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Title: Pugilistica: The History of British Boxing, Volume 3 (of 3)

Author: Henry Downes Miles

Release date: December 22, 2020 [eBook #64111]

Language: English

Credits: Carol Brown, deaurider and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)






Sayers and Heenan

SAYERS AND HEENAN, April 17th, 1860. See pages 419–435.























Wood Green.


The Reader who has attentively accompanied us through the biographies which form the contents of our first and second volumes will not find the memoirs in this third and concluding volume of less interest and variety of incident than the former.

The period comprised herein extends from the year 1835 (the first appearance of Bendigo), and contains the battles of Caunt, Nick Ward, Deaf Burke, William Perry (the “Tipton”), Harry Broome, Tom Paddock, Harry Orme, Aaron Jones, Nat Langham, Tom Sayers, and Jem Mace, closing with the last Championship fight between Tom King and John Camel Heenan, on the 10th of December, 1863.

In these chapters of the “Decline and Fall” of Pugilism it has been the aim of the author to “write his annals true,” “nothing extenuate nor set down aught in malice;” leaving the deeds of each of the Champions to be judged by the “test of time, which proveth all things.”

In these pages will be found all the battles of the actual Champions, and of those who contended with them for that once-coveted distinction. It must be evident, however, that the space of three volumes thrice multiplied would not suffice to record the numerous battles of the middle and light weight men of this period; indeed, they do not come within the scope of this work. As these include some of the best battles of the later days of the P. R., and for the greater part fall within the memory of the writer of these pages, he will collect them in a series of “Pencillings of Pugilists.” These “Reminiscences” of the Ring, will form, when completed, a concurrent stream of pugilistic history, subsidiary and contemporary with this last volume of this work.

In bidding farewell to his subject the writer would plead, with the Latin poet—

“Nor is the book the index of my mind,
But as I feel an honest wish to find
Some way of pleasing, be it grave or witty;
Accius were else the greatest brute in Rome,
Terence a rake, who never dined at home,
And those who sing of wars all fighters and banditti.”[1]


“Nec liber indicium est animi, sed honesta voluntas
Plurima mulcendis auribus apta refert;
Accius esset atrox; conviva Terentius esset;
Essent pugnaces, qui fera bella canunt.”


William Thompson

of Nottingham.







William Thompson, whose pseudonym of Bendigo has given its name to a district or territory of our Antipodean empire, first saw the light on the 11th day of October, in the year 1811, in the city of Nottingham, renowned, in the days of rotten boroughs and protracted contested elections, for its pugnacious populace, its riotous mobs, and rampant Radicalism, succeeded, in a like spirit, even in later “reformed” times, by its lion-like “lambs,”[2] and “tiger-Tories.” William was one of three sons at a birth, and, we are assured, of a family holding a respectable position among their neighbours, some of them filling the ministerial pulpit, and others belonging to a strait and strict denomination of dissent. The late Viscount Palmerston expressed his opinion that had not John Bright, the coadjutor of Cobden and Gladstonian Cabinet Minister of our own day, been born a Quaker, he must have grown up a pugilist; a similar reflection suggests itself to those who knew the character and genius of William Thompson; with the difference that in his case the young pugilist did grow into an elderly Methodist parson, as we shall hereafter see, while the Broadbrim secular Minister has not yet figured in the roped twenty-four feet.


There is a closer psychological connection between fighting and fanaticism, pugnacity and Puritanism, than saints and Stigginses can afford to admit, and the readiness of wordy disputants to resort to the argumentum ad hominem, or ad baculinum, and the facile step from preachee to floggee of parsons of all sects and times, need no citations of history to prove. The young Bendigo, as we shall see hereafter, became another illustration of the wisdom of Seneca,[3] and took to theological disputation when he could no longer convince his opponents by knock-down blows.

Of the earlier portion of the career of Bendigo, previous to his first victory over the gigantic Ben Caunt, in July, 1835, much apocryphal stuff has been fabricated by an obscure biographer.

In 1832, William Thompson, then in his twenty-first year, beat Bill Faulker, a Nottingham notoriety. In April, 1833, he defeated Charley Martin, and in the following month polished off Lin Jackson, another local celebrity.

Tom Cox (of Nottingham), who had beaten Sam Merriman, was defeated easily in June, 1833; and in August of the same year (1833) Charles Skelton and Tom Burton[4] are said to have fallen beneath Bendigo’s conquering fist. Moreover (surely his biographer is poking fun at us) he is credited with beating Bill Mason in Sept. 1833, and Bill Winterflood in October! Now as we know no Bill Winterflood except Bill Moulds, the Bath champion, and he never met Bendigo at all, are we not justified in rejecting such “history”?

The last in this list is a defeat of one Bingham, who is set down as “Champion,” in January, 1834, which brings us near enough to Bendigo’s first appearance in the blue posted rails of the P. R. with Caunt on July 21st, 1835. On that day, we read—

“A fight took place in the Nottingham district between two youngsters who were both fated to develop into Champions of England. The meeting-place was near Appleby House, on the Ashbourne Road, about thirty miles from Nottingham.” Both men were natives of Nottinghamshire; the elder one, William Thompson, hailing from the county town; while the younger, Benjamin Caunt, was a native of the village of Hucknall, where his parents had been tenants of the poet, Lord Byron—​a fact of which the athlete was always intensely proud. Caunt on this occasion made his first appearance in any ring, and having been born on the 22nd of March, 1815, 5 had only just completed his twenty-first year, and had therefore a very considerable disadvantage in point of age. On the other hand, he was a youngster of herculean proportions and giant strength; stood 6ft. 2in. in height, and his fighting weight was 14st. 7lb. Thus, in point of size, it was a horse to a hen; but Caunt had no science at all, while Bendigo had a very considerable share of it. The big ’un was seconded by Butler (Caunt’s uncle) and Bamford, and Bendigo by Turner and Merryman. Throughout twenty-two rounds Caunt stood up with indomitable pluck and perseverance to receive a long way the lion’s share of the punishment, while his shifty opponent always avoided the return by getting down. Caunt at last, in a rage at these tactics, which he could not counteract or endure, rushed across the ring, called on him to stand up, before the call of “Time” by the umpires, and then struck Bendigo before he rose from his second’s knee. The referee and umpires having decided that this blow was foul, the stakes, £25 a side, were awarded to Bendigo. “It was the expressed opinion of the spectators that, had Caunt kept his temper and husbanded his strength, the issue would have gone the other way, as he proved himself game to the backbone, while his opponent was made up of dodges from heel to headpiece.”

This fight had the effect of calling the attention of backers to both men. Of Bendigo’s cleverness there could be no question, while Caunt’s enormous strength and unflinching pluck were equally indisputable; and it is a curious illustration of the circular theory of events that these two men, whose pugilistic career may fairly be said to have commenced in this fight—​when they were, of course, at the bottom of the ladder—​should meet again when they were half-way up, and a third time when they stood on the topmost round.

This victory over the gigantic wrestler of Hucknall Torkard could not fail to bring his conqueror prominently before the eyes of the boxing world. John Leechman, alias Brassey, of Bradford (of whom hereafter), Charley Langan, Looney, of Liverpool, Bob Hampson, also of Liverpool—​indeed, all the big ’uns of the “North Countrie” were anxious to have a shy at the audacious 11st. 10lb. man who had beaten Ben the Giant.

In November, 1835, Brassey, of Bradford, announced by letter in Bell’s Life, that he was prepared to meet Bendigo half-way between Nottingham and the Yorkshire town for £50 a side. But the erratic Bendigo was wandering about the country, exhibiting with Peter Taylor, Sam Pixton, Levi Eckersley, & Co., electrifying the yokels by his tricks of agility and 6 strength, and his irrepressible chaff and natural humour—​gifts which made him, formidable as he really was, a sort of practical clown to the boxing ring. Hence nothing came of the challenges and appointments, although Bendigo, by a letter in a Midland sporting paper, in February, 1836, declared himself ready to make a match for £25 a side with Tom Britton or Jem Corbett—​Bendigo to be under 12st. on the day. He also threw down the gauntlet to “any 12st. man in the four counties of Nottingham, Leicester, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire; money ready at his sporting house in Sheffield”—​a rather amusing challenge, as it excluded Brassey, of Bradford, and three well-known Lancashire heavy weights. Tom Britton replied to this challenge that he would not fight under £100, being engaged in business; but informed Bendigo that he could find two 12st. candidates for his favours for £25 or £50, if he would attend at the “Grapes,” Peter Street, Liverpool.

John Leechman (Brassey) now came out with a definite cartel, that he was open to fight any 12st. man within 100 miles of Bradford for £25 or £50, and that his money was ready at the “Stag’s Head,” Preston Street, Sheffield. This brought Bendigo to the scratch, and the match was made for £25 a side, to come off on Tuesday, May 24th, 1836. The deposits were duly made, and on the appointed day, May 24th, 1836, the men met nine miles from Sheffield, on the Doncaster road. No reliable report of this fight, which was for £25 a side, is extant: nothing beyond a paragraph in the following week’s papers, declaring it to be won by Bendigo, “after a severe contest of 52 rounds, in which the superiority of science was on the side of the lesser man, Bendigo weighing 11st. 12lb., Brassey nearly 13st.

Brassey and his friends were not satisfied with this defeat, and immediately proposed a fresh match for £50; and Jem Bailey (not of Bristol, but an Irishman, afterwards twice beaten by Brassey) also challenged Bendigo. Bendigo accepted Bailey’s offer, but Paddy’s friends hung back and forfeited the deposit.

Our hero now visited London, and was for some weeks an object of some curiosity, putting up at Jem Burn’s, where he kept the company alive by his eccentric “patter.” Jem offered to back Bendigo against Fitzmaurice (who had been beaten by Deaf Burke), but Fitz’s friends also backed out. It may be remarked, par parenthese, that the Deaf ’un was in America during this paper warfare.

At this period a remarkably clever eleven stone black, hight Jem 7 Wharton, who fought under the names of “Young Molyneux,” and “The Morocco Prince,” had successively polished off Tom M’Keevor, Evans, Wilsden, and Bill Fisher, and fought a gallant drawn battle of four hours and seven minutes, and 200 rounds, with the game Tom Britton, was the talk of the provincial fancy. A match was proposed for £50, half-way between Nottingham and London. But in the interval of talk Molyneux got matched with Harry Preston, and a most interesting fight, from the crafty style of both men, was lost for ever. A forfeit in the interim was paid to Bendigo by Flint, of Coventry.

Molyneux also accepted Bendy’s offer, but insisted on raising the stakes to £100 a side, and to Bendy confining himself to 11st. 7lb. (!) Molyneux not to exceed 11st. 2lb., &c., &c.

To these stipulations Bendy replied: “My Liverpool friends will back me £100 to £80, or £50 to £40, at catch weight, against Young Molyneux. I shall be in London in a few weeks, and shall be happy to meet Luke Rogers for £50 or £100, as Looney’s match is off, owing to his being under lock and key for his day’s amusement with Bob Hampson.—​Nottingham, November 25, 1836.” Molyneux got matched with Bailey, of Manchester, and this second affair fell through.

At length, in December, articles were signed with Young Langan (Charley), of Liverpool, to fight within two months, catch weight, and the day fixed for the 24th of January, 1837, when the men met at Woore, eight miles from Newcastle, in Staffordshire. At a few minutes to one o’clock Bendy appeared, esquired by Harris Birchall and Jem Corbett; Young Langan waited on by two of his countrymen. Langan weighed within 2lb. of 13st.; Bendigo 11st. 10lb. on this occasion. The battle was a characteristic one. The “long ’un,” as he was called by the bystanders, began by “forcing the fighting,” a game which suited the active and shifty Bendigo, who punished his opponent fearfully for almost every rush. Cautioned by his friends, Langan tried “out-fighting,” but Bendy was not to be cajoled into countering with so long-armed and heavy an opponent. He feigned weakness, and Langan, being encouraged to “go in,” found he had indeed “caught a Tartar.” He was upper-cut, fibbed, and thrown, until, “blind as a pup,” his seconds gave in for him at the close of the 92nd round, and one hour and thirty-three minutes.

Negotiations with Tom Britton, of Liverpool, fell through, as Britton could not come up to Bendy’s minimum of £100 a side.

Bendigo and his trainer, Peter Taylor, were now in high favour, and a 8 sparring tour among the Lancashire and Yorkshire tykes was organised and arranged. Bendigo also wrote in the London and provincial papers that he was “ready to fight any man in England at 11st. 10lb. for £50 to £100 a side; and, as he is really in want of a job, he will not refuse any 12st. customer, and will not himself exceed 11st. 10lb. Money always ready.”

At this period Looney, declaring that Bendigo had shuffled out of meeting him for £50, claimed the Championship in a boastful letter. This was too much for Jem Ward, who then kept the “Star” tavern in Williamson Square, Liverpool; so he addressed an epistle to the editor of Bell’s Life, offering to meet Mr. Looney for £200, “if there is no big ’un to save the title of Champion from the degradation into which it has fallen.”

Ward’s letter had the effect of leading to a meeting of Looney’s friends, whereat that boxer discreetly declared that he never meant to include Ward in his general challenge for £100 or £200, as he considered that Ward had retired. Barring, therefore, Ward, Mister Looney renewed his claim. Hereupon a gentleman from Nottingham, disputing Looney’s claim to fight for “a Championship stake,” offered to back Bendigo against him for £50 a side and “as much more as he could get.” This was closed with, and a deposit made. On the following Tuesday, at Matt Robinson’s, “Molly Moloney” tavern, Liverpool, articles were signed for £50 a side (afterwards increased to £100), to fight on the 13th of June, 1837, half-way between Nottingham and Liverpool. A spot near Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, was the rendezvous, and thither the men repaired. Looney arrived in Manchester from his training-quarters at Aintree, and Bendigo from Crosby, on the overnight, when there was some spirited betting at five and occasionally six to four on Looney.

The next morning proving beautifully fine brought hundreds from distant parts to the spot, in the usual description of drags, until there was not a stable left wherein to rest a jaded prad, or a bit of hay or corn in many places to eat. Looney had fought many battles, the most conspicuous of which were with Fisher (whom he defeated twice, and another ended in a wrangle) and Bob Hampson, who suffered defeat three times by him. Bendigo, as we have seen, had scored victories over Caunt, Brassey, and young Langan. A little after eleven the magnets of the day left their hotels, and were immediately followed by an immense body on foot to the summit of a rasping hill, where a most excellent inner and outer ring was formed with new ropes and stakes, the latter being painted sky blue; near the top were 9 the letters L. P. R. (signifying Liverpool Prize Ring), encircled in a wreath of gold; the one to which the handkerchiefs were attached was, with the crown, gilt. Soon after twelve o’clock the men entered the ring amidst the cheers of their friends—​Bendigo first. They good-humouredly shook hands, and proceeded to peel. Young Molyneux (who was loudly cheered), along with Joe Birchall, appeared for Looney, whilst Peter Taylor and Young Langan were the assistants of Bendigo. The colours—​green and gold for Looney; blue bird’s-eye for Bendigo. A little after one o’clock, the betting being five to four on Looney, with many takers, commenced


Round 1.—​The appearance of Bendigo, on coming to the scratch, was of the first order, and as fair as a lily, whilst Looney displayed a scorbutic eruption on his back. Both seeming confident of victory put up their fives, caution and “stock-taking” for a few moments being the order of the day. Looney made a half-round right-hander, which told slightly on the ear. He then made three hits at the head and body, which Bendigo stepped away from, and dropped a little left ’un on the chin. Bendigo was not idle, but on the defensive, and succeeded in putting in two left-handers on the canister, and blood, the first, made its appearance from the mouth and under the left eye of Looney. This was a long round; in the close Bendigo was thrown.

2.—​Looney, all anxious, made play left and right; one told on the ear, a scramble, both fighting; Bendigo thrown, but fell cat fashion.

3.—​Bendigo put the staggers on Looney with a left-handed poke on the head; closed, and both down on their sides.

4.—​Both came up smiling. Bendigo made two short hits, had his left intended for the “attic” stopped, but put in a straight one on the breast, and the round finished by both men hammering away right and left in splendid style until Looney was sent down.

5.—​Two light body blows were exchanged, and Looney was thrown.

6.—​Bendigo got away from two right-handers, received a little one on the left ear, and both down one over the other.

7.—​Looney made two short hits with the left; Bendigo stopped his right at the ear; some capital in-fighting took place, in which Looney got his right eye out, and Bendigo slipped down.

8.—​This was another good round, but in the end Bendigo got his man on the ropes in such a position as to operate pretty freely on his face, and showers of “claret” were the consequence. Looney fell through the ropes, Bendigo over him.

9.—​Looney came up as gay as possible, with two to one against him, and a slashing round ended in favour of Bendigo; Looney down.

10.—​Bendigo sent home a tremendous whack on the left eye, which drew claret. Looney seemed amazed, and put up his hand to “wipe away the tear.” Looney thrown.

11.—​A very long struggle on the ropes, in which Looney appeared awkwardly situated, but he got down with little damage.

12.—​Up to this round there was not a visible mark of punishment on Bendigo. Looney put in two hits on the left ear, but was thrown through the ropes, Bendigo over him.

13.—​Looney hit short with his right on the body, but was more successful in the next effort; planted it on the ribs, and staggered Bendigo to the ropes, where both struggled down.

14.—​A capital round, in which some heavy hits were exchanged, and Looney fell.

15.—​Looney staggered his man again with his right, and, in making another hit, Bendigo dropped on his nether end, throwing up his legs and laughing. (Great disapprobation.)

16.—​Looney again delivered his right on the ribs. Bendigo bored him to the ropes, and Looney got down.

17.—​Looney put in two smart hits on the left ear, and one on the ribs. Bendigo dropped on his knees.

18.—​Bendigo pressed Looney on the ropes, held him for some time in a helpless position, and gave it him severely in the face, the claret flowing copiously. He was lowered to the earth by a little stratagem on the part of his seconds.

19.—​Notwithstanding the loss of blood in the last round, Looney was lively to the call, went up to his man, and knocked him through the ropes with a body blow.

20.—​Looney caught his man with his right; a struggle on the ropes in favour of Bendigo. Both down.

21.—​Another struggle on the ropes, in which Bendigo was forced through.

22.—​A rallying round, which Looney 10 finished by knocking his man through the rope by a blow on the breast.

23.—​Looney again put in his right; another struggle on the ropes, until they were forced to the ground.

24.—​Looney rushed in and was going to work when Bendigo fell.

25.—​Bendigo put in a smart hit on the face, caught it in return on the head, and was thrown over the ropes.

26.—​Bendigo popped in three very heavy hits on the face, put three hits on the body, and went down as if weak.

27.—​Looney hit short. Bendigo gave it him on the conk, and threw him a clever somersault.

28.—​Looney put in his right heavily on the ribs, which compliment was returned by a stinger on the head, which staggered him down.

29.—​Both got to a close, and Bendigo was thrown, coming on his head.

30.—​A slashing round; give and take was “the ticket” on the ribs and head, until both went down weak.

31.—​Both got to the ropes, and went down together. Ditto the next round.

33.—​Bendigo put in two facers, and threw his man heavily.

34.—​After an exchange, Bendigo caught hold and threw Looney heavily.

35.—​Bendigo got on the ropes, and Looney dragged him down on his back.

36, 37.—​Two struggling rounds at the ropes; Looney under in the falls.

38.—​Looney planted a nasty one on the ribs, followed his man up, and forced Bendigo through the ropes.

39.—​Looney planted three tidy hits on the head and body, as did Bendigo on the mug, again tapping the claret; but in the end was whirled on the ground.

40.—​A rally in favour of Bendigo, who threw Looney.

41.—​Looney caught Bendigo’s head, put in a smart upper cut, but was thrown clean.

42.—​Bendigo’s left arm appeared a little black from the effects of Looney’s right, as did his ear, but with the exception of a small bump on his left eye he had not a scratch on his face, whilst Looney’s phiz began to assume a frightful aspect, his left eye completely closed, with a terrible gash over it, one under, another over his right, and his nose and mouth in a shocking state of disorder. Still he was game and confident of the victory; he rushed in, put in two sharpish hits on the head, and downed Bendigo in a heap on the grass.

43.—​Body blows exchanged. Bendigo under in the fall.

44.—​A rally in favour of Bendigo, in which Looney clasped him round the legs; but it was considered more by accident than design. He let go, and went down.

45.—​Looney rushed in, and in the struggle went down on his nether end.

46, 47, 48, 49.—​Struggling rounds—​favour of Bendigo.

50.—​Bendigo shot out his left, and, in going down, Looney caught his head, but, not observing Hoyle’s rule of “when in doubt take the trick,” held back his fist, and let him go.

51.—​Looney popped one in the ear, but was thrown through the ropes.

52, 53, 54.—​Nothing done. In the latter Looney missed a heavy upper cut, and swung himself through the ropes.

55.—​Bendigo got Looney’s head in chancery, peppered away, and again the crimson stream flowed. Both down.

56.—​A struggle. Both down.

57.—​A close, in which Looney threw Bendigo a burster, with his head doubled under.

58.—​Bendigo, being doubled on the ropes, received a few heavy hits on the ribs, but on Looney striving for his head he got away, and both went down.

59.—​A close, Looney receiving a shattering throw.

60.—​Looney had his man on the ropes, but was too weak to hold him, and received another burster for his pains.

61.—​Looney, again on the ropes, caught pepper in the face until it assumed a frightful appearance, and the claret gushed freely; he escaped by the cords being pressed down.

62.—​Looney’s right eye was now fast drawing to a close, but his game was undeniable, and he still calculated on victory; he rushed in wildly, caught Bendigo in his arms, and threw him.

63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68.—​Strange to say these rounds were in favour of Looney, without any mischief, in the latter of which Bendigo was driven against one of the posts by a hit on the breast, from which he rebounded, and fell forwards on the turf.

69.—​Looney rushed in, Bendigo caught his head, drew his cork, and threw him.

70, 71.—​Bendigo’s optics all right, and very cautious. The first a scrambling round, Looney under. Bendigo, in the next, went to a close, and was whirled down.

72.—​A little altercation took place in this round, owing to Bendigo falling on his back without a blow being struck, which was the case, but it was not done for the purpose of evading a blow. Looney was creeping up to him, and his heel, in retreating, caught a tuft of grass and threw him, which appeared to be the general opinion.

73.—​Bendigo gave three facers, but was thrown.

74.—​Looney bored his man to the ropes, and sent him through them by a muzzler.

75.—​Bendigo slipped his left at the all but closed eye, and went down. (Cries of “Cur.”)

76.—​Looney put in with his right, and gained the throw.

77.—​Hugging. Looney down.

78.—​Bendigo made a hit, and got down by the ropes.

79, 80.—​Looney received two hits on the body, and was thrown in each.

81, 82.—​In both of these rounds Looney 11 was thrown heavily, but put in a well-meant hit on the head.

83.—​Bendigo, on the ropes, received a heavy hit on the ribs. Looney was about to repeat the dose, but was stopped by the cries of “Foul,” and he left him.

84.—​Another rush. Bendigo whirled down.

85.—​Looney was floored cleverly by a spanking hit on the chops.

Nothing particular occurred in the next six rounds; the throws, with the exception of one, being in favour of Bendigo.

92.—​Bendigo showed a good feeling in this round. In the struggle Looney got seated on the under rope, but Bendigo would not take advantage, and walked away.

93, 94.—​Looney down in both these rounds.

95.—​Looney rallied a little, and made two hits tell with the right on the ear, and Bendigo went down rather shook.

96, 97.—​Both down together. Bendigo gave a muzzler in the last, got his man on the ropes, but was too weak to hold him.

98.—​Looney put in his right on the temple, but was thrown very heavily.

99, and last.—​Looney came up as blind as a bat, and rushed in with his right, when Bendigo mustered up all his remaining strength and gave him another fall. Molyneux, finding it useless to prolong the contest, gave the signal of defeat, after fighting two hours and twenty-four minutes.

Remarks.—​It will be seen by the above account that Bendigo won all the three events—​first blood, first knock down, and the battle. He stands with his right leg foremost, has a good knowledge of wrestling, steps nimbly backwards to avoid, and hits out tremendously with his left. He was trained under the care of Jem Ward and Peter Taylor, who must have spared no pains in tutoring him, being much improved since he fought Young Langan; and no doubt will prove a troublesome customer to any 12-stone man who may meet him. He walked about a quarter of a mile to his carriage. A tint of black only appeared under his left eye, but his bodily punishment must be severe, as he could not bear to be touched on the left side. He arrived in Manchester the same evening per gig, and proceeded to Newton races the following morning. Poor Looney was terribly punished about the face, being cut under and over each eye, and his lips and nose terribly mangled: besides the loss of a grinder or two, he lost a great quantity of blood from nose, mouth, and other gashes in the face. He is possessed of most unflinching game, but is slow in his motions; he strikes very heavy with his right, but it is too long a time in arriving at its destination. All that could be done for him by his seconds, Molyneux and Birchall, was done. The ring was sometimes in great disorder, owing to want of attention on the part of the ring-keepers.

Bendigo, on the occasion of a joint benefit with Peter Taylor at the Queen’s Theatre, Liverpool—​which northern city at this period appeared to have become the metropolis of milling, vice London and Bristol superseded—​boldly claimed the belt. Looney disputed the claim, complaining that Bendigo had recently refused him another chance, though ready to make a new match for £50. Tom Britton also demurred to the Championship claim, and offered to fight Bendy at 11st. 10lb.; money ready to £100 at Mrs. Ford’s, “Belt Tavern,” Whitechapel, Liverpool.

Fisher, Molyneux (proposing the impossible 11st. 7lb.), and others now rushed into letter-writing, but Bendy kept up his claim and his price; and so ran out the year 1837 and part of 1838, the Championship remaining in abeyance, as Jem Ward had retired, and the Deaf ’un was still in America.

Bendy’s old opponent and fellow-townsman next re-appeared on the scene. Ben Caunt, who in the interim had beaten Ben Butler, at Stoney Stratford, in August, 1837, and Boneford, a big countryman, at Sunrise Hill, Notts, in October of the same year, proposed to meet “the self-styled Champion” for £100. Bendigo, more suo, thereupon observed, that 12 “at that price, or any other, the big, chuckle-headed navvy was as good as a gift of the money to him.”

All, therefore, went merrily; the instalments were “tabled” as agreed; Bendy was a good boy, and took care of himself; Big Ben worked hard, and got himself down to 15st. 7lb. (!), as will be seen in our account of this tourney, which, according to the plan of our work, must appear in the memoir of the victor, Ben Caunt (Chapter II., post), in the present volume. In this unequal encounter, after seventy-five rounds, Bendigo, who from a mistake had no spikes in his shoes, had the fight given against him for going down without a blow. Two to one was laid on Bendigo within four rounds of the close of the battle.

No slur on the skill, honesty, or bravery of Bendigo was cast by the umpires and referee in this battle, when they gave their decision that he had fallen without a blow, and handed over the stakes to Caunt. Bendigo proposed, before the decision, to make a match for £500, each to raise £200, to be added to the old battle-money. This Ben declined, but declared his readiness to enter into new articles for £100. Another match was accordingly made for £100 a side, to take place on Monday, July 20th, 1838. Bendigo, after bumper benefits in Liverpool, Derby, and Nottingham, now came to London, with Peter Taylor, and took up his quarters at Tom Spring’s, where he became an object of much curiosity; his animal spirits and practical joking being almost too much for Tom Winter’s quiescent and almost sedate temperament. In London he also took a benefit, “before going into strict training,” said the bills. There was “somewhat too much of this,” for Ben also was taking benefits in Notts, Leicester, and Derby. In the month of June it may be noted Deaf Burke returned from America, a fact which occasioned a hitch in Bendigo’s arrangements, as we shall presently see, for on June 24th, 1838, we read in Bell’s Life: “The match between Caunt and Bendigo is off by mutual consent, and Caunt desires us to state, that he is now open to fight any man in the world, barring neither country nor colour, for from £50 to £500. What does this mean?” The following paragraph in the ensuing week’s paper may show what it meant:—

Bendigo and Caunt.—​On the authority of a letter signed Caunt, we last week stated that this match was off by mutual consent; but we have since been informed by our Nottingham correspondent that such is not the fact, and that Caunt’s deposits are forfeited. Our correspondent adds that Caunt’s backer tried to get the match off, on the plea that it was a pity to see so little a man as Bendigo fight a giant like Caunt, who was anxious to enter the ring with Burke. He was, however, told that the fight must go on, and he promised to attend, but he neither came nor sent the deposit, but forwarded a letter to London stating that the match was off by mutual consent. As a proof that Bendigo’s backers intended the mill to go on, the deposit (£20) was received from Sheffield on the Thursday prior to the Monday, and on that very day £19 towards the next £20 deposit was raised.”


Thus pleasantly released from his engagement with his gigantic competitor, Bendigo instantly responded to the cartel of Deaf Burke, issued on his landing from the New World, in which the Deaf ’un defied any man in the Eastern or Western hemisphere to meet him for £100 to £500, within the twenty-four feet of ropes. £100 was remitted to Peter Crawley to make the match; but lo! Burke had gone over to France (Owen Swift, Young Sam, Jack Adams, &c. were already there) with a “noble Earl,” and at two several meetings, to which the Deaf ’un was summoned, though Bendigo’s “ready” was there, there was no cash from across the water, and Jem Burn announced to Peter Crawley, that he had “a letter” from Paris that “Mister Burke,” who was on a Continental tour, could not fight for less than £200. In the midst of the ridicule and censure of this proposal, so inconsistent with his own published challenge, a gentleman offered to put down the other hundred himself for Bendigo. Crawley, however, declined to put down £50 of Bendigo’s money until guaranteed the £100. Thus the matter fell through. The public feeling in this matter was not badly expressed in a contemporaneous “squib” entitled:—


Why, truly, my nabs of the torpid auricular,
Your conduct of late ha’nt been wery particular,
And I tell you in werse, which I’m no hand at tagging,
That I shrewdly suspect you of bouncing and bragging.
When a challenge you gave, and defiance was hurl’d
To any professor of fives in the world,
Of course I consider’d that nothing was wrong,
Tho’ I fancied you com’d it a trifle too strong.
I knew you were brave, and as strong as a horse,
And remembered your sending poor Simon to dorse;
And you told us how Yankees all quak’d at your name,
And “guessed” they ne’er witnessed such bottom and game.
You swore as Jem Ward had retir’d on the shelf,
Your mind was made up to be Champion yourself;
And you dar’d all the world to contend for the prize,
While you barred neither country, nor colour, nor size.
This was all wastly well, but how came you to trot
Ere you knew if your challenge was answer’d or not,
And to cut from your quarters in London adrift
On the coming consarn between Adams and Swift?
I tell you, my Deaf ’un, without any flourish,
Your conduct appears most confoundedly currish;
And as straightforward dealing was always my plan,
If you wish for a customer, I am your man.
You boast, my “Venetian,”[5] whoe’er may attack you,
You have lordlings and dukes in attendance to back you;
Well, as folks can’t suppose you are telling us fibs,
Pray, are these patricians to fork out the dibs?
I give you my word, Peter Crawley, my crony,
On my part is ready for posting the pony;
How is it, on yours, that your pal, Jemmy Burn,
In spite of your chaffing, keeps dropping astern?
Do you fancy that conduct like this will content us?
Oh, let no folks say of you “Non est Inwentus;”
Come forward, if e’er as a man you have felt,
For Bendigo dares you to strive for the belt.
Presume not brave fellows henceforward to taunt,
For though of my prowess I’ve no wish to vaunt,
An out-and-out good one I fac’d in big Caunt,
Who in stature and muscle match’d owld John of Gaunt.
In capital style you exhibit, I’m told,
As statues of worthies wot figur’d of old;
Apollor, and Wenus, and Mars to the letter—
Wouldn’t Back-us, my cove, suit a precious deal better?
But perhaps, arter all—​such, believe me, my trust is—
I may not exactly be doing you justice;
And when you’re aware I will meet you at milling,
At the scratch you may show yourself ready and willing.
It will give me much pleasure, my Deaf ’un, I swear,
To see how you’ll show off your attitudes there—
While I, glad to see you returned from your mizzling,
As you’re partial to statues, may give you a chiselling.
I trust that in Paris you show’d in prime feather,
And that you and old Soult had a bottle together;
I’d like to have seen how you sported your tanners,
And mark the French polish you got on your manners.
But perhaps it is time to leave off, my prime feller,
For I an’t wery much of a writer or speller;
Yourself and your pals of the Fancy arn’t green,
And will doubtless diskiver at once what I mean.
They may call me a fool, and the words won’t affront,
For ’tis sartain they can’t say the same of my blunt;
They may swear you are sartain to vanquish me—​good—
But pray do not crow till you’re out of the wood.
For the present farewell! May we soon have a shy,
And if I don’t floor you, my Deaf ’un. I’ll try—
So off, without any desire to offend, I go,
Remaining, in hopes the best man may win—

September came, and the Deaf ’un was still studying “Paris graces and parley-vous,” seconding Owen Swift in his second fight with Jack Adams at Villiers, on the 5th of September, 1838. The police prosecution by the French authorities sent home the tourist, but meantime Bendy’s friends had been offended by some of his eccentric escapades, and had withdrawn the cash from Peter’s hands. In November Bendigo writes to the editor of Bell’s Life, that “he was induced to challenge Burke on the promise of certain friends at Nottingham to stand by him; but they having broken faith with him, he could not go on. His readiness and disposition to fight Burke or any other man continue the same, and, whenever friends will come 15 forward to back him, he will be found glad of the opportunity to prove that there is no unmeaning bounce about him, and that he is neither deficient in courage nor integrity.”

Such an appeal had an immediate response. The match was made at Sheffield, Burke’s friends proposing to stake £100 to £80, and a lively interest was soon awakened. On the occasion of the third deposit, on the 27th of November, at Jem Burn’s, in Great Windmill Street, the aristocratic muster was numerous, and five to four was freely laid on Burke, who was present, full of quaint fun, for the Deaf ’un, as well as Bendy, was indeed a “character.” Burke said he had “lowered his price by £50, rather than not ’commodate Mishter Bendys, as he ses his frinds is backards in comin forards.” The articles specified that the battle should take place within thirty-four miles of Nottingham, and the day to be the 15th of January, 1839. These articles were afterwards revised, and the fight postponed to February 12th, the stakes—​£100 Burke to £80 Bendigo. The Deaf ’un went into training near Brighton, but removed later to Finchley; Bendigo at Crosby, near Liverpool. Here, on Sunday, January 4th, Bendigo had a narrow escape of his life, as the following paragraph records:—

Narrow Escape of Bendigo.—​During the storm on Sunday night Bendigo who is in training at Crosby, near Liverpool, narrowly escaped being ‘gathered unto his fathers.’ It appears that Peter Taylor went to meet Bendigo on Monday morning, but not finding him at the appointed place, proceeded at once to Crosby, when he discovered that the house in which he had left his friend on the previous evening was almost in ruins, the roof having been blown in, and nearly every window broken. Peter’s fears were, however, soon allayed by ascertaining that Bendigo was at a neighbouring cottage, where he found him between a pair of blankets, and looking quite chapfallen. Bendigo said that he would sooner face three Burkes than pass such another night. He went to bed about nine o’clock, but awoke about eleven, by his bed rocking under him, the wind whistling around him, and the bricks tumbling down the chimney. Every minute he expected the house to fall in upon him, and at three o’clock the hurricane increased so much in violence that he got out of bed, put on his clothes, and made his escape out of the window. He had not left the house ten minutes before the roof was blown in. A knight of the awl kindly gave him shelter, and he has since obtained fresh quarters in the same village.”

As the day approached, intense interest prevailed both in London and Liverpool, to say nothing of Nottingham, Birmingham, Derby, and Manchester, all of which towns sent their contingents of amateurs. Jem Ward undertook to give Bendy “the finishing touch,” and reported him “in prime twig,” while Burke was declared by Tommy Roundhead, his faithful red-nosed “secretary” and “esquire,” to be “strong as a rhinoceros and bold as a lion.”

At length the eventful morn of Tuesday, the 12th of February, 1839, dawned; it was Shrove Tuesday, and the concourse on all the roads to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, for which the “office” was given, was something more 16 marvellous than that which was occasioned by the “gentle passage of arms” in which Richard Cœur-de-Lion figured, for which see “Ivanhoe.” But we will leave Bell’s Life to tell the further proceedings of the tournament.

According to articles, the men were to meet within 35 miles of Nottingham, and it was finally agreed that they should meet at the “Red Lion,” at Appleby, in Warwickshire, on the Monday, to agree upon the battle-field. A centre of attraction having been thus appointed, the men were moved from their training quarters, to be near the scene of action. Burke, attended by Jem Burn, King Dick, Tommy Roundhead (his secretary), and other friends, took up his position at Atherstone, while Bendy, under the fostering care of Jem and Nick Ward and Peter Taylor, approached in an opposite direction. The contest seemed to excite extraordinary interest, and the bustle of preparation was observable in all directions. In Atherstone, a most pugnacious town by ancient charter, Burke was hailed with great favour, as a precursor of the local sports of Tuesday; for, from time “whereto the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” on Shrove Tuesday the inhabitants of the village exercise a sort of prescriptive right to settle all disputes in fistic or other combat.

It was decided to pitch the ring as near Appleby as possible, and if practicable to have the men in the ring at ten o’clock. In the interim all sorts of vehicles were pressed into the service, horses were at a high premium, and the most ludicrous shifts were made to procure conveyances. In some instances mourning coaches, and even a hearse, were irreverently brought into use, while nags of the most unseemly description were drawn from their privacy and honoured by being hooked as leaders to post-chaises, or harnessed to any out-of-the-way kind of vehicle that fortune dictated. Beds and other accommodation were also difficult to procure, and, as in times of yore, hundreds, de necessitate, sat up all night to be up early in the morning.

Long before dawn on Tuesday multitudes were progressing towards Appleby, and at nine o’clock the assemblage in front of Burke’s domicile was immense. The crowd continued to increase steadily until the arrival of a cavalcade of “swell drags” from the direction of Leicester, which gave the signal for departure, as in and upon these were the patrician supporters of the Deaf ’un. On the arrival of these traps the Burke party instantly prepared for a start. Jem Ward and Bendigo, who were located about two miles off, were also in readiness, and lost no time in repairing to 17 the trysting-place, which, to the dismay of the toddlers and the discomfiture of the prads, proved to be at least seven miles off. The ring was formed on the top of a hill, in the parish of Heather, which spot was not reached by the Deaf ’un, owing to various impediments, until half-past eleven o’clock. A vast crowd had preceded him, and hailed his approach with cheers, but it was evident that thousands were yet to arrive, and fortunately for them an unexpected delay in the arrival of Bendigo proved favourable to their hopes, by protracting the commencement of hostilities.

It was nearly half-past twelve before the actual arrival of Bendigo was made known, and at that time, upon a moderate calculation, there were not less than 15,000 persons present of all degrees, the aristocracy forming no inconsiderable portion.

From some inexplicable delay it wanted only a quarter to one when Burke entered the ring, attended by King Dick and Jackson, and if good humour and confidence could be taken as indications of success his friends had no reason to grumble. While waiting for the arrival of Bendigo an incident occurred which produced considerable laughter: it was the approach of a well-dressed and not unlikely woman, who, forcing her way through the well-packed mass of spectators, ran up to the roped arena, and, seizing the Deaf ’un by the hand as an old acquaintance, wished him success, and, but for the intervening rope, would no doubt have added an embrace. She then seated herself in front of the inner circle, and waited the issue of the battle, subsequently cheering her favourite throughout his exertions. Shortly before one o’clock Bendigo made his salaam amidst deafening shouts, attended by Peter Taylor and Nick Ward, and, walking up to Burke, shook him heartily by the hand. The men then commenced their toilets, and on being stripped to their drawers a subject of much contention arose; Bendigo, on examining Burke’s drawers, discovered a belt round his waist, which he insisted should be taken off. In vain did Burke and his friends assure him it was merely a belt to sustain a truss which he wore in consequence of a rupture, and, as it was below his waist, was of no importance; in vain, too, did the referee pronounce it to be perfectly fair; Bendigo was not to be driven from his point, and it was not till the obnoxious belt was taken off that he was satisfied. The belt was exhibited, and fully corroborated the opinion of the referee as to its perfect inutility as a means of defence.

The signal having been given, the men threw off their great coats, and, advancing to the scratch, threw themselves into position; and now, for the 18 first time, a superficial estimate of their condition could be formed. Burke presented all that fine muscular development for which he is famed, but he was pale, and it struck us most forcibly that his flesh wanted that firmness and consistency, the sure consequence of perfect training, and to the attainment of which the mode in which he passed his time was anything but conducive; still he was playful and confident, and regarded his adversary with a look of conscious superiority. Bendigo, in point of muscularity, was inferior to Burke, especially in the shoulders, arms, and neck, but he appeared in perfect condition, and firm as iron. The colour of his skin was healthful; his countenance exhibited perfect self-possession, and wore an easy smile of confidence. The current odds, on setting to, were six to four on Burke, with plenty of takers. In Nottingham, where the physical qualities of Bendigo were better known, the odds had been as low as five to four.


Round 1.—​The position of Burke was easy and unconstrained. He stood rather square, his left foot in advance, and his arms well up, as if waiting for his antagonist to break ground. Bendigo, on the contrary, dropped his right shoulder, stooped a little, and, right foot foremost, seemed prepared to let fly left or right as the opportunity offered. After a little manœuvring, he made a catching feint with his left, but found the Deaf ’un immovably on his guard. They changed ground, both ready, when Bendigo let go his right, and caught Burke on the ribs, leaving a visible impression of his knuckles. More manœuvring. Bendigo tried his left, but was stopped. The Deaf ’un popped in his right, and caught Bendigo on the ear, but soon had a slap in return from Bendigo’s right, under the eye, as straight as an arrow. (Cheers for Bendigo.) Both steady. Bendigo made two or three feints with his left, but did not draw the Deaf ’un. Each evidently meaning mischief, and getting closer together. Counter hits with the left, when both, by mutual consent, got to a rally, and severe hits, right and left, were exchanged. The Deaf ’un closed, but Bendigo broke away, and turning round renewed the rally. Heavy exchanges followed, when they again closed, and trying for the fall both went down in the corner. (There was a cry of first blood from Bendigo’s left ear; but, although very red from the Deaf ’un’s visitations, the referee, who examined it, decided there was no claret.)

2.—​Both men showed symptoms of the “ditto repeated” in the last round, although no great mischief was done, nor was there much advantage booked, each having given as good as he got. The Deaf ’un resumed his defensive position, and was steady. Bendigo again tried the feint with his left, evidently desirous of leading off with his right, but the Deaf ’un was awake to this dodge, and grinned. The Deaf ’un tried his right, but was stopped. After a pause, during which the men shifted their ground, Bendigo let go his left, but was prettily stopped. He was more successful with his right, and caught the Deaf ’un a stinger under the eye. The straightness and quickness of these right-hand deliveries were now conspicuous. Counter hits, left and right, followed, and the Deaf ’un showed a slight tinge of claret on the mouth, but it was not claimed. The Deaf ’un now made up his mind for a determined rally, and to it they went ding-dong; the stops, hits, and returns, right and left, were severe, and no flinching. Bendigo again wheeled round, but the Deaf ’un was with him, and the rally was renewed with equal vigour and good will. Bendigo, rather wild at the end, closed, and after a sharp struggle, both down. (The Deaf ’un’s chère amie, before alluded to, now cheered him, but, indifferent to her blandishments, he was carried to his corner piping a little from the severity of his exertion. Bendigo, on reaching his corner, seemed freshest, and exhibited less impression from the blows which he had received than his antagonist.)

3.—​Both came up strong on their pins, but the Deaf ’un’s face, especially on the left cheek, was greatly flushed, and other marks and tokens of searching deliveries were visible. The Deaf ’un looked serious, and coughed as if the contents of his pudding-bag were not altogether satisfied with the disturbance to which they had been exposed. Sparring for a short time, when Bendigo let go his right, but was stopped; 19 it was a heavy hit, and the sound of the dashing knuckles was distinctly heard. Well-meant blows on both sides stopped. The Deaf ’un again coughed; his “cat’s meat” was clearly out of trim. Again did the Deaf ’un stop Bendigo’s right, but did not attempt to return. He now seemed to gain a little more confidence, and exhibited a few of his hanky-panky tricks, making a sort of Merry Andrew dance; but his jollity was soon stopped, for Bendigo popped in his left and right heavily, and got away. The Deaf ’un changed countenance and was more serious; Bendigo again tried his left-handed feints and was readiest to fight, but the Deaf ’un stood quiet. (Even bets offered on Bendigo.) Bendigo closed in upon his man, who waited on the defensive; but his defensive system was inexplicable, for Bendigo jobbed him four times in succession with the right under the left eye, on the old spot, jumping away each time without an attempt at return on the part of the Deaf ’un, and producing a fearful hillock on the Deaf ’un’s cheek-bone. The Deaf ’un seemed paralysed by the stinging severity of these repeated visitations and his friends called on him to go in and fight. He made an attempt with his right, but was short; at last he rushed to a rally, and some heavy hits were exchanged; Bendigo retreated, but kept hitting on the retreat. The deliveries were rapid and numerous, but those of the Deaf ’un did not tell on the hard frontispiece of his opponent. They broke away, but again joined issue, and the rally was renewed. The jobbing hits, right and left, from Bendigo were terrific, and the Deaf ’un’s nose began to weep blood for the state of his left ogle, which was now fast closing. (The question of first blood was now decided.) Bendigo broke away again, the Deaf ’un following, but Bendigo, collecting himself, jobbed severely, the Deaf ’un apparently no return, and almost standing to receive. He looked round and seemed almost stupefied, but still he kept his legs, when Bendigo went in and repeated his right-handed jobs again and again; he then closed, gave the Deaf ’un the crook, threw him, and fell on him. (The seconds immediately took up their men, and both showed distress, especially the Deaf ’un, who was obviously sick, but could not relieve his stomach, although he tried his finger for that purpose. All were astonished at his sluggishness. He seemed completely bothered, and to have lost all power of reflection and judgment.)

4.—​The Deaf ’un now came up all the worse from the effects of the last rattling round, while Bendigo scarcely showed a scratch. The seconds of the Deaf ’un called on him “to go in and fight;” he obeyed the call, but again had Bendigo’s right on his damaged peeper. Bendigo fought on the retreat, hitting as he stepped back, but steadying himself he caught the Deaf ’un on the nose with his right, and sent his pimple flying backwards with the force of the blow. The Deaf ’un rushed in, hitting left and right, and in getting back Bendigo fell over the ropes out of the ring. (The fight had now lasted sixteen minutes; the Deaf ’un had all the worst of it, although Bendigo from his exertions exhibited trifling symptoms of distress.)

5.—​The Deaf ’un came up boldly, but all his cleverness seemed to have left him. Bendigo, steady, was first to fight, popping in his right; exchanges followed, and in the close both went down, Burke uppermost.

6.—​“Drops of brandy” were tried with the Deaf ’un, but his friends seemed to have “dropped down on their luck.” Still he came up courageously, although his right as well as his left eye was pinked. Counter-hitting, in which Bendigo’s right was on the old spot. A close at the ropes, the Deaf ’un trying for the fall, but after some pulling both went down and no harm done. (Three to one on Bendigo, but no takers.)

7.—​The Deaf ’un’s left eye was now as dark as Erebus, and as a last resource he tried the rush; he rattled in to his man without waiting for the attack, but in the close, after an exchange of hits and a severe struggle, was thrown. The moment the Deaf ’un was picked up he cried “Foul!” and asserted that Bendigo had butted him, looking anxiously at the umpire and referee for a decision in his favour; but there was no pretence for the charge, as it was obvious Bendigo merely jerked back his head to relieve himself from his grasp. Like “a drowning man,” however, it was obvious he was anxious to “catch at a straw.”

8.—​The Deaf ’un showed woeful punishment in the physog, although not cut. Again did he make a despairing rush, stopping Bendigo’s right, but in the second attempt he was not so fortunate, for Bendigo muzzled, closed, and threw him.

9.—​The Deaf ’un’s game was now clearly all but up, for while he showed such prominent proofs of the severity of his antagonist’s visitations to his nob, the latter was but little the worse for wear. The Deaf ’un, however, was determined to cut up well, and again rattled in left and right, Bendigo retreating and jobbing as he followed, and at length hitting him down with a right-handed blow on the pimple. The Deaf ’un, with one hand and one knee on the ground, looked up, but Bendigo stood steadily looking at him, and would not repeat the blow, showing perfect coolness and self-possession.

10, and last.—​The Deaf ’un, greatly distressed, still came up with a determination to produce a change if he could by in-fighting. He rushed into his man, hitting left and right, but receiving heavy jobs in return. He forced Bendigo with his back against the ropes, and, as he had him in that position, deliberately butted him twice, when both went down in the struggle for the fall. Jem Ward immediately cried 20 “Foul!” and appealed to the referee, who refused to give any decision till properly appealed to by the umpires. He stepped into the ring, where he was followed by the umpires, when he was again appealed to, and at once declared that Burke had butted, and that therefore Bendigo was entitled to the victory—​a judgment in which, it is due to say, the umpire of the Deaf ’un, although anxious to protect his interests, declared in the most honourable manner he must concur. Several of Bendigo’s friends wished no advantage of this departure from the new rules to be taken, foreseeing that a few more rounds must finish the Deaf ’un; but the decision of the referee was imperative, and thus ended a contest which disappointed not only the backers of the Deaf ’un but the admirers of the Ring generally, who anticipated on the Deaf ’un’s part a different issue, or at least a better fight. With regard to the butting, of which we have no doubt, our impression is that it was done intentionally, and for the express purpose of terminating the fight in that way rather than by prolonging it to submit to additional punishment and the mortification of a more decided defeat; and we are the more inclined to this conclusion from the Deaf ’un’s readiness to claim a butt on the part of Bendigo in the seventh round, a convincing proof that he was fully sensible of its nature and consequence. An attempt was subsequently made to wrangle with the referee on the soundness of his decision, for the purpose of sustaining the character of the Deaf ’un, and exciting a spirit of discontent among his backers. This was not creditable, and to be classed among these petty expedients to which some of our modern “Ringsters” are but too willing to have recourse—​namely, at all events “to win, tie, or wrangle,” a practice to which every honest man must be opposed. The time occupied in the contest was exactly four-and-twenty minutes. In no one of Burke’s former battles was he more severely punished in the face, not, it is true, in any vital part, for all Bendigo’s hits, both left and right, were as straight as a line, going straight from the shoulder and slap to their destination. There were no round hits on his part, and the body blows on both sides were few and far between.

Remarks.—​Perhaps no battle on record offers a stronger illustration of the consequences of vanity and headstrong confidence than that which we have just recorded. Burke, puffed up by his former successes, and flattered by the good-natured freedom of young men of fashion, placed himself beyond the pale of instruction and advice. He was self-willed and obstinate, and quarrelled with all who presumed to guide him in the proper course. His repeated acts of imprudence while in training called forth the strongest remonstrances, but in vain; and thus he has found, when too late, that “a man who will be his own adviser” on such occasions “has a fool for his client.” Nothing but the most decided want of condition can account for the slowness which he exhibited; and, when his career from the time he went to Brighton till the day of the battle is considered, that state of constitution is sufficiently explained; and yet those besotted friends who knew all this were as prejudiced in his favour that they blindly pinned their faith to his former reputation, believed no man alive could beat him, and risked their money, as well as stultified their judgment, on we issue of his exertions. But then say these wiseacres, opening their eyes with well-feigned astonishment, “We could not have erred. It is impossible, seeing all that we have seen, and knowing what we have known of the Deaf ’un that he could have made so bad a fight, and be beaten so hollow by a countryman!” Oh no! this could not be—​and what follows? Why, the old story—​the honest Deaf ’un has all at once turned rogue—​he had been bought and fought a cross!—​he has sold his friends, and must be consigned to degradation. Why, from the third round it was seen by the merest tyro in the ring that he had not a chance. He was completely paralysed by the unexpected quickness of his adversary, who has, as Jem Ward foretold, proved himself a better man than has for some years appeared in the ring. This has been Ward’s constant cry, and had his advice been taken all the odds that were offered would have been taken. But no; the Londoners were not to be beaten out of their “propriety.” Twos to one, sevens to four, and sixes to four have, as is well known, been offered over and over again in sporting houses without takers, and many who lamented the impossibility of “getting on” before the fight, have now, after it, the consolation of feeling that they have “got off” most miraculously. And yet this was a cross; and the cunning concoctors of the robbery had the generosity to refuse the hundreds which were, as it were, forced under their noses. Verily this is “going the whole hog” with a vengeance; but from the little we know of such speculations we are inclined to think that those who hazard such an opinion will be deemed greater flats than they have proved themselves. It is an accusation unjust towards a weak, but, we believe, an honest man, and still more unjust towards Bendigo, who, throughout, proved himself, in every respect, a better fighter, as well as a harder hitter, than Burke, and who, in no part of the battle, was guilty of an act which would disentitle him to the honour and profit of his victory. But some facts seem to be altogether lost sight of in forming a just estimate of poor Burke’s pretensions, for, independent of his want of condition, it seems to be forgotten that instead of fighting or sparring for the last two years he has been confining himself to the personification of “the 21 Grecian statues,” forsooth—​anything but calculated to give energy to his limbs—​added to which he is ruptured. We are also informed on medical authority that the patella or knee-pan of his right leg is as weak from the fracture which he sustained in the hospital some time back that he is obliged to support it by double laced bandages, and he has been altogether precluded from taking strong walking or running exercise, never having walked more than ten miles in any one day of his training. For our own part we think his day is gone by, and, like many other great performers, he has appeared once too often; but that he intentionally deceived his friends we believe to be a most ungenerous calumny, although his friends may have deceived themselves. After the fight, Burke, who was sufficiently well to walk from the ring, returned to Appleby, and from there to “foot-ball kicking” Atherstone, where the annual sports were merrily kept up in his absence. The same night he returned to Coventry, and arrived by the mail train in London the next morning, none the worse in his bodily health from the peppering he received, however mentally he was “down on his luck.” He complained much of his arms, which, from the wrists to the elbows, were covered with bruises, the effects of stopping—​and stopping blows, too, which, had they reached their destination, would have expedited his downfall. Bendigo returned to Nottingham the same night, decorated with his well-earned laurels; and it is to be hoped he will enjoy his victory with becoming modesty and civility, bearing in mind that he has yet to conquer Caunt before he can be proclaimed Champion of England.

The Deaf ’un, who showed on the Friday at Jem Burn’s, with the exception of his “nob” was all right. He complains most of having been stripped of his belt, which was attached to his truss by a loop, and the absence of which filled him with apprehension. This, combined with his admitted want of condition, he declares placed him on the wrong side the winning post. He is, however, most anxious for another trial, and instructs us to say that he still has supporters who will match him once more against Bendigo for £100 a side, the fight to come off in the same ring with Hannan and Walker; Burke to be permitted to wear his belt, as in the case of Peter Crawley and Jack Langan. It is needless to say that Burke never again faced Bendigo in the ring, getting on a match at this time with Jem Bailey.

