd January, 1804, he was present at the celebrated fight of the
Game Chicken and Joe Berks, on Putney Common. The great event disposed
of, a purse was got up, and Maddox, then called “the Veteran,” offered
himself as a candidate. One Seabrook, a dustman, and a bounceable sort
of chap, long known as a second rate pugilist, was induced by the offer
of four pounds to enter the ring with George. The affair was a farce,
Maddox punished Seabrook all over the ring for three rounds, when he
fell out of the ropes and declared his arm was broken. “No sooner,
however, had he nibbed the gull (Anglicè pocketed the money), than he
boastingly swore he was not the least hurt.”[109] “Pancratia,” p. 199.

George’s day’s work was not, however, yet over. Bill Richmond, an
athletic American black, of whom we shall hear more hereafter, who had
served his time to a cabinet maker at York, and was at this time footman
to the well-known Lord Camelford, having expressed himself desirous of a
“shy” with a professed pugilist, was indulged by the deposit of a small
stake. The affair, like that of Seabrook’s, was of three rounds only. In
the last round Maddox caught Richmond an electrifying blow under the
left eye, which in the words of the reporter, “so completely _queered
his ogle_, that he at once gave in.”

George, though now in his fiftieth year, was always ready to try “a
novice.” At a meeting at Wood Green, near Hornsey, on Monday, June 7,
1805, a subscription purse was offered of twenty-five guineas, twenty
for the winner, five for the loser. For this Tom Cribb, “the Black
Diamond,” offered himself. The battle will be detailed under Cribb. His
after-renowned opponent, besides the advantages of youth, was two inches
taller than George. Maddox fought like a hero, and gave in with
reluctance, after two hours and ten minutes’ combat, with a stalwart and
game youngster with stamina fresh and unwasted. Maddox fell gloriously,
and Young Cribb, hitherto unknown, by this contest acquired a pugilistic
fame that soon developed itself, and ultimately led him to the

On Monday, June 5th, 1806, three boxing matches were decided at Padnal
Corner, Epping Forest. The second of these was between George Maddox,
“the Veteran,” and Coady,[110] an Irish boxer, of great pretence, for
forty guineas. Maddox was considered “gone by,” and Coady made the
favourite. We copy the report from the _Daily Advertiser_: “Maddox
fought in the old style, that of rallying,[111] and in a great measure
giving the first powerful hit in each round. Coady always waited for him
to begin, and generally hit in return successfully in the rallies. His
blows did not, however, seem to tell so much or to be put in so sharply
as his adversary’s. After the combat had lasted half an hour there was
some confusion, and the ring was broken in, but whether by design or
accident could not be discovered. The combatants were, however, taken
away until another ring was formed, when they again set-to. The combat
lasted another three quarters of an hour, when a detachment of the 10th
Light Dragoons appeared, headed by a magistrate, who, being also
headborough, entered the ring, and with all the moderation and
gentlemanly affability becoming his authority addressed the amateurs,
informing them they must disperse in the name of the law, or he should
be under the necessity of calling in military aid to enforce his
mission. Upon this they all retired about a mile further, when the
cavalry disappearing they formed another ring.” The name of this
magisterial specimen of the _suaviter in modo et fortiter re_ has not
been recorded by the admiring reporter, or we would willingly have
perpetuated it. Mr. Coady was now called to appear and face his man; but
in the interval his eyes had nearly closed. “He _refused to enter the
ring_,” says the report, “_so the battle was declared a drawn
one_.”[112] That there was no further interruption is shown by the fact
that there was a third battle, between O’Donnell and Smith. (See
O’DONNELL in Appendix.)

Maddox once more retired to his vocation as a street dealer in fish,
fruit, flowers, and other commodities then generally hawked through the
scattered suburbs, now solidified into the enormous mass of the mighty
metropolis—in plain prose, he followed his vocation of a costermonger,
and was a noted character among the Westminster fraternity. Meantime,
Bill Richmond, his old antagonist, had won himself a name and position
among the list of boxers, and the blot on his ’scutcheon, from his early
and summary defeat by Maddox, so sorely troubled him that he longed to
rub it out by another tourney. He challenged the veteran, who accepted
the defiance. They met August 9, 1809. John Gully seconded the veteran,
and Bill Gibbons, his Westminster “pal,” was his bottle-holder. Yet one
more illustration of the soundness of Captain Godfrey’s axiom, not to
“trust battle to a waning age,” was given. Maddox in his fifty-fourth
year, after fifty-two rounds, reluctantly gave in to his younger,
heavier, and stronger adversary.

In all the numerous contests in which Maddox had been engaged, his
courage was pre-eminent. As a pugilist, he was conspicuous for
determined rallying and quick hitting; and, though well acquainted with
the science, he relied more on his true game than strictly following the
principles of the art. It is but justice to his memory to state,
according to the best information upon the subject, that pugilism was
never disgraced by any of his public encounters, nor his character ever
stained by making a cross.

A short time previous to his death a benefit was got up for “the
veteran” at the One Tun Room, Jermyn Street, which was well attended,
and at which the first pugilists exhibited specimens of self-defence;
among whom several of his old opponents were not backward in assisting
him by their efforts, as Cribb, Bittoon, O’Donnell, Richmond, etc.

The death of this courageous boxer was the consequence of an accident.
The pipes (in those days hollowed trunks of elm trees) which conveyed
water through the Borough Market were under repair, and the dark street
“for in those days we had not got to gas,” left with a yawning chasm.
Into one of these, while repairing to market before dawn, poor George
was precipitated; he received a compound fracture of the thigh,
erysipelas supervened, and our hero, for hero he was though humble,
closed his career in St. Thomas’s Hospital. George was buried, by the
subscriptions of some of his brother boxers in the churchyard of St.
George the Martyr.


                              CHAPTER VII.

      CALEB BALDWIN, “THE PRIDE OF WESTMINSTER.”—1786 (1792)‒1816.

Caleb Stephen Ramsbottom, for such were the registered sponsorial and
patronymic styles of this well-known boxer, was born beneath the shadow
of the venerable abbey church of St. Peter’s, Westminster, in what were
the head-quarters of the costermongery of western London, in the early
days of the third George, to wit, the 22nd of April, 1769. We like to be
particular in the birthdays of remarkable men, for Caleb, in his day,
was a more noted character, and certainly more of an “original,” than
many upon whom biographers have wasted mutton fat, or, more classically,
“the midnight oil.”

The reader will best form a judgment of Caleb’s qualities as a “good
piece of stuff,” from an unvarnished account of his performances within
the ropes. We may premise, however, that Caleb in his later days weighed
but 9st. 11lbs., and therefore may well take his own assertion, that he
was quite four pounds less when in his younger days he met antagonists,
without much distinction of age or height; his own being five feet seven

We shall pass Caleb’s youthful skirmishes with unknown antagonists,
referring the curious to “Boxiana,” vol. i., pp. 301‒307. The first of
these, we are told, was with “one Gregory,” in 1786, and then follow
flourishing accounts of victories over Jem Jones, Arthur Smith, Jerry
Matthews, Bill Berks, Wadham (a grenadier), Kelly, “one Jones,” a
fourteen stone coal-whipper, Bob Parker, etc., etc., all of which “the
historian,” fancifully embellishes with such characteristic touches as
would induce us to think that he had himself been eye witness and
reporter of the frays.

In 1792, on the 14th of May, we find Caleb’s first recorded battle. It
was with the well-known Tom (Paddington) Jones, at Hurley Bottom, after
the fight between Mendoza and Bill Warr. They fought for a purse of £20,
but after a game and even contest of half an hour, a dispute arose, and
the battle was declared “a draw.” They were each so satisfied with the
other’s goodness, that though they met for many long years afterwards at
sparring benefits, outside the ring as spectators and inside as seconds,
they never again held up naked fists as adversaries.[113]

After the great battle between Jem Belcher and Andrew Gamble, December
22, 1800, at Wimbledon Common, a purse of twenty guineas was contended
for. Kelly, a stalwart Irishman, under the patronage of Coady, “the
bruising publican,” and Burke (not Berks), offered himself. The reporter
says, “Caleb Baldwin, a dealer in greens, well-known among the
Westminster lads as a smart customer with the mufflers, accepted the
contest. Joe Ward and Elisha Crabbe, offered themselves as Caleb’s
seconds, and Tom Tring was his bottle-holder. They fought merrily twelve
rounds in fifteen minutes, when Paddy, who could not latterly get in a
blow, yielded to a hearty drubbing.”

In June, 1801, there is proof that Caleb was _semper paratus_, like
other heroes. He was enjoying himself at the Pewter Platter, in St. John
Street; Jackling, known as “Ginger,” brother of the renowned Tom
Johnson, was there, and spoke contemptuously of Caleb’s capabilities. A
quarrel was the result, and a challenge following, Caleb turned out
there and then. The paragraph writer says, “Jackling, alias Ginger, Tom
Johnson’s brother, having quarrelled with Caleb Baldwin, they fought a
severe battle, in which the pungency of Ginger was completely overcome
by the acrimony of his antagonist’s fist.”[114] This was thought smart
writing in those days.

After Jem Belcher, of whom Caleb was always an admiring follower, had
beaten the resolute Joe Berks, at Hurley Bottom, November 25th, 1801,
Lee, “the butcher,”[115] made his appearance, followed by Caleb Baldwin,
to decide their match for twenty guineas a side. Caleb was attended by
Paddington Jones, his old opponent, and Joe Ward; Lee by Maddox and
Seabrook. We preserve the report.

                               THE FIGHT.

            There was no time lost in setting-to, and for
            the first twelve rounds much science was
            displayed by the lighter combatant, “the
            Westminster Champion,” as he is now styled. He
            did not, however, much reduce Lee’s strength,
            who fought with determined resolution.

            13.—Caleb put in two straight hits through Lee’s
            guard; the second brought down the butcher.

            14.—Lee rallied manfully. He got in the first
            blow; but Caleb stepped in, put on the lock,
            and threw him neatly. (Great shouting from the
            “Neddy” drivers.)

            15.—Caleb gave his adversary a clean cross

            16.—Lee had the advantage in hitting; he struck
            his opponent three severe blows, and brought him

            17.—In this round Caleb displayed most excellent
            skill, strength, and activity. At the
            commencement six hard blows were struck, after
            which Caleb, fastening on his antagonist, threw
            him completely over his head. Lee’s back
            rebounded from the stage with great violence,
            and he lay panting on the ground.

            18.—Caleb slipped and fell, upon the system of
            husbanding his strength.

            19.—Caleb gave his antagonist a heavy knock-down

            20.—Lee fought this round with determined
            courage and great skill, but still Caleb had the
            best of it.

            21.—Caleb gave another knock-down blow, and Lee,
            who was completely exhausted, gave in.

            The contest lasted twenty-three minutes, and
            afforded more amusement and a greater display of
            science than even the preceding grand affair
            between Belcher and Berks.

            Lord Say and Sele, The Hon. Berkeley Craven, Sir
            Thomas Apreece, Colonel Montgomery, Captain
            Taylor, and many other distinguished amateurs
            were present.

Jack O’Donnell having beaten Pardo Wilson (Belcher’s brother-in-law),
and Smith, was now the recognised “Irish champion,” and he challenged
Caleb for fifty guineas a-side, who, nothing loth, entered into articles
of agreement. As there was great apprehension that the Bow Street
authorities would interfere, the matter was “kept dark,” and on Friday
morning, October 21st, 1803, the men and their friends started early by
different roads out of town. Wimbledon Common, in the vicinity of that
interesting landmark of civilisation,[116] the gibbet of the notorious
Jerry Abershaw, was the rendezvous, and there at twelve o’clock all had
arrived. Vehicles of every description and thousands of spectators and
equestrians thronged the valley, a ring was quickly formed, and at
half-past twelve O’Donnell entered, followed by the veteran Caleb. The
men immediately threw themselves in attitude. Odds six to four on
Baldwin, readily taken.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—O’Donnell put in the first blow in his
            adversary’s side. Caleb returned dexterously
            right and left, then closing, threw his

            2.—O’Donnell fought very shy, but Caleb stood to
            his man, followed him round the ring, and put in
            several severe blows, which were well parried by
            his adversary. It was here thought O’Donnell was
            endeavouring to wind Caleb; however, he did not
            fall off in putting in his blows, and having got
            O’Donnell to the edge of the ring, put in a most
            severe body hit, which brought him down.

            3.—At the commencement of this round O’Donnell
            appeared sick from the effects of the last blow,
            which Caleb perceiving, stuck to him closely,
            not allowing him even time for breath. O’Donnell
            tried to avoid him, but failed. They closed, and
            Caleb again threw him. (Odds had now risen as
            high as four to one.)

            4.—This round was well contested by both
            combatants. O’Donnell recovered, came up in
            better spirits, and fought more manfully. He put
            in several good blows, and cut his opponent over
            the right eye; they closed, and O’Donnell for
            the first time threw Caleb.

            5.—The sun now was extremely troublesome,
            particularly to O’Donnell, who shifted and
            tried hard to get the shady side; but Caleb’s
            cleverness was not to be out done. Some severe
            straight-forward blows were given on both
            sides; O’Donnell’s last bringing his opponent
            down a second time. His friends now again
            began to hope for success, and odds triflingly

            6.—O’Donnell came up smiling; Caleb made several
            blows tell. A blow from O’Donnell made him
            stagger, on which he rushed in, and with great
            force knocked down O’Donnell.

            7.—This, although not the last, was the decisive
            round. O’Donnell set-to with great spirits,
            and displayed great courage and excellent
            science. Caleb made several feints, which by
            many were considered weakness, and the odds fell
            back to even betting. Caleb, however, caught
            his opponent off his guard, and planted a most
            severe blow in his kidneys,[117] which had a
            most visible effect. They dosed, and O’Donnell
            was thrown.

            8.—The effects of the blow, so powerfully put in
            by Caleb in the last round, were so great, that
            O’Donnell was scarcely able to stand. Caleb
            showed as much fight as ever, followed him up,
            put in several good blows, and concluded both
            the round and the battle by giving his opponent
            a violent cross buttock.

            O’Donnell was immediately led off the ground
            greatly distressed, both by the kidney blow and
            the last fall; he was placed in a hackney coach,
            but his friends neglected him even more than
            Berks’ did; they left him there without any
            assistance for nearly two hours, while Caleb was
            carried in triumph round the ground, and also
            until the termination of another battle, which
            consisted of forty rounds.

            This match was considered extremely even as to
            the skill and strength of the combatants. Both
            had fought numerous minor battles, and two or
            three regular ring-fights, in which neither of
            them had been beaten. Caleb being some years
            older than his opponent, O’Donnell’s youth was
            considered to be an equivalent for Caleb’s more
            practical science.

The fight above alluded to was between one Beckley, known as “Blue
Breeches,” and Clarke, which ended in a draw after fifty minutes’
desperate milling.

In November of the same year, O’Donnell again challenged Caleb for 100
guineas. His friends declared the last fight a mistake, the next they
said would be “the real thing.” This, however, came to nothing, and
Caleb, who had long wished to try his skill with the Jewish phenomenon,
Dutch Sam, was backed by his friends, for fifty guineas; and Tuesday,
August 7th, 1804, fixed for the combat, which took place at Wood Green,
near Hornsey. (See Life of DUTCH SAM, _ante_, Chapter V.)

This first defeat of Caleb was by no means a dishonourable one, and when
in the October following a second match was made, Sam, to the surprise
of the amateurs, declined to go on with it, and forfeited his deposit.
Caleb’s friends maintained that he was out of condition on the first

On Tuesday, August 6th, 1805, the long expected battle between Bill Ryan
and Caleb Baldwin crowded the Lewisham side of Blackheath with thousands
of eager spectators. The seat of combat was not determined until very
late on the Monday night, and many who expected it to be at Wilsden
Green, travelled there only to be disappointed. A ring having been
formed, about eleven o’clock the combatants entered, Ryan attended by
Tom Jones and Puss, and Caleb by Pearce, the Game Chicken, and Mountain.
Odds were rather in favour of Caleb, but in general betting was even.
After the usual ceremony they set-to.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Much sparring; Caleb at last put in two
            good blows right and left. They closed, and both

            2.—Caleb made a hit, and while closing, Ryan
            threw in a severe blow, and cut his opponent in
            the face; closed, and both fell.

            3.—Caleb threw in some tolerably clean body
            blows. Ryan ran in and threw him.

            4.—Caleb put in a blow over Ryan’s eye; it soon
            swelled and became black. Caleb terminated the
            round by giving Ryan a complete somersault. The
            advantage was all with Baldwin.

            5.—A good round. Caleb held his lead by several
            sharp blows. They closed, and after a sharp
            struggle Caleb was uppermost. (Shouts for

            10.—Every move in favour of Caleb, who was the
            quicker and more resolute fighter.

            11.—Caleb slipped in, hit, and slipped out
            again. Ryan followed him, when Caleb hit up,
            closed, and threw him another swinging fall.

            12.—Slow sparring. Both blowing, and Ryan very
            shy of his man. Caleb put in a tremendous blow
            upon his opponent’s head, and brought him down.

            13.—Caleb with great dexterity repeated his
            blow, and Ryan fell again. (Odds were now five
            to one in favour of Caleb.)

            15.—Ryan very shy. He, however, rallied, and
            threw in several very good hits. Caleb now began
            to show exhaustion, as was somewhat expected
            from his violent exertion.

            16.—Ryan began to show to advantage. Caleb was
            fatigued, and Ryan’s superior strength appeared

            21.—Every round now added fresh superiority to
            Ryan, who, although much fatigued, threw his
            opponent every time.

            22.—This was the last round in which there was
            any fighting. Caleb summoned all his courage,
            put in some well-aimed blows, but was too weak
            to withstand his opponent, who again brought him

            26.—Caleb fell, almost exhausted, and while
            falling Ryan hit him. The ring was instantly
            broken in, and a cry of “Foul” raised. It was
            clearly a mere dodge to save the stakes. But
            while the connoisseurs were debating the
            question, a party of dragoons arrived and
            dispersed the assemblage. The combatants, both
            pretty well thrashed, were put together in a
            postchaise and brought to London. The fight had
            lasted half an hour, when this wrangle took

At a subsequent meeting it was agreed that the military interference
made it a drawn battle. Ryan declined a renewal of the match.

This may be considered the legitimate wind-up of Caleb’s professional
career as a pugilist, after twenty years of ring practice (1786‒1806),
with one solitary defeat, and that at the hands of the renowned Dutch
Sam. From this time Caleb figures as one of the most active and
interesting characters in “the Fancy,” and the liveliest leader and
councillor of the followers of the ring. For years he was in his sphere
a sort of pugilistic Palmerston in the Westminster purlieus of Downing
Street. His courage was never doubted; his science was unquestionable;
his honesty never impeached, and his fun was perennial. Caleb, though
never quarrelsome, was always ready upon warrantable occasion to “sport
his canvas.” Few harder hitters were to be found, and many first-rate
pupils were turned out by him. In his own dominion, on the downs of
Tothill, his opinions upon sporting matters commanded deference, and
Caleb’s judgment in matters concerning man, dog, badger, or bull, was
almost without appeal.

In May, 1816, a curious day’s “outing” took place, to witness a battle
between a couple of “darkies,” hight Stephenson[118] and Sam Robinson;
“Ethiopian” bruisers, like Ethiopian serenaders, being now in fashion,
from the exploits of such men as Richmond, Kendrick, and Co. To Coombe
Warren, also, one Bristow, known as “Young Massa,” in the service of a
sporting gentleman, had repaired. Caleb as one of the M.C.’s was beating
out the ring, when he applied the thong to Young Massa, who, new to his
freedom and unacquainted with the person and privileges of Caleb as a
public functionary, retorted by a couple of such unexpected facers as
drew “the veteran’s” cork. A row was the immediate consequence, in which
Caleb proposed to cast the question of his ring privilege to the winds,
and then and there vindicate his insulted manhood. He was at length
indulged. The two principals actually quitted the ropes and Caleb was
“indulged” with “a round or two,” as he expressed it. Bill Richmond
hereon offered to pick up Bristow, and Harry Harmer valeted the Veteran.
The affair showed that Young Massa was not to be easily disposed of. The
report is Pierce Egan’s, though it is not even alluded to in his life of
Caleb Baldwin.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Caleb seemed angry, and eager to check
            this daring novice for his presumption, set-to
            with great courage, and wished to mill off hand
            this sprig of colour, but Massa laughed at the
            attempt, returned hit for hit, and in closing
            brought the veteran down.

            2.—Young Massa not only showed pluck, but his
            attitudes were imposing, and the champion of
            Westminster did not know what to make of him.
            Caleb hit out viciously, which the black
            returned on the nob of his opponent, and the
            veteran, in a close, went down undermost.

            3.—On setting-to Massa put in a severe facer,
            and followed it up so strongly, that the
            champion was fairly hit down.

            4.—Young Blacky, full of gaiety, pointed his
            finger at the veteran, by way of derision, and
            kept moving with great agility that he might not
            be smashed by the superior science he had to
            contend against. Some blows were exchanged,
            and, in closing, this game sprig fibbed Caleb
            severely, and brought him again down undermost.

            5.—The youth of the Black encouraged him to
            proceed, and he hit out rather in a scientific
            style, as if he had taken lessons. Caleb seemed
            not able to stop him, and the veteran’s sight
            appeared somewhat defective, as he generally hit
            short. In closing, as before, the Black fibbed
            away, and Caleb went down undermost.

            6.—Caleb, on his guard, had the best of this
            round, and, in closing, turned the novice down.

            7.—Young Massa seemed an apt scholar, quite on
            the alert, and, under the guidance of such a
            second as Richmond he stood more than a chance
            to do something. He put in three severe hits,
            got away cleverly, and succeeded finally in
            bringing down his man.

            8.—Caleb’s nob was properly crimsoned, and in
            every round he received more than he gave. His
            once acknowledged talent for serving out
            appeared to be gone by, or else this almost
            conqueror of Dutch Sam could never have suffered
            so many rounds to have passed over to his
            evident disadvantage. The young Black had too
            much gaiety for him, and he threw the champion
            against his will.

            9.—Caleb got a little into work, and gave
            Massa a small taste; but he seemed to make no
            impression; however, he ultimately brought the
            young one down.

            10.—This was a sort of scuffling round, but
            Caleb had the best of the throw.

            11.—Blacky ran in with great velocity, and
            gave his opponent a tremendous body blow—a
            perfect winder! It was heard at some distance,
            and the champion felt not a little surprised.
            In closing, they both went down.

            12.—Appearances were most certainly against
            Caleb; but yet some trifling odds were betted,
            from what he had formerly done, that the old
            trump would be able to come through the piece.
            At Caleb’s age, the Black must have been
            considered a dangerous unlucky customer to have
            fallen in his way, so unprepared as he then was.
            It was altogether an unfortunate turn up for the
            veteran; and even the terrors of the ring did
            not in the least abate the confidence of the
            young adventurer, who hit out and faced his man
            more like an experienced boxer than a raw chance
            miller. Caleb again found himself on the ground.

            13 and last.—Caleb, full of pluck, seemed to
            rally all his capabilities into action, and
            rushed toward the scratch with all the eagerness
            of a Richard, mentally exclaiming—“Perish the
            thought; ne’er be it said that Caleb, the
            renowned Caleb Baldwin, of milling notoriety,
            ever surrendered his hard-earned laurels into
            the hands of a mere strippling novice, and that
            too a Black!” The champion put in some of his
            teasers, and, it is but justice to observe,
            that the young one was not a jot behind hand
            in returning some good hits. It was a milling
            round altogether, but, in closing, Caleb was
            again down. Some interference now appeared to
            be made, and the darling fame of Caleb was
            rescued from the tottering brink of destruction
            by Blacky giving in, to the great astonishment
            and surprise of the spectators, as the young
            one had only a very slight scratch over one
            of his eyes. Caleb was thus enabled once more
            to return to his dominions as the conquering
            hero. Young Blacky, upon being persuaded to
            relinquish the contest, received the sum of
            30_s._, collected by subscription, as a reward
            for the pluck he manifested in daring to enter
            the lists with so renowned a punisher as Caleb
            Ramsbottom Baldwin.[119]

Caleb henceforth wisely confined himself to seconding and ring-keeping,
in which his services were conspicuous and constant. On May 15, 1817, we
find a joint benefit announced for two veterans, Caleb Baldwin and “Old
Joe Ward,” now in his seventy-second year. Cribb and Tom Oliver sparred
on this occasion. The wind-up was between Caleb and Paddington Jones.
“The first-named old trump prefaced his set-to by informing the company
that twenty-eight years ago he and his friend Jones fought a tough fight
together and had been ‘pals’ ever since. (Applause.) Caleb still retains
considerable energy, and the display of the ‘old school’ was very
creditable. Two sons of Caleb also exhibited their skill with the
gloves, the second with young Perry, who ‘bested’ him. Caleb’s
first-born set-to with Jack Martin, but his pipes were out of order and
he took off the gloves as quickly as he well could. They will not
continue the renown of the father’s name.”

We find Caleb’s name in numerous benefits for his brother pugilists, and
in 1819 (Sept. 16), he advertised a benefit at the “Minor Theatre in the
Strand.” As these announcements occasionally possess a curiosity from
their scarcity, we subjoin one of Caleb’s as a specimen:—

                             CALEB BALDWIN
  Respectfully acquaints his Friends and the Public, he would be proud
                           to see them at the
                     MINOR THEATRE, IN THE STRAND,
                  _On Thursday, 16th September, 1819_,

  Where he intends to exhibit with one of the Primest Little
  Nonpareils[120] of the Day; and as several of the First-rate
  Pugilists have promised to meet him there, he anticipates they will
  receive a High Treat.

  The Cognoscenti, the Lads of the Turf, and the Fancy in general,
  cannot obliterate from memory the amusement they have enjoyed from
  the able, spirited, and active manner in which Caleb always kept the
  Ring for them on Days of Sport; nor can it be forgotten, he has
  fought upwards of Thirty Battles, and was never beat, previous to
  that unsuccessful set-to with Dutch Sam.

  This true-bottomed Champion of his day once moved in comfort and
  prosperity; and we have to deplore that the case is now altered. We
  trust a Real-bred Sportsman will never see a Worthy Veteran of the
  Turf in Distress, and shut up that spirit which should distinguish
  such a character. The single reflection of


  will require no further invitation, nor suffer exertion to sleep on
  the subject.

             _The Amusements will commence at Two O’clock._
                   Tickets, 3_s._ each, to be had at

  Tom Oliver’s, Great Peter Street, Westminster; Randall’s, Chancery
  Lane; Harmer’s, Plough, Smithfield; T. Cribb’s, Mountain’s, St.
  Martin’s Lane; and W. Austin’s, the Black-a-Moor’s Head, Whitcomb

On the 8th November, 1827, the veteran Caleb received his last “warning
to quit,” and shuffled off this mortal coil, in the spot of his
nativity, and many an “old one” recounted his early deeds, with
disparaging reflections (not always deserved) on the young ’uns who were
likely to succeed him.

                        APPENDIX TO PERIOD III.

                        ANDREW GAMBLE—1792‒1800.

Andrew Gamble, another of Pierce Egan’s Irish “champions,” appears to
have been a powerful, game, hard-hitting, clumsy, knock-kneed Hibernian,
of six feet in stature, and a strong fighting instinct. His eulogium may
be read in “Boxiana,” vol. i., pp. 239 et seq. We here give what we can
find in the contemporary prints.

“Andrew Gamble,” says “Pancratia,” (p. 132), “was born in Dublin in
1771, apprenticed to a stonemason, and early displayed a propensity for
the pugilistic art. He is about six feet in height and has contested
many battles, particularly those with Stanyard in 1792;[121] with Jones,
in 1800; and with Jem Belcher.”

Gamble’s first appearance in the English ring was on the 5th September,
1792, at Bentley Green, nine miles from Colchester, which is thus

“This day (Friday, September 5), Hooper, the tinman (See HOOPER,
_ante_), having beaten Bunner, of Colchester, the day previous, Ben
Stanyard, a pugilist from Birmingham, mounted the stage to box with
Andrew Gamble, an Irishman. Joe Ward seconded Stanyard, and Hooper was
his bottle-holder, looking little worse for his yesterday’s battle.
Gamble was seconded by one Williams, and had Ryan for his bottle-holder.
The stage was enlarged from eighteen to twenty-one feet square. The spot
was Bentley Green, nine miles from Colchester.

“At first setting-to odds were greatly in favour of Gamble, till after
some few rounds, when they became even, but Gamble’s superiority gained
the bets in his favour five to four, and they again changed to the same
height in favour of Stanyard, during the last six rounds, who then
unfortunately made a foul blow at his adversary, which every one
considered would have terminated the battle. Gamble’s friends, however,
advising him to continue the contest, they fought another round, at the
end of which Stanyard fell and Gamble retired, declaring himself
victorious. Stanyard remained on the ground until his friends
triumphantly carried him away. The umpires, seconds, etc., had many
meetings, and it was at length declared a drawn battle. The contest was
well supported, the combatants having met nineteen times in twenty-five

“To make amends for the disappointment, a bye-battle was fought between
two countrymen, and very well contested.”

For eight years we lose sight of Gamble, as a pugilist, until in July,
1800, we find him matched with Noah James,[122] the guardsman. The
battle is thus reported:—

“On Tuesday, July 1 (1800), a boxing match which had long been expected
was fought in a hollow near the foot of Abbershaw’s gibbet, on Wimbledon
Common, for 100 guineas, and bets to the amount of £5000, between Andrew
Gamble the Irish pugilist, and Noah James, formerly belonging to the
horseguards. Ben Stanyard, his old opponent, and now fast friend, was
Gamble’s second, and Jack Bartholomew his bottle-holder; Joe Ward
seconded James, and Hall was his bottle-holder.

“About ten o’clock the combatants set-to, when odds were six to four in
favour of James; they fought with astonishing fierceness and displayed
great science. In the twelfth round Gamble put in a severe blow in the
face of his antagonist, and cut his nose dreadfully; in the twentieth he
broke his collar-bone, and in the twenty-first his jaw bone; but
notwithstanding such a dreadful state of disablement, James fought four
rounds afterwards with determined courage, when he fell almost lifeless
on the stage.

“James was a Cheshire man, and had fought seventeen battles. He was
allowed to display more bottom than any other man. After this battle,
being given over by his medical attendants, and considering himself at
the last extremity, he sent for Gamble, and generously exchanged
forgiveness with the successful champion. Gamble, equally open hearted,
gave Mrs. James a very handsome present for the more comfortable support
of the unfortunate bruiser.”

This was Andrew Gamble’s best fight. His warm-hearted friends, now
overrating his capabilities, determined to match him with the best
English pugilist of the day, the young Bristol champion, Jem Belcher.
December 22nd, 1800, was fixed, and the friends of Gamble, having won
the choice of place, named the old hollow, by Abbershaw’s gibbet, on
Wimbledon Common, as the spot. How triumphantly he was thrashed may be
read in the memoir of Jem Belcher; what disgraceful abuse, and worse, he
received at the hands of “his enraged backers,” may be read in
“Boxiana,” p. 242. We have extracted it as a specimen of “history,”
omitting the small capitals, italics, and emphasised slang.

“Gamble’s being so soon deprived of his laurels, created the most
dreadful murmurings among his countrymen, many of whom were nearly
ruined from Gamble being defeated. St. Giles’s was in a complete uproar
upon this occasion, and the Paddies had not been so neatly cleaned out
since the days of the renowned hero Peter Corcoran! It proved a most
woeful day for the Irish indeed; the dealers in wild ducks had not a
feather left to fly with; the rabbit merchants were so reduced as to be
even without poles, and not a copper to go the next morning to market;
never were men so completely dished and done up. Andrew’s name had
hitherto been a tower of strength, he was the tight Irish boy, and the
darling of his country—but alas! the scene was changed, he was now
called a cur, an overgrown thing, a mere apology, and was in danger of
being tossed in a blanket by his enraged and disappointed backers.
Gamble, from this defeat, lost the warm hearts of the Paddies ever
afterwards. Gamble appeared truly contemptible in this fight, in
comparison with even the worst of his former displays—and it was the
opinion of the amateurs, that the evident superiority of Belcher
completely frightened all Gamble’s courage and science out of him.”

_Sic transit gloria_, etc.; Andrew Gamble appears to have returned to
Ireland, and probably to his laborious calling.

                      JACK BARTHOLOMEW—1795‒1800.

One of the true breed of old-school British boxers was Jack Bartholomew.
His game was undoubted and his style manly. His opponents, too, were the
very best men of their day, and if his career was not a brilliant one,
Jack was always highly esteemed by his backers, and reckoned a
formidable competitor.

Bartholomew was born at Brentford, Middlesex, in 1770, and early
convinced several of the amateurs in that neighbourhood of his gift of
hitting, activity, and courage. Jack Firby, who had earned the
unenviable cognomen of “the Young Ruffian,” from his conquest of
Symonds, “the Old Ruffian,” on the 2nd August, 1791, was picked out as a
trial-horse for young Jack, in the regular P.R. A stake of ten guineas
seems to have tempted Firby to tackle the youngster. The fight came off
on Hounslow Heath, near Bartholomew’s native spot. Firby, who weighed
fifteen stone, and stood six feet, considered the stakes “a gift.” Jack,
at this time was nearly twelve stone, and stood five feet nine inches
and a half, a height and weight which the best authorities have
considered “big enough for anything on two legs.” Firby seems to have
considered his fame involved, for he fought with unusual desperation,
but the youth was not to be “ruffianised” out of his skill and coolness;
and after a desperate fight of fifty minutes, in which his firmness and
manly intrepidity were finely contrasted with the opponent’s impetuous
assaults, Firby was beaten blind, and his “gluttony perfectly

Bill Wood, the coachman, then in the height of his fame, was next
matched with Bartholomew. They met on a stage between Ealing and Harrow,
January 30, 1797. Bartholomew had the battle declared against him for a
foul blow. (See WOOD, _ante_, Appendix to Period II.)

Tom Owen’s renown in conquering Hooper, the tinman, induced him to issue
a challenge to Jack; it was accepted, and they met for a stake of fifty
guineas, on Sunbury Common, August 22, 1797. Five and six to four were
the current odds in favour of Owen, who was the bigger and stronger man,
forced the fighting desperately, but he could not break Jack’s guard,
and was so heavily punished that in about half an hour he was all
abroad, and at the end of the twenty-sixth round, fought in thirty
minutes, he was compelled to give in, after a fight of unusual rapidity
and punishment.

Bartholomew now met a master of the art in the person of Jem Belcher,
with whom he had the honour of fighting a drawn battle, on the 15th
August, 1799. His final defeat by the champion, May 15th, 1800, was also
without disgrace. (See memoir of JEM BELCHER.)

During the period of his active life in the ring, scarcely a battle of
note happened without the name of Bartholomew appearing as second or
bottleholder. Shortly after his last defeat by Belcher, however, Jack
seems to have been attacked by liver disease. He died, after a few
weeks’ illness, at his lodgings in the Almonry, Westminster, July 14,
1803. He left a particular request that his body might be opened
(against which practice an ignorant prejudice then prevailed). A _post
mortem_ examination took place, and a considerable scirrhous enlargement
of the liver was found. He further requested that his grave should be
“as near as possible to St. Margaret’s watch-house.” His funeral was
attended by a considerable number of his brother pugilists.

                     JACK O’DONNELL—1802‒1806.[123]

John O’Donnell, a native of the sister isle, for a short period was much
overrated and unduly puffed by what Pierce Egan calls his “warm-hearted
countrymen.” We know nothing more of him than that shortly after his
appearance in ring circles he was matched with Pardo Wilson, a relative
of the celebrated Belcher’s, on Tuesday, October 26th, 1802. The
extravagant estimate of “the historian” does not seem to have been
shared by the backers and friends of Wilson, as Pardo, whose last and
only other fight fourteen years before, had been with Solly Sodicky, a
Jew, on that occasion suffered defeat (February 11th, 1789). The ground
was Wormwood Scrubbs, on the bank of the Paddington Canal, four miles
from Hyde Park. The stake was twenty guineas aside. We copy the report:—

“Wilson was thirty-five years of age, and O’Donnell, who had the
advantage in height and weight, was said to be only eighteen.

“About one o’clock a ring was attempted to be formed, but such numbers
of people had assembled that it was not without the greatest trouble it
was accomplished by two, when the combatants entered. O’Donnell was
accompanied by two of his own countrymen; Wilson, by Belcher, his
brother-in-law, for his second, and Tom Jones bottle-holder. They began
to strip immediately, both appeared in high spirits and eyed each other
minutely. When ready the seconds proposed that they should toss up for
the side of the ring, each being desirous to avoid the sun. This was
agreed to, and the advantage gained by Wilson, in whose favour, on
account of his freshness, bets appeared to be. At five minutes past two
o’clock, after the usual ceremony, the heroes set-to.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Both displayed good attitude, and kept
            a strong guard for some time. O’Donnell put
            in the first blow, which Wilson parried and
            returned. Both fell, O’Donnell having received a
            blow on the lip, which bled a little.

            2.—Wilson made a feint but his opponent struck
            him at the same time. A few sharp blows passed,
            when O’Donnell gave Wilson a cross buttock.

            3.—In this round O’Donnell displayed great
            strength. Wilson fell back, and with success
            chopped at his adversary as he came up to him.
            Some hard fighting ensued, and O’Donnell knocked
            down his antagonist. (Bets now changed in favour
            of the Irishman.)

            4.—This round began with some good
            straight-forward fighting. O’Donnell aimed
            several blows at the body, which Wilson
            dexterously stopped and returned. O’Donnell,
            however, followed him up until he fell. Wilson’s
            strength appeared to be failing.

            5.—Wilson seemed afraid of his opponent, and
            manœuvred round the ring. O’Donnell, however,
            stuck close to him, and put in the first blow,
            and Wilson, though apparently not hurt, fell.
            (Odds were now three to one in favour of

            6.—Wilson at the beginning put in a successful
            blow at O’Donnell’s head; after which O’Donnell
            gave a body blow, and brought down his
            adversary. It now appeared settled, but Wilson’s
            friends persisted he had not yet shown any of
            his best play.

            7.—Wilson now tried to alter his mode of
            fighting, by allowing O’Donnell to strike,
            stopping the blow, and returning it with the
            same arm; but in this he failed, his returns not
            being successful. O’Donnell followed up, and
            again brought down his opponent.

            8.—Immediately they were up, they set-to with
            great eagerness, and displayed some excellent
            straight-forward fighting. Wilson appeared to
            recruit his strength, but it soon failed again,
            and he fell.

            9.—O’Donnell struck his adversary on the temple;
            Wilson reeled, and receiving another blow, fell

            10.—This was a very short round, Wilson received
            a violent blow on the ribs, reeled, and fell
            against the people, when Belcher advised him to
            give in, to which he consented.

            O’Donnell being declared the conqueror, his
            countrymen, of whom there were numbers present,
            mounted him on their shoulders, and carried him
            out in triumph.

We think the reader will agree that there is nothing in this victory
over an old stale man to call for the epithets of “eminent,”
“distinguished,” etc., used in “Boxiana,” nor that the Irishman, should
“be so raised in the eyes of his countrymen as their future champion,
reminding them of those proud days when Peter Corcoran flourished in all
his greatness!” But let that pass.

On Monday, November 15th, 1802, a match having been made between
O’Donnell, and one Smith, a boot closer, they met at Wormwood Scrubbs,
to decide the contest, for twenty guineas. Lenox seconded O’Donnell, and
one Anderson picked up Smith.

After some trouble, and by the aid of Caleb Baldwin, who had recently
beaten Jack Lee, at Hurley Bottom, a ring was formed, the combatants
entered, and five minutes after two o’clock set-to.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Much sparring. O’Donnell put in the
            first blow, a straight-forward hit with his
            right hand, and struck his adversary under the
            left eye. Smith aimed a blow at his opponent’s
            head, which O’Donnell caught with his hand,
            and returned it with a blow on the side of the
            head. They closed and fell, O’Donnell having
            the advantage, being uppermost.

            2.—Much sparring. Smith put in two body blows,
            but slight; they closed and fell. Smith under

            3.—Smith gave his antagonist a severe knock-down
            blow, by which he fell.

            4.—Both shifted. O’Donnell displayed good
            science. When retreating, and followed up by
            Smith, he put in several well planted body
            blows, and brought Smith down; but in falling,
            Smith struck a tremendous blow in the face of
            his opponent.

            5.—Smith struck O’Donnell on the jaw. The round
            was well contested, several severe blows being
            exchanged, by one of which O’Donnell fell.

            6.—Smith being off his guard, O’Donnell put in
            a severe right-handed blow on the head, but
            Smith quickly recovered; they closed and fell.
            O’Donnell beginning to appear weak, odds were
            five to four in Smith’s favour.

            7.—This was a hard round. Smith threw in three
            uncommonly clean blows; O’Donnell closed, and
            both fell, Smith under.

            8.—A great deal of hard fighting, but O’Donnell
            shifted. They closed and fell, O’Donnell under.
            (Bets still remained five to four on Smith.)

            9.—O’Donnell had the best of this round, put in
            most blows. Smith, in striking, slipped and

            10.—O’Donnell seemed endeavouring to rally his
            courage and irritate his adversary, by pointing
            and smiling; Smith, however, put in some severe
            blows. They closed, fell, and O’Donnell was
            again under. (Bets now rose two to one in favour
            of Smith.)

            11.—It was some time before any blows were
            struck, both shifting. They closed, and
            O’Donnell gave his antagonist a cross buttock,
            something in the Belcher style.

            12.—O’Donnell evidently mended; both fought
            well. They closed, and Smith fell under. (Odds
            still were six to four in favour of Smith.)

            13.—Smith threw in two severe blows with great
            dexterity, one in the face and the other in the
            pit of the stomach, by which O’Donnell fell;
            while going, Smith tried to give him a cross
            buttock, but failed.

            14.—Both put in some hard blows, but O’Donnell
            had the advantage. Smith fell.

            15.—In O’Donnell’s favour.

            16.—Both shifted; much sparring. Smith fell, but
            still had the best of the round.

            17.—Smith, in retreating, fell; no blows struck.

            18.—This round was very short, but in favour of
            O’Donnell. Smith fell by a blow.

            19.—After a few tolerably hard blows were
            exchanged, Smith struck O’Donnell with great
            force on the left side of the head; they then
            closed, and Smith fell under.

            20.—At the end of this round Smith had a
            tremendous fall; O’Donnell also fell on him with
            great violence.

            21.—Both fought hard, but O’Donnell brought down
            his adversary. (Bets now became even.)

            22.—O’Donnell put in a severe blow on the side
            of the head; Smith slipped and fell. After
            fighting these twenty-two rounds, neither
            displayed much external injury, excepting the
            black eye Smith got in the first round. (This
            does not say much for either of the men’s gift
            of hitting.)

            23.—After much sparring and shifting O’Donnell
            brought his opponent down. (Odds had now changed
            in favour of O’Donnell.)

            24.—Smith had the best of this round. After
            several hard blows had been exchanged,
            O’Donnell, in making a hit, slipped, fell
            forwards, and pitched upon his head.

            25.—In this round O’Donnell displayed great
            activity, and by a well-directed blow brought
            down his opponent.

            26.—Smith put in some good body blows, and
            O’Donnell fell.

            27.—In this round the greatest science was
            displayed by both parties. Some blows were well
            struck, in which Smith had the advantage. They
            closed and fell, Smith under.

            28.—This round was equal, if not superior, to
            the last in scientific display. Smith aimed all
            his blows at the head, and O’Donnell at the
            body, by which Smith had the advantage. They
            closed and fell, Smith being under again.

            29.—Here O’Donnell manifestly obtained great
            advantage; Smith fell. (Odds now rose five to
            four in favour of O’Donnell.)

            33.—In this round O’Donnell showed still greater
            superiority. He put in several very severe blows
            about the ribs, and as his antagonist was
            retreating, he struck him in the face and
            brought him down.

            34 to 37.—In every round Smith fell. (Odds rose
            six to four on O’Donnell.)

            38.—O’Donnell struck Smith in the pit of the
            stomach, and he fell. This blow thoroughly
            winded him, and it was supposed the battle would
            have been finished; but Smith by his proper time
            came up again.

            39 to 43.—All these rounds were very short, and
            O’Donnell evidently had the advantage.

            44.—O’Donnell, from having continually
            throughout the combat used his right hand, had
            severely strained it, and it was expected that
            this circumstance would have obliged him to give
            in, but dexterously putting in a blow with the
            left hand, he brought down his adversary.

            45.—O’Donnell in this round repeated his winding
            dose in the stomach, which undoubtedly decided
            the battle, for Smith never afterwards struck
            any blow of consequence.

            The 48th round decided the contest in favour
            of the Hibernian, Smith being almost too much
            exhausted to support his guard. O’Donnell by
            a dreadful blow brought him down, when he
            immediately gave in, after a contest of one hour
            and twenty minutes. O’Donnell throughout the
            battle had constantly struck his antagonist
            on the left ribs, which part, when the battle
            ceased, was greatly swelled and bruised.

            Coady, Gamble, Berks, Belcher, Wood, and many
            professors of the art were present. O’Donnell’s
            countrymen carried him home in triumph, exulting
            in his glory.

O’Donnell’s game, if not his skill, or his capabilities for punishing,
was fully established by this encounter, and he was backed to fight one
Henigan. The miscarriage of this event may be read in the subjoined
paragraph:—“Tuesday, the 18th of January, 1803, was the day determined
upon for the decision of a pugilistic contest between O’Donnell, who was
now considered by the Irish as their champion, and the restorer of their
fame in the noble science of pugilism, and one Henigan, a new candidate
of bruising celebrity, brought forward and matched by Jackling, the
brother-in-law of the well-known and lamented Tom Johnson. On the night
before, however, both these heroes, notwithstanding they each boasted
strength in the fore paw, felt somewhat confused by a visit from
Armstrong, who without much ceremony conveyed them to Worship Street,
and bound them in sureties of £400 to keep the peace for six months.
O’Donnell on hearing this considered the fight at an end, but Henigan
fearing lest such a restriction might blast his rising genius,
determined to run all risks, and accordingly repaired to Dulwich, the
appointed Campus Martius. His opponent, however, was not there, and the
travellers returned with great chagrin depicted in their countenances.”

O’Donnell’s next opponent was the well-known Caleb Baldwin; but here his
friends had made a mistake. He was polished off triumphantly (October
13th, 1803), by the Westminster hero. (See CALEB BALDWIN, _ante_, p.
213.) Pierce Egan thus pathetically records this defeat:—“O’DONNELL was
matched against _Caleb Baldwin_, but being defeated—MARK THE
DIFFERENCE!!!—_No smiles! no shouts! no shoulders offered to support the
drooping hero!_ but he was placed in a hackney coach, to groan and
reflect upon the reverse of fortune! Any further comment is
unnecessary!!!” With this we fully agree. Where were the “warm-hearted

O’Donnell having some altercation at Belcher’s about his defeat of Pardo
Wilson, a challenge was the result. On this occasion O’Donnell, who is
styled by Pierce “the celebrated Irish hero,” embraced the opportunity
of meeting Tom for a subscription purse of twenty guineas, at
Shepperton, Surrey, April 17, 1805, when he was thoroughly thrashed in
fifteen rounds.[124]

A big fellow of the name of Emery, who, we learn incidentally, had on a
former occasion beaten O’Donnell, was challenged by him for fifty
guineas, and the challenge accepted. We copy the report:—

“On Tuesday, December 3rd (1805), a battle was fought in the Five
Fields, Chelsea, between O’Donnell, the Irish bruiser, and a man of the
name of Emery, for a subscription purse. The combatants had some time
since quarrelled, when Emery being the bigger man, and O’Donnell out of
health, he had an easy conquest, but the result of this battle proved a
salutary warning to those who under the conceit of superior strength
presume to try conclusions against practised skill.

“A ring having been formed at two o’clock, the combatants entered; Tom
Blake (Tom Tough), and Bill Ryan seconded O’Donnell; Emery was handled
by Paddington Jones and Wight.

“On stripping Emery showed such astonishing muscle that he appeared
capable of seizing his opponent in his arms and carrying him off. He was
not only much taller, but two stone heavier than O’Donnell, and among
the crowd two to one was betted in his favour, despite a partisanship
for the lesser man.

“At setting-to Emery showed great confidence, and stood up in good
style. O’Donnell making a feint with his left hand, put in a severe blow
with his right on the mouth; they closed, and both fell. O’Donnell in
this round displayed all the advantage arising from skill; this he
supported, and at the end of five rounds bets became even. In the ninth
round Emery exerted his greatest powers, and some good blows were
exchanged, but O’Donnell hitting right and left, brought him down. Odds
two to one in favour of O’Donnell. The eleventh round Emery made a false
hit, and completely ran from his man, and in the following round fell
without a blow. O’Donnell continued to support a decided superiority,
and at the end of three quarters of an hour Emery resigned the contest,
carrying with him marks sufficient to deter him from again attempting to
meet a professional boxer.”

O’Donnell, taught by experience, did not fly at the highest game, and
avoided Dutch Sam and such professionals of the first rank. An aspirant
of the name of Wasdell, a weaver from Spitalfields, having acquired
great renown among the East Enders, his friends offered to back him for
twenty guineas a-side against O’Donnell. This was arranged, and Tuesday,
June 3rd, 1806, and Wilsden Green, near Hendon, named as the day and
place. At twelve the combatants entered the ring; O’Donnell was seconded
by John Gully and Bill Ryan; Wasdell by Rhodes and his brother. Seven to
four on O’Donnell.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Much sparring. Wasdell extremely
            awkward, hit short twice; in recovering his
            position, O’Donnell caught him in the body and
            knocked him down cleverly. (Three to one on

            2.—Wasdell made play pluckily, but O’Donnell met
            him and dropped him again.

            3.—Wasdell already was marked about the head. He
            made a plunging hit, but O’Donnell parried it,
            feinted, followed him, and hit him completely
            off his legs, when he set very quietly on his
            nether end on the grass for a few seconds, till
            taken to his corner.

            4.—Wasdell tried to catch hold of his opponent
            with his right hand. O’Donnell dropped in two
            sharp hits, the left at the head, the right at
            the body, which brought him to grief again.

            5.—The men closed. O’Donnell hit up in Wasdell’s
            face, and he was down again. (Any odds on

            6.—Wasdell, game, rushed in furiously, receiving
            a severe hit in the face, through his guard. The
            round ended by O’Donnell hitting him off his

            7.—O’Donnell well on the body. The men closed,
            but broke away. Wasdell made another attempt
            to seize his opponent’s hand, but O’Donnell
            frustrated his endeavour by a severe blow.

            8.—Wasdell was quite done over. O’Donnell fought
            him as he liked, showing great good humour. He
            forbore hitting him hard, and pushed him down.

            9.—Wasdell would not be denied; he rushed
            in, when O’Donnell hit him severely right
            and left in the face, and he fell stupefied.
            On coming to, he acknowledged O’Donnell to
            be the conqueror.

            In weight and length of arm Wasdell had the
            advantage, but in science he was the merest
            novice, totally ignorant of the art of boxing,
            and scarcely as clever as may often be seen in a
            street fight.

On the 5th of June, only two days after the above battle, there was a
grand field day at Padnall Corner, on Epping Forest, wherein Jack Warr
and Quirk, for 100 guineas, and George Maddox and Coady having exhibited
their skill, Smith and O’Donnell entered the ropes for forty guineas
a-side. Of this the reporter simply says: “The third contest between
Smith and O’Donnell was utterly unworthy of detail. O’Donnell proved the
victor in five rounds.”

As upon principle throughout these biographies we have avoided the
_suggestio falsi_ so shall we eschew the _suppressio veri_. Jack
O’Donnell is one of the warning examples of the effects of dishonest
companions. He became connected with a gang of known “putters-up” of
robberies; among them two men named Samuel Carter and John Jose. With
these men he was apprehended for stealing from a public house kept by
Jonathan Kendall, bank notes to the amount of £60. At the September Old
Bailey Sessions, 1806, the three were found guilty of stealing, but “not
in the dwelling house.” The offence, however, was then capital, the
amount being above forty shillings, and they were sentenced to
transportation for life. Berks and another of the gang, James Travers,
who appears to have been Joe’s tempter, were convicted at the same
sessions. (See BERKS.)


This boxer had a short career, for a reason that will fully develope
itself in the next few paragraphs. He was the son of the “renowned first
champion of the same name.” Pierce Egan also informs us that Bill was “a
much superior fighter to his veteran sire,” which is an opinion worth as
much as you please, recollecting that Pierce was then placing his legs
under Tom Belcher’s mahogany, and Tom had been beaten by Young Ryan. As
the “historian” dismisses him in half a page of large print, we will
preserve what we find of him in contemporaries.

“On Friday, November 30, 1804, Tom Belcher, brother of the nonpareil
Jem, met Bill Ryan, son of Michael Ryan who fought Johnson, at Wilsden
Green, which has become a favourite spot for these encounters. By the
articles, Monday was fixed, but a difficulty having arisen, it was
postponed. At ten o’clock the combatants having arrived a ring was
formed. Belcher first, in high spirits, threw his hat into the ropes in
defiance. Ryan smiled at Tom’s style of bravado, and bowing to some
bystanding patrons, got within the enclosure. Belcher was attended by
George Maddox and Joe Norton, and Ryan seconded by Tom Jones and Dick
Whale. In a few minutes they set-to. Odds six to four in favour of

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—No sparring. Several good hits put in
            and well stopped on both sides; they closed, and
            both fell.

            3 and 4.—Both rounds greatly in favour of Ryan.

            6.—This round was fought with determined
            courage. Belcher threw in a severe blow on his
            opponent’s temple, and brought him down. Ryan
            appeared a little distressed. (Seven to four on

            18.—No great alteration up to this round, which
            was admirably contested on both sides. Belcher
            struck his opponent very cleverly over the
            mouth. Ryan rallied, and put in a knock-down
            blow; Belcher fell and evinced great weakness.
            From this to the

            30th—Ryan supported his superiority, and the
            odds changed in his favour. Belcher’s friends
            now began greatly to despair of success, but
            still he displayed great science and steadiness.

            31‒34.—Every one of these rounds Ryan terminated
            by knocking down his opponent(?)

            35.—James Belcher came and whispered to his
            brother, who seemed to profit by his advice, and
            contested the two following rounds with great
            skill and determination, but at the end of the

            37th—He fell quite exhausted.

            38.—Belcher was, however, brought up to stand
            another round, and Ryan immediately knocked him
            down. At this moment the ring was broken, and
            Belcher’s friends declared the last blow was
            foul. Bob Watson challenged to fight any man
            who should dare to say the blow was not foul,
            but his bluster soon evaporated on Joe Ward’s
            displaying buff. The affair was left to the
            gentleman who held the purse, and he decided
            that Ryan had won it, as Belcher was beaten full
            a quarter of an hour before. Many of the dons of
            the first class were there, as Berks, Mendoza,
            Joe Ward, Bill Warr, Jem Belcher, Holmes, etc.

Bill was next matched with Caleb Baldwin, and fought him at Blackheath,
August 6, 1805. The interruption, the chances and changes of the fight,
and the decision, “a draw,” will be found under CALEB BALDWIN, Chapter
VII., Period III.

Tom Belcher, smarting under the sense of defeat, invited Bill to a
second trial, which took place at Laleham Burway, Surrey, June 4, 1806.
Ryan, although so young a man, was so given to drinking ardent spirits,
that he was already internally diseased. He was beaten in fifty minutes,
twenty-nine rounds, but not without much difficulty. (See life of TOM
BELCHER, _ante_.)

Two months afterwards Bill made his last appearance in the ring,
Tuesday, June 17, 1806, at Wilsden Green, where he gained by his
superior skill a victory over Clark, a clumsy boxer, with not a single
pretension beyond strength and pluck.

Ryan’s drunken habits now grew so rapidly upon him, that on June 23rd,
six days afterwards, he was expelled from the Fives Court, on the
occasion of the benefit of Gully and Elias Spray. Bill set-to with
Richmond, and afterwards made himself so offensive as to be formally
excluded. No dependence could be placed upon him for an hour, and
training was out of the question. He died in obscurity and poverty in
the winter of 1807, date not recorded.

                        ISAAC BITTOON—1801‒1804.

Isaac Bittoon, a Jew of great strength, coolness, some skill in
singlestick, fencing, and with the gloves, and well-known for more than
thirty years to the ring-going world of the last generation, deserves a
place in our Appendix for several reasons. In “Boxiana,” the error of
his having beaten Paddington Jones, July 13, 1801, originated, and has
been copied into all the chronologies.[125] His draw with Maddox and his
great battle with Bill Wood, also deserve preservation, and for these
reasons we have given the ponderous Isaac a niche in our history. The
first-mentioned affair, the draw with George Maddox, will be found in
the life of “the Veteran,” Chapter VI. of this Period. The second, his
game fight with Bill Wood, the coachman, shall be given from the report
of the day.

“A match having been for some time on the carpet, for fifty guineas,
between Isaac Bittoon[126] (the Jew), and Bill Wood, the coachman, the
officers were on the alert to find out the time and place of the
contest, but the amateurs, always awake, kept these points secret until
the night previous, when Wilsden Green, the spot where so much courage
had been displayed by Tom Tough[127] and Jack Holmes, some few months
ago, was settled as the Campus Martius; to prevent interruption it was
agreed the fight should take place at ten o’clock in the morning.
Accordingly on Monday, July 16, 1804, the admirers of pugilism were
active, and the field was filled at an early hour; a ring being formed,
at three quarters past ten the combatants entered. Wood immediately
began to strip, and appeared in excellent condition. Bittoon followed in
high spirits, and after the usual ceremonies they set-to, without any
very sanguine opinion being entertained on either side.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Wood beat down his antagonist’s guard,
            and put in two blows without any impression;
            Bittoon returned with his right hand, and some
            hard hitting followed by both. Wood had greatly
            the advantage in strength, beat Bittoon against
            the ropes, by which he became entangled. Here
            Wood put in some good blows, and Bittoon fell.

            2.—Wood put in the first blow again. Bittoon
            struck several good straight-forward blows,
            rallied, and a second time fell.

            3.—This round was very short. Wood fell, Bittoon
            gaining advantage.

            4.—Bittoon put in several good blows, but Wood
            rallied, and by superior strength drove him to
            one side of the ring, where he fell.

            5.—Much sparring at setting-to; both exchanged
            some severe hits. Wood bled freely, but rallied
            Bittoon again against the rope, and threw him.
            (Odds were now six to four in favour of Bittoon,
            for, although he so often fell, his blows did
            not disappoint in execution.)

            6.—The sun being troublesome to Bittoon, he
            manœuvred to change sides, and had somewhat
            succeeded, when Wood ran in and threw him.

            7.—Wood still kept the shady side, and with
            great exertion put in several blows which
            Bittoon vainly attempted to stop, and driving
            him again to the ropes, Bittoon fell. (Odds
            remained, however, in favour of Bittoon, who was
            still in good strength, while Wood displayed
            signs of fatigue.)

            8.—Wood immediately ran in, and closing, threw
            his opponent, who when down he patted on the
            head in triumph.

            9.—Bittoon on rising appeared greatly
            exasperated, ran in upon Wood with much fury,
            who struck him with his left hand, and brought
            him down. Wood for this gained great applause.

            10.—In this round Bittoon resumed his former
            temperance, rallied, and put in several good
            hits. Wood, while making a blow, slipped and
            turned round, during which his opponent took
            advantage of an opening, and threw in a severe
            body blow. Wood fell. (Odds still six to four on

            11.—Wood showed somewhat fearful of encountering
            Bittoon’s hits, but, conscious of his strength,
            ran in and threw his opponent.

            15.—During the intermediate rounds there was
            some severe hitting, and Bittoon, by adopting
            the Mendoza style, stopping and returning with
            the same hand, was very successful. This round
            had nearly proved fatal to the Coachman; while
            rallying, Bittoon put in a most severe blow in
            the stomach, which brought him down, and he laid
            breathless for some time. A cry of “Time, time,”
            was vociferated, and he tried to conform to the
            rules of pugilism by returning in the half
            minute; this, however, he could not do, and the
            multitude considering the battle concluded,
            rushed in. This caused much confusion, and gave
            Wood opportunity for recovery, and the battle
            proceeded. (Odds were now ten to one on

            17.—Wood exhibited symptoms of exhaustion, and
            hinted to his second he could not stand it much
            longer. Bittoon, on the contrary, was in full
            vigour, but did not exert his strength, as he
            found it unnecessary.

            18.—In this round Wood, greatly to the
            surprise of every one, recovered, appeared
            re-invigorated, and undoubtedly had the best
            of the round. To the

            25th.—Wood supported a superiority, and fought
            the whole of these rounds with astonishing
            resolution, but the impression on his opponent
            was very slight.

            26.—During this round the conduct of the
            spectators seemed to indicate a determination
            that the Jew should lose the battle. They rushed
            in, broke the ropes, and pulled up the stakes.
            To settle this a body of horsemen rode up,
            driving the crowd before them, and after much
            mischief formed another ring.

            32.—A general engagement having been the
            consequence of this intrusion, there was great
            confusion, and only an imperfect ring was kept
            up to this round; the advantage during this time
            was alternate. Bittoon fell at the end of every
            round, but invariably first cut his opponent by
            a severe blow in the face. About this time the
            bustle began to subside, and the battle went on
            again more regularly.

            36.—Wood made a good stand-up fight, and many
            supposed that, by Bittoon’s frequently falling,
            Wood had the advantage; but he gained more by
            his well-aimed hits than his opponent did by the
            falls. This round, however, finished the fight,
            as Wood was quite worn out.

            A number of Bow Street officers had by
            this time arrived, and the company retired
            homewards, a little disappointed as there
            were no bye-battles.

Isaac, who was always a sporting character among the Israelites of the
East End, now retired from challenges, and became a licensed victualler
in Whitechapel. For many years he kept a sparring school and saloon for
fencing, singlestick, and broadsword, in Gulston Street, Whitechapel.
His weight after his retirement so immensely increased, that although
his activity was remarkable for his size (he drew at scale seventeen
stone), his appearances at the Fives Court, Tennis Court, Jackson’s
Rooms, etc., were a standing source of amusement to the visitors. In a
song chanted by the celebrated Robert Emery, the Yorkshire comedian, of
Covent Garden Theatre, we find a verse _apropos_ of this “feature” of
Bittoon’s person and of his “pluck,” then expressed by the word
“bottom;” he is describing the “qualities of the millers,”—

                “Bittoon then came, a champion bold,
                  And dealt some hard and sly knocks;
                But yet, when all the truth is told,
                  Some ranked him with the shy cocks.
                Still prate like this we must not mind,
                  A Dutchman true begot ’um,
                Whoe’er has seen Bittoon _behind_,
                  Will ne’er dispute his _bottom_.”

At length, in the month of February, 1838, “Old Ikey,” after a few
weeks’ illness, breathed his last at the age of sixty, in the eastern
quarter, wherein he was so long known, and lies in the Jewish burial
ground near Bethnal Green.

                        BILL CROPLEY—1807‒1810.

As the antagonist of Dutch Sam and Tom Belcher, with whom he made good
fights, the name of Bill Cropley has been preserved. As a teacher of
self-defence and an exhibitor at the Fives Court for more than a quarter
of a century, he is also remembered. Cropley’s two defeats, where in
both cases he had the misfortune to “catch a Tartar,” were balanced by
other contests which were more satisfactory in result. He successively
defeated “Jemmy from Town,” Tom Hazel, and George Cribb, brother of the

The first of these we find thus recorded. “An obstinate battle was this
day contested between Bill Cropley, well known at the ring side, and for
years as a shining light among the stalwart brotherhood of
coal-whippers, as ‘a good bit of stuff,’ and ‘Jemmy from Town,’ whose
game qualities with Morgan and Rolfe have procured him so much
patronage. The day on which this took place was memorable, the 7th of
April, 1807, as that on which Tom Cribb (see _post_) beat Jem Belcher,
and the roped ring was the same (twenty feet square), that had been just
left by those renowned gladiators. Cropley quickly disposed of his
antagonist, twenty-five minutes, eighteen rounds, polishing off the
plucky Jemmy without giving him a chance of turning the tide of battle.”

Cropley’s next ring fight was with an aspirant named Tom Hazel
(misprinted Lazel under Cropley, in “Fistiana”), on the 21st of August,
1807, at Crawley Common, after Dutch Sam had conquered Tom Belcher. A
subscription purse of thirty guineas had been raised by Captain Barclay,
Lord Say and Sele, Lord Archibald Hamilton, and other amateurs, for
Hazel to try his capabilities, much being thought of his pretensions to
the art. Cropley entered the ring, but Hazel proved a mere pretender in
actual combat. Cropley took the lead and kept it, throwing all Hazel’s
cleverness out, and in fifteen rounds proving the difference between
smart and courageous boxing and clever tapping with “the mufflers.”

The year 1808 was unlucky for our hero. His first match was with Dutch
Sam, on April 5, for fifty guineas, but was stopped by the authorities,
as was that of Jem Belcher and Dogherty, calendared for the same day. It
accordingly went off until the 10th of May, 1808, when Gully beat
Gregson a second time at Markyate Street, Herts. The “big battle” over,
Dutch Sam and Cropley mounted the stage at half past six o’clock in the
evening. In the first round Cropley got in heavily, and nearly closed
Sam’s right eye, but this was his only gleam of success. He tried “all
he knew,” but never again effectively spotted the wily Israelite. Sam
was too active, and in twenty-five minutes Cropley’s last chance was
gone. Bill gave in at the general desire of the amateurs, though he
wished to fight on: it was seven o’clock, and all were “homeward bound.”

On Saturday, June 11, after the fight of Dogherty and Pentikin, a talk
about the merits of the recent battle between Bill Cropley and Dutch Sam
led to some difference of opinion, and an amateur posted fifty guineas
for Bill to fight Tom Belcher in the same ring as Gregson and Tom Cribb
(October 28th, 1808). Accordingly, at Moulsey Hurst, the heroes met,
when Cropley fell, but not discreditably, as may be seen in the life of
TOM BELCHER, _ante_, Chapter II., Period III.

Cropley’s last ring fight was with George Cribb, on Friday, August 9th,
1809, at Pope’s Head Watch House, Reinbow, near Margate, after Richmond
the Black had beaten the veteran George Maddox. (See Life of RICHMOND,
Period IV.)

George proved a clumsy and slow fighter, a mere receiver-general. He
fought desperately and heavily for sixteen minutes, but at the end of
that short time was completely “told out,” and taken away by his
friends. “The match was extremely unequal,” says the report, “Cropley
being equal to Dutch Sam in skill, and much quicker than Cribb.”

From this time we hear of Cropley as a second and a sparrer for a number
of years. As late as May 1821, in a kind of supplementary summary of
“Boxers who have retired,” Pierce Egan thus notices the subject of these
lines. “Bill Cropley, in his day an excellent fighter. His contests with
Dutch Sam and Tom Belcher will always preserve his name from obscurity;
but, having no patron [he must have been going on for fifty], he follows
his occupation as a coal-whipper, but also keeps a school for the minor
amateurs. He seldom exhibits now.” “Boxiana,” second edition, vol. iii.,
p. 554.

We have not found the date of Cropley’s death.

                    TOM BLAKE (TOM TOUGH)—1804‒1810.

Tom Blake, a civil and ready fellow, whose boyish days had been passed
in the navy, deserves a corner in these records of the ring. We shall
pass Tom’s “outside” affairs, which were numerous, to come at once to
his battle with Jack Holmes, the Coachman, long remembered as one of the
most remarkable of the time.

A great company of the patrons of the fistic art having been drawn
together by the great battle of Pearce, the Game Chicken, and Berks,
January 23rd, 1804, a proposition was made, and a purse of 20 guineas
raised, as a prize to be contested for in a few days by two pugilistic
heroes, to be approved as a fair match by the contributors to the stake.

“The candidates, principally second-rate, were very numerous, and from
them were selected two boxers, both well-known in the fighting world,
and possessed of true bottom. These were Tom Blake, better known by the
appellation of ‘Tom Tough,’ and Jack Holmes, a son of Jehu, who in the
year 1794 contested a desperate battle in Harley Fields.[129]

“The cash being properly fixed and arranged, St. George’s-row, near the
Paddington Canal, the spot where Belcher and Berks first contested, was
determined for the battle. Early on the Monday morning, a great crowd
having assembled, the owner of the field sent to give information at Bow
Street. This the combatants heard, and immediately resolved to start for
Wilsden Green, about four miles from town. On their arrival a ring was
formed, and at half past twelve the combatants entered, stripped and
set-to. Odds six to four in favour of Tom Tough.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Holmes put in the first blow on his
            opponent’s left side; this rather staggered him,
            and following him up, put in a bit with his left
            hand and brought him down. (Odds immediately
            changed six to four in favour of the coachman.)

            2 to 11.—During the whole of the ten rounds
            neither of the combatants tried by any manœuvre
            to evade the blow of his opponent. At the
            commencement of each round there was no
            shifting, no attempts at closing, or endeavours
            to throw each other down, but immediately on
            setting to one put in a blow, which was returned
            and manfully supported both right and left,
            until a hit brought one or other down. This
            having been the coachman’s bad luck for the last
            three rounds, odds changed much against him, as
            high as four to one.

            12 to 17.—Tom for the two first of these rounds
            displayed great advantage. In both he brought
            down his opponent by the first blow. The four
            following rounds were, however, more fairly
            contested; neither showed any signs of distress,
            and neither could claim any advantage.

            19.—This round was contested with as much spirit
            as though the battle was really depending on the
            issue. Tom, however, had the advantage. Great

            20 to 26.—Both fought with unabated desperation.
            The odds incessantly varied, being, during these
            rounds, six to four in favour of one or other of
            the combatants. Every round brought down great
            applause, from their astonishing exertions.
            Tom’s side by this time exhibited marks of many
            well planted blows, being perfectly raw. (Odds
            were, however, three to one in his favour.)

            28.—This round had nearly proved fatal to Tom
            Tough, as the coachman nearly carried away his
            bowsprit. He twisted round, but did not fall,
            and tacking about put in a severe blow on the
            coachman’s larboard side, but fell from his own
            blow. (Odds were now three to one in favour of
            the coachman.)

            29.—Tom came up quite lame; he had sprained his
            knee in the fall, and could only with great pain
            point his foot to the earth. His seconds and
            friends wished him to give up, but Tom insisted
            on another broadside. Tom being lame, waited for
            his opponent’s coming up, and throwing out his
            left hand, struck him and brought him down.
            This, however, was considered as only chance, or
            that perhaps Holmes slipped, and odds of ten to
            four were offered against Tom. From this to the

            34th.—Tom every round stood firmly, waiting for
            the attack of his adversary.

            35.—In this round Tom greatly recovered of his
            lameness, and got in better spirits. During the
            round he patted Holmes on the cheek, and said,
            “Thou’rt a good fellow, but must be beat.” (Odds
            in Tom’s favour again.)

            41.—Holmes rallied, knocked down Tom, and
            evidently had the best of the round. The
            combatants continued the contest up to the

            48th.—Both hitting as hard as at first. Holmes’
            face was now even worse beat than Joe Berks’
            during any of his battles, and Tom’s side was
            sad to behold. Tom, however, was now the

            49 to 51.—The first of these rounds Holmes had
            the advantage, brought down his opponent in
            style. Tom, however, perceiving Holmes showed
            signs of being faint, fought more sprightly, and
            having put in a tolerably successful blow, any
            odds were offered that “coachee” would not touch
            collar again; but greatly to the astonishment
            of all, the coachman rallied, and in the last
            round made a wonderful effort to beat down his
            opponent, and succeeded. This round the one upon
            which the coachman depended for the success of
            the battle, for though he struggled hard for the
            superiority up to the sixtieth round, he failed
            in the attempt, and yielded.