For several months the newspapers were rife with challenges from Caunt to Bendigo and Bendigo to Caunt; each “Champion” roving about the counties in which he was most popular upon the “benefit dodge,” each with a star company, and each awakening the city or town where his company performed with a thundering challenge, while each pugilistic planet revolved in his own peculiar orbit without giving the other a chance of a “collision.”

In this interval Jem Ward presented a “Champion’s” belt to Bendigo, at the Queen’s Theatre, Liverpool, amid great acclamations, and again the tiresome game of challenging and making appointments for “a meeting to draw up articles,” at places where the challenged party never attended or meant to show, went on. Brassey, of Bradford, too, having in the interim beaten Young Langan, of Liverpool, and Jem Bailey, put in his claim and joined the chorus of challengers. Burke also offered himself for £100, which Bendigo declined, according to his published challenge. In the latter half of 1839 we read as follows:—


To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​Caunt states that he has been given to understand I wish to have another trial with him for £200 a side, and that his money is ready at any sporting house in Sheffield. Now, Sir, I have been to many houses that he frequents, and cannot find any one to put any money down in his behalf; and as he was in Sheffield for a fortnight previous to my going away to second Renwick, I think, if he meant fighting, he would have made the match when we were both in Sheffield. Now, Sir, what I mean to say is this—​I will fight Caunt, or any other man in England, for from £200 to £500 a side, and I hope I shall not be disappointed, as I mean fighting, and nothing else; and to convince the patrons of the Prize Ring that there is no empty chaff about me, as I am going to leave Sheffield this week, my money will be ready any day or hour at Mr. Edward Daniels’, ‘Three Crowns,’ Parliament Street, Nottingham. Or if Burke wants another shy, I will fight him for £150 a side.


This certainly looked like business, yet the next week we find Caunt declaring “I will make a match with Bendigo for £200, and I will take a sovereign to go to Nottingham, or give Bendigo the same if he will meet me at Lazarus’s house at Sheffield.” This was in July, and shortly after Bendigo writes:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Mr. Editor,—​Having sent a letter to Caunt accepting his challenge on his own terms, and not receiving an answer, I wish to put that bounceable gentleman’s intentions to a public test. I am willing to fight him on his own terms, and I will give him the sovereign he requires to pay his expenses in coming to Nottingham to make the match, and let it be as early as possible. As to Deaf Burke, he is but of minor importance to me. I have no objection to give him another chance to regain his lost laurels, and will fight him for his ‘cool hundred,’ as he calls it, providing he or his friends make the first deposit £50, for my friends are not willing to stake less. Should the above not suit either of these aspirants for fistic fame, I again repeat I will fight any man in the world for £200 or £500, barring neither weight, country, nor colour. I am always to be heard of at the ‘Three Crowns,’ Parliament Street, Nottingham.


“August 3rd, 1839.”

Soon after we read:—

Caunt and Bendigo.—​Bendigo went to Nottingham to make the match with Caunt on Saturday week, but the latter could not find more than two sovereigns to put down as a deposit. Caunt, before he indulges in bounce, should reflect that he only disgraces himself and gains nothing by his ‘clap-traps.’ These benefit humbugs must be suppressed.”

No wonder that the much-enduring editor should thus express himself. Nevertheless the “benefit humbug,” like other humbugs, exhibited irrepressible vitality; 1840 wore on, and Caunt, who seemed to prefer a tourney with Brassey or Nick Ward (who had challenged him), did not close with Bendigo. Had there been a real intention, the subjoined should have brought the men together:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​I agree with you that there is more ‘talk than doing’ among the professors of ‘the art of Self-Defence’ of the present day—​more challenges than acceptances—​evidently for the purpose of giving to the members of the Ring, for benefits and other interested purposes, 23 fame and character which they do not always possess—​I allude particularly to Caunt and Bendigo, ‘the Great Guns of the day.’ Each talks of being backed, but each, in turn, avoids ‘the scratch.’ Now to the test: I am anxious, for the sake of society, that ‘old English Boxing’ should not decline, because I am sure it is the best school for the inculcation of ‘fair play,’ and the suppression of the horrible modern use of the knife—​and of this I am prepared to give proof. Bendigo says he will not fight Caunt for less than £200, which sum I presume he can find, or he, too, is carrying on ‘the game of humbug.’ Caunt says he is equally ready to fight Bendigo, but cannot come to his terms. Now to make short work of it—​if Caunt can get backed for £100, I will find another £100 for him, and thus come to Bendigo’s terms. Let him communicate with Jem Burn, in whom I have confidence, and the money shall be ready at a moment’s warning. I wish for a fair, manly fight and no trickery; and my greatest pleasure will be to see the ‘best man win.’ In and out of the Ring prize-fighters ought to be friends—​it is merely a struggle for supremacy, and this can be decided without personal animosity, foul play, or foul language, all of which most be disgusting to those who look to sustain a great national and, as I think, an honourable game.

“I am, &c.,


Brassey, however, was withdrawn from the controversy by an accident beyond his own control. The magistrates of Salford, determining to suppress pugilism so far as in them lay, indicted Brassey for riot in seconding Sam Pixton in a fight with Jones, of Manchester, and, obtaining a conviction, sentenced him to two months’ incarceration in the borough gaol. He was thus placed hors de combat.

Early in 1840 Bendigo was in London, with his head-quarters at Burn’s, where Nick Ward exhibited with him with the gloves in friendly emulation. The brother of the ex-champion, however, was averse to any closer engagement. Bendigo returned to the provinces, and the next week the public was informed that “Caunt’s money, to be made into a stake of £200, was lying at Tom Spring’s, but nothing has been heard from Bendigo!” The conjunction of circumstances is curious, for in the same week the subjoined paragraph appeared, which records an accident which certainly crippled Bendigo for the rest of his life. Indeed the author, who at this period saw him occasionally, did not consider him well enough to contend in the ring up to the time of his crowning struggle with the gigantic Caunt.

Accident to Bendigo.—​William Thompson, better known by his cognomen of ‘Bendigo,’ has met with an accident which is likely to cripple him for life. On Monday he had been to see the military officers’ steeplechase, near Nottingham, and on his return home he and his companions were cracking their jokes about having a steeplechase among themselves. Having duly arrived nearly opposite the Pindar’s House, on the London Road, about a mile from Nottingham, Bendigo exclaimed, ‘Now, my boys, I’ll show you how to run a steeplechase in a new style, without falling,’ and immediately threw a somersault; he felt, whilst throwing it, that he had hurt his knee, and on alighting be attempted in vain three times to rise from the ground; his companions, thinking for the moment he was joking, laughed heartily, but discovering it was no joke went to his assistance and raised him up, but the poor fellow had no use of his left leg. A gig was sent for immediately, in which he was conveyed to the house of his brother, and Messrs. Wright and Thompson, surgeons, were immediately called in. On examination of the knee we understand they pronounced the injury to the cap to be of so serious a nature that he is likely to be lame for life.

This serious mishap, which befell him on the 23rd of March, 1840, was 24 the result of those “larking” propensities for which Bendy was notorious. It shelved our hero most effectually, leaving the field open to Caunt, Nick Ward, Brassey, Deaf Burke, Tass Parker, and Co., whose several doings will be found in the proper place.

While Bendigo suffers as an im-patient under the hands of the Nottingham doctors for more than two years, we shall, before again raising the curtain, interpose a slight entr’acte in the shape of a little song to an old tune, then in the height of its popularity, “The Fine Old English Gentleman;” of which we opine we have read worse parodies than this, which was often chaunted in the parlour of Tom Spring’s “Castle,” in Holborn, at various meetings of good men and true, the patrons of fair play and of the then flourishing “Pugilistic Association,” whereof Tom was the President, and “the Bishop of Bond-street” the Honorary and Honourable Treasurer.


By the P.L. of the P.R.

I’ll sing a song of days of old now vanish’d like the mist,
And may the fire of “Frosty Face” a modern bard assist
To pay the honours justly due to each Old Pugilist,
Who, not for filthy lucre, but for conquest, clenched his fist,
Like a fine Old English Pugilist,
One of the olden time!
No plans of crossing robbery he ever deigned to hatch,
The honest backers to betray, or simple ones to catch;
But at a moment’s notice always ready for a match,
Whoever was the customer that dar’d him to the scratch,
Like a fine Old English Pugilist,
One of the olden time!
Whate’er his size, whate’er his weight, he didn’t care a pin,
The science of his challenger, or colour of his skin,
But gallantly he went to work, regardless of the tin,
And though not certain of success he did his best to win.
Like a fine Old English Pugilist,
One of the olden time!
Those were the days when Ben the Big and Johnson fought of old,
Mendoza, Humphries, Bristol Pearce, and both the Belchers bold,
That was, I mention it with pride, Pancratia’s age of gold,
When men, like cattle in a fair, were neither bought nor sold,
But shone true British Pugilists,
Men of the olden time!
Then manfully within the ring each boxer kept his ground,
Bestowing wholesale pepper in each well-contested round;
And when the victory was proclaim’d, their brows with conquest crown’d,
All anger, in a foaming pot, was in an instant drown’d,
Like fine Old English Pugilists,
Men of the olden time!
But, ah, those hours flew swiftly by, of boxing annals bright,
And men began to do the thing that wasn’t very right,
And honesty from Pugilists prepar’d to take a flight,
For cross coves manag’d, as they pleas’d, to win or lose a fight,
Unlike brave English Pugilists,
Men of the olden time!
Then censures on the fancy Ring on every hand were rife,
And beaks proclaim’d they’d put an end to Boxiana’s life;
And now, as a more gentle mode of settling points of strife,
We’ve introduc’d, God save the mark! the dagger and the knife;
Oh, for brave English Pugilists,
Men of the olden time!
Now surely it were better far the Ring should thrive again,
And good Old English Boxing should a character maintain,
Than that assassination foul our annals still should stain,
And crimes best suited to the soil of Italy and Spain,
Unlike Old English Pugilism,
Milling of olden time!

In 1842 Bendigo, maugre the advice of the medicos, made his way to London, and, putting in an appearance at a “soirée” at Jem Burn’s, solicited the honour of a glove-bout with Peter Crawley. Bendy’s resuscitation was hailed with delight, and as he declared his readiness to renew a broken-off match with Tass Parker, a spirited patron of the Ring declared that money should be no obstacle. On the Thursday week ensuing, Tass also being in town with his friends for the Derby week, all parties met at Johnny Broome’s, and articles were penned and duly signed. By these it was agreed that the men should meet on Wednesday, the 24th of August, within twenty miles of Wolverton, in the direction of Nottingham, for a stake of £200 a side.

Parker having beaten Harry Preston, the game Tom Britton, of Liverpool, and the powerful John Leechman (Brassey, of Bradford), was now at the pinnacle of his fame. His friends, too, were most confident, as Bendigo’s lameness was but too painfully apparent. Tass offered to “deposit the value of Bendigo’s belt, to be the prize of the victor.” The match went on until June 28th, when, £140 being down, it was announced at the fifth deposit that the bold Bendigo was in custody on a warrant issued by his brother (a respectable tradesman in Nottingham), who was averse to his milling pursuits. The rumour was too true. Bendy was brought before their worships, charged with intending a breach of the peace with one Hazard Parker, and held to bail to keep the peace towards all Her Majesty’s subjects for twelve months, himself in £100, and two sureties of £100 each.

During this interval, too, Ben Caunt had not been idle. He had beaten Brassey on the 27th of October, 1840, after a long, clumsy tussle of 101 26 rounds in an hour and a half, as may be read in the memoir of Caunt. He had also lost a fight with Nick Ward, by being provoked to a foul blow, and then beaten the same shifty pug. in May, 1841, thereafter departing on a tour to America, after the fashion of other modern champions. “Time and the hour wore on;” Bendy’s knee strengthened, and Big Ben returned from Yankeeshire, bringing with him, from the land of “big things,” the biggest so-called boxer that ever sported buff in the P.R., in the person of Charles Freeman, weighing 18st., and standing 6ft. 10½in. in his stocking feet. Freeman’s brief career will be found in an Appendix to that of his only antagonist William Perry, the Tipton Slasher.

At the close of 1843 Bendigo once again disputed the now established claim of Caunt to the proud title of Champion of England, when Brassey also offered himself to Bendigo’s notice. The Bradford Champion, however, does not seem to have had moneyed backers, and the business hung fire. On the 14th February, 1844, we find the following:—


Many happy returns of the Spring, bouncing Brassey,
I hope Fortune gives you no cause to complain,
That you’re right as a trivet, determined and saucy,
And ready for mischief with Bendy again.
May I never again take a sip of blue ruin
If I love to see fair English fighting take wing;
’Tis time for the “big ’uns” to up and be doing,
For bantam cocks only show now in the Ring.
Then again for the laurel crown let us be tugging,
May fair play be always our motto and plan!
But Caunt I denounce, and his system of hugging,
A practice more fit for a bear than a man.
As to Freeman, the giant—​I don’t mean offending—
His bulk and his weight may astonish the raw,
But when with Bill Perry, the Slasher, contending,
I’m bless’d if he showed any point worth a straw.
Of falsehood I scorn the unclean manufacture,
My luck with good men always forward to try;
And but for my knee-pan’s unfortunate fracture
With the Yankee I wouldn’t have shrunk from a shy.
Then, Brassey, come out if you truly mean milling,
And drop down your dust for a match if you dare,
And you’ll find Billy Bendigo ready and willing
To give you a sample of Nottingham ware.
I’m anxious, bold Brassey, again to be busy,
And face a good fellow, true-hearted and tough;
And I’d cheerfully draw from my cly my last tizzy
To see two game pugilists stripp’d to the buff.
But here I conclude, for my time’s up for starting,
And conscience is giving a sort of a shove;
But I just drop a hint, my good fellow, at parting,—
If you can’t raise the needful, I’ll fight you for love.

Brassey did not make a deposit, and Caunt, who was now settled at the “Coach and Horses,” St. Martin’s Lane, seemed rather given to benefits and bounce than boxing.

The rest of the year was consumed in correspondence, in which Bendigo demanded the odds offered and then retracted by Caunt, the latter having, ad interim, a row, and ridiculous challenge from Jem Burn, and an equally absurd cartel from a burly publican named Kingston, whose eccentric antics will be noticed in the memoir of Caunt.

The year 1845 was, however, destined to see the eccentric Bendigo and the ponderous Caunt brought together. All doubts and surmises were silenced when articles were signed to the effect that on the 9th of September, 1845, the men were to meet, Bendigo having closed, after innumerable difficulties, with Caunt’s terms of £200 a side and the belt.

At the final deposit, on August 26th, at Tom Spring’s, the Castle Tavern, Holborn, it was officially announced that both men were in splendid condition. Bendigo had trained at Crosby, near Liverpool, under the care of Jem Ward, and Caunt near Hatfield, in Hertfordshire, where he was looked after by his uncle, Ben Butler, and by Jem Turner, the D’Orsay of the Ring, besides being constantly visited by his great friend and patron, the gallant Tom Spring. Caunt, who was now thirty-three years of age, had scaled over 17st. when he went into training, but on the day of the fight was reduced to a pound under 14st., the lightest weight he ever reached in any of his fights. Bendigo, who was three years older, weighed 12st. 1lb., and was also in the pink of condition. When articles were originally signed, on April 17th, it was arranged that the fight should take place half-way between London and Nottingham, but at the final supper this was altered by mutual consent to Newport Pagnel, in Bucks. On the Sunday Bendigo, Merryman, and Jem Ward arrived at Newport Pagnel, which led to an immediate issue of a warrant, and Bendigo’s friends took him out of the town to a neighbouring farmhouse. Caunt turned up in London, at Spring’s, with his uncle, Ben Butler, on the Monday afternoon, in high spirits, though remarkably thin. He had got rid of every ounce of superfluous flesh, and was nothing but bone and sinew. Two hundred of his handkerchiefs were sold, at a guinea each if he won, nothing if he lost. He left by the four o’clock train for Wolverton, from whence he proceeded, with Spring and other friends, to the “Cock” at Stony Stratford. Newport Pagnel was full of the Nottingham division. The “Swan” (Tom Westley’s) and all the other inns were filled to excess. In the evening Spring 28 went to the “Swan” to meet Bendigo’s friends to settle the place. Bendigo wished to fight in Bucks; Spring had seen constables with warrants, and wanted to take them to Oxfordshire, to Lillingston Level, where Deaf Burke and Nick Ward fought in 1840. There was a long disputation, but at last they agreed to toss. Jem Ward, for Bendigo, won, and they chose Bedfordshire. In the morning they again altered their minds, and determined to try Whaddon in Oxfordshire. This ill-judged proceeding necessitated a ten miles’ tramp to Whaddon, where the first ring was pitched. Meanwhile, at the “Cock,” at Stony Stratford, the chief constable told Spring that Whaddon was in Bucks, and that they could not fight in that county. Spring sent off a messenger, but at first the Nottingham roughs would not allow a move to be made; at last they started for another eight miles’ walk to Sutfield Green. At half-past two a second ring was formed, when there were at least 10,000 people present. The Nottingham roughs, who were in great force, made an invasion, and drove all back who would not buy Nottingham tickets. Spring, who had provided tickets for the London men, had not yet arrived. At twenty minutes past three the men entered the ring—​Caunt first, attended by Molyneux the Black and Jem Turner as seconds, Butler having charge of the bottles. Bendigo was attended by Nick Ward and Jack Hannan, Jem Ward and Jem Burn. They shook hands, and tossed for choice of corners. Caunt won, and took the higher ground, with his back to the sun. Spring, in compliance with the articles, produced Caunt’s belt, and handed it to Bendigo to show it was the genuine article. He buckled it on in bravado, and laughingly offered to bet Caunt £50 that he would win the fight. Caunt declined; he evidently did not appreciate Bendy’s funniment. The belt was then handed to Jem Ward to await the result. There was another disputation about choice of referee. After various names had been proposed on one side only to be captiously rejected on the other, “t’Auld Squire”—​the renowned George Osbaldiston—​who had retreated to his carriage to get out of the rush, was agreed to. At first the Squire declined, but being pressed, and it being urged that if he did not consent the match would not come off, he accepted. Bendigo’s colours were blue with white spot—​Caunt’s bright orange, with blue border, the following inscription in a garter in centre:—​“Caunt and Bendigo, for £200 and the Championship of England, 9th September, 1845.” This was surrounded with the words, “May the best man win!”


Round 1.—​Caunt threw himself into attitude erect and smiling, whilst Bendigo at once began to play round him, dodging and shifting ground in his usual style. Caunt 29 let fly his left, but missed. Bendigo, active on his pins, retreated, and chasséed left and right; at last he crept in closer, then out again, till, watching his opportunity, he got closer, and popped in a sounding smack with his left on Caunt’s right eye. After a few lively capers he succeeded in delivering another crack with his left on Caunt’s cheek, opening the old scar left by Brassey, and drawing first blood, as well as producing an electric effect on Caunt’s optic. (Shouts unlimited from Bendigo’s friends.) Bendy got away laughing, and again played round his man. Caunt got closer, missed an intended slasher with his left, and closed for the fall. Bendy grappled with him, but could not escape, and Caunt, by superior strength, forced him down at the corner.

2.—​Caunt up at the call of time, his cheek and eye testifying the effects of the visitations in the last round, Bendy dancing round him, and waiting for an opening. Slight exchanges left and right, Caunt missing his opponent’s head; Bendigo, in retreating to the ropes, slipped down, was up again in a moment, and dashed to his man. Wild exchanges, but no apparent execution; Caunt hit out viciously left and right, missed his kind intentions, and Bendy got down unscathed.

3.—​Caunt came up quiet, and determined on annihilation. Bendy again played about him, but did not get near enough for execution. After some wild passes, Caunt missing, Bendigo, on the retreat, was caught in the powerful grasp of Caunt, who threw him across the ropes and fell on him, but no mischief done. (Shouts from the roughs.)

4.—​Caunt came up blowing, when Bendigo, after a little dodging, popped in his left under his guard, and got away. Caunt, determined on mischief, followed his man, and at last getting to him let fly left and right, catching Bendy with the left on the mouth slightly, but missing his right. Bendigo finding himself in difficulties got down, falling on the ropes, and grinning facetiously at Goliath the Second, who walked back to his corner.

5.—​Caunt, first to lead off, drew on his man, but Bendy retreated, Caunt after him, till he reached the ropes, when Caunt hit out left and right, his blows passing harmlessly over Bendigo’s head. There was a want of precision in Caunt’s hitting not to be accounted for with his supposed science. Bendigo, who stopped rather wildly, got down.

6.—​Caunt, first to the call of time, waited with his hands well up, but blowing. We believe he was over-trained, and really distressed thus early in the struggle. Bendy manœuvred to the right and left; Caunt approached him, but he retreated. Caunt let fly left and right, but Bendy ducked his canister, and got down with more caution than gallantry.

7.—​Left-handed exchanges on the nobs, but of no moment. Caunt made some desperate lunges left and right, but was too high, and Bendy slipped down.

8.—​Bendy, after a few dodges, got within Caunt’s guard with his left, and gave him a pretty prop on the cheek. Caunt missed his return, but, seizing Bendy in his grasp, flung him over the ropes. Here he leaned heavily on him, overbalanced himself, and fell over on his own head, bringing Bendy with him, amidst loud shouts and abusive epithets. Caunt fell at the feet of his friends, Tom Spring and the editor of Bell’s Life, the latter of whom was seated on that side of the ring near the centre stake.

9.—​Bendy came up full of glee, and played round his man, watching for his opportunity to plant his left. This at last offered, and catching Caunt on the old wound he ducked his head to avoid the return, and got down.

10.—​More sly manœuvring by Bendy, who, after dancing about at arm’s length, stole a march, and caught Caunt a stinging smack with his left on the right cheek, drawing more claret, and giving the big ’un more of the tragedy hue. Caunt instantly closed, gave Bendy the Cornish hug, flung him by main strength, and fell on him.

11.—​Bendy pursued his eccentric gyrations round his man, when with the swiftness of lightning he popped in his left on the jaw and right on the body, and fell. Caunt, stung by these visitations, followed him, and dropped on his knees close to his man, but luckily did not touch him, and Bendy was picked up laughing and uninjured; in fact, up to this time he scarce showed the semblance of a hit beyond a slight contusion on the lip and left ear.

12.—​Bendigo retreated from Caunt’s vigorous charge right and left, and slipped down, but instantly jumped up and renewed the round. After some wild fighting, but no execution worth recording, Bendy went down in his corner, amidst cries of “Foul!” “Unmanly,” &c.

13.—​Caunt, on coming to the scratch, let fly with his left, just grazing the top of Bendigo’s scalp. A sharp rally followed, and counter hits with the left were exchanged, Bendy hitting Caunt with such terrible force on the old spot on the right cheek that he knocked him clean off his legs, thus gaining the first knock-down blow, amidst deafening shouts from the Nottingham roughs. Bendigo’s blow was so powerful that he actually rebounded back against the stakes, and Caunt was picked up almost stunned by the severity of the visitation.

14.—​Bendy, elated with his handiwork in the last round, again dashed in with his left, but not being sufficiently quick in his retreat Caunt caught him round the neck with his left and lifted him to the ropes, and there hung on him till, in trying to escape from his grasp, he pulled him forward, threw, and fell heavily on him, amidst the indignant shouts of his opponents.


15.—​Bendy came up as lively as a kitten, while Caunt, undismayed, came smiling to the scratch. Caunt plunged in his left and right, but missed; he then seized his man for the throw, but Bendy slipped round, and seizing Caunt by the neck pulled him down.

16.—​Bendy tried his left-hand dodge, but missed and retreated. Caunt followed him up to his corner, hitting out right and left, but throwing his hands too high. Caunt grappled for the fall, but Bendy got down, Caunt following suit, and as he sat upon the ground beckoned Bendy to come to him.

17.—​Bendy made himself up for mischief, and played round his man for a few seconds, when, getting within distance, he delivered a terrific hit with his left on Caunt’s mouth, and fell. Caunt’s upper lip was completely split by this blow, and the blood flowed from the wound in torrents. (Renewed cheers from the Nottingham division.)

18.—​Bendy again came the artful dodge put in his left on Caunt’s mouth, and fell. Caunt pointed at him, but Bendy laughed and nodded.

19.—​Bendy, more cautious, kept out Caunt rushed to him, hitting out left and right, but with little effect. Bendy retreated. Caunt caught him on the ropes, and hung on him till he fell. (More shouting and some threats at Caunt.)

20.—​Caunt, anxious to be at work, advanced, while Bendy retreated to the ropes, where he hit up with his left, and slipped. Caunt turned his back, and was retiring, when Bendy jumped up, and had another slap at him. Caunt turned round and caught him under his arm as he attempted to escape, lifted him to the ropes, and there held him till he fell, amidst the cries of Bendy’s friends.

21.—​Caunt prompt to the call of time, his hands well up, but Bendy again stole a march, popped in his left, and slipped down to avoid a return of the compliment. (Indignant expressions at Bendigo’s shifty way of terminating the rounds.)

22.—​Bendy was still free from punishment, and looked as fresh as when he entered the ring, while Caunt, although firm and active on his pins, showed heavy marks of punishment on his frontispiece; his cheek had a gaping wound, his lip cut, and eye and nose evincing the consequence of Bendy’s sly but stinging visitations. Caunt, impatient at Bendy’s out-fighting, rushed to him left and right, but Bendy, unwilling to try the weight of superior metal, slipped down, and Caunt fell over him, but not on him, as his friends anticipated, and as perhaps he intended.

23.—​Both fresh. After a little dodging, advancing, and retreating, Bendy again nailed Caunt with his left on his damaged kissing-trap. Caunt caught him a slight nobber on the head with his left, and Bendy got down.

24.—​Bendy again played round his man till within distance, when he popped in a heavy blow on the ribs with his left, and got down without a return. There was an immediate cry of “Foul!” and an appeal was made to the referee. He hesitated, amidst tumultuous cries of “Fair! fair!” and allusions to the size of Caunt. The uproar was terrific, and the inner circle was overwhelmed by the roughs from without rushing in to enforce their arguments in favour of Bendy. At last the referee decided “Fair,” and “time” was called.

25.—​Nick Ward was here so overcome with his exertions that he was taken out of the ring, and his office was filled by Nobby Clark. The moment time was called, and Bendy reached the scratch, Caunt rushed to him left and right, and after slight and wild exchanges with the left Bendy slipped and got down cunning.

26.—​Bendy, after a little hanky-panky manœuvring, popped in his left on Caunt’s mug, and retreated to the corner of the ring. Caunt followed him with so much impetuosity that he hit his hand against the stake. In the close and scramble for the fall, Bendy succeeded in pulling Caunt down, falling with him.

27.—​Caunt on his guard, his hands well up. Bendy stepped in, delivered his left on the old spot, and dropped to avoid; Caunt shaking his finger at him as he retired to his corner. Caunt’s right was visibly puffed by its contact with the stake in the previous round.

28.—​Caunt attempted to lead off with his left, but Bendy retreated to the ropes, over which Caunt forced him, and as he lay upon him, both still hanging on the lower rope, Bendy hit up with his left. In this position they lay, half in and half out of the ring, till released by their seconds.

29.—​Caunt let fly left and right, but he was short, Bendy playing the shifty game. Wild fighting on both sides, till Caunt fell on his knees. Bendy looked at him, lifted his hand to strike, but he prudently withheld the blow, and walked to his corner. (Shouts from the Nottingham “Lambs.”)

30.—​A rally, in which both fought wildly, Caunt catching Bendy a crack over the right brow, from which the claret flowed, and Bendy returning the compliment on Caunt’s smeller. In the end Bendy slipped down, and, on rising, a small black patch was placed on the damaged thatch of his peeper.

31.—​Bendy resumed his hitting and getting down system, popping in his left on Caunt’s muzzle, and slipping down.

32.—​The same game repeated. Spring, indignant, appealed to the referee; and Molyneux, in like manner, called on the umpires for their decision; they disagreed, and Molyneux ran to the referee. The roughs again had their say. A blow was aimed at Spring’s head with a bludgeon, which fortunately only fell on his shoulder. It was a spiteful rap, and he felt the effect 31 of it for some days. The referee declared, however, that he had not seen anything unfair, and Molyneux returned to his man, and brought him to the scratch at the call of time, amidst tremendous confusion, sticks in operation in all directions, and many expressing great dissatisfaction at Bendy’s unfair mode of fighting, and the reluctance of the referee to decide against him.[6]

33.—​A short round, in which Bendy retreated, and Caunt, following, caught him at the ropes and threw him over, falling on him.

34.—​Bendy again popped in his left, and threw himself down (?) This was repeated in the two succeeding rounds, but Bendy’s friends attributed it to accident, and not design, and there was no adverse decision on the part of the referee, whose position, amidst the tumult that prevailed, was far from enviable. He must have been possessed of no small nerve to have presumed to decide against the arguments that were so significantly shaken in the vicinity of his knowledge-box, and to this must be attributed his reluctance to give a candid opinion. [Partisan writing.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”]

37.—​Bendy tried his hit and get-down practice, but Caunt seized him round the neck, threw, and fell over him.

38.—​A wild and scrambling rally, in which Bendigo caught it on the nob. After a scramble they fell, Caunt within and Bendigo without the ropes, when each put his tongue out at the other like angry boys.

39.—​A slight exchange of hits with the left, when Bendy went down laughing.

40.—​Bendy popped in his left on Caunt’s ancient wound, his right on the ribs, and slipped down.

41.—​Bendy renewed his left-handed visitation, and was retreating, when Caunt rushed after him, caught him at the ropes, over which he threw him, and fell on him. A blow was here aimed at Caunt’s head by one of the roughs with a bludgeon, but it fell on Bendy’s shoulder.[7]

42.—​Exchanges of hits left and right, when Bendy got down.

43.—​Bendy manœuvred in his old way, delived a smashing hit with his left on Caunt’s throat, and went down to avoid a return.

44.—​Caunt came up fresh, and rushed to the assault, but Bendy got down. Caunt, indignant, jumped over him, but luckily fell on his knees beyond him, without touching him. It was assumed that he meant to jump on him, and an uproarious appeal of “Foul” was made to the referee, which, after much confusion, he decided in the negative, and ordered the men to go on.

45.—​Bendy renewed his Merry Andrew curvetings, and tried his left, but Caunt seized him round the neck with his right, and swung him twice round like a cat. Bendy succeeded in getting the lock with his right leg, when Caunt gave him a twist, threw, and fell heavily on him, a little to the derangement of the Nottingham heroes, who shouted vociferously.

46.—​Caunt again succeeded in catching Bendy by the neck under his powerful arm, threw, and fell heavily on him, but at the same time came with great force against the ground himself.

47.—​Caunt led off with the left, catching Bendy on the forehead. Bendy retreated, hit Caunt as he came in with his left on his distorted phiz, dropped, and looked up in derision. Appeal from this species of generalship seemed now to be idle, and was not repeated. [He slipped through Caunt’s hands, which he was entitled to do.—​Ed.]

The succeeding ten rounds were fought in the same style. Little worthy of note occurred; each in turn obtained some trifling advantage in the hitting or failing but neither exhibited any disposition to say enough, although we thought that Bendigo from his repeated falls, began to evince symptoms of fatigue. The confusion round the ring continued most annoying, although, the ropes and stakes were still preserved entire. Many persons, from the pressure of those behind, were completely exhausted, and happy to beat a retreat. For ourselves (Ed. of Bell’s Life) we had repeatedly to bear the weight of some half-dozen neighbours, to which the bodies of both Caunt and Bendigo were occasionally added as they fell over the ropes on us. During all this time the members of the London Ring, with one or two exceptions (Macdonald and Johnny Broome in particular), were perfectly quiescent, and looked on with modest timidity, evidently afraid to interfere with the “club law” of the Nottingham bands, who were regularly organised, and obeyed the signals of their leaders with a discipline worthy of a better cause. [An impartial observation convinced us that Caunt’s partisans quite rivalled those of Bendigo in riotous ruffianism.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”]

58.—​Bendigo “jumped Jim Crow” round his man, tipped him a left-handed smeller, and dropped without a return.

59.—​Caunt followed Bendy to the corner of the ring, hitting out left and right, but without precision, and certainly without 32 doing execution. Bendy nailed him with his left in the old style, and slipped down, but instantly jumped up to renew the round. Caunt, instead of stopping to fight, considering the round over, ran across the ring to his corner, Bendy after him, till they reached the ropes, and after a confused scramble, in which Bendy used his left and right behind Caunt’s back, both were down, amidst general expressions of distaste at this style of fighting, but loud applause for Bendy.

60.—​Caunt no sooner on his legs than to his man, but Bendy escaped his intended compliments left and right, threw in his left on the mouth, and dropped, Caunt falling over him.

61.—​One hour and twenty-four minutes had now elapsed, but there were still no symptoms of an approaching termination to the battle; each appeared fresh on his pins and strong; and although Caunt showed awful flesh wounds on his dial, there was nothing to diminish the hopes of his friends(!) Bendy exhibited but a few slight contusions, and although, no doubt, shaken by the falls, and his own repeated prostrations, he appeared as active and leary as ever. Caunt, anxious to be at work, rattled to his man, hitting left and right, but Bendy retired, and fell back across the ropes.

62.—​Bendy again on the retreat; Caunt after him, hitting wildly and without precision left and right. Bendy gave him an upper pop with his left, and slipped down. Caunt was retiring, when Bendy jumped up again to renew active operations, but Caunt dropped on his knees, looked up in Bendy’s face, grinning, as much as to say, “Would you?” and Bendy, deeming discretion the better part of valour, contented himself with shaking his fist and retiring to his corner. Spring here remarked that jumping up to hit a man when the round was over, and when he was unprepared, was as much foul as striking a man down, and in this we perfectly concur. [No appeal was made, but the Squire sent to Clarke to caution his man that such conduct was dangerous.—​Ed.]

63.—​Caunt let fly left and right, but missed his blows. Both slipped down on their knees in the struggle which followed, and laughed at each other. In Caunt’s laugh, from the state of his mug, there was little of the comic.

64.—​Bendy renewed his hanky-panky tricks, and trotted round his opponent. Caunt rushed to him, but he retreated to the ropes, hit up, and dropped, but instantly rose again to renew the round. Caunt was with him, but he again got down, falling over the bottom rope; and Caunt narrowly escaped dropping with his knee on a tender part.

65.—​Bendy again dropped his left on the sly on Caunt’s damaged phiz, and went down. Caunt fell over him, jumped up, and retired to his corner.

66.—​A slight rally, in which wild hits were exchanged, and Bendy received a pop in the mouth, which drew the claret. Bendy dropped on one knee, but, although Caunt might have hit him in this position, he merely drew back his hand and refrained.

67.—​Bendy came up cautious, keeping à la distance for a few seconds, when he slyly approached, popped in a tremendous body blow with his left, and dropped, as if from the force of his own delivery, but evidently from a desire to avoid the return. Caunt winced under the effect of this hit, and went to his corner.

68.—​Caunt quickly advanced to his work, but Bendy retreated to the corner, waited for him, popped in a slight facer, and, in a wild scramble, got down.

69.—​Bendy threw in another heavy body blow with his left, and was going down, when Caunt, with great adroitness, caught him round the neck with his left arm, lifted him completely off the ground, and, holding him for a few seconds, fell heavily on him.

70–73.—​Scrambling rounds, in which wild exchanges took place, and Bendy slipped down as usual to avoid punishment.

74.—​Caunt to the charge, and Bendy on the retreat to the corner, where he succeeded in flinging in his left with terrific force on Caunt’s damaged cheek, and dropped.

75.—​Bendy again on the retreat, till he came to the ropes, over which he was forced, Caunt on him.

76.—​Caunt planted his left on Bendy’s pimple, and he slipped down.

77.—​A scrambling round, in which both hit wildly and without effect. Caunt in vain tried to nail his man with his right; he was always too high, and Bendy went down. The uproar without the ring was tremendous, and whips and sticks were indiscriminately applied.

78.—​Bendy, after some dodging, delivered his right heavily on Caunt’s body, and got down. It was a fearful smack.

79.—​Caunt led off with his left; Bendy ducked to avoid; and in the close both were down. Bendy was too cunning to allow his opponent the chance of the throw.

80.—​Bendy made his favourite sly hit with his left on Caunt’s smeller, and slipped down without the account being balanced. “Time” was very inaccurately kept, a minute, instead of half that time, being frequently allowed. [The blame was alternately in each corner; the seconds continuing their attentions to their men, heedless of the call of the holder of the watch.—​Ed.]

81.—​Bendy again displayed symptoms of fatigue, and was tenderly nursed. On coming to the scratch, however, he planted his left on Caunt’s carcase, and slipped down.

82.—​Caunt led off. Bendy retreated to the ropes, and fell backwards stopping, but instantly jumped up to recommence hostilities, when Caunt literally ran away across the ring, with his head down, Bendigo 33 after him, hitting him on the back of his neck. At length Caunt reached his corner, and in the scramble which followed, and in which Caunt seemed to have lost his presence of mind, both went down, amidst contemptuous shouts at the imputed pusillanimity of the Champion.

83.—​Bendy, on the retreat, hit up; Caunt returned the compliment on Bendy’s mouth with his left, and on Bendy attempting to get down he caught him round the neck with undiminished strength, pulled him up, threw him over, and fell heavily on him.

84.—​Bendy, on being lifted on his second’s knee, showed blood from the mouth, and was certainly shaken by the last fall; still he came up boldly, but cautiously. Caunt rattled to him left and right, but he retreated towards the stake, which Caunt caught with his right as he let fly at him, and Bendy slipped down, receiving a body tap as he fell.

85.—​Caunt rushed to his man, but Bendy, on his attempting to close, got down, unwilling to risk another heavy fall. He was obviously getting fatigued from his exertions and the excessive heat of the sun.

The uproar was now greater than ever; the referee was driven into the ring,[8] and the roaring and bawling in favour of Bendigo and in contempt of Caunt were beyond description. We [Ed. Bell’s Life] were overwhelmed again and again, and were with difficulty extracted from a pyramid of our fellow-men by the welcome aid of Jack Macdonald, our togs torn, and our tile quite shocking. The exertions of Jem Ward and others enabled them to restore the referee to his position, but he was evidently in a twitter, and the whips and sticks often reached within an inch of his “castor,” while they fell heavily on the nobs of some of his neighbours. Several “Corinthians,” who endeavoured to brave the storm, were involved in the general mêlée, and had sufficient reason to be disgusted with the conduct of the parties towards whom they are always disposed to vouchsafe their patronage, and who, as we have already said, with few exceptions, looked on inactive. [These observations are coloured, and form part of the “manipulation” undergone by the “report,” as revised under the suggestions and supervision of the Caunt and Spring party. The ruin of their confident hopes was impending.—​Ed.]

86.—​The Nottingham hero came up nothing daunted, but with an evident determination to continue to play the old soldier. Caunt, as usual, evinced a desire to get to his opponent, but the latter jumped away, and waiting his opportunity threw in his left heavily on the big’un’s eye, and, in escaping from the retort, slipped down.

87.—​Caunt, although so repeatedly hit, came up as fresh and strong as ever (?) He was incapable, however, of parrying the cunning dodges of Bendy, who again gave him a stinging rap on the cheek, and, staggering back, fell, amidst cries of “Foul,” and appeals from Caunt’s friends to the referee; but in the din which prevailed no decision was obtained. [They were both fencing for “time,” and told by the Squire to “go on.”—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”]

88.—​Two hours had now elapsed, and still there was no apparent approximation towards a termination of the combat, while the confusion which prevailed round the ring prevented anything like a dispassionate criticism of the operations within. Bendy came up slowly, while Caunt was evidently disposed to annihilate him, as indeed his formidable fists induced every one to believe he would have done long before, but Bendy prudently kept out of distance until a slight opening in the guard of Caunt enabled him to jump in and deliver his left twice in succession, on effecting which he slipped down, and looked up with a triumphant leer at the mystified Champion.

89.—​Bendy again made himself up for mischief, and, cleverly avoiding Caunt’s attempt to reach him left and right, delivered a heavy hit with his right on the Champion’s ribs, which was distinctly heard amidst the row; after which he dropped, and Caunt retired to the corner.

90.—​A close, and struggle for the fall, which Caunt easily obtained, falling heavily on his adversary, and his knee again happily escaped pressure on a vital part. From Bendy’s shifty tactics it was impossible for Caunt to avoid falling as he did. It, however, led to a fresh appeal by Johnny Hannan, on the part of Bendigo, and a contradiction by Molyneux on the part of Caunt. The umpires disagreed, and the question having been put to the referee, amidst a horrible outcry raised by both parties, he decided “Fair,” declaring that there was nothing intentional on the part of Caunt.

91.—​A scrambling round. A close, in which, after having delivered his left, Bendy contrived to get down, amidst fresh cries of “Foul,” “Fair.”

92.—​Exchanges of hits with the left, when Bendy, stooping to avoid the repetition of Caunt’s blow, as he was going down struck Caunt below the waistband and near the bottom of his stomach. Bendy fell on his back at the moment, while Caunt dropped his hands upon the place affected, and fell as if in great pain. An indescribable scene of turmoil ensued; shouts of “Foul” and “Fair” escaped from “a thousand tongues—​a thousand pair of iron lungs,” many evidently influenced by their desires and not 34 their convictions. There is no doubt that the blow, according to the rules of the Ring, was foul; but that it was intentional we cannot say, as it was struck when Bendy was in the act of falling. At last the umpires, disagreeing, made the customary appeal to the referee, who, almost deafened by the roaring of the multitude, finally said he had not seen the blow, and consequently could not pronounce it foul.[9] The seconds immediately returned to their principals, and the latter, time being called, commenced the

93rd and last round.—​The men were quickly at the scratch, and Caunt commenced operating left and right, catching Bendy slightly on the forehead. Bendigo was forced back upon the ropes almost in a recumbent position, but got up and was again knocked down, and Caunt turned from him, considering the round had concluded. Bendy, however, awake to every chance of administering punishment, jumped up as he had done before, and rushing after Caunt, who was half turned from him, was about to let fly, when Caunt dropped on his nether end, evidently disinclined to renew or continue that round.[10] And now a final, and, as it turned out, a decisive appeal was made to the referee (not by the umpires, but by Jem Ward, Hannan, and others), who, with very little hesitation, pronounced the fatal word “Foul,” declaring that he considered Caunt had deliberately violated the rules of the Ring by going down without a blow, and had therefore lost the fight. This verdict was hailed with the loudest vociferations by the roughs, and Bendy, without further delay, was borne off the scene of his unexpected triumph by his partisans, and carried to his carriage amidst reiterated acclamations. So sudden was this issue to the affair that thousands were for some time unable to discover who was the real victor, many imagining that the foul blow in the previous round had led to the decision being against Bendigo. It was only by those immediately contiguous to the ring that the true state of the case was known; and the mortification and disappointment of the friends of Caunt, who stood up immediately afterwards to renew the fight, were beyond description. Caunt himself, as well as Spring and his seconds, was incredulous as to the result, but personal application to the referee, who had escaped from the rabble, left no doubt on the subject. He declared “he had seen Caunt go down without a blow, and that upon his conviction of the unfairness of such conduct, he had pronounced against him.” Spring remarked that there had been clearly an exchange of blows; that to all appearance the round had been finished; and that when Caunt went down he did so from a determination not to be taken by surprise or to renew the struggle till “time” was again called. The referee said, in answer, he was not aware of this fact, nor had such a representation been made to him. He judged from what he saw in the overwhelming difficulties in which he was placed, and he had given his decision accordingly. He had been chosen referee by both parties, and he had accepted the office against his own inclination. In discharging his duty he had done so impartially to the best of his abilities, and certainly had no bias in favour of one man or the other. What he had said could not now be recalled, and therefore the business was at an end. We must here repeat that the umpires were not consulted, nor did they express any difference of opinion. It was the duty of the referee to have withheld his decision till properly appealed to, not by the interested partisans, but by the appointed officials, who were on the other side of the ring from him, and could hold no immediate communication with him. He ought to have been placed between those persons. He was clearly bullied and hurried into a premature judgment. Had he been allowed to reflect, we are persuaded he would have hesitated in pronouncing a fiat which the state of Bendigo rendered almost indispensable to his success.

The time occupied by “the battle,” such as it was, according to our watch, when we could venture to have a peep at it, was two hours and ten minutes. We do not intend to speak to a minute, nor is a minute more or less important on this occasion, few bets having been made on “time,” and those certainly not having reference to so long a period as that recorded. We heard that long odds were taken that Caunt won in half an hour, and others that Bendy would not be licked, if at all, in one hour, and these are of course settled by the issue of the fight, as well as the first blood and first knock-down blow, both of which were properly booked to Bendy. On Bendy reaching his carriage, we are informed he was dreadfully exhausted from the repetition of heavy falls to which he had been exposed, as well as his own continued exertions under a broiling sun; but his punishment being of comparatively a trifling description, he soon recovered on the application of proper restoratives. The only perceptible marks of the visitations of Caunt to his cranium were a cut over his right eye, a few contusions of the cheek, mouth, scalp, and forehead, and a little enlargement of his auricular organ. He was quickly conveyed from the ground 35 to his “quarters,” both he and his friends highly elated at the result of their operations. Caunt, on quitting the arena, although displaying convincing marks of the severity with which his opponent could use his mawleys, was strong on his legs, but dreadfully mortified at having been thus suddenly stripped of his laurels, and deprived of the proud distinction which he had so long held. Spring, who had throughout acted as his fidus Achates, was not less mentally depressed; he was “dead beat,” not only from his incessant exertions to procure “fair play” throughout the fight and the cowardly assaults to which he was exposed, but from a perfect conviction that the decision against his man was not only premature, but utterly opposed to the rules of the Ring. He lost no time in returning with Caunt to the Cock, at Stony Stratford, and the great event of the day having been concluded, the immense multitude followed suit. The scenes exhibited on the road home were of the most extraordinary description. Every house of entertainment was besieged, and the call for swizzle so continuous that many of the best-filled cellars were exhausted, and even water at last became an acceptable luxury to those who never pretended to be patrons of the hydropathic system. We have neither time nor space however to dwell on these vicissitudes, and shall proceed at once to offer such general observations as the events of the day seem to warrant.

Remarks.—​Upon the character of “the Great Fight for the Championship of England,” we have no doubt our readers have formed their own opinions. During the last thirty years it has been our fate to witness almost every important battle in the P.R., but we confess, although we have occasionally had to record transactions of the most discreditable description, and to administer castigation to wrong-doers in no measured terms, the proceedings on Tuesday far exceed in enormity anything we had before witnessed.

With regard to the pretensions of the two men who took so prominent a part in the day’s proceedings, few remarks are necessary. Caunt, although a big man, and possessed of great physical strength, does not possess the attributes of an accomplished boxer. He is deficient in science, and wants the art of using the gifts of nature with that tact and precision which are calculated to ensure success. There was a wildness and indecision in his deliveries which prevented his doing execution, and the major part of his blows either flew over Bendigo’s head or were short or wide of their destination. Had he been steady and self-possessed, and hitting at points, this would not have been the case, and did he understand the perfect art of self-defence, four-fifths of the punishment he received might have been avoided; but he left himself open to attack, and thus his opponent was enabled to plant on him with stinging severity. With a man of his own bulk the case might have been different; and perhaps there are few if any of the present day who would prove superior to him in fair fighting.

Our own opinion of the fight may be gathered from the few brief notes we have bracketed in the report. The immense amount of assertion and rejoinder which filled the sporting papers for weeks was “flat, stale and unprofitable.” The stakeholder being served with legal notice to return the stakes, the referee (George Osbaldiston, Esq.) wrote thus to that gentleman:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​An appeal having been made to me, as referee, by Mr. Spring, to reverse my decision in the late fight between Bendigo and Caunt, on grounds unworthy of my consideration, I request you will confirm that decision by paying over the stakes to Bendigo, who, in my opinion, is justly entitled to them. It was with the greatest reluctance, and at the particular request of my friends and the unanimous solicitations of the backers of the men, that I accepted the office; but I shall always consider it one of the greatest acts of folly I ever was guilty of in my life. In discharging my duty I endeavoured to do justice to the contending parties to the best of my abilities and judgment; and, arriving at the conclusion I did, and now confirm, I was actuated only by a complete conviction of the justness of my decision, and not by the intimidation of the roughs, as stated by Mr. Spring in his letter.” After some further remarks in reply to Spring, the referee goes on to say:—​“Had I been under the intimidation of the ‘roughs’ I had several opportunities of putting an end to the fight before the conclusion by foul acts on the part of Caunt. A noble lord, and several gentlemen who stood close by me during the whole fight, can corroborate this statement. I most positively deny that I stated to any one that a man going down without a blow, after he himself had treacherously delivered blows, was fair. In no one instance, in my judgment, did Bendigo 36 break the laws of fair fighting. I must also deny, in the most positive manner, that I ever stated to any person that I did not see the last round. I saw every round distinctly and clearly, and when Caunt came up the last round he had evidently not recovered from the 92nd. After the men were in position Bendigo very soon commenced operations, and Caunt turned round directly and skulked away, with his back to Bendigo, and sat down on his nether end. He never knocked Bendigo down once in the fight, nor ever got him against the ropes in the last round. In my opinion Caunt got away as soon as he could from Bendigo, fell without a blow to avoid being hit out of time, and fairly lost the fight.

“I am, your obedient servant,


“Doncaster, Sept. 18th, 1845.”

In 1849 the Championship was certainly at a low ebb. Con Parker, a big brother of Tass, so it was publicly said, challenged the distinction, after beating Jem Bailey in a scrambling fight in February of that year, and received a forfeit from the Tipton Slasher in September. He was a great, hulking pretender, of 6ft. high, and about 13st., but his pretensions were quickly snuffed out by Tass Parker (weight 11st. 8lb.), who showed at Frimley Green, on November 26th, in 27 rounds, that Master Con had no points of a fighting man about him. Con went to America, and died soon after suddenly. As Tass declined to call himself Champion, there was literally no Champion at all. In this interregnum, at the beginning of 1850, the bold Bendigo called upon the editor of Bell’s Life, and declared that sooner than the title should be so knocked about he would once more do battle for the honour of the Ring. He then left £10 with the editor as an earnest that he was ready to meet any man in England, for £200 a side, half-way between home and home. At the same time it was stated that Bendy and Caunt had met, shaken hands, and buried the past in oblivion. Caunt had undertaken to stand a portion of Bendy’s battle-money, fight whom he might, and Bendy, to prove his sincerity, had presented Caunt with the belt with which he had been girded by Jem Ward after his defeat of the Deaf ’un. The Nottingham challenge was not long unanswered. Caunt and Bendigo, the new Orestes and Pylades, took, three weeks later—​namely, February 4th, 1850—​a joint benefit at the National Baths, Westminster Road.

Now, Johnny Broome had, ad interim, stated publicly that he had an unknown whom he was ready to back against Bendy for his own sum. Accordingly, after a friendly glove-bout with Harry Broome, Tom Paddock came forward, and announcing himself as Johnny’s “Unknown,” declared his readiness to post, and make a match with Bendy for £200 a side. Peter Crawley responded, and £30 was staked, the next meeting to take place at Peter’s house, the “Queen’s Head and French Horn,” Smithfield, on the next Tuesday. This merely produced a stormy meeting upon details, 37 deposits, and a stakeholder, and a further adjournment to another night, to meet at Jem Burn’s. Here the matter was finally adjusted, and accordingly the men met on the 5th of June, 1850.

It was much to Bendigo’s credit that on this occasion he took unusual pains with his training, and came to the post in prime fettle, looking, as a friend said, “fresh as a four-year-old,” though verging on his fortieth year. When we saw him we felt some misgiving about the stability of his damaged knee; he walked unmistakably lame, and the whole left side was evidently lower than the right.

The articles provided that the fight should take place, as nearly as possible, half-way between London and Nottingham—​the stakeholder to name the place. The recollection of former events in which Bendy had been concerned led to some difficulty in making a selection, and after much consideration it was determined that Mildenhall Road Station, in the county of Suffolk, should be the fixture, that place being, by road, rather nearer to Nottingham than to London; but, as it turned out, the travelling by rail gave the advantage to the London party—​the Nottingham folks having to make three changes before they reached the ground, while the Londoners proceeded direct.

Due notice of the place was given to the parties interested on the Tuesday week before the mill, and they made such arrangements as best suited them. A special train was announced to start from Shoreditch Station at precisely eight o’clock on the morning of fighting. It was resolved only to have first and second class carriages, and that the fares should be £2 and £1 respectively for conveyance “there and back.” Third-class carriages were rejected to prevent the obtrusion of persons whose presence is invariably productive of disorder. Public notice was given of this arrangement, and on the morning in question, the weather being in every way desirable, the arrival, in rapid succession, of cabs, &c. in which an unusual number of Corinthians were perceptible, evinced the spirit that was abroad.

We must now turn to Bendigo. It would seem that during the previous week his Nottingham friends had come in great numbers to visit him at his training quarters, and being of the rough class, and not very particular when out for a spree, they contrived to create so much prejudice in the minds of the quiet and easy folk of the neighbourhood, that an application was made for a warrant to apprehend Bendigo on his way to the battle-field, and this warrant was placed in the hands of a constable for execution. 38 Bendigo had previously shifted his quarters, and taken up his abode at the house of a staunch friend, whence, on Monday, he proceeded to a station eight miles from Nottingham, intending thence to depart for the scene of action. Here he was recognised by a “blue,” and an attempt was made to take him into custody. Bendy, however, being on the alert, broke from the grasp of the Philistines, and rushed through the house in which he was to a back yard, locking the door as he retreated. He then scrambled over some pig-sties, reached the open country, and by a circuitous route gained the main road, where a fly followed, picked him up, and conveyed him on his course. Police were mounted as quickly as possible, but too late to overtake the fugitive, who reached Newark, posted on to Stamford, where he slept, and on Tuesday evening reached in safety the Railway Tavern at Mildenhall, where he took up his quarters for the night, thus safely evading the trap which had been laid for his detention; and here he was found, surrounded by a good many friends, on the arrival of the metropolitan division.

An admirable inner and outer ring were formed on a spot about a quarter of a mile from the station, and few meetings had taken place in modern times at which there were so many persons of rank and consideration assembled. The total number of spectators was under 2,000, and the partisans of the men were pretty evenly balanced.

Soon after twelve o’clock, Paddock, who had been reposing under some shady trees, approached the scene of action, and, flinging his tile into the ring, was received with loud applause. It was nearly one o’clock before Bendy put in an appearance. He seemed in perfect good humour, but exhibited none of those antics by which his early career was distinguished. He was quiet and easy in his deportment, and submitted himself to the guidance of Jemmy the Black and Jack Hannan. Paddock was escorted into the arena by Solid Coates and Macdonald. There was a grim smile upon his countenance. He approached Bendy, and they shook hands with apparent cordiality. Bendy pulled a roll of bank notes from his pocket, as if intending to challenge his opponent to make a bet, but this Paddock declined. The toss for choice of corners was won by Bendy, and to the surprise of many he selected that in which he had to stare old Sol in the face; and perhaps his solar majesty never put forth a more glowing phiz, for in truth it was “phizzing” hot throughout the day, and the shades of umbrellas were sought for the protection of both men, who seated themselves on the ground in their respective corners, while the usual discussion 39 arose concerning the selection of a referee. This knotty point led to a variety of difficulties. Several persons, noblemen and gentlemen, were suggested and rejected, and at last serious apprehensions were entertained that there would be no fight. Finally, the representative of Bell’s Life, who had twice refused the office, was induced, rather than spoil sport, to waive his own feelings on the subject, and to undertake a duly as unpleasant as it proved to be dangerous.

The men then commenced their toilettes. They fought in sparrow-bills instead of the objectionable spikes. On being completely peeled, their condition and physical pretensions were open for general criticism. Bendigo appeared extremely well in health, but thinner than usual, his weight not exceeding 11st. 9½lb., being 2lb. less than when he fought Caunt. His face also looked thinner, and, it could not be denied, betrayed the advance of time, and although not an old man, when compared with Paddock he certainly might be pronounced a veteran warrior. He was very quiet, and evidently foresaw that he had his work to do—​work which he resolved to perform for the last time with as much acuteness as his experience could suggest. Paddock looked as fresh and fit as his best friends could desire. His face presented a glow of florid health, and there was nothing superfluous about his frame. Immediately beneath his drawers was a strengthening plaister, which seemed to cover his loins. He stood much taller than Bendigo, over whom his length of reach appeared to give him a decided advantage. Regarding the general appearance of the two men, the current seemed strongly to run in favour of youth; but, notwithstanding this apparent discrepancy, two to one was offered on Bendigo. The customary overtures having been adjusted, time was called, and the men appeared at the scratch.


Round 1.—​At twenty minutes to two the men were in position, Bendigo right foot foremost, with his arms close to his chest, and waiting for the attack. Paddock, on the contrary, had both arms stretched out before him, evidently, to our judgment, too much so to admit of heavy delivery. He made two or three steps forward, as if to commence the attack, but Bendy stepped back. Paddock exhibited great anxiety to get to work. Bendigo shifted his ground and got away. They played round each other in this way for a second or two, when Paddock came to a standstill, crossed his arms on his breast, and looked thoughtfully at the “old’un.” At last Paddock commenced his long-armed operations, and both flung out their feelers left and right, but without getting home. They fought wildly, and missed their blows. In the close Paddock was down, Bendy on him; but the trifling taps which reached their persons would not have ruffled the wing of a butterfly.

2.—​Paddock quick to the scratch, impatient to get to work; and slight taps were exchanged, Bendy on Paddock’s body, and Paddock returning the compliment with his right. It was a scrambling affair, and the round ended in Bendigo getting down.

3.—​Paddock again rushed to the charge with more impatience than judgment, popped in a slight slap with his right on Bendy’s nut, and was following up his tactics, when Bendy pirouetted round. Paddock pursued him with resolution, and as he was on the 40 retreat let fly with his right, which, catching Bendy on the ribs, tumbled him down, amidst the cheers of the Redditch representatives. (First knock-down for Paddock.)

4.—​No sooner was “time” called than Paddock rushed to the scratch, his arms still too much in advance. Bendigo adopted the dodging system, retreating from his man, and got away. Paddock, however, would not be denied, hit out wildly left and right, Bendigo covering his head with both arms, and again turning round on the pirouetting principle. Paddock fought fast and wild, but without precision. Bendigo, equally abroad, hit out twice, but missed his destination, and in the close went down.

5.—​Paddock up and at it still, but without the judgment of a good tactician. He missed left and right, but rushed on with such vigour that Bendigo was again obliged to retreat with a twirling evolution, and in avoiding Paddock’s wild pursuit got down—​Paddock pointing at him with his finger with contempt.

6.—​Bendy came coolly to the scratch, looking as cunning as an old fox, and prepared for the attack. He had not long to wait, for Paddock, with his usual impetuosity, dashed to his work, Bendy getting away. Paddock followed him up till they reached the ropes, and a hasty rally followed, when Paddock popped in his left and right, the latter on Bendy’s ear. Bendy returned the compliment, hit out left and right, caught Paddock on the left eyebrow, and dropped. First blood was now claimed for Bendy, a slight tinge being perceptible on Paddock’s left eyebrow.

7.—​Paddock again as quick as lightning to the scratch, and after some wild but very ineffective exchanges, Bendy went down. As he lay Paddock held his foot above his body, as if intending to scrunch him; but luckily, whatever might have been his wishes, he had discretion enough to resist the momentary impulse.

8.—​Paddock no sooner up than at it; Bendy on the retreat, and twirling round to avoid his resolute pursuer. Paddock followed him till they closed at the ropes, over which Bendy fell, Paddock on him.

9.—​Paddock again too hastily to business, when, after some wild exchanges, they closed. Paddock grappled his man, and, as he held him in his left arm, chopped his nob with his right, till he slipped down on his nether end.

10.—​Paddock pursued his fast tactics, but so wild were the deliveries on both sides that no serious mischief was done; and in the close, in trying for the fall, they were both down, Bendy uppermost.

11.—​Paddock hit short with his left; Bendy got away. Paddock would not be denied, delivered his left and right, and closed, when after a severe struggle (Paddock chopping with his right) Bendigo was thrown over the ropes. On getting up blood was perceptible on the left brow of Bendigo; so far, therefore, the punishment was pretty much upon a par.

12.—​Paddock impatiently rushed to his man, hit wildly with his left, and closed at the ropes. A short struggle; both down, Bendy undermost.

13.—​Paddock, quick to work, gave the “old ’un” no time for reflection, dashed at him left and right, tumbled him over the ropes, and fell on him. The youth and vigour of Paddock up to this time seemed to have put all Bendy’s memorable tactics at defiance, and although nothing had been done to produce a sensation in the way of punishment on either side, the manner in which Bendy retreated from his opponent, which was so utterly unexpected, produced a strong feeling to his disfavour, and those who had so freely backed him in the first instance, turned round and laid against him; in fact, six to four was offered on Paddock.

14.—​The quickness of Paddock’s onslaughts obviously set Bendigo’s bellows in motion; he was, however, ready at the call of “time,” and met the coming charge with determination. Some heavy hits were exchanged, Paddock catching the lion’s share. In the close there was a desperate struggle for the fall, during which Bendigo, to resist the throw, caught Paddock round the face with his right, amidst a cry of “He’s gouging him.” It was asserted that he was endeavouring to force his fingers into his eye, but it was not so. His hand was against Paddock’s bleeding cheek. In the end Bendy was down, Paddock on him. Complaint was made to the referee of the alleged gouging, but the evidence was not sufficient to justify any interruption of the fight on that account.

15.—​Paddock was not to be restrained; he rushed across the ring, delivered his left twice, and Bendigo, in getting away, fell.

16.—​The fighting on the part of Paddock was still at railway speed, not a little exhausting to both men in the heat of the sun. Bendy fought on the get-away principle, and after some wild exchanges Paddock slipped down, Bendy falling over him.

17.—​A determined rally, in which heavy hits were exchanged; Bendy catching it on the nob and nose, from whence the blood trickled. They stood well to their work, Paddock never flinching, and in the end Bendy was down.

18.—​Paddock, as resolute as ever, rushed in left and right; his hands were, however, too far from his body, and his execution not effective. Bendigo waited his opportunity, and popped in his right on Paddock’s cheek, on which he made another incision. A scrambling rally followed, which ended in Bendy being down. The fighting was the reverse of scientific, and as wild as at a country fair.


19.—​Paddock, so impatient was he to be at work, rose from his second’s knee before time was called. Bendigo dodged from his corner, but in getting away slipped down without a blow. He was evidently playing the old soldier and reserving his strength, while Paddock was putting forth all his energies. The referee called on Paddock’s seconds to check his impetuosity, and to prevent his running over the scratch to meet his man.

20.—​Paddock, to time again, dropped on Bendy’s nob with his right twice in succession. Bendy down and threw up his hands; the fighting was too fast for his taste, and the young one would not be denied; still on Bendy’s frontispiece there were few marks of punishment, save on his left ear, which was considerably swollen from Paddock’s occasional pats.

21.—​Another ferocious onslaught by Paddock; wild hits were exchanged in Bendy’s corner, where he dropped.

22.—​Paddock, as usual, first to work, but Bendy succeeded in planting a left-handed stinger on Paddock’s cheek-bone, drawing more claret. A rally in the corner; both down, and Bendy undermost.

23.—​Bendigo waited for Paddock’s charge, and gave him a heavy counter-hit with his left. A rally followed, in which Bendy popped in his right three times in succession on Paddock’s ribs. Paddock was not idle, and, in the close at the ropes, continued hammering away with his right as Bendy fell on the ropes. A cry of “Foul,” but the referee decided “Fair.” Bendy had not reached the ground.

24.—​A scrambling close, in which both were down; not much mischief done.

25.—​Paddock to business, and after some trifling exchanges Bendy got down on the saving system.

26.—​No time lost; Paddock up and ready, when Bendy rattled in and delivered a terrible smasher on Paddock’s smeller, and fell. More claret from Paddock, and cries of “The old ’un’s not beaten yet.”

27.—​To business in earnest. Paddock got home slightly with his left. Bendy down in getting away, when Paddock followed him and delivered an upper-cut with his right; and as he was getting away, Bendy jumped up, retorted, and a desperate rally followed, in which heavy hits were exchanged. Bendy down and up again. Bendy ultimately down. Paddock had lost control over his temper, and was wild with excitement. The punishment to both was severe, although not so perceptible on Bendy, from the blows being delivered on the side of his head and ear.

28.—​Paddock got home with his left on Bendy’s optic, and Bendy fell.

29.—​Bendy no sooner at the scratch than dropped by a delivery from Paddock’s right on the side of the head.

30.—​Paddock, more impatient than ever, darted across the ring to his man, hit left and right with his customary wildness, and repeating the dose with his left; Bendy down. The fight had now lasted thirty-five minutes.

31.—​Wild fighting; Bendy down to avoid.

32.—​The fighting all one way. Paddock rattled in left and right as before, not giving Bendy time to arrive at the scratch, and almost before “time” was called delivering his one, two.

33.—​On Bendigo the marks of punishment were not prominent, and he was as cool and quiet as ever. Paddock delivered left and right, and Bendigo fell.

34.—​Paddock in left and right, as heretofore. Bendigo, retreating, fell back under the ropes. Paddock dropped on him with his knees. Another appeal of foul rejected, on the plea that Paddock’s fall was unavoidable.

35.—​Again did Bendy fall, after Paddock had delivered slightly left and right. This dropping system of Bendy’s created a strong feeling of disgust, but it was clear that he was out-fought, and could not resist the vigorous attacks of his antagonist. He was obviously “biding his time.”

36.—​A wild but rattling rally. The men fought and closed at the ropes, over which Bendy hung, Paddock peppering away at him from above. Another appeal of foul, which the referee again rejected, to the danger of his life. Several of the Nottingham division threatened him with their sticks, charging him with gross partiality, and asserting that the fight had been lost over and over again. The referee repeated his caution to Paddock’s friends to restrain his impetuosity and keep his temper.

37.—​A lively rally, in which some wild hits, left and right, were exchanged. Both were down. Another appeal was made, on the ground that Paddock had been using turpentine and resin on his hands, contrary to the 27th rule of the Ring, by which it is provided “that the use of resin be deemed foul.” A suspicion existed that Paddock had been provided with resin in a dissolved state before the fight commenced, and a protest was entered against its use. Paddock was brought to the referee for examination, and there could be no doubt that his hands had been smeared with resin, but whether put on before the fight commenced, or after, could not be proved. The referee pronounced that such practice was foul, but, in the absence of direct evidence ordered that his hands should be washed, and that the fight should proceed—​much to the renewed distaste or Bendigo’s friends, whose exclamations of partiality were vociferous.

38.—​The delay occasioned by this examination gave an opportunity for Bendigo to recover his second wind, and come fresher to the scratch, for on time being called he waited steadily for his man, and on his 42 coming in met him with a tremendous hit with his right on the bridge of the nose, drawing his cork in a most decided manner; the blood came trickling from his proboscis in a purple stream, and, after a short rally, both were down. The last hit made a decided turn in “the affairs of man,” and more especially in the minds of Bendy’s patrons, who cheered lustily.

39.—​Bendigo again made himself up for mischief, and after stopping Paddock’s one, two, he delivered three loud sounding whacks on his ribs, which were heard all round the ring. A wild rally followed, and Bendy was down. The betting was now evens; Bendy was taken for choice.

40.—​Bendy came up like “a giant refreshed.” He clearly saw he had brought his man to his level. He met him as he came bouncing in, stopped, closed, grappled for the throw, and fell on him. Renewed shouts from the Nottinghamites.

41.—​Paddock came up, the claret still dripping from his nose. A wild rally, a close at the ropes, and Bendy down.

42.—​Paddock, on getting into his corner, dropped his head as if stung by hits recently received. Still he obeyed the call of “time” as game as a pebble. Bendy, who had also reposed in his corner, got up fresher on his pins, waited for him, again parried his left and right, and once more delivered three heavy body blows with his left, and fell laughing.

43.—​Bendy up at the usual summons, and steady. Paddock impetuously rushed to the attack, Bendy meeting him left and right as he came in. Paddock hit away left and right, forced him back on the ropes, and fell on him.

44.—​Again, after a short struggle at the ropes, did Paddock fall over Bendy.

45.—​A wild rally, in which there were some flying hits exchanged, but Paddock wanted steadiness—​he was too impatient—​and Bendy played the part of Master Reynard. In the close Paddock was down.

46.—​The heat of the weather began to tell on both, and each showed symptoms of fatigue. After a short pause there was a lively rally, in which Paddock received another visitation on the left cheek, and Bendy was down.

47.—​A slight rally, in which exchanges were made, Bendy getting home with his left and going down smiling.

48.—​Six and seven to four were now offered on Bendy, but no takers. The fight had lasted fifty-seven minutes. Paddock had lost none of his precipitate propensities; he rattled to his man, still fresh on his legs, but wild and passionate. Bendy retreated, Paddock after him, and Bendy, in avoiding, fell. Paddock struck him as he was down, and just brushed the top of his head with his right. Another cry of “Foul,” but the referee considered Paddock could not restrain the blow, and the appeal was once more rejected, and another urgent caution given to Paddock’s seconds to prevent his throwing a chance away.

49, and last.—​Bendy waited for his man, but did not wait long. Paddock was with him, and, after an exchange of blows, Bendy fell on the lower rope, which, from being loose, let him down on the ground, and in this position, with his hands up, Paddock deliberately hit his man with his right on the side of the head twice. The last and final appeal was then made, and the referee had now no other option than to pronounce “Foul,” being perfectly satisfied that the man was on the ground when the blow was given.

The decision, of course, produced a great uproar among the losers; and, on Bendigo coming up to have it confirmed, Paddock, who had completely lost his temper, and while he was not offering the slightest resistance, hit him down almost at the feet of the referee. Thus ended this most unsatisfactory battle, with little credit to Bendigo, although strictly in accordance with the 14th rule of the Ring—​“That a blow struck when a man is thrown or down shall be deemed foul.” There were those, of course, who repudiated the decision of the referee, and who, perhaps, without the same opportunity of seeing the real state of the men, considered that Bendy was not actually on the ground. There was not the slightest doubt, however, that he was seated on terra firma, with both his arms spread out, and his legs flat; and in this position Paddock, in the absence of that caution which the referee had so repeatedly recommended, foreseeing what would happen, committed the fatal mistake which ended in his chances being put out of court. It was thought by some that he struck foul for the express purpose of terminating his labours.

The confusion which followed was immense. The friends of Paddock were, of course, clamorous, and highly incensed at the disappointment of their hopes. There was, however, no help for it; the decision was strictly in accordance with rule, and although certainly mortifying could not have been otherwise if the laws were to be obeyed, added to which, Paddock had been over and over again cautioned against suffering his temper to get the better of his judgment. It is said that his seconds urged him to go in; this might be the case, but they should also have impresed upon him—​if he were capable of guidance—​what must be the sure result of intemperance, on which Bendigo and his coadjutors no doubt relied. However provoking it might be for Bendigo to get down to avoid mischief—​too much the practice of pugilists of modern times—​in Bendigo’s case might be justified by the superior strength and length of his antagonist. It does not follow that the breach of a clear rule is to be overlooked. Indeed, the reader can hardly fail to perceive that the referee was slow to decide against Paddock where he had any 43 excuse for palliating his errors. These were considerations, however, which did not weigh with the angry party; they followed the referee out of the ring with volumes of abuse, and finally one of the gang (Long Charley Smith, of Birmingham) stealthily came behind him, and with a bludgeon dealt him a terrific blow on the back of the head, which for a moment paralysed him. Fortunately Tom Spring, who was behind, and heard the blow, turned round to prevent a repetition of the cowardly assault (narrowly escaping a similar compliment intended for himself by another ruffian), and the assassin fled, although his companions, also well known, remained to applaud the act with the consoling exclamation of “Sarved him right.” The effects of the concussion were serious, and subjected the sufferer to some inconvenience, probably to the triumph of those by whom it was abetted. Mr. Vincent Dowling was not one likely to seek redress for an act which no man, however sunk in degradation, in his moments of cool reflection can approve, and which certainly could receive no sympathy from the lovers of fair play.

Remarks.—​Of the character of the fight we cannot speak in terms of praise. Bendigo was clearly overmatched; it was old age opposed to youth, vigour, and determination. In the early rounds of the fight he found his mistake. He could not withstand the impetuous rushes of the young’un, whose tactics were to bear down all the shifty dodges of his opponent, and this he did with a vengeance, and with a precipitation altogether at variance with sound discretion, although, for a time, Bendigo’s knowledge of the art was set at naught by it. The rapidity of the rounds—​49 in 59 minutes—​will show that there was little time for reflection on either side. Bendy soon discovered that he had “caught a Tartar,” and not, as he imagined, “a yokel.” Physically he was incapable of resisting the avalanche of sinew and bone which poured upon him, and as the only resource he had recourse to the distasteful practice of getting down, when he found destruction inevitable. This all practitioners will pronounce perfectly consistent with rule; as no man can be expected, for the mere gratification of the spectators, to submit to punishment if he can avoid it by legal expedients. The editor of Bell’s Life is candid enough to admit that he had a prejudice against Bendigo. We may add that the reading of his report of Bendigo’s third fight with Caunt fully shows this. For his own sake, and that of his friends, it was Bendigo’s duty to make the most of his knowledge and strength, and to husband whatever powers he possessed. This he did to the best of his ability, and had the worst of the battle, as the betting would show, till Paddock, by his own headstrong career, began to exhibit the effects of his own folly; he was, in fact, reduced to the level of his crafty antagonist, who, the moment he saw his time, came out with his reserve, and the blows which he then administered were of stinging effect, quickly perceptible by the judges, who, foreseeing the storm approaching, turned round to get out of their difficulties, and, from being a non-favourite, Bendigo soon had the call at six to four. The effects of this change were obvious; Paddock became still more wild, and rushed to his work without temper or reflection, although repeatedly called to by the referee to be careful in avoiding that which was easily foreseen, viz., the delivery of a foul blow. More than once was he saved from the consequences of his precipitation by the indulgence of the referee; there were doubts of which he had the benefit, to the personal risk of the referee; and yet at last he fell into the trap which was laid for him, and left to the referee no other option than to pronounce judgment against him—​a judgment which was given with reluctance, but, as every impartial witness of the battle must acknowledge, with justice.

With regard to the state of the men, we may mention that Paddock reached London, per special train, the same night, little the worse for wear, with the exception of his swollen mazzard and damaged snout. The same night, however, it was discovered that he had seriously injured his right hand, which he had to submit to surgical inspection, and for some weeks he wore his arm in a sling, and his hand protected by a splint.

Bendigo remained at the “Railway Tavern” till the London trains had departed, and in due course commenced his return, with his friends, to Nottingham, where he arrived the same night by the express train. His success had been telegraphed, and an immense crowd assembled to hail his 44 return—​a band of music being prepared to strike up “See the conquering hero comes.” He proceeded to his brother’s house, where, upon examination, his injuries appeared more serious than had been supposed. In a fortnight after the battle Bendigo came to town and received the battle-money at Jem Burn’s, when he declared in a formal manner his intention of finally retiring from the ring. Hereupon the Tipton Slasher, who was present, and who had recovered from his illness, again laid claim to the Championship, offering to meet any man in England for £200 to £300 a side, or to fight Tom Paddock and stake £350. This led to a match for £150 a side, but this ended in a draw. A second match was soon after arranged, which came off on the 17th December, 1850, at Woking, the details of which will be found in the history of the career of the Tipton Slasher.

This time Bendy kept his word, and thenceforward confined his eccentricities to occasional outbursts at Nottingham elections and other occasions of public holidays and festivities. In some of these escapades he afforded considerable amusement to the public, and employment to the pens of provincial reporters, by the mother wit of his defence, or the ludicrous aspect he imparted to the results of his fistic or gymnastic evolutions. After some solemn promises of amendment made to their worships, and a pledge to Father Mathew (he was never a sot), we heard of Bendy’s “conversion,” and of his appearance in the white choker (he always wore the straight hair) of a dissenting preacher. On the occasion of a visit to London, in which he was introduced to a congregation of the faithful at the Holborn Circus (turned for the nonce into a conventicle), a good story is told of “a keen encounter of the wits” between the ex-pugilist and a noble lord who met the preacher in a West-end thoroughfare. After a mutual stare of surprised recognition, his lordship inquired, glancing at Bendy’s parsonic “get-up,” what might be his “little game” now. As befitted his new vocation, the solemn reply was, “Truly, my lord, I am now fighting Satan—​and behold the victory shall be mine.” “I hope so, Bendy,” rejoined his lordship, “but pray fight Beelzebub more fairly than you did Ben Caunt, or I may change my side.”

A final word on the much-disputed nickname of Bendigo. Of course, as people generally invent some plausible meaning or derivation for a word they do not comprehend, we were told (first, I believe, by an Australian paper) that “Bendigo was the name given to an English prizefighter from his bending as he went in to fight. Hence called Bend-I-go.” Prodigious 45 etymologist! We never saw any such bend in Bend-i-go, or any other pugilist, though we have heard of “a Grecian bend” in a lady.

William Thompson was, as we have already noted, one of three boys at a birth, and these, among people irreverently familiar with the use of Scripture names, were called (though not at the baptismal font), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. A curious confirmation of this is now before us in our hero’s first challenge, in Bell’s Life, in 1835, wherein he styles himself “Abednego, of Nottingham.” Yet ever afterwards that journal prints the popular vernacular corruption of “Bendigo.” In this matter of Abednego do we not find—

The breath of chance, the bubbles of the present,
Fraught with no meaning to the duller sense,
Foreshow and shape our dark and unknown future?

The Abednego of Nottingham, who nearly half a century ago was “ready to meet any 12st. man,” is now, in 1880, “articled” to floor the “Prince of Darkness” himself, who—​we have Shakespeare’s word for it—​is every inch “a gentleman.”

Thus far had we penned our memoir of the eccentric pugilistic preacher, when an annonce in the London journals informed the public, that on Monday, the 23rd of August, William Thompson (alias Bendigo) had died at Beeston, near Nottingham, in the 69th year of his age. His death was the result of an accident, he having fallen downstairs at his own house, and fractured three of his ribs, a bony splinter perforating the lung. Poor Bendy, as we have already stated, was always fond of acrobatic tricks. A severe accident some years since while playing at quoits, a broken knee-cap, which permanently shortened his right leg, and, subsequently, a serious injury to his head, while in pursuit of “the contemplative man’s recreation,” bear witness that his talent for knocking a man about extended to his own person. In all probability, but for these untoward mischances, “the Bold Bendigo” might have added another to the many Champions of the P.R. who have exceeded the Psalmist’s limit of “three score years and ten.”

[2] Ponderous Parliamentary blue-books, election petitions, “Reports” of Committees of the House, bear abundant testimony to the frays and feuds of the “Nottingham Lambs,” from the sacking of Clumber and the burning of Nottingham Castle to the street and faction fights of this turbulent town.

[3] “Natura tenacissimi sumus eorum quæ pueri percipimus, ut sapor, quo nova vasa imbuuntur, durat,” says the old heathen tutor of Nero.

[4] If Burton, of Leicester, is meant, he was then 11 years old. His first fight was with a native of Swindon, in May, 1845.

[5] Burke’s performance of “The Venetian Statues” was highly popular in America and England.

[6] This is a gratuitous and unjust imputation on a most honourable sportsman. The writer on this eventful day sat on a small form, immediately by the side of the Squire, throughout the whole fight. Caunt was, unless a chance hit or fall had turned the tide, a beaten man thus far.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”

[7] We saw this, but believe it was meant for the man who was hit.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”

[8] There was great confusion, but the referee rose from his seat and went to Bendigo’s corner of his own accord, and without obstruction. The partisans of the men were equally violent.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”

[9] As we made a full note of every round of the fight, the perusal of this in the following Sunday’s paper astounded us.—​Ed. “Pugilistica.”

[10] We firmly believe, from his position near the centre stake, on the grass, that the editor of Bell’s Life was unable to see clearly what passed, that he was compelled to trust to others for the actual incidents of these later rounds, and that he was designedly misled.—​Ed.




Benjamin Caunt, like his noted opponent Bendigo, was a native of Nottinghamshire. He was born on the 22nd of March, 1815, at the village of Hucknall Torkard, his parents being tenants of Lord Byron, the poet, a fact of which the huge, unsentimental Ben in after-life was fond of boasting. His father having been engaged in some humble capacity at Newstead, Ben had some traditions of the wayward genius, more or less apocryphal. According to his own account (he was certainly a first-rate shot) his earliest employment was as gamekeeper or watcher; his Nottingham opponents insisted on his having been a “navvy.” His size and strength might well fit him for either occupation, his height being, and his weight 14st. 7lb.

Caunt appears at an early age to have aspired to pugilistic honours, and acquired some local reputation by being victor in a couple of battles, of which, however, we have no reliable details. His first recorded contest is, therefore, his encounter with William Thompson, of Nottingham, on the 21st July, 1835, near Appleby House, Notts, when he had just completed his twentieth year, wherein he was defeated by the greater experience, shifty tactics, and superior boxing skill of the afterwards famous Bendigo. (See Bendigo, Chap. I., page 6, ante.)

Caunt’s next appearance within the ropes was attended with better fortune. On the 17th August, 1837, he met and defeated a local celebrity, William Butler, at Stoneyford, Notts, in fourteen rounds, for a stake of £20 a side. In this battle his opponent, a 12-stone man, was beaten by weight, strength, and resolute, though by no means scientific, fighting.


In like manner Boneford, a big one, was polished off in six rounds by “Young Ben,” at Sunrise Hill, Notts, in November of the same year.

In the interval his former opponent had been rapidly rising in fistic fame. He had defeated Brassey, of Bradford (May 24th, 1836), Young Langan, of Liverpool (January 24th, 1837), and Bill Looney, another big one (June 13th, 1837).

These exploits could not fail to attract public attention, and the patrons of the P. R. were anxious to bring the antagonists together once again, an anxiety fully shared by Caunt and Bendigo themselves.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way,” so in this case preliminaries were arranged with much greater facility than in after-times. The stakes were posted to £100 on each side, and the day, Monday, April 3rd, 1838, fixed for the encounter, the field of battle to be in the neighbourhood of Doncaster.


BENJAMIN CAUNT, Champion 1842.

As a record of times and manners, and modes of travel, we shall give a sketch of how and in what company the representative of Bell’s Life in London, then, quâ the Ring, the only sporting “oracle,” was wont to make his way to distant battlefields, ere the steam steed had rendered the mail coach, the “Highflyer,” the “Red Rover,” the “Age,” et hoc genus omne, obsolete as public conveyances:—

As “Sheffield, or within 100 miles thereof,” was the mysterious “fixture” for the big tourney, on Saturday evening, at half-past seven, we threw ourselves into the Glasgow mail, on our route to Doncaster, between which town and Selby we had the “office” the affair was to be decided. Adventures in stage-coaches have often afforded topics for amusing detail; but we confess, from the laborious duties which fall to our lot to perform, private as well as public, every week of our lives, the last day, or rather the last night, of the week is not the one we should select as that most propitious to collect materials (if such materials were wanting) for filling a column in our ensuing publication. In taking our place in the mail, therefore, we looked forward rather to the enjoyment of an occasional snooze than to the hope that we should discover any subject on which to dilate at a future period, whether as to the character of our fellow-travellers, the general appointments of the “drag,” or the peculiarities of the coachmen or guards—​of the former we had four, and of the latter two, in the course of the journey—​and these we will at once dismiss, by stating, at the outset, that they did their duty admirably—​taking care, as “in duty bound,” to seek the usual mark of approbation by farewell hints in the common-place terms of “I 49 leave you here, gentlemen”—​in other words, “tip” and “go”—​a laconic mode of address which by all travellers is well understood, however coolly appreciated when spoken at an open door on a cold frosty night, as that night of Saturday was, and at a moment when you may perhaps have been dreaming of the “joys you left behind you.” Quietness and repose being our first study, we soon placed our hat in the suspending-straps at the top of the mail, and our travelling-cap over head, and then, quietly reclining in the corner with our back to the horses, waited for the “start” from the yard of the “Bull and Mouth.” We found one old gentleman had taken his seat before us, who subsequently followed our example in taking the same side of the coach with ourselves, and was not less careful in guarding himself against the chilling influence of a hard frost. A third gentleman soon after joined us, and thus, “trio juncta in uno,” we were whirled round to the Post Office, St. Martin’s-le-Grand, whence we shortly commenced our journey at a slapping pace. On reaching Islington, a fourth passenger, of colossal size, filled up the vacant seat. Few words, if any, were spoken; and the only interruption to the monotony of the night’s travel was the frequent popping out and in of the last-mentioned gentleman to comfort his “inward man” with “drops of brandy,” with which he so perfumed our “leathern convenience” on his return that if we were as sensitive as some Frenchman of whom we have heard (who dined upon the effluvia of the good things he could not otherwise enjoy) we should certainly have been “pretty jolly” before he took his leave of us at peep of day. His departure gave occasion for the first indication that our companions were gifted with the power of speech. Their words were few, and these only had reference to the “spirited” propensities of the gentleman who had just vacated his seat. On this there could be no difference of opinion, and consequently no argument—​so that we soon relapsed into the appearance at least of sleep, which we maintained with great perseverance till a brilliant sun shining through the ice-covered windows called forth a remark on the fineness of the morning. This, to our surprise, for we thought ourselves incog., was followed by a remark of recognition from the third gentleman who had entered the coach at the “Bull and Mouth,” and who, alluding to quick travelling, recalled to our mind some feats of this sort in which we had been engaged in the course of a twenty years’ connection with the Press. The ice once broken, conversation commenced, with apparent satisfaction to us all, the venerable gentleman on my right joining, and contributing as well as exacting his proportion of information on all manner of topics—​public men 50 and public measures, and the public Press, forming prominent subjects of remark, upon all of which our friend on the right seemed agreeably conversant. We soon discovered that our opposite neighbour was going to Leeds, to and from which town he was a frequent traveller; but respecting the other we could form no opinion. Regarding ourselves our secret had been divulged, and we stood forward the confessed “representative of Bell’s Life in London.” Sporting of various descriptions opened new sources of gossip, and here we found “the unknown” as much at home as ourselves. It came out, in fact, that he had been a breeder of racehorses, and a patron of the Turf for pleasure, but not for profit—​that he had been steward at Newmarket, and that, in fact, he knew all the leading Turfites of the age, and was familiar with all the recent important events on the Turf. All this led us to surmise that he was “somebody,” but who, we confess, we did not attempt to speculate. We found him a most pleasant associate, and with that we were content. Upon the subject of our own trip to Doncaster we were silent, for we considered that was “nothing to nobody.” The Ring as connected with our British sports was but slightly alluded to—​and against the objections that were made arising out of the late fatal issue of the combat between Swift and Brighton Bill, we argued it was a casualty purely the result of an accident, which might have occurred on any other athletic competition in which no personal animosity existed, and wound up by saying that there was one unanswerable argument even to the opponents of prizefighting, that as by them the principals were invariably considered worthless and deserving of punishment, in becoming the instrument of punishing each other, they were only fulfilling the ends of justice, without the necessity of legal interference. We referred, of course, to the recent painful exhibition of the frequent use of the knife, and the strong remarks which the increasing extent of this treacherous mode of revenge had called from the judges; but upon these points our unknown friend, as we take the liberty of calling him, did not seem disposed to break a lance, and the subject dropped. At last we reached Grantham, where our fellow-travellers forewarned us we should have an excellent breakfast, and certainly one served in better taste or in greater profusion we never enjoyed. Here we met in the same room the Quaker member for Durham (Mr. Pease), on his way to the north, between whom and “the unknown” there was a friendly recognition, but we still made no effort to lift the veil by which he was enshrouded. On again taking our seats in the mail, we were alone with the old gentleman, our Leeds friend having mounted the roof, 51 so that we had it all to ourselves. The chat was as pleasant to us as before—​new topics were broached, and the description of the localities through which we passed—​the “Dukery” (a sort of concentration of ducal seats), &c.—​afforded us both amusement and information. Now, for the first time, when conversation flagged, on watching the physiognomy of “the unknown,” we imagined there was a meaning smile on his countenance, which seemed to say, “This fellow does not know to whom he is talking,” and we confess we began to try back and see whether we had said anything to which exception could be taken; and more especially whether anything had dropped from us whence the intent of our journey could be collected; for we began to suspect we had been talking to a beak, who was going down expressly to spoil sport, and who was chuckling within himself at the disappointment we were sure to incur. But all was safe—​we had kept our secret, and from anything that had dropped from us everything was as “right as the day;” indeed we dismissed the thought of treachery from our mind, and we are now glad we did so, for it would have been most unjustly adopted; for, although a beak of the first magnitude was in truth before us, we are persuaded he had no sinister feeling towards us or the sport we anticipated. But we have spun our yarn longer than we had intended, and will come to the dénouement at once. We now rattled into the clean and quiet town of Doncaster with the customary flourish of the horn, and reached the “Angel” safe and sound. As we had collected that our companion was going no further, we were satisfied our doubts as to his real character would soon be removed; they were, sooner than we expected; for scarcely had he stepped forth when “My lord!” was congratulated on his safe arrival. My lord! thought we, and following his example, our first effort on stretching our cramped limbs was by a respectful touch of our tile to acknowledge the honour we had enjoyed—​an honour, by-the-bye, which confirmed us in the good old maxim, “Where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise.” An answer to a simple question soon put us in possession of the “great secret.” It was to a noble Baron who was about to preside at the Pontefract sessions we were indebted for a pleasing relief to a tedious journey; and while we acknowledge his lordship’s kindness and urbanity, permit us to add that there was not a sentiment uttered by him in our presence to which we do not heartily respond. We are sure it will be gratifying to our milling readers to hear that although the fight which has given occasion for this episode was announced to take place in the district of Pontefract, formerly represented by a milling 52 member,[12] neither our noble companion nor any of his sessional coadjutors offered any interference.

At Doncaster we had our “tout” (we hope he will excuse the use of a professional title), for whom we immediately sent, but he was profoundly ignorant of the all-important place of rendezvous—​a fact at which we rejoiced, as it was clear the necessary secrecy had been observed. However quiet at Doncaster, at Sheffield, Nottingham, and all the surrounding towns, even to Manchester and Liverpool, all was bustle and commotion. The Fancy, of all degrees, were on the alert, and the roads, on Sunday evening, leading to Doncaster, were thronged, not only with pedestrians, including no small proportion of “hard-ups,” but with vehicles of every imaginable description—​flies, phaetons, gigs, and fish-carts, all laden to dangerous excess, and with a perfect disregard to the qualities of the horses engaged in the service; it seeming to be an admitted principle that on such occasions the tits were not only “warranted sound and free from vice,” but masters of any indefinite proportion of weight. As Doncaster was the grand débouche through which the cavalcade must necessarily pass towards the “fixture,” the innocent inhabitants were soon enlightened respecting the approach of some extraordinary event, the character of which was quickly divulged. The whole night long the rattle of wheels, the pattering of horses’ feet, and the shouts of the anxious throng, proclaimed the interest which was felt, and the wild spirit which was abroad. “The Selby road!” was the cry; and on crossing the Don, at the foot of the town, a short turn to the right threw the nags into the right direction, to the no small gratification of the collector at the turnpike gate, although rather to the discomfiture of many who had the “bobs” to “fork out;” but fights are of rare occurrence nowadays, and for such a luxury expense is no object.

Askerne, or Askeron, a neat little village seven miles from Doncaster, on the Selby road, celebrated for its sulphurous spring—​which rises from a fine piece of water called Askerne Pool, and which is much visited by patients afflicted with rheumatism and other diseases—​was the first grand halting-place, and here, at the “White Swan,” had Bendigo, under the surveillance of Peter Taylor, of Liverpool, taken up his abode. In and about this house an immense multitude had assembled. Caunt had travelled further afield, and at the “Hawke Arms,” a new inn about two miles further, 53 had pitched his tent, attended by young Molyneaux, the black, his honoured parent, and divers other staunch and sturdy friends. The ring was formed in a field a short distance from the road, about half way between the “Swan” and the “Hawke,” by the Liverpool Commissary, and all looked well. Soon after ten o’clock we made our appearance at the “Swan” in a post-chaise, and drove up to the motley group in front of the house. Our appearance was no doubt suspicious, and from the scowling looks of some of the “hard-ups” with whose private signs we were unacquainted, we were evidently regarded with more fear than affection. At last, recollecting that we had seen Izzy Lazarus down the road, and knowing that he is regularly installed as a publican in Sheffield, we asked for him, in order that he might be our cicerone to his friends. The “poy” soon made his appearance, being a full stone heavier than when he left town, and recognising us, he made known the agreeable intelligence that “’twas t’editor of Bell’s Loife in Lunnon”—​an announcement so unexpected, and apparently so agreeable, that when we descended from our trap we verily believe the sudden appearance of a hippopotamus would not have excited more astonishment. “What,” cried one, “is that t’editor of Bell’s Loife? Well, I’m dom’d if I didn’t take un for a gentleman!”—​while another declared he “thought it were summat worse, for he took un for a beak, or summat o’ that koind.” Our opinion was not asked as to our notions of these critics; but certainly had we been put to our oath we should have said they were some of the “unwashed from the Hardware Country,” who had come thus far to perform their ablutions in the Pool of Askerne—​a ceremony which the dust of the roads, and the hasty manner in which they had performed their toilets preparatory to their “stopping up all night to be up early in the morning,” rendered requisite.

We did not wait to bandy civilities, but proceeded direct to the dormitory of Bendigo, whom we found, like a bacon sandwich, comfortably encased between two slices of flannel, vulgarly called blankets. It was the first time we had the honour of an interview, and we made our salaam with due reverence, while the object of our embassy was duly announced by Peter Taylor. Bendigo appeared uncommonly well, and was in high spirits. He is a rough, handy-looking fellow, very muscular, and as we were informed weighed but 11st. 10lb. His seconds, we were informed, were to be Taylor and Nick Ward, and, judging from his manner, he seemed to have booked victory as already secure. To all present we enjoined the expediency of getting early into the ring, as there was a gentle whisper 54 before we left Doncaster that the constables were on the alert. From the “Swan” we proceeded to the “Hawke,” where our presence was not less a matter of surprise. We soon obtained an introduction to Caunt, who was assuming his fighting costume. He expressed his joy at seeing us, but proceeded sans cérémonie with the adornment of his person. His father sat by his side, and if having a gigantic son is a source of pride he has sufficient to render him doubly so, for the hero of the day proved to be a fine young fellow, two-and-twenty years of age, standing six feet three inches in height, and weighing fifteen stone and a half, apparently active, strong, and full of confidence. Comparing him with Bendigo, it was a camelopard to a nylghau; and yet Bendigo was the favourite at five and six to four—​a state of odds which seemed unaccountable when the disparity in size was considered. Having here also urged the wisdom of taking time by the forelock, we returned towards the ring, which by this time was surrounded by a most numerous and heterogeneous crowd, many of whom carried sticks of enormous size, and presented aspects which to eyes polite would have been far from inviting. We knew, however, that “rough cases often cover good cutlery,” and we were not disposed to form our opinion from the outside alone, and more especially when we were aware that many of these hardy ones had toddled the whole way from Sheffield or Nottingham, or places equally distant, to witness the prowess of their favourite champion.

The adage of “the cup and the lip” was in this case, as in many others before, again illustrated, for just as we were about to enter the field some half-dozen horsemen rode up, and in an authoritative manner forbade, not the banns, but the fight, in terms, however, so persuasive and agreeable that it was impossible to be angry: in fact, there were so many doubtful-looking sticks performing evolutions in the air, and so many grim visages watching those evolutions, that their worships (and they proved to be veritable J.P.’s, attended by a posse of constables well mounted) evidently thought that the suaviter in modo was the safest game, and therefore, while they indicated their determination to preserve the peace, they assured the mobocracy they would not do more, provided the combatants “mizzled out of the West Riding.” Some were for bidding defiance to legal authority so weakly supported, but Jem Ward, who now came up, assured their beakships that due respect should be paid to their behests, and with this assurance a mutual feeling of confidence was established.


The men were now in their respective carriages in the main road, waiting for the “office,” when Jem Ward, who assumed the friendly character of director, after consulting with persons well acquainted with the localities, determined that the next move should be to Hatfield, about seven miles distant, and within a short run of Lincolnshire. This he publicly declared to be the final resolve, and, sending a horseman to the Commissary and the men, started forthwith for his destination, to prepare a suitable and unobjectionable spot. He was attended by Young Langan, who carried Bendigo’s fighting-shoes, Hackett, who was to have been Caunt’s second, and a numerous cavalcade of charioteers and horsemen, who reached the “Bell” at Hatfield in quick time. Had his arrangement been adopted all would have gone off well, but unfortunately there were too many masters and too little of system. A new leader sprang up in the person of Grear, the sporting sweep of Selby, who, being perfectly well acquainted with the localities of the country, as well as anxious to take the fight nearer his own quarters, led the way towards Selby, followed by a prodigious crowd, and, from some misunderstanding, by the combatants in their carriages. The new commander gave hopes that the ring might be formed before they reached the Ouse, which divides the West from the East Riding, but although several attempts were made it was no go, for the constables kept up with the vanguard, and the passage across the Ouse became indispensable, many of the company in the rear—​horse and foot as well as charioteers—​falling off dead beat. Those who were able to keep up their steam, however, crossed the bridge over the Ouse into Selby pell-mell, to the no small astonishment of the inhabitants, and the crowds of market people who were assembled with their wares. One old lady, almost petrified at such a sudden incursion, in great agitation inquired what had brought so many “gentlemen” into the East Riding. “Oh,” said a wag, “there’s a rebellion in the West, and we’re all driven over the river.” “Lord help me,” cried the old lady, “I live at Ricall, and ye’ll eat us all up!”

Grear, undismayed, pushed on, and knowing every inch of the country, did not halt till he got nearly four miles beyond Selby, when he turned down a romantic lane to the left, opposite Skipworth Common, and in a large field a few removes from the main road, near the bank of the river, the ring was, with great labour, formed; and the crowd, which had received fresh accessions from the town of Selby and surrounding country, collected round it. There were but few of the original followers able to 56 reach this distant point, and thousands were thus deprived of the object of their long and wearisome journey, as well as dissatisfied with a move which, had Ward’s directions been obeyed, would have brought them nearer home, with a more certain chance of proceeding to business without interruption.

“What cannot be cured must be endured;” and Ward, as well as his unfortunate companions, had only to console themselves with the cold consolation of having been made “April fools.” Among others to whom the change was productive of unforeseen enjoyment were several members of the Badsworth Hunt, who came up in scarlet, headed by Captain B., one of the right sort, who backed Bendigo at six to four, with a well-known sporting whip, “wot drives the London mail,” and whose mackintosh cape formed no disagreeable recommendation to the Captain, by whom it was borrowed at “shent. per shent.” interest. Having taken breath, all prepared for action, and the ring was beaten out with as much effect as so sudden and unceremonious an assemblage would permit. The men entered the ring about half-past four o’clock, Bendigo taking the lead, attended by Peter Taylor and Nick Ward; he was in high spirits, but on calling for his spiked shoes, it was “all my eye,” for they had unfortunately been sent on to Hatfield, and thus he had the disadvantage of adopting less suitable “crab-shells,” a circumstance which did not seem, however, to disturb his equanimity. Caunt then came forward, waited upon by Young Molyneaux and Gregson. On peeling, as we have before stated, their condition seemed admirable, and the flush of expected victory animated their “dials.” Two umpires and a referee having been chosen, all was ready, and then commenced


Round 1.—​On setting to, the gigantic size of Caunt, as he stood over his antagonist, excited general surprise, and, as a natural result in such disparities, produced a feeling of sympathy towards the smaller man; but Bendigo displayed perfect self-possession, and commenced manœuvring without delay. He dodged backward and forward several times, with a view of drawing his man, having his right ready for a fly as he came in, but Caunt was not to be had at that game—​when Bendigo, making a feint with his right, let go his left and caught him a tidy smack on the left ogle. Caunt instantly closed, and a struggle ensued, in which the superior strength of the “big one” was sufficiently apparent, and Bendigo, finding he had no chance at this work, went down.

2.—​Caunt was now on his mettle, and on coming to the scratch went straight in to his work, hitting out left and right; Bendigo got away, but napped a nasty one or two. Steadying himself he caught Caunt a crack on the side of his head with his left. Caunt did not choose to stand these pops, but rushing after his shifty antagonist, caught him in his arms, and threw him after a short struggle.

3.—​Both men came up steady, with no great harm done. Bendigo again pursued the dodging system, and, after a little in-and-out work he succeeded in planting his left on Caunt’s “’tato trap,” and drew first blood. Caunt felt indignant at this liberty, rushed to his man, literally lifted him up in his arms, and forcing him against the stake, 57 gave him such a hug that, after a severe struggle, he got down, Caunt falling heavily upon him.

4.—​Bendigo showed symptoms of distress from the Bruin’s hug he had received in the last round, but, keeping at a distance till he had recovered his wind, he became as lively as ever. After some time devoted to sparring, Bendigo, evidently having no desire to get within grasp of his man, let fly with his right, but did not get home. A little more time being devoted to play, Caunt let fly left and right, but his blows did not tell. Bendigo, on the get-away system, at last brought himself to a steady point, and caught Caunt a tremendous crack on the cheek, which opened “mouth the second,” and drew claret in abundance. Caunt instantly rushed to work; a severe rally followed, in which several hits, left and right, were exchanged. In the close Caunt again had it all his own way, and in the end threw Bendigo and fell on him. When both men were picked up it was seen that their nobs had been considerably damaged; Caunt bled profusely from his nose and a cut under his left eye, while the side of Bendigo’s pimple was swollen from a visitation from Caunt’s right, but their seconds soon brought them in “apple-pie order,” and they were ready when “time” was called.

5.—​After some sparring, Caunt, who took a distaste to Bendigo’s system of popping and shifting, went in right and left, and at once closing, seized his man as if in a vice, holding him on the ropes till nearly strangled, amidst cries of “Shame!” After a violent struggle by Bendigo to get away, he was at last thrown; Caunt fell heavily on him.

6.—​From this to the 11th round the fighting was very quick on both sides, Caunt leading off left and right, Bendigo meeting him as he came in with severe jobs, and then getting down to avoid—​a shifty mode of fighting, far from agreeable to the spectator, but rendered almost indispensable from the great inequality in the size of the men. In the closes Bendigo had not a chance, but his pops at Caunt as he rushed to the charge told dreadfully on his head, which he gave to get what he expected to be a home hit on his adversary, but in which he was nearly every time disappointed.

12.—​Both as fresh and ready as ever—​Bendigo, from his generalship the favourite; still Caunt was bold as a lion. Bendigo now changed his system, and finding he often missed the “head-rails” of his opponent, he commenced peppering right and left at the body, the whacks sounding like the music of a big drum. Cries of “Go in, Bendigo!” at length induced him to get closer to his man, and he popped in a stinger with his left under the right eye. Caunt instantly closed, and a violent struggle for the fall succeeded, when both fell.

13.—​Bendigo led off well with his left; but Caunt was for close work, and rushing to his man, hit right and left, and grappled, when, catching Bendigo in his arms, he carried him to the ropes, and there held him with such force as almost to deprive him of the power of motion. The spectators, disgusted at this mode of fighting, cried out “Shame!” and exclaimed, “Thou big ugly twoad, dost thou call that foighting? whoy, the little ’un would lick thee and two or three more such if thee’d foight.” Caunt was not, however, disposed to listen to these hints, and stuck to his man like wax, till at last fears were entertained that Bendigo would be strangled, and a cry of “Cut the ropes!” burst from all directions. This suggestion was adopted, and the ropes were instantly cut in two places, when down went both, Caunt uppermost. The mob then rushed to the stakes, and the most dreadful confusion followed—​umpire and referee and all forced into a dense mass. Still the interior of the ring was preserved, and cleared, and an attempt was made to repair the ropes.

From the 14th to the 38th round the greatest confusion prevailed. Bendigo persevered in his getting-down system after he received the charge of Caunt, and popped him in return; he had had enough of Caunt’s embraces, and studiously avoided them.

During this portion of the battle a magistrate made his appearance, if possible to put an end to hostilities, but he was “baying the moon,” and he was forced to retire, no doubt feeling that amidst such a scene the dignity of his office would not be properly vindicated. About the 50th round a wrangle arose from an allegation that Bendigo had kicked Caunt as he lay on the ground. Caunt claimed the fight. An appeal was made to the referee, who declared he saw nothing that was avoidable, and the fight proceeded up to the 75th round, during all which time the crush was overwhelming. Bendigo’s hitting was terrific, but still Caunt was 58 game to the backbone, and although heavily punished, fought with him, and when he caught him gave him the advantage of his “Cornish hug.” Both men were alternately distressed, but the powerful hitting of Bendigo made him a decided favourite; in fact, he showed but little appearance of injury, although he had received some heavy body hits, and was somewhat exhausted by Caunt’s hugging and hanging upon him; still he rallied, and was well on his legs.

In the last round, on “time” being called, both men came ready to the scratch; when Caunt prepared for his rush, Bendigo slipped back, and fell on his nether end, “without a blow.” This all his friends ascribed to a slip, but Molyneaux, the second of Caunt, cried “Foul!” and claimed the battle, evidently anxious to save his man from the “fire.” An appeal was immediately made to the referee, who seemed to be a stranger to the laws of the Ring; and on being enlightened as to the fact of “going down without a blow” being deemed “foul,” he decided that Bendigo had so gone down, on which Molyneaux instantaneously threw up his hat and claimed the battle.

An indescribable row followed, the friends of Bendigo declaring he had gone down from accident, owing to his substitute shoes being without spikes. Bendigo was indignant, and ready to fight, but it was all U.P. Wharton would not throw a chance away, and took his man out of the ring, while Bendigo seized the colours, and in turn claimed a win.

The scene that followed beggars description. Caunt, who was conveyed to his carriage, was brought out to renew the fight; but this he declined, and being placed on a horse, he was pulled off, and but for the protection of his friends would have been roughly handled. He had to walk to Selby, whence he was conveyed back to the “Hawke Arms,” where his wounds were dressed and every attention paid him. He was dreadfully punished, but still strong and vigorous.

The fight lasted one hour and twenty minutes.

No sooner had the astute “Morocco Prince” snatched his verdict, and got his man away, as he was entitled to do, than we discovered, on reentering the ring—​from which we had been glad to retire during the disgraceful disorder that followed the appeal—​that the umpires had never been asked if they differed as to the “foul” at all; in fact, Bendy’s umpire declared he had been separated from the referee and shut out of the ring in the confusion, so that the issue depended upon the judgment of the referee, who, in such an uproar, added to his inexperience, had indeed a most difficult 59 duty to fulfil. Of course, according to the then new practice, a lawyer’s letter was immediately posted to the stakeholder warning him not to part with the stakes until the matter had been thoroughly sifted, as both parties claimed them.

It must be admitted that Bendigo, in the course of this battle, exhibited extraordinary powers of punishment; his hits were terrific, as Caunt’s condition after the battle testified, his head and body being dreadfully shattered, but still, from the specimen thus afforded, we should not regard Bendigo as a fair stand-up fighter; he was shifty, and too much on the get-away-and-get-down system. With Caunt, however, it must be admitted there was every excuse for this course, for with four stone extra to cope with in weight, and six inches in height, it required no common nerve and caution to escape annihilation. Caunt, who claims the “Championship,” is anything but a well-scienced man; he hits at random, and has no idea of self-defence. His great attributes are game and strength, which he possesses in a pre-eminent degree. Throughout the fight there was not a single knock-down blow, which, when Caunt’s length and weight are considered, is the strongest evidence that the big one lacked the gift of hitting at points, or, as John Jackson expressed it, “judging time and distance accurately.” When we look back at the recorded battles of Mendoza, Jackson, Dutch Sam, Gully, and Randall, and remember the fights of Spring, Crawley, and Jem Ward, the pretensions of Caunt to the Championship must point the moral of the Ring’s decline. Pulling, hauling, squeezing, and hugging, the grand offensive manœuvres of Big Ben’s style of boxing, would have been scouted as a disgrace to all but pitmen, navvies, and provincial “roughs.”

Bendigo, after the battle, proceeded to Selby, where he remained for the night. He appeared little the worse for the encounter, so far as hitting was concerned. The only marks of punishment were a flush under the right eye, a swelling under the left ear, some marks of hits on the lower part of the right shoulder-blade, and sundry excoriations and abrasions of the cuticle, bearing full evidence of the severe squeezing and scrapings on the ropes inflicted by the Bruin-like hugs of his huge antagonist. To us Bendigo expressed his readiness to meet his giant opponent “anywhere, anyhow, on any terms—​to-morrow, next week, or next month, anything to accommodate the big chucklehead”—​which, as we afterwards knew, was Bendy’s uncomplimentary but characteristic epithet, not only in speaking of, but in personally addressing, his gigantic rival.


Much correspondence of the “’fending and proving” order followed this debateable conclusion. Mr. Lockwood, the referee, however, declared his adherence to his “decision that Bendigo went down without a blow,” and thereupon the stakeholder handed over the battle money to Caunt, with the observation:—​“The referee’s decision must be upheld, and if in his judgment Bendigo went down (he says, ‘in fact, fell to avoid’), then, whatever might have been his chances—​and it is admitted he had the best of the battle—​Caunt is entitled to the stakes, and pro tem. to the title of ‘Champion.’” The next week Bendy was as good as his word, for articles were entered into for a third meeting, for £100 a side, to come off on the 30th of July; but when £40 a side had been deposited, a forfeit took place, under the following circumstances:—

The “Deaf ’un,” as Jem Burke was usually called, had returned from America, in the height of his popularity, and his challenges to “any man in or out of England,” especially “Mister Bendy,” proved too strong a “red herring” across the trail for the Nottingham hero to resist, so he forfeited £40 cash down, to grasp at what proved, for a time, a fleeting shadow, as the Deaf ’un, after his challenge and its acceptance, went on a Parisian tour (see the Life of Bendigo, ante, p. 12); and it was not until Shrove Tuesday (Feb. 12th), 1839, that Bendigo and Burke had their “cock-shy,” at Appleby, and Bendigo thereafter received a much disputed “belt” from Jem Ward at Liverpool.