            Holmes’ defeat was considered so much more
            to his credit than several of his “outside”
            victories, that the amateurs made a liberal
            collection on his behalf before leaving the

Blake certainly vindicated his popular cognomen, of “Tom Tough,” in this
encounter. His name is “familiar as a household word,” through the ring
combats of Cribb, Maddox, Richmond, etc., etc.

After Tom Cribb, “the novice,” had beaten old Maddox, January 7th, 1805,
Tom Blake seems to have thought himself clever enough to try it on with
the rising “young ’un,” for a purse of 40 guineas, at Blackheath,
February 15, 1806. This proved a sad miscalculation. The embryo champion
had height, reach, weight, and youth on his side, and poor Tom was
finished by a cross-buttock in the last round but one, after an hour’s
gallant but hopeless struggle. “Belcher, Ward, Mendoza, Bittoon, Berks,
Maddox, and Jack Holmes were present, and a leading amateur offered to
back Cribb against any pugilist living, but no one accepted the
challenge.” (See life of TOM CRIBB, Period IV., Chapter 1.)

Five years afterwards, when forty years old, Tom, rough, tough, and
ready, offered himself as a “trial-horse” for the much talked of “young
black,” Tom Molineaux. There is no mistaking the pluck of this offer,
whatever we may think of its discretion. But as Blake is said to have
expressed it, “If he’s ever so good it’ll only be one hiding more, and
at any rate I’ll find out what stuff’s in him,” the match went on. The
battle took place on the coast, a few miles from Margate. Tom Cribb, by
a curious coincidence, seconded Tom Blake, and Richmond—under whose
patronage Molineaux then was—seconded his brother black. The resolution
of Blake upheld his established fame; he was hit completely out of time
by the fresh and powerful young American. The report will be found under
MOLINEAUX, Chapter II., Period IV.

From this period Tom confined himself to the functions of a second or
bottle-holder. In November, 1814, poor Tom, despite his toughness,
caught his death-cold; he was laid up with rheumatic fever, and finally
died of an attack of paralysis, early in 1815. Tom’s battles were always
courageous, and in his earlier day remarkably dexterous and skilful. His
gameness rendered him formidable, and his endurance, _teste_ his battle
with Holmes, and later with Tom Cribb, fully evidenced that his alias,
“Tom Tough,” was a well-bestowed title.

                      BOB GREGSON—1807‒1809.[130]

Few men were more widely known in the sporting circles of London, for
the few years that he made the metropolis his home, than the burly,
bigboned, gigantic landlord of “Bob’s Chophouse,” better known as the
Castle, Holborn; the head-quarters of pugilism in the great days of the
Belchers, Cribbs, and Tom Spring; the first and last, for a long series
of years, being bonifaces of this well-known hostelry.

Gregson was born July 21st, 1778, at Heskin, three miles from Chorley,
and ten from Preston, Lancashire; and we have Pierce Egan’s word for it,
who doubtless had it from Bob’s own lips, that he commanded the
Liverpool and Wigan Packet, for several years with credit and respect.
What follows is somewhat strange. “For the period of seven years, all
the pugilistic heroes of Lancashire, as well as those from other parts,
that met him in combat, surrendered to his conquering arm, and the name
of Gregson was resounded from one end to the other as the proud champion
of that most populous county. His pitched battles were numerous; but the
skirmishes of Bob were by far too frequent for us to treat upon, and we
have, therefore, slightly touched on those achievements which claim a
prominency of feature.”

The captain of “the Liverpool and Wigan Packet,” must have had his hands
pretty full, for besides “all the pugilistic heroes of Lancashire, as
well as those from other parts,” Bob Gregson is related to have beaten a
rival for the hand and affections of Mrs. G., of the name of Harry
Mandersley; after which one “Ned Waller, a sort of second champion of
the county,” had to be disposed of, which he of course was. James
Ayschire, Ned Prescot, James Benton, “one Tom Dawber,” Robert Fance, Tom
Wright, Bill Hallrop, and other real or phantom boxers, all fall in
succession before Gregson’s “conquering arm,” each under circumstances
minutely manufactured with a detail and diffuseness that may well excite
the envy of the most prolix penny-a-liner that ever stuffed out
emptiness with verbose nothings. Finally Pierce brings down the
“tremendous Joe Berks,” introducing him in the following choice

“The tremendous Joe Berks now made his appearance in Manchester,
threatening destruction to all the pugilists in the county, who should
have the temerity to enter the lists with him, when Gregson was once
more called upon to avenge the honour of his native soil, and to expel,
if possible, this daring invader. It was a truly brave contest, and the
gluttony of this pugilistic cormorant was never more completely
satisfied, and who publicly declared a short time afterwards, that his
appetite had never been good since that period. The battle took place at
Higher Hardwicke, when after forty minutes had elapsed Berks
acknowledged Gregson to be his master.” Need we say, after a perusal of
Berks’ memoir, that the whole of this is pure invention. Gregson and
Berks never met. The historian proceeds, “Soon after this circumstance,”
the imaginary encounter with Joe Berks, “Bob’s prospects in life
experienced a material change, owing to a severe domestic calamity, in
the loss of an amiable and affectionate partner; and he now not only bid
[bade] adieu to Lancashire, but in all probability to pugilism in
future, in being presented with a commission in the army, which
regiment, named after the county, was quartered at Plymouth, to which
place Gregson repaired, to join the standard; but finding that his
finances were not able to support the character of an officer with that
respectability which such a situation required, he relinquished the
project, and entered, rather imprudently, into the gay pursuits of
fashion at that place, that when he arrived in the metropolis, to use a
sporting phrase, he was nearly cleaned out. Bob now experienced some
vicissitudes—facts are stubborn things—and it was from the necessity of
the moment only, that Gregson was induced to enter the ring again as a
pugilist.” Of this we may believe as much or as little as we please. The
Lancashire hero’s first interview with John Gully, seems, however,
somewhat inconsistent with “behaviour becoming an officer and a
gentleman,” as the phrase runs. His eulogist shall tell it in his own
words: “Upon Bob’s first meeting with Gully, at a public house, some
harsh epithets passed between them, when Gregson, to show his strength
took Gully up under his arm, and threw him down on the ground; upon
which a match was the consequence between those heroes.” This is pretty
good. We will not, however, pursue this branch of the subject



Gregson, who stood six feet one inch and a half in height, and weighed
fifteen stone six pounds, was a Lancashire rough, of undaunted courage,
immense endurance, trusting to brute strength for victory, and falling
before skilful practitioners of the art of self-defence. His battles
with Gully at Newmarket, October 14, 1807; and at Markyate Street,
Herts., May 10, 1808 (for which see life of JOHN GULLY); with Tom Cribb,
at Moulsey, October 25, 1808 (see life of TOM CRIBB), sufficiently
illustrate his strength and courage. As to Gregson’s poetical merits,
whereon Pierce Egan expatiates in several pages of his own marvellous
prose, we may pass them safely to the limbo of lost reputations; lest,
however, we should be thought invidious, we will give the _best_ stanza
we can find among the specimens preserved in “Boxiana,” vol. i., p. 358,
in the Appendix of “Prime Chaunts for the Fancy.”

   “The garden of freedom is the British land we live in,
     And welcomes every slave from his banish’d isle,
   Allows them to impose on a nation good and generous,
     To incumber and pollute our native soil.
           But John Bull cries out aloud,
           We’re neither poor nor proud,
   But open to all nations, let them come from where they will;
           The British lads that’s here,
           Quite strangers are to fear,
   Here’s Tom Cribb, with bumpers round, for he can them mill!”[132]

With this specimen of crambo the reader will be satisfied. Some really
clever poetical effusions from the pens of Mr. Hunter, of Southampton,
Mr. Vincent Dowling and others, which from time to time adorned the
columns of _Bell’s Life in London_, will occur among the records of
passing ring events, and these we shall gladly transfer to the
enlivening of the pages of our history.

From 1808 to 1814, when Tom Belcher succeeded him as landlord of the
Castle, “Bob’s Chop-house,” as it was called, was the head quarters of
ring patrons and pugilists. As a business speculation, however, Gregson
did not make it pay. The celebrated Yorkshire actor, Robert Emery, of
Covent Garden, appears to have been a staunch patron of Bob’s, taking
the chair at his opening dinner, and contributing his great vocal and
conversational talents to his service on festive occasions. On one of
these we find a song containing a stanza laudatory of Bob, in which his
early position as the commander of a packet is clearly mentioned:—

                   “A captain from afar,
                     Kick’d up such a racket,
                   Though not a man of war,
                     He did command a packet:
                   Wind and weather howl,
                     Never did appal him,
                   Let the tempest scowl,
                     His lads were sure to haul him.”

After enumerating his four defeats the singer concludes:

                “Now he’s got a job,
                  He keeps the Castle Inn, sir,
                In Holborn, call on Bob,
                  There’s wine, and beer, and gin, sir.

                “If once you pull his bell,
                  You’re sure to call again, sir,
                For though in fight he fell,
                  He’s not the worst of men, sir:
                No more he’ll fight for stakes,
                  He’s done with hits and stops, sir,
                With Gullys, Cribbs, or Blacks;
                  In peace he’ll mind his chops, sir.”

After an attempt at establishing a sparring school in London, Gregson
left the metropolis for Dublin, where his peculiar merits were more
likely to be appreciated. He opened the rooms once occupied by the
“Royal Irish Academy,” as a “School for teaching the art of
self-defence,” and is said to have been “well supported by the first
class of amateurs in Dublin.” In April, 1819, Gregson was in London, and
took a benefit at the theatre in Catherine Street, Strand, at which
Donnelly, “the Irish champion,” showed, with an arm lamed by an
accident. In August, 1819, Donnelly, George Cooper and Gregson, were on
a sparring tour in Ireland, and later we find Bob figuring as the
landlord of “the Punch House,” Moor Street, Dublin. In 1824, Gregson,
whose health had been for some time failing, died at Liverpool, in the
month of November, and lies buried in St. Nicholas’ churchyard.

                           END OF PERIOD III.

                          PERIOD IV—1805‒1820.

                               CHAPTER I.

             THOMAS CRIBB, CHAMPION OF ENGLAND.—1805‒1820.

“Advance, brave Broughton!” exclaims Captain Godfrey, with manly
enthusiasm; “thee I pronounce Captain of the Boxers!” Had the worthy and
trueborn writer of “the Characters” lived in the nineteenth century, he
would have bestowed this compliment on “honest and brave Old Tom.” Since
first the honour of champion was a coveted and distinguished prize for
men of bold heart and iron sinew, for men of forbearing coolness and
pain-defying fortitude, down to these evil days of wrangle, chaffing,
bullying, and shifting, a more straightforward, excellent,
simple-hearted, generous, and brave man than Tom Cribb, never held the
hard-won trophy.

There are curious parallels to be traced in pugilistic as well as public
annals, which exemplify the sagacious remark of a philosophic writer,
that history is always repeating itself. Thus renown awakens emulation
in other hearts, and bold adventurers are ready to challenge imputed
superiority. In such competitions with man, horse, or hound, in athletic
exercises, in courage, endurance, and in cool self-reliance even against
odds physical or numerical, England has no cause to blush for her sons.
In the days of Fig, we have seen that a Venetian gondolier, a formidable
fellow, vaunted as “the strongest man in Europe,” proposed to tear the
champion’s wreath from—

                “England, that never did nor never shall
                Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror.”



  _From the Painting by_ DE WILD, 1811.

In the time of Cribb, the descendant of an African race, remarkable for
insensibility to pain, a low cerebral development, and immense muscular
powers, challenged the belt, was met by Tom Cribb, defeated, and died a
self-destroyed victim to his mortification and reckless excess. In our
own time an Irish-American of superior stature, weight, and physique,
with the advantages of youth, activity, and unexhausted energy, offered
himself as challenger of the belt, which might well be taken as the
symbol of the championship of the world. Its holder was a middle weight,
whose many hard fought battles had left him outward marks on his person,
and still more told upon his elasticity and lasting powers. Yet Tom
Sayers undauntedly met the defiance, and the result, though
unsatisfactory in the main, showed what lion-hearted courage and a
determination to “do or die” can achieve. The trophy was retained in our
little “nook-shotten isle,” again to be contended for by Englishmen,
though “open to all comers,” without regard to country and colour. But
we are anticipating our history, which has now to do with the honest,
hearty, and gallant Tom Cribb.

Cribb was born July 8th, 1781, at Hanham, in the parish of Bitton,
Gloucester, on the borders of Somerset, situate about five miles from
Bristol, and it is rather a disputed point to which of the counties
contiguous to Hanham this spot belongs.

Pierce Egan, from Cribb’s own lips, has compiled a diffuse account of
his earlier career, to which we are indebted for the following

Our hero left his native place at a very early period, and arrived in
the metropolis, when no more than thirteen years old, to follow the
trade of a bell-hanger, under the guidance of a relative; but the
confined occupation of hanging bells not exactly meeting his ideas, and
being a strong youth, he preferred an out-door calling, and commenced
porter at the wharfs, during which time he met with two accidents that
had nearly deprived him of existence—in stepping from one coal barge to
another, he fell between them, and got jammed in a dreadful manner; and
in carrying a very heavy package of oranges, weighing nearly 500 pounds,
he slipped upon his back, and the load fell upon his chest, which
occasioned him to spit blood for several days afterwards. By the
excellence of his constitution, he was soon enabled to recover his
strength from those severe accidents; and aided by the invigorating air
of the ocean, upon which he had the honour of serving against the
enemies of his country, his fine natural stamina was improved. The
natural good temper and forbearance of this brave man has left his
historian little to record in the way of skirmishes; and the important
contests which it will become our duty and pleasing task to record, were
all conducted on the principles of professional boxing—the very first
elements of which are manliness, forbearance, and fair play. Though
Cribb was generally considered a slow fighter, he was as generally
admired as a sure hitter; his wind was of the first quality, and his
game never excelled. With such sound pugilistic pretensions it will not
appear surprising that Tom quickly scaled his way to fame and fortune,
in which career we shall leave his actions to speak for themselves.

In the beginning of 1805, Cribb fought his first public battle with that
veteran of fistic glory, George Maddox, on Wood Green, near Highgate,
January 7th, 1805, for a subscription purse of twenty-five
guineas—twenty for the winner and five for the loser. The disparity of
years was considerable between the combatants; and Cribb, besides
possessing the advantages of youth, was somewhat taller than Maddox,
and, consequently rather the favourite.

As we find no report, beyond a mere mention of this fight in “Boxiana,”
or elsewhere, we give the brief account we find in the weekly papers:
“On Monday (January 7), at Wood Green, about two miles north of
Highgate, a severe boxing match took place, between the pugilistic
veteran, George Maddox (in his 50th year), and Thomas Cribb, a young
man, who had never entered the lists before, but known in the
neighbourhood of Wapping, where he has been working as a coal-porter, as
‘the Black Diamond.’ Maddox’s second was Tom Jones, and Black Sam
sympathetically seconded the Black Diamond.

“The contest was for an amateur subscription purse of 25 guineas, 20 for
the winner, and five for the loser. A ring having been formed, at about
twelve o’clock the combatants entered. On stripping appearances were
greatly in favour of Cribb; he being a well made man, standing five feet
ten inches, about two inches taller than Maddox. After the usual
ceremonies they set-to.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—This was little more than sparring. The
            Diamond put in a blow, but no harm done.

            4.—Well contested. Maddox showed considerable
            skill, and finished it by closing his opponent’s
            eye. (Odds rose two to one in favour of George.)
            From this to the

            30th.—Nothing of consequence happened; both men
            fought desperately, Maddox with great tact as
            well as pluck, and each endeavoured to out-do
            his opponent. Maddox by this time finding his
            antagonist possessed good bottom, exerted his
            utmost to blind him, and hit always at his head,
            Cribb fighting with undaunted courage.

            40.—By this time they had fought exactly an
            hour, and Cribb’s eye was severely hurt. (Odds
            four to one on Maddox.) To the

            52nd.—Was a continued series of hard fighting.

            53.—Odds again rose in favour of Maddox, and he
            put in a most severe blow a little beneath his
            opponent’s left eye, which perfectly closed it.
            The fight had now lasted one hour and a half;
            but from this to the

            60th.—Maddox continued to lose ground, becoming
            almost worn out. The friends and partisans of
            Maddox perceiving this, got up a row in another
            part of the ring, and his seconds led him off,
            declaring it a drawn battle. On this Cribb
            demanded the purse; but this was refused, and a
            general engagement ensued. Caleb Baldwin, Tom
            Jones, Black Sam, Dutch Sam, and the spectators
            took a very active share. During the scuffle
            some ruffian treacherously cut Cribb over the
            head with a stick. Order, however, was, after
            some time, restored, and Cribb insisted either
            on the purse or that his antagonist should
            return to the combat. This generous offer was to
            Maddox’s friends a perfect poser, but rather
            than lose ‘the cole,’ they brought George out of
            a hackney coach to renew the fight, and the
            combatants again set-to. They supported the
            contest for sixteen rounds, making in all
            seventy-six, and the time two hours and twelve
            minutes, when George, thoroughly exhausted, gave
            in. Cribb, having but just come forward, found
            but few friends, and consequently was obliged to
            put up with much unfair play.

Such is the contemporary report, and one that shows that the “win, tie,
or wrangle” school is not altogether modern, and that ruffians at the
ring side, as elsewhere, were among our grandfathers as in the present
time. Cribb’s reputation rose greatly by the coolness, even temper, and
game he displayed, as a novice contending against one of the best and
most experienced tacticians of his time.

Young Cribb was well in three days, and at the Fives Court, where he was
challenged by Tom Blake (Tom Tough). See Appendix, _ante_, p. 236.
Preliminaries were quickly arranged, and a month’s time given, February
15th, 1805, being appointed, on which day they met on Blackheath. We
quote the report:—

                               THE FIGHT.

            Both parties had been a month in training. All
            the patrons and admirers of pugilism having
            gained information on the preceding evening of
            the seat of combat, early in the morning
            Blackheath was thronged. A ring was formed, and
            about eleven o’clock Cribb entered, accompanied
            by Richmond, the black, and Joe Norton, as his
            seconds. Blake soon followed, with Dick Hall and
            Webb, for his attendants. They stripped, and
            immediately set-to. Bets even, but odds
            generally considered in favour of Cribb, from
            his known agility and skill. The combatants met
            each other with great eagerness, and each put in
            some exceedingly good blows. For a quarter of an
            hour bets remained stationary, and both
            champions in that time had displayed a degree of
            science and courage almost unprecedented. Cribb,
            however, being longer in the reach than his
            opponent, it was seldom Blake could effectively
            get home a blow. At the end of an hour Blake
            began to show great symptoms of distress, and
            odds were now strongly betted in favour of
            Cribb. Still Blake stood up manfully, and
            displayed a great deal of his usual dexterity.
            Until within the two last rounds of the battle,
            Cribb astonishingly supported his advantage; but
            here Blake brought his utmost, both in strength
            and skill, into action. He put in several
            excellent straight hits about his opponent’s
            head; Cribb rallied most determinedly. Blake
            recovered and returned to the rally, but
            overreaching himself, Cribb threw him a

            The next round decided the contest; Blake found
            he was fighting at an overpowering disadvantage,
            and gave in. Blake was extremely weak; he could
            hardly stand; and Cribb showed marks of his
            antagonist’s dexterity.

            Belcher, Warr, Mendoza, Bittoon, Berks, Maddox,
            and Jack Holmes were there. Several amateurs
            offered to back Cribb against any pugilist
            going, but no one accepted the challenge.

Cribb was not allowed to rest long upon the laurels he had thus acquired
by two victories in two months. A ponderous Jew, known as Ikey Pig, well
known among the sparring schools, fancied he could take the shine out of
the Black Diamond, whom many declared to be “slow as a top.” Fifty
guineas was posted, and Blackheath named as the rendezvous. On May 21st,
1805, the battle came off. Tom Jones seconded Cribb, and Will Wood, the
coachman, picked up the Jew.

For the first quarter of an hour Ikey made good use of his strength. He
closed at the end of each round, and brought Cribb down heavily more
than once. Cribb fought very steadily and cautiously, generally drawing
his man after him. Being, however, down and undermost at the end of
several rounds, superficial observers thought that Cribb had the worst
of it, and betted against him. In the eighth and ninth rounds, however,
though Cribb was down, Ikey’s friends perceived their man had much the
worst of it. He was not only much disfigured but sadly distressed by
some heavy half-arm hits which Cribb had delivered with the right on his
left side. They fought two more rounds, making eleven in all, when Ikey,
who was terribly distressed, refused to fight any more, alleging that he
had sprained his wrist. “This defeat sadly mortified many of the
Israelites, who considered Ikey had shown ‘the white feather.’ It was
afterwards, however, agreed that he had no chance of victory.”

Cribb was unquestionably “going the pace,” and “it is the pace that
kills.” The next month (June), he was matched to fight George Nicholls,
on the 20th July. They met at Broadwater, and here Cribb experienced his
first and last defeat. The details will be found under Nicholls’ memoir
in the Appendix to this Period.

As colour or country made no difference to Tom Cribb, any more than to
his smaller successor Tom Sayers, Cribb entered the ring on the 8th
October, 1805, with Bill Richmond, the black, at Hailsham, Sussex, after
Gully had been defeated by the accomplished Pearce, the Game Chicken.
The purse was 25 guineas, twenty to the winner.

“At any other time,” says the reporter, “a contest between these men
would have demanded the greatest attention, but so highly were the minds
of the amateurs excited by the merit of the first contenders, that
little notice seemed paid to the present battle. To call it a battle,
however, is to disgrace the synonyme of fight. It was a most unequal
match. Richmond, finding he could not get at his steady and formidable
opponent, hopped and danced about the ring, sometimes falling down, at
others jigging round in the style of an Otaheitan dance. Cribb appeared
somewhat puzzled by his opponent’s long black pegs, and could not be
persuaded to go in and lick him off hand, as every one knew was well in
his power. Twenty minutes elapsed without a single blow of any
consequence passing. In this manner they spun it out for one hour and a
half, when Cribb was acknowledged the victor, without being the least
hurt. Among the numerous sporting equestrians present was the Duke of

Cribb now rose into general notice, and John Jackson having introduced
him to the renowned Captain Barclay, of Ury (of whom more anon), that
excellent judge quickly perceived his natural good qualities; he took
him in hand, trained him under his own eye, and backed him for 200
guineas against the famous Jem Belcher, whose _prestige_ was still so
great, that, despite the loss of an eye, six to four was laid upon him
so soon as the match was made.

On the classic hurst of Moulsey, on the 8th April, 1807, in a twenty
feet roped ring, Tom Cribb and Jem Belcher met. Gully and Bob Watson, of
Bristol, waited upon Belcher; Bill Warr and Bill Richmond (last defeated
by Cribb), waited on the champion.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—The science on both sides was shown in
            the excellence of their defensive attitudes;
            Belcher’s, however, was far the most graceful
            and unconstrained. Belcher broke ground, and got
            in two light hits left and right on the body of
            his opponent, which were returned slightly by
            Cribb, who rallied, closed, and was thrown by

            2.—Belcher put in two severe blows upon Cribb’s
            head and body, when the latter returned a hit,
            but slipped down upon his hands in attempting to
            follow it up. Cribb showed the first blood.

            3.—Several severe blows were exchanged, when
            Cribb threw Belcher, who planted a heavy body
            blow while in the act of falling. This round
            rather in favour of Cribb.

            4.—Cribb displayed good science in warding off
            two blows of Belcher’s, when they closed and

            5.—Belcher with his right hand put in a dreadful
            blow on Cribb’s left eye, and in closing hit his
            opponent twice in the body, and threw him. (Five
            to two on Belcher.)

            6.—Cribb began to show symptoms of weakness.
            Belcher put in a hit, warding off which caused
            Cribb to fall.

            7.—Belcher’s punishment was now visible on
            the body of Cribb, who endeavoured to put in
            two blows, which were parried by Belcher,
            and Jem returned both right and left with
            great dexterity, and rallied his man to the
            ropes, when Cribb clung to them, and fell
            much fatigued; Belcher also went down on his
            knees, but seemed in good spirits. (Three to
            one on Jem.)

            8.—A good supply of home-brewed from Cribb;
            hitting and retreating neatly on both sides;
            when they closed and both went down.

            9.—Belcher hit his adversary right and left, but
            only the latter told, when Jem fell from the
            force of his own blow.

            10.—Belcher commenced this round with great
            spirit, and gave Cribb some severe blows,
            without letting him have a chance; following and
            rallying his opponent to the ropes, when Cribb,
            appearing quite fatigued, fell. (The odds now
            rose four to one on Jem.)

            11.—Belcher planted two hits, which Cribb
            skilfully warded off, but Belcher was so rapid
            in closing upon his antagonist, that they both
            went down.

            12.—A small change was now making its appearance
            between the combatants—Cribb seemed rather
            gaining his strength, while Belcher appeared
            rather distressed from his exertions; Cribb
            rallied successfully, planted a hit under
            Belcher’s perfect eye, closed, and threw him.

            13.—Belcher in all his contests never showed
            himself to greater advantage than in this round;
            his skill was of the finest order, and only
            equalled by his courage. In closing, Belcher
            threw Cribb.

            14.—Both on the alert. Belcher let go both right
            and left, which were parried by Cribb, who
            returned two blows in the body, when they closed
            and fell. (Still four to one on Belcher.)

            15.—Belcher, full of gaiety, rallied Cribb to
            the extremity of the ring, and, in struggling,
            put an end to the round by falling.

            16.—Cribb stopped Belcher’s blows with great
            skill. The knowing ones were, at this period
            of the battle, rather at a stand-still with
            regard to sporting their money. Cribb, it was
            certain, by his appearance, had received severe
            punishment, but not enough to satisfy anything
            like his gluttony and Belcher’s stamina had been
            considered on the decline previous to the
            contest, and it was apprehended that he could
            not last.

            17.—Belcher, still confident, forced the
            fighting, until Cribb fell from fatigue.

            18.—Belcher put in some severe blows in the
            body, and followed them with a heavy
            right-hander on the throat of his opponent, and
            Cribb fell violently, and quite exhausted. It
            was in this round that Belcher sprained his
            wrist, and was almost deprived of the use of his
            right hand afterwards.

            19.—Belcher slipped in making play.

            20.—The combatants closed and fell.

            21.—Cribb planted two blows on his opponent’s
            head, who slipped in returning them. It was now
            perceived that Belcher proved incorrect in his
            distances, and that several of his blows were
            thrown away, from the bad state of his eye.

            23.—Belcher, full of gaiety, put in a good hit,
            and threw Cribb a cross-buttock.

            24.—Cribb the most conspicuous in the round,
            when they closed and fell.

            25.—Cribb put in a tremendous blow, and in
            attempting to follow it up, Belcher shifted, and
            Cribb ran himself down.

            26.—The constitution of Belcher was now giving
            way; his strength was not able to resist the
            heavy punishment of Cribb, who hit Jem from him,
            and gave him a leveller. Cribb upon this became
            the favourite.

            27.—A well-contested round, and, notwithstanding
            Belcher gave Cribb a cross-buttock, it was
            considered in favour of the latter.

            28.—Belcher made a hit, which was warded off by
            his opponent and returned, when they closed and

            29.—Without hesitation Cribb closed, and, from
            his uncommon strength, threw Belcher over the

            30.—After slight exchanges, Belcher fell from a
            very slight hit.

            31.—A good round, without any particular
            advantage to either; though Cribb put in the
            most blows, yet Belcher gave his adversary a
            violent fall.

            32.—Both closed and fell.

            33.—Belcher, quite game, endeavoured to make the
            best of it, but Cribb rallied and threw him.

            34, 35, and 36.—In all these rounds Cribb
            maintained the superiority.

            37.—Belcher had scarcely any strength left to
            stand, and his brave opponent was not in a much
            better state; and from this period to the
            fortieth it was little better than mere hugging,
            blows they could not be called, from the
            exhausted state of both the combatants.

            41 and last.—Thirty-five minutes had now
            elapsed, and Cribb proving the stronger man,
            put in two weak blows, when Belcher, quite
            exhausted, fell upon the ropes, and gave up
            the contest.

            REMARKS.—Every one present could not but feel
            surprised at the astonishing improvement Cribb
            had made in the science of pugilism. In all
            his preceding contests he had only displayed
            the pluck of a novice, but in this he showed
            himself equal to his opponent in stopping and
            measuring his distances. Had it been generally
            known that he had so amply possessed these
            qualities, as well as his astonishing game,
            the result might have been anticipated.
            Notwithstanding this just praise is paid to
            Cribb’s merit, he cannot be considered equally
            scientific with his unsuccessful opponent. He
            was decidedly slow, and until after the hit he
            so dexterously put in on Belcher’s perfect
            eye, and the latter had sprained his wrist, he
            stood a doubtful chance. Belcher fought with
            all that vigour and skill which ever were his
            characteristics, but seemed incapable of
            judging his distances accurately.

From the above somewhat meagre report of this battle, it will be
gathered that notwithstanding the strength of Cribb, who was nearly two
stone heavier than his opponent, he was only just able to pull through
against the wonderful skill and activity of Jem Belcher. Indeed, it is
said in “Boxiana,” that had it not been for the manœuvring of Bill Warr,
the boot would have been on the other leg. It appears that in the
eighteenth round, when Cribb fell exhausted, Gully, who was seconding
Belcher, was so satisfied that Cribb could not come to time, that he
offered five to one to Warr that Belcher had won. Bill accepted the bet,
and then craftily insisted that it should be staked. This ceremony,
although only occupying a minute, gave sufficient time to enable a
glutton like Cribb to recover himself.

George Cribb, who was emulous of his brother’s fame, made his first
unsuccessful effort with Horton, a big provincial boxer, of the Bristol
School. Horton, whose only claim to survive in ring history is the fact
of his having fought Tom Cribb, beat “the young ’un” in twenty-five
minutes. The report, given in “Pancratia,” p. 302, says, “Cribb, like
his more distinguished brother, fights too slow, while Horton, who is a
rare doublehanded fellow, hit him abroad every round. Horton, when the
battle was over, offered to fight either Tom Cribb or John Gully, but
both declined.” Tom, however, merely waited, and Gully had already a
match on with Gregson, and, therefore, Mister Horton’s challenge looks
much like “bounce.” In January, 1808, Cribb accepted the challenge of
Horton; the latter being under the care and tuition of Pearce, the Game
Chicken. The stake was 100 guineas, ten posted as a forfeit, and the
fight to come off in the same ring as Gully and Gregson’s battle. From
the flourishing accounts of Horton’s improvement in sparring while on a
tour with the “Chicken,” all but Captain Barclay, and a few firm friends
of Cribb, declined laying any odds. The combat came off on the 10th May,
1808, at Markyate Street, Herts. The absorbing interest of the Gully and
Gregson contest seems to have prevented the reporters from doing justice
to this battle, which, nevertheless, was a poor one-sided affair. If
young George had no chance with Horton, Horton had less with “brother
Tom.” At the close of the first round six to four was betted upon Cribb,
which increased to two and three to one soon afterwards. Tom’s
steadiness and safe milling qualities made it merely a question of time.
Twenty-five rounds, however, for Cribb was never in a hurry, were
required before Horton gave in utterly beaten.

The sporting world was now divided in opinion as to the pugilistic
merits of the burly host of the Castle, Bob Gregson, and Tom Cribb. It
was maintained by one party that Gregson, though overmatched by the
skill of Gully, who had now formally retired from the championship,
would shine conspicuously from his great strength and pluck, if matched
against such “a slow one” (for on this point Cribb’s opponents, like Tom
Sayers’, always insisted). Accordingly in June, 1808, when Gully and
Cribb had a joint benefit at the Fives Court, a challenge was given, and
Tuesday, October 25th, 1808, fixed as the day of battle. Moulsey Hurst,
in a thirty feet roped ring, was the _locus in quo_, and for the details
we quote the _Daily Advertiser_:—

“The dreadful beating Gregson had received from Gully, so far from
disheartening him, only tended to make him tenfold solicitous for
another chance of acquiring pugilistic fame. Major Morgan, his last
backer, however, declined patronising him; but he soon found another
friend in the Marquis of Tweeddale. Paul Methuen, Esq., backed Cribb in
this contest.”

A thirty feet ring having been formed, at half past twelve the
combatants entered; Cribb attended by Gully and Bill Gibbons, and
Gregson with his seconds, Jem Belcher and Richmond. Odds five to four in
favour of Cribb, more betters than takers. At a quarter before one they

                            THE FIGHT.[133]

            Round 1.—The instant Cribb shook hands he stept
            back, and assumed his attitude. Short sparring,
            each anxious for the first hit. Gregson
            attempted to lead with his left hand, but his
            distance was ill-judged, and fell short. Cribb
            was also ineffectual, as his blow went over his
            opponent’s shoulder. They closed, and both fell,
            Gregson uppermost.

            2.—Cribb put in two body blows, right and left.
            Gregson made a courageous attempt to hit Cribb,
            who shifted and avoided him dexterously, and
            immediately threw in a severe hit in the right
            side of the face with his left hand. Blood
            issued from the cut profusely, and never ceased
            during the combat. Gregson lost his temper, and
            threw in some desperate blows in the neck,
            which, had Cribb not partially avoided, it was
            supposed would have ended the contest. Cribb
            rallied, and threw his opponent. (Odds two to
            one in Cribb’s favour.)

            4.—Gregson rallied, and put in a severe hit
            under Cribb’s ear; Cribb retreated, according
            to his usual mode of fighting, and Gregson
            following him, he at every retreating step put
            in a severe hit with his left hand on the right
            side of Gregson’s face. Gregson, however,
            followed up until he fell, absolutely stunned.

            5.—No fighting; Cribb fell in making play.

            6.—This round odds fell again. Gregson judged
            his distance well, and the first hit threw in so
            tremendous a blow on the temple, that Cribb was
            glaringly abroad and stupefied. Had Gregson
            now possessed science as a pugilist equal to
            his strength, he must have beaten Cribb out of
            time, but while Cribb was retreating to the
            ropes, desirous of finishing the round, Gregson
            followed him, and lost this glorious opportunity
            of winning the battle, by idly sparring away the
            time, instead of repeating his blows. Cribb,
            with all his dexterity, was obliged to sustain
            another disadvantageous rally before he could
            close the round, and then was knocked off his

            7.—Cribb’s head cut a sorry figure, and
            Gregson’s mouth and nose continued to bleed
            copiously. They rallied, and both exchanged hits
            to a stand-still, when Gregson threw Cribb.

            8.—Gregson made play, but no dependance could be
            placed on his hits, from the bad judgment he
            displayed in his distances. Cribb put in his
            favourite left-handed hit again over Gregson’s
            dreadfully sore mouth. Gregson, almost wild,
            closed, and threw Cribb a severe cross-buttock.
            Nevertheless, odds rose again two to one on

            9.—Gregson showed evident distress. Cribb still
            kept up his old game of retreating. Gregson,
            impelled by the warmth of his temper, followed
            him, and was severely punished by some dreadful
            repeats on the right side of his face. He fell
            on his knees, and appeared unable to rise again
            alone. (Three to one on Cribb.)

            10.—Cribb supported his superiority. They fought
            until both fell on their knees, and after a
            fraternal hug, both laid themselves down,
            exhausted with fatigue.

            11.—Both appeared distressed in their wind, and
            showed great caution; closed, and both fell.

            12.—In this round the combatants seemed
            recovering, and a display of greater courage
            never was seen. Gregson threw in a most
            tremendous hit, but it fell short by an inch. He
            then rallied, and successfully planted a hit on
            the head, and another on the body. Cribb seemed
            abroad, and Gregson threw him. (Odds seven to
            four on Cribb.)

            13.—Language would be incapable of describing
            the dreadful appearance of the faces of both
            combatants. They, however, obstinately stood
            and exchanged hits until Gregson fell, more by
            exhaustion than by the force of the hit.

            14.—This round was as resolutely contended.
            Gregson exerted his utmost to gain the
            advantage, but Cribb seemed to have recovered
            both his wind and strength. Gregson was so weak
            that his knees gave way, and he fell on his
            hands, and actually pulled at the grass with

            15.—Cribb beat his opponent in this round
            dreadfully. Gregson fell again; then tried to
            get on his knees, but in vain.

            16.—By chance Gregson struck Cribb on the head
            at setting-to, and brought him down.

            19.—It appeared to require the greatest
            exertions of both combatants to make any
            impression, and he who for a minute was favoured
            by nature had the advantage.

            20.—Both displayed excellent bottom. They
            mutually ran in, met, and fell like men
            perfectly inebriated.

            22.—A rally, and Gregson bored down his
            opponent. (Ten to one was offered that Cribb did
            not come again.)

            23.—Cribb at meeting had just strength enough
            to put in two slight hits, and closed. They
            wrestled, and Cribb threw Gregson, who fell like
            lead. He was, however, put again on his second’s
            knee, but on time being called was unable to
            come forward, having been seriously hurt in the
            last fall. Cribb, on hearing the news might have
            considered it the luckiest moment of his life:
            he immediately fell into his second’s arms, and
            remained apparently exhausted for some minutes.

            On recovering, Cribb challenged Richmond, who
            had offended him, to fight immediately for 50
            guineas, but this was prevented.

            REMARKS.—Gregson sustained in this contest as
            much injury as he did with Gully, and proved
            himself a bad judge of his distances, and, as
            every scientific amateur always considered him,
            a novice in the art of pugilism. In rallying
            he had but one hit, which, if it failed not
            only to take effect, but to stun his adversary,
            the rally was sure to terminate greatly to his
            disadvantage; still Cribb never was secure of
            beating him, for although hit several times
            to a stand-still, he recovered his wind at
            intervals, and certainly stood up with the most
            undaunted courage. Cribb fought upon his old
            plan of retreating, in order to wind his
            adversary, and by this means always fights at
            home. He was here particularly successful with
            his left-handed hits, as Gregson’s face showed
            by its dreadfully bruised state. Cribb’s
            principal backer presented him with £150, as
            a reward for his undaunted courage; and Mr.
            Jackson kindly collected a handsome subscription
            purse for the unfortunate Gregson. Gregson was
            conveyed to the King’s Head at Hampton, and
            Cribb to the Toy Inn at Hampton Court. They were
            both bled, and remained quiet until Wednesday
            evening, when they returned to town. The Duke of
            York, the Marquis of Tweeddale, Lords Yarmouth,
            Craven, Brook, Barrymore, and Somerville, with a
            large number of military and naval officers and
            sporting gentlemen were upon the ground.

This battle, which almost equalled in severity that between Gully and
Gregson, brought Cribb to the elevation of the championship, Mr. Gully
having, as we have seen, formally retired from the position. No sooner
did this come to the ears of Jem Belcher—who was still smarting under
the defeat he had sustained at the hands of Cribb, which he never ceased
maintaining was the result of an accident to his wrist—than he sent
forth a challenge to Cribb, for another trial for the belt and 200
guineas. Cribb readily responded; the preliminaries were arranged, and
Monday, February 1, 1809, fixed for the combat. Captain Barclay again
came forward as Cribb’s backer and trainer, and the odds were seven to
four in Tom’s favour. Belcher went into training at Virginia Water, and
it was stated he was in excellent condition and spirits.

On the Monday above-mentioned, in a thirty feet roped ring, on Epsom
race-course, the men met, Belcher entering the enclosure at half past
twelve, waited upon by Dan Mendoza and Bob Clarke. Soon afterwards Cribb
threw his “castor” into the ring, followed by Joe Ward and Bill Gibbons.
Two and then three to one were offered on Cribb.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Sparring for half a minute, Belcher
            made two hits; Cribb parried one, but the other
            got home in the body. Cribb returned; Belcher
            made a half-armed stop. They closed, and Belcher
            fell, but lightly.

            2.—Cribb made play, and threw in a body hit.
            Belcher rallied. Some good blows exchanged, and
            Cribb threw his opponent.

            3.—No visible marks of hitting yet. Belcher very
            gay, with great skill made two lunging hits
            right and left, the last of which Cribb received
            in full force under his left ear, and a copious
            discharge of blood followed. Some blows well
            exchanged at a distance. Cribb threw Belcher
            again, but manifestly had the worst of the round
            as to hitting.

            4.—A good display of science. Every hit stopped
            on both sides. Cribb surprised the amateurs by
            his steady stops and back-stops. Belcher
            attempted to rally, but fell, seemingly
            distressed in his wind.

            5.—Belcher put in right and left hits; but it
            was evident that he had once more lamed his
            right hand. Cribb again rallied successfully,
            and threw his opponent.

            6.—Belcher retreated, seemingly to recruit his
            wind, to the ropes, where Cribb planted some
            good blows. Belcher now, in order to avoid his
            adversary’s superior strength, hit out, and
            successfully planted a blow at arm’s length
            with his lame hand on the spot he had before
            severely struck under the ear, and which was
            also the precise place in which Gregson put his
            tremendous blow in their last contest. The blood
            again issued with increased force; they closed,
            and Belcher threw Cribb a cross-buttock. (Great
            joy among the Bristol people. Cribb’s gluttony,
            however, being well known, odds were even now
            four to one in his favour.)

            7.—In this round Belcher indisputably had the
            advantage, but his well-known infirmities
            prevented his becoming the favourite. He
            rallied, and hit with astonishing success. The
            men closed, and Cribb fell easily.

            8.—Belcher appeared winded from his exertions in
            the last round. He retreated towards the ropes,
            where again he was reduced to a courageous
            effort to extricate himself. He rallied, put in
            a few hits, but so slight, that Cribb appeared
            to be unconscious of them. The men closed,
            hugged, and contended for the fall, until both
            struggled over the ropes.

            9.—The combatants closed, and the seconds
            separated them.[134]

            10.—Belcher had evidently great disadvantages
            to labour under, and this round indicated
            strongly in whose favour the contest must
            terminate; Cribb had as yet made little play.
            He now went in, hit, stopped, and hit again
            five or six times successively, and finally
            gave his opponent a heavy fall. (Any odds, but
            no takers.)

            11.—Cribb forced the fighting, as in the
            preceding round, and again threw Belcher. Both
            Belcher’s hands were now injured, and Cribb kept
            the lead he had gained up to the

            19th.—Belcher now convinced the spectators of
            his fine science. Unable to hit effectively, he
            stopped Cribb’s blows with marvellous neatness.
            Despite his dexterity, however, Cribb now bored
            in and forced him down; nevertheless, Belcher
            fought defensively, prolonging the battle to the

            31st and final round.—It was piteous to see this
            once renowned and brave champion contending
            against nature. For the last ten rounds there
            was not a chance of success; still his olden
            skill made him difficult to beat, and Cribb,
            slow and sure, never threw away a chance.
            Belcher’s knuckles of his right hand were
            swelled immensely, and his right forearm covered
            with bruises from stopping Cribb’s left hand. At
            the end of forty minutes, at the urgent request
            of his backers and friends, Belcher gave in,
            never again to enter the field of honour.

            REMARKS.—Greatly as this victory adds to the
            fame of the champion, as a resolute, cautious,
            and truly brave boxer, the best judges were
            agreed that had Belcher possessed his once
            excellent constitution and both his eyes, Cribb
            must have been defeated. There were not wanting
            others who maintained that, despite his slow
            hitting, Cribb’s retreating and defensive
            tactics, with his wonderful stamina, strength,
            and never-failing courage, must make it a
            doubtful point if Belcher ever could have
            thrashed him, as Cribb always seemed to have a
            “little left” when his adversary was on the
            totter, and he was called upon “to finish.” When
            Belcher first came from Bristol, he was justly
            considered a phenomenon; under the age of twenty
            he adduced a new system of fighting, which
            completely baffled the most scientific adepts in
            the old school, and to him boxing in a great
            measure owed its support, particularly by the
            emulation he excited, and the attempts made to
            produce a man to contend with him. But at this
            period, at the age of only twenty-seven, he was
            so far degenerated as to oppose, with very
            little chance of success, any pugilist of note;
            he was unable to make but very few hits with his
            now enfeebled hands, and after a contest of half
            an hour nature deserted him; still he retained
            some of his former gaiety, which only reminded
            those who knew him what he once was, and every
            one, with an eye of pity, saw that all powers of
            execution had deserted him.

Cribb seemed now to have reached the topmost round of fortune’s ladder
as a pugilist. Like Alexander Selkirk he could exclaim,—

                   My title there’s none to dispute,

when a rival arose from an unexpected quarter. Tom Molineaux, an
athletic American black, had astonished the amateurs by the wonderful
strength and gluttony he had shown in his conquest of Tom Blake (Tom
Tough); indeed his countryman, Bill Richmond, vaunted loudly that “the
man of colour” must win. Two hundred guineas was posted on behalf of
Molineaux, and a further purse of 100 guineas was subscribed by patrons
of the ring to be presented personally to the conqueror after the
combat. Many persons were astonished at the Nigger’s audacity, while
others, who knew their man, not only exhibited no surprise, but
expressed their confidence that the Darkey would prove the most
formidable antagonist that Cribb had ever encountered. Cribb was among
those who held Molineaux very cheap, and he expressed an opinion that he
should win with ease. We read in a journal of the day, “Some persons
feel alarmed at the bare idea that a black man and a foreigner should
seize the championship of England, and decorate his sable brow with the
hard-earned laurels of Cribb. He must, however, have his fair chance,
though Tom swears that, for the honour of old England, ‘He’ll be d—— if
he will relinquish a single sprig except with his life.’”

The affair excited the most extraordinary sensation, not only in the
pugilistic world, but also among classes who had hitherto considered
boxing as beneath their notice, and who now, thinking the honour of
their country was at stake, took a most lively interest in the affair.
Although Cribb considered that the conquest of such a beginner in the
art as he supposed Molineaux to be, would be mere child’s play, he was
still wise enough not to throw a chance away, and got himself into good
condition, although he was, perhaps, a little too fleshy. The betting
upon the event was heavier than had been known for many years. Odds were
laid that Molineaux would be defeated in fifteen minutes, and it was
considered the excess of fool-hardiness in any one who betted that he
would stand more than half-an-hour.

On the other hand we find Molineaux was in the highest state of
confidence; indeed his vaunting bordered upon insolent braggadocia.

The day selected for this grand milling exhibition was December 18th,
1810, at Copthall Common, in the neighbourhood of East Grimstead,
Sussex, within thirty miles of the metropolis.

Notwithstanding the rain came down in torrents, and the _distance_ from
London (hear this ye railroad travellers of 1879!), the Fancy were not
to be deterred from witnessing the mill, and waded through a clayey
road, nearly knee-deep for five miles, with alacrity and cheerfulness,
so great was the curiosity and interest manifested upon this battle. We
shall, according to our arrangement, where practicable, give the
original report, vice the written-up rhodomontade of “Boxiana,” copied
servilely by later publications.

At twelve o’clock, Mr. Jackson, who generally officiates as master of
the ceremonies, formed an outer circle of the various vehicles which had
transported so many thousands from the metropolis, at the foot of a
hill, in order to shield the combatants as much as possible from the
chilling rain and wind from the eastward. A twenty-four feet ring,
according to preceding arrangement, was constructed within this circle,
with stakes and ropes, and as soon as completed Molineaux came forward,
bowed to all around, hurled up his cap in defiance, and then withdrew to
strip. Cribb followed his example, and both soon returned eager for the
fray, amid the plaudits of the populace, whose animated countenances
seemed to express the passing thought, “What a glorious thing’s a
battle.” Gully and Joe Ward seconded Cribb; and Richmond and Jones
officiated for Molineaux.

On stripping, the appearance of the men was really formidable; Cribb,
who stood five feet ten inches and a half, weighed fourteen stone three
pounds, while Molineaux, who was five feet eight inches and a quarter,
was only a pound lighter, and consequently looked far more muscular. His
arms were of wondrous length and roundness of form. He looked confident
and fierce, rather than smiling, and nodded his head as he shook hands.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—The combatants shook hands, retired two
            steps, put themselves in attitude, eyeing each
            other with the most penetrating looks, and each
            highly attentive to his guard. For a moment a
            solemn pause ensued. A little sparring, and
            Molineaux put in the first hit by a right-handed
            body-blow on the left side of his opponent.
            Cribb smartly returned right and left on the
            head, and one for luck on the body. Molineaux
            closed, and Cribb threw him. Thus the round
            ended without bloodshed.

            2.—Both set-to with great eagerness, apparently
            fully determined on a manly stand-up fight,
            seeming to exclude sparring and shifting
            altogether. A furious rally, heavy blows
            exchanged. Cribb’s did most execution, being
            thrown in straight forward, while Molineaux
            struck hand over head with most astonishing
            power, but little judgment, and Cribb either
            parried or spoilt the effort, by planting the
            first hit. Cribb, although he showed first blood
            by a cut on the lip, evidently had the best of
            the round.

            3.—Molineaux faced his antagonist with great
            courage. Cribb met him with equal resolution,
            and after a little sparring brought his left
            fist in contact with his antagonist’s head at
            arm’s length with such tremendous force, that
            he laid him to measure his full length on the
            earth. (Four to one on Cribb.)

            4.—Molineaux immediately jumped on his legs, and
            commenced a desperate rally, in which Cribb
            again brought him down.

            5.—An excellent round, good straight-forward
            fighting, and both rallied in great style.
            Molineaux tried to bore down his opponent by
            main strength; Cribb determined to prevent him
            if possible, by repeating some desperate blows
            on the head. They closed, and Molineaux fibbed
            very dexterously in Dutch Sam’s style, but at
            length fell.

            6.—Molineaux commenced furiously. Cribb slipped,
            but partially recovered, and by a blow brought
            down Molineaux.

            7.—Molineaux rushed in as before, and Cribb put
            in a violent blow on the forehead, by which he
            picked up a handsome “rainbow.” His countenance
            was, however, not the more clouded, and he was
            first to the time.

            8.—Both combatants by this time had been taught
            discrimination, and had discovered each other’s
            physical powers. Cribb found out that his notion
            of beating Molineaux off hand was truly
            fallacious, as he really was an ugly customer,
            and he also became sensible that if Molineaux
            could so reduce him as to make his sledge hammer
            hits tell, he should not willingly lay his head
            for the anvil. He therefore now brought forward
            his science, and began to adopt his usual famous
            retreating system. The men rallied desperately;
            success was alternate. At length Molineaux fell;
            but Cribb, from his violent exertion, appeared
            weaker than his opponent.

            9.—Gallantly contested. Cribb made play.
            Molineaux followed courageously, giving no
            quarter, put in a severe hit, and Cribb fell,
            evidently much exhausted. The knowing ones
            looked queer; Cribb had been fighting too fast.

            10.—The conceit by this time was tolerably well
            taken out of both combatants; their heads and
            faces were hideously disfigured. Molineaux again
            displayed superiority of strength. For full
            two minutes hits were exchanged greatly to the
            disadvantage of Cribb; he, however, at length
            brought down his opponent.

            11.—Courageously contested. Molineaux brought
            Cribb down.

            12.—Cribb put in a severe hit in the body.
            Molineaux returned on the head and fell.

            17.—Cribb still continued his shy plan, and
            Molineaux evidently had the advantage.[135]

            23.—In this round Cribb perceiving Molineaux
            falling off, made play and brought him down, the
            first time for several rounds.

            24 to 28.—Bets considerably reduced. They had
            been four to one on Molineaux, but were now

            29.—Molineaux ineffectually endeavoured to get
            Cribb’s head under his left arm, and also to
            throw him, but failed in both. The men rallied,
            and Cribb, who now appeared to possess more
            confidence than he had for some rounds, knocked
            his opponent down.

            30.—Cribb now again got the lead, and stuck up
            to his opponent until he fairly rallied him

            31.—A short rally. Molineaux threw Cribb, but in
            the struggle fell over him and pitched upon his
            head, which so severely affected him that he
            could hardly stand. Richmond, however, prompted
            him to go on, in hopes of Cribb being exhausted.

            33.—Molineaux fell by an effort to keep his
            legs. This by Cribb’s party was called falling
            without a blow, and a squabble would have
            ensued, had not Molineaux exclaimed, “I can
            fight no more.”

            Cribb was greatly elated at such a sound, but
            was too weak to throw his usual somersault. The
            contest lasted fifty-five minutes.

            REMARKS.—Molineaux in this contest proved
            himself as courageous a man as ever an adversary
            contended with, and Cribb’s merits as a pugilist
            cannot but be enhanced by a victory over so
            tremendous an opponent. The Black astonished
            every one, not only by his extraordinary power
            of hitting, and his gigantic strength, but also
            by his acquaintance with the science, which was
            far greater than any one had given him credit
            for. In the 28th round, after the men were
            carried to their corners, Cribb was so much
            exhausted that he could hardly rise from his
            second’s knee at the call of “Time,” which was
            uttered loudly by Sir Thomas Apreece, one of the
            umpires. Joe Ward, his second, by a little
            manœuvring, occupied the attention of the
            Black’s seconds, and so managed to prolong the
            period sufficiently to enable the champion to
            recover a little, and thus assisted him to pull

The following appeared in the papers of the ensuing week:—

  “SIR,—My friends think that had the weather on last Tuesday, the day
  on which I contended with you, not been so unfavourable, I should
  have won the battle; I therefore challenge you to a second meeting,
  at any time within two months, for such sum as those gentlemen who
  place confidence in me may be pleased to arrange.

  “As it is possible this letter may meet the public eye, I cannot
  omit the opportunity of expressing a confident hope, that the
  circumstance of my being of a different colour to that of a people
  amongst whom I have sought protection, will not in any way operate
  to my prejudice.

                                               “I am, sir,
                                   “Your most obedient humble servant,
                                                       “T. MOLINEAUX.”

                    “Witness, J. SCHOLEFIELD.”

  “_To Mr. Thomas Cribb, St. Martin’s Street, Leicester Square,
                      December 21, 1810._”

On Tuesday, January 29th, Cribb took a benefit at the Fives Court, at
which nearly 3000 persons were present. Cribb and Tom Belcher, Molineaux
and Richmond, Firby, Power, Ben Burn, Cropley, Tom O’Donnell,
Rimmer,[136] a young big one brought forward by Gregson, set-to.

Molineaux’s second fight with Cribb, was postponed by the intervention
of Rimmer’s challenge, as Richmond thought it a safer match. Molineaux,
having disposed of the big Lancashire man’s pretensions, the opinion of
many of the public was evidently shared by Molineaux, who pleaded that,
in addition to the above circumstance, the weather had proved
unpropitious, and had more effect upon his constitution—which was little
acclimated to cold and wet—than upon the more hardy frame of Cribb, the
latter could not decline giving his opponent a chance to retrieve his
laurels. A match was accordingly made for £300 a-side, and on Saturday,
September 28th, 1811, was brought to issue at Thistleton Gap, in the
parish of Wymondham, in the county of Leicester, very near Crown Point,
the spot where the three counties, Lincoln, Leicester, and Rutland
unite. This match created, if possible, more interest than that which
had preceded it, and for twenty miles round the scene of action not a
bed was to be obtained for love or money the previous night, unless
bespoken days beforehand. By six o’clock in the morning, hundreds were
astir in order to get good places near the stage which had been erected,
and by the time the men arrived there were about 20,000 persons present,
including many Corinthians of the highest rank. Neither man on this
occasion weighed so much, by nearly a stone, as in the former fight.
Captain Barclay had trained Cribb on a system peculiar to himself, and
had reduced him to thirteen stone six pounds, and still kept his stamina
unimpaired. The men mounted the stage at twelve o’clock, Cribb being the
first to show, and both were greeted with loud applause. A twenty-five
feet stage was erected in a stubble ground without the slightest
interruption. Cribb’s second was his old friend and intimate companion
Gully, and Joe Ward bottle-holder; Bill Richmond and Bill Gibbons
officiated for Molineaux. At eighteen minutes after twelve they set-to;
betting three to one on Cribb, and six to four in his favour for the
first knock-down blow.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Sparring for about a minute, when Cribb
            made play right and left. The right-handed blow
            told slightly in the body of Molineaux, who
            returned slightly on the head; a rally now
            ensued, they exchanged their blows, when
            Molineaux fell from a dexterous hit in the
            throat; the blows, however, throughout this
            round were not at a distance to do very great
            execution. Betting unaltered.

            2.—Cribb showed first blood at the mouth at
            setting-to. A dreadful rally commenced. Cribb
            put in a good body hit with the right hand,
            which Molineaux returned on the head with the
            left flush; both combatants now fought at
            half-arm, and exchanged some half dozen hits
            with great force. They then closed, and after a
            severe trial of strength Molineaux threw his
            opponent. Odds six to four on Cribb.

            3.—In the last rally Cribb’s right eye was
            nearly closed, and now another equally
            sanguinary followed. After sparring for wind, in
            which essential Molineaux was evidently
            deficient, Cribb put in a dreadful “doubler” on
            the body of his opponent, who, although hit
            away, kept his legs and renewed the rally with
            such ferocity, that the backers of the odds
            looked blue. The rally lasted a minute and a
            half, when the combatants closed, and Molineaux
            again threw Cribb with astonishing force. Odds
            fell, but Cribb’s tried game still kept him the

            4.—In the rally Cribb had hit right and left
            at the body and head, but Molineaux fought at
            the head only. He was so successful with the
            left hand, that he planted many flush hits.
            Both Cribb’s eyes were now damaged, his face
            dreadfully disfigured, and he bled profusely.
            Molineaux evidently was in great distress, his
            chest and sides heaving fearfully. Cribb smiled
            at such a favourable omen, and renewed the rally
            with a heroism, perhaps, never excelled, and
            in point of judgment most adroitly timed. Hits
            in abundance were exchanged, Cribb still
            fighting at the “mark,” and Molineaux at the
            head; at length Cribb fell, evincing great
            exhaustion. Odds however were now seven to four
            in his favour.

            5.—Molineaux accepted the rally, and the
            execution on both sides was truly terrific.
            Molineaux had the best of the exchanges, and
            Cribb fell from a blow and in falling received
            another. This excited some murmurs and applause
            from the partisans of the contending heroes, and
            on reference to the umpires was decided “fair,”
            Cribb’s hands being at liberty, and not having
            yet touched the floor.

            6.—Molineaux distressed for wind and exhausted,
            lunged right and left. Cribb avoided his blows,
            and then put in a good hit with his right, which
            Molineaux stopped exceedingly well. Cribb now
            got in a destructive blow at his “mark,” which
            doubled up Molineaux; he got away pitifully cut
            up: he, however, returned to begin a rally,
            seemingly anxious to go in, but still sensible
            of the ugly consequences. He appeared almost
            frantic, and no dancing-master could have
            performed a pirouette more gratifying to Cribb’s
            friends. Molineaux hit short, capered about, and
            was quite abroad. Cribb followed him round the
            ring, and after some astonishing execution,
            floored him by a tremendous hit at full arm’s
            length. The odds rose five to one.

            7.—Molineaux seemed lost in rage. He ran in, and
            undoubtedly did some execution; but Cribb put in
            several straight hits about the throat, stepping
            back after each. Molineaux bored in till he

            8.—Molineaux again rallied, seemingly as a
            forlorn hope, but his distance was ill-judged.
            Cribb once and again nobbed him, and getting his
            head (his own trick by the bye) under his left
            arm, fibbed him until he fell.

            9.—Lombard Street to a China orange. Molineaux
            was dead beat, and only stood up to encounter
            Cribb’s ponderous blows. He ran in, Cribb met
            him with his left hand; the blow was tremendous,
            being doubled in force by the black’s impetuous
            rush, Molineaux’s jaw was fractured, and he fell
            like a log. He did not come to time within the
            half minute, but Cribb, wishing to show his
            superiority, gave away this chance, dancing a
            hornpipe about the stage, until—

            10.—With great difficulty Molineaux got off his
            second’s knee, only for fresh punishment. His
            rush was desperate, but equally unsuccessful,
            and he fell evidently from distress.

            11.—Here ended the contest. Cribb gave away
            another chance in the time. Molineaux’s senses,
            however, were absolutely hit out of him; he was
            perfectly unable to stand, and a Scotch reel by
            Gully and Cribb announced the victory, while the
            very welkin echoed with applause.

            REMARKS.[137]—This battle, which lasted only
            nineteen minutes ten seconds, left no doubt as
            to the superiority of Cribb. The science of
            Molineaux at the opening of the fight was quite
            equal to that of the champion, but the condition
            of Cribb was far better, his temper more under
            restraint, and although there was no question of
            Molineaux’s courage, which almost amounted to
            ferocity, Cribb was his superior in steadiness
            and self-possession. During the battle the
            spectators gave applause to both combatants, and
            many were surprised that Molineaux should have
            found himself necessitated to relinquish the
            palm in so short a time, when he so obstinately
            contested with the same opponent thrice the
            duration so very recently. It is to be
            considered, that in the first combat Cribb was
            full of flesh, and by no means in prime
            condition; and again, that in this battle,
            although Molineaux had acquired an increased
            degree of science, he had by his own conduct
            impaired his stamina. Although it has been
            acknowledged that applause was mutually given,
            and that Molineaux in every point had fair play
            shown him, it cannot but be granted that the
            exulting clamour of congratulation, proceeding
            from the Champion’s friends, when even the
            slightest advantage seemed to favour him, must
            have tended to hurt the feelings of the man of
            colour, and very probably to have cowed him. It
            should have been considered that Molineaux was a
            stranger, that he stood indisputably a man of
            courage; that he came to the contest unprotected
            and unsupported by friends of note; while his
            opponent commanded the patronage of the leading
            men as well as the natural partiality of his
            countrymen in his favour. Much has been said of
            Molineaux’s savage denunciations against Cribb;
            of his vapouring professions of what he should
            like to do to him; and these were thought
            sufficiently disgusting to have excited
            animosity against him. But granting that
            Molineaux was brutish enough to make use of many
            of the barbarous expressions imputed to him, we
            certainly ought to take into consideration the
            circumstances under which they were uttered. The
            black could not but be sensible that Cribb was
            better supported by his many surrounding friends
            than himself. He knew and felt that Cribb was
            under the care of the first trainer in the
            country, while he was left to the government of
            Tom Belcher and Richmond, who made him an
            instrument of getting money, by carrying him
            round the country to exhibit sparring, and, to
            keep him in good temper and pliable to their
            wishes, allowing him to drink stout and ale by
            gallons. It is said that on the morning of the
            fight, he bolted a boiled fowl, an apple pie,
            and a tankard of porter for his breakfast. When
            all these circumstances are considered, by an
            unprejudiced mind, it cannot be denied, that
            whatever national pride we may justly feel in
            our Champion’s triumph, and admiration of his
            pluck and manly prowess, we cannot but admit
            that the man of colour was a formidable
            antagonist, and one who, but for his own
            imprudence, might have won fame and fortune in
            the pugilistic arena.[138]

            The stage, which was twenty-five feet square,
            was erected in a stubble field, surrounded first
            by a roped ring, in order to prevent any
            interruption by the crowd, and secondly, by as
            well framed and supported a circle of
            pedestrians as perhaps was ever witnessed,
            notwithstanding the great distance from the
            metropolis. The first row of these, as usual
            upon most occasions, lying down, the second
            kneeling, and the rest standing up. Outside
            these again were numerous horsemen, some seated,
            while others more eager stood, circus-like, upon
            their saddle; these were intermixed with every
            description of carriage, gig, barouche, buggy,
            cart, and waggon. The display of sporting men,
            from the peer on the box of his four-in-hand to
            the rustic in clouted shoes, but as perfect a
            picture as the fancy can well conceive. Every
            fighting man of note, every pugilistic amateur
            was to be seen, and among those active and
            peculiarly interested we noted Lord Yarmouth,
            the Hon. Berkeley Craven, Major Mellish, Captain
            Barclay (Allardyce of Ury),[139] Sir Francis
            Bayntun, General Grosvenor, Thomas Goddard,
            Esq., Sir Henry Smith, the Marquis of
            Queensberry, Lord Pomfret, Sir Charles Astor,
            etc., etc.

On the Sunday after the battle the champion passed through Stamford in a
barouche and four, the horses decorated with blue ribbons (Cribb’s
colours). He called on Molineaux at Grantham, and on the Monday arrived
in London, where he was received with a public ovation, the wide street
at Holborn being almost impassable from the crowds which assembled to
greet the Champion of England. At the Horse and Dolphin,[140] St.
Martin’s Street, Richmond’s house, on the Saturday night, the crowd was
so immense that a posse of officers attended and the house was closed.
Cribb’s passage home to his house, in White Lion Street, Seven Dials,
was through so dense an assemblage of applauding spectators that the
streets were almost impassable. We read in “Boxiana,” that “Cribb gained
£400 by this set-to, and his patron, Captain Barclay, £10,000; a baker,
in the Borough, sported all his blunt, personal property, together with
the lease of his house, etc., amounting to £1,700, upon the Champion. A
curious bet was also made between two sporting characters, the winner to
get a complete suit of clothes, shirt, cravat, etc., etc., with walking
stick, gloves, and a guinea in the trousers pocket. Through the kind
interference of Mr. Jackson, a collection of nearly £50 was made for
Molineaux.” We have already referred to the superior condition of Cribb
in this second battle, and the present appears a fitting place to
narrate a few circumstances relating to this remarkable instance of the
first recorded results of the modern system of training. It is extracted
from a little work on “Pedestrianism and Training,” published in 1816,
“revised” by Captain Barclay himself.

“The Champion arrived at Ury on the 7th of July of that year. He weighed
sixteen stone; and from his mode of living in London, and the
confinement of a crowded city, he had become corpulent, big-bellied,
full of gross humours, and short-breathed; and it was with difficulty he
could walk ten miles. He first went through a course of physic, which
consisted of three doses; but for two weeks he walked about as he
pleased, and generally traversed the woods and plantations with a
fowling-piece in his hand; the reports of his gun resounded every where
through the groves and the hollows of that delightful place, to the
great terror of the magpies and wood pigeons.

“After amusing himself in this way for about a fortnight, he then
commenced his regular walking exercise, which at first was about ten or
twelve miles a day. It was soon after increased to eighteen or twenty;
and he ran regularly, morning and evening, a quarter of a mile at the
top of his speed. In consequence of his physic and exercise, his weight
was reduced, in the course of five weeks, from sixteen stone to fourteen
and nine pounds. At this period he commenced his sweats, and took three
during the month he remained at Ury afterwards; and his weight was
gradually reduced to thirteen stone and five pounds, which was
ascertained to be his pitch of condition, as he would not reduce farther
without weakening.

“During the course of his training, the Champion went twice to the
Highlands, and took strong exercise. He walked to Mar Lodge, which is
about sixty miles distant from Ury, where he arrived to dinner on the
second day, being now able to go thirty miles a day with ease, and
probably he could have walked twice as far if it had been necessary. He
remained in the Highlands about a week each time, and amused himself
with shooting. The principal advantage which he derived from these
expeditions was the severe exercise he was obliged to undergo in
following Captain Barclay. He improved more in strength and wind by his
journeys to the Highlands than by any other part of the training

“His diet and drink were the same as used in the pedestrian regimen, and
in other respects, the rules previously laid down were generally applied
to him. That he was brought to his ultimate pitch of condition was
evident, from the high state of health and strength in which he appeared
when he mounted the stage to contend with Molineaux, who has since
confessed that when he saw his fine condition, he totally despaired of
gaining the battle.

“Cribb was altogether about eleven weeks under training, but he remained
only nine weeks at Ury. Besides his regular exercise, he was
occasionally employed in sparring at Stonehaven, where he gave lessons
in the pugilistic art. He was not allowed much rest, but was constantly
occupied in some active employment. He enjoyed good spirits, being at
the time fully convinced that he should beat his antagonist. He was
managed, however, with great address, and the result corresponded with
the wishes of his friends.

“It would be perhaps improper, while speaking of Cribb, to omit
mentioning that, during his residence in the north of Scotland, he
conducted himself in all respects with much propriety. He showed traits
of a feeling, humane, and charitable disposition, on various occasions.
While walking along Union Street in Aberdeen, he was accosted by a woman
apparently in great distress. Her story affected him, and the emotions
of his heart became evident in the muscles of his face. He gave her all
the silver he had in his pocket. ‘God bless your honour,’ she said,
‘ye’are surely not an or’nary mon!’ This circumstance is mentioned with
the more pleasure, as it affords one instance, at least, in opposition
to the mistaken opinion that professional pugilists are ferocious, and
totally destitute of the better propensities of mankind. The illustrious
Mr. Windham, entertained juster sentiments of the pugilistic art, as
evinced by a print he presented to Mr. Jackson as a mark of his esteem.
In one compartment an Italian, darting his stiletto at his victim, is
represented; and in the other, the combat of two Englishmen in the ring.
For this celebrated genius was always of opinion, that nothing tended
more to preserve among the English peasantry those sentiments of good
faith and honour, which have ever distinguished them from the natives of
Italy and Spain, than the frequent practice of fair and open boxing.”

Shortly after Cribb’s final triumph, in honour of his hard-earned
victories, a splendid dinner was given at Gregson’s (the Castle,
Holborn), by a large party of the Champion’s admirers and patrons. Cribb
was unanimously called to the chair. His conduct as president was
unassuming and pleasant, receiving the approbation of the patrons of
distinction by whom he was surrounded. Harmony prevailed, and several
excellent songs written for the occasion, full of point, were most
rapturously received, particularly one of Bob Gregson’s, which was
applauded to the echo, and loudly encored. The company did not depart
till they unanimously voted the Champion a silver cup, valued 50
guineas, as a memorial of the high opinion which the sporting world held
of his uniform courage in his pugilistic combats; also for his having
voluntarily entered the ring (after positively declining pugilism in
general), on the score of nationality, his own individual fame, and to
prevent a foreigner from triumphing over the heroes of England.

The subscriptions for this purpose proving ample, the sum was increased,
and a silver cup of 80 guineas value was presented to the Champion at
the Castle Tavern, Holborn, on Monday, the 2nd of December, 1811, at a
dinner appointed for that purpose, Tom Cribb in the chair, supported by
one of the most numerous and respectable assemblages of the “fancy” ever
witnessed. After the cloth was removed, and the usual loyal toasts
given, Mr. Emery (of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden), who had at a
previous meeting been unanimously voted to present the plate, was now
called upon to fulfil the wishes of the company. The cup was produced,
the son of Thespis rose, and after drinking to “Cribb, the Champion of
England!” addressed the chairman to the following effect:—

“Thomas Cribb, I have the honour this day of being the representative of
a numerous and respectable body of your friends; and though I am by no
means qualified to attempt the undertaking which has devolved on me by a
vote of the subscribers, yet the cause will, I am confident, prove a
sufficient excuse for my want of ability. You are requested to accept
this cup as a tribute of respect, for the uniform valour and integrity
you have shown in your several combats, but most particularly for the
additional proofs of native skill and manly intrepidity displayed by
your last memorable battle, when the cause rested, not merely upon
individual fame, but for the pugilistic reputation of your country, in
contending with a formidable foreign antagonist. In that combat you gave
proof that the hand of a foreigner, when lifted against a son of
Britannia, must not only be aided by the strength of a lion, but the
heart also.

“The fame you have so well earned has been by manly and upright conduct;
and such conduct, I have no doubt, will ever mark your very creditable
retirement from the ring, or stage of pugilism. However intoxicated the
cup or its contents may at any future period make you, I am sufficiently
persuaded the gentlemen present, and the sons of John Bull in general,
will never consider you have a cup too much.”

The cup, filled with wine, having gone round, the Champion thus briefly
addressed his patrons:—“Gentlemen, for the honour you have done me in
presenting this cup, I most respectfully beg of you to accept my warmest

Harmony reigned throughout, and the Champion, impressed with gratitude
to his leading patrons, Sir Henry Smyth, Bart., Captain Barclay,
Thirlwall Harrison, Esq., etc., drank their healths with marked
animation and respect; and the cup, in being put round, upon its arrival
into the hands of Mr. Jackson, Gully, Gregson, and the veteran Joe Ward
(who acted as vice), the company, as a mark of esteem for their past
services, loudly cheered those heroes of the fist.