The remainder of 1838, and the whole of 1839, passed without Caunt sporting his colours in the lists. In August, 1840, we find our old friend Ned Painter, at Norwich, and honest fat Peter Crawley, in London, made the channels of the challenges of Brassey and of Caunt. Ned Painter writes thus, on the last day of July:—

Mr. Editor,—​In answer to an observation made in last week’s paper, that ‘providing Brassey’s friends will sustain their promises,’ allow me to say that ‘corn,’ not ‘chaff,’ is the answer of Brassey to Caunt. Brassey went to Liverpool to make the match with Hampson; when he arrived there neither man nor money was to be seen. When Caunt challenged the whole world, Brassey and his friends accepted the challenge, and to meet Caunt’s wish, sent £25 to Tom Spring a week previous to the day appointed. I went myself on the very day, but Caunt and his party were invisible. If Caunt means a fight, and not a farce, he must go to Leeds or come to Norwich, and match at his own expense this time, as neither Brassey nor myself were allowed even the £2 for expenses promised. I am, Mr. Editor, for work, not mere words or wind.


“Norwich, July 30th, 1840.”

To which Peter Crawley thus practically replied on behalf of Caunt:—

Sir,—​My having placed £25 in your hands will, I hope, remove all doubt as regards Caunt’s money being ready; and it remains with the friends of Brassey alone to appoint a day, either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday week, through the medium of your paper, to meet at my house, to draw up articles and put down their dust; and unless this be attended 61 to, for my part I shall consider they do not mean business. I have taken the responsibility on myself of detaining the money a little longer; that would give Brassey time to join his friends at Norwich, which, I understand, is all that prevents the match being made now.

 “I am, &c., “P. CRAWLEY,

“‘Queen’s Head and French Horn,’
Duke Street, West Smithfield.

“August 21st, 1840.”

All difficulties were now smoothed, and a match for £100 a side was made, to be decided on the 26th October, 1840. As the deposits were made good, and the day approached, the interest in sporting circles rose to an intense height, and at the last deposit Tom Spring’s “Castle” was literally stormed by eager crowds.

As a relief from these prosaic matter-of-fact proceedings, we will here enliven our page with a few rhymes in the shape of—


To thee I send these lines, illustrious Caunt!
Of courage tried, and huge as John of Gaunt,
To thee my foolscap with black ink I blot,
To tell the big ’un Brassey fears him not,
And that in battle, should the fates allow,
He means to snatch the laurels from his brow,
At all his boasted pluck and prowess smile,
And give him pepper in superior style.
Yes, gallant Caunt, next Tuesday will declare
If you or I the Champion’s belt shall wear;
And be assured, regardless of the tin,
I’ll go to work, and do my best to win,
Prove that in fight one Briton can surpass ye,
And if you ask his name, I thunder—​Brassey!
What proof of milling prowess did you show
In your two scrambling fights with Bendigo?
When of your foeman’s punishment aware,
You roughly squeezed him like a polar bear,
Nearly extinguished in his lungs the breath,
And almost hugged him in your arms to death—
Such a base system I pronounce humbugging;
Don’t call it fighting, Caunt, I call it hugging,
And if bold Brassey with that game you tease,
The bear may soon be minus of his grease,
And for a practice cowardly as foul,
Receive a lesson that may make him growl.
But bounce I bar—​plain dealing is my plan,
And in the ring I’ll meet you man to man,
And do, most certainly, the best I can.
May no base beak, or trap with aspect rude,
Upon a comfortable mill intrude—
A mill between not enemies, but friends,
And upon which a lot of blunt depends;
A mill, I trust, which, as in days of yore,
Will honest fighting to the ring restore;
A mill which, whosoe’er may win the same,
Will show the British boxer’s genuine game,
Unkind aspersions on the Fancy crush,
And put accurs’d knife-practice to the blush—
A practice which, with bold and fearless face,
In bloody letters stamps our land’s disgrace!
But let that pass, while we, like boxers bold,
Shall manly contest in the ring uphold,
And settle matters, not with slaughtering knives,
But well-braced muscles and a bunch of fives.
What tho’ in battle with some Fancy lad
An ogle should in mourning suit be clad?
What tho’ profusion of straightforward knocks
Should for a while confuse the knowledge box?
Why, these are trifles which a cur may scare,
But teach good men hard punishment to bear;
And as they pass this earthly region thro’,
All men will have a clumsy thump or two,
And there’s no doubt ’twill lessen their complaining
To meet hard knocks to get them into training;
But Time, my worthy, warns me to desist,
So for awhile farewell, my man of fist;
Of your conceit on Tuesday I will strip ye—
On Tuesday next “I meet you at Philippi;”
Till then believe me resolute and saucy,
A foe without one hostile feeling—

Six Mile Bottom, Cambridgeshire, distinguished in former times by the contests of dons of the olden school, under the patronage of men of the highest rank in the kingdom, was named. Although inferior in stamp and action to bygone heroes, the present competitors were not less great in their own estimation, and certainly quite as great in bulk—​for Caunt stood 6ft. 2in., and weighed 14st. 7lb., and Brassey, two inches shorter, weighed 12st. 1lb. (a standard which, according to the best judges, is sufficient for all useful purposes in the P. R., all beyond that being deemed surplusage). In point of age they were pretty much upon a par, and in the prime of life, Caunt having been born in March, 1815, and Brassey in the month of January in the same year.

The opinion of Bendigo as to the merits of the two men was naturally sought, and he, without hesitation, gave the “palm” to Brassey, whom he pronounced the better tactician, if not the gamer man. As provincial champions they were held in high estimation—​Brassey at Leeds, Bradford, and those districts, and Caunt at Nottingham, Sheffield, and the surrounding country. In London, however, their pretensions as scientific men were viewed with little favour—​and, in fact, in that respect their acquirements were but of an inferior character—​as their sparring displays with the accomplished Tom Spring sufficiently demonstrated. Still, although “rough,” they were deemed “ready,” and a slashing fight was anticipated.

Brassey went into training under the auspices of Ned Painter, of Norwich, and Caunt claimed the attention of “the Infant” (Peter Crawley), by whom he was placed “at nurse” in the neighbourhood of Hatfield. More competent mentors could not have been selected; and all that judgment 63 and good advice could effect was accomplished—​for it was impossible for men to have been brought to the “post” in better condition, or with a stronger feeling of personal confidence. The articles specified that the belligerent meeting was to take place halfway between Norwich and London, but by mutual consent (although Crawley won the toss for choice) the locality we have mentioned was eventually agreed upon—​thus combining a double object of attraction—​the mill and the races—​and being alike convenient to the training quarters of the combatants.

On Monday both men neared the point of rendezvous, Brassey being installed at the “Queen Victoria,” Newmarket, and Caunt at Littlebury, in Essex.

In the former town, too, the Commissary had lodged his matériel as early as Saturday, being provided with new and substantial stakes for the purpose—​a precaution which the herculean proportions of the men rendered judicious.

As on all these occasions the betting was influenced by local prejudices; and while at Leeds, Bradford, and their vicinities, the “Yorkshire tyke” (Brassey) was the favourite at five to four, in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newmarket, and London Caunt had the call at six and seven to four, and finally at two to one and five to two, at which price large sums were laid out.

With a view to prevent interruption, and to gratify the “sporting nobs” of Newmarket, it was stipulated in the articles that the men should be in the ring between eight and nine o’clock a.m.—​an arrangement which proved most judicious, although it shut out a numerous class to whom early rising and long trots of an autumnal morning are not agreeable. The whisper, which was anything but soft, of the forthcoming event, soon extended far and wide; and the arrivals from distant quarters at Newmarket proved that the office had been very extensively circulated and promptly obeyed—​as the unusual muster of fighting nobs on Newmarket Heath, on the Monday, including all the élite of the corps pugilistique, sufficiently evinced. During the night the contributions from the provinces increased; all the coaches passing through the town were loaded, and the clatter of fresh arrivals in various equipages proved the interest which had been excited.

Unfortunately a fine day had been succeeded by a night of heavy rain, and the drenched appearance of the early birds, as they shook their feathers, fully sustained the established rule that there are few human 64 amusements without alloy, or, as Sir G. Cornewall Lewis philosophically put it, “Life would be tolerable were it not for its pleasures.” Still, among the Fancy, these vicissitudes were of little moment, and were submitted to with becoming philosophy. The morning was not more propitious than the night, but there was, nevertheless, no lack of bustle in Newmarket; in fact, hundreds were seen in busy preparation for “the start,” and vehicles of every description were called into requisition, while all classes, from the Corinthian to the humble stable-boy, were full of lively anticipation. The troop of equestrians which went forth showed the excitement that prevailed, while the carriages, gigs, and carts which followed produced a cheerful commotion in the direction of the appointed fixture, which was about six miles from the town.

A hostile declaration of a reverend parson of Cheveley, on the Monday, led to an apprehension that an interruption was not unlikely. Indeed, we believe it was intended, but happily his reverence, by some unfortunate accident, was put on the wrong scent, and proceeded in an opposite direction, towards the borders of Suffolk, where, attended by a posse of special constables, he waited with creditable patience for the expected arrival of the “misdoers.” He watched, however, in vain; in the interim the belligerents had settled their differences elsewhere, to his infinite mortification, as well as to the imminent danger of his health, from so long and unprofitable an exposure to the warring elements. On his return to Cheveley, his forlorn aspect induced strong expressions of commiseration; but we are inclined to doubt the sincerity of those by whom they were uttered, who obviously thought the worthy divine should not have forgotten the old maxim, “Charity begins at home,” where, in all probability, he would have found abundant opportunity for the exercise of his Christian virtues without wasting them idly on the “desert air.”

An agreement having been made that both men should be in the ring precisely at eight o’clock, by that hour the lists were completed, and were quickly surrounded by the coming throng, who formed a circle of ample dimensions round the all-important arena, which every moment increased in density, and included in its motley features several foreigners of distinction; a large contribution from the University of Cambridge (who came in style in drags and fours, all “lighted up” in such profusion that many were disposed to think, from the halo of smoke which fumed from their fragrant havannahs, an engine had broken loose from some distant railroad); a vast concourse of the Turf aristocracy, and not a few of the 65 right sort, who had posted from London to participate in the amusements of the day. The remainder, to the extent of 2,000 or 3,000, was of that mingled character which it would be difficult to particularise, many of them being so disguised in their north-westers and storm-defying protectors as to give them the advantage of perfect incognito, combined with personal protection. We did hear of a stray magistrate or two being present, yet for this we cannot vouch; but we must remark, if the fact were so, it showed their good sense. This we do know, that one or two proved by their conduct “none are so blind as those who will not see;” and upon the appearance of the parson of Cheveley at the magisterial divan in Newmarket on the same day, after the fight, to deplore the hoax of which he had been made the victim, his vicissitudes produced a good deal of fun, and not a little commendation of the ingenious concocter of the “secret despatch” to which he had fallen so simple a victim.

Brassey was first on the ground; and as the rain fell in torrents impatience was manifested for the arrival of Caunt. Unhappily, however, he did not reach the cheerless scene till within five minutes of nine. Come he did, however, at last, and the thrill of pleasure soon dissipated the melancholy forebodings of disappointment; for it was feared that Brassey would have been allowed to walk over the course and claim forfeit. An inner circle of the privileged was soon formed by those who chose to “qualify” by taking out “certificates” at 5s. each from the Commissary. For the accommodation of these a quantity of straw had been spread a few yards from the ring, but such was its saturated state, from the continued rain, that it afforded little protection, and carriage seats and gig cushions were in general request, often with little regard to the laws of meum and tuum. Never was the modern invention of waterproof wrappers more prized; and when we witnessed the aristocratic groups thus recklessly reposing on the slimy soil we could not withhold the expression of our delight at finding the spirit of olden times still unsubdued, notwithstanding the inroads of pantilers and teetotallers. We recognised among the mass many old soldiers, who good-humouredly remarked it was but a memento of the past, and reminded their young friends the time might not be far distant when even such inconvenience would be a luxury compared with what they would have to endure in maintaining the fear-nought reputation of John Bull on the “tented field.” Beyond the privileged stood rows of perpendicular spectators, and behind them again were the carriages and other vehicles, covered with not less anxious gazers.


At last, soon after nine o’clock, the heroes of the day made their appearance; Caunt under the care of Peter Crawley, and attended by Dick Curtis and a Liverpool friend as bottle-holder and second; Brassey escorted by Ned Painter, and officially accompanied by Jem Hall and Johnny Broome. On entering the lists Caunt, who wore a large Welsh wig, approached Brassey, and offered to lay him a private bet on the issue of the contest; but Brassey regarded this as a piece of bounce, and turned from him. The umpires and referee having been chosen, the yellowmen—​for both sported the same colours—​were tied to the stake, and all prepared for action. On stripping, the gigantic frame of Caunt struck the uninitiated with surprise. His superior height and weight left no room for nice calculations, and the fate of his adversary was already foretold; his broad back and muscular developments had a most formidable aspect, while his long arms and proportionate supporters showed him as a giant among pigmies, in which light Dick Curtis, and some of his little friends who stood beside him, could alone be regarded. There was, however, something ungainly in his huge frame, and more of awkwardness than symmetry in his configuration. Brassey, although less, was still “a man for a’ that,” and if not in juxtaposition with such a Goliath would have been regarded as an excellent specimen of the Grenadier fraternity. His figure was muscular and his limbs well knit, exhibiting appearances of strength and vigour not to be despised, while his mug displayed fearless determination. The preliminaries having been adjusted, at twenty-five minutes after nine “business” commenced.


Round 1.—​No sooner had the seconds retired to their corners, on leaving the men at the scratch, than Caunt rushed to his man and threw out his arms, left and right, with the quickness and vigour of a just-started windmill; his kind intentions were, however, evaded, and he missed his blows, especially a terrific upper-cut with his right, which, had it reached its destination, would have “told a tale.” Brassey in like manner was wild, and missed his blows, but finding Caunt closing upon him, he hit up with his right, and on closing instantly went down.

2.—​Caunt again hit out left and right, but without precision. He made his right slightly on Brassey’s nob, when the latter rattled in left and right, like Caunt, missing, and again went down. It was pretty obvious that Brassey was fearful of the Russian hug of ursa major, and had made up his mind to the falling system, which, however obnoxious to the spectators, was evidently his only safe game.

3.—​“Steady,” cried Dick, “and hit straight.” Caunt led off right and left, and succeeded in planting his left on Brassey’s forehead, but he had it in return. Brassey got to him and delivered a tremendous left-hander on his cheek, and was as quick with his right on his nozzle; the claret flew in abundance, and the big ’un was posed. He hit out wild, left and right, and missed, while Brassey got down. (Loud cheers for Brassey. The spectators were electrified by the effect of these blows. A gaping wound ornamented Caunt’s right cheek, and his nose emitted the purple fluid, which Dick quickly mopped up with his sponge.) This decided the first event—​first blood for Brassey. (The Cauntites looking queer.)

4.—​Caunt came up by no means improved in beauty. He led on as before, wild left and right; but his deliveries wanted precision. Brassey fought with him, but, like sticks in an Irish row, their arms were the 67 only receivers, and little mischief was done. Brassey got down grinning.

5.—​Caunt planted his left on Brassey’s eye, but missed his right, which, had it reached its destination, would have been a poser. It went over Brassey’s shoulder. Brassey, finding he could not well stand the overwhelming rush of his antagonist, got down.

6.—​Brassey popped in his left, and escaping the visitation of Caunt’s left and right, pursued his tumbling system, while Caunt laughed, and pointed at him with contempt.

7.—​Caunt, more successful, caught Brassey left and right on the nob, when Brassey went down, but Caunt’s blows did not seem to tell.

8.—​Caunt delivered his left and right, but so wildly as to be ineffective, and Brassey went down, throwing up his legs and knees in the rebound.

9.—​Caunt, as usual, opened the ball with a wild rush right and left, catching Brassey on the forehead with his right. Brassey hit left and right, but was stopped, and went down, Caunt with difficulty escaping treading on him as he stepped over him.

10, 11, 12.—​All of the same character, Caunt doing no great execution, and Brassey invariably getting down.

13.—​Caunt hit out of distance with his right, when Brassey caught him on the smeller with his left, again drawing his cork. Caunt, stung, hit out heavily with his right, and caught Brassey on the back of the ear. Brassey went down.

14.—​Caunt, the first to fight, planted his right on Brassey’s left eye; Brassey fell. (First knock-down blow claimed, but doubtful, as the ground became inconveniently slippery.)

15.—​Caunt missed one of his tremendous right-hand lunges, and Brassey went down.

16.—​Caunt dropped heavily with his right on Brassey’s ribs, who fought wildly, but again caught Caunt with the left on his damaged cheek; more blood, and Brassey down.

17.—​Brassey in with his right on Caunt’s ogle, and went down.

18.—​Caunt, in his wild rush, hit Brassey left and right on the pimple, and on his going down, as he stepped over him, scraped his forehead with his shoe, peeling off a trifle of the bark.

19.—​Caunt, more steady, planted his left on Brassey’s dexter peeper, and hit him clean down with his right. (First knock-down blow unequivocally declared for Caunt.)

20.—​Caunt delivered his left heavily on Brassey’s snout, and his right on the side of his head. Brassey made play, but missed, and went down. On being lifted on his second’s knee, he bled from mouth and nose.

[The friends of Caunt, who had been silent up to this, regarding the issue of the battle anything but certain, now again opened their potato traps, and offered 2 to 1, which was taken.]

21.—​Caunt delivered another heavy body blow with his right, which made a sounding echo. Brassey rushed to a close, and clung with his legs around Caunt’s thighs. Caunt tried to hold him up with his left while he hit with his right, but he found this impossible, and flung him down with contempt. It was here clear that if once Brassey suffered himself to be grasped in a punishable position by his opponent it would be all over.

22, 23, 24, and 25 were all pretty much in the same style—​the hitting wild and ineffective, Brassey either clinging to his man or throwing himself down.

26.—​Another heavy blow on the ribs from Caunt’s right told smartly on Brassey’s corporation. Brassey attempted to close, but Caunt threw him heavily with his head on the ground.

27, 28, 29.—​Not much done, Brassey going down every round, after slight and wild exchanges.

30.—​Caunt hit Brassey down with one of his swinging right-handed hits on the side of his head, which made his left eye twinkle again. (3 to 1 offered and taken on Caunt.)

In the next three rounds there were some heavy exchanges left and right, but Brassey pursued his falling tactics.

34.—​Tremendous counter-hitting with the right, and equally heavy exchanges with the left. Both down on their knees, from the stunning severity of the deliveries. (Caunt’s beauty improving. A splendid likeness of the “Saracen’s Head” without his wig.)

35.—​Again did Caunt nail his man on the nose with his left, and the claret came forth freely.

From this to the 53rd round there were some heavy exchanges left and right. To all appearance, the punishment was most severe on Caunt’s face, whose left cheek was cut, as well as his right, but the heavy deliveries on the left side of Brassey’s head, as well as his ribs, had evidently weakened him, although he still came up as game as a pebble. In his frequent falls, Caunt occasionally could not avoid falling on him, and his weight was no trifling addition to his other punishment. It is but just to state, however, that Caunt fought in a fair and manly style, and avoided everything like unfair advantage.

In the 55th round the ground became so muddy that the men, from fighting in the centre of the ring, could scarcely keep their legs, and Brassey went down without a blow. This was claimed, but rejected by the referee, who cautioned him, however, against giving such another chance away.

56.—​Caunt planted his left heavily on Brassey’s winker, but Brassey, in return, hit him on the jaw with his right, and making up his mind for further mischief, repeated the blow with terrific effect a little 68 below the same spot, Caunt countering at the same moment, and with the same hand. The collision was dreadful—​both fell in opposite directions—​Caunt as if shot by a twenty-four pounder, end Brassey all abroad.

Here was a decided change; Caunt was evidently unconscious, and was with difficulty held on his second’s knee. His head rolled like a turtle in convulsions. Curtis, however, steadied his tremulous pimple, administered a slight dash of water, and on “time” being called he was enabled to go to the scratch, but with such groggy indications that we doubt whether he knew if he was on his head or his heels.

57.—​Brassey now endeavoured to improve his advantage, but instead of steadily waiting to give his man the coup de grace, he rushed in, and bored Caunt through the ropes, and he fell on his back, while the force of Brassey’s fall on him was stayed by his own chin being caught by the upper rope, on which he hung for a moment.

58.—​Caunt recovered a little, but Brassey again rushed in, hitting left and right, and in the struggle both down, Brassey uppermost.

59.—​Caunt steadied himself, and went in to fight. Some heavy exchanges followed, and Brassey went down, but Caunt was far from firm on his pins. It was now seen that Caunt’s right hand, from its repeated visits to Brassey’s head and ribs, was much swollen; his left, too, showed the effects of repeated contact with the physog. of his antagonist. This, in the following rounds, led to a good deal of contention, on the ground that Caunt had unfair substances in his hand; but he showed it was only paper, and threw it away, although entitled to the use of any soft material to steady his grasp.

The rounds which followed, to the 100th, offered but little variety; both men became gradually exhausted, and it required all the care and encouragement of their partisans to rouse them to action. Each was assured that victory smiled upon him, and that it only required another effort to make all safe. Brassey came up manfully round after round; but although he occasionally stopped and hit, the pops of his opponent, who now and then saved him the trouble of falling by hitting him down, told with increasing effect. Caunt repeatedly tried to hold him in the closes, with the view of fibbing; but Brassey was too leary, and got down without this additional proof of kind intention. In some of his tumbles, however, Caunt fell heavily on him, and once more, in trying to evade him, scraped his foot on his nose, a casualty almost unavoidable from his sudden prostrations.

The weakness of Brassey gradually increased, while Caunt evidently got stronger on his legs; and although his right hand was gone, he continued to hit with it. He was entreated to use his left, which he did three times in succession in one round on Brassey’s muzzle, till he dropped him. Such was the prejudice in favour of Brassey, however, from the vigour with which he occasionally rallied, that it was still hoped he might make a turn in his favour, and if encouraging shouts would have effected that object, he was not without stentorian friends. Caunt, too, had his anxious attendants; and all that cheering could do to rouse his spirits was heartily afforded him.

From the 90th to the 100th round poor Brassey came up weak on his legs, and either fell or was hit down, but to the last made a manly struggle against superior strength and weight. In the 100th round Broome said he should fight no more, and Crawley stepped into the ring to claim the battle; he was, however, called out, and Brassey came up once more, but he was incapable of prolonged exertion, and being hit down with a right-handed smack on the head, he reluctantly submitted to the calls of his friends to give in, and all was over. Caunt was proclaimed the conqueror, after fighting one hundred and one rounds, in one hour and thirty minutes.

Remarks.—​We have seldom recorded a fight in which we experienced more difficulty to render the details interesting. It will be seen that in ninety minutes one hundred rounds were fought, deducting the half-minute time, often prolonged to nearly a minute by mutual delay in coming to the “scratch” when “time” was called; therefore, the average time occupied by each round did not much exceed twenty seconds. There was no attempt at stopping (except in a few instances by Brassey), nor any of those scientific manœuvres which give interest to such an exhibition. Caunt was invariably the first to fight, but led off with nothing like precision, repeatedly missing his blows and upper cuts, many of which, had they told, might have been conclusive. Brassey seemed to be fully aware of this mode of assault, and generally waited till he got within Caunt’s guard, and thus succeeded in administering heavy punishment. This point once gained he lost no time in getting down, feeling quite confident that in close contact he would not have had a chance. This, although far from a popular mode of contest, is certainly excusable considering the inequality of the men in height and weight, and the only surprise is that the lesser man should have endured so much before he cried “enough.” The repeated visitations to his ribs from Caunt’s right, or “sledge-hammer,” were searching in the extreme, and led to the belief that three of his ribs had been broken, although subsequent examination proved that he was only labouring under the effects of severe contusions and inward bruises. In like manner the right-handed deliveries behind his left ear, on the ear itself, and on the left eye and jaw, as well as the left-handed jobs, were so far from jocular that we were not 69 surprised the vis comica had ceased to be displayed on his “dial,” and when to these visitations are added his repeated falls, with the weight of Caunt occasionally superadded to his own, and this in such rapid succession, the only surprise is he should have held out so long. Caunt in his modus operandi evinced a sad ignorance of the art. Like the yokels of old before the principles of mechanism were discovered, he has to learn the proper application of his strength, of which, did he possess the requisite knowledge, he might bid defiance not only to such a man as Brassey, but even to the caperings of an avalanche. He is not, like most men of his size, slow—​on the contrary, he is too quick; and for the want of judicious deliberation, like a runaway steam-engine without a controlling engineer, he over-shoots his mark. This, if it be possible, he ought to correct, and while he husbands his strength, where he does apply it, he should measure not only his distance but the tactics of his opponent. Had he waited for his man, instead of leading off with a rush, he must have brought Brassey down every round, for nothing could resist the force of his heavy metal if properly applied. Strange as it may appear, on examining both men on Wednesday morning, the punishment on the part of Caunt was greater than that of Brassey, and viewing both frontispieces and saying, “Look on this picture, and on this,” our opinion would have been, “Caunt has received the greater and more effective punishment.” Added to this, his hands, and especially the right, were essentially hors de combat, while Brassey’s were uninjured. Upon the whole, therefore, although Caunt is the victor, and entitled to praise, Brassey, as the vanquished, deserves almost an equal degree of credit, if not of profit. That this is the feeling of others was demonstrated at Newmarket after the battle, for there was not only £30 collected for him by voluntary contributions, but a promise of still more liberal consideration was held out, and in the end fulfilled.

On the Monday following, at Peter Crawley’s, “Duke’s Head,” Smithfield, the battle money was paid over to Caunt, in the presence of an overflowing muster of the patrons of British boxing. Brassey was present, and confessed himself fairly conquered. A subscription was made to console him for his honourable defeat, and £40 presented to him as a reward for his valiant conduct, some merriment being excited by one of the donations being announced as from “the parson of Cheveley.”

Caunt, in a short speech, stated that he once again claimed the “Championship of England,” and was ready to make, then and there, a match for £100 a side with any man, to fight within fifty miles of London. Nick Ward, he added, had challenged him, and “he hoped he had pluck enough to prove that his challenge was not mere bounce.”

Jem Ward lost no time in responding to Caunt’s remarks on his brother Nick, as follows:—

Mr. Editor,—​The friends of Nick Ward have consulted, and consider (as his efforts in the Ring have been but few, and as you, whose judgment, from long experience, is entitled to great weight, have expressed an opinion that Nick Ward would never be a first-rate man) that Caunt, who lays claim to the Championship, should, as a set-off to his superiority of weight and position, give odds to make a match. Nick Ward, without bouncing, is willing to fight Caunt if he will deposit £150 to Ward’s £100.


“Star Hotel, Williamson Square, Liverpool.
 “November 12th, 1840.”

The preliminaries were arranged without delay, and at Caunt’s benefit, at the Bloomsbury Assembly Rooms, in the following week, a deposit was made, and the next week articles drawn for the men to fight for £100 a side, within two months, not more than sixty miles from London.


On February 2nd, 1841, in the seventh round and twelfth minute of the fight, Caunt lost this battle by delivering a foul blow under irritation of feeling at the shifty tactics of his opponent. (See Life of Nick Ward, post.)

Of course the matter could not rest thus—​that is, if, as many surmised would not be the case, “brother Nick” could muster courage to face once again his gigantic opponent.

In pursuance of appointment, Caunt and his friends met Nick Ward and Co. at Young Dutch Sam’s, the “Black Lion,” Vinegar Yard, Brydges Street, on Thursday, the 18th of February, 1841, to draw up articles, which set forth that—

“The said Benjamin Caunt agrees to fight the said Nick Ward a fair stand-up fight, in a four-and-twenty-foot roped ring, half-minute time, according to the New Rules, for one hundred pounds a side, half-way between London and Liverpool; the place to be decided by toss at the last deposit; neither place to exceed twenty miles from the direct line of road, unless mutually agreed upon to the contrary. The fight to take place on Tuesday, the 11th of May. In pursuance of this agreement twenty pounds a side are now deposited. A second deposit of ten pounds a side to be made on Thursday, the 25th inst., at Mr. Swain’s, the ‘Greyhound,’ Woodside, Hatfield. A third deposit of ten pounds a side at the ‘Black Lion,’ Vinegar Yard, on Thursday, the 4th of March. A fourth deposit of ten pounds a side at the ‘Bell,’ Hatfield, on Thursday, the 11th of March. A fifth deposit of ten pounds a side at the ‘Black Lion’ aforesaid, on Thursday, the 18th of March. A sixth deposit of ten pounds a side at the ‘Cherry Tree,’ Kingsland Road, on Thursday, the 25th of March. A seventh deposit of ten pounds a side at Jem Ward’s, Williamson Square, Liverpool, on Thursday, the 1st of April. An eighth deposit of ten pounds a side at the Castle Tavern, Holborn, on Thursday, the 8th of April; and the ninth and last deposit of ten pounds a side at Young Dutch Sam’s, the ‘Black Lion,’ Vinegar Yard, on Thursday, the 22nd of April. The said deposits to be made between the hours of eight and ten o’clock, or the party failing to forfeit the money down. The men to be in the ring between twelve and one o’clock, or at an early hour if mutually agreed upon, or the money down to be forfeited by the party absent. Two umpires and a referee to be chosen on the ground; the decision of the latter, in the event of dispute, to be conclusive. In case of magisterial interference the stakeholder to name the next time and place of meeting, unless a referee shall have been chosen, to whom that duty shall be assigned. The fight to come off on the same day if possible; but the money not to be given up till fairly won or lost by a fight. The ropes and stakes to be paid for by the men, share and share alike. Neither man to use resin or other powder to his hands during the combat. The party winning the toss for choice of place to name the ground seven days before fighting to the backers of the party losing the toss.”

The parties, after signing, shook hands with great good humour, and joined in drinking the general toast, “May the best man win!” Caunt expressed much mortification at the assertion which he said had been made that the cause of his loss of the late fight was attributable to design rather than accident. He protested that he acted from the ungovernable impulse of the moment, irritated by Ward’s going down at the moment he was within his reach. He said, further, that he would profit by his experience, and be specially careful to avoid a similar “accident.” The backers of Ward offered to take six to four on the issue; but odds were refused.


The deposits duly made, Young Dutch Sam, who acted on Nick Ward’s behalf, won the toss for choice of ground, and named Stratford-on-Avon for the place of meeting. The selection of Shakespeare’s birthplace proved judicious, as the proceedings from first to last passed off without interruption. We may perhaps note that one inducement of Ward to the choice of Stratford-on-Avon might be that there, in July, 1831, his brother Jem closed his brilliant career by defeating Simon Byrne at Willycuts, three miles from the town.

Caunt reached Stratford on Monday afternoon, in company of Tom Spring, and made the “Red Horse” his resting-place. Nick Ward, accompanied by his brother, put up at the “White Lion.” Every inn in the place was crammed to overflowing, and many who were unable to procure beds at any price returned to Warwick or Leamington, and some even to Coventry, necessitating a return journey the next morning. We must, in justice to the many followers of the four-square Ring, state that the utmost order and regularity prevailed in the town throughout the evening, and that hilarity, joviality, and good temper prevailed among the partisans of both men, a fact which we would commend to electors and political factions.

All were astir early, and there was a strong muster of Corinthians of the first water—​indeed, the “upper crust” was unusually well represented by numerous hunting men from the “shires,” who, by liberal expenditure, gave the good, hospitable fellow-townsmen of the immortal Will every reason to be grateful for the selection which had been made; and they, on their part, showed their sense of the obligation conferred by their civility and the moderation of their charges.

The scene of action was in a field at Long Marsden, on a farm belonging to a Mr. Pratt; and thither the Commissary proceeded to make his arrangements, and thither also the immense cavalcade of equestrians and charioteers, as well as innumerable groups of pedestrians, took their way in due time. On the last occasion the unlucky “footpads” were thrown out entirely, but on this they had undoubtedly the best of it, for they, by means of short cuts and familiar paths, shortened their pleasant journey, while those who were on four legs—​or worse, on wheels—​were compelled to scramble and jolt over roads of the most villainous description, in which the most imminent risks of spills or a break-down were only avoided by care and good luck. In fact, many of those who endured the miseries of both roads declared, that the sixteen miles between the Andover road and 72 Crookham Common, with all its horrors, was surpassed by the shorter journey from Stratford to Long Marsden.

The spot was admirably selected, and the ropes and stakes pitched upon a piece of sound, elastic turf that delighted the cognoscenti. The immense multitude, as they arrived, arranged themselves in a most orderly, methodical manner. The day was beautiful, the country around green, fresh, and odoriferous with the blossoms of the may. Everything was conducted in a style to ensure general satisfaction.

Caunt made his appearance first, with an oddly assorted pair of seconds as ever handled a champion in the P.R. They were old Ben Butler, his uncle, well known in after times in the parlour of the “Coach and Horses;” a man well stricken in years, and a cross-grained old curmudgeon to boot. With him appeared Atkinson, of Nottingham, a 9½ stone man, whose disparity of size with the man he was supposed to pick up excited the risibility of old ring-goers. Benjamin himself, however, seemed particularly well satisfied, and remarked laughingly, in reply to a jocose observation of a bystander, “Never thee mind—​I’m not goin’ to tummle down; he’s big enow for me!” Had the fight which ensued been of the desperate character of Ben’s late encounter with Brassey, the ill-assorted pair could about as much have carried Colossus Caunt to his corner as they could have carried the Achilles in Hyde Park. Nick had with him, as on the former occasion, Harry Holt and Dick Curtis, certainly the two ablest counsellors on the Midland, Northern, or any other Circuit. Tom Spring, who was in friendly attendance upon Caunt, addressed an emphatic warning to the big one to keep his temper, cautioning him not to play into the hands of his opponent by allowing himself to be irritated by his shifty dodges. Caunt listened with a grim, self-satisfied smile, and nodded his head, as much as to say he was not going to be caught this time. Each man, in reply to a question, declared he “never felt better in his life,” and their looks justified the assertion. Caunt was a little “finer drawn” than at their previous meeting, and weighed, when stripped, exactly 14st. 6lb. He never went to scale so light before—​indeed, it was not an excessive weight for a big-boned man measuring 6 feet 2½ inches. He had, however, a narrow escape in his training, for, on the Sunday week previous, in his walking exercise, he trod on a stone, and turned his foot aside with such suddenness as to strain the muscles of his leg and ankle so severely that he was unable to walk for several days, exciting the serious apprehensions of his friends; with rest and constant surgical care, however, he overcame the 73 mischief, and was as well as ever. Ward looked to us a trifle too fleshy. He weighed 13st. 6lb., 10lb. more than when he fought in February.

Some time previously a subscription had been raised to produce a “Champion’s Belt,” to be given to the victor on this occasion, and to be hereafter transferable, should he retire from the Ring or be beaten by a more successful candidate for fistic honours. This belt, under the superintendence of a committee, was completed, and now for the first time was held forth as an additional incitement to bravery and good conduct. Previous to the commencement of the battle, Cicero Holt, the well-known orator of the Ring, and second of Nick Ward, approached the scratch, and silence being called, held up the belt, pronouncing that in addition to the stakes this trophy had been prepared by a number of liberal gentlemen, as a spur to the honest and manly feeling which it was desirable should ever pervade the minds of men who sought distinction in the Prize Ring. “Honour and fair play,” it was their opinion, should be the motto of English boxers, and it would be their proud gratification to see this belt girded round the loins of him, whoever he might be, who entitled himself in spirit and principle to the terms of that motto. They were influenced by neither favour nor affection, nor by prejudice of any kind; all they desired was that the best man might win, wear this trophy, and retain it so long as he was enabled to maintain the high and distinguished title of Champion of England. On resigning, or being stripped of the laurels of Championship, it would then be his duty to transfer this proud badge to his more fortunate successor, and thus a prize would be established which it would ever be the pride of gallant Englishmen to possess, and its brightness, he trusted, would never be tarnished by an act of dishonour. It was to be finally presented, he said, when complete, at a dinner to be given at Jem Burn’s, where the subscription originated, on Monday, the 31st instant.

The belt was then exhibited to the gaze of the curious; it is composed of purple velvet, and lined with leather; in the centre are a pair of clasped hands surrounded by a wreath of the Rose, the Thistle, and the Shamrock, entwined in embossed silver; on each side of this are three shields of bright silver, at present without inscription, but on these are to be engraven the names of all the Champions of England which the records of the Fancy preserve, to conclude with the name of the conqueror on the present occasion. The clasps in front are formed of two hands encased in sparring-gloves. It is due to state that this belt is altogether very beautifully executed, and highly creditable to the motives and good feeling to 74 which its origin is attributable. Its inspection afforded general pleasure, and the oration of “Cicero” was received with loud cheers. Caunt, on taking it in his hand, significantly said to Nick Ward, “This is mine, Nick,” to which Ward replied, “I hope the best man may win it and wear it.”

These preliminaries, so novel in the P.R., having been concluded, the colours of the men were entwined on the stake, and umpires and a referee having been chosen, no time was lost in preparing for action.

The betting at first was 5 to 4 on Ward, though we never could understand the quotation, and did not see any money posted at the odds. At twenty minutes to one all was ready, and the champions toed the scratch for


Round 1.—​The men faced each other with an expression of good humour on their countenances that could hardly be expected by those who knew how they had expressed themselves at former meetings. Caunt’s rough lineaments bore a grin of satisfaction, that seemed to say he had his wishes gratified. Ward, though he also smiled, it was a vanishing smile, and he looked eagerly and anxiously at his antagonist. Ward’s attitude was scientific and well guarded, his left ready for a lightning-shot, as he poised himself on his left toe, with his right somewhat across, to parry the possible counterhit. Caunt stood erect, as if to make the most of his towering height, but a trifle backward. Ward moved about a little, as if measuring his distance, and then let go his left. It was not a determined hit, and did not get home. Caunt dashed out his left in return, but Nick stopped it prettily. However, as he meant it for a counter, his friends were pleased at his quickness, and cheered the attempt, especially as he almost instantly followed it with a lunge from the right, which just reached Ward’s neck. The big one now bored in for a close, meaning mischief. Ward bobbed his head aside, delivered a slight job, and was down on his knees. It was clear that Nick meant to fight in the evasive style of their former encounter, but it was also clear from Caunt’s coolness that he was likely to have more trouble over this day’s business, and we heard no more about odds upon Ward.

2.—​The men faced each other as before, no harm as yet having been done on either side. Caunt now began manœuvring in rather an ungainly manner; but as some of his movements suggested a plunge in, Nick was resolved to be first, and let go his left on Caunt’s mouth, who heeded not the blow, but dashed out left and right. The blows were wild, but his right reached Ward’s cheek; and Caunt was pulling himself together for heavy punching, when once more Ward slipped his foot, and was on both knees. Caunt threw up both hands, and gave a sort of guttural “Hur, hur!” as he looked at the cunning face of his opponent, then walked to his own corner. The big one’s friends were delighted at this proof of caution, and cheered lustily.

3.—​Ward came up with a keen and anxious look at his opponent. Ben nodded, and flourished his long arms like the sails of a windmill. He seemed ready to let Ward lead off and then take his chance of going in for the return. Ward drew back at arm’s length, and Caunt hit short more than once, but Nick did not get near enough for an effective return. Caunt, with a grim smile, almost rolled in, sending out left and right as he came. His right just reached Ward’s head, who hit up sharply and then slipped down, as though from his own blow. It was a very questionable get-down, but there was no appeal.

4.—​Nick seemed to feel that he was by no means taking the lead, and he was told that unless he hit, and kept Caunt employed in defending himself, he would bore in on him continually. The advice was doubtless sound, but it wanted more pluck than Nick possessed to put it in practice. Nick hit out with his left, but not near enough, and Caunt stopped him, amid some cheering; Caunt paused, as if expecting Ward to come closer, but he did not, so he let fly, and in a sort of ding-dong rally gave Ward a tidy smack on the nose; Nick jobbed him heavily three or four times, then dropped so close to Caunt that they both rolled over, the big one falling heavily on Nick. On rising blood was seen oozing from Ward’s nose, and the first event was awarded to Caunt, amidst the cheers of his friends, and to the astonishment of Ward’s backers.

5.—​The faces of both men were flushed from the blows received, and Caunt, who was anxious to be at work, went in at once, left and right, again catching Ward upon 75 the nose, and increasing the appearance of claret. Ward made no return, he was too anxious to get away, and on Caunt grappling him, he got quickly down, Caunt stumbling forward and falling over him.

6.—​The rounds were too short and hurried to admit of much in the way of description. Caunt, still eager to be at work, tried his left, but was stopped. Counter-hits with the left followed, but though Nick was a fine counter-hitter, he never exhibited any great relish for that mode of fighting—​the most telling in its effects and most exciting to witness of all practised in the P. R. Caunt lashed out with his left, and on Nick’s cleverly avoiding the smash, rushed to in-fighting. Nick, however, pursued his plan of getting down, but Caunt came heavily upon him. Although up to the present time Caunt had not done much execution, yet he was certainly getting the best of the fight, and he maintained his improvement in his style of hitting, substituting straight hits from the shoulder for the overhanded chops which had formerly marked his attempts.

7.—​Ward tried to regain the lead—​if he had ever had it—​and let fly with his left, but he had not sufficient courage to go close to his man, and once again the blow fell short. He stopped Caunt’s attempt at a return with his left, which came pretty heavy and quickly, and on the latter’s rushing in for close work Nick dropped on his knees. There was no blow struck in this round, and Caunt, who was about to deliver, wisely restrained his hand, and with his deep, short laugh, shook his finger menacingly at Ward as he knelt, and walked away.

8.—​Up to this period no material damage had been done on either side, few of the hits having more than a skin-deep effect. Ward still preserved his elegant attitude, and tried his left, but did not get home, and Caunt hit short at the body with his right. Nick now steadied himself for mischief, and, after a short pause, threw his left with the quickness of lightning, and caught Caunt over the right eyebrow, on which it left a gaping wound, from which a copious crimson stream flowed over the undamaged optic and down his cheek. Caunt hit out wildly, left and right; Ward, in retreating, fell on his knees, and Caunt tumbled over him.

9.—​Atkinson was seen to be busily engaged in stopping the flow of claret from Caunt’s eyebrow when “Time!” was called. At the sound Caunt jumped up vigorously, and continued the contest with a figurehead anything but improved by the crimson stain which marked its right side. Nick smiled at his handiwork, waited for his man, and as Caunt came plunging in, met him with a heavy hit from the left on the cheek, opening an ancient wound originally inflicted by Brassey, and starting a fresh tap of claret. Caunt was stung by the hits, and dashed in left and right; but Ward adhered to his dropping tactics, and again fell on his knees, amidst strong expressions of disapprobation.

10.—​Ward again tried his left, but was unsuccessful; Caunt came in, and after a couple of slight exchanges, left and right, Nick got down.

11.—​Caunt came up nothing daunted, stopped an attempt with Ward’s left, and made a terrific rush, which if as clumsy as the elephant’s was almost as irresistible. Nick retreated, stopping left and right, till he fell under the ropes, amidst cries of dissatisfaction, Caunt dropping on him.

12.—​Ward stopped Caunt’s left and right, and almost immediately dropped on his knees, and while in that position instantly hit up left and right, delivering both blows heavily; that from his right, on Caunt’s ear, from whence blood was drawn, was evidently a stinger. Spring, who witnessed this, exclaimed against so cowardly a practice, and observed that the blows of Ward were obviously foul, inasmuch as Ward had no more right to hit when down on his knees than Caunt had a right to strike him in that position. The umpires, however, did not interfere, and the referee cautioned Ward to be more circumspect in his conduct.

13.—​Caunt, lively as a young buffalo, rushed to the scratch the moment time was called, and immediately made play. Nick, as usual, retreated, when Caunt endeavoured to close, but Nick in his cowardly way dropped on both knees. Caunt’s right hand was up, and he was unable to restrain the falling blow, but it fell lightly, and although “down” no claim was made. (Spring and Atkinson both cautioned Caunt to be more careful, for, however unintentional, if he struck his opponent when down the consequences might be serious.)

14.—​Caunt led off, and caught Nick on the side of his head with his left, and repeated the dose on the opposite side with his right. Nick popped in a touch with his left on Caunt’s nasal promontory—​Caunt missed a terrific hit with his right, and Nick went on his knees to avoid punishment.

15.—​Caunt, who was now evidently provoked by the cowardly game of Ward in getting down in every round, the moment he came to the scratch rushed to him, and endeavoured to get him within his grasp in such a way as to be enabled to fall with him. Unluckily, however, instead of catching him round the body he caught him round the neck, and, in this manner, lifting him off the ground, for a short time held him suspended. He then let him go, but did not succeed in giving him the scrunch he contemplated. Instead of this, he hit the back of his own head against the stakes, and incurred an ugly concussion.

16.—​Caunt came up full of life and frolic, and was first at the scratch. Nick made play with his left, but Caunt stopped and got away. Caunt hit short with his right, 76 and after a short pause right-hand hits were exchanged—​Nick at the head, Caunt at the body. Caunt immediately closed, and caught Nick’s pimple under his arm, but Nick slipped down, and looked up as if expecting to be hit.

17.—​Trifling exchanges, when Nick again provokingly slipped on his knees.

18.—​Caunt led off, planted his left slightly, and Nick down on his knees. Caunt looked at him derisively and laughed, exclaiming, “It won’t do to-day, Nick.”

19.—​Caunt still fresh as a four-year-old, and first to the scratch, Nick evidently fearful of approaching too near. Caunt made a feint, with his left, and then delivered a tremendous round right-handed blow on the base of Ward’s ribs; the blow was too high, or it might have told fearfully. Nick let go his left, and Caunt jumped back, but again coming to the charge Ward retreated. Caunt following him up again seized him with a Herculean grip round the neck, lifted him clean off the ground, and then fell squash upon him.

20.—​Some tolerably good exchanges, in which Nick hit straightest, but immediately went down—​Caunt pointing at him with contempt.

21.—​Nick tried his left and right, but missed, his timidity evidently preventing his getting sufficiently near to his man. Caunt again seized him, lifted him up, and fell upon him, but lightly.

22.—​Caunt hit short at the body with his right, and tried his left, which was stopped. Counter-hits with the right, ditto with the left, when Nick went down.

23.—​Ward planted his left heavily on Caunt’s mug, and opened his previous wounds; this he followed with a touch from his right on the ear. Caunt rushed wildly to the charge, but Nick, as usual, tumbled, this time rolling over away from Caunt.

24.—​Caunt rushed forward, and delivered his left and right on Ward’s nob, the first on his nose, the second on the side of his head; Ward’s nose again trickled with the purple fluid. Nick went down on his knees, amidst shouts of disapprobation.

25.—​Caunt delivered his left on the head and right on the body, with stinging effect, and Nick went down.

26.—​Nick again had it on his nose from the left, and dropped on his knees. Caunt, who had his right up with intent to deliver, withheld the blow, and walked away.

27.—​Nick slow in approaching the scratch, and Caunt impatient to be at him. Holt cautioned Caunt not to cross the scratch till his man reached it. Caunt let fly with his right, and again caught Nick heavily on the body, following this up with a smart touch from his left on the mazzard. Nick again went down on one knee, and, while in that position, struck Caunt with his left. Caunt stooped, nodded, and laughed at him, as he looked up in his face. Nick also nodded and laughed. “We’ll have a fair fight to-day, Nick,” said Caunt.

28.—​Good counter-hits with the left, when Caunt once more grasped Ward, and held him up; but Ward slipped from his arms, and got down.

29.—​Ward slow, when Caunt planted two right-handed hits on Ward’s jaw and neck. Ward slipped down on one knee, but Caunt refrained from striking him, although entitled to do so by the rules of the Ring.

30.—​Caunt lost no time in rushing to his man, and planted his right heavily on the side of his head. Ward hit widely left and right, and went down on his face.

31.—​Ward evidently began to lose all confidence, and fought extremely shy. Caunt rushed in, caught his head under his arm, and although he might have hit him with great severity, he restrained himself, and let him fall.

32.—​Ward came up evidently counter to his own inclinations, being urged forward by his seconds. Caunt caught him left and right, and he fell to avoid further punishment.

33.—​Caunt gave a lungeing slap with his right on Ward’s pimple, when Ward dropped on both knees, and popped his head between Caunt’s knees. He seemed disposed to poke in anywhere out of danger’s way, and any odds were offered on Caunt.

34.—​Caunt rushed in to mill, but Ward had obviously made up his mind to be satisfied, and down he went without a blow.

35, and last.—​Ward was “kidded” up once more by his second and bottle-holder; but it was clear that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not draw him to the scratch with anything like a determination to protract the combat. Caunt let fly right and left at his mug, and down he went for the last time. His brother ran to him, but it was all up; and as the only excuse for such a termination to the battle, Nick pretended that his ribs were broken from the heavy right-handed hits of Caunt, and that he was incapable of continuing the contest. Caunt was thus proclaimed the conqueror, and “THE CHAMPION OF ENGLAND,” amidst a general cheer, and expressions of contempt towards Ward—​so strongly emphasised that the usual collection for the losing man was omitted by Holt, who shook a hat with a few halfpence he had himself dropped into it, and then put them in his pocket with a laugh.

We examined the supposed fracture in his ribs, but could discover nothing beyond severe contusions. It will be recollected that Brassey closed his labours with Caunt upon similar grounds, though perhaps with better reason. Nick was immediately conveyed to his omnibus, where he became prostrate in mind and body, exciting but little sympathy in the breasts of the general body of spectators. The fight lasted forty-seven minutes. The ceremony of girding 77 Caunt with the Champion’s Belt then took place, and it was put round his loins, with a hearty wish from those who witnessed his unflinching courage from first to last, as well as his manly forbearance amidst cowardly provocation, that he might long retain it. He afterwards went to Ward’s carriage, and offered him all the consolations of which he was susceptible, hoping that they might hereafter be the best friends, a feeling which Jem Ward, who evidently blushed for the pusillanimity of his brother, good-naturedly reciprocated. Caunt, he said, had proved himself the better man, and should always be an acceptable guest at his house. We ought to have mentioned that Caunt, on quitting the ring, disdained to do so in the usual way, but leaped clear over the ropes, a height of four feet six, and on his way home ran a pretty fast race against a “Corinthian” across a piece of ploughed land for a bottle of wine, which he cleverly won.

Remarks.—​The report of this fight tells its own tale. Nick Ward’s conduct completely confirmed the suspicions of his chicken-hearted pretensions. He wanted that one requisite of all others indispensable to a pugilist—​courage; and although his science was unquestionable, it can only be displayed to advantage in the sparring school. As he said himself after his fight with Sambo Sutton, he “was not cut out for a fighting man;” and the best advice we can give him is to retire altogether from the Ring. Caunt, who from the first booked victory as certain, sustained his character for bravery, and left off as fresh as when he commenced, although somewhat damaged in the frontispiece. His right eyebrow and cheek were much swollen, and the back of his head displayed a prominent bump of combativeness from the fall against the stakes. His hands were little damaged, but the knuckle of his right hand showed that it had come in ugly contact with Nick’s “pimple” or ribs. He was much improved in his style of fighting since his former exhibitions in the Ring; instead of hitting over the guard, as was his former practice, he hit straight from the shoulder, and having learned to lead off with his left, was enabled the more effectively to bring the heavy weight of his right into useful play. He still, however, hit round with his right, and the most severe blows which Ward received during the contest were those which were planted on the ribs and side of the head with this hand. These blows, with the heavy falls, to which was superadded the weight of his antagonist, no doubt tended to extinguish the little courage he might have possessed. Caunt was carefully seconded by his aged uncle and Atkinson, and although, had it been necessary to carry him to his corner, they might not have been able to afford him the requisite assistance, as that necessity did not arise no fault was to be found. Throughout the battle excellent order was maintained, and there were none of those irregularities observable on the former occasion. Jem Ward and his friends conducted themselves with great propriety, and submitted to defeat as well as to the loss of their money with as good a grace as could well have been expected. To the amateurs and patrons of British boxing the conduct of Nick Ward was most displeasing, and they one and all declared that they had never seen a man whose pretensions to the Championship had been more disgracefully exposed. Caunt came to town the same night, accompanied by Tom Spring, and on reaching the “Castle” was received with universal congratulations.

Caunt now resolved, after the fashion of our great public performers, to make a trans-Atlantic trip, to show the New World a specimen of an Old World champion, and to add another “big thing” to the country of “big things;” though in this America sustained her eminence by sending us a bigger champion than our “Big Ben” himself, in the form of Charles Freeman, of whom more anon.

Ben’s departure was thus announced on the 10th of September, 1841—​“Ben Caunt, Champion of England, sailed from Liverpool for New York on Thursday, taking with him the Champion’s Belt, for which, he says, any Yankee may become a candidate.”

In the New York Spirit of the Times of November 13th we find this paragraph:—

“Caunt, the ‘Champion of England,’ arrived on Monday week last in the packet ship ‘Europe,’ bringing with him the Champion’s Belt. He has appeared several times at the 78 Bowery Theatre, in ‘Life in London,’ being introduced in the scene opening with Tom Cribb’s sparring-room. He is an immensely powerful man, two or three inches above six feet in height, and well proportioned. Caunt’s reputation at home is that of a liberal, manly fellow; prodigious strength and thorough game have won him more battles than his science, though he is no chicken. The following challenge has appeared in some of the daily papers: ‘Challenge—​To Caunt, the Champion of England,—​Sir, I will fight you for 500 dollars, three months from this date, the forfeit money to be put up at any time and place you may name. You can find me at 546, Grand Street.—​Yours, James Jerolomon.”

This challenge, of course, was mere “buncombe.” After a profitable and pleasant tour, in which, as he declared on his return, he met nothing but hospitality and civility from our American cousins, Ben returned to England early in 1842, accompanied by a magnificent specimen of humanity named Charles Freeman, dubbed, for circus and theatre purposes, “Champion of the World;” and truly, if bulk and height were the prime requisites of a boxer, Charles Freeman was unapproachable in these respects.

The first mention of Freeman is in a letter from Caunt, dated from New York, December 20th, 1841, in which we suspect the hand of some Yankee Barnum, rather than the fist of burly Ben, may be detected. Caunt says, “I declared my intention of not fighting in America, but if anything can tempt me to change my intention, it will be the following circumstance:—

“When at Philadelphia I intended taking a Southern tour, but an unexpected circumstance brought me back to New York. There appeared a challenge in the papers of New York from the Michigan Giant to me; my friends at New York went to try to make a match with him; they offered to back me for ten thousand dollars a side, and sent for me to return as soon as possible. There is no match made yet, but it is likely there will be soon. I am quite prepared to fight him—​he is the only man who could draw me from my first determination. This Giant is seven feet three inches high, proportionally stout, and very active; he can turn twenty-five somersets in succession, can hold a large man out at arm’s length, he weighs 333lb., and has nothing but muscle on his bones. I have all reasons to believe a match will be made. I expect to be in England in a short time if the above match is not made, when I shall be ready to accommodate Bendigo. You will oblige me by inserting some or the whole of the above in your valuable columns.