After an unsuccessful venture as a coal-merchant, at Hungerford Wharf,
Cribb underwent the usual metamorphosis from a pugilist to a publican,
and opened a house at the Golden Lion in the Borough; but finding his
position too far eastward for his numerous aristocratic patrons, “honest
Tom” moved his quarters to the King’s Arms,[141] the corner of Duke
Street and King Street, St. James’s, and subsequently to the Union Arms,
at the corner of Panton Street and Oxendon Street, Haymarket.

With one interruption, presently to be noticed, our hero’s life was
henceforth of a peaceful character. In 1814, upon the conclusion of the
gigantic European struggle with the first Napoleon, Cribb had the honour
of sparring before the monarchs, princes, and marshals, who visited the
Prince Regent in honour of the pacification of Europe. On Wednesday,
June 15, 1814, the Emperor of Russia, the Hetman Platoff, Marshal
Blucher, and an illustrious party, assembled at the house of Lord
Lowther, in Pall Mall, to an elegant _déjeuner_, when boxing, as a
peculiar trait of the brave nation of England, was introduced. “The
distinguished visitors were so much gratified with this generous mode of
settling quarrels, and the scientific mode of attack and defence
exhibited, that they requested of Lord Lowther that another trial of
skill might take place on the Friday following, when, in addition to the
visitors, the King of Prussia, the Prince Royal of Prussia, Princes
Frederick and William of Prussia, the Prince of Mecklenburg, General
D’Yorck, etc., honoured the meeting with their presence. Some elegant
specimens of the pugilistic art were displayed between Messrs. Jackson,
Belcher, Cribb, Richmond, Painter, Oliver, etc. The set-tos in general
were excellent; but the sparring of Jackson was particularly admired.
The Champion of England (Cribb) occasioned a general stare among the
spectators, and the veteran Blucher eyed him with more than common
attention. The royal guests expressed their satisfaction at the treat
they had experienced; and upon taking their departure, complimented his
lordship as the patron of so manly and characteristic a trait of his

About this period, and for several years, Tom’s character and doings
seem to have been a favourite theme with “penny-a-liners” and paragraph
writers, and the papers of the time, furnish a crop of anecdotes, good,
bad, and indifferent, many of which are scattered up and down Pierce
Egan’s volumes. We give a few of them on his authority.

TOM CRIBB AND THE PIG.—During the time Tom was in training, previous to
his match with Gregson, as he was taking his morning’s exercise through
a country village, accompanied by his friend Gully, dressed in long
smock frocks, they observed an overgrown fellow beating a pig in a very
cruel manner. Upon inquiry, they found the animal belonged to a
neighbour, and civilly begged him to desist from such cruelty. The
fellow abused them for their interfering, and, relying on his strength,
threatened to give them both a good hiding, assisted by three or four
hawbucks, who had joined the squabble. Without farther ceremony the
fellow put himself in an offensive attitude, and made a violent blow at
Cribb, which the latter stopped with the utmost _sang froid_, not
forgetting to put in his one-two tremendously, the effects of which
floored this unfeeling brute in a twinkling. His nob was materially
shook, and the claret tapped in a masterly style. This small taste of
Cribb’s quality had the desired effect. The fight was instantly taken
out of the chaw-bacon, who went off, growling to himself, from the scene
of his cruelty and impertinence; but not, however, before receiving an
admonition from the Champion to be more temperate in his language and
humane in his conduct in future. Gully, smiling to himself, now wished
another of these Johnny Raws, who had been also very busy and impudent,
to try what he could do with him, observing, that he might have better
luck than his fellow servant. But in vain, the milling specimen
exhibited by Cribb had completely terrified all their boasted valour
into submission. It was soon afterwards learned in the village that the
row in question had been with Gully and Cribb.

CRIBB AND THE NAVVY.—A navigator, from Lancashire, as big and as rough
an article as can be imagined, prompted, it is supposed, by the great
pugilistic success of Carter, took a turn, on Thursday evening, November
7, 1816, in the neighbourhood of Westminster, and suddenly pounced on
the Champion of England and Tom Oliver, in the friendly act of blowing a
cloud together. Without waiting for the formality of an introduction to
those heroes of the fist, he boasted of his milling pretensions, and
_sans cérémonie_, challenged Oliver for a turn-up. The coat of Oliver
was half way off to resent this unprovoked attack upon his prowess, but
Cribb forbade it, observing that the navigator was too heavy, and that
he should be more fitted to accommodate this hasty customer, having no
doubt but that he should quickly alter his opinion of his own
capabilities. The parties retired to a large shed at the back of the
house, when a turn-up commenced without further delay. The navigator run
in like a bull, head foremost, and endeavoured to bring the Champion
down after the Lancashire method, by seizing hold of his thighs; but he
failed in his attempts most wofully, for in five minutes he was so
punished that he cried out, “I yeald.” Cribb left him to reflect on his
folly, but in the course of a few minutes he came in and again insisted
upon having another set-to with “the stout ’un.” This was agreed to, but
the navigator soon adopted his former phrase of “I yeald!” Cribb now
retired, supposing he had given complete satisfaction; but it was not
long before he was compelled to renew the combat for the third time with
this dissatisfied brute. The navigator resorted to purring, and
endeavoured to effect a conquest by hugging; but Cribb clareted him in
all directions, and marked his body so severely, that he now could
scarcely articulate the provincial, “I yeald!” The only regret expressed
by the Champion was that, during an attack of twenty minutes, he could
not put in a straight blow, as the navigator never stood up like a man,
merely attempting by foul means to throw or disable his man. Cribb
returned home without a scratch, while the man of mud received an
important lesson on the advantages of science.

THE CHAMPION AND THE JEW.—The placid and forbearing character of Cribb
is strikingly illustrated in the following incident. Cribb, in passing
through Fore Street, Cripplegate, was most grossly insulted by a Jew of
the name of Simmonds, who, valuing himself upon his manhood, and not
knowing whom he was in contact with, endeavoured to give our hero a
facer. The Champion, with the utmost composure, seized hold of this mere
apology for a boxer (in his hands), yet disdained to inflict that sort
of punishment which, had he given way to passion, from his well-known
strength and science, must in all probability nearly annihilated this
presuming Israelite. Instead of this, however, Tom instantly compelled
Mordecai to go before the Lord Mayor to answer for the assault. His
Lordship, on hearing the case, was struck with the magnanimity displayed
by Cribb on this occasion, and highly praised him for his manliness of
temper, at the same time reprimanding the Jew severely for his improper
behaviour. The Jew was, however, discharged on paying the costs, upon
the Champion good-naturedly interposing to prevent a fine.

CRIBB AND MASSA KENDRICK.—A sable hero, well known in the fancy circles
as Massa Kendrick, was brought before Mr. Birnie, at Bow Street, on a
Bench warrant, for an assault on the Champion of England. The African
kicked most confoundedly at finding himself in the grasp of the law.
When told by the magistrate that he must find good and sufficient bail,
he exclaimed, “Bail! what ‘casion for bail? Massa Cribb the most
quarrelsomest man in all England. He’s a fighting man, and I’m a
fighting man, and if I gibs him punch ob the head, and he gib me
another, what that to anumbody else? What the use ob talking about
bail?” In reply to this tirade the Champion calmly observed, “If I was
not to take such a step as this now and then, I could not carry on my
business, or even live in my own house, for these swaggering
blackguards.” He then explained to the magistrate that the defendant was
noisy and riotous in his house, and in consequence he insisted on his
leaving; but, instead of doing so, he seized the Champion by the cravat,
and attempted to extinguish his glories by strangulation, at the same
time placing his hand under his thigh, apparently with the intention of
throwing him. “But,” said the Champion, “that was all my eye, for I put
him down.” Kendrick was about to retort, but the magistrate stopped his
mouth, by ordering him to find the required bail.

THE CHAMPION AND HIS DWARF.—To these proofs of courage and forbearance
we will append a sample or two of his humanity, an unfailing
accompaniment of true valour.

Our hero made his bow before the magistrate on Wednesday, December 18,
1822, as the friend and protector of the helpless, in the person of a
German dwarf, named John Hauptman. This little fellow, whose extreme
altitude was forty inches, obtained a living during many years by hiring
himself out as an exhibition to itinerant showmen. But his day had gone
by—other and more youthful dwarfs had superseded him in the public
favour, and poverty was pressing heavily on his head, when, in the midst
of his destitution, accident led him to the hospitable fireside of Tom
Cribb. The Champion listened to his tale of poverty; cheered his frame
with the comforts of his bar and his larder, and told him he was welcome
to stay at the Union Arms till he could find a better shelter, and he
resided there as a sort of assistant waiter.

A drunken hackney-coach master, named Beckett, during the champion’s
absence, on the previous Monday, not only insulted the little fellow,
but encouraged his son, a lad of about ten years old, to beat him, and
for this outrage on his protégé, the Champion now sought redress.

The burly-built hero of the ring entered the office, leading his tiny
friend by the hand; and he and the lad having been placed side by side
on a stool before the bench, the Champion stated what he had heard of
the transaction, adding, “The poor little fellow has no friend in the
world but me, your worship, and hang me if I would not rather have been
beat myself.”

“That would not have been so easy a matter, Mr. Cribb,” observed his
worship, and directed the dwarf to be sworn.

The little fellow then gave a very humble and modest account of the
affair. He said, in tolerable English, that he was very sorry anybody
should be troubled on his account, but Mr. Beckett would not be
satisfied unless he would fight with the boy, and because he would not
fight, he urged the boy on, till he knocked him down by “a blow on de
mout, which cut him vor mush, and hurt him a mush deal.”

The lad pulled out his torn shirt-frill in reply, and the father
delivered his defence thus:—“It was the brandy and water that did it,
your worship; I’ll tell the truth: it was the brandy and water sure
enough. I have known Mr. Cribb many years.” “That’s the reason you ought
not to have taken advantage of my absence, to insult a poor little
fellow you know I cared so much for,” observed the kind-hearted

The magistrate, after having warmly commended the conduct of the
Champion, directed the hackneyman to find bail for the assault. Upon
retiring to settle the row, the dragsman made it “all right” with Cribb,
by making the dwarf a present of a sovereign.

At the Fives Court, on the occasion of Scroggins’s benefit, March 23,
1817, Jack Carter, who then aspired to the championship, which for
nearly eight years had remained undisputed in the hands of Cribb, made
his appearance upon the stage, and a glove being thrown up as a
defiance, the Champion of England presented himself, to answer the
challenge. However, upon Gregson ascending the platform to spar, Cribb
was about to retire, when “Cribb, Cribb!” was vociferated from all parts
of the court. The anxiety was so great, that the disturbance was hardly
appeased until Cribb appeared ready for the combat. Cribb looked well
and kept his position like a rock. He could neither be drawn nor stepped
in upon, and the skirmishing tactics of the Lancashire hero could make
no impression on the veteran of the ring. At in-fighting Cribb also
decidedly took the lead. Carter put in one or two facers with much
dexterity; but upon the milling system the Black Diamond proved that he
was still a diamond, and instead of losing any of his former brilliancy,
he shone with increased lustre and effect.

“From this period,” says “Boxiana,” “Carter seems to have ‘fancied’ a
shy at Cribb, and on his return from Ireland on Tuesday, February 1,
1820, he challenged the man of colour, Sutton, for 100 guineas a-side.
While this match was on, Carter called in at a sporting house, at the
west end of the town; and, in consequence of his not being admitted into
a private party, then assembled, he intemperately addressed a note to
the chairman as ‘Mr. Swell.’ He was, however, admitted, when he had the
bad taste to begin flourishing about his repeated conquests over the
dark part of the creation. He also sneered at the Champion, saying, he
had left off fighting, because fighting had left him off; but he
(Carter) had come to fight somebody, and indeed he would fight
‘onybody!’ This sort of chaffing was attempted to be checked by a person
present, when the Lancashire brute, _sans ceremonie_, threw the contents
of a glass of wine in his face, part of which alighted on Tom Cribb.
This insult was not to be borne, and the champion of England exclaimed
“it was wrong!” Carter hereon defied him. Little parley ensued, ere the
lion of the ring, although rather worse for the juice of the grape,
grappled his enemy. He held up the Lancashire hero with the utmost ease,
with one hand, in the Randall style, and Carter’s frontispiece received
such repeated quiltings from the fist of Cribb that it was like a
fashionable footman paying away at a knocker. It was close quarters—in
fact, yard-arm to yard-arm; but the heavy shot of the first rate,
although long laid up in ordinary, and nearly invalided, told heavily on
the mug of his opponent. It was an up-and-down contest, and the Champion
made such good use of his time, that his opponent was quite satisfied he
had enough, and begged, in a piteous manner, that some person would take
Cribb away from him, or else he should be killed! This entreaty was at
length complied with; and upon the fallen hero getting upon his pins,
the lads of the Fancy declared, from his altered appearance, that it was
meeting an old friend with a new face. This severe thrashing scarcely
occupied Cribb one minute! He did not receive a hurt in the slightest
degree. Carter upon feeling his mouth, declared that part of his
railings had departed.”

Until his formal retirement, Cribb never allowed his title of Champion
to be questioned; and at the conclusion of the set-to between Harmer and
Lancaster, at the Fives Court, on August 7th, 1820, the Champion rushed
in, almost out of wind, made his way through the audience in a
twinkling, ascended the stage with great rapidity, and threw up his hat.
With his other hand he snatched out his pocket-book, and, with great
animation and good emphasis, spoke to the following effect—keeping in
mind our immortal bard’s advice to the actors, to

                     “Suit the action to the word.”

“Gentlemen,—I will fight Neate for 1000 guineas, or for 500 a-side
(bravo). I have been just told, while I was taking a few whiffs over
some cold brandy and water, that Neate had publicly challenged me. I
therefore lost no time to show myself before you. Gentlemen, I do not
like this chaffing behind a man’s back. I won’t have it. I am an
Englishman; and I will behave like one. An Englishman never refuses a
challenge (thunders of applause from all parts of the court). Neate is
my countryman, but what of that? If he refuses to meet me, I will fight
any man in Bristol for 1,000 guineas, and stake £100 directly. Here’s
the blunt! My countrymen used me ill when I was last at Bristol; and
Neate behaved rude to me (hear! and ‘Tom’s quite an orator; he must
certainly have taken lessons from Thelwall.’) Perhaps ‘the old fool’ may
be licked; but I will give any of them some trouble first before they do
it (‘There is no one on the list can do it, Tom.’) I will tell you,
gentlemen, they say Neate shall fight my boy, Spring, because they know
he is unwell. This conduct isn’t right; my boy’s in a consumption (loud
laughter), therefore I will fight Neate instead of him (bravo). My boy
Spring has not got belly enough for him, but I have (clapping his hand
upon his rotundity of abdomen.) ‘You have too much of it.’ Never mind,
then, I am right enough about my bottom (great applause and laughter). I
will fight; and blow my dickey (striking his fist very hard on the rails
of the stage), but I will give any of them that fight me pepper
(tumultuous cheering, and ‘To a certainty you will, Tom.’)”

This challenge of Neate, however, soon assumed a palpable form, for on
Thursday evening, January 4, 1821, the Champion having called in at the
Castle Tavern, to take a glass with his friend Tom Belcher, a swell from
Bristol, and an admirer of Neate, without ceremony proposed the battle.
The challenge was immediately taken up by Mr. James Soares, who felt for
the pride of the metropolitan prize ring, and offered to stake £100 if
the champion would consent to fight for the sum mentioned. Cribb
answered, that he had said he would not fight for less than £500 a-side,
in consequence of his business, but there had been so much chaffing
about it, that he would fight Neate for £200 (loud cheers). The articles
were immediately drawn up, and signed by the respective parties:—

                           “CASTLE TAVERN, HOLBORN, _January 4, 1821_.

  “Mr. James Soares, on the part of Thomas Cribb, puts down £10; and
  Mr. J. E., on the part of William Neate, also puts down £10; to
  fight for £200 a-side, between Bath and London, on Wednesday, the
  9th of May, 1821. To be a fair stand-up fight; half a minute time;
  in a twenty-four feet ring. The above £20 are placed in the hands of
  Mr. Belcher. The whole of the stakes are to be deposited in the
  hands of Mr. Belcher, and who is appointed to name the place of
  fighting. The sum of £100 a-side to be made good, at the said Mr.
  Belcher’s, the Castle Tavern, Holborn, on the 24th of January, 1821.
  An umpire to be chosen by each party, and Mr. Jackson to name
  referee. The whole of the money to be made good, £200 a-side, on the
  9th of April, 1821, at Mr. Cribb’s, the Union Arms, corner of Panton
  and Oxendon Streets, Haymarket, between the hours of seven and ten
  o’clock in the evening. In case of either party not making the £100
  good, the above deposit, £20, to be forfeited.

                                                “Signed,       “J. S.
                                                               “J. E.”

  “Witnessed, P. E.
            “Thomas Belcher.”

A screw, it seems, had been loose between Neate and the Champion of
England for some time past, which was now to be decided by the fist.
Several wagers were immediately offered that the stakes were not made
good; more especially as Neate was to be consulted upon the subject. It
was, however, well known that Neate a short time ago offered to fight
Cribb for £200 a-side. The Champion was much too heavy, but the good
effects of training, it was thought, would put that all to rights. The
sporting world were all upon the alert, to see the ‘ould one’ once more
take the field. The Champion’s last memorable contest was with
Molineaux, on September 28, 1811; nearly ten years having elapsed
without receiving a challenge; Cribb ought not to fight—it was giving a
chance away—so said the knowing ones.

At ten o’clock on the night mentioned (24th January), the articles were
called for and read; and the backer of Cribb (the President of the Daffy
Club), said his £100 was ready, but no person appearing on the part of
Neate, the deposit money, £10 a-side, was given up to the Champion. The
chairman then gave the health of Cribb. The Champion in returning thanks
for the honour he had received, said he “was much more capable—nay, he
would sooner fight than make a speech.”

The chairman, in an appropriate speech, thought the sporting world ought
not to permit the Champion to accept any more challenges. It was upwards
of nine years and a half since he had entered the ring. He was growing
old, had young kids to provide for, and the gout now and then paid him a
visit. He had beaten all his opponents in the highest style of courage,
but it could not be expected that he could “get the best” of the
infirmities of human nature. Yet the Champion was too game to say “No”
to any challenge. He thought Cribb ought to retain his championship till
he was floored by Old Time.[142]

Several first-rate amateurs, in short but pithy speeches, addressed the
meeting on the subject, and all of them concurred in the opinion of the
chairman: but, as to fighting, in future the Champion must “tie it up.”

On the day of the Coronation, July 19, 1821, his Majesty, in passing
down the Hall, during the procession to the Abbey, cast a pleasing
glance upon the person of Mr. Jackson, by way of recognition, which
convinced the Commander-in-Chief of the P.R., that he still lived in the
memory of his beloved sovereign and once great patron. Tom Cribb and Tom
Spring were also habited as pages, guarding the entrance of Westminster
Hall. The manly appearance of the two “big ones” attracted the notice of
most of the great folks who were present at the gorgeous ceremony.

The following letters of thanks were individually received by those
pugilists who assisted to keep the peace, and protect the persons of the
visitors at the Coronation:—

                                        “WHITEHALL, _21st July, 1821_.

  “MY LORD,—I am commanded by His Majesty, to express to your Lordship
  His Majesty’s high approbation of the arrangements made by your
  Lordship in the department of the Great Chamberlain of England, for
  the august ceremony of His Majesty’s coronation, and of the
  correctness and regularity with which they were carried into effect.

  “To the exemplary manner in which these duties were performed by
  your Lordship, and by those officers who acted under your Lordship’s
  authority, His Majesty is graciously pleased to consider that the
  order and dignity, which so peculiarly distinguished the ceremony,
  are in a great degree to be ascribed; and I have to request that
  your Lordship will communicate to the persons referred to the sense
  which His Majesty has condescended to express of their services.

                         “I have the honour to be, my Lord,
                     “Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

          “_The Lord Gwydyr,
  Deputy Great Chamberlain of England,
            etc., etc., etc._”

                  “GREAT CHAMBERLAIN’S OFFICE, _July the 22nd, 1821_.”

  SIR,—Having received His Majesty’s commands, through the Secretary
  of State for the Home Department, to communicate to you, sir, His
  Majesty’s gracious approbation of the manner in which you discharged
  your duty on the 19th of July, I know no way so effectual of
  executing these most gratifying instructions, as by inclosing you a
  copy of the original document. Permit me at the same time to add,
  how sensible I am of your attention to the very imperfect directions
  I was enabled to furnish you with, and that the arrangements, which
  have been with so much condescension noticed by your King, are in a
  great degree to be attributed to the loyalty, judgment, and temper,
  exhibited by you at His Majesty’s coronation.

                                         “I remain, sir,
                               “Your faithful and obedient servant,

  “_To Mr. Thomas Cribb, etc._”

Lord Gwydyr, presented one of the gold coronation medals, which he had
received from the hands of his Majesty King George the Fourth, to the
boxers who gave their assistance at Westminster Hall. His lordship also
provided a most excellent dinner for all the pugilists, at Tom Cribb’s,
upon the occasion. After the cloth was removed, and the health of the
king drank with four times four; the gold medal was raffled for, by the
whole of the boxers, when Tom Belcher proved the lucky man, and held the
trophy until his death.

We now come to our hero’s formal retirement; an event which excited
considerable interest throughout the circles of the fancy. On Saturday,
May 18, 1822, the Champion of England made his bow to the amateurs, at
the Fives Court. Tom had to boast of a Corinthian attendance, and St.
Martin’s Street was filled with carriages. The sets-to were generally
good. The champion of England and Spring ascended the stage, amidst loud
approbation. Cribb was decorated with the belt. It was an excellent
combat; and, although Tom had a touch of the gout, he displayed great
activity. But the awful moment had now arrived for poor Tom to say,
farewell! He scratched his nob—looked about him—his heart full of
gratitude—at a loss what to say—and his tongue almost forsook its
office. After a struggle to give vent to his feelings, he at length
delivered himself of the following words:—“Gentlemen, I return you
thanks for your kindness this day. (A short pause.) Indeed, gentlemen, I
sincerely thank you for all the favours you have conferred on me—I do
indeed. (A long pause, as if Tom had stuck fast.) Gentlemen, may your
health and purses never fail you.” Cribb now retired, amid long and loud
plaudits, accompanied with, “It will be a long time before we shall look
upon your like again in the prize ring.”

Spring now mounted the stage, and thus addressed the
spectators:—“Gentlemen, I once more present myself to your notice; but
as my old dad has retired from the stage and the prize ring altogether,
and as I have stood next to him for some time past, I mean now to stand
in his place, till I am beat out of it!” An amateur and Spring went up
to Tom Belcher, and informed him that Spring was ready to fight Neate
for £300. “Very well,” replied the hero of the Castle; “now I know what
you mean, we will talk about it. I shall name it to Neate.” The result
of this challenge will be fully recorded in the Life of TOM SPRING,
opening the next period.

From this time Tom led the life of a retired veteran, but his house was
the rendezvous of sporting men. Cribb, however, occasionally figured in
the public prints, for then, as now, noisy, troublesome, and drunken
fellows annoyed licensed victuallers in their business. The _Morning
Herald_ thus reports a “Morning at Bow Street.”

“CRIBB AND HIS CUSTOMER.—The Champion brought a little shrivelled tailor
before Sir Robert Baker, on Tuesday, December 12, 1820, at Bow Street,
and charged the ninth part of a man with calling him, the said Champion,
‘a great big fighting cove;’ with exclaiming, ‘Oh, that I was but big
enough to whop you!’ and with frequenting his house, the Union Arms
Tavern, Panton Street, for the purpose of abusing him and annoying his
company. In reply to this, the little remnant of shreds and patches
looked up in the champion’s face, and humbly begged his pardon,
promising most solemnly, before his worship, never to offend in the like
manner again. Cribb’s placability is well known; he, who has so often
stood unshaken before the stoutest hearts in the ring, could not stand
this pathetic appeal from a forlorn little tailor, and, relaxing his
features into a smile, he confessed himself appeased, but trusted Master
Snip would get rid of his bad habits in future, and never more measure
his way to the Union Arms: or else if he did, Cribb said he would cut
his cloth in a way that he would not like. The hero of the needle was in
consequence discharged. The magistrate observed that he had heard the
various houses kept by the champion to have always been conducted with
the utmost propriety. Cribb moved his castor and retired.”

Here is another of Tom’s magisterial interviews.

“THE THREE TAILORS.—Three natty tailors were charged, at Marlborough
Street Police Office, in September, 1826, with creating a disturbance,
and assaulting Thomas Cribb, the ex-champion of England. The defendants
went into Cribb’s house, where they partook of some liquor. After a few
minutes they commenced a disturbance, and he requested them to be quiet;
but they swore at him, and challenged him to fight. One of them being
pot-valiant, struck him. The example was followed by the others, who
insisted on his having a turn with them. A person said, “No, Cribb,
don’t strike the three tailors, who are only the third part of a man!”
The astonished tailors, on hearing his name mentioned, took up their
clothes and ran quickly out of the house; but Cribb, determining to
teach them better, pursued and lodged them in the hands of the watchman.
Sir George Farrant: ‘Did they beat you?’ Cribb, smiling: ‘No, their
blows were something like themselves—of little importance.’ Sir George
Farrant: ‘Did you return the blow?’ Cribb: ‘No, sir, I was afraid of
hurting ’em; I should not like to do that.’ The tailors in their
defence, said they were sorry for what had occurred; at the same time,
they were not aware that the person whom they had challenged to fight
was the Champion: on finding their mistake they instantly left his
house. Sir George Farrant: ‘Aye, you thought you had better try the
lightness of your heels than the weight of his fists.’ Cribb declined
making any charge against them, and they were discharged on paying their

“CRIBB AND THE COBBLER.—In the same month the ex-champion again made his
bow before the beak; but, on this occasion, Bow Street was honoured with
his portly presence, where he charged a cobbler with causing a
disturbance in his house. Cribb said that the prisoner was, about two
years ago, very annoying, and he ordered him never to enter his house
again. A few days ago he renewed his visit; and on Wednesday night he
was most riotous and abusive. He (Cribb) did not care much for his
abuse; but he could not contain himself when the cobbler had the
impudence to begin abusing the king: he seized him under the arms, and
dropped him gently in the street. The magistrate told Cribb that he had
on this, as on all other occasions, evinced great forbearance, and
directed the warrant to stand over; and, if the prisoner annoyed him
again, he would be committed to prison.”

Cribb’s declining years, however, were disturbed by domestic troubles
and severe pecuniary losses; and after a long struggle against adverse
circumstances, produced by lending money and becoming responsible for a
relative, he was forced to give up the Union Arms to his creditors. His
last appearance was on November 12, 1840, when under the auspices of the
Pugilistic Association, he took a benefit at the National Baths,
Westminster Road. At this time, and for some years previously, Cribb had
resided at the house of his son, a baker, in the High Street, Woolwich,
where he died on the 11th of May, 1848, aged 67.

                           CRIBB’S MONUMENT.

The editor of _Bell’s Life_ (Vincent G. Dowling, Esq.), and some friends
and admirers of the champion, having resolved to erect a monument to his
memory, the matter was thus spoken of in the columns of the leading
sporting paper of England, in the beginning of 1851.

“Among the interesting incidents connected with the approaching season
of the Great Exhibition, we have much pleasure in announcing the
completion of the long promised monument to the memory of Tom Cribb, one
of the most justly esteemed champions of the pugilistic school of
England. As a professor of his art he was matchless, and as a
demonstrator of fair play, in principle and in practice, he was never
excelled. He had still a higher virtue, displayed in sustaining
throughout his gallant career, independent of indomitable courage—a
reputation for unimpeachable integrity and unquestionable humanity. His
hand was ever open to the distresses of his fellow-creatures, and
whether they befell friend or foe, he promptly, by relieving them,
exhibited the influence of the charitable and kindly impulses of a truly
benevolent heart—an example well worthy of imitation, and justly
entitling him to the present distinction, which, while it cherishes his
memory, will show to others of his class, who follow in his steps, that
their good deeds will live beyond the grave.

“It will be remembered that poor Cribb, after enjoying the sunshine of
good fortune for a series of years, respected by all classes, from the
prince to the peasant, o’erstepped the bounds of prudence and
self-consideration, fell into distress, and retired to the house of his
son, at Woolwich, where after a lingering illness, he died on the 11th
May, 1848. Happily, through the sympathy of those who felt as we felt,
his last moments were soothed by the enjoyment of every comfort, and he
departed in peace, deeply grateful to those whose kindness he had
experienced. The last sad duty of consigning his remains to their final
resting place was performed in Woolwich churchyard, his ashes mingling
with those of naval and military heroes honourably distinguished in
their respective vocations. We took care that every expense connected
with his illness and death was defrayed, but we still felt that such a
man should not depart from among us without some lasting token of the
estimation in which the noble qualities by which he had been
distinguished were held, and therefore suggested the erection of a
monument to his memory—such a monument as would honour and preserve it.
This suggestion received a ready response. Our work is now nearly
accomplished, and we would fain hope it will be found to fulfil our
desire, that of showing to our expected foreign visitors, as well as to
our countrymen, that, however humble our heroes, where valour is
accompanied by sterling honesty and humanity, we have pride in
commemorating their deeds and their virtues....



“The grave over which this monument is to be erected has long since been
bricked and covered with a suitable slab. Upon this will be placed a
plinth, also of solid Portland stone, about two feet in height, to
receive the statue. On the edge of the plinth will be engraved this
impressive sentence, ‘Respect the ashes of the brave.’ The grave being
on an elevated bank close to the path leading to the church from the
town of Woolwich, the whole will command the attention of all persons
entering the burial ground from London, or passing along that
thoroughfare immediately in front, which at all hours of the day is
thronged with soldiers, sailors, dockyard men, and civilians.

“We hardly doubt that this monument, from the moral it is calculated to
enforce, will be without its beneficial effects on the minds of all
those by whom it is seen, and we trust it may be gratifying to those
strangers who on their visits to the Arsenal will have an opportunity of
witnessing the veneration in which Englishmen hold the memory of those
who, although not ‘licensed’ warriors, are yet honest types of our
national principles and character.”

On the eve of the first of May, 1854, the monument, of which we here
give an engraving, was placed in the position it now occupies in
Woolwich Churchyard, and its first view by the public was coincident
with the first opening of the first Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. We
again quote _Bell’s Life_:—“Far be it from us to connect this simple
occurrence further than in point of time with the Exhibition in
question; but the coincidence is fortunate, and the object creditable to
those by whom it has been carried out—that object being to testify the
respect entertained for the memory of a man who, in his position,
entitled himself to universal respect for his unimpeachable honesty,
indomitable courage, and unquestionable humanity. Exception may be taken
to the sphere in which those qualities were exhibited, but those
acquainted with English feeling, English character, and English habits
must hold in estimation the memory of a man who, in his own person and
by his own acts, impressed on thousands, we might say millions, those
principles of fair play, combined with gallant bearing, which have been
the distinguishing features of our countrymen, soldiers, sailors, or
civilians, in whatever circumstances placed. From these feelings sprung
a desire to erect the present monument, for the double purpose of
perpetuating the memory of the most distinguished of his class, and of
impressing on those who followed in his footsteps the sense entertained
of the virtues he so prominently displayed. A subscription was
commenced, at the head of which were the names of noblemen and gentlemen
of the highest rank, swollen by more humble contributors. The work has
been accomplished, thanks to the unceasing assiduity and generous
devotion of Mr. Timothy Butler, the sculptor, who has performed his task
in a manner that must increase his reputation, and entitle him to a
distinguished position in the profession of which he is so bright an
ornament. The design is simple yet grand in its conception. It
represents a British lion grieving over the ashes of a British hero;
for, putting aside all prejudice, Cribb was a hero of whom his country
might well be proud. The drawing affords a correct idea of the monument,
but falls short of the effect of the original; for we do not believe
there is in existence a more beautiful specimen of animal sculpture,
whether we regard the exquisite proportions of the figure, or the deep
impression of sorrow expressed on the countenance. The paw of the lion,
it will be seen, rests on an urn supposed to contain the ashes of the
dead, over which is lightly thrown the belt which was presented to Cribb
as ‘the Champion of England.’ For obvious reasons—principally the close
proximity to the House of Peace—all allusion to the circumstances which
have led to this distinction is avoided, and the inscription is simply
this:—‘Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Cribb, born July 8, 1781, died May
11, 1848.’ On the plinth beneath are the words—‘Respect the ashes of the
brave’—an inscription which, it is hoped, will prevent those
encroachments in which idle visitors to a churchyard but too often
indulge. The lion, of colossal size, stands on a rock, and the whole was
sculptured from a solid block of Portland stone weighing twenty tons,
from which some idea may be formed of the labour and perseverance with
which such a _chef d’œuvre_ has been accomplished and removed without
accident from the studio of the artist in Middlesex Place, New Road, to
its present position. The monument stands on a plinth which elevates it
among surrounding tombs, rendering it visible even from the river
Thames; while from the footpath, in front of the churchyard, it invites
immediate attention as well as admiration—a sentiment which has been
unequivocally expressed by thousands.

“It is fit we should state that there are some fastidious persons in
Woolwich, the town in which poor Cribb breathed his last, who find fault
with the erection of such a monument in such a place. It is due to the
rector of Woolwich, to state, that although he may in some respects
participate in the feelings of the parishioners, his objections were
removed by the statement of the fact, that before the monument was
commenced, the drawing of the design was submitted to his predecessor,
by whom it was so heartily approved that he regretted it could not be
surrounded by an iron railing, to protect it from trespassers, who are
but too apt to treat with indifference the most exquisite specimens of
art.[143] There were, however, some words in the inscription to which
the rector did object, and which at his request have been omitted.
Respect for this gentleman’s impressions has induced us to omit the
following not inappropriate epitaph:—

            “‘When some proud earl or rich patrician dies,
            Unmoved we mark the storied marble rise,
            Unmoved we read the praises blazoned forth,
            And doubt the meed if giv’n to wealth or worth;
            But truth shall guide this record, and proclaim
            Who raised himself without a crime to fame;
            Whose heart was tender as his arm was strong;
            Who still upheld the right, abhorred the wrong;
            Who stood unconquered champion in that field,
            Where hardy heroes nature’s weapons wield—
            ’Twas poor Tom Cribb—beneath his ashes lie:
            Peace to his spirit’s immortality!’”


                              CHAPTER II.


Thomas Molineaux, the hardy, determined and dangerous opponent of Cribb,
under whose memoir we have already given the details of the two
championship contests, next deserves a niche in the temple of fistic
fame. Unnoticed, unheralded, unfriended, and unknown, this sable
gladiator made his way to London. His skill and strength had been tried
in several combats in his native country, Virginia. Confident in his own
capabilities, no sooner did he arrive in the world’s metropolis, than,
proceeding to the best known sporting houses, he offered himself as a
candidate for pugilistic honours. He was not long before he attracted
the notice of the patrons of those gymnastic sports, which, from their
practice and support, instil the principles of endurance and courage
into the hardy sons of England, and have not only given greatness but
added stability to the national character.

Molineaux deserves credit for his bold challenge of the highest prize of
pugilism; his merits were certainly of no mean order, and his defeat
adds to the honours of the conqueror of such a formidable antagonist.



  _From a Drawing by_ GEORGE SHARPLES.