I remain, Yours, &c.   “BENJAMIN CAUNT.”

“New York, December 20th, 1841.”

That there were showmen before Artemus Ward, as ingenious, if not so “genial” or witty, the reader must allow. The bathos of being ready for little Bendigo, after disposing of a monster “seven feet three inches high, and proportionally stout,” and “weighing 23st. 11lb.,” is overwhelming. The “gag” is sufficiently indicated by another paragraph from a New York paper, in which the “Michigan Giant” becomes the “New York Baby,” without any mention of fistic collision between the so-called “Champions.”

“The amateurs of the Ring have been on the ‘ki wivy’ (according to a notorious ex-justice of police) since the arrival of the English Champion, Caunt. He has just concluded a successful engagement at one of the Philadelphia theatres, after having appeared several nights here at the Bowery, in ‘Life in London.’ Caunt has put on the gloves for a friendly 79 set-to with most of our amateurs at Hudson’s ‘Sparring Rooms and Pistol Gallery,’ corner of Broadway and Chambers Street; he hits hard, and is as active as a bottle imp. But ‘a baby’ has at length been found who promises to show both fun and fight, in the shape of a young New Yorker, standing seven feet in his stockings, and whose weight is three hundred and fifteen pounds. His name is Charles Freeman, and he is about the tallest specimen of our city boys that ever came under the notice of the ‘Tall Son of York.’ He has immense muscular developments, and is well put together, with arms and legs strong enough for the working-beam or piston-rod of a Mississippi steamboat. Freeman has lately returned from a visit through the British Provinces, where he was sufficiently successful to lay claim to Cæsar’s motto, ‘Veni, vidi, vici.’ At Halifax, recently, some one sent him a challenge, which was accepted, but upon seeing the ‘New York Baby,’ waived the honour of meeting him, except with the muffles on. It is, we believe, arranged that our specimen youth shall accompany the English Champion back to the Old World, where, we’ll lay a pile, they’ll be gravelled to match him.”

These pilot balloons were soon followed by the return of the doughty Ben with his Giant protégé, in the month of March, 1842. The “sparring tours” were carried out by Ben and his Giant partner, including appearances at provincial theatres, &c. with an undercurrent of pugilistic challenges and “correspondence” kept up in the sporting papers, in which the Tipton Slasher challenged the American Giant, and Bendigo now and then offered terms to Ben himself. These do not belong to a history of pugilism, and we pass them by, with a mere reference to our notice of Freeman’s fiasco with the clumsy Tipton Slasher in another place. (See Life of William Perry, Chapter IV.)

We may here interject a paragraph to say that the cup which Ben was wont to exhibit to visitors to St. Martin’s Lane, as the “Champion of England’s Cup,” was a handsome piece of plate, subscribed for by a number of Ben’s admirers and friends in Newcastle, Gateshead, Nottingham, &c. and presented to him at a “spread” at Izzy Lazarus’s, “Cross Keys,” Gateshead, on the date given in the inscription, which was as follows: “Presented to Benjamin Caunt, Champion of England, by his Newcastle friends, as a token of respect for his abilities as a pugilist and his conduct as a man, July 6th, 1842.”

That Ben kept himself before the public, may be gathered from the following comprehensive challenge, which we select from several of the same character, and which served for gossip for the gobemouches in 1843 and 1844:—


“To the Editor of Bell’s Life in London.

Sir,—​Seeing a challenge from Bendigo this week, I shall be happy to meet him on his own terms, £200 a ride (in which I heartily hope he will not disappoint me). I will meet him at my own house, on Tuesday evening next, to stake not less than £20 as a first deposit. Should this challenge not be accepted, I will fight Bendigo, Tass Parker, and the Tipton Slasher, once each within six months, for £200 a side, and shall be prepared to deposit £60—​viz., £20 each match—​as the first deposit, any time at my house, or at Tom Spring’s, the Castle Tavern, Holborn. Should this not be ‘a go’ within four months, I shall beg most respectfully to decline the Ring altogether.


“January 21st, 1844.”


By many it was thought that the severe accident which had occurred to Bendigo, and occasioned a forfeit by him of £75 to Tass Parker, had placed another contest between him and the ponderous Ben out of the question. This did not, however, prove to be the case. At a sporting dinner at Owen Swift’s, at which, besides a full muster of Corinthians, Tom Spring, Peter Crawley, Jem Burn, Frank Redmond, Tom Oliver, Dan Dismore, Bill Jones, and many of the “professionals” were present, the matter of the Championship was formally discussed.

Therein, with the consent of Caunt, Bendigo was matched to fight him for £200, Caunt’s subscription belt, and the Championship, and the Tipton Slasher staked £10 as a first deposit to fight the winner. How the first of these events did come off (unsatisfactorily), and how the second did not come off at all, are fully recorded in the lives of Bendigo and of William Perry. Suffice it here to say that Caunt lost his third battle with Bendigo by falling without a blow. (See Chapter I., page 28, ante.)

A fearful catastrophe, by which the Champion suffered a heavy domestic bereavement, occurred during Caunt’s temporary absence from London on a visit to some country friends in Hertfordshire.

By a fire which suddenly broke out at the “Coach and Horses,” St. Martin’s Lane, of which Caunt was at this time the landlord, two of Caunt’s children, and the servant by whom they were attended, were burnt to death. The facts of the case will best be gathered from a condensed report of the evidence at the coroner’s inquest, held at the Board Room of St. Martin’s parish, on the Thursday following the melancholy event.

The jury having viewed the bodies of the unfortunate victims, the first witness called was Mrs. Anne Tomlins, who identified the bodies as those of Ruth Lowe, aged 18 years, Martha Caunt, aged 9 years, and Cornelius Butler Caunt, aged 6 years, the two latter being the children of Benjamin and Martha Caunt, and the former a cousin of Mrs. Caunt.

Susanna Thorpe was next examined: She said she came to town on Sunday last, on a visit to Mrs. Caunt, who was her cousin. Mrs. Caunt and herself were in the bar when the clock struck two on Wednesday morning, shortly after which they both went upstairs to bed. Ruth Lowe and the children had gone to bed some hours previously. Mr. Caunt being away in the country, Mrs. Caunt asked witness to sleep with her. Witness consented to do so, and had already got into bed herself, when she heard Edward Noakes, the cellarman, who slept upstairs, give an alarm. Mrs. Caunt had not got into bed when this happened, and she 81 immediately opened the door, and found that the furniture in the middle room, on the second floor, was on fire. Witness got out of bed, and went downstairs with Mrs. Caunt to call for assistance. Witness saw fire and smoke in the middle room as she crossed the landing to go downstairs.

Coroner: Does it occur to you how the fire originated there? No, sir. I was in that room just before I went to bed. I went to fetch my nightdress, which I had left on a chair near the window, having slept in this room on the three previous nights. I had a common candlestick in my hand when I went into the room. There were two beds in the apartment. I passed them both, but not closely, and I have no recollection of any circumstance which might account for the origin of the fire.

Corroborative evidence was given by Edward Noakes, the cellarman and waiter, by Sarah Martin, the barmaid, and by Dominic Carr, sergeant of police.

John Short, conductor of the fire escape stationed by St. Martin’s Church, proved having attended with his machine immediately after the alarm was given. He first directed the machine to the second floor window, through which he entered. He found no person in this room, and as the fire prevented his getting further, he came down, and having thrown up the top ladder, reascended to the parapet. He tried to make an entrance through the parapet window, but the flames and smoke at this time shot through with such violence that all his efforts were unavailing, and he again descended. He heard no cries coming from the attic window while he was there.

The coroner briefly charged the jury. It was a most deplorable case, but he apprehended, after the testimony they had had from the various witnesses, the jury would have little difficulty in arriving at a conclusion.

The jury, after consulting for a few moments, found “that the deceased parties were suffocated in a fire, the origin of which they had no evidence before them to determine.”

Caunt did not return from the country till the following morning. His feelings may be more easily conceived than described. Both himself and his wife were so deeply affected as to excite the commiseration of all classes.

The last appearance of our ponderous hero in the P.R. was one that adds no leaf of laurel to his pugilistic biography. Some absurd family quarrels (Nat Langham had married a relative of Mrs. Caunt), together with some petty trade jealousy, (Nat being the popular landlord of the “Cambrian 82 Stores,” Castle Street, Leicester Square, hard by Big Ben’s “Coach and Horses”), gave rise to all sorts of unpleasant personalities on more than one occasion. Nat, though a civil and, except professionally, non-combative sort of fellow, having over and over again expressed his opinion that Caunt had no pretensions to pugilistic honours beyond the possession of unwieldy bulk and clumsy strength, and further, that “he couldn’t hit him (Nat) in a month of Sundays,” the feud, aggravated by crabbed old Ben Butler and Mrs. Caunt, assumed the bitterness of a family feud, and finally Ben proposed and “Ould Nat” accepted a challenge to settle this “difference of opinion” in the manner and form prescribed by the fair rules and regulations of British boxing. The articles were formulated on the 16th of May, 1857, by which, and a deposit of £10 a side, the parties agreed to stake £200 a side in instalments, the battle to come off on the 23rd of the ensuing September. It is regrettable to find that the “feud of kindred” received yet another proof of its exceeding intensity over all ordinary quarrels among strangers. At the second deposit Nat (he was going out of town) actually left his £10 with the final stakeholder a week before it was due, whereon Caunt and Co. appealed to the “letter of the articles,” which declared that the “said deposits should be made at the times and places hereinafter mentioned,” and claimed forfeit of the money down; although the “final stakeholder, to whom all deposits should be paid over in time for insertion in Bell’s Life in London” had actually given notice to “uncle Butler,” (Caunt being away at Brighton,) of the previous deposit of the money in his hands. This quibbling plea was, however, repudiated by Caunt himself, as will be seen below, and the match went on:—

Mr. Editor,—​I respectfully ask that you will admit into your columns this declaration on my part: That my match with Langham is the result of a dispute that can only be settled, so far as I am concerned, by an appeal to the fists. That the articles will be strictly abided by on my part, and that so far from throwing any impediment in the way of the match it is my anxious desire to bring it to an issue in the Ring. Thus far, I beg my friends will take my assurance of ‘honourable intentions.’ Were they but aware of the personal nature of the affair, such assurance would not be needed; but, as many must necessarily be unacquainted with its cause of origin, it is due to my own character to take the course I have now done in writing to you an emphatic statement of my intentions, which I solemnly assert are unalterable, until that result comes to pass which shall prove either me or my antagonist the better man.


“‘Coach and Horses,’ St. Martin’s Lane, London,
May 27th, 1857.”

To which the editor adds:—

“Ben has also paid us a personal visit, and repeated the statements contained in his letter, and in addition has given up all claim to the forfeit, which, from the first, we believe was not his own doing.”

The atmosphere thus cleared, all went on serenely, the bona fides of the 83 match, which had been sorely doubted and even ridiculed in sporting circles, being now placed beyond dispute. If “there is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous,” however many gradations there may be before arriving at the last step but one, we think the reader will agree that it was taken by Caunt in the affair we will now briefly relate. In the month of June Tom Sayers (see Life of Sayers, post) beat the “Old Tipton Slasher” (Wm. Perry) in a battle for the Championship and the “Belt,” from all claim to which Caunt had years before publicly retired. Among the challengers of Sayers’s remarkable position as a 10-stone Champion we find—​risum teneatis, amici?—​Caunt, although then engaged in articles with an 11-stone man. Ben shall here speak for himself:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​Unaccustomed as I am to public challenging, long laid upon the shelf as I have been, it may perchance startle the sporting world to learn that Ben Caunt is once more a candidate for the Championship. Win or lose with Langham, I challenge Tom Sayers for £200 a side and the Championship, the contest to take place within six months of my forthcoming fight. My money is ready at your office, and I trust that this offer will be accepted, in order that the world may be as speedily as possible undeceived with regard to the merits of the much-vaunted new school of British boxing.

“Yours obediently, BENJAMIN CAUNT.

“June 18th, 1857.”

Note.—​Caunt has left £10 in our hands to prove he is in earnest.”

This Waterloo Day flourish of trumpets was followed the next week by the fearless little Tom covering Big Ben’s “tenner,” announcing that, if his match with Caunt did not go on, he was prepared to meet his other challenger, Tom Paddock. The “lame and impotent conclusion” of Caunt’s challenge is soon told. Ben proposed that Sayers should come to his house (of course as a “draw”) to draw up articles, &c. Tom didn’t see it; and as he was engaged in the provinces making hay while the sun shone, he offered to sign articles, if transmitted to him, and duly post the needful with the editor of Bell’s Life. This, on the other hand, didn’t suit Ben’s fireside, and so the incongruous affair ended in smoke. Meantime Paddock had a severe accident, which put his right hand hors de combat, and a disabling illness followed. Ben now announced his departure for “sea breezes and strict training,” and Nat did the same, which brings us to the 22nd day of September, 1857.

As we have already remarked, the match from its first inception was considered so extraordinary, not only from the great disparity in the size of the men, but from the supposed irreparable state of Nat’s constitution (he having, as was known to many, sought the advice of the principal physician of the Brompton Hospital for Consumption), that the public generally 84 looked upon it with distrust and suspicion, and up to the very last deposit sporting men refused to believe that it would ever come to a fight. Indeed, so strong was this impression on the minds of many, and not a few of them influential patrons of the P. R., that they pooh-poohed the whole affair, absented themselves from the houses where deposits were made good, and also from the fight itself. Great therefore was their disappointment, and no less their disgust, when they learnt that not only had the men met, but that they had actually fought a battle which was certainly as well worth seeing as almost any modern battle between big men.

Those with whom we conversed appeared to hold but two opinions on the subject. Either one or the other of the men would be apprehended and held to bail, or there would be police interference on the day. At one time, indeed, so infectious is suspicion, we began to participate in the general distrust, and awaited expectantly the bursting of the bubble, by the news of a domiciliary visit from Sir Richard Mayne, or some of his satellites, to one or other of the rival houses; both Caunt and Langham announcing flying visits to their respective hostelries on more than one occasion. Up to the eleventh hour this or some other obstacle was confidently predicted. On the Monday, however, it was known that arrangements had been agreed on by Dan Dismore on the part of Nat Langham, and Jemmy Shaw and Ben Butler on the part of Ben Caunt, to hire two steamboats between them, one for first and the other for second-class passengers. It was also arranged that the boats should rendezvous at Tilbury, and that the men and their friends should proceed to the same place by the 7.50 a.m. train on the eventful morning. In the course of Monday, however, it seems that apprehensions arose in the minds of Nat’s friends that it would be unsafe to start from Tilbury, and they telegraphed to the owner of the boats to change the venue and muster at Southend. They did not seem to think it necessary to communicate with Caunt or his uncle, concluding of course that they would be at the London terminus at the time arranged, and that then everything could be settled. At the time appointed Ben Butler and Young Ben (Caunt’s son) were at Fenchurch Street, but Caunt did not show, and we thought of course he had adopted some other means of conveyance. At Tilbury, however, Uncle Ben and Jemmy Shaw came to us, and said that Caunt expected the boat at Tilbury, and had not heard of any alteration. Here again our suspicions arose that some casualty had happened, and that there would be no fight. Ben’s friends could give no reason for his not being at the appointed station in 85 the morning, and all seemed quite nonplused. To add to other difficulties there were no signs of young Fred Oliver, who, as the deputy of Old Tom, had charge of the ropes and stakes, although he had distinct notice on Friday at what time the expedition was to leave London. This state of things cast a gloom on the travellers, many of whom had serious thoughts of returning to town. On persuasion, however, they made up their minds to “see it out,” and as the train could not be stopped, all resumed their seats and sped on to Southend, hoping to find Caunt there, or, at any rate, to hear some tidings of him. On reaching this spot all at once made their way to the pier head, but not a word could be heard of the ex-Champion, or of the ropes and stakes. Butler at once went on board one boat (that reserved for first-class passengers), while Dan Dismore remained on the pier to supply tickets for the voyage.

The party now repaired on board the second-class boat, where Nat was found installed, waiting impatiently for the appearance of Caunt, of whom nothing could be heard; Dan Dismore also came on board this vessel.

It was now nearly twelve o’clock, and all began anxiously to look for the half-hour, at which time the next train was due at Southend, by which it was, of course, expected that Ben would come. Half-past twelve, one o’clock arrived, the train had been in some time, but still there was no appearance of Ben on the pier. At length an emissary was sent ashore, and he ascertained that Caunt and the ropes and stakes had been embarked on board an opposition tug, singularly enough called the “Ben Bolt,” at Tilbury, and that they were on the way to join the flotilla as quickly as possible. It was two o’clock or nearly so before the “Ben Bolt” hove in sight, with “’tother Ben” on board. By a quarter-past two o’clock, everything being settled, the office was given, and an experienced pilot conducted the flotilla, which now numbered four steamboats, besides innumerable small craft, to the proposed scene of action, within a very short distance of the spot where Tom Sayers and Aaron Jones settled their differences. Against a strong ebb of course progress was very slow, and it was past three before the first vessel arrived off the point. The ropes and stakes were at once sent ashore, and Fred Oliver with due diligence proceeded to erect the ring. Poor Old Tom was sadly missed, and many expressions of regret were uttered at his continued ill health. The number of persons present was extremely large, but of Corinthians there was a lamentable absence, arising, no doubt, from the before-mentioned suspicions as to the men’s intentions. As soon as the arena was ready, the combatants, who were evidently all 86 agog to be at it, tossed their caps into the ring, Nat being the first to uncover his canister, Ben being not two seconds behind him. Both looked hard and healthy, but their mugs bore distinct traces of their being veteran boxers. Ben, of course, looked the older man, his not handsome dial being as brown as mahogany, and looked as hard as a nutmeg-grater. Nat’s phiz was smoother, softer, and of a lighter tint, and there was a hue of health upon it that we had not seen there for many a day. They shook hands, but it was evident that the ceremony was against the grain. As four o’clock was fast approaching, it was hinted that no time ought to be lost, and the men at once proceeded to accomplish their toilettes. Nat Langham was assisted by the Champion (Tom Sayers) and the accomplished Jack Macdonald—​certainly the best second out—​while Ben Caunt was waited upon (we cannot say picked up, for he never once was down throughout the fight) by Jack Gill, of Nottingham, and Jemmy Shaw, who, between them, could never have carried him to his corner, had occasion required it, in the time allowed between the rounds, indeed they must have inevitably have carried him a limb at a time. How he could have been persuaded to select two such assistants we are at a loss to conceive. Jack Gill could not have had much experience in his new vocation, and Jemmy Shaw will excuse us for saying that, however staunch a friend and good fellow he has proved himself in other ways, his stature and proportions by no means qualify him as a porter to either Gog or Magog, should those gigantic worthies need to be picked up from a horizontal position.

At a quarter to four the seconds proceeded to knot the colours on the centre stake—​a blue, with white spot, for Langham, orange with a blue border for Caunt. The betting on the ground was trifling in the extreme; nothing was laid between the men, and but small sums at 5 and 6 to 4 on Caunt. As to Nat’s training, he went first to Dover and then to Stockbridge, in Hampshire, where by steadiness and perseverance he got himself into extraordinary fettle; to our eye, he looked bigger, stronger, and healthier, though of course somewhat older, than when he fought either Harry Orme or Tom Sayers. And now, having brought our men to the “post,” we will start them for


Round 1.—​On toeing the scratch the disparity between the men was of course extraordinary. Ben Caunt, barring his mug, was a study for a sculptor. His massive frame and powerful legs and arms—​the former set off to the best advantage by pink silk stockings and well-made drawers—​presented a sight worth going some distance to see; and as he stood over old Nat any one would have agreed with Jerry Noon, who declared that it was “Chelsea Hospital to a sentry-box” in his favour. He smiled 87 good-humouredly, and had clearly made up his mind to win in a trot. Nat was, as usual, clear in skin, and neatly made at all points. His shoulders and arms were well covered with muscle, and for an encounter with a man of his own size he looked all that could be desired; but as to his being a match for Ben Caunt it seemed too absurd to be credited, and few, we think, expected to see him “perform” with anything like effect. His attitude, as of yore, was perfection, and his dangerous left was playing about close to his side all in readiness for one of his neat deliveries as Ben came in. Caunt stood just as he ever stood, very square on his pins, his brawny arms almost straight out before him, which he ever and anon moved backward and forward with all the deliberation of a couple of pendulums. He had come, however, not to spar, but to fight, and after very little feinting he went up to Nat, who retreated towards the ropes, and Ben at length lunged out left and right, just catching Nat with the former on the ribs, and Nat was down laughing.

2.—​Both very quick to time. Caunt walked after Nat, sawing the air with both fins, and as he got close he sent out his left, but Nat, quick as lightning, shot out his left on the kisser, drawing first blood from Ben’s upper lip and got down.

3.—​After a little dodging Nat feinted, and then let fly his left straight on the jaw. Slight exchanges followed on the side of the wig block, and Nat was again down out of harm’s way.

4.—​No time cut to waste, Caunt went to his man and poked out his left, just catching Nat on the chin, and Nat dropped.

5.—​Nat fiddled Ben to within distance, and then popped his larboard daddle on Ben’s jaw, a cracker; this led to heavy exchanges, Caunt getting on to Nat’s forehead above the left peeper, and receiving on the cheek; Nat fell.

6.—​After one or two passes the men got close, and very slight exchanges took place, when Nat got down by a roll over.

7.—​Caunt stalked up to Nat, swung his mauleys slowly round, and then dropped the left on Nat’s left cheek, Nat nailing him prettily at the same time on the left eye; Nat down clumsily, Caunt carefully stepping over him.

8.—​Caunt again approached Nat, and lunged out his left, Nat countering him quickly on the right peeper. Ben got home on the left cheek, and Nat fell.

9.—​Nat dodged about for an opening, and then got sharply home on the left cheek. Caunt returned very slightly on the side of the nut, and Nat was down.

10.—​Both sparred a little for wind, but soon went to close quarters, when, after a very slight exchange on the forehead, Nat sought Mother Earth. The 11th round was precisely similar, Caunt missing with both hands.

12.—​Nat, after a few passes, got within distance and shot out his left as straight as a dart on Ben’s conk, inflicting an ugly cut on the bridge, and drawing more claret. The blow had double force from the fact that Ben was coming in at the time. He, nevertheless, bored in, and had Nat down at the ropes.

13.—​Nat again timed his man judgmatically with his left on the proboscis, and slipped down from the force of the blow. He recovered himself, however, and after a little sparring got sharply on Ben’s potato-trap. Ben retaliated, but not effectively, on Nat’s cheek, and Nat fell.

14.—​Nat feinted, and dropped smartly on the snorer. He tried again, but missed, and in getting away slipped down.

15.—​Langham missed his left, and slight exchanges followed at the ropes, where Nat got down, Caunt again, in the most manly way, refraining from falling on him, as he might have done as he was going down.

16.—​Ben took the first move, and got home, but not heavily, on Nat’s jaw. They then sparred a bit, and on getting close Caunt lunged out his one, two, on Nat’s left cheek, but the blows appeared to have no steam in them. Nat popped a straight one on the left brow, and dropped.

17.—​Slight exchanges, no damage, and Ben bored his man down at the ropes.

18.—​Nat let fly his left, but Ben was too far off. Ben, however, went to him, and slight exchanges took place, Nat on the mark and Caunt on the side of the head, and Nat down.

19.—​After slight exchanges, Ben got home sharply on the back of Nat’s brain pan, and Nat fell.

20.—​No time lost. They walked up to one another, and at once let fly, Caunt on Nat’s forehead, and Nat on the left brow. Nat down.

21.—​Good exchanges, but Nat straightest, getting another good one on Ben’s conk, and renewing the crimson distillation. Caunt touched Nat’s forehead, and Nat down without a visible mark of punishment.

22.—​Caunt rushed at Nat, who being close to the ropes, slipped down. An appeal of “foul” was made, but not by the umpires. The referee, however, sent Nat’s umpire to him to caution him.

23.—​Nat fiddled and dodged until Caunt drew back his arm, when pop went the left on Ben’s cheek. Exchanges followed, Nat getting on Ben’s left peeper, and Ben on the brow, and Nat down.

24.—​Slight exchanges; Ben on the forehead, and Nat down.

25.—​Nat missed his first delivery, but in a second effort caught Ben on the body, Caunt retaliating with a swinging round hit on the cranium, and Nat down.

26.—​Sharp exchanges; Nat on the kisser, and Ben on the side of the canister, and Nat down, Ben as usual stepping over him, but asking him why he “did not stand up and have a round.”


27.—​Ben went to his man, and began business by lunging out both hands, but he missed, and Nat popped his left on the whistler. Ben, however, returned on the cheek, just drawing claret, and Nat down.

28.—​Ben again succeeded in reaching Nat’s cheek with his right, drawing the ruby, and Nat fell.

29 and 30.—​After trifling exchanges in these rounds, Nat got down, much to the annoyance of Ben, who, however, preserved his good temper, and merely remonstrated with his cunning opponent.

31.—​Nat dodged, and popped his left sharply on the mazzard, received the merest excuse for a blow, and dropped.

32.—​In this round the exchanges were very slight, but Nat’s were straightest. As usual, he was down.

33.—​Nat crept in, let go his left on Ben’s lip, which he cut, and Nat fell on his back from the force of his own blow.

34.—​Ben, whose warbler was bleeding, rushed at Nat furiously, and regularly bored him down.

To go into details of the next few rounds would be merely a repetition of what we have already written. Nat feinted, dodged, timed his man with the greatest precision whenever he moved his arms, and, although his blows did not seem very heavy, they still were always “there, or thereabouts,” and poor old Ben’s mug began to be all shapes. The manly fellow, however, never grumbled; he went straight up to be planted upon, and although he occasionally got home a body blow or a round hit on the side of Nat’s knowledge box, still he left no visible marks. Once or twice Jemmy Shaw claimed “foul,” on the ground that Nat fell without a blow; but Nat was cunning enough to keep just within the pale of the law. There was not one round in which he did not go down, and Ben invariably walked to his corner. In the 43rd round Ben got the first knock-down blow on Nat’s forehead. In the 48th, he bustled in with desperation, but Nat met him full in the mouth, and then on the snorter, with his left, drawing the crimson from each, Ben returned on the top of the forehead, and Nat got down.

49.—​Nat crept in craftily, and popped a little one on the snuffer-tray, and this led to a tremendous counter-hit, Caunt on the cheek, and Nat on the jaw very heavily, drawing more ruby. Nat fell, his nut first reaching the ground, and Ben staggered to his corner, evidently all abroad. By great exertions, and a little extra time, his seconds got him up to the scratch. Nat, however, was not in a much better state. Both were severely shaken.

50.—​Nat on coming up, was evidently slow, but, to the surprise of every one, showed no mark of the hit in the last round, while Ben’s kisser was considerably awry, and he was scarcely himself. Now would have been Langham’s time, but he had not strength to go in. After a short spar, Ben got on to Nat’s jaw, staggering him; Nat returned sharply on the left eye and nozzle. After heavy exchanges on the body, Nat fell.

51.—​In this round Ben just missed Nat as he was falling, and caught the stake very heavily with his left, which was thereby rendered useless, or nearly so. From this to the 60th and last round there was nothing to call for particular notice. Nat pursued his defensive tactics, and his pop for nothing when there was a chance. Still, however, old Ben kept swinging his dangerous limbs about, and every now and then got heavily on Nat’s body and left shoulder, and occasionally on the top of his head. Nat fell every round, but oftentimes be had to do it so quickly, owing to the close proximity of Ben, that he fell most awkwardly for himself, and must have been shaken severely. He gradually got tired, and Caunt, whose dial was much cut about, was evidently puzzled what to be at. At length, in the sixtieth round, after a little sparring and a slight exchange, they stood and looked at one another, and rubbed their chests. Neither seemed disposed to begin, and it was pretty clear that each had the same end in view—​namely, to protract the battle until it was dark. Each, doubtless, felt that he was unable to finish that day, and did not feel disposed to throw a chance away by going in, and getting an unexpected finisher at close quarters. After standing several minutes, Dan Dismore came to us and said it was a pity that men who had been such close friends should proceed any further with hostilities, and suggested that it would be much better if they forgave and forgot their quarrel, and shook hands. We coincided with Dan in his kindly opinion, and he then took upon himself to go into the ring and suggest some such arrangement, and in doing so he said he would gladly give £5 out of his own pocket to see them bury their animosity there and then, and draw their stakes. Caunt said he was willing if Nat was, and after a little consideration Nat held out his mauley, which was cordially shaken by Ben, and then Langham went with Caunt into the corner of the latter, where he shook hands with Ben Butler, and also with Caunt’s son. Dan Dismore now left the ring, and on the referee asking him what had been done, Dan said, “It is all over; it’s settled.” The referee inquired whether they intended drawing altogether, and Dan said again, “It’s all done with; there will be nothing more done in it;” or words to that effect, but we believe these were Dan’s exact expressions. The referee at once, on hearing this, expressed his pleasure at so amicable an arrangement, and on the men quitting the arena he also left the ring side, his office of course ceasing, and on the faith of Dan’s statement he at once gave up what bets he held. After being some time on 89 board the boat, however, he was somewhat staggered at being accosted by one of Nat’s Corinthian patrons and Jack Macdonald, who told him that Nat was quite astonished when they had mentioned to him that a draw had been agreed to, and had declared that such a thing never entered his head. He thought Dismore merely wished them to draw for the time being, and that the referee would name another day in the same week to fight again. The referee replied that his impression certainly was that an arrangement had been made to draw stakes, or he should not have vacated his post, and this application on Nat’s behalf took him so much by surprise that he did not know how his position was affected. It was a case that had never occurred before, and he must think it over. Nat’s backer said he also was impressed at the time with the notion that everything was arranged, and had left the ring side with that belief, but still he thought the referee had the power to name another day, as Nat had been no party to any final arrangement. At the railway station, on the arrival of the boats, the referee called both the men together, and asked them in the presence of each other what they had understood on leaving the ring. Caunt said he understood they were friends again, and were to draw their money, while Nat repeated the statement that had been conveyed to the referee by Jack Macdonald. Caunt seemed quite taken aback, as did also his friends. Dan Dismore now came up, and repeated the statement that he had previously made, to the effect that he had recommended the men to shake hands and be friends, and that he had certainly said he would give £5 out of his own pocket to see the matter settled. They had shaken hands at his recommendation, and at the time it certainly had been his impression that they would not fight again. He declined, however, to take upon himself the responsibility of saying that either man had actually said anything about drawing stakes. The referee was now completely nonplused, and said, at that time, and in such a crowd, he could not undertake to give an opinion either way. He then suggested that the men and their friends should meet at the Stakeholder’s office the following day to discuss the matter, when all were calm, and had had time to think over the affair.

Owing to the low state of the tide when the fight was over, and the narrowness of the causeway to the boats, a great deal of time was lost in embarkation, and not a few of the travellers obtained mud baths at much less price than such a luxury would have cost in Germany. The consequence of the delay was, that the 8 o’clock train was missed, and there being no other until 9.30, the travellers, weary, muddy, and wet, but tolerably well satisfied with their entertainment, did not reach the Metropolis until twelve o’clock.

The following morning the referee took the opportunity of laying the case before a Corinthian patron of the art, who, although no longer a frequenter of the Ring side, was for many years one of the staunchest attendants. That gentleman, after thinking the matter over for a few minutes, said he was of opinion there could be no doubt as to the course of the referee. There had been, he said, no appeal to him to stop the fight—​there was no reason for his interference, as he could see both men perfectly, and he had stated there was sufficient daylight for eight or ten more rounds. The men had shaken hands in the ring, and, putting Dismore and his statement out of the question as unnecessary adjuncts to the case, he was of opinion that the men, by voluntarily quitting the ring without any appeal being made by themselves or their umpires, had clearly taken the whole affair out of the referee’s hands, and altogether deprived him of any power in the matter.


At the appointed hour both men and their friends were in attendance—​Nat all but scatheless, while Ben had an ugly cut on his nose, and his left peeper was partially closed. He had also other severe marks of punishment on various parts of his dial, and his hands were much puffed. Both men made their statements. Caunt repeated that he fully believed Nat had agreed to draw stakes when he shook hands with him and his uncle, or he should never have consented to leave off fighting, as there was still daylight for ten or a dozen rounds. He was then warm, and felt confident he could have won. He was as strong as ever on his legs, and was convinced that Nat had done all he knew. Langham, in reply, denied that this was the case. He understood that Dismore only proposed a postponement until another day, as it was not likely they could finish that evening. He shook hands with Caunt and his uncle because he did not think he ought to leave the ring without performing that ceremony. Dan Dismore repeated the statement he had already made, adding, that he certainly was not authorised to say they had agreed to draw their money, whatever his own impression might have been. He was of opinion then that it would have been a proper course, and that opinion he still entertained; and he would willingly give £5 or £10 out of his own pocket to see them shake hands and make up their differences. Tom Sayers, who was also present, said he had left the ring with the idea that his principal had agreed to draw the money, and he had no idea until some time afterwards that Nat had contemplated a renewal of hostilities. The referee, after hearing both sides, said that he had thought the matter over very carefully, and had come to a conclusion in his own mind, before consulting the gentleman above referred to, and he was glad to find that conclusion coincided with the opinion of his adviser. The men had taken the matter quite out of his hands. They had made an arrangement between themselves, had shaken hands and left the ring without asking his opinion, or appealing to him in any way, although he stood close to the ropes and stakes at the time they were shaking hands, and what other conclusion could he arrive at than that they had amicably settled their differences? That a misunderstanding had arisen as to future arrangements was to be regretted, but he had no power whatever to name another day. If his advice were asked it would be that they should shake hands, but if they did not choose to do this, they must agree upon another day and place between themselves. Nat at once proposed fighting again on Saturday, to which Caunt objected. He said he was now stiff, and his hands were 91 injured, and required time to get round. He believed a bone in one of his fingers was broken. As he had before said, he could have finished it the same night, but he should decline agreeing to fight again at present. Nat then asked what he proposed, to which Ben said he proposed that on the next occasion Nat should stand up and fight like a man. He could not fight a man who was always on the ground. A good deal of angry discussion followed, Ben Butler again going beyond the bounds of decorum, while Caunt remained perfectly quiet. Nat was, of course, incensed at being baulked of his rights, as he considered them, but still there was no prospect of an arrangement. At length Nat asked Caunt to give him some portion of the stakes, as an inducement to draw, a proposition indignantly scouted by Caunt. This was the last offer. The men were then informed that the referee had given his decision, that he could not interfere, and it remained for them to agree between themselves upon a time and place.

Having gone so fully into details of this affair, it will be unnecessary for us to make many remarks either upon the respective styles of the combatants or the untoward result of the battle. Caunt, from first to last, showed not the slightest improvement in his style of fighting; nor was it likely that after a life of ease, and of abstinence from athletic exercises (if from nothing else) the case could have been otherwise. His position was unartistic. He held his arms too high, and never displayed the least head or judgment in his efforts to get at his shifty opponent. He was always too quick and too anxious to be doing something, and thereby threw away many chances, and so put himself at the mercy of the crafty Nat, who seldom or never failed to avail himself of Big Ben’s incautiousness. Unartistic as he was, however, no one will deny that Caunt upheld the character he has invariably borne of a manly upright boxer, disdaining to avail himself of repeated opportunities, which many persons would unscrupulously have adopted, of falling on an opponent when he dropped in the not very manly manner that Nat, on many occasions, certainly did. From first to last Ben never lost his temper. He received all Nat’s props with the greatest sang froid, smiling upon him, and sometimes shaking his head at him for his shiftiness. As to Caunt’s game, there never was, and never can be, a question. He was punished most severely, and yet he never once flinched or showed signs of not liking it. The only remark he condescended to make from time to time in his corner was, that Nat had done all he could, and that he must be getting weak. He did not wish to win by a 92 foul, and on several occasions when his seconds desired to appeal he said he would rather try to win on his merits. In addition to the punishment on his mug, he contrived to seriously injure both hands. Of Nat Langham it is not necessary to say much. As we have before remarked, he was fitter to fight than we thought he ever could be, and was as confident as if all had been settled. There was all the old cunning and extraordinary quickness with his left, and, if possible, he had improved both in his powers of timing his props and his judgment of distance. He, like Caunt, never for a moment flinched from his receipts, which, on many occasions, must have been anything but agreeable; and, so long as he stood on his pins, he faced his man with unruffled indifference.

That he went down on many occasions in a suspicious manner cannot be denied, and that this occurred on some few occasions when he was not in danger is equally true; but he almost invariably kept just within the pale of the law. Several times he was hit, and hit severely, and when Jemmy Shaw appealed to the referee as to his falling, on most such occasions he received a gentle tap, just sufficient to save him; still he persevered in the practice much too constantly to admit of our stating that it was a fair stand-up fight on his part. His friends contend that when a man is opposed to such superior weight and strength he is justified in resorting to such shifts to enable him to withstand his opponent, but this we deny. The rules of the Ring say distinctly “it shall be a fair stand-up fight,” and if a man cannot vanquish an opponent of heavier metal than himself by fair means, he has no business to make a match with him. Nat knew perfectly well Caunt’s superiority in height and weight, and Caunt was perfectly justified in his observation that this knowledge ought to have deterred him from match-making except on the usual terms. That Nat’s shifty tactics arose from cowardice would of course be a ridiculous suggestion. Every one who has seen him fight knows that a braver man never pulled off his shirt, and no one we ever saw enter a ring has impressed us with so just an idea of what may be accomplished by science and judgment; but still we cannot help repeating a remark we have over and over again made—​we do not and cannot admire the hit and drop system. It is not consonant with the principles on which, and on which alone, we can uphold British boxing. The fight lasted one hour and twenty-nine minutes.

The floodgates of newspaper letter-writing were opened by this undecided encounter. It is needless to say that the controversy ended in much ink-shedding and a draw of the £400 staked, leaving the debateable question 93 of “getting down to finish the round” much where it previously and subsequently stood.

From this period Caunt may be said to have finally retired from the Ring, though he still kept his house, the “Coach and Horses” (now the “Salisbury Stores”), in St. Martin’s Lane. The parlour here was a general resort of aspirants for pugilistic honours and their patrons, Ben busying himself in bringing forward and occasionally backing or finding backers for men, among whom may be named Bob Caunt,[13] his brother, David Hayes (thrice beaten by Murray), Perry, the Black, who beat Burton, of Leicester (January 20th, 1846), George Gutteridge (beaten by Nat Langham, September 23rd, 1846), and others.

Caunt was also well known as no mean performer at pigeons, on the various club grounds near the Metropolis and in Hertfordshire. Having caught a severe cold in a long day’s match at “the doves,” in the early part of 1860, it settled on his lungs, and coupled with late hours, and the free living inseparable from his calling as a publican, gave the powerful pugilist his final knock-down blow on the tenth day of September, 1861.

“Strength too—​thou surly and less gentle boast
Of those that loud laugh round the village ring—
A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
With greater ease than e’er thou didst the stripling
That rashly dared thee to th’ unequal fight.”
Blair’s “Grave.”

[11] Caunt’s last battle, as closing his Ring career, may be properly considered to have been that with Bendigo, September 9th, 1845; the silly exhibition with Nat Langham in 1857 being a mere hors d’œuvre.

[12] John Gully, Esq., of Ackworth Hall. Elected M.P. for Pontefract, 1832.

[13] “Brother Bob,” a lumpy, civil, but uncouth-mannered rustic, weighing 12 stone, and 5ft. 1O½in. in height, may be dismissed in half-a-dozen lines. He was beaten in his first battle by Nobby Clarke, a clever but chicken-hearted big ’un, in 7 rounds, occupying a short quarter of an hour, October 22nd, 1844, in the Kentish Marshes. He next, after five years’ interval, met Burton, of Leicester, who polished him off in 48 minutes, during which 23 rounds were fought, April 17th, 1849, at Balsham Road. Bob’s last appearance in buff was during a tour in America, where, at Harper’s Ferry, May 7th, 1847, he struck his flag to Yankee Sullivan, after 7 rounds, in which 12 minutes were passed, for a stake of 1,000 dollars.




No one who reads with attention the chequered career of James Burke will deny that “The Deaf’un” deserves to rank as one of the most honest, courageous, hardy, simple-minded, and eccentric fellows who ever sought praise and profit in the Prize Ring. Jem was the son of a Thames waterman who plied at the Strand Lane stairs. Left at an early age to the charge of a widowed mother, young Jem betook himself to the amphibious calling of “Jack-in-the-Water,” at the stairs where his father once plied with his “trim-built wherry.” At the time of which we write, before steam-boats, with their gangways and ugly dumb-lighters (the latter to give way yet later to a noble embankment with its broad granite-stepped landing places) had superseded the “caus’eys,” and “old stairs,” from Wapping to Westminster, the favourite and popular mode of transit of the dwellers in Cockaigne to Lambeth, to the glories of Vauxhall with its al fresco concerts and 30,00 (additional) lamps; to Cumberland Gardens, with its trellised tea-boxes, and “little gold and silver fish that wagged their little tails;” to the Red House, Battersea, with its gardens and pigeon shooting; to “Chelsea Ferry,” with its elm-bordered promenade and Soldiers’ Home, and to the numerous places of riverside resort, was by “oars or sculls,” plied by the brawny arms of the “firemen-watermen,” one of the most laborious and deserving fraternities who devoted their well-earned and well-paid services to the pleasure-seeking public who patronised the broad highway of the Thames. The popularity and consequent prosperity of the stalwart “firemen-watermen” (for most of them wore the handsome coat and badge of, and were retained by, one or other of the great London Insurance Offices, and were the only organised body for the extinguishing of fires and saving of life) extended to the humble “Jack-in-the-Water,” whose duty consisted in wading bare-legged 95 into the rippling tide, dragging the sharp nose of the wherry on to the paved causeway, or by its pile-protected side, and there steadying it, while the “jolly young waterman” politely handed his “fare” over the rocking “thwarts” of his smart, light boat to his or her cushioned seat in the “stern-sheets.” For his services in thus holding on, and thereby securing the balance of the staggering land-lubbers, for a pair of “sea-legs” were never included in the cockney’s qualifications, “poor Jack” seldom went unrewarded by one or more “coppers,” for we had not then come to the “age of bronze.” This humble and weather-beaten calling was by no means an unprofitable one to a hardy, handy, and industrious lad, such as young Jem Burke undoubtedly was.

James Burke

JAMES BURKE (“The Deaf’un”).

The date of Jem’s birth was Dec. 8th, 1809, in the closing years of the “war of giants,” and in his earlier days London was alive with war excitement; with processions on the Thames of the gilded and bannered barges of the Corporation and the public companies, with gaily painted pinnaces, shallops, and house-boats, aquatic fireworks and illuminations, and galas in honour of our victories in Portugal and Spain; to say nothing of frequent grand doings along the then bright river on all sorts of City “gaudy” days. It was moreover the line of procession on the 9th of November and other times when my Lord Mayor went in state to Westminster; and of continually recurring wager matches of skill and strength for prizes given by citizens, public bodies, and aquatic clubs, for the encouragement of the Thames watermen “between the bridges.” All these have vanished with the crowds who enjoyed them. The “fireman-waterman” is as extinct as the dodo. The half-penny or penny steam-boat of an utilitarian age has “improved him off the face of the earth,” and the picturesque silver Thames runs a paddle-churned cloaca maxima of the great towns in its upper course, by the stately buildings of our Palaces of Parliament and Palatial Hospital, sweeping by where once Strand Lane stairs offered itself as a convenient outlet for “taking the water,” along a spacious embankment, with its leafy avenues, bordered by lofty stone-built public edifices. Far different the Thames by which the young Deaf’un earned his “crust,” and added to the poor comforts of a widowed mother. Then the merry-makings we have above alluded to made the miscalled silent highway a lively and populous show-scene, to the profit of such snappers-up of unconsidered trifles as our “poor Jack,” whose Christian name was Jem. As to the “schooling” of our hero—​for a hero he unquestionably was—​it amounted to that sort of general knowledge which could be picked up in that “university” which Mr. Samuel Weller declares to be the best for 96 sharpening a boy’s wits—​the streets. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge as yet was not; the “schoolmaster” was altogether “abroad,” in the wrong sense; and the Briarean School-board had not yet “comprehended all vagrom” boys and girls, and taught them the “three R’s” in spite of their teeth. “Reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic” not being in the curriculum of young Jem’s “’varsity,” he was perfectly innocent of those accomplishments, despite Dogberry’s assertion that to “read and write comes by nature,” though at figures, we can certify from our own personal converse, the Deaf’un had, on special occasions, an almost intuitive aptitude. His knowledge too, upon out-of-the-way subjects, was occasionally surprising; he had much “mother-wit,” a quaint felicity of expression, a sly touch of humour, and a quiet stolidity of look and manner, the outcome of his infirmity of deafness, which amused the hearer, from the apparently unconscious humour with which his comical notions were set forth. Of Jem’s physical powers and muscular endowments, the story of his Ring performances in after years will sufficiently speak.

Thus the young “Jack-in-the-Water,” like Topsy, “grow’d,” and we need not say he was well furnished in these respects to take his own part in the very rough “battle of life” to which he was from his earliest infancy introduced.

That the future Candidate for the Championship, born and bred in those “fighting days,” when Gully and Gregson, Belcher and Cribb, were on every tongue, should have yearnings to “improve his gifts,” as the goody-goody books express it, was but a natural sequence to what philosopher Square calls “the eternal fitness of things.” Hard by the Strand Lane stairs stood a well-frequented public-house, known as “The Spotted Dog,” the landlord of which was an ex-pugilist of no mean renown, hight “Joe Parish, the Waterman.” What wonder, that Joe’s judicious eye noted the good “points” in the sturdy little “Jack-in-the Water’s” build and disposition, and that he befriended the boatman’s orphan, patting his head as he warmed his chilled hands by the tap-room fire, where he dried his always damp and scanty clothing, and, as the Deaf’un himself has told us, saying, “You go straight, Jemmy, and we’ll see if you won’t be a topsawyer among ’em yet”? This early patronage by Joe Parish, as we shall see hereafter, continued down to Burke’s latest days, a fact creditable to both parties.

A passing remark on the pugilistic eminence of watermen may here be in place. Jack Broughton, the Father of the Ring, was a waterman; 97 as also was Lyons, who beat Darts for the Championship in 1769; while, passing over many boxers who plied the oar, the names of Bishop Sharpe, Harris, “The Waterman,” Harry Jones, and the Deaf’un’s “guide, philosopher, and friend,” Joe Parish, occur to us. No wonder, then, that on the 5th of February, 1828, young Jem Burke, under the wing of old Joe, was by the ring-side at Whetstone, near Barnet, an admiring spectator of the eccentric battle which there and then took place between a couple of dwarfs; one a Welshman named David Morgan, a vendor of shrimps and shell fish well known in various sporting and other public-houses, and the other Sandy M’Bean, a Scotch professor of the Highland bagpipes and the “fling.” After a ludicrous display of bantam game, Taffy was declared the conqueror, the second of the canny Scot carrying him out of the ring vi et armis, in spite of his protestations that he “wasna beaten ava’,” though the poor little fellow had not the ghost of a chance.

And now there was a pause, and a purse of £14 being collected, Ned Murphy (who had already fought M’Carthy, and a commoner or two), presented himself as a candidate for the coin. Our hero (who, doubtless, knew something of the challenger), eager of the opportunity of showing the stuff he was made of, at once, with the approval of Joe Parish, stepped into the ropes, and threw down his cap as a reply. No time was wasted in elaborate toilettes, and the ring being cleared, all eyes were bent on the “big fight” of the day, which, on this occasion, was presented as the afterpiece. Mister Murphy was so cock-sure of the money, and so eager to win, that he went off at score to polish off “the boy” for his presumption. Not only was his gallop stopped by some clever straight ’uns from the resolute young Jack, helped by an occasional upper-cut as he went in, but he, in turn, was fain to stand out, and retreat to “draw” his opponent. Young Jem, however, was not to be had twice at this game, and Mister Murphy not quite liking the look of the job, began to fight for darkness, which was fast coming on. Harry Jones, who was picking up Murphy as a “pal,” seeing the dubious state of affairs, stepped up to the referee and asked a “draw.” The men had now fought 50 rounds in the like number of minutes, and were quite capable, if they were of the same sort as the last dozen, of fighting 50 more; so the Young’un was persuaded to “whack” the stakes, and make up matters over a pot and a pipe at “The Spotted Dog,” by which arrangement Mr. Murphy got the “half a loaf” which is proverbially “better than no bread,” while the young “Jack-on-the-water” was in the seventh heaven of delight, not only at 98 his success (for he felt he must win), but at the possession of several golden portraits of His Majesty George the Fourth, of a value which to him seemed to vie with the fabulous treasures of Aladdin’s cave.

Jem was now “a card,” not only at the Strand Lane soirées, but was a free and accepted brother at all the sporting cribs in the hundred of Drury, Wild Street, the pugnacious purlieus of Clare Market, and among the “porterhood” of Covent Garden. Those were rough times, and among other rough entertainments the “rough music” of the butchers of Clare Market was not the least popular. Their marrow-bones and cleavers were always ready to “discourse” loud, if not “sweet music,” upon occasions of a wedding, a birth, or a christening among their own fraternity, or when any popular or well-known inhabitant took unto himself a wife. Foremost in these charivaris was one Tom Hands, who further had the reputation of being “sudden in quarrel,” and with him and the Deaf’un there had passed a sharp round or two at one of these uproarious gatherings, which had ended in their being separated by their friends.

On August 14th, 1828, Ned Stockman and Sweeney were matched to fight at Old Oak Common; the affair being arranged at a dinner at Alec Reid’s, at Chelsea. The ring was pitched, the expectant crowd assembled, and “time” was called. Peter Sweeney showed in battle array, but where was the “Lively Kid”? and echo answered “where?” He didn’t show at all, and a forfeit of the stake being then and there declared, his representative urged as a reason for what Sweeney called “making a fool of the public,” that Stockman “preferred his match with Harry Jones” (in which he was deservedly thrashed on September 16th, 1828). As the day’s draw thus proved a blank, and the meet could hardly separate without sport of some kind, a whip was made for an impromptu fight. The hat went round, and the cash being gathered by Alec Reid and the renowned Frosty-faced Fogo, a hint from one of the Clare Market Guild of Kill-Bulls that Tom Hands would like to cross hands with Jem Burke, there and then, if the namesake of “the author of The Sublime and Beautiful” dared face him, was at once seized with avidity. A shout went up from a hundred lungs as the burly butcher, his hair shiny with grease, and his cheeks red as a peony, drew his blue smock over his head and proceeded to divest himself of his upper clothing; nor was “poor Jack” without friends. Behind him stood Joe Parish and Alec Reid; Hands being seconded by Sweeney and a Clare Market amateur. The fight was a sad exposé of Tom Hands’ want of skill in the opening, and lack of what a slaughterman never should 99 be deficient in—​pluck. The Deaf’un, who looked hard as iron and solid as the trunk of a tree, fought the first three or four rounds on the retreat, jobbing the butcher fearfully, and bleeding him from every vein of his fleshy jowl; then, having got him down to his own weight, he reversed the process, and fought him all over the ring so effectively that in the 10th round, 17 minutes only having elapsed, Hands’ second threw up the sponge in token of defeat, the butcher being terribly punished, while the Deaf’un was scarcely marked.

Indeed the effects of this encounter could not have seriously affected him, seeing that, on the day but one afterwards, namely on August 16th, the Deaf’un was again on Old Oak Common, to witness the battle between Mike Driscoll and Pat M’Donnell. This affair disposed of, a new Black offered himself “under distinguished patronage,” as the advertisements say, to box anyone for “a purse.” The Deaf’un, always ready, slipped modestly into the ring, announcing to Mike Brookery, the M.C. on this occasion, that he should like to be “introduced” to Massa Sambo for the next dance. The affair was a mere farce. The black had but one qualification, that of a first-rate receiver; as a paymaster he was nowhere. After rushing in head down a dozen times, and getting upper cuts and sound right-handers on the ear innumerable, he rolled down for the last time at the close of thirty-three minutes, declaring “Me can’t fight no more,” and the purse was handed to the Deaf’un.

In 1829, the Deaf’un, who was now regularly enrolled in the corps pugilistique, was with a sparring party in the Midlands, where, in the month of March, the great contest between Jem Ward and Simon Byrne was to come off near Leicester. The reader will find this fiasco, known as “The Leicester Hoax,” in its proper place in our second volume. On the 10th of March, 1829, an immense gathering from all parts of the kingdom was assembled at Leicester; and the great event having ended in smoke, and Bill Atkinson, of Nottingham, having beaten Joe Randall, in the ring prepared for the big’un’s, the day being yet young, a purse was collected. For this a big countryman named Berridge, of Thormaston, offered to “try conclusions.” The Deaf’un joined issue, and a smart battle ensued. The countryman was so overmatched that after 22 minutes, in which 11 rounds were got through, each ending by Berridge being hit down or thrown, his backers took him away, and Burke walked off with the 10 sovereigns.

Burke was now matched with Fitzmaurice (an Irishman nearly 13 stone, who subsequently defeated Brennan and Tim Crawley), for £25 a side, to 100 come off on Epsom Racecourse in May; the rencontre was prevented by police interference, and the affair postponed to June 9th, 1829.[14] That day being appointed for the fight between Ned Savage and Davis (the Black), at Harpenden Common, near St. Alban’s, it was arranged that the Deaf’un and Fitzmaurice should follow those worthies. It was fortunate for the travellers who went to see the first-named fight that the Deaf’un and Fitz. were in reserve, for the affair of Savage and the bit of ebony proved “a sell;” and so the second couple were on the turf in good time, and in a well-kept and well-ordered ring. Young Dutch Sam and Gaynor, who had come down with Savage, volunteered to second Fitzmaurice. On standing up Fitz. loomed large in height and length, but a survey of the sturdy Deaf’un, his firm attitude and compact strength, brought the betting to even. We shall not attempt to detail the fight, which extended to no less than 166 rounds, fought under a burning sun, and lasting two hours and fifty-five minutes. There was some clever stopping in the earlier portion of the battle on the part of the Deaf’un, but he could not reduce the strength of Fitzmaurice, and he himself became exhausted. After the 70th round the fight became a question of endurance; the Deaf’un at the end of the rounds lying on his stomach on the turf to get wind, declining to be picked up by his seconds, kicking up his heels in a comical manner, and declaring himself “all right,” in reply to their anxious inquiries. On these occasions Young Dutch Sam and Gaynor, knowing the “blown” condition of their man, cunningly kept prolonging the “time” between the rounds, Fitzmaurice generally getting down, and the Deaf’un almost always rolling across, over, or beside him. About the 150th round both men were nearly incapable of delivering a hit, and Fitz. was more than once out of time, but the Deaf’un went in again, and so condoned the offence. At last, at the end of the time mentioned, Fitz. fell in his own corner from a left-handed poke; the sponge was thrown up, after as game and scrambling a fight as could well be imagined, and the Deaf’un was hailed the victor. Burke in a few minutes walked to his carriage, while poor Fitz. was conveyed to Wildbore’s, the “Blue Boar,” St. Alban’s.

At the Deaf’un’s benefit, on the following Wednesday week, Fitzmaurice was unable to put on the gloves as promised, but Young Dutch Sam did so. Although the Deaf’un was certainly a foil to show off the brilliancy of Sam, that accomplished boxer was somewhat mortified at the improved 101 style of Burke, who more than once gave him an opening in order to send in a clever return; keeping his temper so unruffled that loud applause followed his exertions. Indeed not a few of the “knowing ones” expressed their opinion that the Deaf’un would yet puzzle some of the “fashionable” 12-stone men.

About this time, as we learn incidentally from the report of his next battle, the Deaf’un met with a serious accident—​a rupture—​for which he received surgical treatment, and was compelled to wear a truss. Nevertheless, we find him in August under an engagement to fight Bill Cousens, who is described in Bell’s Life as a fine, fresh young Chichester man (who had already beaten Tom Sweeney and “the Cheshire Hero”), on the 25th of August, on which day they met at Whetstone. Tom Oliver and Frosty-faced Fogo were the M.C.’s, and we are told the “crowd was considerable. Swells and scavengers, drags and dust-carts,” conveying the motley groups to the scene of action. Cousens was seconded by Tom Oliver and a “Sussex friend,” Burke by Ned Stockman and Sweeney. The weather was again intensely hot. Cousens had the advantage in length of reach and height, and a trifle in weight. Cousens, though receiving most punishment, had it all his own way in throwing, and several times gave the Deaf’un such desperate falls, that the battle was supposed to be at an end; but the Deaf’un’s hardy frame seemed to resist all vicissitudes, and he came again and again; on one occasion, about the middle of the fight, so flooring Cousens that the odds went round to 2 to 1 on the Deaf’un. In the 95th round, Cousens got the Deaf’un on the ropes, and kept him there until the stake and rope gave way. The Deaf’un would not leave off, though advised to do so, when Reuben Martin stepped into the ring and threw up his hat in favour of Cousens, and the Deaf’un was withdrawn from the ring, after fighting 101 rounds in two hours and three minutes. The reporter says, “it was stated that Burke was suffering from the effects of a rupture.”

That this was not, at that time, of a very serious nature may be inferred from the fact, that the Deaf’un finished up 1829 by balancing this, his only defeat, with yet another victory. On December 1st all the pugilistic world was on the move into Sussex to witness the great (second) fight between Ned Neale and Young Dutch Sam for £220 to £200, which came to nought, owing to the arrest of Neale on his way to the battle-field on a warrant issued by Mr. Chambers. Sore was the disappointment and loud the complaints of the hundreds who had left London on 102 this hog-shearing expedition, as they surrounded the admirably formed ring at North Chapel, Sussex, and were told that there would be “no fight,” as Messrs. Ruthven and Pople, two “active and intelligent officers,” as the penny-a-liners styled them, had grabbed Neale, and were so strict in their attentions that they had declined to lose sight of him; indeed, they had at once carried him off in a postchaise to the great Metropolis. Harry Holt stepped forward, and addressing “the inner circle and boxes” (the latter represented by several four-in-hand drags and hired wagons), proposed “a collection.” Sam also presented himself amidst applause, rattling some coin in a hat. The money-matter was soon arranged, a big countryman named Girdler stepping into the ropes, and laying claim to the guerdon against all comers. In a few seconds the well-known, hardy mug of the Deaf’un was seen as he made his way through the crowd, and, amidst some cheering, declared that “he didn’t minds a shy at that chaps, if he did lose his sticks,” while Girdler, who had many country friends, said with a grin, “He knowed all about Mister Burke, and didn’t care a varden for ’un.” To give éclat to the affair, Jem Ward and Fogo offered themselves to second the Deaf’un, whereon Young Sam and Cicero Holt volunteered to wait upon the countryman.


Round 1.—​Girdler was certainly, as Sam said, “big enough for anything,” and when be threw his hands up, did it in a style that showed he was not the mere yokel he had been supposed. The Deaf’un looked as serious and as stolid as a pig in a pound, and as solid as a stump of a tree. He nodded at his opponent, and pointed down to the scratch, to which Girdler at once advanced, and the Deaf’un went a step back smiling. Girdler let fly his left; it was a little too high, but just reached the Deaf’un’s nut, who returned on Girdler’s cheek sharply; heavy exchanges, in which Burke hit oftenest and last, and both were down on hands and knees. (6 to 4 on the Deaf’un.)

2.—​The Deaf’un trying to get his distance hit short with the left; Girdler stopped his right, and popped in a sounding crack with his own right on the Deaf’un’s ribs, who broke away. (“Bravo!” cried Holt, “do that again for me.”) The Deaf’un grinned, licked his lips, and looked down slyly at his opponent’s feet. “Don’t be gammoned,” cried Young Sam. The advice came too late. Girdler rushed in, Burke popped his head aside, and the blow went over his shoulder, the countryman at the same instant receiving such a straight one in the mouth, followed by another over the left eyebrow, that he was brought up “all standing,” while the Deaf’un slipped down from his own blows. There was no mistake about the claim of first blood.

3.—​In went Girdler like a bull at a gate. The Deaf’un, not clever enough to prevent him getting on a sort of pole-axe, hit on his impenetrable nob, from which we think the countryman’s knuckles suffered most. Burke hit up, but couldn’t this time stop his man, who bored him to the ropes, and got him down in a scrambling rally.

4.—​Girdler again first; but this time Burke stopped him with one, two, and a ding-dong rally ensued, in which Girdler was first on the grass, blowing like a porpoise.

5, 6, 7, 8.—​Sam cheering on his man, who answered the call cheerfully, but always got two for one in the rally, and in the 8th round fell over the Deaf’un’s leg on his face so violently that Ward cried out to Holt to take his man away. “Take your man away,” retorted Holt; “he can’t beat mine in a week.”

9.—​Girdler came up game, but went in without any aim or precision; the Deaf’un propped him again and again, and at last 103 ran in and threw him a burster. (Cheers for the Deaf’un.)

10, 11, 12.—​A one-sided game. Girdler down at the end of each round against his will, and beaten by his own exertions.

13, 14, 15.—​Girdler merely staggered up to be hit, and finally went down fearfully punished.

16.—​Girdler came once more and made a wild rush; the Deaf’un stepped aside, and sending in his one, two, on the side of the countryman’s head, he fell over anyhow.

17.—​Cries of “take him away!” from the Londoners; but Girdler would not have it, and was indulged with one more round, which ended in his being floored in the hitting; whereupon Holt stepped across the ring and beckoned the Deaf’un, who at once crossed and shook hands with his brave but almost insensible antagonist. Time, 89 minutes.

The immense assembly now dispersed, the roads being soon alive, especially that which led towards Chichester and London. On one of the four-in-hands was seated “White-headed Bob” (Ned Baldwin), then in the full sunshine of aristocratic patronage. Bob had spent the overnight, or rather the morning, at the Monday masquerade, then in vogue at “His Majesty’s Theatre,” in the Haymarket, and donning a most remarkable suite of grey moustaches, whiskers, and beard, the resemblance to the then Duke of Cumberland was perfect. As the populace recognised the counterfeit of the unpopular Duke, the fun was uproarious. Pulling up at the “King’s Arms,” mine host hurried out with a decanter of sherry, a waiter following with champagne. H.R.H. cried out, “No, thankee, waiter, the Duke will take something short!” The schnapps was supplied. “I’m glad to see ye, my people,” said His Royal Highness, “but d——e if I like this stopping of fights; when I come next this way I’ll give you a turn, and if there’s no one else to fight, I’ll make one in a fight myself! Drive on, coachee!” And off went His Royal Highness in what the poet Bunn called “a blaze of triumph.”

The topsawyers of the top-weights of the day set their public appearances at too high a figure for the poor, unsophisticated Deaf’un to obtain any hearing for his modest proposal to fight any 12 or 12½ stone man for £25 a side, so he sparred at benefits and at the fairs and tennis courts, and hung about looking for a job until September, 1830, when Gow, who had beaten Ned Savage in December, 1829, offered himself to the Deaf’un’s notice, and articles were signed for a meeting on October 5th. The toss being won by Gow, he named Woolwich, and thither all parties repaired. There, however, they found Superintendent Miller, of the Thames Police, with sundry row-boats, and off they moved into Essex; but they could not shake off the anti-milling Miller, who, calling on a couple of beaks, pursued the excursionists towards Leytonstone, reinforced by the “Essex lions.” A council was held, which decided that as the game was “U.P.” in Essex, a retreat to Temple Mills across the border into Middlesex was the only chance of a quiet meeting. A “horrid whisper” went round that 104 Superintendent Miller had a warrant from the magistrates at Snaresbrook, and that two active constables were already on the track. Jack Carter, changing coat, hat, and handkerchief with the Deaf’un, with the quickness of a clown in a transformation scene, took the Deaf’un’s seat in a one-horse chaise, while both of the men made the best of their way towards Temple Mills. The ruse succeeded. Carter was yet a mile from the Essex frontier, when up rode a couple of mounted men, quickly followed by a posse of the amphibious Thames constables, and called upon the driver of the gig to “Stop, in the King’s name,” which he loyally and dutifully did, and away poor Carter was haled before the nearest beak, and his capture officially announced to the worshipful functionary. The culprit was brought forward. “James Burke,” said the awful representative of Majesty, reading the warrant, “it is my duty to commit you for a contemplated breach of the peace within this county of Essex——” “Excuse me, sir,” interposed Jack, “my name isn’t Burke at all, and why these here gentlemen——” “Then what is your name?” “I can save your worship trouble,” said Superintendent Miller. “I know this man well; his name is Jack Carter, and if I’d been at hand I shouldn’t have mistaken him.” “You are discharged, fellow,” exclaimed his worship, indignantly, and away went Jack, with a low bow to his crestfallen captors. At the bridge at Temple Mills the pursuit ceased, and all got over the river Lea.

The fight that now took place presented no features worth recording. The Deaf’un, who had always a touch of eccentricity, on this occasion appeared in the ring in a grotesque and original costume. His “nether bulk” was encased in a pair of green baize drawers, profusely bound and seamed with yellow braid, and with flying yellow ribbons at the knees, below which his sturdy pedestals were encased in a pair of bright striped worsted stockings and laced highlows. Although the day was waning, Burke managed to polish off his job before dark, Gow never getting a lead during 22 busy rounds, at the end of which his second, Birmingham Davis (who, as will be seen afterwards, fought the Deaf’un), claimed the fight for Burke, Gow not answering to the call of “Time.”

In the interim, before this affair with Gow, a curious incident illustrates the readiness of the Deaf’un, who was then always in training, to “do business at the shortest notice.” Bob Hampson, of Liverpool, visited London, where his fame as the conqueror of one Jack Pye, and subsequently of Wm. Edwards, at Bootle, and Bill Fisher, at Milbray Island, had gone before him. Bob offered himself, at £25 a side, to the notice of Burke; 105 who expressed himself ready, as the Liverpool carpenter wanted to return northwards, to meet him at an early day as might be convenient. Two fights were “on the slate” for the 26th of the current month, one between Sam Hinton and the Bristol baker (Mike Davis), the other between the youthful Owen Swift, and an East End Israelite, of the name of Isaacs. To these the Deaf’un and Hampson were added, and all were satisfactorily got off at Harpenden Common on the same day.

Hampson, with these credentials, was the favourite at 6 and 7 to 4. Indeed, the chance of the Deaf’un looked by no means “rosy,” yet he never lost heart or confidence. Hampson came down to St. Alban’s under the wing of Tom Spring; to whose care he was recommended by no less a person than Jack Langan, Spring’s former foe, but now fast friend. Hampson came on the ground with Tom Oliver and Harry Jones as his seconds, the Deaf’un attended by Fitzmaurice (a former opponent) and Ned Stockman.


Round 1.—​As the men stood up Hampson did not impress the London connoisseurs favourably, either as to his boxing skill or his capability for rough work and endurance. He looked leggy, stood wide, and fidgeted, rather than manœuvred, in an anxious and hurried manner, while the Deaf’un, who was the picture of sturdy health, stood firmly facing him, eyeing him sharply, and only just moving so much as to prevent his opponent from stealing a march on him either to right or left. The Liverpool man, after some dodging, let fly his left and caught Burke a tidy smack on the cheek, but got a return on the mouth from the Deaf’un’s left, which more than balanced the account. A brief spar, when Hampson again was first, and reached the Deaf’un’s nob. This led to a smart exchange of blows, Hampson delivering several snowy hits on Burke’s dial, which, however, left hardly a visible mark, while the Deaf’un’s returns seemed to paint and flush the countryman. In the close Hampson got the Deaf’un’s head under his left arm cleverly, and hit up, but he couldn’t hold him, and Burke lifted him over and threw him an awkward side fall. (Cheers for the Deaf’un, but no offers.)

2.—​Hampson again let off with the left, but was met with a counterhit, and Burke forced a rally; some sharp half-arm hitting at close quarters, in which the Deaf’un showed most strength. In the close both down.

3.—​Hampson came up bleeding from the mouth and nose, and Burke seemed to have damaged his left hand. Hampson hammered away, and hit for hit was the order of the day. The men closed, and after a struggle both were down. (Even betting.)

4.—​A short round. Hampson led off, but his blows left scarcely a mark, and after a break and some manœuvring Hampson slipped down.

5.—​Counterhits with the left. Burke the best of the exchanges. Hampson the quicker fighter, but Burke the steadier and harder hitter. A long rally and no flinching till Hampson fell on his knees; Burke walking to his corner.

6.—​Hampson dodging about and feinting with the left, the Deaf’un solid as a post, but moving his arms defensively. Hampson got in a smack with his left, which the Deaf’un countered, but not effectively. More weaving work, hit for hit, a close, Hampson thrown heavily. (6 to 4 on Burke.)

7.—​Hampson seemed a little lame, and sparred for wind; Burke waiting. The Liverpool man, as before, let fly with the left, and reached Burke’s head just above the left eye, stopping the Deaf’un’s return neatly, amidst applause. The Deaf’un shook his wig-block and grinned. Hampson tried it again, and got such a return from Burke’s right in his ribs that he fell on his knees, but was quickly up again, and renewed the round in a lively manner, until the Deaf’un closed and threw him over his hip by a heave. (Applause.)

8.—​Hampson came up blowing and coughed two or three times. He was evidently shaken by the last throw. He however kept in good form and led off. Burke shifted a little and retreated, but, biding his time, met Hampson with a fearful jobbing hit on the mouth 106 that staggered him; Hampson returned to the charge and hit away wildly, and once and again the Deaf’un nailed him. This was not done without damage, for Hampson caught him with his right on the ear such a wax-melter, that if the Deaf’un could have been cured by that process he might have heard better for some time afterwards. A close embrace, in which neither man could get a hit, ended by Burke pulling Hampson down; both on the ground, blowing like grampuses.

9.—​The last struggle had told most upon Hampson. He was distressed, while the Deaf’un might be described as “much the same as usual.” Hampson pointed to the scratch as they met, Burke shook his head, grinned, toed it, and then made half a step back as Hampson tried a feint with his left. Hampson once more led off, and there were some sharp exchanges. The Deaf’un nodded to Stockman as he got away, and Hampson did not follow, saying, “He can’t hit me hard enough, Mister Neds.” “I believe you, my boy,” replied the Lively Kid. Hampson again got on Burke’s nob, receiving a rib-roaster. Hampson was first down.

10.—​Hampson made play, but the Deaf’un met him, and hit for hit was once more persevered in until Burke threw Hampson after a short wrestle.

11.—​The Carpenter showed marks of severe punishment, and the Deaf’un’s cast-iron frontispiece was ornamented with some crimson patches and bumps. Hampson was evidently less inclined to go to his man, and worked round him à la distance. The Deaf’un, with a comical grin, in turn pointed down to the scratch with his right hand forefinger; Hampson seized the opportunity, as he thought, and hit straight at Burke’s head, who, quick as lightning, countered with his left on Hampson’s jaw. “Bravo!” cried Stockman, “I’d have told him to do that, only he can’t hear me.” The men were at it again, when Burke drove Hampson on the ropes and chopped him with the right. Hampson rolled down (7 to 4 on Burke).

12, 13, 14, 15.—​Hampson came up game, and fought for a turn, but his confidence was gone, and the Deaf’un timed him, now and then putting in an ugly one, and ending the round by getting Hampson down.

16–20.—​The Deaf’un still declined to lead off, but always had the best at close quarters. In the last named round Hampson dropped on his knees in the hitting, and the Deaf’un threw up his hands, bowed comically to the spectators, and walked to his corner. (Cheers.)

21.—​Hampson, encouraged by his friends, fought vigorously, and at one time seemed to have got a turn; in the close the Deaf’un was under. (Shouts for Hampson.)

22.—​Hampson appeared to have got second wind; he manœuvred round his man, and delivered one, two, neatly. The Deaf’un laughed and shook his head, but was short in the return. “That’s the way,” cried Harry Jones, “he’s as stupid as a pig. Hit him again, Bob, he’ll stand it.” Hampson did so, but the Deaf’un countered, and then went in for close work. Hampson could not keep him out, and was forced back on the ropes, where the Deaf’un hit him heavily until he got him down anyhow.

23.—​Hampson much shaken by the last round; Burke waiting. “Why don’t you go in, Jem?” shouted Reuben Martin, “it’s all your own.” The Deaf’un nodded, and did as he was bid. The advice was not good, for Hampson nailed him sharply right and left, and in a rally Burke over-reached himself, missed his right, and slipped down.

24.—​Some amusement was created by the Deaf’un’s evident attempt at gammoning distress, to induce his opponent to come on. Hampson, however, fought shy. After some sparring they got closer, and again give-and-take was the order of the day, the pepper-box being freely handed from one side to the other. Hampson was thrown, but not heavily.

25.—​The tide was turned against Hampson. He retreated before the Deaf’un, who now assumed the offensive, and in a rally the Liverpool man was fairly hit down in his own corner.

26–40.—​In all these rounds it was clear that Hampson’s defeat was a mere question of time. In the 40th round he was thrown heavily, and his friends proposed to give in for him; he, however, refused, and came up for the 41st round, when Burke hit him on to the rope, and then let him get down, walking away to his own corner. Hampson’s backer stepped into the ring and desired the sponge to be thrown up, saying it was useless to expose a brave man to further punishment. Time 44 minutes. The Deaf’un crossed the ring, shook hands with his opponent, and then indulged in a sort of hornpipe-step in his own corner, putting on his clothes with little assistance. Hampson was carried to his carriage, severely punished, complaining that he lost his power of wrestling from an injury to his leg in the 5th round.

Remarks.—​This battle tells its own tale. The Liverpool man’s friends had much overestimated Hampson’s scientific attainments, and equally miscalculated his opponent’s cunning defence, backed as it was by extraordinary powers of endurance, indomitable pluck, and cool courage. “Hampson was, up to a certain point, the cleverer man, but, that point passed, his chance was gone, and he was beaten by toughness, readiness, and strength. The Deaf’un by this battle has shown himself a dangerous competitor for any 12-stone man on the list. He is now the winner of seven fights, mostly with big men, and must not be meddled with by any mere sparrer. However flash and wide-awake he may think himself, he will find the Deaf’un knows a thing or two that will astonish him when it comes to real work. The 200 and 107 300-pounders, though ‘great guns,’ will do well to take our hint.” These last remarks, which we transcribe from a contemporary sporting paper, show the good opinion which Burke was fast gaining among the most competent judges of boxing merit. Of course the 200 and 300 pounders mean the men who fixed £200 or £300 as the price for a Ring appearance.

We have just seen that our hero fought and won two sharp battles within three weeks, and we have now to record yet another arduous conflict within the three weeks next ensuing, namely, on November 16th, 1830, on which day he met Tim Crawley at the well-fought field of Whetstone, for a stake of £50.

Mister Timothy was a stalwart Milesian coalwhipper, aged twenty-three, hard upon six feet in height, and balancing 13 stone, and though no relation to “Peter the Great,” was only a shade less than the fighting weight and stature of that ponderous ex-champion. Tim was “presented at the Castle,” not of Dublin, but in Holborn, by a distinguished Hibernian field-officer, who intimated to Tom Spring his readiness to post the “needful” for Tim in a trial with any man Spring might select. There was the Deaf’un, rough and ready, “standing idle in the market place;” and as he said, when he was asked as to when he would be ready if a match were arranged, “Well, you see, Misters, I’se ready at any time—​the sooner the better—​but where’s the moneys to come from? I’ll put down five of my own, buts——” a well-known member of the Stock Exchange struck in immediately, “and I’ll find the second five, and perhaps some more, if it’s wanted.” So the articles were there and then drawn, and Tuesday, the 16th, set down.

East Barnet was the fixture, and on the appointed morning, despite a heavy storm of wind and rain, a numerous cavalcade thronged the roads from Finchley and Southgate to the rendezvous. Crawley came down in a brand-new white upper-benjamin, on the swell drag of his military patron. Tim was radiant, if the weather was gloomy, and assured his friends that “He thought mighty little of Misther Burke’s foightin”—​(Tim had seen his battle with Hampson)—​“if all he could do was what he did with that tumble down carpenther from Liverpool. By jabers,” he added, “I’m the boy that’ll tache him quite another sort o’ fun.” The storm increased in violence, the time was come, and all were waiting with what patience they could command. Crawley alighted from his vehicle and claimed the stakes, when Reuben Martin hastened up breathless and covered with mud, to announce that the Deaf’un would be there immediately. The Deaf’un had left Soho in a hired gig; the horse had proved a “bolter,” and after a gallop along the Finchley Road, and up a bye-lane into which he had been 108 turned, had smashed the gig and deposited the Deaf’un and his pal in a clayey ditch, the former pitching on his head with no other damage than a mud-bath. The Deaf’un now hove in sight, attended by Welsh Davis (afterwards called “Birmingham”) and Ned Stockman; Crawley had the services of Harry Jones and an Irish “friend.” The colours were tied to the stakes, the ring whipped out, and amid a pelting shower of rain the men stood up for


Round 1.—​Crawley stood over the Deaf’un by at least three inches, and topped him in weight by about a stone. He was, indeed, a fine muscular specimen of humanity, though some critical anatomists pronounced him too thick about the shoulder-blades, and, therefore, what is technically termed “shoulder-tied,” a defect which detracts both from the distance and the quickness of a man’s blows. The Deaf’un’s solid, trunk-of-tree look, was by this time familiar to all ring-goers, as he stood with his comparatively short arms, the left slightly in advance, and the right across covering his side and mark. Crawley lost no time in letting his adversary know his “little game,” for in he went, swinging out his left arm rather than hitting straight, and following it with a lunge with the right, both of which would have been ugly visitations had they got well home; but the first was stopped, and the second only just reached the Deaf’un’s ribs as he shifted ground; Crawley followed up his charge with more round hits, or rather misses, in exchange for which the Deaf’un, getting within his guard, hit up so sharply, the right on Tim’s eye and the left on his mouth, that he paused a moment before he renewed his hitting out. The Deaf’un had broke away, and now led Mister Tim a short dance round the ring, during which he propped the big ’un several times. Crawley lost his temper, and made a furious grab at Burke with his open right hand, catching him round the neck, when, to the surprise of all, the Deaf’un, throwing his arms round Crawley’s waist and butting him in the breast with his head, heeled him and threw him a clear back fall, adding his own weight to the concussion, which would have been far more serious but for the fact that the ground was about the consistency of a half-baked Yorkshire pudding. (2 to 1 on Burke.)

2.—​Crawley came up with his face painted the colour of the sign of the “Red Lion,” and the claim of first blood for the Deaf’un was admitted. Tim was, however, nothing daunted, and smiled contemptuously at his opponent, who nodded his nob in reply. At it again went Tim, in the style which we at a later day recognised as peculiar to Ben Caunt, whom Crawley (though better looking and not so tall) much resembled in his bust and mode of hitting. The onslaught was again but partially successful, the Deaf’un hitting up at close quarters with unusual precision, while Mister Tim pummelled away, often at the back of Burke’s head, neck, and shoulders, until they closely embraced, when the Deaf’un got his man down somehow.

3.—​Crawley came up strong on his pins, but already much disfigured. His left eye was nearly closed, his lips swelled and bleeding, and his cheek-bones and forehead full of “bubukles, and knobs, and whelks;” yet he went to work as before. After a stop or two, the Deaf’un again got his length, and sent in a smasher on Crawley’s damaged kissing organ, but could not escape such a right-handed “polthogue” from Tim’s bunch-of-fives on the top of his head as sent him staggering across the ring, amidst the shouts of the Emerald party. Crawley tried to follow up his advantage, but the Deaf’un recovered himself, was “all there” after a few exchanges, and finished the round by slipping through Crawley’s hands as he tried to grab him at the ropes.

4.—​A short round. Burke’s nob again visited; a rally in favour of the Deaf’un and both down.

5, 6, and 7.—​Very similar. Crawley showing increasing signs of punishment; the Deaf’un’s left ear tremendously swelled, and some blue marks about his frontispiece. In a rally Crawley missed his right and struck it flush against the stake. Burke was undermost in the last-named round.

8.—​Crawley, a deplorable spectacle, rushed in and got jobbed severely; in the close Burke threw Crawley heavily. Tim had no pretence to wrestling skill, and his right hand seemed almost hors de combat from contact with Burke’s granite skull and the oaken stake.

9.—​Crawley nearly dark in one window, and the other with the shutter half-up. The Deaf’un now went in in turn. He allowed Crawley to get on his favourite right at the ribs, jumping aside at the moment with a quick step, and sending his own right as a return smash into poor Tim’s frontispiece. Ding-dong till both out of breath and Crawley down.

10–25.—​The whole of these rounds were 109 too much alike to deserve particular description. They varied only in which of the men finished the round by being first down at the close, and in this Crawley scored a large majority. In the 25th round Crawley’s remaining daylight became so nearly darkened that his last chance seemed gone. General Barton asked him to leave off, but he refused, saying, “Sure, yer hanner, an’ I can bate that fellow yet.” So he was indulged in seven more short rounds, and then, at the thirty-third, being in total darkness, his backers withdrew him after a slogging battle of 30 minutes only!

Remarks.—​Each time the Deaf’un appears in the ring, he surprises us by his manifest improvement. True, Crawley turned out a perfect novice, still the Deaf’un’s style of hitting, stopping, and getting away from a powerful and determined assailant was a clever demonstration of the art of defence; while the way, when the time came, in which he adminstered pepper with both hands at close quarters was something astonishing. Burke walked to his conveyance; he declared himself little hurt by Crawley’s body blows. Poor Tim was carried to his patron’s drag, and was soon conversable. He declared, no doubt with truth, that he “Couldn’t for the life of him make out how he was bate, at all, at all, no more nor a babby.” Some of the fancy suggested that the great Irish champion, Simon Byrne, with whom Jem Ward’s fiasco of Leicester was yet rankling in the public mind, might find his match in the Deaf’un; but this was not yet to be.

The sky had how cleared and the wind abated, when some fun was promised by a proposed fight between two well-known eccentric characters in the fistic world. These were no other than the facetious Tommy Roundhead, the trainer, and in after-time the “Secretary” to Deaf Burke, and the renowned Frosty-faced Fogo, D.C.G. (Deputy Commissary General), C.P.M. (Chief Purveyor of Max), and P.L.P.R. (Poet Laureate to the Prize Ring), for all these honours had been conferred on him by the Press. These illustrious wights had it seems differed (so it is rumoured) about the etymology of a Greek verb, the use of the digamma, or the literary attainments of Jack Scroggins; and in one branch of the disputation Tommy had not only asserted his own superiority in prose and poetry to the Laureate, but had offered to back Scroggins against him in writing blank verse or hexameters. Fired at the insult, the Frosty-faced’un tipped Tommy such a volley of black (letter) chaff that the latter declared himself quiet dumb-founded and nonplushed; so he offered to post five bob, and to fight Fogo in the same ring as Burke and Tim Crawley, just to settle the knotty dispute. Frosty’s official duties having ceased with the exit from the ring of the two principals, the Deputy Commissary stepped into the middle of the ring, and “thrice called aloud for Richmond” (we beg pardon, Roundhead). Before, however, he was “hoarse with calling” Roundhead, Tommy appeared, ready stripped to the waist, hopping through the mud like a pelted frog. Shouts of laughter greeted his entrée to the ropes, and at once he of the Frosty-face, hearing his defiance answered, began (unlike the Homeric heroes) to divest himself of his panoply, and would have been quickly in his natural buff suit, had not the ring filled with curious inquirers, anxious to learn the cause of this unusual commotion. The matter explained, the literati (represented 110 by the ring-reporters), the University wranglers, and the aristocracy of the P.R., decided unanimously and with one voice (remember it was “raining cats and dogs”) that it would be derogatory for so distinguished a votary of Apollo to descend from Parnassus to roll his laurelled brow in Middlesex mud. “Forbid it, Phœbus, and ye Muses nine!” exclaimed Cicero Holt, then, descending to plain prose, he added, “Come, shove on your toggery, Frosty-face, you’ll catch cold, you old muff;” and, suiting the action to the word, he tried to thrust the “pen-hand” of the irate bard into the ragged sleeve-lining of his “upper Ben.” The task was impracticable. “There’s five bob down, and I’ll have a round for it,” cried the Fancy Orpheus. “Oh, d—— your five bob, Frosty, we’ll make that right,” cried half-a-dozen voices. At that moment poor Frosty beheld with dismay the greasy sleeve of his old coat torn clean out at the shoulder, and his own naked arm protruding from the yawning rent. He felt like

“That bard forlorn,
By Bacchanals torn
On Thracian Hebrus’ side,”

so he cried for quarter; and being reassured that he would be indemnified for the five bob, and “leave the ring without a stain on his character,” as the police reporters have it, he was appeased, pocketed the affront (and the five shillings), and straightway, with assistance, returned to his chariot (a South Mimms farmer’s cart), in charge of his true-blue stakes, his ditto beetle, staples, tent-pegs, and neatly-coiled cordage. As for Tommy Roundhead, after calling the gods to witness his readiness to do battle, he waxed less pugnacious, and quickly “lost stomach for the fight” when he was told the victorious party (to which his principal and he belonged), had a dinner waiting at the “Blue Boar,” of which he was invited to partake. The rain had now come on again, and as Apollo was appeased, no one cared to expose himself any longer to the anger of Jupiter Pluvius, and all who had the means, got as quickly housed as possible; the pedestrians plodding their weary way through slush and mire to their humble homes, the equestrians rattling home to their more luxurious domiciles.

Hampson challenged the Deaf’un to fight for £50, within 30 miles of Liverpool, but the affair fell through.

The Deaf’un now came out with a challenge to any 12-stone man and upwards (bar Jem Ward), dating from Reuben Martin’s, in Berwick Street. This was promptly answered on the part of Birmingham (Welsh) Davis, who declared his £100 ready, if necessary. The match was, however, 111 made for £50 a side on December 16th, 1830, “to fight within four months.” In Bell’s Life of December 26th, 1830, we read, à propos of a discussion of the merits of heavy weight exhibitors at the benefits at the Fives Court, and the sparring of Ned Neale, Young Dutch Sam, Tom Gaynor, &c. “The Deaf’un was transformed into a swell, but had not lost his civility, as do too many of his calling. He was never known to utter an oath or an offensive word to any one, and has established the character of a good-natured, well-meaning fellow.” Of how few men in most positions in life could this be written truly!

February 22nd, 1831, was the day, and Baldwin having won the toss for Davis, named Knowle Hill, near Maidenhead, the spot where he (White-headed Bob) beat George Cooper. Baldwin had forgotten that Sir Gilbert East had “departed this life,” and that his place was filled by an anti-millarian justice. Davis, with Arthur Matthewson and Perkins, the Oxford Pet, reached Maidenhead on Monday, and there also arrived Jem Burn, Reuben Marten, Burke, cum multis aliis. At an early hour Tom Oliver and Fogo were on the move to Knowle Hill with their matériel, when they spied three mounted men in the distance. “My mind misgives me sore. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!” quoth Fogo. The horsemen approached. “S’help me,” said Tom Oliver, “they’re beaks to a sartinty; I don’t like the Jerusalem cut of the first one.” And Tom was right. Up rode Sir Maurice Ximenes. “My good men,” said Sir Maurice, “if you don’t want to get into trouble you’ll clear out of both Berkshire and Wilts. Myself and these two gentlemen have determined to suffer no breach of the peace in our jurisdiction. Go back at once to your party and tell them so.” Tom

Scratched his left ear, the infallible resource
To which most puzzled people have recourse.

“In course, yer worshup,” said the Commissary, “nobody would think of goin’ agenst yer worshup’s orders.” And he turned the head of his nag towards whence he came, muttering something very like a witch’s prayer for the Semitic nose and Israelitish carcase of his worship. All now were in motion for the Bush Inn, Staines, and, arrived there, Shepperton Range, in Co. Middlesex, was decided on. Burke, Reuben Marten, Stockman and company were on the ground in good time, but Davis was delayed by the overturning of his post-chaise between Windsor and Egham, through the clumsiness of his driver. It was, therefore, full 112 two o’clock before he arrived, when no time was lost in preliminaries. Burke was seconded by Stockman and Reuben Marten, Davis by Harry Jones and Perkins. The colours being tied to the stake, and umpires and referee chosen, at the cry of “Fall back! Fall back!” and the crack of the ringkeepers’ whips, all settled themselves down, and the men began


Round 1.—​Both men set to in good form, and covered their vulnerable points well. Davis looked brown, strong, and hardy, his trade of a coachsmith being one well calculated to promote muscular development. The Deaf’un was paler than usual, though he looked bright and confident. There was a sly looseness about the Deaf’un’s action that seemed intended to induce the Brum to go in. Davis tried a nobber with the left, but Burke got away smiling. More shifting and Davis let go his right at the Deaf’un’s ribs, and his left at his head; the former Burke caught on his elbow, the latter got home sharply, and exchanges followed. The Deaf’un broke away, counter-hits and a close, in which the Deaf’un gained the fall. A most determined first round, with as much fighting as half a dozen first rounds of our modern sparring professors.

2.—​Davis bleeding from the nose and a cut on the left cheekbone. The Welshman got on a heavy smack on the Deaf’un’s eye, which twinkled and blinked again. Burke shook his head and hemm’d twice or thrice. “He don’t like it,” cried Harry Jones, “do it again.” Davis tried to do so, but was stopped neatly. Mutual stopping and shifting, until the Deaf’un balanced accounts by a straight’un on Davis’s left ogle that seemed to electrify him for the instant. Both men now got at it ding-dong. Davis staggered once or twice from the heavy hits, but recovered and went on again. At last Burke drove Davis into his corner and hit him down. (First knock down for the Deaf’un.)

3.—​Davis flushed, but still strong, fresh, and active. Deaf’un hit short to draw his man, and then sent in a cross counter as Davis hit out with his left. A rally. Davis fought fast and furious; a close and Davis under in the fall.

4.—​Heavy hitting and a bustling round. Jack as good as his master, and not a pin to choose. Towards the close Burke’s heavier metal told, and both were down, blowing; Davis undermost.

5.—​Fast work and bellows to mend. A terrific round. Counter-hits; give and take and no mistake; Davis determined to get the lead, and Burke resisting his assaults like a brick wall. At last Davis closed, but after a brief struggle the Deaf’un flung him a clear cross-buttock, poor Davis’s legs whirling in the air like the revolving spokes of a coach wheel.

6.—​Davis slow from his corner, but did not appear to be so much shaken by the last round as was expected. This was a very short bout. Davis retreated, and the Deaf’un went in; exchanges, and Davis down in his own corner.

7.—​The Deaf’un, sly as a ’possum, would not go over the scratch, but kept throwing out first one elbow, then the other, with a funny little jerk, and looking his adversary all over with a kind of self-satisfied grin on his stoneware mug, as much as to say, “Let’s see what you are going to do next,” to which poor Davis certainly did not seem able to give any practical answer. He, too, shifted from side to side, then taking courage from despair, in he went, Burke jumping back from his first delivery, and each of their left hands coming “bash,” as a bystander expressed it, in the other’s face. Some more left-arm hitting, both men as game as pebbles, Burke’s broadsides the heavier, and poor Davis over on his beam ends.

8.—​On being righted, and got once more on an even keel, Davis yawed and rolled not a little. Still the Deaf’un stood off, waiting for his opponent to make sail for close quarters, which he did, and again they were yardarm and yardarm. It was not for long; away fell Davis, reeling under the weight of the Deaf’un’s shot, and went over among the bottles in his own corner.

9.—​It was surprising to see how readily Davis recovered from what appeared almost finishing hits. There was much advice-giving in Davis’s corner, and “Time” was more than once called before the Welshman was out of the hands of his seconds. The round was very short. Davis once again went in, and this time got on a stinger on the Deaf’un’s left ear, and a round one in the bread-basket. A scramble, and both down.

10.—​Davis on the totter, but he steadied himself and got home his right on Burke’s body; good counter-hits. Davis got Burke on the ropes, but he extricated himself, and closing threw Davis.

11.—​Davis hit short and stepped back. The Deaf’un did not follow. Some little time spent in sparring; both blown. At 113 last the men got together, and Davis, finding he must do some hard fighting, went in hand over hand. Burke was with him and got him down in the hitting under the ropes. Burke walked to his corner while the Lively Kid performed a fancy step, leaving Reuben to make a knee. (Cries of “Take him away!” from the Londoners.)

12.—​Davis came up all abroad. His knees seemed to shake under him. Still he steadied himself as well as he could, and hit out. Burke merely stepped in and hit him down with one, two.

13.—​It was all over with Davis. He walked up to the scratch with an unsteady step, and stood there quite bewildered. The Deaf’un faced him. Some one in Davis’s corner cried “Don’t hit him!” The Deaf’un stepped over the scratch and caught hold of his right hand, Davis’s seconds rushed forward, received him in their arms, and conveyed him to his corner. Time, twenty-seven minutes.

Remarks.—​Burke is all to nothing the better fighter at points. The battle was never in doubt after the first few rounds. Experience, coolness, and readiness, and a good deal of work without much show, marked the Deaf’un’s tactics throughout. More than once he played off his favourite manœuvre with effect. This consists in throwing himself in a loose and careless attitude, and looking at his man’s feet, or anywhere but in his face, when, if his adversary takes the bait and comes in, he suddenly lets fly, and seldom fails to administer a couple of punishing blows, or at least a damaging counter-hit. David Davis, who, we learn, has a long time worked in London as a coachspring maker, and who beat Manning in the short space of 24 minutes on Wolverhampton race-course in December, 1828, has now been beaten by the Deaf’un in 27 minutes. The Brums were deceived by the reports of Bill Cosens, who never ceased disparaging the merits of the Deaf’un, whom he boasts of having “beaten easily,” though he has several times shuffled out of a second engagement with him. Davis returned to Birmingham on Wednesday week, after showing at the Deaf’un’s benefit, and the giving up of the stakes at Reuben Marten’s, on the following Tuesday. Davis’s chief visible hurts were these—​injured left hand and discolouration of the eyes.

One Blissett, a 14-stone man, and a butcher by trade, having crept into favour with himself and his fraternity by some bye-battles, and defeating Brown (the Northampton Baker), was matched against the Deaf’un, not a few of the “kill-bull” brotherhood hoping to reverse the verdict in the case of Hands, who was still a popular favourite among them. In this affair the Deaf’un again posted the first “fiver,” this time out of his stake with Davis, whereon Tom Cannon, on the part of Mr. Hayne, promised the rest of the stake of £25, and the day of battle was fixed for the 26th of May. The betting began at 6 to 4 on the Deaf’un. Burke went into training at the “Crown,” at Holloway, and Blissett took his breathings at the “Black Horse,” Greenford Green. There was a good muster of the sporting public on the ground at Colney Heath, Blissett coming on the ground in style with a four-in-hand, sporting a crimson flag and black border, the Deaf’un a green-and-orange handkerchief. When stripped, Burke appeared in a fancy pair of white drawers of a glazed material, trimmed and bound with green ribbons, and tied with green bows at the knees, where they were joined by a pair of blue-and-white striped stockings. Blissett weighed 13st. 12lb., and stood 6ft; the Deaf’un 12st. 8lb., and stood 5ft. 8in.



We shall give but a general sketch of the rounds of this one-sided affair. In the first round Blissett, who displayed more sparring ability than was expected, began by planting heavily on the Deaf’un’s eyebrow, which he cut, and thus gained the first event amidst the uproarious cheers of his admirers. Soon after, however, the scene was changed, for the Deaf’un, getting under his guard, gave him several such severe body blows, that the big one, who certainly carried too much flesh, literally staggered and caught the top rope with his hand, while the Deaf’un had his opponent’s head at his mercy, until, recovering himself, Blissett forced a wild rally, in which he bored the Deaf’un down, without doing much mischief. In the following rounds Blissett, who was already piping, tried to lead off, but generally either missed or was stopped, while the Deaf’un, every now and then, got in a rattling hit on the mouth, eyes, or nose, in pretty equal succession. Before the 10th round was reached, Burke had not only got his man down to his own weight, but forced the fighting, or the reverse, at his own will, getting slyly inside and under Blissett’s hands, and hitting up at half-arm with punishing effect. After two or three more rounds of furious and wild fighting on the part of Blissett, he fell off, and in the 13th round the Deaf’un closed, lifted him, and threw him heavily. In the 14th and 15th rounds Blissett, after receiving a prop or two, literally got down amidst some hissing. Despite Young Dutch Sam’s urging him on, the big one now fought shy; indeed he was frightfully punished about the head.

In the 17th and 18th rounds Blissett, after a hit or two, turned away and fell on his knees and hands; and when he fell in the 19th and last round from a coming blow, Sam threw up the sponge, and the Deaf’un was hailed the victor amidst loud cheering. Time, 44 minutes.

Blissett was conveyed back to town, and the Deaf’un, having dressed, assisted to beat out the ring for the next fight, in which Young Richmond (a smart bit of ebony only 18 years of age, son of the renowned old Bill), was defeated by the afterwards celebrated Jack Adams, a protégé of Jem Burn.

Burke now laid by for a time, part of the interval from a boating accident, in which he badly injured the cap of his knees, which detained him in a hospital for several weeks. That this was serious we may conclude from the fact, that the writer was more than once told by the Deaf’un, in after years, that, “Though you can’t see nothing, misters, I often feels my leg go all of a suddent.” There was, in fact, a partial anchylosis, or stiffening of the joint.

In May, 1832, at a dinner at Tom Cribb’s, in Panton Street, Spring, the ex-champion, Josh Hudson, Ned Neale, Jem Burn (his old antagonist, Ned Baldwin, had just dropped the reins and quitted his box at the “Coach and Horses,” St. Martin’s Lane), and other leading pugilists were present. The after-dinner conversation, of course, ran on the past exploits and future prospects of the Ring. The remarkable group of pugilists—​which included Jem Ward, Peter Crawley, Jem Burn, Ned Baldwin (White-headed Bob), Shelton, Tom Cannon, Ned Neale, Young Dutch Sam, Alec Reid, and Bishop Sharpe, the successors of Tom Spring, Langan, Bill Neale, Ned Painter, Josh Hudson, Oliver, and Hickman—​had, before 1832, each fought his last fight, and “the slate” was positively clear of any engagements 115 among the “heavies.” Among the guests was a cavalry officer, whose regiment being ordered for India (“short service” and “home leave on urgent private affairs” were not then in fashion), expressed his regret to jolly Josh Hudson, that he believed the race of “big ’uns” was extinct, and that he should “never see the like again” of those present. Josh, of course, coincided, but when the soldier added, that he would gladly give “a note with a strawberry-tart corner” to see such a mill, old Jack Carter, who had come in with the dessert, “put in his spoke,” and asked Josh whether he couldn’t “find him a job,” as he was ready and willing, and felt himself man enough for any second-rater who would make a good fight for a little money. Jack added that he had only the day before seen Burke rowing at Woolwich, being well of his bad knee, and complaining of the “deadness” of everything, and that they had come up to town together.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.” The soldier had no time to spare, and was prompt; the men promised to be at the “Old Barge House,” Woolwich, on the morning of the 8th of May, meeting on the previous day at Josh’s “Half-Moon” tap, to make final arrangements. Tom Oliver, who was present, was officially engaged, also Jack Clarke; Dick Curtis and Frank Redmond volunteered to pick up the Deaf’un, and all was smoothly settled.

There was a select muster, with an unusual sprinkling of swells, on that pleasant morning of the merry month of May in the Woolwich Marshes, near the “Old Barge House,” round the newly painted stakes and a new set of ropes, &c. recently presented to Tom Oliver by the F.P.C. (Fair Play Club), through the hands of Tom Belcher. The men were punctual. Carter was waited on by Barney Aaron and Sol. Reubens (who had lately fought Tom Smith, the East End Sailor Boy). Old Jack certainly looked “hard,” and also, as Barney added, “brown and stale, like a well-kept loaf.” He, however, stripped “big,” and showed the outlines of the once boasted “Lancashire hero,” the opponent of Spring, Richmond, Cribb (in a turn-up), Shelton, and Jem Ward. He was neatly got up, but showing unmistakable marks of age, as well he might, for Jack was now entering his 43rd summer, having been born in September, 1789. The Deaf’un, too, was in good trim, deducting the ugly defect of a stiff knee—​a serious drawback when opposed to length, weight, and height. Of these, however, the cheerful Deaf’un made no account, and was as lively and quaint as a Merry Andrew, in his grotesque green and yellow kickseys, and striped coverings of his sturdy pedestals.

The fight, though displaying courage, offered little in the way of science. 116 For the first four rounds Carter bored in and drove the Deaf’un against the ropes, where he tried in vain to hold him for a “hug,” the Deaf’un hitting up sharply to the damage of Carter’s figure-head, and then getting through his hands with little damage. The Deaf’un was certainly out of order somewhere in the victualling department, for towards the middle of the short fight he retched and was violently sick from his exertions in a throw. This revived the hopes of the Carter party, against whom the game was evidently going. It was, however, but a passing gleam; the Deaf’un shook off his qualms of indigestion, rattled in without standing for any repairs, old Jack became stiff as a wooden image, then groggy as a sailor three sheets in the wind, and finally, at the end of the 11th round, went down “all of a heap,” and declared he “could fight no more,” at which conclusion it took him only 25 minutes to arrive.

The ring cleared, Josh announced to his patron that he had, foreseeing that the big ’uns might, one or the other, “come short,” provided an after-piece, by then and there getting off a “little go;” said “little go” being the match between Izzy Lazarus[15] and Jem Brown (the go-cart man). This was indeed a rattling and active fight, until, after an hour’s sharp milling, in which capital “points” were made by both men, the Thames police landed from their galleys and compelled a move, at the same time informing them that “it was no use crossing the river, as they should follow them up or down, either to the City-stone at Staines, or to Yantlet Creek.” In this hopeless state of affairs it was proposed to divide the original £10 stakes and the added purse, which was assented to by the Napoleon, of Go-cart men, and his Israelitish opponent, who had had, no doubt, quite enough of each other “at the prishe.” The “swell” division bowled back to the great metrop., well pleased with their day’s outing, though the drop fell rather suddenly on the second pugilistic performance.

The Deaf’un for some months confined himself to the business of an exhibitor and teacher of the art, superintending the sparring rooms at the “Coach and Horses,” and demonstrating at Reuben Marten’s on certain nights in the week. He might also always be depended on (which many men not so good as he were not) to lend a hand in aid of any poor pug in distress or difficulty.

Towards the close of 1832 the Deaf’un formed part of a professional party (organised by his late opponent Jack Carter), who visited Manchester, 117 Liverpool, Bradford, and other towns, to enlighten the Lancashire and Yorkshire tykes upon the true principles and manly practices of the art of self-defence, as taught in the best schools of boxing. These milling missionaries—​we have seen less laudable missions since that day—​of course awakened more or less a “revival” of “fair play,” the study of the gloves, and the legitimate use of the fist among both the “upper” and “lower” orders. While at Hull an immense specimen of a gigantic North countryman, of the name of Macone, having had “a try with the gloves,” thought “he could lick any of these Lunnoners except Jock (Carter) and he was too old to talk aboot.” The Deaf’un thought quite differently; so £20 a side was put down, and, with only a few days’ training, Macone and the Deaf’un faced each other at Lackington Bottom, near Beverley, on the 8th January, 1833. “Macone,” says the meagre report of the battle, “stood 6 feet 2 inches, and weighed 15 stone, and had polished off several big yokels in first-rate style. The Yorkshireman was in first-rate condition, while the Deaf’un was generally thought not quite up to the mark. He weighed 13 stone (a little too heavy) and stood 5 foot 8.” Of the battle we have scanty particulars, yet the reporter adds, “it was such a fight as would not have disgraced the days of Cribb and Belcher. Burke had to do all he knew to obtain a victory over his large opponent, who turned out the bravest of the brave, and took his gruel without a murmur, until he could no more stand up to receive.”

We have here, for the sake of keeping the chronological order of the Deaf’un’s fights, followed on with his “crowning triumph” over the mighty but unskilful Macone, and shall here “hark back” a few months, just to show how ready Jem Burke was to “negotiate” with any boxer who might be “getting mouldy for want of a bating.” His old adversary Cosens appears to have thought that the Deaf’un’s accident had laid him “on the shelf,” for he kept from time to time firing off challenges, in Pierce Egan’s and other sporting papers. Here is one of them, which certainly savours of “gag,” especially as the writer was then upon a sparring tour, and in the same paper advertises a “benefit” at Brighton:—

“The Editor of Life in London.

Sir,—​I wish to inform Deaf Burke, as he takes upon himself the ‘Championship of England,’ that I am ready to fight him again. Should he think proper to do so, I will meet him at the ‘Wheatsheaf Inn,’ Chichester, within a fortnight, and make a match for £50 a side, to come off within one or two months, as he may prefer.

“Hunston, January 24, 1832. WM. COSENS.”

Immediately beneath this epistle we read as follows:—


Sir,—​I understand that Josh Hudson sent something like a challenge to me in your paper last Sunday. If he means fighting I will meet him at the ‘Coach and Horses,’ St. Martin’s Lane, on Monday evening next, for from fifty to one hundred a side.

St. Martin’s Lane, May 22, 1832. JAMES BURKE.”

This affair of Hudson’s was a mere “flash-in-the-pan.” Josh’s day was decidedly gone by, while the Deaf’un, whose birth dated but five years previous to Josh’s first ring-fight, was in the prime of youthful strength and vigour.

Another of Burke’s challengers at this time, a Welshman of the name of Bill Charles, “loomed large” in the Principality and the West of England. He had twice beaten Jem Bailey, of Bristol, and polished off several rural commoners, and recently (June 4, 1832) conquered a local favourite, Tom Trainer (much under his own weight). From this triumph the soi disant champion’s bounce became so intolerable that Trainer’s friends clubbed their resources, and resolved to back the Deaf’un, as a fit and proper man, a very Orlando, to floor this braggart Charles; but unfortunately this portion of As You Like It was not rehearsed in Taffy-land, the “Lunnon cove” not being to the liking of Charles’s friends. Burke went down to Newport (Monmouthshire) to make the match; but the Welshman’s backers (like Aminadab’s servant when he opened the door, on the chain, to the bailiff) seem to have taken alarm at the formidable appearance of the Deaf’un, and Mr. Charles replied, on behalf of his patron, “Master hath seen thee and he doth not like thee;” preferring to forfeit a small deposit. Burke offered to fight “the Welsh Champion” half-way between Abergavenny and Newport, or near Bristol, or at Monmouth Gap, for £50 or £100 a side, but the affair went off, and Burke returned to London—​matchless.

On the retirement of Ward from the Championship, among the crowd of pretenders to the title, the Deaf’un certainly had the fairest claim, having fought his way up, refusing no opponent, and disposing of every competitor, save one, and he afterwards declined to risk a repetition of the contest, upon transparent quibbles.

At a meeting at Tom Spring’s, in a pugilistic palaver, wherein matches were discussed, examined, and the pros and cons agreed and decided on, the Deaf’un, in his peculiar style, suggested, that he would like a match with Young Dutch Sam, “becos he was so clevers,” or Simon Byrne, “becos he was big enoughs,” or, in fact, with anybody that “tought himselfs champions.” At first Young Sam seemed disposed to take up the glove, but on reflection he said, “Burke was too heavy for him by more than a stone and a half. 119 That was giving too much away.” Shortly afterwards a well-known Irish Colonel coming in, declared his readiness to back Byrne against the challenger, and a meeting was appointed for the following Tuesday at Spring’s. On the day named Simon’s “needful” was tabled; but alas! the poor Deaf’un was obliged to acknowledge his failure in enlisting any kind friend to back him, as “they were all out of towns when he called on ’em. But,” continued he, “to shows as I means fightins there’s a soverins of my owns to begins with—​let Byrne’s friends cover thats, and on Thursday week I hopes I’ll make it tens, an if not—​why, I’m de fools.” Two gentlemen present, admiring Burke’s pluck, added a sovereign each, making three, which were covered by Spring for Byrne. Bell’s Life, speaking of this meeting, says: “It is to be hoped that Burke will not lack supporters; he may not possess the gift of the gab, but he wants none of the requisites of a British boxer; he is honest, brave, and confident; and from his past good character, as well as the prompt humanity he lately showed in rescuing fellow-creatures from danger at the risk of his own life (we allude to his saving two children, who were buried in the ruins of some houses in Essex Street, Strand), it would be discreditable to see such a man lost for a trifle. It is always in the power of many to assist one, and here is an opportunity for those who wish to patronise the old British game of boxing upon honest principles which should not be overlooked.” The week after this appeal Burke found his friends (he did not call upon those who were “out of town,” he told us), and the match was made for £100 a side, to come off on the 30th May, 1833.

A singular circumstance occurred to the Deaf’un on his way home from Spring’s on the night when the occurrences took place which led to this anecdote of Burke’s good qualities. A fire was raging in Long Acre, in a poor and populous neighbourhood, at which Burke especially distinguished himself, and was honourably mentioned for his courageous exertions, rescuing a great deal of humble property at no small personal peril.

As we propose to give but a brief sketch of the ring career of Simon Byrne, as a pendant to the present memoir, we shall not here break the thread of our story, but proceed at once to the details of this unfortunate contest.

“The Irish Champion” was backed on this occasion by “all the talent.” Jem Ward, Ned Neale, Tom Spring, and Jem Burn were, to use a professional phrase, “behind him,” and he had at his command all that money 120 and skill could do for him. On arriving in town from Liverpool, Simon’s weight exceeded 15 stone, and this mountain of flesh he had to reduce and did reduce to 13st. 4lbs. With this view he was at once sent off to Ned Neale’s, at Norwood, and, under his skilful superintendence, by hard work and sweating, this reduction was effected; but not, we are convinced, without impairing his natural stamina, for Byrne’s habits in Ireland were, so said rumour, far from abstemious. Burke, on the contrary—​for the Deaf’un was never a slave to liquor—​had only to improve his condition by good air, sound food, and healthful exercise, of which he took at Northfleet, under the eye of the veteran Tom Owen, a full share both on and off the water, much of his time being spent in rowing. Burke on the morning of fighting weighed 12st. 4lbs., the weight which Captain Barclay declared, when combined with science, to be heavy enough to box Goliath himself. We ought not to omit that Tom Gaynor generously took Burke under his wing, and guaranteed his training and personal expenses.