Molineaux’s trial set-to was with an anonymous Bristol man, on Tuesday,
July 14th, 1810. The papers inform us, “the newly come American black is
a formidable fellow; in height five feet nine inches, his weight between
thirteen and fourteen stone, his age twenty-six years. He was introduced
under the auspices of his coloured countryman, Bill Richmond, who
seconded him. Tom Cribb, waiting upon the Bristol man, who was a robust
but rather clumsy fellow of six feet in height, weight not stated. The
scene of action was Tothill Fields. The Bristol boxer was strong and
game; but, beyond these qualities he was a poor specimen of the west
country school. The black kept himself close, but seemed to have little
idea of delivering at distance. He merely ‘flipped’ or hit at half-arm,
and when he struck kept his elbows close to his body. His style of
in-fighting, however, was peculiar, and he caught his big antagonist so
heavily and frequently in the body as to knock the wind out of him, and
then began to practise upon his head so dexterously that at the end of
an hour of desperate up-hill fighting the Bristol man was compelled to
give in, scarcely a feature in his face being distinguishable. The two
seconds, Cribb and Richmond, had a quarrel concerning an alleged foul
blow, and had a short sharp turn-up by way of a second course. There was
but one round, but that quite satisfied Richmond, who is too good a
judge to take a thrashing ‘for love,’ which he might soon have had.
Although not the most expert boxer that ever offered himself for
pugilistic fame, Molineaux was considered a promising ‘Chicken,’ and was
immediately matched for 100 guineas with Tom Blake, better known by the
title of Tom Tough, who was at this time forty years of age, and whose
battles are related in the Appendix, _ante_, p. 236.

“Tuesday, August 21, 1810, was the day fixed, and the spot where
Richmond and Maddox last contended agreed upon, on the coast about four
miles from Margate, and two from Reculvers. At an early hour every
vehicle was in motion to gain the goal of sport, and at one o’clock
Blake came in dashing style, seated in an honourable baronet’s barouche,
with his seconds, Tom Cribb and Bill Gibbons. A ring was formed, and at
half past one Molineaux was modestly introduced by his humble, but
perhaps more firm, supporter Richmond. After the usual ceremony the
combatants set-to.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—There was considerable curiosity among
            the “swell” division to see the new specimen
            in ebony, on whose merits Massa Richmond was
            so eloquent to all visitors to the Horse and
            Dolphin. There was some cautious sparring for
            about a minute, in which Molineaux showed he
            had taken lessons and improved by them. Soon,
            however, Blake[144] seized an opening, put in
            two smart hits right and left, and stopped
            Molineaux’s return. The men closed and fought at
            half-arm. Blake slipped from Molineaux, but
            while in the act received a tremendous chopping
            blow on the back of his neck, which Molineaux
            repeated with his right hand over the head, and
            brought him down. (Betting even.)

            2.—Blake again made play, but soon found that
            two or three hits, although well planted, were
            not sufficient to throw Molineaux off his
            legs. He received the hits with great _sang
            froid_, and at length beat down his opponent’s
            guard with his left hand, and with a degree of
            quickness and dexterity, which in Dutch Sam or
            Tom Belcher would have been considered an
            astonishing effort of science, brought Blake
            down by a most severe blow with the right.
            (Six to four on the Black.)

            3.—Blake evinced great distress in his wind.
            Molineaux run in to take advantage, but was
            received with a chattering jaw hit. They
            rallied, and both fell, Molineaux uppermost.

            4.—A hard round, and such a one as convinced the
            judges that Blake had trained off. Molineaux
            rendered his guard perfectly useless, as by
            strength of hitting he broke through it, and
            although Blake planted many good blows, they had
            not an equal effect to those of his opponent, as
            his face sufficiently exemplified. The round
            lasted two minutes, obstinate ruffianing
            fighting, and Blake, after putting in a good
            body hit, was knocked down. (Odds rose five to
            two in favour of Molineaux.)

            5.—Blake bled copiously, but with great courage
            rushed to a rally, in which Molineaux got his
            left arm round his neck, and holding his head
            up, fibbed him so dreadfully that Blake fell

            6.—Molineaux now thought it time to beat his
            man off hand. He rushed in, chopped down his
            opponent’s guard with his left hand, and knocked
            him completely off his legs with his right,
            by a tremendous hit. (Any odds in favour of

            7.—Blake in this round rallied determinedly; he
            exchanged some good hits dexterously, but was
            too weak for this work, and fell.

            8.—This was the last round. Molineaux began as
            furiously as in the sixth. Blake retreated, but
            was forced to rally, to extricate himself from
            the iron grasp of his adversary. He put in a
            successful hit on Molineaux’s cheek, but it was
            returned so forcibly on the head, that it laid
            him asleep for some time.

            The time having expired, Blake was still
            insensible, and accordingly Molineaux was
            acknowledged the victor.

            REMARKS.—In this battle Molineaux evinced
            great improvement in the science of pugilism,
            particularly in the art of giving, while
            nature seemed to have endowed him abundantly
            with the gift of taking, his body being almost
            callous to fistic punishment. It was generally
            considered that should he be able to combine
            an equal degree of skill with his gluttony, he
            would mill the whole race of modern pugilists.

Encouraged by his friend and countryman Richmond, and patronised by some
leading amateurs, the aspiring nigger now avowed his aim was no less
than the championship. Molineaux, with the vanity so remarkably
characteristic of his race, never ceased amusing his visitors and
patrons with grotesque illustrations of how he would serve out “Massa
Cribb,” for he possessed, mixed with a considerable amount of ferocity,
the _vis comica_ of the negro race. This could not go on long, and a
match was made for 200 guineas, to come off December 18th, 1810. How
this event was decided at Copthorne, near East Grinstead, Essex, may be
read in the Life of CRIBB, _ante_, p. 254.

Notwithstanding this defeat, Molineaux felt that he was entitled to
another chance, and accordingly sent a challenge three days after the
battle, which letter will be found in its proper place, at p. 255, under
Cribb’s second victory.

About this time Bob Gregson, who was fond of match-making, had at his
hostelrie a young Lancashire man of the name of Rimmer, twenty-two years
of age, and considered by his countrymen a second Jem Belcher. His
friends were anxious to get him on with Molineaux, now defeated, and
issued a challenge for 100 guineas, which was directly answered on the
part of Molineaux. The day was fixed for May 21, 1811, and accordingly
at the well-trodden hurst of Moulsey, at one o’clock on the appointed
day, Rimmer threw his hat into a twenty-five feet roped ring, pitched by
the commissary-general Bill Gibbons, who, moreover, in company with
Richmond, performed the duty of second to Molineaux. The like office to
Rimmer was delegated to Power and Tom Jones. The betting on starting was
three to one on Molineaux.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—A couple of minutes were spent in
            sparring, in which neither man displayed much
            grace, though both looked formidable. Rimmer
            then let go both hands, but was short; he got
            away without a return. More sparring; at length
            Molineaux put in a left-handed blow on his
            adversary’s neck with great force; Rimmer
            returned, but slightly, and fell. (Four to one
            on Molineaux.)

            2.—Rimmer again made play, and another effort
            to hit right and left, but the distance was
            again ill-judged, and he got away. Molineaux
            waited very patiently for him; they rallied, and
            Molineaux made some excellent stops. They broke
            away and got together again, when Molineaux
            brought down his opponent by two hits, right and
            left, of most astonishing force and quickness.
            (Odds four to one in favour of Molineaux.)

            3.—Molineaux appeared much elated with his
            success, smiled significantly at his opponent,
            and sparred low, evidently to show he
            disregarded any effort he might attempt. He
            waited until Rimmer made play, when he hit him,
            and following him up, repeated his blows until
            Rimmer fell, but apparently from no other cause
            than to avoid a repetition of the tremendous
            hits he had received.

            4.—Rimmer’s head was covered with blood, and
            he was, in fact, stupefied for a time, in
            consequence of a blow on the temple in the last
            round. Molineaux again put in two successful
            hits right and left, over his guard, on the head
            and neck, and Rimmer fell as if shot. Every one
            now sympathised with the dreadful situation
            of the novice, and odds rose to any amount in
            favour of Molineaux, but no takers.

            5.—Rimmer evinced great alertness, made a long
            hit at double distance, and fell.

            6.—Rimmer again hit short, and fell, evidently
            very weak.

            7.—For the first time Rimmer had the best of
            fighting in this round; he put in a good blow
            with his left hand, and rallied with great
            courage, but fell at length over his opponent’s

            8.—Both hit over, and Rimmer fell.

            9.—Rimmer exerted every effort to gain the
            superiority, rallied well, and threw Molineaux.

            10.—Molineaux appeared almost ferocious, and
            went in determined to repay him for past
            favours. He followed Rimmer, milling him to
            every part of the ring, and at length floored

            11.—Rimmer rallied, and showed pluck. Some good
            hits exchanged, but Rimmer hit widely, without
            judging distance, and gave his head doubled in
            his chest, which stopped several blows, and he
            at length came down.

            12.—Rimmer made a body hit, which again fell
            short, and almost in a state of frenzy he ran
            in, caught Molineaux up by the thighs, and threw
            him in the Lancashire style. Many cried “Foul,”
            others “Fair,” but the fight went on.

            13.—Rimmer struck Molineaux over the mouth, when
            the Black ran in and threw him.

            14.—A rally. Rimmer closed, and a complete trial
            of strength ensued. Both fell, Rimmer bringing
            down his man by Lancashire ingenuity.

            15.—Rimmer retreated round the ring, Molineaux
            following, and at length by a severe blow in the
            wind, brought him down, when he was indisputably
            “dead beat.”

            At this time the ring was broken; peers,
            ploughmen, fighting men, chimney-sweepers,
            costermongers, were all in one tumultuous
            uproar, which continued for at least twenty
            minutes, without any reason being assignable.
            At length, however, by the exertions of Cribb
            and others, the ring was restored, and the
            combatants, who had neither left the ring, were
            again set-to. Six more rounds were fought, but
            greatly to the discomfiture of Rimmer, who could
            hardly stand. During this time he received about
            ten more tremendous blows and then gave in.
            Rimmer displayed great courage; he has an
            unfortunate knack of giving his head when he
            hits, and appears to be timid of advancing
            towards his adversary, by which errors many
            blows fall short.

Such is the contemporary report: the slang version may be found in
“Boxiana,” vol. i., pp. 365, 366. Of the formidable powers of Molineaux
at this time, of which some writers who recorded his later career have
expressed themselves sceptical, this battle and that with Blake must be
convincing proof. No pugilist from this time offered a challenge to
Molineaux, nor could he get a battle on until Tom Cribb, who had
publicly announced his retirement from the ring, was called upon to
“prevent the championship of England from being held by a foreigner,” or
as Pierce Egan oddly calls the American nigger ‘a Moor’. Poor Pierce’s
geography was sadly confused, and the term “the Moor” occurs—perhaps
from some jumbled reminiscences of _Othello_, in his stage readings—in a
hundred places in his work as a favourite epithet for the States’ black
whose ring career we are now tracing. Molineaux had now once again to
enter the lists with the Champion, which he did on the 28th September,
1811, at Thistleton Gap, Leicestershire, where, after a desperate battle
of less than twenty minutes, he fell before the conquering arm of Cribb.
See p. 256, _ante_.

The losers who have, according to the proverb, “leave to grumble,” were
loud, in speech and in the press, upon the depressing influences of
prejudice, jealousy, envy, and “apprehension” lest “a black should win
the championship.” Very natural is all this, and would be so again; but
nothing unfair was ever substantiated. Pierce Egan thus sums up (vol.
i., pp. 367‒370), which we condense in quotation.

“It was this prejudice, a disheartening one to bear up against, that
Molineaux, by never even approaching to unfairness, and by the exercise
of a manly forbearance in critical situations, was called on to remove;
he could not help seeing the applause and cheering were decidedly on the
part of the Champion; in fact, the man of colour experienced from the
bulk of the spectators a very different reception, occasioned by the
extreme anxiety of the friends of Cribb for the safety of his honour and
renown; for his sable opponent was truly formidable. These observations,
nevertheless do not pluck a single leaf from his well-merited laurels;
but impartiality must supersede every other consideration. It would be
absurd to say that Molineaux underwent anything like a regular training;
on the contrary, he indulged himself to excess—without a patron, he had
to range from town to town, to support himself by exhibitions of
sparring, and entering into all the glorious confusion of larks and
sprees that might present themselves; while far different was the
position of the Champion. Placed under the immediate direction of
Captain Barclay, and secluded from the world at the estate of that
gentleman in far Scotland, his condition was in the finest possible
tone, his mind cheerful, and he felt confident that every chance was in
favour of his success. Molineaux, in spite of his undoubted high
courage, laboured under considerable depression; wherever he went he was
unpopular; which circumstance was considerably heightened upon his
public appearance to face his antagonist. His constitution, too, was by
no means so good as in the former contest: but his efforts were
tremendous and terrible, and for the first few rounds of the battle the
flash side trembled for the result.”

Molineaux about this period entered upon a downward course: the _facilis
descensus_ was fully exemplified. He quarrelled with all his best
friends, scorned advice, and declared himself on all occasions,
especially when maddened with liquor, an ill-used man. A street fight
with Power, in which Molineaux had the best for seventeen minutes’
roughing, is recorded in “Boxiana.” However his fame and name were a
passport to money-getting, and he started on a provincial tour, to
gather the silver of gaping rustics, who would pay willingly to see the
man who fought the Champion twice.

Molineaux was also a pretty good wrestler, and displayed great activity
and powers at the Exeter meeting of July 27, 1812, where he entered
himself for the public prize of ten guineas, but received a dreadful
fall from John Snow, of Moreton.

We find the following paragraph in the _Leicester Mercury_, of Feb. 3rd,

“Jay, the pugilist, has challenged Molineaux to fight at any notice he
may please, but Blackee remains both deaf and dumb to this challenge, as
he did to Cribb’s immediate acceptance of a vaunting challenge to him.
The champion promises him a love-dressing for his bounce, if he could be
prevailed on to come to London.”

To which Molineaux replied,—

                                     LEICESTER, _February 10th, 1813_.

  “I, the said Molineaux, do declare that I never received any
  challenge, but through the medium of your print; but I am ready to
  fight Jay at any place within the county of Leicester, for a sum not
  exceeding £200, if accepted within one month of the above date. In
  opposition to that part of the paragraph which relates to Cribb, I
  do declare that I sent him a challenge within two months, but I have
  received no answer; my friends being mentioned in the challenge, who
  would back me to any amount; and that I have never received any
  challenge from Cribb since I last fought him.

  “N.B. Letters left at the Post Office, Leicester, will be duly
  attended to.

                                      “The mark of X THOS. MOLINEAUX.”

We will now refer back to the all-important and absorbing event of our
hero’s second contest with Cribb, from which eighteen months elapsed
before Molineaux met with a competitor in Carter, a Lancashire man,
though he repeatedly challenged all England. This match, however, went
off for a time, owing to Richmond, his erewhile patron, “guide,
philosopher, and friend,” issuing a writ against him and taking him to a
sponging house upon a _ca. sa._ This is now a bit of antiquated law for
which our fathers smarted, and for which the young “Templars” may refer
to their “Reader,” while we congratulate _our_ reader that John Roe and
Richard Doe are defunct, and no more “seize the body until the debt is

Richmond was now at war to the knife with Molineaux, and made a match
for Carter to fight his late protégé for 100 guineas, on Friday, the 2nd
April, 1813, when the men met at Remington, Gloucestershire, six miles
from Banbury, at the junction of four counties. That there was a doubt
about the honesty of this fight, the subjoined extracts from
contemporary papers will show:—“Previous to the battle, the articles
were read over to the combatants, in which it was stated that the winner
was to have a purse of 100 guineas—when Carter stepped up, inquiring
what the ‘loser was to have!!!’ Richmond, who was his second, gnashed
his teeth and shrugged up his shoulders; Bob Gregson, his friend and
patron, tremblingly alive as to the event of the contest, and flattering
himself that Lancashire would prove proudly triumphant on this occasion,
animatedly exclaimed, ‘Jack, never talk of losing, boy—thee must win,
the chance is all in thy favour!’”

As we have already said Richmond seconded Carter, with Cooper as his
junior counsel; Joe Ward and Bill Gibbons held briefs for Molineaux. Six
to four, and in some instances three to one, were betted on the black.
We regret to say that the only report we can discover of this battle is
that by Pierce Egan, which, with some necessary pruning of slang and
corrections of ungrammatical phrases must serve, _faute de mieux_:—

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—It was the opinion of the most
            experienced pugilists that such a set-to was
            never before witnessed; one “was afraid, and
            the other dared not,” and two minutes were
            trifled away in this sort of caricaturing, when
            Carter touched Molineaux on the mouth, who
            genteelly returned it. They closed, and the
            man of colour was thrown. It would be absurd
            to detail by way of rounds any more of this
            worst of fights, though we readily admit that
            Carter was the best man after the battle began,
            and continued so throughout the fight. Molineaux
            was wretched in the extreme, and at one time
            bolted from his second, and had it not been
            for Colonel and Captain Barclay, he would never
            have returned to the scratch, he wished so much
            to get away. At another period he was down on
            one knee, and with both hands laid fast hold
            of the ropes, and being hit in this situation,
            he roared out lustily “Foul!” but he was given
            to understand that, by the laws of boxing, no
            one is considered down “without having both
            knees on the ground, with either one or both
            hands also.” In the fifteenth round he was so
            terrified that, upon being driven to one corner
            of the ring, he cried out lamentably, “Oh dear!
            oh dear! murder!” a little previous to which,
            he declared Carter “had bit him in the neck!”
            and soon afterwards he repeated, “there, he
            has bit me again!” and it was with great
            difficulty Joe Ward could persuade him that it
            was the knuckles of Carter, and not his mouth.
            This the once brave competitor of the champion!
            impossible! Could he have thus degenerated?
            Twenty-five rounds occurred, in which coaxing,
            persuading, dramming, and threatening, were
            resorted to, in order to make the man of colour
            perform something like fighting. But to the
            great astonishment of all the spectators, when
            Molineaux was dead beat, Carter fainted, and
            dropped his head as he sat on the knee of his
            second. With all the exertions of Richmond,
            it seems, he could not arouse Carter from his
            lethargic state, and he thus lost the battle in
            not coming to time. His fame, it is urged, was
            not only tarnished from this circumstance, but
            even his integrity called into question. The
            above battle created universal dissatisfaction.

            Poor Bob Gregson, agitated beyond description
            at seeing Lancashire (as he considered) thus
            trampled on with disgrace, went up to Carter,
            exclaiming, “Jack, Jack, what be’est thee at?
            get up and fight, man!” But Bob might as well
            have sung psalms to a dead horse. Carter, some
            little time afterwards raised his head, feebly
            observing, “Stop a bit! stop a bit!” And whether
            by accident, design, or with an intent to
            conclude this farce in style we are not in the
            secret to unfold, but a disciple of Esculapius
            stepped up, and in the twinkling of an eye
            pulled out his lancet, and bled Carter, to the
            great astonishment of his friends and the
            spectators in general; thus preventing, even had
            any inclination remained on the side of Carter
            to have renewed the fight. The latter’s clothes
            had hitherto been preserved, during the fight,
            in the chariot of a man of distinction, but who,
            it is said, was so disgusted with the scene
            before him, that he instantly ordered them to be
            thrown out with disdain and contempt. In once
            more taking a slight view of the man of colour,
            whatever certainty there might have been of
            Molineaux being a sound man at the core, it is
            strongly urged that if his heart had been a good
            one, he must have won the first battle with the
            champion; however, be that as it may, since
            that period he has been dissipated to excess,
            completely gone off in constitution, and broken
            winded. One improvement appeared to have taken
            place: he was more temperate in setting-to, but
            he did not like to face his man, and it required
            no small ingenuity to get him into the ring.

                             POETIC RETORT

  Between a “Town” and “Country Amateur” at Oxford; or, in the phrase
        of the day, Between a “Johnny Raw” and a “Knowing One!”

  _On witnessing Carter faint away when he had won the battle, but who
      contrived to lose the purse, in his contest with Molineaux._

           Says Jack to Bob, “Look, poor Carter’s hipp’d!”
           “Hipp’d, be d——d!” cries Bob, “the R——’s tipp’d!”
           “No, no,” quoth Jack, “they put in too hard pats:”
           “Put in,” echoes Bob, “they’ve put in—the flats!”

With this specimen of “the historian’s” style we dismiss the affair of
Carter and Molineaux. We shall hear more of the so-called “Lancashire
hero,” when we come to the life of TOM SPRING in the next Period.

Molineaux once more started on a tour, extending it this time to
Scotland, where he exhibited sparring in the principal towns. The black,
like most of his race, had a childish propensity for gaiety, and a
strong passion for dress, was amorously inclined, and devoted himself by
turns to Bacchus and Venus. Of course the Black Samson met with many
mercenary Dalilahs, and—

              In general riot, melted down his youth
              In different beds of lust, and never learn’d
              The icy precepts of respect, but follow’d
              The sugar’d game before him.”

With dress of the best quality and fashion, the man of colour soon
appeared a swell of the first magnitude. Maintaining, then, the highest
secondary rank as a boxer, he dashed about regardless of future
consequences to his milling fame. Pleasure was the order of the day with
him, and the stews tended not only to ease him of his cash, but soon
undermined that overwhelming power and pluck so conspicuously displayed
in his terrible combats with the mighty Cribb. The consequences of such
a line of conduct need be scarcely dwelt on; the iron frame of the black
soon seriously felt the dilapidating effects of intemperance. Yet,
notwithstanding this visible falling off, Molineaux with all the
drawbacks of enervating excess, was not to be beaten off hand, and none
but a boxer of more than common skill and strength seemed likely to
accomplish this task.

Fuller, a clever and well-informed man, who had beaten Bill Jay, and
whose character for science and game entitled him to every
consideration, fancied he was able to contend with this renowned milling
hero, and the amateurs of Scotland, in order to facilitate a match
between them, entered into a subscription purse of 100 guineas, to be
fought in a forty feet ring. Early in the morning, on the day appointed
for the above trial of skill to be decided, Friday, the 27th May, 1814,
at Bishopstorff, Paisley, Ayrshire, the fancy were in motion. Numerous
vehicles of all descriptions were seen rattling along the road to the
scene of action, and scampering pedestrians out of number, to witness
the novelty of a prize-mill in Scotland. Some thousands of spectators
formed the ring, and upwards of one hundred carriages belonging to
gentlemen were upon the ground. Molineaux was seconded by Carter, and
Fuller had the veteran Joe Ward and George Cooper. Five to four on the
black. At one o’clock the ceremony of shaking hands was performed, and
the men set-to. Both the combatants displayed good science, but the
blows of Fuller, although he put in several with much dexterity,
appeared more showy than effective. However, on Fuller’s planting a
desperate ribber, Joe Ward ironically observed, that “if he continued to
hit his man so hard, they should all be baulked, and the fight be over
too soon.” The battle had continued only eight minutes, when the sheriff
of Renfrewshire, attended by constables, entered the ring, and put a
stop to it in the fourth round. Both the combatants appeared much
chagrined, particularly Molineaux, who vauntingly declared, “had he
foreseen such an interruption, he would have finished off his opponent
before the arrival of the sheriff.” The man of colour, it seems, was so
confident of victory, that previous to the fight, he betted five to two
he drew first blood—this bet he won; and also two to one he floored
Fuller first—the latter was not decided. Fuller expressed himself ready
to settle the matter the next day, but Molineaux insisted the fight
should not take place till the following Tuesday.

The above arrangement was agreed to, and on Tuesday, May 31, they again
met at Auchineux, twelve miles from Glasgow. Fuller was attended by Ward
and Cooper, Molineaux by an Irish sergeant, of the name of Hailward,
assisted by a private. The umpires were Captain Cadogan and Mr. George
Stirling, and in case of any dispute, Mr. Graham, of Guntmaux, as the
referee. This battle is without parallel. There is nothing like it in
the annals of pugilism. It is thus described by the veteran Joe Ward,
from whom the account given in “Boxiana” was gathered, and which we here

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Fuller displayed some good positions,
            and convinced the spectators that he was a
            scientific boxer. His guard was firm and
            imposing, and he seemed confident of success.
            They sparred a considerable time, with good
            skill, before any punishment was exhibited;
            at length Fuller, by a tremendous hit, drew
            the cork of his antagonist. Molineaux, upon
            the claret making its appearance, became rather
            impetuous, and attacked Fuller fiercely; but
            the latter stopped with much adroitness, and
            gave some heavy nobbing returns. A desperate
            rally now took place, during which severe
            milling was dealt out on both sides; the men
            broke away, and again resorted to sparring.
            Fuller’s nose was much peppered, and the crimson
            flowed abundantly. In short, this unprecedented
            round was filled with rallies, recoveries,
            retreating, following each other alternately
            round the ring, stopping and hitting with
            various success, and both exhausted by turns,
            till at length Molineaux was levelled by a
            tremendous blow, and the round finished after a
            lapse of twenty-eight minutes.

            2.—To describe anything like the various changes
            which occurred during this set-to would fill the
            space of an ordinary report of a whole fight.
            Suffice it to observe, that almost every “dodge”
            of the milling art was resorted to, from
            beginning to end. The skill, practice, and
            experience of both the combatants were made use
            of to the best advantage. Fuller proved himself
            a boxer of more than ordinary science and game.
            Molineaux was convinced he had got a troublesome
            customer to deal with, who required serving out
            in a masterly style before he could be
            satisfied. In fact, the strength of the man of
            colour seemed materially deteriorated as
            compared with his former exhibitions, when he
            used to hit his men away from him, and levelled
            his opponent with the most perfect _sang froid_.
            The severe blows of Fuller, who stuck close to
            Molineaux, made him wince again. The Black
            appeared much exhausted from the great portion
            required to give, and heartily tired of what he
            had to take. The claret was liberally tapped on
            both sides, and as regarded Fuller, stauncher
            game was never displayed by any pugilist
            whatever. Upon the whole, it was a truly
            singular fight, and the people of Scotland
            witnessed the most unique specimen of English
            prize-fighting. In sixty-eight minutes two
            rounds only had taken place.

            The contest terminated in rather a singular
            manner. Molineaux asserted that “Joe Ward had
            behaved foul, in pulling Fuller down, when he
            was much distressed, and had been beaten all
            over the ring in a rally; and that this
            prevented him from putting in a decisive blow.”
            The umpires decided it was so, and the purse was
            accordingly awarded to Molineaux. The latter did
            not appear anything like the once tremendous
            competitor of Cribb; on the contrary, instead of
            going boldly up to his man, he was always shy,
            and tried to win by tiring out his man.
            Molineaux fought at the head, Fuller at the
            body. Notwithstanding the supposed falling off
            of the man of colour, it was considered great
            temerity on the part of Fuller to enter the
            lists with Molineaux. The conduct of Fuller in
            this fight gave such general satisfaction, that
            a purse of 50 guineas, which had been subscribed
            for at the match between Cooper and Carter, in
            consequence of that battle not taking place, was
            presented to Fuller.

Molineaux now attracted great attention in Scotland, and a match was at
length made between him and George Cooper, a boxer of superior talent.
On the 11th of March, 1815, these first-rate heroes of the fist met at
Corset Hill, in Lanarkshire. In twenty minutes Molineaux was defeated.
(See life of GEORGE COOPER, _post_, Chapter IV).

Intemperance was the ruin of Molineaux; and, it would seem, that within
a brief period his fame had become so tarnished, that every strong
commoner entertained an idea that he could serve out the once formidable
man of colour, as the following anecdote will evince. During Molineaux’s
provincial tour of 1813, he visited Derby, to give the natives an
exhibition of his milling accomplishments. The competitor of Cribb was
well attended, and several Johnny Raws had the temerity to have a taste
with the Black; but these, possessing little more than strength and
courage, soon found themselves inadequate to contend against the science
of Molineaux, and therefore wisely laid down the gloves. Not so a
country pugilist of the name of Abraham Denston, possessing Herculean
strength, and the stature of a giant, added to which his fame was well
abroad in these parts for milling, in which none dared to oppose him.
Abraham had rather “crept into favour with himself,” and entertained an
idea that, with the mufflers, he should be able to serve out the nigger
in style, and increase his renown as a miller. Great things were
expected from the countryman; and considerable interest was excited
among the spectators on their setting-to. But, unfortunately for
Abraham, he had calculated somewhat too hastily upon his great size and
strength, and two rallies with the Black were quite enough to convince
him of his error. Molineaux punished the chaw-bacon most severely for
his self-conceit, and, with one of his favourite left-handed lunges,
gave him such a remembrancer under his left eye, that the claret flew in
all directions, and the big ’un found his way to the ground, saluting it
roughly with his seat of honour. The conceit of Abraham now evaporated,
and he hastily retired amidst the laughter of the audience.

From Scotland, Molineaux went on a sparring tour into Ireland; and at
the latter end of the year 1817, he was travelling over the northern
parts of that country, teaching the stick fighting natives the use of
their fists; an accomplishment which might save many a jury the trouble
of a trial ending in a verdict of manslaughter or even of murder. But
the sun of his prosperity was set; and according to an obituary sketch
(given in the _Sporting Magazine_, vol. ii., p. 230, 1818), he was
dependent for bare existence on the humanity of two coloured
compatriots, serving in the 77th regiment then quartered at Galway. He
expired in the band-room of that regiment, on the 4th of August, 1818, a
wasted skeleton, the mere shadow of his former self. For the last four
years he strolled about the country. Intemperance, and its sure follower
disease, brought down the once formidable gladiator to a mere anatomy,
and he latterly declined to fight the oft-defeated and gone-by Dan
Dogherty. Molineaux was illiterate and ostentatious, but good-tempered,
liberal, and generous to a fault. Fond of gay life, fine clothes, and
amorous to the extreme, he deluded himself with the idea that his
strength of constitution was proof against excesses. Alas! poor
Molineaux found out the vanity of his conceited boast, and repented, but
too late, his folly. Peace be to his manes! he was a brave but reckless
and inconsiderate man, on whose integrity and straightforwardness none
who knew him ever cast a slur; nevertheless he was the worst of fools,
inasmuch as he sacrificed fame, fortune, and life; excusing himself by
the absurd plea, that “he was a fool to no one but himself.”


                              CHAPTER III.

                        BILL RICHMOND—1804‒1818.

Quoad the biography of this clever man of colour, we may safely follow
“Boxiana,” seeing that he was a contemporary of Pierce Egan, who took
his accounts, for better or for worse, of what happened outside the
circle of his knowledge from one or other of the men whose memoirs are
scattered fragmentarily up and down the five volumes of his “Sketches.”

Richmond was born at a place called Richmond, otherwise Cockold’s Town,
on Staaten Island,[145] New York, on August 5th, 1763. His mother was
owned by a reverend divine of the name of Charlton, to whose worldly
wealth young Bill was of course an accession. When the English troops,
in 1777, held New York during the War of Independence, General Earl
Percy, afterwards Duke of Northumberland, finding Bill to possess good
capacity took him under his protection, and he served him for some time
till he came to England, whither he brought the sable youth with him,
and considerately put him to school in Yorkshire. Nor did the English
nobleman stop here. He apprenticed him to a cabinet maker in York, where
he worked at his trade with credit to himself and satisfaction to his
employers. Richmond, however, had the childish and nigger propensity for
fine clothes and the service of a “gran’ massa,” and as black servants
were the fashion of the day, he became what in the prevailing slang was
called a “knight of the rainbow,” taking service with that very “fast”
nobleman Lord Camelford, as Pierce Egan incidentally informs us.

The first display in the pugilistic art which brought Bill into notice
was with one George Moore, a soldier in the 19th regiment, known by the
name of Docky Moore, who insulted Richmond upon the course at York,
during the time of the races. This Docky before his enlistment had been
known as “the hero of Sheffield.” He was well proportioned, possessing
considerable strength, and the necessary requisites for milling; in
height five feet nine inches and a half, and weighing fourteen stone.
The friends of Richmond persuaded him from attempting to fight with such
a man, Bill only weighing ten stone twelve pounds; but he was not to be
deterred, and the event proved his judgment, for in the course of
twenty-five minutes, our hero punished Docky so completely that he gave
in, and was taken out of the ring.

On the same course, not long after the above affair, in a quarrel
arising out of the former exploit, Richmond beat two soldiers, one after
the other, belonging to the Inniskillen dragoons.

Richmond’s milling qualities getting noised abroad, a few of the
Yorkshire lads who had a bit of fight in their composition, envied his
success. One in particular, a blacksmith weighing thirteen stone, and in
height about five feet ten inches, took the following method of
provoking Bill to have a brush. Richmond was noticed in York for going
smart, and appearing clean after he had done his work. Bill met this
hammer-man one evening, as he was taking a walk, who openly insulted him
with opprobrious epithets. Our hero remonstrated with him on the
impropriety of his behaviour, and told the blacksmith that if he wanted
to fight him he should be accommodated at the Groves the next morning,
on which they agreed to meet, when the son of Vulcan was quickly
satisfied, and acknowledged Richmond the best man.

Richmond, in passing through the streets of York one evening, with a
female under his protection, was accosted by one Frank Myers, with the
epithets of “black devil,” etc, who otherwise insulted the young woman
for being in company of a man of colour. Bill, with a becoming spirit of
indignation, requested him to desist for the present, but to meet him at
the Groves on the next Monday morning, when they would settle this
difference (this circumstance happening on a Saturday night), to which
Myers agreed. This affair of honour being buzzed about, a great
concourse of people assembled early the next day to witness the
conflict. Richmond was there at the appointed hour, but after a
considerable time, Myers not making his appearance, the spectators
became impatient, and it was judged expedient that Richmond and his
friends should repair to the house of Myers to remind him of his
engagement. Myers returned with them, and the battle commenced, and
raged with fury for some time, Myers getting the worst of it, and
eventually Richmond taught him to acknowledge that it was wrong, and
beneath the character of an Englishman, to insult any individual on
account of his country or his colour. Myers received a complete milling.

Richmond’s first public set-to in London was with a whip-maker of the
name of Green, in the fields near White Conduit House. Phips Medley
seconded Richmond, who got the whip-hand of Green in such good style,
that in ten minutes he cried—enough!



  _From a Portrait by_ HILLMAN, 1812.

Thus far Pierce Egan, whose apocrypha we will now quit.

After the battle between Pearce (the Game Chicken) and Joe Berks, on
Wimbledon Common, Jan. 23rd, 1804 (see life of PEARCE, _ante_, p. 170),
George Maddox having disposed of Seabrook in three rounds (see the
account of this cross in life of MADDOX, _ante_, p. 208), our sable hero
expressed to his master (Lord Camelford) his opinion that he could
polish off “the veteran.” A stake, amount not mentioned, was immediately
posted. “Old George, nothing loth, declared his readiness. But the new
black turned out a ‘duffer,’ George hitting him down the third time with
a crack under the left eye, which so completely queered his ogle that he
gave out.”[146]

On Tuesday, May 21, 1805, Tom Cribb, having beaten the ponderous
Israelite “Ikey Pig,” the tribes were in desolation and mourning. At
this juncture a Jew known as fighting Youssop (Joseph), came forward,
like another Maccabeus, to do battle in honour of his peoplesh, but not
with the same success, and “See the conquering hero comes,” was not sung
that night by the Israelitish virgins of Rosemary Lane or Duke’s Plashe.
Here is the report: “The ring being cleared, one Youssop, a Jew, who
turned out to be more ready than able, stepped forward to redeem the
valorous character of his fraternity, when a match was proposed for him
in Bill Richmond, the American black, for which a purse of ten guineas
was soon collected. The Jew accepted his opponent; they stripped, shook
hands, and set-to without loss of time.

“The battle was well contested, neither man flinching from his work, or
falling without a knock-down. For the first and second rounds Youssop
showed off his dexterity, and this superiority he particularly displayed
in the third round, when he stopped Richmond neatly and followed him up
till he drove him nearly out of the ring. He did not, however, seem to
mark or hurt his man. In the fourth round Richmond improved, and
following up his opponent in turn gave him several desperate blows in
the face, sadly to the disfigurement of the Mosaic countenance. Youssop
gave way altogether, and at the close of the sixth round declared, like
Ikey Pig, ‘He’d have no more of it.’ Richmond accordingly was proclaimed
the conqueror, and pocketed the stakes.”