No Man’s Land was fixed upon for the battle, in consequence of an undertaking on the part of Mr. Coleman, of the Turf Tavern, St. Alban’s, to raise £25, to be equally divided between the men. On Wednesday evening, May 29th, the night before fighting, both men reached St. Alban’s in good spirits, and both confident as to the result. Burke was the favourite in the betting, as he had been, more or less, since the match was made; the odds varying between 5 to 4 and guineas to pounds. The arrivals at St. Alban’s were not numerous on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning there was unusual bustle, and as the day advanced the crowd of vehicles was such as to recall the olden times of the ring. The piece of turf chosen for the encounter was smooth as a bowling-green; in fact, nothing could have been more suitable to the purpose, or better calculated to have afforded a good view of the contest, but for the irregularity which prevailed among the throng, who, in spite of all entreaty, crowded round the ropes and stakes during the battle, and, by the most disgraceful confusion, not only shut out the view of the combatants, but distracted the attention and excited the fears of the spectators by a succession of fights and squabbles. The men arrived on the ground soon after 12 o’clock. The Deaf’un was all jollity, and full of antics, having disfigured his Grimaldi countenance with white patches, for the amusement of the yokels, at whom he kept making wry faces all the way from his quarters; in fact, had he been going to a fair instead of into the P.R. he could not have been in higher spirits. Byrne was more staid, but still was cheerful. He was the first to 121 enter the ring, attended by Tom Spring and Jem Ward; he was loudly cheered. Burke soon followed, accompanied by Tom Gaynor and Dick Curtis, and was received with equal marks of favour. A good deal of time was lost in settling preliminaries, during which the Deaf’un continued his playful tricks, much to the astonishment of Byrne, who exclaimed he did “not think the man was in his right sinses.”

On stripping, it was obvious that Burke, in point of muscularity, was decidedly superior to Byrne, especially in the arms and shoulders; he was also in the best condition. Byrne looked well, but there was a softness about his shoulder-blades which showed he was still too fleshy. He stood about an inch and a half over Burke, but, nevertheless, did not seem to have much advantage in the reach; upon the whole, the connoisseurs gave the preference to the Deaf’un, who was health personified. The men were conducted to the scratch at about half-past one, and immediately commenced


Round 1.—​Both threw themselves into defensive positions; the Deaf’un grinning most confidently, and slyly looking at his antagonist. Byrne made one or two feints to draw his man, but Burke waited steadily for him. They then changed their ground. Byrne again made a feint, and after the lapse of some time, both cautious, Byrne let fly with his left. Burke countered heavily, and caught Byrne on the mouth, while he had it himself on the nose. Burke snuffled, and Byrne cried “First blood.” “No,” said Burke, and wiping his finger on his nose, withdrew it unstained. Another short dodging pause, when Byrne again let go his left, which dropped on the old spot; while Burke as quickly returned on the mouth; and again did the cry of “first blood” resound from all quarters; and, on inspection, the crimson was seen on Byrne’s lips, and on Burke’s proboscis, at one and the same moment. First blood was claimed for Burke, but disputed; and we understand the umpires and the referee decided it was a tie—​giving neither the advantage. Some good counter hits with the left followed, and in the close, after an awkward scramble, both went down, without any decided advantage. On getting up both showed claret, Byrne from the nose and mouth, and Burke from the nose. Burke also showed the mark of a hit on the right brow.

2.—​Long sparring. Burke waiting for Byrne to begin, being well on his guard. Both offered, but did not strike. At last Byrne popped in his left on Burke’s mouth, while Burke’s left, in the counter, went over his shoulder. Burke looked slyly down at Byrne’s body, as if intending to make his next hit there, but stealing a march, he threw in his left on Byrne’s mouth. Byrne was, however, awake, and countered. Mutual dodging. Burke stopped Byrne’s left cleverly; and after more sparring, Burke exclaimed, “Isn’t this beautiful, Simons?” while Gaynor said “his man was certain to win, and should be backed against any man in England.” Burke tried his right, but missed, and the men rushed to a rally. Heavy hitting took place, and in the close Byrne had the advantage, giving the Deaf’un the crook, and falling heavily on him, but on getting up it was obvious the hitting was on a par, as both had received some ugly clouts. These two rounds occupied 17 minutes.

3.—​Burke stopped Byrne’s left in good style, and waited for the renewed attack. Both cautious. Burke again stopped a left-handed stinger, and succeeded in throwing in his own left on Byrne’s mouth. This brought them to a rally, and the hitting left and right was lively and pretty. In the close there was some good in-fighting in favour of Byrne, but in the struggle for the throw both went down slovenly, Burke under.

4.—​Counter-hits with the left, when Byrne threw in a tremendous whack with his right on the back of Burke’s head; had it been in front the effect might have been conclusive. Burke, at the same moment, caught him in the ribs with his right. A rally followed, in which hits were exchanged; 122 and, in the close, Burke was thrown. On getting up, both showed additional claret from their smellers, and Byrne had evidently had a refresher on his left ogle.

5.—​A good rally, commencing with left-handed counters; both napped it. Byrne stepped back, and as Burke came he gave him the upper-cut with his right, and closing threw him heavily. Loud shouts for Byrne; and Jem Ward asked the Deaf’un how he liked that. The Deaf’un laughed, and shook his head, observing, “Very good, Misters.”

6.—​The knuckle of Byrne’s right hand now began to swell—​the consequence of its terrific contact with the Deaf’un’s canister in the fourth round. Pretty counter-hits with the left, ending in a rally, in which both hit away left and right. In stepping back from his own blow, Burke fell on his corobungus, and first knock-down was claimed, but not allowed, as it was clearly a slip.

7.—​Counter-hitting with the left. Burke again made some pretty stops. The men fought in a rally to the corner, where Byrne caught Burke under his arm, and fibbed, but not effectively, and ultimately threw him, falling heavily on his corpus. “He can do nothing but throw,” cried Curtis; and the Deaf’un was up, and as jolly as ever.

8.—​Heavy slaps, right and left; both had it on the nob. Burke was driven against the ropes, and Byrne fought well in. Burke butted,[16] and in the end got down, Byrne on him.

9.—​Both cautious. Byrne again trying the feint, but Burke well on his guard. At last Byrne let fly his left, but Burke was with him, and returned it heavily. In the close, Byrne tried for the throw, when Burke hung by his arms round his neck. At last Byrne hit him a tremendous blow with his right on the body, and they both went down together.

10.—​Both resined their hands,[17] and set-to as fresh as daisies. Byrne dropped in a slight muzzler with his left, which was followed by counter-hitting, and a severe rally. Byrne missed a terrific upper-cut, which would have told a fearful tale, and fell. Both exhibited considerable marks of punishment on getting on their seconds’ knees.

11.—​Short counter-hitting with the left, followed by a determined rally, in which the nobbers left and right were severe. In the close Byrne down.

12.—​Burke threw in a stinging hit with his right on Byrne’s ribs. A weaving rally followed, which was concluded by Byrne’s getting down, amidst the jeers of the Deaf’un’s friends.

13.—​Byrne popped in his left. Burke tried to counter, but missed. A wild rally, in which Burke was driven to the corner of the ring, and fell; Byrne tumbling on him with his knee, it was said, in a tender place, whether designedly or not we could not judge.

14.—​Byrne had a suck at the brandy-bottle before he commenced; when the Deaf’un rattled in, and gave him a heavy round hit with the right on the body, and went down from the force of his own blow.

15.—​Counter-hitting with the left. Burke active on his pins. Byrne missed a right-handed hit, and fell, we suspect rather from design than accident.

16.—​Burke popped in his left and right, two stinging hits. Byrne returned with the left, closed, and threw him.

17.—​Burke now had recourse to “drops of brandy,” and Byrne, who had shown symptoms of distress, seemed to have got fresher. Counter-hitting with the left, both catching it on the chops, and showing more pink. A short rally. Byrne fought well in; and in the close, both down, the Deaf’un under.

18.—​The fight had now lasted 45 minutes. Long sparring, and both slow in their operations. Burke, in his usual cunning manner, looked down as if studying the movements of Byrne’s feet, and popped in a whack with the left on his body; a manœuvre which he tried a second time, with equal success, with his right on the ribs. Burke stopped a left-handed hit, but caught another nasty one from Byrne’s right on the neck; it was a round hit, and missed the butt of the ear, for which it was intended. A short rally; when Byrne tried for the fall, but in swinging round was himself thrown.

19.—​Burke showed feverish symptoms in his mouth, which was extremely dry. Long sparring, and pretty stops on both sides. Burke threw in a heavy smasher with his left on Byrne’s mouth, and followed it with tremendous heavy hit with his right on the ear. Byrne made a rejoinder with his left on the Deaf’un’s nose, and turned quickly round on his heel. “How do you like that?” cried Ward. Both ready, and on their guard; Burke evidently waiting for Byrne to commence; but incautiously putting down his hands to wipe them on his drawers, Byrne, as quick as lightning, popped in a snorter. Loud laughter at Burke’s expense. Burke rushed to a rally, and some severe hitting right and left followed, Byrne receiving a cut over his left eye. Byrne administered the upper-cut, and in the close, went down.

20.—​One hour and 20 minutes had now elapsed. Counter-hitting with the left, but not much execution done. In the close, both down. Byrne’s right hand seemed to be of little use to him.

The same style of fighting was persevered 123 in, with little advantage on either side, till the 27th round, by which time one hour and 47 minutes had elapsed; and the crowd had so completely closed in round the ropes as to prevent the distant spectators from witnessing the progress of the fight.

In the 27th round, after counter-hits with the left on both sides, at the head, Burke popped his left heavily on Byrne’s body. Byrne rushed to a rally, and Burke, retreating to the ropes, received a heavy hit in the head, which dropped him. The first knock-down was here universally admitted.

In the 29th round Burke was thrown heavily, his head coming with tremendous force on the ground; and in the 30th, Byrne, catching him against the ropes, gave him some severe body blows with the right, and finally threw him. While lying on his face, Burke was sick, and threw up some blood; his friends looked blue.

31.—​Burke came up weak, and rather groggy. Byrne rushed in, and hit him heavily on the ribs, and in the close again threw him. Byrne now became a decided favourite, and was evidently the fresher man.

In the 35th round, two hours having elapsed, Byrne again caught Burke at the ropes, and in the in-fighting, gave him some severe punishment, while Burke butted. Burke thrown.

36.—​Byrne pursued the same system of boring his opponent to the ropes, and peppered at him while in that position. In trying for the fall, Byrne held Burke up by the neck for some time, trying to fib with his right, but not effectively; but at last Ward gave him the office, and he let him go, falling heavily upon him.

37.—​Burke sick, but still resolute. From this to the 43rd round Byrne seemed to have it his own way, and Burke was so much distressed that his friends began to despair of success. Tom Cannon now jumped into the ring, followed by several others, and considerable confusion prevailed. Cannon had been backing Burke, and evidently came to urge him to renewed exertion. He loudly exclaimed, “Get up and fight, Deaf’un; do you mean to make a cross of it?” A person who was equally interested on the other side struck at Cannon, and ultimately got him outside the ropes. In the interim, Burke went to work, bored Simon down against the ropes, but fell outside himself, while Simon was picked up within the ring.

In the five following rounds both fought in a wild and scrambling manner, equally exhausting to each; and in the 49th round, Burke, who had summoned all his remaining strength, rattled away with such fury that Simon at last went down weak. Here was another change, and Burke again became the favourite. From thenceforth to the 99th round, repeated changes took place. On one occasion the hat was actually thrown up to announce Byrne’s Victory, from the impression that Burke was deaf to time, as he lay, apparently, in a state of stupor; but, to the surprise of all, Curtis again brought his man to the scratch, and he renewed the contest with unshaken courage. From the state of Byrne’s hands, which were dreadfully puffed, he was unable to administer a punishing blow; and round after round the men were brought up, surrounded by their partisans, who crowded the arena, and by sprinkling them with water, fanning them with their hats, and other expedients, endeavoured to renew their vigour. To attempt a description of each round, from the uproar which prevailed, would be impossible. Burke, whenever placed before his man, hit away right and left, at the body and head, and always seemed to have a good hit at him, although his left hand was almost invariably open. In the 91st round Simon gave him a heavy fall, and fell upon him; and it was here considered that the Deaf’un’s chances were almost beyond a hope. Still he continued to come up at the call of his seconds, and each round exhibited a determined display of manly milling; both hit away with resolution, and the men were alternately uppermost. At last, in the 93rd round, Byrne exhibited such symptoms of exhaustion that the shouts of the friends of Burke cheered him to fresh exertion, and, rushing in wildly, he hit Byrne down, and fell over him. This made such a decided change for the worse in Simon, and for the six following rounds he came up so groggy, that he was scarcely able to stand, and rolled before the Deaf’un like a ship in a storm. Bad as he was, he continued to meet the Deaf’un with his left, and to do all that nature would permit. Burke, however, proved himself to have the better constitution, and continued to pepper away till the last round, when Byrne fell senseless, and was incapable of being again lifted on his legs. Burke, who was also in the last stage of exhaustion, was immediately hailed as the conqueror, amidst the reiterated cheers of his friends. The fight lasted exactly 3 hours and 16 minutes and at its conclusion, Gaynor proclaimed that Burke was “Champion of England.” Ward, who was in the ring attending to Byrne, exclaimed “Walker,” but whether he means to dispute Burke’s claim to that distinction remains to be seen. Byrne was carried to his vehicle, while Burke, with difficulty, was able to walk from the ring. The scene that prevailed in the ring for the last hour was disgraceful, and shut out from the spectators a view of the most part of the fight. It would be difficult to say which side was most to blame, for in fact each man had his party, who were equally busy in their interference. It is but justice, however, to say that the men themselves received fair play, and that there was nothing done towards them which called for censure.

Remarks.—​Upon the character of this protracted fight we have few observations 124 to make. The length of time which two men of such size continued to attack each other, and to pour in a succession of blows, without any decided effect, proves that, as compared with the olden members of the ring, they did not possess those punishing qualities which are essential to an accomplished boxer; and that they have earned little of that admiration which, in former times, was excited by the slashing execution of big men. Burke evidently possessed more cunning than Byrne, and often took him by surprise by threatening the body when he meant the head, and vice versa. The early injury to Byrne’s right hand was a decided disadvantage, and had he fought more at the body, from Burke’s sickness, it was considered the result might have been different. Taking the battle as a whole, however, it certainly entitled the men to the greatest praise, and placed them on record as boxers of the highest courage and extraordinary powers of receiving. But for the disorder which prevailed, we have no doubt the contest would have elicited universal astonishment, especially towards the finish, when the adversaries rushed to each other repeatedly, and hit away with unshrinking courage and perseverance, never going down without a mutual dose of pepper. As the battle drew toward a close, Byrne missed many of his left-handed counters, and in the 98th round received such a stinging hit with the right on his temple, that on coming up for the last time, it was clear his chances were gone by. The Deaf’un rushed in to finish, and, being still “himself,” had only to hit out and end his extraordinary labours.

The men, after the fight, were re-conducted to their respective quarters at St. Alban’s, and were both put to bed. Byrne was bled by a surgeon, but continued in a state of stupor. His punishment seemed to have been severest on the left side of the head; his left eye was completely closed, while his mouth and face generally were much swollen. In the body, too, there had been many blows, especially on his left side. He received every possible attention, and a gentleman who had been extremely kind to him in his training remained with him the whole night. Burke was by no means so great a sufferer, although he bore severe marks of hitting, and his arms, from the shoulders to the wrists, were black with stopping. To his heavy falls his sickness was principally attributed. As a proof that he was “all right,” as he said, after lying in bed a few hours, he got up and dressed, and went to town the same night, and showed at Tom Gaynor’s, where he received the congratulations of his friends, and talked of throwing down the gauntlet to all England as soon as he recovered.

In the same paper we find that poor Byrne’s state had become very precarious on the day after the fight; that his head had been shaved, and leeches applied to the bruised parts. It was thought by his friends that his mind was deeply affected by his defeat, and that he suffered as much from this feeling as from bodily injuries. On the Saturday night intelligence was received in town that the poor fellow was much better, and it was hoped out of danger, but these hopes, unfortunately, were not destined to be realised, for we find in the next number of Bell’s Life, the following remarks:—​“Poor Simon, on the Saturday after the mill, became so much better that he was apparently quite himself, and expressed his 125 thanks for the attentions he had received. He said, ‘if he died, of which he had a presentiment, his death would be more attributable to the irregularity of his mode of life before he went into training, than to any injury sustained in the fight.’ His mind, however, was evidently deeply affected by his defeat, and he frequently declared he would rather have died than been beaten; and, indeed, such was his increasing nervous agitation, that in the course of the evening he again relapsed into insensibility, from which he did not afterwards recover. On Sunday morning an express was sent off to London for Spring, who had been called to town on business. He immediately obeyed the summons, and on arriving at St. Alban’s, and finding the precarious state in which Byrne was, at once sent for Sir Astley Cooper, who humanely proceeded without delay to the house where Byrne lay, and entered into consultation with the gentleman who was in attendance. Sir Astley at once saw that the case was hopeless. He, however, administered such remedies as he thought best, and remained with the poor fellow until his death, which took place at half-past eight in the evening. It was believed by both medical men that the symptoms of the unfortunate man were aggravated by his depressed state of mind at his defeat. There was also a strong belief that the reflection of his having been instrumental to the death of Sandy M’Kay also preyed upon his spirits, as he expressed a presentiment of his own death. From the first moment of his entering the ring, it was observable that his countenance wore an aspect of deep care and thought, and when Burke was distressed, he regarded him with evident feelings of commiseration. While he fought with manly courage, and never shrank from danger, it was clear he was not following the suggestions of his nature. He was not, in fact, a quarrelsome man, but on the contrary, seemed animated by the most kindly disposition, and was alike mild in his manner and his language. Burke, also, although a rough, unpolished man, evidently had no feeling of animosity towards his unfortunate antagonist; the only object he had in view was to obtain victory. In fact, no two men ever entered the ring whose sentiments towards each other were so thoroughly devoid of malice, and whose object was so entirely wrapped up in the desire of fame; the one being influenced by a wish to wipe out the prejudices excited most unjustly from a former defeat, and the latter by anxiety to excel in a profession which from his boyhood was the darling object of his ambition. With all his roughness, however, Burke has given traits of an excellent disposition he has on more than one occasion risked his own life to save the lives of 126 others. He is also strictly honest and sober, and altogether his character stands so high that this alone has led to his obtaining backers.”

The inquest was held on Byrne on the Monday after the fight, before Mr. Blagg. Some of the witnesses deposed that the men were often carried to the scratch; and that towards the conclusion of the battle they did not think they could have gone up alone.[18]

Mr. Kingston, a surgeon of St. Alban’s, who attended the deceased, stated that he bled him, and applied leeches to his head; that there was concussion of the brain, but that the deceased was occasionally sensible. Witness attended him constantly until his death. On a post mortem examination he found a great deal of extravasated blood about the left side of the head. The brain and dura mater were also distended with blood. The heart, liver, and intestines were perfectly healthy. Deceased was a fine, muscular man, and witness attributed his death to the congested state of the brain, combined with prolonged and violent exertions, and the mental suffering under defeat.

The Coroner: “Then deceased came by his death from the blows?”—​Witness: “In my opinion, had the deceased been the victor instead of the beaten party there would have been a chance of his recovery. There was not sufficient injury on the head to account for death.” The Coroner attempted to find out the names of the time-keeper and referee, but without avail, and at length summed up, and the jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter against Deaf Burke as principal in the first degree, and Tom Spring, Jem Ward, Dick Curtis, and Tom Gaynor, and the umpires and referee as principals in the second degree.” The coroner then made out his warrant for the committal of the parties against whom the verdict was returned.

The body of poor Simon was buried at St. Alban’s, on the Tuesday after the inquest. He was 32 years of age. An appeal was made by the Editor of Bell’s Life in London for the poor fellow’s widow, which was headed by himself with five guineas, and to this, the same week, the Deaf’un, Spring, Ward, Gaynor, and Curtis each added a similar sum, and in a very short time the sum of £262 was raised for the unfortunate woman.


The Trial.—​On Thursday, July 11th, 1833, the trial of Spring, Ward, Gaynor, Curtis, and the Deaf’un took place at Hertford Assizes. On the previous day, when Mr. Justice Bailey charged the Grand Jury, he alluded to the case in a humane and impartial manner, and the Grand Jury found a true bill against all the parties concerned. On the Thursday morning, Burke and Dick Curtis, who had surrendered, were put to the bar before Mr. Justice Park, and pleaded not guilty. As Spring and the other two accused did not surrender at first, the trial of these men was proceeded with. Witnesses were first called who proved that the fight had taken place, after which Mr. Kingston, the surgeon who had attended Byrne up to the time of his death, was examined. He described the post mortem examination, and the appearance of the body, in similar terms to those which he had used before the Coroner. He next said the fulness of the vessels of the brain might be caused in various ways, by blows, or falls, or excitement. After three hours’ fighting such an appearance might be produced; the exertion might have caused it without a blow. He did not find the vessels of the brain more distended where the bruises were than in the other parts; the cause of death was the congested state of the brain.

Examined by Mr. Justice Park: “Then, finding the vessels in the same congested state all over the head, as you have described, should you attribute that appearance more to general exertion than to blows or external violence?”—​Witness: “The exertion the deceased underwent would have been sufficient of itself to have caused this appearance. I cannot say that the blows he received were the cause of death, either in the whole or in part. That was the conclusion to which I came on the post mortem examination.”

Mr. Justice Park, after hearing this statement, addressed the jury, and said, “Gentlemen, that makes an end of the case. The indictment charges that death was occasioned by blows and violence, whereas it appears the deceased died from other causes. The prisoners, therefore, must be acquitted.” The jury immediately returned a verdict of “Not guilty,” and Burke and Curtis were discharged from custody. Messengers were then despatched to inform Spring, Ward, and Gaynor of the result, and they then surrendered and were placed at the bar. No evidence, however, was offered against them, and a verdict of “Not guilty” relieved them from their anxiety.

On the Thursday following the trial, a congratulatory dinner took place at Tom Spring’s, at which a subscription was commenced towards defraying 128 the expenses of the defence. At the suggestion of a gentleman who presided, a subscription was also opened, which, in a short period, amounted to the sum of 100 guineas, for the purpose of presenting a service of plate to the Editor of Bell’s Life in London, as a token of the respect in which he was held, not only by the men who had recently undergone their trial, and whose defence he had conducted, but also for the manner in which he invariably advocated the cause of fair play, and had always been foremost in the cause of the distressed, the fatherless, and the widow. The service of plate was presented to Mr. Dowling at a subsequent meeting at Tom Spring’s.

Soon after the termination of the proceedings against Burke, a challenge appeared in the Dublin and London papers from O’Rourke, “Champion of Ireland,” for a meeting on the Curragh of Kildare; but Burke’s friends properly objected at such a juncture to his fighting in Ireland, the match therefore dropped.

In July a renewed proposal from Young Dutch Sam to fight the Deaf’un for £500 a side was made over a sporting dinner at Spring’s, and £5 there and then posted; the battle to come off within a twelvemonth. This ended in talk and a forfeit, as the Deaf’un could not raise such a sum.

In the month of September, 1833, the air was filled with challenges, which fell “thick as the autumn leaves in Vallombrosa;” among them one from some “gentlemen,” who were ready to back an “Unknown, to be named at the last deposit, against any man in the world,” for £500 to £1,000 a side. Whereupon Jem Ward accepting the proposal for £500, and declaring his readiness to make the match, the challengers were silent, and the “Unknown” remained thenceforth unseen and unheard of.

In September, 1833, a paragraph appeared in London and provincial papers, to the effect that Deaf Burke would persist in his claim to the Championship, whereon Ward wrote as follows:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​Should the patron of the ’unknown’ candidate for ‘the Championship’ agree to allow his man to fight for £500 a side, my friends are ready to back me for that sum. Failing a match being made with him, I am ready to give any other customer a chance, and for his accommodation will fight for any sum, from £300 to £500 a side. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

“JAMES WARD. Champion of England.

“Liverpool, Sept. 18, 1833.”

The Editor having submitted this epistle to “the Deaf’un,” observes, “that individual desires us to say, that ‘he’s ready to stands nps for the 129 title for a hundreds, but as for tousands, and that sorts o’ rediklus tings, he can’t say nuttins about ’em.’” Another challenge elicited the subjoined from Ward:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​I have long contemplated leaving the Ring altogether, and would not offer myself again to your notice, had you not inserted a challenge for the Championship, accompanied by a tempting stake; to which challenge I gave a suitable reply, stating at the time my readiness to fight the Unknown for £500, or a smaller sum—​say £300 or £400 a side. I am not only willing to fight for the above sums, but to allow the Unknown three months to deliberate upon it.

“I perceive that Deaf Burke calls himself ‘Champion of England,’ and offers to make a match with me for £100 a side. Considering that I am in business, such a sum is not worth contending for, especially as a considerable portion of it must be expended in training and other incidental expenses. If Deaf Burke means fighting me, I will accommodate him for £200 a side, and no less. Should this not meet his views in a reasonable time, my intentions are to retire from the Ring in toto; to that the Unknown and Deaf Burke will know what to do.

“JAMES WARD, Champion of England.

“Liverpool, October 2, 1833.”

The Deaf’un seemed now doomed to the sickness of “hope deferred.” He was too good for any of the 12-stone men except the Champion, whose price, even lowered to £200, was still too high for him. Numerous letters passed and repassed between O’Rourke and Burke; and on one occasion O’Rourke dragging in the name of Ward, Jem offered to stake £300 to O’Rourke’s £200 and fight him in Ireland. To this O’Rourke made no response, and soon after sailed for America. Ward then offered to meet Burke £300 to £200; but even at these odds the Deaf’un could not find backers, at which we need not be surprised when the comparative merits of the men were weighed in the balance.

Burke, who had certainly, in addition to his great powers as a boxer, a fund of native and quaint comicality, now utilised his talent as a public exhibitor of models of statues from the antique, for which his athletic development well fitted him, alternating them with displays of the Art of Self-defence. In these tours, wherein his attendant or agent in advance was the well-known Tommy Roundhead, the trainer (whom the Deaf’un dubbed his “Secretary”), Burke visited Wales, Bristol, and the West, and subsequently the Midlands and the North. An incidental notice in a newspaper published in “the Potteries” gives us a peep at the Deaf’un on his travels.

A Voice from the Pitcher Country. Disappointment of the Pottery Fancy.—​On Saturday last Tommy Roundhead, the avant courier of Deaf Burke, arrived in Hanley, and cast anchor at Mr. Hawes’s, Angel Inn, in the Market Place. On making his business known, the worthy 130 host offered him the use of the large room in which Tom Spring and Big Brown exhibited previous to Brown’s fight with Phil Sampson, at Bishop’s Wood. Roundhead immediately got his handbills printed, and the walls covered with well-displayed posters, announcing that on Monday and Tuesday evenings, ‘Deaf Burke, Champion of England, and Harry Preston, Champion of Birmingham, would take a benefit and exhibit the manly art of self-defence; the whole to conclude with a grand set-to, previous to Preston’s return to Birmingham to fight Davis for one hundred guineas.’

“Tommy gave out that Burke and Preston would arrive at Hanley at noon on Monday. During the day, but especially in the evening, the ‘Angel’ was crowded. Several indications of impatience were exhibited at the non-appearance of the men; but in the evening, when the last coach arrived from Birmingham, and there was no tidings of the ‘Deaf’un,’ an universal burst of disgust went through the rooms. They all turned upon Roundhead. Tommy got on his pins, and attempted to explain that he left Burke on the Thursday at Atherstone, and that he had come to Hanley, by Burke’s express desire, to engage a room for him and Preston to spar in. He had written to Burke, at Arthur Matthewson’s, and could only account for their non-appearance on the score that his letter had not reached them. The grumblers vehemently vociferated, ‘Stow your patter, it’s a hoax—​it’s no go, Tommy.’ A regular ‘flare-up’ had very near taken place, but, by good words and persuasion, silence was restored, and the company dispersed peaceably.”

From what follows, it will be seen that that very shifty gentleman—​Harry Preston—​was the real cause of the apparent breach of promise.

“The cause of this disappointment is explained by a letter we have received from Birmingham; from which it appears that Preston and the Deaf’un had a fall out at Arthur Matthewson’s, which, after lots of chaff and a deposit of a sovereign a side, was to be decided by a fight the next morning, but on the Deaf’un going to the scratch Preston ‘would not have it.’ Some further chatter followed, in which Preston offered to fight Burke if he would reduce himself to 12 stone. This the Deaf’un declined, but offered to fight him £120 to £100, or £60 to £50. This would not suit Harry’s book, and thus the matter ended. The Deaf’un’s next trip is to Liverpool, and from thence to Scotland, where he is to join Bob Avery in Glasgow. Poor Tommy Roundhead has been undeservedly censured in this matter.”


That the Deaf’un had considerable pantomimic powers may be gathered from the fact that he was engaged by the experienced manager of the Manchester Theatre, to play Orson in the Christmas piece of “Valentine and Orson” at the Sheffield Theatre.

Thus wore away the year 1834. At Tom Spring’s Anniversary Dinner, January 14th, 1835, which was numerously attended, Burke announced that he was about to take a farewell benefit on the ensuing Wednesday evening, at the “Coach and Horses,” St. Martin’s Lane, previous to his starting for America, to fight the Irish Champion, O’Rourke, or any other man in the United States or Canada who might fancy him. He had come to this determination, he said, because, although ready and willing to fight Ward for £200, Ward, after proposing to fight for that sum, raised his price to £300, and then, finding even that large stake was likely to be obtained, valued himself at the still higher sum of £500, which was utterly beyond the reach of his (Burke’s) friends. For his own part, all he wanted was the glory of the title for which he was the candidate, and, to show that he was not afraid of any man breathing, he would fight even for £5; his friends were still ready to back him for £200 against the Champion, Ward. This speech, given in Burke’s sincere but blunt style, excited warm applause, and a pledge was given that his benefit should be well attended.

It was then suggested that the title of Champion of England ought not to depend on the capricious will of the person by whom it had been obtained, putting the sum at which he would risk its loss so high as to prevent the possibility of fair competition. Ward had gradually risen in his own estimation from £200 to £500, and he might, with as good a grace, if it depended on himself, say he would not fight for less than £1,000 or £10,000, and thus retain an honour to which other men might be entitled. This opinion seemed to meet the almost unanimous concurrence of the persons present, among whom were Spring, Jem Burn, Ned Neale, Young Dutch Sam, Dick Curtis, Owen Swift, Smith, Young Spring (Harry Wood, of Liverpool), and others, and a great number of amateurs and liberal supporters of the Ring. After some discussion, the following resolution was moved and seconded:—

“Resolved—​That, in future, the maximum stake at which the Champion of England shall be considered bound to accept a challenge shall be £200; and that if he refuse to fight for this sum, he shall be considered as no longer holding the title of Champion.”


A gentleman proposed as an amendment that the sum should be £250, but this was negatived by a large majority, and the original resolution was carried with acclamation.

It was then moved and seconded—​“That if Jem Ward refuses to fight Deaf Burke for £200, he shall no longer be considered Champion of England, but that Burke shall assume the title, until bound to yield to a man of greater merit.” This resolution was also carried unanimously.

These resolutions are certainly in the spirit of common sense, and if Ward’s situation in life placed him above the necessity of considering himself any longer a member of the Ring, it was no more than fair—​as in the case of the veteran Tom Cribb and his successor Tom Spring—​that he should retire; a step which certainly could not have stripped him of any of the honours to which he had previously entitled himself.

The disappointed Deaf’un now repaired to Liverpool, and departing thence, like another Childe Harold, “he sung, or might, or could, or should, or would have sung”:—

“Adieu! Adieu! My native shore
Fades o’er the waters blue;
The night-wind sighs, the breakers roar,
Load shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun, that’s setting o’er the sea,
We’ll follow in its flight;
Farewell awhile to it and thee—
My native land—​Good night!
“With thee, my bark, I’ll swiftly go,
Athwart the foaming brine,
Nor care what land thou bear’st me to,
So not again to mine.
And if in Western land I find
A worthy foe in fight,
My conquering brow with bays I’ll bind—
So, native land—​Good night!”

And so “Childe Burke” did, after a pleasant tour, in which he always spoke as receiving warm welcome and hospitality from the Americans; although, as we shall presently see, upon the unanswerable testimony of their own papers, the perfervidum ingenium of certain emigrant Hibernian rowdies proved the prudence of Burke’s friends when they declined a contest on the Curragh of Kildare.

After a brief stay in New York, where he was well received, Burke did not find any regular “professional” inclined to test his pugilistic capabilities, and, after duly acknowledging the good spirit in which he had been received, he announced, that, in compliance with “a vaunting challenge 133 in a New Orleans paper, in which O’Rourke was stated to be resident in that city, and ready to meet any man in the world,” he, the Deaf’un, had determined on a southward trip, and to drop down on Mr. O’Rourke on the scene of his glory. As the Deaf’un always meant what he said, and, himself unconscious of foul play, did not suspect it in others, he sailed for the city of swamps and slavery.

He had reckoned, in his simplicity, that a stranger would have fair play, as with Englishmen, but soon found out his egregious mistake. As we desire the character of an impartial historian, we shall merely extract the account of this affair from the Charleston Courier of May 13th, 1837 which gives the account under date of New Orleans, May 6th:—

Fighting Riots, &c.—​For some two or three days past, large numbers of our population have been thrown into considerable excitement by handbills posted up in bar-rooms and at the corners of the streets, that a pugilistic combat was to take place yesterday between two celebrated prize-fighters, Deaf Burke, an Englishman, and O’Rourke, an Irishman. The fight between the rival champions, as they style themselves, took place at about one o’clock, at the forks of the Bayou Road. Some two or three rounds were fought, which resulted particularly to the advantage of neither of the belligerents. The second of O’Rourke, happening to come within hitting distance of Burke, received a severe blow from the Deaf-man himself. Whether this was right or wrong, not being at the fight, we know not. At any rate it was the signal for a general scrimmage, in which the Irishmen joined the O’Rourke party, and handled Burke and his friends with fists and sticks made of anything but dough and molasses. O’Rourke’s second was settled down by a settler from Burke’s own fist, when the Deaf-man, thinking his heels better preservatives of his face and feelings than his fists, took the leg-itimate course adopted by all men and animals when assaulted by a superior force.

“Matters were now coming to a fine pass. Burke was followed by crowds of Irishmen with shillelaghs, dray-pins, whips, and what not. A friend, on seeing him pass, handed him a bowie-knife, and another gave him a horse, with which he made good his escape.

“Of the different riots which took place at the scene of action we were not witnesses. Some say there was foul play on the part of O’Rourke’s friends, and especially by his second, and that it was intended long before the fight took place that Burke should get a thrashing by foul or fair means. The man who handed Burke the knife was cruelly beaten by the infuriated 134 friends of O’Rourke: it is reported, and we fear with much truth, that he was killed.

“O’Rourke’s friends bore him about our streets in triumph yesterday afternoon in a coach drawn by themselves.

“On the arrival of the different parties in town, inflamed with liquor and ready for any disturbance, many affrays occurred. During the whole afternoon, large numbers of malcontents, principally Irishmen, were congregated in the vicinity of the Union House, and Armstrong’s, opposite the American Theatre. Several serious and disgraceful fights took place, in some of which the rascally mob beat and otherwise maltreated a number of innocent and unoffending individuals. A large number of arrests were made.

“The reports in town of the loss of lives, and of the results of the wild spirit of anarchy and confusion which existed in the afternoon, are so various, so contradictory, that we cannot comment upon them. The whole affair was disgraceful in the extreme.

“The Washington Guards were ordered out at eight o’clock last evening by the Mayor to quell any disturbance which might arise. As late as two o’clock this morning everything was comparatively quiet.”

Thus it would seem that the affair ended in a complete Irish row, in which the lawless habits of “the Knights of the Shillelagh” put all fair play at defiance. We hope we are not open to a charge of national prejudice, but would fairly put the question, “Would such ruffianism—​and ruffianism is always cruel and cowardly—​be possible among a people imbued with the fair-play practices and the principles inculcated by regulated pugilism?”

Some anxiety was caused in London by a rumour in a New York paper, that the Deaf’un had received his “quietus” not with “a bare bodkin” but an “Arkansas tooth-pick;” much relief therefore, was felt by them on finding from the Charleston papers that he was still in the land of the living, and had returned to New York; not finding his life safe among a set of men who considered a challenge to their “Champion” as an individual, a national insult, to be wiped out by assassination.

That he had returned in safety was shown by scattered notices in the New York papers, from which we gather that one O’Connell, who, like his namesake on this side the Atlantic, was “an out-and-out big potato,” had challenged the Deaf’un for 500 dollars and “the honour of ould Ireland,” to a fistic tourney. This Burke had accepted, and Elizabeth Town Point 135 was named as the field of battle. A sheriff’s notice, in anticipation of another Irish riot, compelled a change of ground to Hart’s Island, which was reached by a steam excursion, and here the affair came off without interruption. What follows is from the New York Herald:—

“The ‘Prize Ring,’ as it is emphatically called, is not without its merits, and although we regret and detest these exhibitions—​when as exhibitions merely—​our duty as chroniclers of passing events compels us to make public what otherwise we should bury in oblivion. Among the ancients these spectacles were frequent, and cherished by the government of the people indulging in them; and it is yet doubtful whether they do not in some degree tend to benefit the community at large. There is a feeling of courage—​of proud, manly self-dependence—​accompanying the champions of the Ring, that otherwise would not be elicited. The manly stand-up fight is surely far preferable to the insidious knife—​the ruffianly gang system—​or the cowardly and brutal practice of biting, kicking, or gouging, now so prevalent. The ancient Romans conquered and civilised half the world, and it is to them we owe the gladiatorial spectacle of the Prize Ring—​modified by modern civilisation, but yet retaining sufficient of its origin to portray the manners and habits of the people among whom it has taken root. The British people are particularly fond of this exhibition, and there are some good consequences attending it. The street broil or hasty quarrel is deprived of half its ferocity. Three or four or more do not fall upon and beat a single individual. None but gangs of ruffians can commit such deeds. The single man when struck down by his opponent is permitted to rise and put himself, as it were, in something like equilibrium with his opponent. Stamping upon a man when down—​biting, kicking, and other such ‘courageous’ displays are entirely exploded; and when the party combating cries ‘hold, enough,’ no bowie-knife enters his vitals, or proves the superior courage of his opponent by depriving him of existence. With all its disadvantages, therefore, and demoralising tendency, as contended, and perhaps truly so, it may be doubted whether the spirit emanating from it may not be productive of benefit among the lower classes. The knock-down blow is surely preferable to private assassination, or even to the open taking of human life by means of deadly weapons. Quitting these reflections, let us give our account of the fight itself.

“At nine o’clock the steamboat left the ferry (Catharine Street), with about three hundred passengers, and those of a very select kind, owing principally, perhaps, to the high price demanded for tickets—​three dollars, 136 which speedily rose to four and five dollars, and even at that price could not be procured. The destination was Hart’s Island, where the passengers were landed and the preliminary measures to the ‘set-to’ adopted. A twenty-four feet ring, according to the articles of agreement, was formed, and an outside one to prevent any interruption to the pugilistic efforts of the combatants. The ring being completed, and the seconds proclaiming ‘all ready,’ the two champions made their appearance—​O’Connell, as the challenger, threw his hat first in the ring, which was quickly answered by Burke; the men then peeled for the battle.

“On stripping, the great disparity between the two men was apparent. Burke presented an iron frame, in which all surperfluous flesh seemed excluded. His broad and extended chest, his outward turned knees, that take off from beauty to add so much to muscular power, his muscular and well-knit lower limbs left no doubt on the minds of the spectators that no common skill or bodily strength would be sufficient to overpower or vanquish the possessor. O’Connell stripped to greater advantage than was expected. His upper frame is large and muscular, but it wants compactness and tension. His sinews hang loose, and his frame is far from being well banded together. In his lower conformation this defect is still more striking; this is his weak point, and must ever incapacitate him from becoming a redoubtable competitor in the Prize Ring. ‘All ready’ being proclaimed by the respective seconds (Abm. Vanderzee and Alexander Hamilton officiating for O’Connell, and Hatfield and Summerdyke for Deaf Burke), the opponents previously shaking hands, put themselves in attitude for the onset.


Round 1.—​The men came up, each equally confident. Some sparring took place which only tended to show in a more striking point the disparity of the pugilists. The quick eye of Burke immediately discovered that he had the game in his hands, and he accordingly forebore any active exertion, threw his body open, which O’Connell immediately caught at, and implanted two heavy blows—​one immediately beneath the ribs, and the second on the loins of his adversary. Burke received this infliction without the slightest variation of muscle or feature—​and in return put forth a feeler (left hand) which dropped O’Connell at his full length. Some of Burke’s friends cheered—​this was instantly stopped by the umpires, who requested that, let the fight terminate how it might, no ebullition of the feelings of either party should be suffered to take place. All, upon this appeal, were immediately silent.

2.—​Both men were equally confident. O’Connell smiled, as much as to say “I stoop to conquer.” Burke made play; O’Connell struck a well-meant left-handed compliment to Burke’s knowledge-box, which was prettily stopped. Burke returned with right, in part husbanding his strength; the blow told slightly on O’Connell’s bread-basket—​a wrestle—​O’Connell down. First blood was here claimed by each party. The umpires decided that both sported the claret simultaneously—​thus deciding all wagers on this matter.

3.—​Burke appeared brooding mischief. O’Connell struck a random blow and lost his guard, when Burke immediately put in his tremendous right-handed blow, which taking 137 effect under the ear of O’Connell, floored him as if struck by lightning.

4.—​Time being called, O’Connell courageously rose to the scratch, but had scarcely left his second’s knee, when he fell as if through weakness. The fight was here claimed by the friends of Burke; the umpires, however, decided “not lost,” and the fifth round commenced.

5.—​O’Connell tried a new mode, and went boldly into his man. He succeeded in planting a pretty severe body-blow on Burke, closed for the wrestle, but was thrown—​he fell slightly, however.

6.—​Burke piped a trifle. O’Connell made a rush—​got well in for the close, but the superior strength of Burke shook him off. O’Connell seemed spent, was entirely off his guard, and Burke could easily have concluded the fight by any blow he chose to have put in; but, seeing the disabled state of O’Connell, Burke unclosed his fist, and with the back of his open hand struck O’Connell in the breast, which dropped him as a man might be supposed to push down a child. A low exclamation of approbation, impossible to repress, ran through the spectators at the manliness of this conduct.

7.—​O’Connell seemed to be gaining strength, and fought this round most manfully. It was evident, nevertheless, that his faulty method of delivering his blows could never win him the day. Three severe blows were delivered by Burke in succession, on the head, chest, and loins of O’Connell, who made a sort of headlong rush, closed with Burke, bore him towards the ropes, and was thrown heavily in the wrestle.

8.—​Hatfield, the second of Burke, here said, “He’s finished, polish him off.” O’Connell came up staggering—​Burke made a feint, and prepared to strike a finisher. From humanity, however, he did not deliver his blow—​O’Connell closed—​a short rally took place, and O’Connell was thrown.

9.—​O’Connell showed some game, but it was evidently of an expiring effort. He faced his man, made a blow, which fell short, and was met by Burke with a terrible facer, which set the claret flowing in a rapid stream from O’Connell’s nostrils. All was over.

10.—​Time was repeatedly called. O’Connell rose but could not stir a step towards his man. Burke said, “I wish to fight honourable—​I will not strike him—​does your man wish to fight any more?” O’Connell’s second immediately gave in the battle, and Burke was declared the conqueror.

A word or two respecting the rival combatants: O’Connell never was or can be capable of figuring with credit as a fighter. He wants bottom, activity, and science—​three things which are indispensable in the formation of a boxer. From the third round he had not the slightest chance of winning—​it was a doubloon to a shin-plaster, and no takers. The day was peculiarly propitious, and the company of a very respectable description. Those who conducted this affair deserve all praise. Not the slightest disturbance of any kind took place. It was what the Prize Ring ever ought to be—​an exhibition of manly and courageous contest.”

We need add nothing to this “round, unvarnished tale,” written by a literary gentleman who had never before witnessed a prize-fight. In Burke, his Irish opponent found, notwithstanding his foul treatment at New Orleans, a brave and humane antagonist; and that, despite the contaminating effects of bad example, the Deaf’un preserved in the New World the high and generous qualities he exhibited in his own country. Cant, cruelty, and cowardice have crushed out the courageous confidence in the unarmed fist as the weapon in hand-to-hand encounters, and the American populace trust for victory to the bowie-knife and the revolver, when man opposes man to settle their personal differences “in a higher phase of civilisation.” (?)

As the patrons of the Ring are, such will its professors be, holds good as an axiom in pugilism as in every other science. A few unprejudiced and enlightened Americans, seeing the horrors and savagery of Irish-American rowdyism, entertained the milling missionary, and strove to propagate his principles, but were in a minute and powerless minority among a multitude 138 of howling saints and savages—​for extremes meet in this as in all other things. To these friends and sympathisers Burke bade an affectionate farewell, after a handsome benefit, and arrived at Liverpool on the 25th of June, 1838.

During the Deaf’un’s absence some pretentious “big ones” had been coming into prominent notice. Bendigo, Ben Caunt, and Brassey had become famous, and not a few of their several partisans thought either one or the other more than a match for the Deaf’un. It was whispered, too, and too truly, that his rupture had been aggravated by an accident, and that his habits in America had not been such as would improve his constitution or stamina. Indeed, some of those deepest in Ring mysteries declared his reappearance in the Ring more than questionable. The gallant fellow himself had no such misgivings, and lost no time in so telling his countrymen.


To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

Sir,—​When I was in Yankeeshire I heard a great deal about ‘would-be champions’ challenging any man in England. ‘While the cat’s away the mice will play;’ and thus the little fry took advantage of my absence to bounce and crow like cocks in a gutter. I hastened back to take the shine out of those braggadocios; and to put their pretensions to the test, I beg to state that I am now ready to fight any man in England for from One Hundred to Five Hundred Pounds; and as my old friend Jem Ward has retired from the Ring, if he will add his Champion’s belt to the prize, and let the best man wear it, he will give new energies to the Ring, and, I trust, afford an opportunity for deciding the long-contested question, ‘Who is Champion of England?’ I bar neither country nor colour—​age nor dimensions; and whether it be the Goliath Caunt, or his hardy antagonist Bendigo, or any other man who ever wore a head, I am his customer, and ‘no mistake.’ My money is ready at Jem Burn’s, the ‘Queen’s Head,’ Queen’s Head Court, Windmill Street, Haymarket, at a moment’s notice; but I will not consent to a less deposit that £25 at starting. If I find the race of old English boxers of the right kidney is extinct, I shall go back to America, where an honest man need never want ‘a friend or a bottle.’


“Windmill Street, Haymarket, July 29, 1838.”

As we have already recorded in our memoir of Bendigo, the Nottingham hero lost no time in accepting this challenge, and stated he had placed £100 in the hands of Peter Crawley to make the match. Unfortunately for the Deaf’un’s reputation, he had, through his intimacy with Young Dutch Sam, become entangled in a vicious companionship, as the humble “pot-companion” and gladiatorial buffoon of a clique of dissolute young noblemen and swells, the last expiring parodists of the school of which “Corinthian Tom” and “Jerry Hawthorn” were the models. By these and their companions he was carried off to France, on the pretext of training and seconding Owen Swift in his second fight with Jack Adams, and much obloquy was cast on him unjustly, under a supposition that he 139 had run away from his engagements. A “Paris Correspondent” transmitted the following:—

Paris, June 14.—​The Deaf’un arrived in this city on Sunday, under the Mentorship of Sancho Panza, from Seven Dials, a ‘buck’ of the first water. He met Swift on the Boulevard des Italiens, and was so affected at the interview with this interesting exile, that the water came from his eyes like the jet d’eau in the Temple Gardens. As the speediest mode of acquiring an acquaintance with the French language, he lives entirely on fricandeau de dictionnaire. He has already won the affections of a grisette by his very natural imitation of the statue of Cupid. He afterwards tried the Venus de Medici, but that was a decided failure. He has been favourably received by the patrons of British Sports in the French capital, but it is feared he cannot be presented at the Court of Louis Philippe, in consequence of his having neglected to present himself at the Drawing-room of our lovely young Queen. In a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, he thought he recognised a young brother, but on closer inspection he discovered it was only the chimpanzee. He appears to be regarded with as much curiosity in Paris as Soult was in London, and expected the old Marshal would have given him ‘a Wellington reception,’ but hitherto the gallant veteran has not recognised him as ‘a companion in arms.’ His presence has already had an influence on the fashions, and ‘pantalons à la Burke’ have made their appearance in the Palais Royal, while ‘gantelets à la Deaf’un’ are noted as a novelty in Le Courrier des Salons.”

We have already noticed in our memoir of Bendigo that the Deaf’un did not return from his continental trip until, after training Owen Swift, and seconding him on the 5th of September, 1838, he again sought the shores of England, lest he should receive the “polite attentions” of the French authorities for his share in that “scandal,” as the Paris correspondent of “My Grandmother” styled it. The staunchness of poor Burke’s “summer friends” was now tested. They had withdrawn the £100 placed in Jem Burn’s hands, but, after some negotiation, the match was made, Burke posting £100 to Bendigo’s £80, and on the 29th of February, 1839, the rivals met. The full details of the Deaf’un’s defeat may be read in pp. 16–22.

The reflection is here unavoidably thrust upon us, that the so-called “friends” of an athlete, if they by their own loose habits seduce him into similar irregularities, are his worst enemies. What is sport to them is ruin to him. Temperance, regularity of living, open air exercise, and severe 140 attention to the wellbeing of every bodily function that goes to build up health—​the mens sana in corpore sano—​can never be neglected without ruinous consequences; and thus fell the brave and imprudent Deaf’un, the victim of the follies of those the world miscalled “his betters.” A few quatrains on his downfall shall find a place here.


Well, ’tis strange, precious strange, arter what I have done,
That in my late battle I shouldn’t have won;
I vow and protest, on the word of a bruiser,
I scarce can persuade myself yet I’m the loser.
I have always so well in the Ring gone to work,
That my backers proclaimed me “inwincible Burke;”
And then for a lad of my courage and game
To be floored by a novice—​by Jove! ’tis a shame.
I hang down my head, quite dismay’d and perplex’d.
And when folks ax me questions, of course, I am wex’d,
For, instead of consoling me under my loss,
They insiniwate plainly the thing was a cross.
They swear, for a man who has stood so much fight,
To be whopp’d in ten rounds was impossible quite:
That I couldn’t be he, it was plain to discern,
Wot floor’d Carter and Crawley, O’Connell and Byrne.
They vow of their bets upon me they’ve been robb’d,
That I show’d no good point, but stood still to be jobb’d,
That no punishment sharp was produced by my blows,
And Bendy did with me whatever he chose.
Hard words for the Deaf’un, and cruel the sting,
To one who ne’er acted amiss in the Ring—
To him who was always alive to a mill,
And in thirteen prize-battles was conqueror still.
I boldly appeal to my slanderers whether
I was ever the covey to show the white feather?
And Bendigo’s conduct I cannot think right,
When he stripp’d me of something that lost me the fight.
That he acted unfairly I do not advance—
He was perfectly right not to part with a chance;
Still I say, but for this, whosoever may scoff,
He would not have easily polished me off.
And may I again never put on a glove,
If once more I don’t fight him for money or love;
And my stick I will cut in the Prize Ring, by Jove!
Ere the belt shall be worn by a Nottingham cove.
And shall poor Deaf Burke be consign’d to the shade?
No, tho’ I’m defeated I am not dismay’d,
And in a fresh contest I’ll do what I can,
To take the conceit from this bounceable man.
When victory smiles on a pugilist’s front,
He has lots of supporters and plenty of blunt;
But if luck turns against him, my eyes! how they rave,
And stamp him a cross cove—​a thundering knave!
Into me some choice worthies keep pitching it home,
For sporting the statutes of Greece and of Rome;
Is it fair, I would ax, to inflict this here slap,
Because I’m a sort of a classical chap?
And some swear ’tis time I was laid on the shelf,
For I grows ’ristocratic—​too sweet on myself;
Now I wenture most humbly to make an appeal,
If I’m to be blam’d for behaving genteel?
In France and New York I have sported my tanners,
And no wonder a polish I have got on my manners;
Now, I begs to inquire whether winner or loser,
Must a man be a blackguard because he’s a bruiser?
No, to tip the purlite I will still do my best,
For everything wulgar I scorn and detest;
My pipe I’ve discarded like most other stars,
And now I smoke nowt but Hawanna cigars.
And I dare say some folks may consider it strange,
That I’m courting the Muses by way of a change,
And thus in Bell’s Life to my feelings give went,
In a copy of werses I’ve called “The Lament.”
Be this as it may, here I’m ready and willing
This Bendy again to encounter at milling,
And perhaps if I once get him into a line,
Tho’ the first chance was his’n, the next may be mine.

That “next chance,” as Edgar Poe’s raven said, “never, never, never more” came to the turn of the Deaf’un, so far as regarded a meeting with Bendy, although he issued sundry invitations and offers. In March, 1840, occurred the accident to Bendigo, narrated at page 25, which struck the Nottingham hero from the list of “wranglers” for the Championship, and hereupon Burke again came to the front with a challenge. This was quickly responded to by Nick Ward, the younger brother of the renowned Jem. The match was made for the modest sum of £50 a side, and the day fixed for Tuesday, the 22nd September, 1840. The battle, which took place at Lillingstone Level, Oxfordshire, will be found in detail in the Life of Nick Ward, Chapter V. of the present volume.