This battle raised Richmond’s credit as a pugilist, and he soon received
a challenge from “Jack Holmes,” the coachman,[147] who on the 30th of
January, in the preceding year, had been conquered by Tom Blake (Tom
Tough), see _ante_, p. 235. Here is the report:—

“Mr. Fletcher Reid, the firm supporter of pugilism, backed Richmond for
50 guineas, Mr. Peter Ward patronised old Jack Holmes. They met at
Cricklewood Green, a short distance from Kilburn Wells, where a
twenty-one foot ring had been roped out, on Monday, July 8th [1805].
Paddington Jones seconded the black, and Tom Blake picked up his old
antagonist the coachman. About twelve o’clock the men stripped and began
the set-to.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Holmes stood up well, and appeared
            in excellent condition for an old ’un. Much
            sparring, no good hits.

            2.—Both rallied smartly, but no falling.

            3.—Richmond put in a good hit, but fell. (Odds
            two to one in favour of Holmes.)

            4, 5, and 6.—Nothing interesting in these three

            7.—An excellent round. Richmond was very gay and
            full of fight; some good blows exchanged.

            8.—Holmes began to puff, and appeared distressed
            in his wind. (Bets, nevertheless, three to two
            on Holmes.)

            9.—Some sparring. Richmond put in a severe blow,
            and cut his opponent under his right eye, and
            Holmes fell.

            10.—No fighting; the men closed, and both fell.
            (Betting had now become even.)

            11.—The best round during the battle; both
            fought well and rallied. Richmond terminated it
            by bringing down his opponent heavily.

            15.—Very poorly contested. Holmes could hardly
            puff wind enough to support himself, and he also
            appeared weak.

            16.—No fighting. The men closed and fell,
            Richmond uppermost. (Odds had now changed three
            to one in favour of Richmond.)

            To the 24th—All hugging rounds, Holmes upon the
            saving system.

            25.—Richmond appeared in high spirits, fought
            well, and evidently had the advantage.

            26.—Decisive. Richmond stepped in and
            immediately knocked Holmes down, and, although
            with great reluctance, he was obliged to give

            The contest lasted thirty-nine minutes.

            Among the amateurs and professors there were Mr.
            Fletcher Reid, Hon. Berkeley Craven, Thomas
            Sheridan, Esq., Mr. Upton, John Gully, Jem and
            Tom Belcher, Bill Ryan, Puss the Jew, Tom Cribb,
            Jack Ward, and Dan Mendoza.

On the 8th October, 1805, at Hailsham, Sussex, Richmond met Tom Cribb,
for a stake of 25 guineas. He never dared to face his man, and after a
wretched merry-andrew burlesque of an hour and a half gave in, see TOM
CRIBB, _ante_, p. 246.[148] This affair seems to have taken the conceit
out of Mr. Richmond, for he only appears as a ring attendant and
follower until 1808, a period of nearly three years, when we have an
account (on April 14, 1809),[149] of his beating “a countryman named
Carter from Nuneaton, near Birmingham, on Epsom Downs.” As this is given
on no other authority, that we can discover, than that of Pierce Egan,
we quote him _ipsissimis verbis_:—

“Carter was much the strongest and a heavier man than Richmond; and who
in a turn-up with those heroes of the fist, Jem Belcher and Jack Gully,
had convinced them both that he was no trifler; and now having expressed
his fancy for a mill with Mr. Richmond, Bill without hesitation informed
Carter that he should be accommodated with a trial of skill. Paddington
Jones and Bob Clarke seconded Richmond. Upon setting-to the odds were
seven to one against the man of colour, and in the fourth round the odds
ran so high against Richmond, that twenty to one was sported that Carter
won the battle, and ten to one that Bill did not come again. This great
odds was occasioned by a severe blow that Richmond received on the side
of his head, that rendered him nearly senseless; but Bill soon
recovering from this momentary disadvantage, showed off his science in
such good style, that in the course of twenty-five minutes, Carter was
so punished as to resign the contest. Immediately upon this being
declared, Richmond jumped over the ropes, and caught hold of a man
denominated China-eyed Brown, threatening to serve him out (if he had
not been prevented), as it appeared that Brown had loudly vociferated,
during the time Richmond was suffering from the effects of the above
blow, that Bill had got a white feather in his tail! Richmond was
patronised upon the above occasion by Sir Clement Brigg, Bart.”

We next have upon the same authority, “In seconding a baker a few months
after the above circumstance, near Wilsden Green, a man of the same
trade, weighing close upon seventeen stone, challenged Richmond on the
spot, when a turn-up commenced, and in about two minutes the baker’s
dough was so well kneaded, that he would have no more of it at that
time; offering to fight Richmond for £50 in a month, which was agreed to
by Bill, and two guineas put down to make the bets good before that
period; but the baker, it appeared, preferred losing his two quid than
submitting his overgrown carcass to the punishment of Richmond.

“Bill fought a man of the name of Atkinson, from Banbury, at Golder’s
Green, near Hendon, a bargeman, for a subscription purse; it was a good
fight, but in the course of twenty minutes Atkinson was perfectly
satisfied the chance was against him, and acknowledged that he was
beaten.” “Boxiana,” vol. i. 443‒5.

It does not appear from Richmond’s next legitimate match after his
defeat by Tom Cribb, that our sable friend’s prowess was in very high
esteem, for his next battle, Tuesday, April 11, 1809, was fought for ten
guineas, at Coombe Wood, near Kingston, with “one Isaac Wood, a
waterman,” who has no other chronicle in the chronologies but this black
defeat. However, Pierce answers negatively for his “not being
unacquainted with science,” and his “determined spirit.” The
contemporary report is as follows:—

“At one o’clock the combatants arrived in post-chaises; a twenty-five
feet ring was immediately formed, and at half past one the heroes
entered, and set-to; Richmond seconded by Jones and Bob Clarke, and Wood
by Tom Cribb and Cropley.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—A little sparring. Richmond threw in a
            left-handed hit on his opponent’s jaw. Wood
            rallied, but was thrown. (Odds seven to four on

            2.—Wood hit; Richmond parried, and returned
            right and left. The men closed, and both fell.

            3.—A good round. Wood rallied; some good hits
            exchanged. Richmond displayed great superiority
            in science, and again threw his opponent. (Odds
            two to one in his favour.)

            4.—Richmond made play, and successfully planted
            a right-handed hit. Wood attempted to rally, but
            Richmond parried both right and left, when Wood
            was so much abroad, that he was milled round the
            ring, and thrown over the ropes. (Odds four to
            one on Richmond.)

            5.—Wood made play, and rallied courageously.
            Hits exchanged at half-arm for half a minute, to
            the advantage of Richmond, who closed, and threw
            Wood again.

            6.—Wood’s head now appeared dreadfully
            disfigured. Richmond rallied, but Wood evinced
            great weakness and fell.

            7.—Both rallied, and Richmond threw Wood.

            8.—Somewhat in favour of Wood. Richmond made a
            false hit. Wood struck twice, and then threw

            9.—Richmond, in making play, slipt.

            10.—Both stood up manfully, and hit at full
            length until both fell.

            11.—In this round Wood displayed good bottom,
            but no science. An excellent rally. The men
            closed, and Richmond fibbed Wood until he was
            covered with blood, and both fell weak.

            12.—Wood appeared as though he had exerted his
            last effort in the last round. Richmond threw in
            three successive blows in the face, rallying him
            to the ropes, when he gave a somersault over

            14.—In this round Richmond threw his opponent.

            15.—This round, although not the last, was
            decisive. Richmond again put in three successive
            hits on the head. Wood attempted, but was
            evidently unable to return, and Richmond threw
            him. Wood with great courage, but evident
            disadvantage, stood up to the

            23rd.—When Richmond again brought him down, and
            he was unable to come to time. Richmond was very
            little hurt.

Another battle was fought between Frere and Power, which in twenty-five
minutes was decided in favour of the latter, who possessed the greatest

Richmond had always suffered in reputation from his first display with
“the veteran” Maddox, and anxious to retrieve his credit, he was
continually carping at the “old ’un,” and proposing matches. George, who
was brave as a lion, at last agreed to risk his established reputation,
and 100 guineas of his backer’s money, to accommodate his old
antagonist, and on the 9th of August, 1809, in his 54th year, was
defeated as hereafter reported. The battle was fought at Pope’s Head
Watchhouse, on the coast between Margate and Reculvers.

“A twenty-seven feet ring was formed with ropes, and the heroes, without
loss of time, entered and set-to; Maddox seconded by Gully and Bill
Gibbons, and Richmond by Bob Clarke and Jack Ward. At setting-to odds
six to four on Maddox.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Maddox went in as usual with great
            gaiety; Richmond stopped him, and planting two
            successful blows on the neck, brought him down.

            2.—Maddox rallied, and threw his opponent over
            the ropes.

            3.—An excellently contested round, in which
            Richmond displayed great superiority, both in
            science and strength, and after good fighting
            threw his aged adversary with a force which
            astonished every spectator.

            10.—Maddox evidently fought at great
            disadvantage, but stood up courageously. (Odds
            were now changed in favour of Richmond four to

            The bravery of Maddox, however, spun out the
            battle for fifty-two minutes, and he displayed
            as much game as, perhaps, ever was seen. Within
            a few minutes of the termination of the contest,
            when quite blind, he was on his knees, and by a
            sudden effort he sprung up, and holding Richmond
            round the neck with one hand, continued to deal
            out some tremendous hits with the other, but
            nature was at length exhausted, and he fell.

            George was liberally rewarded for his prowess by
            a subscription. This was the battle which the
            Right Hon. William Windham eulogised in a speech
            in Parliament, which we have quoted already at
            pp. 90, 91.

Richmond, having thus “fed fat his ancient grudge,” appears merely as a
second in several leading events. Having quarrelled with Power, when
seconding “Uncle Ben” (Burn) against Dogherty (see BEN BURN in
Appendix), the following turn-up took place, of which we find the record
in “Pancratia,” p. 334‒5. We extract it as a specimen of the state of
society, which, with all our advocacy of legitimate pugilism and a fight
in its proper time and place, or when necessity and self-defence compel
it, we should be sorry to see restored.

“On May 1st, 1810, a large party of amateurs and pugilists, amongst whom
were Gully, Jackson, Richmond, Dogherty, Cribb, and Tom Belcher, dined
at the Castle (then called Bob’s Chophouse), in Holborn. After the cloth
was cleared, several sporting theatricals being present some capital
songs were sung, and the bottle circled freely. Some excellent sparring
was then exhibited by some of the first professors, and at length it was
agreed that a subscription purse of £20 should be made by the company
present, and immediately fought for by young Cribb and Dogherty. Tom
Cribb seconded his brother, and Richmond, who is handy on all occasions,
seconded Dogherty; betting even. Cribb displayed great gluttony, threw
in some excellent hits successfully, and often rallied and beat away the
superior science of his opponent; but at the end of an hour, being quite
exhausted, gave in, when Dogherty was declared the conqueror. Both
combatants were several times hit off their legs.

“By the termination of this battle, Power, who was originally intended
to have contested with Dogherty, but could no where be found, came in,
and another purse was subscribed to the same amount for him and
Richmond. An honourable baronet and Cribb seconded Richmond, and an
amateur Colonel and Bill Gibbons, Power.

“Richmond having seconded the preceding battle for an hour, set-to with
great disadvantage, and for the first round had the worst of it, but, as
every amateur might have expected, his science gave him the best of the
remainder. Richmond excels in hitting and getting away; and Power, who
is a resolute fighter, was continually boring in upon his opponent, and
this sort of game always gets a man the worst of the battle with such an
opponent as the black. By this system Power was completely beat in a
quarter of an hour. He was frequently hit twice in the face in a second,
and frequently brought down by a favourite left-handed hit of
Richmond’s, who, on the other hand, received no other injury throughout
the battle than a slight blow in the face. Forty shillings out of the
purse consoled Power for his bad fate; and Richmond sat down to his wine
£18 richer, and with the amateurs toasted fighters and fighting till
three o’clock in the morning.”

Richmond now became a publican, at the Horse and Dolphin, in St.
Martin’s Street, and as he was a shrewd fellow, his house was well

Richmond acquired considerable notoriety from his patronage of
Molineaux; and, so far as we can learn, his generous behaviour to that
pugilist, who came to him an entire stranger, destitute of friends or
money, received an ungrateful return. It is certain Molineaux was
indebted for that patronage and attention which he afterwards received
from persons of distinction, to his introduction by Richmond.

Richmond, after the contest between Molineaux and Carter, April 2, 1813,
challenged either of them for £100.

Five years had nearly elapsed since Richmond had exhibited in the P.R.,
when, to the astonishment of many, he declared his intention of
contending for the first purse of 50 guineas, given by the Pugilistic
Club, at Coombe Wood, on Tuesday, May 3, 1814. Everything was conducted
with appropriate attention congenial to the patronage bestowed upon the
occasion, which was much more conspicuous than hitherto. The members of
the club were dressed in their uniform (blue and buff); and those
persons who were appointed to clear the outer ring wore dark blue
ribbons in their hats, to designate their appointment, tending to
prevent any sort of confusion, because, at other times, men so acting
have been challenged with officiousness. The stakes and ropes were
entirely new, and upon the former the initials of the club (P.C.) were
painted. Three ropes went round the ring, which was twenty-four feet.
Davis, a fine, tall, powerful, young, athletic navigator, had thumped
his way into notice, by serving seven or eight customers with tolerable
ease; his weight was twelve stone ten pounds, and his age twenty-four
years. The veteran man of colour, who dared him to the conflict was
twelve stone two pounds, and in his fifty-second year! Davis entered
first; he threw up his hat, bowed to the spectators and was well
received. Richmond soon followed, paid the like attention and was
equally applauded. Their seconds now began to perform their office, Joe
Ward and Dick Whale for Davis, and Tom Belcher and Bill Gibbons for
Richmond. It was a sunny day, and the toss for the shady side was won
for Richmond. A few minutes after one the set-to commenced.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—From the well known science of
            Richmond, and his peculiar forte of hitting and
            getting away, considerable interest was excited.
            Davis being under the guidance of the veteran
            Joe Ward, it was presumed by the fancy that the
            navigator would be made awake to the dangerous
            mode of his antagonist, and be on the alert not
            to be cut up and spoiled before his powers could
            be fairly brought into action. Davis did not
            want for confidence; he made a good hit with his
            left, which was stopped by Richmond, who also
            returned right and left, but without material
            effect. Davis, anxious to make a beginning, and
            full of vigour, followed up his man, and planted
            a smart hit on Richmond’s temple with his right,
            which knocked him down instantly. (Betting took
            a lift, and seven to four was loudly vociferated
            upon Davis.)

            2.—Spirited exchanges, and some heavy blows
            passed. Richmond drew the cork of his
            antagonist; nevertheless, the man of colour was
            again levelled. (Two to one was sported upon
            Davis, in the exultation of the moment, by his

            3.—Richmond began to show off the mastery of the
            art; milling the nob of his antagonist severely,
            and getting away; Davis, with much resolution,
            bored in, when, after closing, both went down,
            Richmond undermost.

            4.—Richmond rallied in fine style, and with
            his left hand put in a most tremendous blow,
            which irritated Davis so much, that he suffered
            his passion to get uppermost, and rushed in
            furiously, but, his distance being short,
            Richmond went down from a slight touch of the
            mouth. Davis bled profusely.

            5.—The skill of Richmond in this round burst
            forth so conspicuously, that the doubtful were
            satisfied of his superiority. Confident in
            himself, and with science and courage united,
            he nobly opposed a rally, and got away with
            uncommon dexterity, punishing the head of Davis
            most terribly at every retreating step. The
            navigator, in pursuing, threw nearly all his
            blows away, when Richmond, quite unexpectedly
            stopped short, and planted so severe a teazer on
            the mouth of Davis that sent him quickly on the
            grass. (Even betting.)

            6.—Davis, from the severity of the last hit, was
            unable to gain any advantage over Richmond, who
            again took the lead in high style, milling and
            dropping his antagonist.

            7.—The manner of Davis was much altered, and he
            appeared distressed. His temper forsook him, and
            he still kept boring after Richmond, who milled
            him in every direction, and at length put in so
            tremendous a blow upon his jaw, that, in his
            confusion, he made blows without any sort of
            direction, till he hit himself down under the

            8.—Davis, in a rally, hit Richmond slightly on
            the mouth; the latter kept punishing his
            adversary severely, and getting away. In
            closing, Richmond went down.

            9.—The inferiority of Davis was apparent. In
            science he was by no means competent, and his
            strength was much reduced by the skill of his
            opponent. Richmond continued his retreating
            system with great success, and put in so weighty
            a blow under the ear of Davis, that he was
            instantly down.

            10.—This round was of little importance; the men
            closed and fell, but Richmond undermost.

            11.—Richmond completely spoiled his antagonist.
            Davis was going in to smash the Black in haste,
            but met with such a stopper right in the wind
            that completely changed his course: he reeled
            again. Davis now closed, and endeavoured to
            throw Richmond, which he accomplished, fell upon
            his latter end, his head rolling towards the
            ground, distressed beyond measure.

            12.—Had Davis possessed the strength of a
            giant, it must have been exhausted by the mode
            in which he fought. Notwithstanding the severe
            remembrancers he had received in the preceding
            rounds, he had gained no experience from them,
            but still kept following Richmond all over the
            ring, hitting wide and losing himself. The
            Black kept punishing, but received nothing;
            retreating, retreating, and retreating again,
            and at almost every step made woeful havoc on
            the nob of his adversary, completely showing
            the spectators what might be accomplished by
            scientific movements. At length he suddenly
            made a stand, and, his distance proving
            correct, with his right hand hit the mouth of
            Davis with such uncommon severity, that he
            went down like a log of wood. (Numerous
            betters, but no takers.)

            13.—It was plain that Davis was nearly finished;
            he appeared stupid, and his efforts were feeble.
            Richmond put an end to the combat by sending him
            partly under the ropes. Davis could not come

            Upon Richmond’s being declared the conqueror, he
            leaped over the ropes, which were nearly five
            feet in height, with the agility of a tumbler.
            He received little hurt, except a blow on the
            temple, and a slight touch on the mouth. On the
            contrary, Davis was so dreadfully punished that
            he was supported off the ground. The battle
            continued twenty minutes. Richmond remained on
            the ground during the sports of the day, without
            inconvenience from this conflict.

It was scarcely imagined, from the advanced age of Richmond, that he
would ever fight any more prize battles; and upon a battle being
announced between the man of colour and the navigator, Tom Shelton,
great surprise was manifested by the amateurs at the vast disparagement
between them; the latter pugilist being little more than half the age of
Richmond, and possessing all the advantages of youth, strength, and
science. It, however, created so great an interest in the sporting
circles, that on Tuesday, the 1st of August, 1815, upwards of ten
thousand persons assembled on Moulsey Hurst to witness the trial of
skill. Oliver and Painter seconded the veteran nigger, and Cribb and
Clarke waited upon Shelton. It appears this battle originated in a
quarrel between the combatants; and so strongly did it operate on the
feelings of Shelton, that he positively refused to comply with the usual
custom of shaking hands with his opponent previous to their setting-to.
But upon the champion’s declaring he would instantly quit the ring if he
did not, Shelton laid hold of Richmond’s hand, and the fight commenced,
the odds being six and seven to four on the man of colour.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Shelton, from his eagerness to be at
            work, missed his adversary in making a blow, and
            Richmond also hit short; but the man of colour
            soon planted a severe blow with his left hand,
            when Shelton, with great readiness, damaged one
            of Richmond’s peepers so sharply that the claret
            was seen trickling down his face. Shelton, full
            of resolution, fought his way into a rally,
            which was well contested, and the navigator
            was thought to have the best of it. Richmond
            went down from a hit. (The betting immediately
            changed, and even was the order of the day.)

            2.—Richmond, anxious to return the favour he had
            received, planted a hit so clean and dexterously
            upon Shelton’s mouth, that the claret followed,
            like drawing the cork of a bottle. Shelton
            positively appeared electrified, and went down
            like a log. (Two to one offered upon the man of

            3.—The right eye of Richmond was terribly
            puffed. Shelton had the best of the rally, and
            his aged opponent went down.

            4.—The veteran was all alive, Shelton showed
            good science, but seemed determined that nothing
            less than downright milling should go on; he
            made a good right-handed blow. Richmond missed a
            desperately aimed hit at his adversary’s ear,
            which was attributed to the bad state of his own
            eye, and in closing, got down in an easy style.

            5.—The navigator got into work successfully,
            and felt for Richmond’s head and body not
            very delicately; but the man of colour again
            touched him on the sore place of his mouth.
            The advantage of this round was evidently
            with Shelton, and he sent his opponent down.
            (The odds now rapidly changed, and two to
            one was loudly offered upon the navigator.)

            6.—Richmond found that no time was to be lost,
            and to win in anything like his usual style the
            fight must soon be taken out of his adversary.
            He, with much judgment, planted a tremendous
            blow with his right hand upon Shelton’s nob, who
            instantly went down.

            7.—Both combatants on their mettle, and
            reciprocal punishment. The man of colour went
            down. It was altogether a good round, and a
            sharp rally took place.

            8.—The passion of the navigator at length
            prevailed over his judgment, and he went in
            furiously, regardless of the consequences. This
            conduct rendered victory almost certain to
            Richmond, who planted so desperate a blow on his
            opponent’s throat that he went down almost

            9.—Richmond set-to with increased confidence
            from the success of the last round, but, after a
            short rally, in closing, both down.

            10.—Shelton, full of pluck, attacked his
            opponent with much gaiety, when Richmond got
            down from a slight blow.

            11.—Richmond appeared the fresher man of the
            two; but little execution on either side. (The
            odds, however, were upon Richmond.)

            12.—Shelton slipped on setting-to, and went

            13.—The man of colour seemed well assured of
            his own superiority. He hit Shelton right and
            left so tremendously, that he went down in a
            twinkling. The partisans of Richmond thought it
            quite safe, and offered, without hesitation, two
            to one upon him.

            14.—The discretion of Shelton was now at an end,
            and he was furious in the extreme. He completely
            bored Richmond off his legs.

            15.—Richmond, in making a hit, over-reached
            himself, and went down.

            16.—Richmond was again on the grass.

            17.—This round was decidedly in favour of
            Richmond, who not only milled, but threw his

            18.—It was distressing to see the punishment
            Shelton brought upon himself, from the rushing
            system he pursued. The right hand of the man of
            colour was at work like a sledge hammer.

            19.—The combatants soon fought their way into a
            sharp rally, when Richmond made some good hits
            and got down.

            20.—Richmond went down rather unsatisfactorily,
            and some marks of disapprobation were expressed;
            but the umpires did not deem it worthy of

            21.—The man of colour now completely satisfied
            the spectators of the advantages of hitting
            and getting away; and this destructive system,
            to an adversary who will suffer himself to be
            decoyed by it, was completely exemplified by
            the dreadful punishment Shelton received. Some
            murmurings occurred about a foul blow; but the
            umpires did not stop the battle. (Any odds upon

            22.—It was plain that Shelton could not last
            much longer; he went down from a heavy blow upon
            one of his eyes.

            23 and last.—Richmond now had it all his own
            way, and, with the utmost _sang froid_, planted
            so tremendous a hit upon Shelton’s temple, that
            he went down. The effects were so severe that he
            appeared quite stunned, and when “time” was
            announced, could not quit the knees of his
            second. The battle continued twenty-nine minutes
            and a half. Richmond, elated with the success of
            victory, jumped out of the ring.

            By this victory the man of colour added another
            laurel to his wreath; and although he did not
            escape without some punishment, he won the
            battle in good style. Shelton’s impetuous
            passion completely ruined him; and it was
            observed by a noble lord that Richmond was “a
            most extraordinary man, for the older he grew
            the better he fought!”

This was Richmond’s last regular appearance in the P. R., yet his rooms
in Whitcomb Street, Haymarket, were highly patronised by the nobility
and gentry; and about this period Lord Byron became acquainted with him,
as may be seen in his lordship’s Life and Journals edited by Thomas
Moore. His athletic form, though fast approaching threescore years of
age, his civility, self-control, and temperate habits, compelled the
respect of all who knew him; and that “still beneath the snow of age
slept the fire of youth” was well proven by a casual affair, in which
the veteran man of colour was involved by the violent conduct of Jack
Carter, then known as the “Lancashire Hero,” and aspiring to the
championship of England.

The latter pugilist had lately returned from the Continent, intoxicated
by the applause he had received at Aix-la-Chapelle, and he had “crept so
much into favour with himself,” that he annoyed several companies he
went into with his vast prowess, and his challenge to fight any man in
the world. This conduct he carried to such excess on Thursday evening,
November 12, 1818, at a respectable tavern in the neighbourhood of
Chancery Lane, that the company rose in a body and put him out of the
room by force. The degradation of being thus ousted, raised his choler
that he roared out, “Is there any one among you dare face Jack Carter?”
Richmond, who was present, answered that he did not fear him, whereon
Carter defied him to a bout, and a turn-up commenced, _sans ceremonie_,
in the yard belonging to the house, where three bustling rounds took
place. The report is from “Boxiana.”

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Science was not much in request. A
            few random hits, however, were exchanged. In
            closing, Carter endeavoured to weave the man
            of colour, and, in going down, Richmond had
            the worst of the fall. Carter held Richmond so
            fast, that his friends were obliged to pull
            the man of colour away; in the struggle the
            buttons of Richmond’s coat were floored. Upon
            the Lancashire hero getting up, the claret was
            seen trickling over his mouth.

            2.—This round was full of bustle; in fact, it
            was pummelling and hugging each other; but
            Richmond was not idle, and had the best of it
            till they went down.

            3 and last.—This was the quietus; and the man of
            colour was not long in putting in the _coup de
            grace_. Carter seemed confused, when Richmond
            planted one of his desperate right-handed hits
            (for which he was so distinguished in the ring)
            upon Carter’s upper works, that not only
            loosened his ivories, but produced the claret,
            and floored the late hero of Aix-la-Chapelle
            like a shot. He laid stunned for a short period,
            when, once more feeling the use of his legs, he
            exclaimed, “I’ve been finely served out this

Thus ended the skirmish, and Carter retired, weeping over the stupidity
of the fracas and folly of intemperance. “Oh that men should put an
enemy into their mouths to steal away their brains!”

Richmond returned to his company to finish the evening with the utmost
nonchalance over his sober heavy wet, with no other damage but knocking
up his right hand a little.

Richmond was an active, excellent second, and, from his temperate mode
of living, preferring exercise to wasting his time or injuring his
constitution by a too frequent repetition of the charms of the bottle,
obtained the character of being a good and steady trainer, and,
notwithstanding the defect in one of his knees, excelled as a cricketer.

In concluding this sketch, we cannot omit stating of our hero that in
private life Richmond was intelligent, communicative, and well-behaved;
and, however actively engaged in promulgating the principles of milling,
never so completely absorbed with fighting as to be incapable of
discoursing upon any other subject; in fact, he was rather facetious
over a glass of noyeau, his favourite wet with a swell, and endeavoured
to gain his point by attempting to prove that there is more certainty in
his preservation of bodies (in allusion to his method of training) than
either the cobbler or parson have in their taking care of the “soles!”
He had much more to say than many who style themselves “amateurs,” but
was never known to be so deficient in eloquence as when Molineaux
experienced defeat. His experience in life taught him to be awake to the
tricks of it, and there were few subjects upon which Richmond was not
capable of conversing. It could never be denied that he “wore a head;”
and although its colour did not prepossess the million in its favour,
yet the liberal part of mankind will acquiesce with Desdemona, that “the
visage” may be often best “seen in the mind!”

Richmond may be pointed to as one of the men who never lost sight of the
situation in which he was placed in society. In the elevation of the
moment, he always bore in mind that, however the Corinthian fancier may
connect himself with milling, there are times when he has a different
character to support, and must not be intruded upon. Would that many of
our whitefaced boxers would take a hint on this point from Bill
Richmond, the Black.

Thus respected and supported lived Bill Richmond, till the universal
visitor, grim Death, gave him his final summons, on the 28th of
December, 1829, at the house now occupied by Owen Swift (the Horse-shoe
Tavern), Titchbourne Street, Haymarket, in the sixty-sixth year of his


                              CHAPTER IV.

                        GEORGE COOPER—1812‒1825.

The pugilistic position of George Cooper at one period placed him in the
very first rank. He was a pupil of Paddington Jones, and afterwards a
particular favourite with Bill Richmond, who declared him “the best
natural fighter” he had ever met with.

Cooper was a native of Stone, in Staffordshire. His height, five feet
ten inches; his weight, twelve stone. On the other hand, his
constitution did not come up to his other qualifications. He trained
badly; and, being a temperate man, seemed really better in his
_physique_ when left alone than when subject to systematic diet and
discipline. In fact, George Cooper, as Captain Barclay most expressively
termed it, “trained off,” instead of “on.”

Cooper’s first appearance in the prize-ring ropes was on the 15th of
December, 1812, at Combe Warren, with Harry Lancaster, for a
subscription purse of 85 guineas. On this occasion George was seconded
by his tutors, Paddington Jones and Bill Richmond; Lancaster was waited
upon by Jack Lancaster and Cropley. From the superior boxing
capabilities of Cooper, the contest was over in seventeen minutes and a
half. Lancaster had, however, not only the length of his opponent, and
equal weight, but possessed the advantage of standing over him.
Lancaster commenced milling with much gaiety, and endeavoured to nob
Cooper in a sharp rally, but the latter stopped his onset with great
neatness, and ultimately floored him. In short, throughout the fight,
Harry had but little chance of success, although he planted several
severe blows on Cooper’s head. The steadiness of Cooper, the excellent
use he made of both hands, the science he portrayed in stopping, and the
quickness and severity of his returns, were the admiration of all
present. Lancaster could not once take the lead, and retired from the
ring with heavy marks of punishment.



Cooper derived considerable fame from this first attempt, and he was
next matched as a competent competitor for Tom Oliver, for a
subscription purse, at Moulsey Hurst, on May 15, 1813. It was a truly
determined battle (see life of TOM OLIVER, Period V.), and at one period
of the fight, his superiority was so great, that it was thought almost
impossible for Cooper to lose it; however, one tremendous blow defeated
him. The victory seemed as if stolen from Cooper, so nearly did it
appear within his grasp.

Cooper now entered the lists with Jay, on the termination of the battle
between Painter and Oliver, at Shepperton Range, on Tuesday, the 17th of
May, 1814, for a purse of 25 guineas, given by the Pugilistic Club.

On the first appearance of Jay, at Rickmansworth, when he defeated
Fuller, it was thought that he bade fair to obtain a high position on
the roll of pugilistic fame. His unquestionable strength, firmness of
position, and severity of hitting, were great traits in his favour; and,
even in his second contest with Fuller, when he experienced a reverse of
fortune, and was compelled to yield to superior science, he claimed
respect for his great gameness. In the hands of Cooper, however, Jay
appeared a mere commoner, and few traces of his former milling were
visible. In the short space of eight minutes he was punished out of all
conceit of himself and the purse, declaring he had had enough, while
Cooper retired from the ring with scarcely a scratch on his face. The
spectators were completely astonished at the finishing qualities of
Cooper. It should, however, in fairness, be stated that Jay felt so much
depression at his defeat by Fuller, that he took no care of himself, and
was never afterwards in anything like condition to enter the prize ring.

Shortly after the above battle Cooper went to Scotland, where he opened
a school for teaching the art of self-defence. At Edinburgh, in
particular, his conduct was much praised: it not only gained him many
patrons and backers, but his school was well attended.

A match was proposed between Cooper and Carter for £100 a-side, both
being at Edinburgh; but it went off in consequence of the bad state of
health of the former. It was generally supposed that this would have
proved a fight of great equality.

The patrons of pugilism, anxious to witness a prize battle in Scotland,
entered into a subscription purse for that purpose, to be fought for by
Cooper and Molineaux. This mill took place at Corsethill, Lanarkshire,
March 10, 1815. Early in the morning the fancy were on the alert, and
not a drag or a nag was to be had in Edinburgh by nine o’clock.
Thousands pedestrianised it before daylight, so as to arrive in time,
and numbers, it seems, went on a wrong scent and sailed for Inchkeith.
At half-past twelve Cooper and Molineaux appeared in the ring, and at
fourteen minutes before one, shook hands and set-to. Oliver and a
Yorkshireman seconded Cooper; and Joe Ward and Richmond picked up
Molineaux. Six to four on the black.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—Silence prevailed, and the Caledonians
            appeared anxiously interested to witness the
            opening attack. Considerable sparring took
            place, both being aware of the milling talents
            possessed by the other. Molineaux commenced
            offensive operations right and left, and Cooper,
            in return, put in a sharp bodier, but, in
            slipping, received a hit which sent him under
            the ropes.

            2.—Milling without ceremony, and both the
            combatants on their mettle. Molineaux planted a
            sharp nobber, but received for this favour two
            tremendous rib-roasters, that made him wince
            again and gasp for breath. Some blows were
            exchanged; in closing, both down.

            3.—Molineaux, with the most determined spirit,
            kept fighting at his opponent’s head; while
            Cooper directed most of his blows at the body.
            Some heavy hits passed, and, in a desperate
            rally against the ropes, the claret was first
            observed upon Cooper; however, the round was
            finished to his advantage, for he hit the man of
            colour through the ropes. (Seven to four upon

            4.—Molineaux appeared at the scratch rather
            distressed from the last round. Cooper, full of
            gaiety, took the lead, and floored Molineaux in
            grand style. (Two to one on Cooper.)

            5.—The superiority of Cooper was conspicuous. He
            stopped the fury of the Black with skill, nobbed
            him at will, and again hit the man of colour
            down. (Any odds on Cooper.)

            6.—Molineaux was growing weak. Cooper having the
            best of him, eventually put in a tremendous
            facer, which floored the Black like a shot.

            7 to 9.—In all these rounds the best of the
            fighting was decidedly on the part of Cooper.
            Molineaux was hit down every round.

            10.—The Black, still determined, rallied Cooper
            against the ropes, and some hard fighting
            followed; but Cooper planted so desperate a blow
            on his opponent’s body, that he went down quite
            rolled up, his head falling against the stake.

            11.—Molineaux, despite his defects and falling
            off, astonished the ring from the gallant manner
            he fought this round. Some terrible exchanges of
            blows were witnessed, when the Black again
            rallied Cooper to the ropes. In closing,
            Molineaux was severely fibbed, but broke from
            his antagonist cleverly, and ultimately floored
            Cooper by a heavy blow upon his face. From great
            exertion, however, Molineaux fell exhausted.
            This rather reduced the odds.

            12.—Cooper appeared at the scratch eager to
            finish the Black, whom he nobbed repeatedly,
            and completely hit off his legs. The man of
            colour was sick, and brandy was given him to
            recruit his declining spirits. (Any odds, but
            no takers.)

            13.—Molineaux was sent down as soon as he toed
            the scratch.

            14 and last.—The Black could scarcely leave the
            knee of his second, and, upon meeting his man,
            he was again floored. The battle was thus at an
            end, twenty minutes only having elapsed.

            From the superior style of Cooper in this
            battle, he rose high in the opinion of the
            Scotch fancy, and, on this occasion, he entered
            the ring in good condition. Molineaux trusted
            principally to his weight and length, neglecting
            any preparatory care of his health, so that
            the right-handed body blows of Cooper proved
            irresistible. The tourney was well conducted,
            and afforded a high treat to the northern
            admirers of boxing.

A few months after the above battle, while on a sparring tour in
Ireland, a match was made between Cooper and Dan Donnelly, the champion
of Ireland, which took place on the Curragh of Kildare, on the 13th
December, 1815, as noticed in the memoir of Donnelly. Cooper, after a
desperate struggle, was defeated. The advantages of size and weight were
much on the side of Donnelly.

In June, 1816, Cooper returned to England, when it was expected a match
would have been made between him and Harry Harmer, but, in consequence
of not meeting with a customer of any description, he once more directed
his steps towards his patrons in Scotland, where he was again well
received and liberally patronised. He was at length matched with
Robinson (a man of colour) who had gained considerable notoriety from
two contests with the Lancashire hero, Carter—particularly the latter
one, a match against time (half an hour)—although defeated in both
instances. The Caledonian fanciers, like the metropolitan high-bred
swells, were all in motion at an early period to witness this black and
white game, and an unusually strong muster of amateurs of all pedigrees,
from the laird of broad acres to the more humble “bonnie chiel,” were
seen “trotting along the road,” so great was the anxiety to view these
heroes of the “London ring” exhibit their acquirements in self-defence.
Considerable betting took place previous to the fight; but whatever
opinions might have been entertained by the patrons of pugilism in
Scotland respecting the milling qualities of Robinson, it should seem
the more experienced ones in England viewed the match in question as a
certainty, and booked it Cooper must win in style. They asserted that
Robinson had no peculiar boxing trait to rely upon, nor even a shadow of
chance, except from superior strength. Anticipation, in this instance,
was justified by the event; for Robinson was beaten off-hand, with the
same ease that Cooper disposed of Jay.

On Monday, the 24th of February, 1817, the men entered the ring, at one
o’clock, attended by their respective seconds, in a twenty feet ring, at
Costerton Houghhead, about fourteen miles from Edinburgh, for a purse of
fifty guineas.

The style of Cooper proved a perfect treat to the Scotch admirers of
boxing. His superiority was evident upon lifting up his hands, and
putting himself in attitude; before the first round was finished all the
spectators were perfectly satisfied what must be the result of the
battle. It would be superfluous to detail the minutiæ of the rounds,
short even as they proved, being only seven in number. Robinson, in the
hands of Cooper, appeared no more than a fresh-caught novice,—indeed,
George treated the capabilities of the man of colour with the most
mortifying contempt; punished him severely in all directions, put in
hits on every part he aimed at, and concluded every round so finishingly
as to receive loud and repeated applause. Poor Robinson could only stop
his opponent’s blows with his head or carcase, and only in one instance
did he make anything like a successful return. He was floored every
round; and it was universally admitted, that if Cooper had possessed
that primary requisite for a fighting man, sound stamina, he would have
been an equal competitor for anything either upon the Scotch or English
list. From this elegant display of Cooper, the gentlemen composing the
fancy, both south and north of Carlisle, felt anxious to back him
against any one of his weight. It was remarked as somewhat curious, that
Oliver beat Cooper, and Carter defeated Oliver; and again, Cooper
conquered Molineaux, and Molineaux proved the victor in his contest with

Cooper, from the union of his superior practical knowledge of the art of
self-defence and civil deportment, rendered himself an object of
attraction in Scotland. As a teacher, he was well patronised; and, in
consequence, fixed his residence for a time in that part of the kingdom.

Cooper, not meeting with any professional adversaries in Scotland or
England, thought he might as well endeavour to pick up a little blunt in
foreign parts; but whether George received his mission from the
Champion, Tom Cribb, who took the chair[150] at the meeting to take into
consideration the propriety of sending representatives of the fancy to
“Congress,” we have not been able to ascertain.

               “‘Gemmen,’ says he—Tom’s words you know,
               Come, like his hitting, strong but slow—
               ‘Seeing as how those swells that made
               Old Boney quit the hammering trade
               (All prime ones in their own conceit),
               Will shortly at the Congress meet—
               (Some place that’s like the Finish, lads,
               Where all your high pedestrian pads
               That have been up and out all night,
                 Running their rigs among the rattlers,
               At morning meet, and, honour bright,
                 Agreed to share the blunt and tatlers!)
               Seeing as how, I say, these swells
                 Are soon to meet, by special summons,
               To chime together, like ‘hell bells,’
                 And laugh at all mankind as rum ones,
               I see no reason, when such things
               Are going on among these kings,
               Why we, who’re of the fancy lay,
               As dead hands at a mill as they,
               And quite as ready after it,
               To share the spoil and grab the bit,
               Should not be there to join the chat—
               To see at least what fun they’re at—
               And help their Majesties to find
               New modes of punishing mankind.
               What say you, lads, is any spark
               Among you ready for a lark
               To this same Congress?—Caleb, Joe,
               Bill, Bob, what say you?—yes, or no?”

Of course we have a right to suppose that Cooper, Carter, and Gregson,
were among the “Ayes,” on this motion of the Champion’s, as appears from
the following account:—

“In the Great Hall, at Aix-la-Chapelle, Cooper, Carter, and Gregson, in
the month of October, 1818, exhibited before Prince Metternich, Prince
Charles of Prussia, the Prince de Solms, and a number of Russian and
Prussian general officers and foreign noblemen, who repeatedly cheered
the ‘assaults’ between Carter and Cooper, and Gregson and Carter.” These
heroes also went to Liege, in their way to Cambray and Valenciennes, and
thence to Paris.

The following is a literal translation of their advertisement, which
appeared in a French paper, published at Aix-la-Chapelle:—

  “MM. Carter (Champion of England), Cooper, and Gregson, the first
  English boxers, being now at Aix-la-Chapelle, have the honour of
  informing the public that, on Wednesday, the 7th of October, 1818,
  at eleven in the morning and three in the afternoon, and on
  Thursday, at the same hours, they will exhibit two grand sets-to, in
  boxing, in the Hall of Vieille-Redoute, rue Compesbad, in this city.

  “They have had the honour of exhibiting themselves before the first
  personages in Europe.

  “Price of admission 5 francs each.

  “N.B.—Messrs. Carter and Gregson at the same time offer their
  services to those amateurs who wish to be instructed in their art.
  Terms: 5 francs per lesson, 20 francs entrance.”

                        THE ORIGINAL IN FRENCH.

  “MM. Carter (Champion d’Angleterre), Cooper, et Gregson, premiers
  boxeurs Anglais, se trouvant à Aix-la-Chapelle, ont l’honneur
  d’informer le public qu’ils donneront, le Mercredi, 7 Octobre, 1818,
  a 11 heures du matin et à 3 de l’aprèsmidi, et Jeudi, aux mêmes

                     “Deux grands Assauts de Boxe,

  dans la salle de la Vieille-Redoute, rue Compesbad, en cette ville.

  “Ils ont eu l’honneur de représenter devant les premiers personnages
  de l’Europe.

  “Prix d’entrée cinq francs personne.

  “N.B.—Messieurs Carter et Gregson offrent en même temps leurs
  services aux amateurs qui voudraient se faire instruire dans leur
  art, à raison de cinq francs par leçon, sauf à payer 20 francs

The editors of continental papers, then, as now, knew very little of the
principles on which British pugilistic contests are conducted. In one of
the Paris journals the following description of the pugilists at
Aix-la-Chapelle, is given:—

“AIX-LA-CHAPELLE, Oct. 8.—Yesterday there was a grand exhibition made by
the English boxers. This hideous spectacle attracted but few spectators.
The two champions, built like Hercules, and naked to their waists,
entered the lists, their hands guarded by huge wadded gloves. One might
imagine that he beheld the ancient athletic games of Greece and Rome.
After a severe contest, one of the boxers, more adroit than his rival,
struck him so violent a blow on the breast that he fell, and victory was
thus decided.”

On Cooper’s return to London, a benefit was given him at the Fives
Court, but no customer offering to enter the lists with him, he left the
metropolis for Edinburgh. The heroes of the ring viewed Cooper with
considerable jealousy, and murmured much at his having the court granted
to him, observing that he went about sparring, and such a privilege as a
benefit at the Fives Court should only be granted to fighting men. In
reply to this ill-natured assertion, Cooper urged that no one would
fight him.

A few months after the above-named benefit Cooper again visited the
metropolis, when he quite unexpectedly had a tremendous turn-up with a
new black, under the following circumstances, to which the remarks
already made on the affair between Richmond and Power are equally
applicable. “We condense from “Boxiana:””

For the purpose of making a match between Oliver and Dan Donnelly, a
sporting dinner was got up, among a select few, at Tom Oliver’s house,
in Peter Street, Westminster, on Tuesday May 11, 1819. The head of the
table was graced by warriors, both naval and military, whose country had
felt and has acknowledged their services. At the bottom, the gay little
Scroggins was placed in the chair, supported on his right by Spring,
Donnelly, and Cooper; on his left appeared Turner, Oliver, and Carter.
The latter was in mourning for his recent defeat by Tom Spring, at
Crawley Down. On the removal of the cloth, the “gaily circling glass”
was passed round with bumpers; and the patrons of pugilism and
pugilists, were toasted with due spirit. Things were going on in this
pleasant manner, when Oliver entered, and informed the chairman that a
gemman of colour was below, and wished to be introduced to the company;
but having “no card,” to send up in due form, he begged it might be
announced that “Massa Kendrick, of St. Kitt’s, by way of dessert,
offered his services to any of the milling heroes present.” The
chairman, with the concurrence of his friends, agreed he should be
accommodated, and ordered him to wait, and hold himself in readiness.
Donnelly was asked if he would take the job in hand for ten guineas, but
he seemed to think that the first essay of the Champion of Ireland ought
not to be hid in a room, and that the prize ring only would satisfy the
amateurs at large, and prove suitable to his own character. This
objection was considered valid. Carter said he could “lick all the
blacks,” and was anxious to put the blunt into his pocket, but it was
thought somewhat too early for him to have another combat. A noble lord
requested Cooper to give them a “taste of his high quality,” but the
latter did not wish to soil his mawleys for less than a purse of 25
guineas. Scroggins now begged to be heard, saying “as how, if Cooper
fought this here black, he being such a good fighter, it would not last
five minutes; whereas he would do it for the ten quid, and with him and
Massa it must prove a sporting fight” (bravo! and laughter). In the true
sportsmen’s style, a handicap purse was made, and the £26 5_s._ of soft,
etc., was produced on the table in a twinkling. The purse being ready,
tables, glasses, decanters, and the good things of this life, were
removed with the celerity of a pantomime transformation, and a clear
stage and fair play announced. Everything being ready, Massa Kendrick
was introduced. He grinned with delight at the thought of the 25 guinea
prize. He was a tall, bony, athletic chap, possessed a furious nob,
young and strong, about 13 stone weight, and by no means deficient in
pluck. He proved to be the same man who threatened, at Randall’s
benefit, to mill all the “big ones,” at the door of the Fives Court, and
attacked Richmond in the street. He was told if he won he would have 21
guineas, and if he lost, four. “Berry well,” replied the sable champion,
“see how him’ll win it.” The man of colour was seconded by Carter and
West Country Dick; Oliver and Donnelly attended upon Cooper. Betting now
commenced in this little circle of first-rates, and ten to five was
offered upon Cooper. A gentleman, whose conduct upon all sporting
occasions has been the theme of panegyric, held the watch. The fight
commenced about eleven o’clock, p.m.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—On setting to the Black looked
            formidable; but, in the opinion of the amateurs,
            from the well known excellence and finishing
            qualities of Cooper, it was thought a few rounds
            would completely satisfy the ambitious spirit of
            Massa. The Black, however, rushed in and hit
            Cooper, and in closing, had the latter down, and

            2.—Massa made play, and hit Cooper bang in the
            head. In closing, some slight milling occurred,
            and both down, Massa undermost.

            3 to 8.—The Black got some ugly props, but he
            would not be denied, and rushed in; both down
            every round.

            9 to 11.—In the last named round, Cooper put
            in a rare stopper on the head, and had Massa

            12 to 14.—Massa hit Cooper down in the first
            and last of these rounds. “It’s not so safe,”
            was the cry; the courage of Massa excited some
            interest, and procured him friends.

            15 to 26.—In all these rounds the Black appeared
            a troublesome customer, and the narrowness of
            the room gave him the advantages of rushing in
            and getting Cooper down. The latter put in some
            good hits, but the courage and fighting of the
            Black were not reduced; in fact, six to five was
            offered upon Massa.

            27 to 30.—It was evident the powers of Cooper
            were under the influence of wine. His fine
            science was not seen; his heretofore desperate
            hitting not witnessed; and the rushing blows of
            the Black, at times nobbing him, Cooper went
            down very weak.

            31 to 34.—The right hand of Massa was
            continually at work, and he punished Cooper
            considerably about the head. This last round was
            severely contested. Cooper could not get his
            distance to make a hit, the Black bored so much
            upon him. The claret was now running down
            Cooper’s face; he, however, got a turn, and sent
            Massa down.

            35.—Cooper made some hits; but the Black sent
            him down.

            36 to 40.—In some of these rounds Cooper planted
            a few hits, but they were not effective. The
            Black disregarded them and took the bottle to
            drink. Cooper fell from a blow much exhausted.
            Some long faces were to be seen; indeed, so
            confident were some of the amateurs present,
            that Cooper was backed at odds that he won it in
            a quarter of an hour, but these bets had long
            been decided. The Black was now taken, that
            Cooper did not beat him in fifty minutes.

            41.—The Black put in a tremendous smasher on
            Cooper’s nose, the claret appeared, and he went
            down distressed.

            42 to 50.—Massa was yet strong; and the
            encouragement of “Bravo!” and “The Black must
            win it,” and “I’ll have the Black for £100,”
            gave him greater confidence; and he not only
            continued rushing, but had the best of it. He
            hit Cooper down severely.

            51 to 53.—These were sharp rounds, but Cooper
            could not turn the chance against him, and great
            alarm was felt by his friends that the man of
            colour would, ultimately triumph. Both down.

            54.—The Black was severely thrown.

            55.—Massa confidently went up to his opponent
            and paid away with his right hand. Some sharp
            exchanges followed: but Cooper received so
            severe a nobber, that he fell down and turned
            on his face. The Black was now decidedly the

            56.—Cooper had scarcely been seated on the knee
            of his bottle-holder ten seconds, when a
            gentleman who had backed Massa, called out,
            “Time, time.” The umpire, with much animation,
            demanded to know his reason for so doing, as
            well as pointing out to him the impropriety of
            such conduct. It caused no further interruption.
            In closing, Cooper was down.

            57 to 60.—In one of these rounds Cooper was
            heavily hit down. The cognoscenti were utterly
            astonished; and the pugilists present could
            scarcely believe that the scientific Cooper was
            fighting. A novice, completely unknown to the
            ring, was positively getting the best of him,
            and, to all appearance, winning the fight. “What
            are you about, Cooper?” was the cry.

            61.—Cooper, it appeared, could not get away; but
            he now drew back, and with his right arm met
            Massa right in the middle of his canister as
            he was furiously coming in, and the Black was
            floored. “That’s the way to win it, Cooper!”

            62.—The fumes of the wine were slowly
            evaporating, and the film removing from Cooper’s
            eyes. In fact, he appeared to recollect himself,
            and mentally to exclaim, “Cooper’s himself
            again!” The last nobber seemed rather to have
            spoilt the Black’s distance, and he now hit
            short. Cooper again canistered him, and the
            ogles of Massa rolled with astonishment. It was
            a small touch of electricity, and the Black was
            not proof against the shock. In closing, both

            63 to 65.—Cooper’s quality now began to peep
            out a little; and Massa appeared not quite so
            lively, from the severe hits he had received
            in these rounds. The Black did not relish this
            change in his fortune; and he indicated to his
            seconds something like “enough!” Both down.

            66.—The Black made a miss, and napped a facer;
            he missed again and again, and his nob paid for
            it. The campaign had now changed, and “Cooper
            for £100,” was the cry.

            67.—Massa was hit down.

            68.—Cooper began now to recover the use of his
            arms, and he exerted them to some purpose. The
            Black was met at every point, and finally sent

            69 and last.—The Black still showed fight; but
            got such a bodier, besides punishment upon his
            upper works, that when time was called he did
            not answer the sound, and victory was declared
            in favour of Cooper. Massa tried to leave his
            second’s knee, but dropped exhausted. The Black
            did not show much punishment, except one of his
            eyes, which was rather damaged; but Cooper was
            heavily damaged about the head. It occupied an
            hour and five minutes.

            REMARKS.—The Black was certainly a troublesome
            customer, and weighed above a stone heavier than
            his opponent. Indeed, the event was doubtful for
            a long time; but, in all probability, had the
            combat taken place in the ring, and with the
            advantages of training, Cooper would have made a
            short reckoning of it. It should be recollected,
            Massa came prepared, and Cooper was taken by
            surprise from the table, late in the evening,
            and primed with wine. Massa put on his clothes,
            received the four guineas, and walked home. The
            Black hit well with his right, and it was
            thought this turn up might have led to a regular
            match, Massa being rather fancied by some of the
            amateurs present, who urged that if he was sent
            out to nurse, his victualling office put into
            commission, with the advantages of patronage,
            and the improved effects resulting from
            training, he might then be capable of making a
            good stand against any one of his weight. The
            previous fame acquired by Cooper suffered
            considerably by this hasty combat.

The Black, although defeated, gained a few friends; and a purse of £50
was offered to be given to Cooper and Kendrick to have a ring fight; but
the former, much to the surprise of the sporting world, declined it,
observing, “It would be of no use to him; it being his wish and
intention to fight a boxer of some note, defeating Kendrick would not
add to his reputation.” This answer was not well received, it being
thought by the amateurs, that the £50 would be like a gift to George
Cooper. At Shelton’s benefit at the Fives Court, on Tuesday, June 22,
1819, the set-to between Cooper and the Gas Man, claimed universal
attention. It was fine science against confidence and boring, or, in
other words, sparring versus fighting. Cooper stopped almost every hit,
and gave Gas some severe nobbers in return. His attitude and mode of
setting-to were pronounced beautiful. The man of Gas gave in in
consequence of “hurting his hand.”

From the superior abilities displayed by Cooper in this glove bout, the
minds of the amateurs were made up decidedly in his favour. It was
however, afterwards asserted that the Gas Man “gammoned it.”

At the Minor theatre, on Tuesday, May 25, 1819, when Donnelly, Carter,
and Cooper, took a benefit, the following circumstance tended to raise
the scientific acquirements of the latter still more highly in the
estimation of the public.

Upon Randall’s appearing on the stage as a spectator, there was a
general cry of “Randall, Randall;” and the Nonpareil immediately
gratified the wishes of the audience by entering the lists with the
accomplished scientific Cooper. From the well-known excellence of both
the men, a great treat was expected, and most certainly an extraordinary
trial of skill was exhibited. Cooper was extremely unwell; nevertheless,
the elegance of his manner, the admirable stops he made, the peculiar
style of bobbing his head aside to avoid the coming blow, his fine
position, either to protect himself or to give the assault, and his
formidable hitting at out-fighting, claimed the admiration and praise of
every one present; and much astonishment was expressed how a novice (the
Black) could have mauled him so much in their recent turn-up, without he
had been “how came you so,” indeed. This set-to was also a fine
opportunity for Randall to show his pugilistic perfection. He was here
opposed to first-rate talents, and he proved himself a Nonpareil indeed.
In addition to the superior skill of Cooper, Randall had also weight and
length against him. Randall, though not so showy and elegant as his
opponent, proved equally effective; he stopped with much adroitness, hit
with his antagonist, and put in a little one now and then with a nicety
of eye that showed he suffered not the slightest opening to escape him.
In the last round, Randall exhibited the severity of his peculiar style
of in-fighting, with which the combat closed. Thunders of applause
compensated the combatants for their exertions. Such an exhibition of
the art of self-defence is not often witnessed; for it is only in
placing men of similar talent against each other that interesting
exhibitions can be made.

In July, 1819, Cooper, in his cards of address, informed the public that
in consequence of his not being able to get a customer, to fill up his
time he was giving practical illustrations on the art of self-defence,
at his rooms, in Cateaton Street, for a short time, previous to his
return to Edinburgh.

A match was now proposed, for £100 a-side, between Shelton and Cooper,
but owing to some trifling obstacles it went off for that year, when
Cooper, in company with Donnelly, set out on a sparring tour to
Manchester, Liverpool, Ireland, Edinburgh, etc.

Early in the spring of 1820, George returned to London, and lost no time
in communicating his intentions to the amateurs of once more entering
the prize ring. Therefore, on Tuesday, March 7, Cooper appeared at the
Fives Court, at Shelton’s benefit, when he mounted the stage and thus
addressed the audience:—“Gentlemen, I have come from Edinburgh to
London, not for the sake of sparring, for I mean fighting, and nothing
else (bravo!) I will fight Shelton for from £100 to £200, and give him
his own time; and I will also fight any man of my own weight in the
kingdom for £50 a-side in three weeks.” Shelton immediately accepted the

This public declaration of Cooper’s put him “all right” with the
amateurs: and betting commenced briskly upon the event. The match for
£100 a-side was made on the Friday evening following, at Shelton’s
house, the Bull’s Head in Cow Lane, Smithfield, to come off on Tuesday,
June 27, 1820, in a twenty-four feet ring; a deposit of £20 a-side being
put down.

In consequence of Cooper’s also giving a challenge to any man of his
weight in the kingdom, to fight for £50 a-side in three weeks, a match
was proposed to Hickman (the Gas Light Man) to enter the lists with
Cooper. Both the combatants meeting at the Royal Tennis Court, at Cy.
Davis’s benefit, on Tuesday, March 14, Hickman said he had no objection
to it, provided Cooper did not weigh more than he did. Upon reference to
the scales, it appeared that the Gas Light Man was the heavier by a
quarter of a pound. Mr. Jackson guaranteed a purse, the contest was
decided upon, and both men went into training.

On Tuesday, the 28th of March, 1820, Hickman and Cooper fought at
Farnham Royal, near Dawney Common, contiguous to Stowe House,
Buckinghamshire, twenty-four miles from London, immediately after Martin
and Cabbage had left the ring. The current betting was two to one upon
Cooper on setting-to; but, to the astonishment of the good judges,
Hickman proved the conqueror in the short space of fifteen minutes. This
surprising contest will be found detailed in the memoir of HICKMAN, in
Period V.

Notwithstanding this unexpected defeat Cooper satisfied the amateurs
that his game was as good as his science; and, as a proof that he had
not lost the patronage of the sporting world, his benefit at the Fives
Court, only two days after the battle, was well attended. Cooper took
the money at the door, his head tied up with a handkerchief, and
exhibiting marks of tremendous punishment.

It was whispered about, that in consequence of this defeat the match
would be off between Cooper and Shelton, and the £20 down forfeited; but
as another proof that George had not lost the confidence of his backers,
his money, £100, was made good with the greatest alacrity. Shelton,
however, was the favourite, at six and five to four, and unusual
interest was excited throughout the sporting world.

On Tuesday, June 27, 1820, an intensely hot day, the ring-goers, great
and small, again had a sporting day. The attraction to that delightful
spot, Moulsey Hurst, to witness two such pugilistic stars as George
Cooper and Tom Shelton was indeed great. The weather, it is well known,
can never deter the thorough-bred admirers of pugilism and life; who
among the fancy in those palmy days of the ring, could miss such a
treat? or who could deny himself the sight of the bustling scene of life
so graphically described in the lines appended?

                “To see the Hurst with tents encamp’d on,
              Look around Lawrence’s at Hampton,
              Join the flash crowd (the horse being led
              Into the yard, and clean’d and fed);
              Talk to Dav. Hudson and Cy. Davis,
              (The last a fighting _rara avis_),
              And, half in secret, scheme and plan
              A trial for Gas Light Man.

                “’Tis life to cross the laden ferry,
              With boon companions, wild and merry,
              And see the ring upon the Hurst,
              With carts encircled—hear the burst,
              At distance, of the eager crowd—
              Oh, it is life to see a proud
              And dauntless man step, full of hopes,
              Up to the P. R. stakes and ropes,
              Throw in his hat, and, with a spring,
              Get gallantly within the ring;
              Eye the wide crowd, and walk awhile,
              Taking all cheerings with a smile:
              To see him strip—his well train’d form,
              White, glowing, muscular, and warm,
              All beautiful, in conscious power
              Relaxed and quiet, till the hour;
              His glossy and transparent frame,
              In radiant plight to strive for fame.
              To look upon the clean shaped limb
              In silk and flannel clothed trim;—
              While round the waist the ’kerchief tied
              Makes the flesh glow in richer pride.
              ’Tis more than life—to watch him hold
              His hand forth, tremulous yet bold,
              Over his second’s, and so clasp
              His rival’s in a quiet grasp;
              To watch the noble attitude
              He takes—the crowd in breathless mood;
              And then to see, with adamant start
              The muscles set—and the great heart
              Hurl a courageous splendid light
              Into the eye—and then—the Fight!”[151]

Cooper, since his defeat by the Gas Light Man, had rather lost ground in
the estimation of the amateurs; and Shelton was decidedly the favourite,
at six and five to four. But the odds were reduced on the night previous
to the battle, and the takers had the majority. The Hurst displayed a
fine show of the Corinthians. At five minutes after one, Cooper, dressed
in a smock frock, entered the ring, and threw up his hat, followed by
his seconds Belcher and Harmer. Shortly afterwards Shelton also threw up
his hat, he was attended by Randall and Spring. The betting was guineas
to pounds.

                               THE FIGHT.

            Round 1.—On stripping, Shelton appeared in the
            highest condition; so careful and attentive had
            he been to the rules of training, that it was
            asserted a glass of spirits had not passed his
            lips for the previous four months. Cooper looked
            pale, and his backers wished that he had had the
            advantage of one more week’s training; still it
            was observed that George was never in better
            fighting trim. On setting-to both combatants
            appeared equally confident. After eyeing each
            other for about a half minute, and dodging to
            obtain a good opportunity to plant the first
            hit; Shelton tried to put in one, two, but
            without effect. He then followed Cooper close
            into the corner of the ring (in the style of the
            Gas Light Man, but without his execution), and
            after some exchanges, in appearance rather to
            the advantage of Shelton, both went down in a
            close, Cooper undermost. (Loud shouting, and “Go
            along Shelton; that’s the way, my boy!”)

            2.—Cooper, with the utmost dexterity, put in a
            tremendous hit with his right hand on the ribs
            of his opponent, and broke away without getting
            any return. This blow was so terrific as to
            make Shelton bend like a bow. Cooper repeated
            the dose, and got away. Shelton now pursued
            Cooper, and made a hit; but in return received a
            flooring blow under his left eye, that not only
            produced the claret, but he turned and fell on
            one knee. (Cooper’s partizans were roaring with
            delight, “You’re sure to win it, George.”)

            3.—The fine science of Cooper now burst forth,
            and another ribber was the result, the agony of
            which was seen in Shelton’s face. The latter,
            however, administered some severe punishment
            when in-fighting till both went down.

            4.—Caution on both sides marked the commencement
            of this round. The hits were tremendous; but
            Shelton at in-fighting had the best of it; he
            also gave Cooper so severe a nobber, that he in
            turn went round and fell. (“Bravo, Shelton; it’s
            all right.”)

            5.—Shelton could not protect his ribs, and
            another dreadful hit upon them was the
            consequence; he was again screwed up, as it
            were, and Cooper got away. Shelton, however, in
            most courageous style, returned to the attack,
            and planted a tremendous blow on Cooper’s face.
            Cooper staggered and went down. (Five to three
            on Shelton, and tumultuous applause.)

            6.—The fighting on both sides was excellent,
            till the men got to the ropes in a close, when
            fibbing was resorted to by both in turn. Shelton
            kept punishing his opponent’s nob; while Cooper
            was giving pepper to the body and ribs of
            Shelton. Cooper, by a desperate effort, jumped
            up and hit Shelton in the face. Both went down,
            their nobs exhibiting severe punishment.

            7.—The superior fighting of Cooper in this round
            claimed the admiration, and obtained cheers from
            all parts of the ring. He not only ribbed his
            opponent heavily, and broke ground, but stopped
            Shelton (excellent fighter as the latter showed
            himself) in a style that astonished the oldest
            amateur. In closing, both down.

            8.—To say that Shelton did not show game of the
            first quality, or that the bottom displayed by
            Cooper was not equal to anything ever exhibited
            in the prize ring, would not be doing these
            brave fellows common justice. The latter again
            hit, stopped, and got away cleverly; still
            Shelton stuck close to his opponent, and made
            many good stops. At the ropes more fibbing was
            attempted, when Cooper held Shelton’s hands,
            till both went down. (Well done, both sides.)

            9.—This round was truly singular. The counter
            hits were so dreadful and effective, that both
            of the combatants were beaten to a stand-still.
            They hit each other away for about two yards,
            and were so distressed that they kept their
            situations, looking at each other, without being
            able to move forward, or to make a blow. They at
            length recovered a little, being too manly to go
            down, and scrambled towards each other to the
            ropes, when both went down. (Great applause, and
            “They’re out-and-outers,” was the general cry.)

            10.—This was also a fine manly round. Hit
            for hit was exchanged till both were quite
            exhausted, when Cooper went down. Shelton
            fell upon the latter, with his knees on his

            11.—Shelton, as if determined to spoil the fine
            science of his opponent, set-to so sharply that
            he completely out-fought himself, and fell
            exhausted. (“He’s going, George; you’ve got
            him.” Fifteen minutes had now elapsed.)

            12.—Cooper put in a tremendous facer, and got
            away. Shelton, anxious to lose no opportunity,
            followed his man, and exchanged some hard blows.
            Cooper slipped down, but in losing his balance,
            he gave Shelton a severe nobber. (The odds had
            now completely shifted, and Cooper was so
            decidedly the favourite, that two and three to
            one were offered with confidence.)

            13.—It must be confessed that Shelton was a fine
            fighter; a good hitter with both his hands, and
            parried in a masterly style; and in this round
            he showed great knowledge of the pugilistic art.
            Cooper received a dreadful stomacher, that
            almost vociferated “Bellows to mend.” The
            latter, however, sparred till he recovered
            himself. Shelton cleverly stopped a mischievous
            nobber, and a terrific rally ensued at the
            ropes; Shelton was so much exhausted, that he
            almost laid himself down. (Great applause, and
            “Cooper must win it.”)

            14.—This round was short, but decisive. Shelton
            went down like a shot from a blow on the head.
            The best judge in the fancy, and whose opinion
            is nearly law, concurred in the general
            sentiment, that “it was all over.” (Three to one
            a begging, and no customers to be met with.)

            15.—Shelton, in the most tottering, pitiable
            state, reached the scratch. “His face bespoke a
            heart full sore.” The heat was at this time 90
            degrees in the shade, and Sol’s burning rays
            seemed positively to pour down liquid heat. Many
            of the spectators were compelled to quit the
            ring, to avoid fainting. Let the reader, then,
            picture to his imagination what must have been
            the distressed state of the combatants. Cooper
            was too languid to follow up his success, and
            the energies of Shelton were spent. A sort of
            pushing took place, when Cooper slipped down.

            16.—Cooper came up to the scratch improved in
            strength, and had the best of the hitting; in
            going down, he fell with his whole weight upon
            his opponent. (The partizans of Cooper opened
            their mouths, and loudly offered four, and some
            six, to one, with nearly as much confidence as
            if the battle had been won.)

            17.—Shelton, all but gone, went down quite

            18.—Cooper’s nob exhibited severe punishment,
            and Shelton, upon commencing this round,
            appeared a little better. Two heavy counter hits
            on the head followed, and it was altogether a
            sharp round. Cooper was completely turned by a
            hit. In struggling, both down.

            19.—After some sharp exchanges at the ropes, on
            which Shelton was hanging, Cooper might have
            finished the battle, but he held up his hands
            and walked away, and Shelton went down. (“Bravo!
            that’s noble. Who would not respect true
            courage, and admire the English character?” were
            the general observations of the ring.)

            20.—Shelton recovering; both down in the corner
            of the ring, and Cooper undermost.

            21.—This was a truly desperate round. The men
            again hit each other away—stood still for a few
            seconds, but could not proceed; both were too
            game to go down. Severe fibbing at the ropes
            finished the round, till both fell. Cooper had
            the worst of it.

            22.—The nob of Cooper was clareted in profusion.
            He came to the scratch feeble; and, after two or
            three blows, nearly laid himself down. (“Here’s
            a change!” was the cry, and Shelton again the

            23.—Cooper was soon down. Shelton, from the lead
            he had taken in the last three rounds, seemed
            quite an altered man. He took the bottle out of
            his second’s hand, and drank some water, and, in
            a scrutinizing manner, turned round to look at
            the distressed situation of Cooper; he seemed,
            from the smiling state of his countenance, to
            think that “it was all right.”

            24.—Sharp work; but Cooper down.

            25.—The latter made some good hits, but was sent

            26.—Cooper getting extremely weak, but his
            science never deserted him, and he made some
            hits tell before he got down upon the turf.
            (Four to one on Shelton.)

            27.—This round was completely Shelton’s own.
            Cooper received all the hits, one of which, in
            the mug, was enough to finish any man in such a
            languid state; he went down exhausted in the
            extreme. In consequence of Shelton’s commencing
            this round rather quickly, in the Gas style,
            Belcher called out to the umpires to observe
            that both of the men set-to from the scratch.
            The umpires immediately attended to the request,
            and cautioned Shelton. (Shelton for almost any
            odds, but five and six to one might be had in
            any part of the ring.)

            28.—This round showed the advantages of science
            in perfection. Cooper was so far gone that he
            seemed not to have a hit in him. Shelton, like a
            good fighter, perceiving that the _coup de
            grace_ was necessary, and no danger to be
            apprehended, from giving it, went boldly in to
            pepper his opponent, and put an end to his
            troubles; when, strange to say, the guard of
            Cooper was so fine, that he parried off all the
            force of his opponent’s blows, till he fell from
            mere exhaustion. (“Bravo! Cooper; you’re an
            excellent man.”)

            29.—Shelton made some good hits, but Cooper
            stopped “beautifully,” till he again felt the
            turf. (Seven to one.)

            30.—It was expected another round would finish
            it, from the exhausted state of Cooper. The
            latter fought like a hero, but received a facer,
            staggered, and fell. (“It’s all up—he can’t come
            again.” Ten to one.)

            31.—The intense heat of the sun still
            continuing, so added to the languor of Cooper,
            that it seemed almost impossible he could appear
            at the scratch. George, nevertheless, made some
            hits, and stopped with great skill; yet he got
            the worst of it, and was sent out of the ropes.
            (Any odds on Shelton, and “Take him away, he
            can’t win it!”)

            32.—How fallible is often the judgment of the
            multitude! Cooper, to the astonishment of every
            one present, lifted up the ropes with his hand,
            and came into the ring with but little
            assistance; while on the knee of his second the
            “water of life” was administered to him, and
            produced the desired effect. This was a good
            round, and Cooper still showed fight and
            science. Shelton, however, made a right-handed
            hit on Cooper’s face, and immediately afterwards
            repeated it with the back of the same hand.
            Cooper went down very weak. Ten pounds to
            half-a-crown was offered. While Cooper was lying
            on the ground, and he was ordered to remain in
            that state by Belcher, Oliver came to the
            latter, and begged of him to take Cooper away,
            as he had no chance whatever to win. “Blow my
            Dickey,” replies Tom; “very pretty advice,
            indeed! What! take a winning man away? Oh, no!
            we’ll leave it all to the cook!”

            33.—Cooper showed fight, till both went down.
            (£100 to £5, and £100 to £3, were offered upon
            Shelton, so strongly did it appear to some old
            betting men that Shelton must win it.)

            34 and last.—The conclusion of this round
            operated upon the spectators like a well
            executed conjuring trick. On setting-to, some
            little pushing took place, when Cooper appeared
            as if in the act of going down. Catching the
            upper rope with his right, he gathered himself
            well up, and making a firm stand, let fly with
            his left hand so dreadfully upon Shelton’s
            mouth, that he instantly fell (slightly touching
            the stake with his head) upon his side, like a
            lump of lead. The fight was all out of him. His
            seconds, Spring and Randall, with the greatest
            alacrity, dragged him up, as it were, for he had
            no movement in him. This was a most interesting
            moment. Cooper sat on Harmer’s knee, and as
            Belcher was wiping him with the handkerchief,
            half turned round, watching the appearance of
            Shelton, and with a part of his eye directed
            towards the umpires and referee, who had all
            their stop-watches in their hands, waiting for
            the decisive moment to arrive. The anxiety of
            Belcher’s face was a perfect study, and his
            fingers had almost involuntarily reached his
            topper, when “Time” was called; but the game,
            the gallant, and unfortunate Shelton heard not
            the sound, and victory was proclaimed for
            Cooper. It was indeed a proud moment for him. He
            lifted up his hands and waved one over his head,
            and left the ring, amidst the cheers of the
            spectators. The battle was over in thirty-four

            REMARKS.—Cooper proved himself not only one of
            the finest fighters on the list, but as game