Poor Burke’s day was gone by; unconquered in heart, his impaired physical powers failed him, and he fell before youth, activity, skill, and length. As we have mentioned in our memoir of Nick Ward that the stakeholder received notice of action for the stakes, it is but just to give the following vindication of the Deaf’un’s conduct as reported in a contemporary journal:—

The Deaf’un Himself Again!—​The Deaf’un took a benefit at the Bloomsbury Assembly Rooms on Tuesday evening, and, notwithstanding his late defeat, found a goodly number of friends, and ‘a strong turn’ in 142 the financial department. The sets-to, although many of them between commoners, were amusing and effective, and conducted with great spirit and vigour. Among the most popular was that between Owen Swift and Maley, in which the quickness and scientific deliveries of the former were happily illustrated. At the conclusion the Deaf’un mounted the stage to ‘wind-up,’ but unfortunately, Caunt having forfeited his promise to appear, he was only opposed to a new beginner called ‘The Cumberland Youth,’ whose inexperience left the star of the night nothing to do but flap him at pleasure. The Deaf’un, after smoothing down his bristles with his dexter digits, and clearing his throat by sundry ‘hems,’ delivered himself of the following oration, which we took down as nearly as could be verbatim. ’Gemmen—​I have dis here to say. I’m werry sory as Caunt has not come to sets-to wid me according to his promises, for he gave me his words of honours as he would attend; but dats de way wid dese here mens—​when dey gets to the top of de trees, dey do nothing to help a poor fellow as is down; but dey had better minds what dey are abouts, or they’ll be as bad as Jack Scroggins, and look for a tanners when they can’t find it. Gemmen—​I mean to say as I do not thinks as I was fairly beat by Bendigo, and I am prouds to say as I am not widout friends what tink de same, and as are ready to back me for a cool hundreds against him, or Nick Wards, or Jem Bailey. Bendigo is wery bounceable now, as he says he has licked me; but I says he took an unfair advantage in regard of my belt; but dats neither one ting nor toder; and if he has friends, if he’s a man, he’ll give me anoder chance, and till he does, I shall always thinks as he has won de belts widout any right to it. I went to Sheffields and Nottinghams to make a match wid him, and now let him show equal pluck and come to London to make a match wid me—​my pewters is always ready (applause). Dat’s all I’ve got to say. Gemmen, I thank my friends and patrons for coming here to-night (coughing); but I’ve got something here (pointing to his throat, and the poor fellow appeared overflowing with gratitude) which won’t let me say no mores.’—​It is not very creditable to the élite of the Fancy to have abstained from setting-to for the unfortunate fellow; for, although his ignorance may have led him to assume too much, the motto of all professed pugilists should be ‘forget and forgive;’ and ‘if a man’s in distress, like a man to relieve him.’”

In the years 1841–2, the magistracy and police, stimulated into abnormal activity by a sort of clerical crusade against the Ring “and all its works,” set the powers of the law in motion against pugilists and their patrons, and 143 “all persons aiding and abetting in riotous and tumultuous assemblages calculated to produce a breach of the peace,” by issuing warrants, holding them to bail, and indicting them at the quarter sessions of the county wherein the same took place. Among the zealots of this Puritanical campaign against the amusements and relaxations of the people, the Rev. Joshua Cautley, curate of Broughton, in Bedfordshire, distinguished himself with the fervour of Ralpho, the squire of Sir Hudibras; though he, fortunately, escaped the cudgellings, rotten eggs, and stocks, which in rougher times befell his prototype. In an evil hour the Deaf’un came in contact with this clerical suppressor of “anti-knife” congregations, under the serio-comic circumstances we are about to narrate.

On the 9th of February, 1841, at Holcut, in Bedfordshire, an orderly assemblage surrounded a well-arranged inner-and-outer ring, within the latter of which Ned Adams, of London, and Dick Cain, of Leicester, were contending. At a critical period of the battle, the curate of Broughton, the Rev. Joshua Cautley, who was not, as all the “rurals” surrounding the ring well knew, either a magistrate in the commission of the peace, or in any way legally authorised to interfere, appeared at the ring-side in an excess of peace-preserving furor, and not only attempted to take Adams into custody (without any warrant), but cut the ropes with a knife, and behaved otherwise in an outrageous manner. He was afterwards aided by a police constable (John M’Hugh), and by the arrival of the Rev. Edward Orlebar Smith, a Justice of the Peace for Bedfordshire, previous to whose appearance on the scene certain of the country people present had certainly ejected Parson Cautley from the ring. The Rev. Justice of the Peace, as it appears, then put his fellow clergyman and himself on the right side of the law by reading—​at a distance, and amidst immense confusion and the continuance of the battle—​the Riot Act. The result of all this was that the zealous Parson Cautley procured, upon affidavit sworn by himself, the constable, and the Rev. Mr. Smith, the indictment of thirteen persons (six of them being his own neighbours) at the ensuing Bedford Quarter Sessions. The pugilists indicted were James Burke, Owen Swift, Edward Adams, and Richard Cain, Thomas Brown (the respected landlord of the “Swan,” at Newport Pagnell, who was there in charge of his post-horses and four-in-hand), Messrs. Mark Cross, William Maley (a solicitor), Joseph Goodwin, George Durham, Edward Dawkes, James Morris the younger, Martin Hughes (who died during the proceedings), and Richard Walter Chetwynd, Viscount Chetwynd, Baron Rathdowne. The indictment 144 charged, in its first count, “that they, the defendants aforesaid, on the 9th day of February, 1841, in the parish of Holcut, in the county of Bedford, did then and there, together with other evil-disposed persons, whose names are unknown to the jurors aforesaid, unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assault Edward Orlebar Smith, clerk, one of the Justices of the Peace for the said County, and John M’Hugh, one of the constables of the Peace for the said County, and, then and there, did, in contempt of our said Lady the Queen and her laws, to the great terror, alarm, and disturbance of all the liege subjects of our said Lady the Queen thereabouts inhabiting and residing and being, passing and repassing, to the great damage of the said Edward Orlebar Smith and John M’Hugh, and against the peace of our said Lady the Queen her crown and dignity.” The second count in this formidable document, repeating the names and verbiage, included the same charges against the defendants for riot and assault on the person of the Rev. Joshua Cautley. The third count varied by specifying James Burke as the assailant of the Rev. Edward Orlebar Smith (whom he never touched in any way). The 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th counts merely varied in the names of the parties assaulted, by substituting “Smith” for “M’Hugh,” and “Cautley” for “Smith,” as the persons on whom “with force and arms,” the same defendants “did then and there beat, wound, and ill-treat, and do other wrong, to the great damage of the said E. O. Smith,” &c., &c., “and against the peace of our said Lady the Queen her crown and dignity.”

Any one not used to the formal wording of legal documents may well share the astonishment of the Deaf’un when this astounding rigmarole, being furnished to his legal advisers (Mr. Vincent Dowling and Mr. Serjeant Dowling), was read and explained to him. His truthful and indignant denials of all the serious delinquencies laid to his charge in this farrago of legal fictions were most amusing. Perhaps the way in which these were thrown into rhyme, by what old Jacob Tonson, the bookseller, used to call “a competent pen,” will convey some idea of the Deaf’un’s objections and denial of the charges:—


Pull’d up by beaks, before you here I shows,
For what offence, I’m blistered if I knows;
Fam’d thro’ the universe for feats of fists,
Before you stands Deaf Burke, the pugilists.
Yes, honest jurymen, with heart of steels,
I make with confidence my proud appeals,
My case upon its simple merits try—
Let me have justice, and no fears have I.
I ask of you as upright jurymen,
In what have I offended—​where and when?
Why of the throng should Burke the scapegoat be
Or Reverend Cautley’s wrath descend on me?
As to the mill, I own that I was there—
All went on peaceably, and all was fair;
Arm’d with high courage, strong in heart and limbs,
The men were at the scratch in gallant trims.
And smiling confidence was on their brows,
When Parson Cautley first kick’d up a rows,
And by an effort, frivolous as weaks,
Back’d by a rural traps, and Smith the beaks,
Sought, and perhaps he deem’d that he was right,
To rush into the ring and stop the fight.
What if the Riot Act was read—​Alas!
The Deaf’un couldn’t hear it if it was!
And as far as I’m concern’d it is a facts,
It might have been a sermon or “the Acts;”
But as to swearing, or a hint to drop,
Out of the ring I pitch’d him neck and crop,
Tho’ towards a parson I feel reverence due,
Josh Cautley states the thing that isn’t true.
But let that pass—​the issue I’ll not shirks—
Convinc’d your fiat will acquit Deaf Burkes;
Proclaiming that from testimony strong,
The pugilist was right, the parson wrong.
I’ve studied, sirs, since my career began,
To prove myself through life an honest man—
Humble my origin, my lot obscure,
I never came the artful dodge, tho’ poor.
I ne’er gave way to lewdness, nor to lush,
Nor did an act for which I’ve cause to blush.
True, I ne’er figur’d as a man of letters,
But yet I know’d my duty to my betters.
And never deem’d, however mean my station,
Swearing and swaggering pleasant conversation;
Yet, I confess, I lov’d in boyhood prime,
To hear of boxing in the olden time;
Of feats perform’d by those heroic men—
Mendoza, Humphries, Johnson, and Big Ben,
Jem Belcher, Gregson, tough Tom Cribb, and Gully,
Whose hard-earn’d laurels time can never sully.
Fir’d by their deeds, I cried, “Who knows but Burke
May in the Prize Ring some day go to work,
And proud of pluck that never warm’d a curs,
Prove at the scratch an ugly customers?”
Ripe for a chance I fearlessly defied
The sturdiest bruisers by the waterside;
And for the love of glory, not of tin.
To many a hardy cove I’ve pitched it in.
But on my fistic feats I will not dwell,
What I have done let “Fistiana” tell.
*   *   *   *   *
These are my triumphs which I now record,
Tho’ floor’d by Cousens, Bendigo, and Ward;
And even with these I fearlessly declares,
I did my best, and acted on the squares;
And tho’ defeated on the field of fights,
I died true game, and show’d no feather whites.
Now, gentlemen, as I stand here before ye’s,
I’ve told a round and plain unvarnished storys—
I love fair English boxing as my life,
But dread the Arkansas blade and bowie-knife;
Those weapons deadly, cowardly, and keen,
Which in a Briton’s hand should ne’er be seen,
But which if beaks conspire the ring to crush
Will make the blood of many a Briton gush,
And driving manly fair play from our Isle,
Stamp us a nation of assassins vile!
Now, gentlemen, no longer I’ll intrudes,
But, as I’m bound in duty, will concludes;
And, as you seem all honest mens and true,
What you deem right I’m certains you will do.

On Monday, the 14th of March, the Deaf’un, who had been generously bailed by a couple of Bedford tradesmen, surrendered to his bail, as also did eleven others. The Rev. Mr. Cautley, Mr. Orlebar Smith, and “a cloud of witnesses,” policemen, and others. Tom Spring, in friendly consideration of the Deaf’un’s incapacity of hearing, stood by him as amicus curiæ, and kindly interpreted the proceedings. It should be stated that in his examination before Lord Charles F. Russell and the grand jurors, the Rev. Joshua had stated that “Burke had endeavoured to force him out of the ring, and had seized him by the leg to throw him over the ropes.” Of this the Deaf’un (who certainly was never in the ring at all) was nervously anxious to exculpate himself. What was his surprise then to learn that “no evidence would be offered on that point,” and that “the general charge implicated all present in the same guilt.” Eventually (Viscount Chetwynd having removed the trial of his indictment into the Court of Queen’s Bench, on the ground that he could not get an impartial trial in Bedfordshire) the trials were postponed, and the whole of the defendants were held to bail to appear at the summer assizes; to them a ruinous expense and miserable suspense, and the great satisfaction of their Christian prosecutors and the profit of sundry attorneys; and thus ended the first “field-day” of “the battle of Bedford.” Other separate indictments, however, were proceeded with, against Messrs. Brown, of the “Swan,” Newport Pagnell, George Durham, Edward Dawkes, and Mark Cross, for “refusing to assist the constable in the execution of his duty.” Mr. Brown, after evidence by M’Hugh, the Rev. Joshua Cautley, and Mr. Smith, that in reply to being so called upon, he replied (being seated on the box of his coach) “that he had to mind his horses,” was found guilty. The other defendants then, having pleaded “guilty,” were sentenced each to pay a fine of forty shillings, and costs, and to enter into 147 recognisances themselves in £40, and two sureties in £20 each, “to be of good behaviour for one year.” The fines were paid, the sureties given, and the defendants liberated from that charge. In July the unlucky defendants again surrendered, when their trial was again postponed to await the result of the certiorari by which the aristocratic defendants (Viscount Chetwynd and Mr. Maley, the solicitor) had removed their cases to the Court of Queen’s Bench. These having failed, in the ensuing November, Burke and his fellow victims of the law’s delay were placed at the bar. In the interim we find in the Bedford Mercury:—

Prize Fight and Lord Chetwynd.—​Lord Charles Russell laid before the Court a statement showing the position of the prosecution against Burke and thirteen others, for a riot at a prize fight at Holcut, in this county, and did so to know whether the prosecution should be proceeded in. Already an expense of £50 had been incurred, and probably between £80 and £90, exclusive of witnesses, would be further required. By a writ of certiorari Lord Chetwynd had traversed the case to the Court of Queen’s Bench, to obtain the privilege of not pleading on the trial in the usual way by holding up his hand. The other parties accused had not been aware of the object of the course taken by Lord Chetwynd, and were in the same position as they were before traversing to the superior court. The county was at a great expense, and the defendants must have been at double the expense. His lordship also laid before the Court a correspondence between Lord Chetwynd and that gentleman, expressing his regret at what had occurred. Mr. Smith was not satisfied with the correspondence, and the opinion of the Court was that the prosecution should be continued, having begun it.

“From this we infer that the Rev. Mr. Smith is not satisfied with the apology tendered by Lord Chetwynd, and that to satisfy his feelings, the county and the defendants are to be involved in a still heavier outlay. To those who were in no respect consenting to Lord Chetwynd’s determination, this seems a measure of cruelty for which we were not prepared; but it would seem that after having already entered into recognisances to appear and take their trials, and having strictly and respectfully complied with that undertaking, from whence they were relieved by no act of their own, they are again called on to put in fresh bail in the Court of Queen’s Bench at Westminster, some of them living in distant parts of the kingdom. This may be necessary in form of law; but surely, even the Rev. Mr. Smith can have no wish to add to the hardships of the defendants, who were, and are still ready to submit to take their trials at the proper season.”


This wretched persecution thus dragged its weary length into the following year, 1842, when negotiations for a compromise having been made between the Crown solicitors and those of the defendants, Mr. Gurney, on the part of “Burke, Adams, Cain, and others,” said he was instructed to withdraw their plea of “not guilty,” and to accept a verdict for the Crown against his clients.

Mr. Andrews thereon, on the part of the magistrates, thought the defendants had pursued a very proper course, and the prosecution was withdrawn; so that this expensive performance of “Much Ado about Nothing,” ended by Messrs. Cautley and Smith “taking nothing by their motion,” the defendants being put to a heavy expense, and an outlay of some hundreds of pounds (raised by benefits and public subscriptions of the admirers of British boxing, and the sympathisers with the unfortunate victims of Puritanical persecution) to the profit of lawyers. At the opening of these assizes Baron Gurney made the following significant remark, with which we will conclude these instructive legal proceedings for the suppression of pugilistic encounters: “His lordship, in discharging the grand jury, said, that although the number of cases in the calendar was not greater than was usual at the spring assizes, yet he regretted to see that the character of many of the offences was of a most aggravated description, and that there was no less than six charges of maliciously cutting and wounding in the calendar. His lordship said that this offence of using deadly weapons in personal quarrels appeared to be very much on the increase, that it was a disgrace to the character of the country, and that it must be put down.”

In May, 1842, the Deaf’un was matched with the Tipton Slasher (William Perry), but at the fourth deposit, which was appointed to be made at Owen Swift’s on July 7th, when “Time” was called, and Burke’s “needful” ready, no one appeared on behalf of the Tipton, and Burke was thereon declared entitled to the forfeit of the £15 down. Johnny Broome, as the representative of Perry, afterwards made his appearance, but Burke’s friends declared the business closed, and refused to reopen the affair. And thus ended the Deaf’un’s last attempt to get paired with either of “the big ’uns,” who at this period preferred their questionable claims to the tarnished honours of the “Championship.”

“Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen.
Fallen from his high estate,”

poor Jem now became the plaything, but never the parasite, of a knot of 149 men about town, supplementing their questionable patronage by giving lessons in boxing, and conducting the room at his early patron’s (Joe Parish, the waterman and pugilist) who, for many years after his removal from Strand Lane, kept the “Lion,” at the corner of Newcastle Street, Strand. The Deaf’un—​and we met him often—​was always respectable in appearance and respectful in manner, and out of his small means supported an aged mother and a humble home.

In his nightly adventures in the vicinity of the Haymarket, Burke was frequently brought in contact with a big outsider, Bob Castles, well known at the “playhouses” (not the theatres), in the vicinity of Leicester Square, at “Goodred’s Saloon,” Jack Rowbottom’s “Finish,” in James Street, The Elysium, Mother Emerson’s “The Waterford Arms,” and the numerous nighthouses that then infested and infected the purlieus of Piccadilly, and disgraced and degraded the very name of a sporting house. Bob was a great boaster, and on the strength of having stripped twice in the P.R. (once in August 20, 1827, when he beat Bill Bailey at Portsmouth Races, and again on April 2, 1828, with Paddy Flynn, at Colney Heath, when he got “the value of a bating”), he was a sort of “professional” guide to roysterers out on the spree, and a bully for those who might hire his services. Bob was, moreover, a great talker, and, to use a Pierce-Eganism, “flash as the knocker of Newgate.” This worthy never missed an opportunity of making the naturally good-natured Deaf’un the butt of his chaff, and even of many rough practical jokes. On one of these occasions the Deaf’un taking umbrage at what he supposed to be an interference with some of his “’ticular frien’s,” quietly warned “Mister Bobs” that if he didn’t mend his manners “he’d jest punch Mister Bobs’ pimples.” One word begetting another, and the Deaf’un, considering himself better at an argumentum ad hominem with the fist than a verbal disputation, dared Castles to the field; the latter ridiculed the idea, and several of those present agreeing that a good licking mutually administered might do good to both of them, a deposit was made to be increased to £50, and that the veterans should have the opportunity of displaying their courage and settling their difference of opinion, secundem artem, with Nature’s original weapons. To afford them an opportunity to prepare for their “trial by battle,” three weeks were allowed for training, and in the interim the wrathful heroes went under the necessary regimen and exercises, Burke at the “Five Bells,” Putney, Castles at the pleasant Hill of Richmond. Monday, June 150 13th, 1843, was the eventful day. Castles, as the deposits went on, found no difficulty in collecting his “coriander seed;” but the poor honest Deaf’un did not find his friends, however prompt to promise when under the influence of champagne, so ready when its effervescence had subsided to relieve the mortified feelings of their protégé by substantial support. Indeed, he might have miscarried at the time, for, as he told us, he found no end of difficulty “in raising his winds; all the good ones as used to do the liberals being gones.” At this juncture Young Dutch Sam kindly stepped in and posted the “possibles,” but at the expense of several town visits by the Deaf’un, which consumed hours that would have been more advantageously devoted to improving his bodily condition. In truth, Burke had outlived his fistic fame; and, although the hero of some twenty battles, it was considered that the steel had been taken out of him, and that his renewed appearance in the milling arena would be a mere impotent exhibition of departed powers. Despite of the difficulties he had to encounter, and the low estimate of his capabilities entertained by many, he sustained the character for hardihood, steadiness, and cunning tact that served him so well in days gone by. As to Castles, his height (nearly six feet) and superior activity were considered strong points in his favour.

At the last deposit it was agreed between Young Dutch Sam and Mr. Edward Lacey, the host of the “Garrick’s Head” tap—​to whom the fortunes of Bob Castles had been entrusted—​that a trip down the river was the most prudent mode of bringing matters to a conclusion, and for this purpose the “Nymph,” Woolwich steamer, was duly chartered, and directed to be moored off Waterloo Bridge on the morning of battle at eight o’clock. The “skipper” was punctual to his appointment, and soon after that hour the men and their partisans were safely embarked. Of the latter the muster was limited, but among them were a few “Corinthians,” whose appearance belied the conclusion that they had “risen with the lark,” although we opine they had not placed themselves in a position to render rising necessary. At a quarter after eight the craft was under weigh for London Bridge, whence, after a passing call, she proceeded to Blackwall, and there having taken in a few of “the right sort,” pursued her downward course. The Deaf’un was a little crusty on his supposed exclusion from a due share of the profits of the boat, but in this he was overruled. There was one point, however, upon which he was inexorable, namely, that, “as he was outs on a parties of pleasures,” he would “go the whole hogs,” and not stop short of Gravesend, where he expected to 151 find Young Dutch Sam and some friends. He had no objection, however, having seen them, to “try backs, and fight on the roads homes, instead of dropping downs to the Lower Hopes,” the vicissitudes attending on the last trip to which locality was still fresh in his as well as our recollection. Accordingly, to Gravesend the “Nymph” pursued her voyage. Here Sam was found, but his state of health was such as to render his embarkation indiscreet. Little time was lost in “putting about,” and finally dropping anchor at Rainham Ferry, on the Essex shore, nearly opposite Erith, the belligerents and their followers were quickly landed, and the coast being clear, the ring was formed on a fine piece of turf behind the bank, a snug public-house affording the men a convenient resting-place till all was ready. Of betting on the voyage down we heard but little, and this at “evens,” the Deaf’un sporting his “last solitary shilling” on himself.

The Commissary having discharged his functions, aided by Tom Callas, and provided seats for the limited assemblage of spectators, the combatants were summoned to the scratch, and forth they came, nothing loth; Burke attended by Cullen and Jerry Donovan, and Castles by Tom Reidie and Fuller. On stripping, Burke looked as full in flesh and as prominent in muscle as when personating Hercules in his celebrated representation of the Grecian Statues. He stated he weighed 12st. 4lb., and stood 5ft. 8in. Castles was not so heavy, barely weighing 12st.; but he had the advantage in height, being 5ft. 11in; his length taking from his width, he looked thin, but he was evidently in good health. There was a speck in one of his eyes, but he said it did not interfere with his vision, so that there was no fear of his antagonist getting on his “blind side.” “Richard’s himselfs agains,” said the great disciple of Shakspeare, and at twenty minutes to two both men advanced, having previously tied their colours to the stakes (blue bird’s eye for the Deaf’un, and white bird’s eye for Castles), and tendering the hand of good fellowship, commenced


Round 1.—​Odds, 5 to 4 on the Deaf’un. A few leary dodges, each feeling for an opening, and the Deaf’un expanding his chest and stretching his pounders from the shoulders, as if to give them freedom and elasticity. Castles tried his left, but was stopped; he then kept feeling for his man, the Deaf’un waiting, and cautious; nearer and nearer till at last they got within distance, when wild and slight counter-hits were exchanged with the left, then a rush to in fighting; a few scrambling hits, but no mischief done, and the Deaf’un dropped on his knees. On rising, Castles showed a slight discolouration on the right cheek-bone.

2.—​Castles manfully to his work; the Deaf’un quiet and waiting; Castles short with his left, and the Deaf’un on the alert; heavy counter-hitting with the left, and Burke popped in his favourite right-handed 152 hit on the nut. More counter-hitting with the left; and in the close the Deaf’un was down, and got up blowing.

3.—​Bob, on coming up, showed symptoms of having received nobbers on the forehead left and right, and the Deaf’un’s eyes twinkled as if they had been asked a question. Castles prompt to the call of “time,” and Burke steadily but slowly to him. The Deaf’un tried at the mark with his left, but it was a mere tap; Bob advanced, the Deaf’un retreating till they reached the corner, when Bob let fly his left, catching it severely in return. A determined rally followed, and heavy hits were exchanged left and right; the Deaf’un catching Castles a severe right-handed hit on the jaw. In the end, the Deaf’un fell on his knees outside the ropes. On getting on his “second’s” knees he pointed to his right arm, as if it had been shaken in the last round.

4.—​Castles advanced; but the Deaf’un was in no hurry, and waited for him; Castles delivered his left on the Deafun’s sneezer, and got back; an exchange of heavy hits with the left, and Burke again down on his knees; he was evidently playing the cautious game.

5.—​Burke’s frontispiece slightly disfigured, and a mouse under his left eye; Castles getting within distance let go his left, but the Deaf’un hit with him, and heavy slogging hits, left and right, followed; a break away, and again to business; when, after an interchange of hits, the Deaf’un was down, obviously stung to some purpose, and Castles displayed claret from his nose, and showed marks of heavy nobbing.

6.—​Castles hit short with his left, but getting nearer, heavy counter-hits were exchanged, when Castles closed with the view to throwing; Burke attempted to get down, but Castles held him up by the neck by main strength for some time with both arms till he dropped.

7.—​Castles again a little out of distance; the Deaf’un waiting, when counter-hits were exchanged, and Castles closing, caught his man on the hip and gave him a heavy fall, to the dismay of the Deaf’un’s backers.

8.—​The Deaf’un came up slow, and suspicions were afloat that “a screw was loose,” in fact it was whispered that his rupture was down, and almost any odds were offered against him, one gentleman crying 100 to 1, and no takers; Castles strong on his legs and full of vigour. He was too cautious, however, and did not go in with sufficient determination; he hit short left and right; counter-hits with the left, and a lively rally, which ended in Burke going down, apparently weak.

9.—​Burke came up blowing like a grampus, and again looking at his right arm as if something was the matter; he tried a poke at the body with his left, but did not get home; heavy counter-hits with the left, and some spirited in-fighting; punishing blows were exchanged, and in the close, Burke pursued his getting-down system.

10.—​Castles came up with a tremendous bump over his left eye, which his seconds ascribed to a butt, and claimed, but the impression was that as Burke always dropped his head when he hit with his left, his head had accidentally come in contact with Castles’s forehead, but without any intention to butt, and the claim was not allowed. No sooner at the scratch, than Castles led off heavily with the left; sharp counter-hitting followed, and in the close, Burke down, Castles on him.

11.—​Castles missed his left, and some severe in-fighting followed; the hits were quick and heavy; Castles tried for the fall, but Burke hung on him, and pulled him down.

12.—​Castles popped in a tremendous pop with the left on the Deaf’un’s mug, and repeated the dose; the Deaf’un, not to be deterred, returned the compliment, and rattling hits followed; in the close the Deaf’un went down. Castles showed a gash on the brow, and was otherwise seriously damaged in the frontispiece, and the spirits of the Deaf’un’s friends were reviving.

13.—​A magnificent rally, in which the exchange of hits left and right were really rapid; in the close, Burke got down; both were seriously contused, and their phisogs anything but free from blemish.

14.—​Burke came up slow at the call of time; Castles to him, and led off with his left, but was stopped; good exchanges left and right; the Deaf’un looked groggy, but stood well up, and exchanged hits till he fell; Castles also fell, and was evidently feeling the effects of his quick and heavy fighting; both were seriously punished.

15.—​Heavy exchanges left and right; and in the close, Burke down weak.

16.—​Again did the men go to work with determination, although Burke was slow to the scratch; Burke delivered a heavy right-handed fling on Castles’s left ear, which was much swollen and discoloured, but on Castles attempting to close, he went down.

17.—​Bob planted heavily with his left, but the Deaf’un stood it like a wood pavement, and dashed to a rally, in which heavy jobbing hits were exchanged; Castles grappled for the fall, but the Deaf’un, too leary, got down.

18.—​Castles missed his left, and the Deaf’un rushing in with his head down, Castles caught it under his arm, and giving him a Cornish hug, threw and fell heavily on him.

19.—​The Deaf’un slow and weak, and five to one offered on Castles, who although seriously punished came up strong on his legs, with nothing like flinching in his demeanour. Castles missed his left, but the Deaf’un met him with his left on the nozzle, and drew his cork; a sharp rally, in which pretty taps were exchanged; in the end, Burke dropped 153 on his knees, but in the act of going down, he received a whack on the left brow from Castles’s right, which opened a seam, and brought the claret in a stream.

20.—​Good stopping, when the men got to a rally, and hit followed hit left and right, till Burke fell on his knees. Castles had the bark stripped from his snuffler, and both displayed such marks of punishment as would have satisfied any ordinary appetite, and certainly proved that neither was deficient in thorough game.

21.—​Burke’s left eye, which had received a second visitation, continued to bleed; Castles no sooner on his legs than to business, and delivered his left well on the Deaf’un’s nose, drawing his cork; this he repeated, when the Deaf’un rushed to a close, but Castles slipped aside, and the Deaf’un fell over on his head.

22.—​Heavy exchanges left and right, the Deaf’un down.

23.—​The Deaf’un’s right eyebrow following suit with his left, both cut, and his nose assisting to form a trio; heavy counter-hitting with the left, and pretty exchanges with the right; Castles down, bleeding from the nose.

24.—​A terrific rally, in which the punishment was pretty much on a par; they both slogged away, till Burke dropped.

25.—​Another severe round; Burke was not to be denied, and the hitting proved that each was determined to leave his mark, of which friendly attentions there were abundant proofs, as both bled profusely, and displayed a succession of severe contusions, while Castles’ left eye was fast closing, and the knuckles of his left hand were considerably puffed.

26.—​Castles came up dripping claret from sundry springs: Burke, slow, waited his approach; Castles led off with his left, but was stopped; tried it again, and got home, when Burke rushed in with dire intent, but missed his blow, and Castles as he passed gave him a back-handed slap with his left; Burke down on his knees.

27.—​Castles hit short, when Burke rushed in under his arm, and Castles, trying to grapple, fell over and beyond him.

28.—​Castles, after a little dodging, planted his left; Burke countered, and caught him another round hit on the ear with his right; although Burke’s arm was said to be injured this did not seem to come from a disabled member, for it shook poor Castles’s dredging box most woefully; in a scrambling attempt at a close, Burke got down.

29.—​Castles, bleeding copiously, but still determined, led off with his left, but Burke returned left and right; Castles, in getting away, fell, and the cheers of Burke’s friends gave him new life.

30.—​It was now clear that Castles’ left hand was fast going, and from its swollen state it was plain that it was incapable of much execution; and the Deaf’un, who seemed rather to gain than to lose his strength, was the favourite at 6 to 4. The Deaf’un, in no hurry, waited for his antagonist’s approach; Castles let go his left, and the Deaf’un poked him in return, and after some good hitting, the Deaf’un got down.

31.—​The Deaf’un still on the waiting suit; Castles not so quick; he found that his heavy slogging hits made no impression on the Deaf’un’s iron head; still, after a pause, he led off with his left, and after a spirited rally, the Deaf’un was down.

32.—​The Deaf’un evidently tired, took his time in coming to the scratch, and quietly waited for the attack. Castles at last went to work, and heavy hits were exchanged, when in the close both were down, on Castles being lifted up, although dreadfully punished, he said “he felt strong,” and showed no disposition to cry “enough;” while Burke was equally dogged in his determination.

33.—​A little artful dodging; Castles let go his left, but Burke ducked, and got away; Burke in turn rushed in, but Castles retreated; he then rattled to the charge, but the Deaf’un slipped down on one knee; Castles pointed at him with his finger, instead of hitting him as he might have done, and exclaimed, “that’s Nick Ward’s game, stand up and fight like a man;” Burke grinned, shook his bump of combativeness, and was carried to his corner.

34.—​The Deaf’un extremely deliberate in his movements, and slow to the scratch. Castles not so quick as heretofore; after looking at each other and dodging, Castles shot out with his damaged left, but was stopped; a rally and counter-hits exchanged, when Burke again got down on his knees; Castles pointed at him derisively, but the Deaf’un “took a sight” with both hands, and flourished his digits; Castle walked to his corner, mortified at Burke’s dropping, while Burke was carried to his.

35.—​Castles’ left hand getting worse, and he did not seem inclined to lead off so quickly as heretofore; the Deaf’un ogled the damaged fin with great satisfaction, and, after a short pause, led off with his left, and planting his blow got down on his knees; Castles looked “unutterable things,” and, after regarding him for a moment, gave him a contemptuous slap on the cheek, at which the Deaf’un smiled, as much as to admit he was playing “the artful dodger.”

36.—​The Deaf’un a decided favourite, and 2 to 1 offered on him. He was clearly the stronger man, while his left hand was still sound and in working order; on getting up he waited quietly for the attack, looking slyly down at Castles’ fist; Castles offered to commence, but the Deaf’un retreated; a considerable pause, when Castles led off: the Deaf’un countered heavily, and after a sharp rally, in which some severe exchanges took place, the Deaf’un again got down, still playing the old soldier.


37 and last.—​The Deaf’un pursued his waiting game, and was clearly gaining strength; Castles also paused and was in no hurry to begin; the Deaf’un rubbed his chest, and then his thatch with both hands, and grinned, as much as to say, “I’m in no hurry.” Castles tried a feint with his left, but if would not do; the Deaf’un was wide awake, and showed that he was determined not to throw a chance away. Castles tried his left at the body, but the blow was not effectual, at last he let go at the Deaf’un’s head, and a brisk rally followed, when the Deaf’un finished the round by giving Castles, for the first time, a heavy fall. This was the closing act of the drama. Castles found his opponent the stronger man, and, from the state of his left hand, feeling that he had not a chance, he prudently determined to give in at once, declaring that fortune was on the side of his opponent, and he had not the power to turn the scale. The Deaf’un immediately approached, they shook hands, and all was over in one hour and ten minutes.

Both men were immediately conducted to the contiguous public-house, where every attention was paid to them, and where their wounds were dressed, and their contusions reduced as much as possible. Poor Castles was heavily punished, his left eye in total eclipse; his face exhibited not a square inch without a mark, and a deep incision over the right eye showed the severity of the Deaf’un’s hitting. His left hand, too, had become perfectly useless; in truth a more perfect specimen of a courageous and undaunted submission to hard hitting we have never witnessed—​the best evidence that if by nature timid, by force of mind he resisted all approach to the charge of cowardice, a species of valour even more creditable than that which mere instinct and the gift of creation has planted in the carcases of many animals. Burke had also what he called his “shares;” but with a hardier and more robust frame than Castles, as well as a head that might vie in quality with the rind of a cocoa-nut, his sufferings were not so severe. Yet we doubt whether in any of his former encounters his receipts were of so severe a character; he confessed he got much more than he expected, and was disagreeably surprised at finding “Mister Bobs so dangerous a customers.”

Castles lost this battle principally from his eagerness in the latter part of the fight, and a want of judgment in not hitting and getting away. He was too fast, while the Deaf’un cunningly waited and popped him as he came in, thus giving a sort of double impetus to his deliveries. Had Castles rattled in with more determination when Burke was amiss, about the eighth round, the issue might have been different. Burke felt his position, and had recourse to all the strategems of an old soldier, husbanding his strength, getting down, and never attempting to wrestle or unnecessarily exhaust his powers; by this means he preserved his physical energies, and made the best use of them at the proper time. Castles, on the contrary, was always first to the call of “time,” and till the last few 155 rounds “made all the running,” thereby realising the fable of the hare and the tortoise. In trying to throw the Deaf’un, too, he diminished his powers; still, with all this, we are inclined to think, had his left hand not given way, a result almost inevitable from the frequent repetition of heavy hits on the Deaf’un’s granite nut, he would have come off victorious; as it is, with all his faults, he proved himself superior in pluck and moral courage to most of the modern men of his weight, and deserved the generous consideration of those who prize such qualities. The Deaf’un showed unflinching game throughout, and fighting up-hill as he did, with his right arm seriously, though not fatally damaged, he proved that “all was not lost that was in danger;” and that in confiding in his tact his admirers were not trusting to “a broken reed.”

The battle money was given to Burke at Young Dutch Sam’s, the “Old Drury Tavern,” Brydges Street.

The re-embarkation followed in good order, and all reached Waterloo Bridge at seven o’clock—​the combatants proceeding under the care of their friends to their respective quarters. As an appropriate pendant to the prosaic version of this “crowning victory” we append


My sarvice, friend Castles, once class’d with the nobs,
We’ve finished our fights, and we’ve settled the jobs;
I founds you a customers ugly and stout,
And I’m blest if my works wasn’t neatly cut out.
We’ve both of us passed, and no doubts on’t, our prime,
And good sarvice we’ve seen in the Rings in our time;
Fortune’s smiles and her frowns we’ve been destin’d to weather,
But ne’er, as I knows on, displayed the white feather.
Your friends chose to say I’d no relish for whopping,
And censure as currish my systems of dropping,
Declare by good men such a course was abhorr’d,
And a leafs I had prigg’d from the books of Nick Ward.
Now I humbly begs leave at sich nonsense to grin—
One objects I had, and that there was to win;
And who’er at my tictacs may fancy a fling,
Such dodging’s all fair by the Rules of the Ring.
On strengths and on plucks do men place sole reliance?
Is nothing allow’d for manoovers and science?
The systems of getting away would you fetter?
Why, Bobbys, my tulips, you knows a deal better?
Too fast with your rush you were constantly in,
Till I gladly observed you had damaged your fin;
Now, says I to my pals, you may alter your tones,
For I see clear as muds that the games is my owns.
And yet I received of hard hitting a gluts,
You pepper’d my pimples, and damag’d my nuts;
I never suppos’d you could come it so rough,
And well pleased was I when you sing’d out “enough!”
I’m sure you’ll allow, after triumphs achiev’d,
I wasn’t so stale as some folks has conceived;
Who swore that my powers pugilistics were spent,
And I couldn’t inflict in fresh butter a dent.
That I’ve not the same powers I’m free to deplore,
As when I floor’d Byrne and a great many more;
All out-and-out fancy boys, fearless and free,
Then the Deaf’un aspired to be top of the tree.
But lush and late hours, ’twould be folly to doubt,
For a time wore my frame and my energies out;
First Bendigo gave me a punishing dose,
And I then by Nick Ward was consign’d to repose.
Yet tho’ peaceful the course which for some time I shap’d,
I felt that my gas had not wholly escap’d;
My luck once again I was anxious to try,
And with a true trump to turn out for a shy.
The rest, Bobs, we knows, and I scorn all self praise,
And I’d troubles sufficient the needful to raise;
And, faith, I had almost despaired of a fight,
When Young Dutch Sams came forward, and made it all right.
Then we’ll meet at his cribs, Bobs, and go the whole hogs,
In despatching his malts, his Virginny, and grogs,
And as the pure drinkables mount to our brain,
In “luck to the Rings” the bright pewters we’ll drain.
And I’ll teach you to hact, both abroad and at home,
The statutes of Greece and the statutes of Rome!
I’ll teach you, Bob Castles, to understand traps,
And make you a classical sorts of a chaps.
And whether clean’d out or well breech’d with the stump,
In wars or in peaces you’ll find me a trump,
And whoever agin you foul slanders may hazard,
Shall have from this mauley a tap on the mazzard.
Then good-bye for the present—​I wish you all mércies;
You see I’m no bad one at tagging of werses,
And ready at all times for going to vork,
I’m yours, without any more gammon,
Deaf Burke.

This was the last “flare-up” of the Deaf’un’s pugnacious spirit. Late hours and long fasts, alternated with creaming sillery, lobster-salads, devilled biscuits, ditto kidneys, and a deluge of meaner liquors, soon reduced poor Burke to a shadow of his former self, and he died of consumption on the 8th of January, 1845, in Francis Street, Waterloo Road. His good qualities were his own, his vices the grafting of his so-called “betters” in society.

[14] In Fistiana (edit. 1864), Burke’s fight with Fitzmaurice is set down as having taken place on June 9th, 1834; i.e. thirteen months after the Deaf’un’s fatal affair with Simon Byrne, and is so placed. It occurred five years earlier, in 1829, as above narrated.

[15] Omitted from the list of Lazarus’s fights in Fistiana, but inserted under Brown.

[16] Butting was not yet prohibited, and was frequently resorted to when a man wished to escape from the hug of a fibbing or wrestling adversary.—​Ed. Pugilistica.

[17] This is also prohibited by modern rules.—​Ed.

[18] This highly reprehensible system of carrying men up to the scratch was subsequently entirely done away with, as also the system of allowing minute time, another mischievous practice, which, by giving men more time, enabled them to recover sufficiently to stand and deliver blows long after their strength and stamina were exhausted. These alterations took place after the fatal fight between Owen Swift and Brighton Bill, and were attended with most beneficial results. Half-minute time only was allowed by the New Rules, and if a man did not walk to the scratch in eight seconds after time was called, he lost the fight.




Although this ungainly specimen of a boxing athlete first saw the light, in the year 1819, in the town of “the Black Country” from which his nom de guerre was derived, he came to London and worked in its neighbourhood at an early age; for, in the year 1835, he was well known in the neighbourhood of Battersea Fields and Chelsea as a “lumping lad” who, despite the drawback of “a K leg,” could hit, stop, and use his “fives” with formidable effect. In November of that year, we read in a sporting paper:

“The admirers of milling in the military village of Chelsea, where the ‘saloon of arms’ of Alec Reid is a centre of attraction, were all alive on Tuesday, from the arrangement of a ‘field day’ to decide the best-man question between two pugilistic heroes of the locality. These were Barney Dogherty, a sprig from the Emerald Isle, and Bill Perry, a young navvy, whose displays with his digits, if not quite scientific, are determined and dangerous. Perry was backed by a sporting butcher, Dogherty by a circle of his enthusiastic countrymen. In weight the Emeralder had the advantage of nearly a stone. Each man was waited on by a member of the P.R., and the regulations of the Ring carried out.

“The fixture was Wimbledon Common, whither miscellaneous groups were seen wending their way at an early hour; but the police scouts were wide-awake, and on reaching the intended scene of action it was ‘no go,’ and the disappointed crew looked as blue as their enemies. A move became inevitable, and new ground was taken opposite the ‘Ship’ at Mortlake. Here the men set to, but after seven rounds, all in favour of Perry, the lobsters were again on the scent, and another retreat was made towards Barnes Common. Here also it would not do—​the pursuers were on the heels of the ‘flying dustmen,’ and a helter-skelter sort of march 158 took place over Putney Bridge. Here a council of war was held, and it was at last agreed to march for Lechmere Common, close to the sporting grounds of the Baron de Berenger, in the King’s Road. Here all was right—​a fresh ring was formed without interruption, and the sport was resumed and concluded.

“On squaring elbows there was a good deal of sparring, and Perry dodged left and right. After some heavy exchanges and a rally, Barney was down weak. The fight was prolonged for six rounds more, during which Perry had it all his own way, punishing Barney terrifically; still the poor fellow came up as game as a rhinoceros, and would not give in till his seconds, seeing he had not a chance, cried ‘enough,’ and his friends were all satisfied he had done his best to win.

“Dogherty turned out to be too stale for active operations; added to which he is slow and awkward in his style of setting to. Perry is a scientific hard hitter, but with such a man as Alec Reed, in his day, he would not have had a chance. Still, in the present state of the Fancy, he is not to be sneezed at. It was expected a second fight would have taken place between Middlesex Ben and the Winchester Pet, but the former was ‘shopped.’ Perry can be backed with anybody who may envy his honours, and the money will be ready at the ‘Lowndes Arms,’ King’s Road, on Tuesday evening, where Alec Reed gives sparring lectures for the benefit of the rising generation.”

Such is the account of “The Slasher’s” coup d’essai, after which he seems to have found no candidate for his favours for a twelvemonth, and to have worked his way towards his native place. Here his fame as a fistic practitioner was pretty generally acknowledged, and a party of Birmingham boxers, having among their number Ben Spilsbury (not Charley, who fought Johnny Broome), being in the town of Tipton exhibiting the art, young Perry put on the mufflers with that professional. Though the Tipton lad was not so clever as the Brum, he displayed such determination, and got so well “on” to his man, that an observation that, “if in earnest,” Mr. Ben would have to play second fiddle, led to an offer on the part of a Brum to post a “tenner” upon the experiment. “A friend to sport,” at the request of Perry, covered the two sovereigns deposited; and as the Christmas holidays were approaching, December 27th, 1836, was named as the day of battle. After taking some little liberties with the Tipton in the opening rounds, for which he occasionally caught a fearful right-handed visitation, and was rallied down, Spilsbury kept so completely à la 159 distance as to deprive the contest of all interest, and finally, at the end of the 19th round, “cut it,” leaving “The Slasher” in possession of the field and the stakes.

William Perry

WILLIAM PERRY (“The Tipton Slasher”)

After this defeat of Spilsbury, it would appear that the sobriquet of “The Tipton Slasher” had become the accepted title of William Perry, for in a local (Staffordshire) paper we find him so described, as being matched for £25 a side against one Jem Scunner, who is described as the “Gornel Champion,” a six-foot specimen, weighing 13st. odd, and therefore a fair opponent in height and weight for our hero. The report is especially meagre, merely informing us that “the battle commenced on Tuesday (Nov. 22, 1837), near Gornel, but was not decided until the following day.” The betting at setting to was 6 and 7 to 4 on the Gornel man. After a few rounds, however, the Gornelites claimed the fight for their man on the ground of a “foul,” but the referee would not allow it, and Scunner, by the advice of his friends, would not go on. A rush to the ring was made, and the referee retired. It was asserted that Perry fell without a blow. After some wrangling, the referee ordered that the fight should be renewed on the next day, at Kingswood, near Wolverhampton. There both men showed at the time appointed, and lost no time in getting to work. During the first four or five rounds the Gornel man rushed at the Tipton like a wild bull, but Perry waited for him, shifted cleverly on his crooked leg, and delivered straight blows and upper-cuts with such slashing effect that the Gornelites were utterly paralysed. From this time Scunner betook himself to out-fighting; but here he took nothing by the change, except prolonging the fight. At the end of one hour the Gornel Champion, having been hit down or thrown in five or six successive rounds, was finally floored in the 31st round, and deaf to the call of time. Tass Parker, of West Bromwich, and Preston, of Birmingham, seconded Perry; Surrender Lane and George Gallant, of Birmingham, waited on Scunner. The match exciting much interest in the Potteries, Perry, with Parker, became the “lions” of the neighbourhood; the Fountain Inn, at Tipton, the Slasher’s headquarters, being crowded by the Fancy of the Midlands at their benefit on the ensuing Monday.

The defeat of Jem Scunner, who had an immense, though undeserved, local reputation, in a period when the dearth of good big ’uns was remarkable, spread the fame of the prowess of the Slasher so widely that he was fain to wield the shovel in laborious obscurity, instead of flourishing his ponderous mauleys in the 24 foot. In the interval, “the Deaf’un” had 160 returned from Yankeeland, and—​despite his two successive defeats by Bendigo (Feb. 12, 1839) and by Nick Ward (Sept. 22, 1840)—​owing to Bendigo’s accident, and Caunt’s announced absence in America, boldly claimed the Championship. Johnny Broome hereupon sought out the Slasher, and calling to his aid some patrons of the Rising Sun, he proposed a “trial by battle,” to settle the difference of opinion. Burke’s backers came to the scratch with their rhino, for a battle to come off in August, 1842, but at the fourth deposit Broome thought fit to absent himself upon the night of “posting the possibles” at Owen Swift’s, and the Slasher’s money down was confiscated to the extent of £15.

The Tipton, as we know, was a mere tool in this affair, as in other instances, of the over-cunning Johnny Broome, who, like most self-sufficient sharps, often “cut before the edge.” Johnny had other views of the “dark horse” which he flattered himself he had in his own stable, and, as he didn’t find the money, the poor Tipton suffered in reputation (as Johnny intended he should do) by this forfeit. The Editor of Bell’s Life, too honourable himself to suspect this double-dealing, observes: “Though Broome was certainly late, this insistance on forfeit seems very sharp practice; the more so as the same gentleman who backs Perry actually assisted Burke with his first deposit. The forfeit, however, has yet to be taken by Burke’s backers, as he has nothing to do with it beyond their approval, and we may yet find that the last and remaining deposits will be posted, and ‘the ball go on.’ We have since received a letter from the gentleman who put £4 of the first deposit down on behalf of Burke, when the match was made, stating that he will not consent to the forfeit being received, and expressing his desire that the match may proceed, as his only wish is to encourage the manly sports of the Ring.”

But Johnny was determined to be off with the match, as he had not found Brassey, of Bradford, so “tenderly led by the nose as asses are,” and he had now in view a grand coup de poing, to play off against the unquestionable “blaze of triumph” achieved by Ben Caunt in the circus and theatre line, by the introduction of what might be called the “illegitimate” drama in place of, and to the eclipse of, the exhibition of “legitimate” British boxing. In this fairly-planned vindication of the art from mere bulky pretenders, Johnny was certainly to be praised; but as his choice of a champion was “Hobson’s,” and limited to such an inferior tactician as the game, rough-and-ready Tipton Slasher—​to oppose immense weight, superior length and activity, backed by a creditable reserve of 161 courage and self-possession, and moderate skill in sparring—​the enterprise was certainly ill-judged. Of its progress and issue we shall now have to treat.

In the year 1842, a sensation was created by the return of Ben Caunt to England, bringing with him a seven-foot specimen of humanity, of the name of Charles Freeman. There can be little doubt, from subsequent events, that Ben brought over his gigantic protégé purely as a showman’s speculation; and that Freeman, with his immense length, strength, and bulk, had as little pretensions or inclination to boxing as any non-combative member of the Peace Society could desire. Ben, however, seeing how “big things” carried it in Yankeeland—​the country of “big things,” of which he, himself, was certainly one—​imported the “American Atlas” as his sparring opponent; and if he might infer future success from their first few nights at the Queen’s Theatre, in Liverpool, when not a seat was to be had in a few minutes from the opening of the doors, the Lancashire people, at any rate, were willing to patronise the show.

Freeman, during several months, not only exhibited at the Queen’s Theatre, Lyceum, Olympic, Adelphi, Victoria, and other theatres, halls and assembly rooms, where a great feature of the entertainments was a caricature of boxing by the giant and Big Ben, but the non-sporting papers were flooded with ridiculous paragraphs, several of them offensively setting forth the wonderful powers and prowess of the American gladiator, and in some instances asserting the “scare” produced among the English prize-fighters by the advent of the New World Goliath. We need hardly say that Freeman himself was entirely innocent of this silly braggadocio, which emanated from the Barnum managers of these performances, and the speculators who at this time degraded the character of the decadent Ring, and prostituted its true aim—​the encouragement of courage and skill—​to their own profit and plunder. Johnny Broome, then in the full tide of his prosperity, called a meeting at his house, the “Rising Sun,” Air Street, Piccadilly, where, after the reading of some of these “puff paragraphs” about “Championships of England and the World” (Ben Caunt modestly claiming the first, and liberally presenting his prodigious pal with the other), it was proposed to bring these pretensions to a practical test by a challenge for £100 a side from “a novice,” to be hereafter named by Broome. On the following week, at the adjourned meeting, Tom Spring presented himself, on the part of Caunt, and stated the latter to be ready to make a deposit for Freeman. Spring further said that Freeman had not 162 come to this country with any intention to fight; his pursuits were quite different; he, therefore, had challenged no man (this was so; but many of his placards contained a challenge to any and every man); nevertheless, he had determined not to refuse this challenge, and, therefore, his money was ready. Harry Broome, on the part of his brother Johnny, who was from home, covered the deposit, and the Thursday evening following was named for drawing up articles, at the “Castle,” for a further deposit, and for naming “the novice.” Freeman and Caunt were both present, and the crowd immense. The giant and his mentor, Ben Caunt, arrived late, owing to an accident on the rail near Weedon. Broome proposed to defer naming “the novice;” but this being insisted on, or a forfeit claimed, “William Perry, of Tipton,” was nominated as the “great unknown,” and the following articles “signed, sealed, and delivered”:—

“Articles of agreement entered into this 29th of September, 1842, at the Castle Tavern, Holborn, between Charles Freeman and William Perry of Tipton. The said Charles Freeman agrees to fight the said William Perry, a fair stand-up fight, in a four-and-twenty foot roped ring, half minute time, according to the New Rules, for £100 a side, on Tuesday, the 6th of December, half-way between Tipton and London. In pursuance of this agreement, £20 a side are now deposited in the hands of the stakeholder; a second deposit of £10 a side to be made on Thursday, the 6th of October, at Johnny Broome’s; a third deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 13th of October, at Johnny Walker’s; a fourth deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 20th of October, at Jem Burn’s; a fifth deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 27th of October, at Tom Spring’s; a sixth deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 3rd of November, at Johnny Broome’s; a seventh deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 10th of November, at Tom Spring’s; an eighth deposit of £10 a side on the 17th of November, also at Tom Spring’s; and the ninth and last deposit of £10 a side on Thursday, the 1st of December, at Johnny Broome’s. The said deposits to be made between the hours of 8 and 10 o’clock, p.m., or the party failing to forfeit the money down; a toss for choice of ground to take place on the night of the last deposit. The men to be in the ring between the hours of twelve and one o’clock, or the man absent to forfeit the whole of the stakes. Two umpires and a referee to be chosen on the ground, the decision of the latter in the event of dispute to be conclusive. In case of magisterial interference the referee, if chosen, to name the next time and place of meeting, or if the referee be not chosen then the stakeholder to name the next time and place 163 if possible on the same day; but the money not to be given up until fairly won or lost by a fight; the winner to pay for the ropes and stakes. Should any money be given for the privilege of the fight taking place in any particular locality, such money, if agreed to be accepted, to be equally divided between the men.

“(Signed) “Charles Freeman.

John Broome (for W. Perry).”

Offers were made to take two to one on the Yankee, but nothing more than six to four could be obtained. The match excited extraordinary interest, and set all the Americans in town on the qui vive. They viewed the success of Freeman as a result already almost attained.

After a round of “appearances,” “benefits,” “soirées,” “entertainments,” &c. to which the well-advertised fact of being “matched” lent additional attractions, both men went into training, Freeman at Frank Key’s, the “Duke of York,” Gannick Corner, near Barnet, and the Slasher in the first place at our friend Jemmy Parsons’s, at Hampton, and subsequently at Ould Tom Owen’s, at Northfleet, Kent. A contemporary paper thus announces the coming event on the previous Saturday:—

“Freeman has been assiduously attended by his friend Ben Caunt, and has been ranging up hill and down dale like the celebrated giant Gog, in his ‘seven-league boots,’ with staff in hand and followed by ‘a tail,’ which, from the length of his fork, generally keeps a respectful distance in his rear. Although his nob has been roofed with a shallow tile, to diminish the appearance of his steeple-like proportions, he still has the appearance of a walking monument, to the no small alarm of the squirrels in Squire Byng’s park, into whose dormitories he occasionally casts a squint of recognition. By his good humour and playfulness of disposition he has won all hearts, and has been a welcome guest on whatever premises he has cast anchor in his walks, which have seldom been less than twenty or thirty miles a day. He has been extremely attentive to his training, and has been much reduced in flesh, while his muscular developments stand forth with additional symmetry. On his arrival in this country he carried some twenty-three stone ‘good meat,’ but we doubt whether on Tuesday he will much exceed eighteen stone. His drawers and fighting shoes have been built with a due regard to ease and elegance, and the latter have been seasonably aired by being lent to a cat and kittens as temporary nurseries. 164 He already sports his blue bird’s-eye fogle, and, without vaunt or unseemly bounce, seems to think his chances of success are planted on a good foundation.

“The Slasher has been under the care of Johnny Broome, whose brother is constantly with him, and was removed on Tuesday, for some reason not explained, from Hampton to Northfleet. We have not seen him, but he is described as in fine condition, and in high spirits. He will weigh, we hear, between thirteen and fourteen stone, stands six feet high, and is a well-proportioned, muscular fellow (always deducting the ‘baker-knee,’ which destroys the perpendicular of his pedestal). His flag of cream colour ground, with the union-jack in the centre, bearing the words ‘Old England,’ and the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock in the corner, the whole inclosed in a blue border, has been unfurled at Johnny Broome’s, and has found numerous supporters on the usual terms, ‘a sovereign or nothing.’ The betting within the last week has varied; in some places the Slasher has been taken for choice, in others Freeman has been the favourite at 5 to 4, at which price a good deal of business has been done. The final deposit was made at Johnny Broome’s, in Air Street, Piccadilly, on Thursday evening, in the presence of a goodly muster. Neither of the men was present. Betting was slack, 5 to 4 only being offered on Freeman; but after some breathing a ‘supposed green,’ offered 30 to 10 on the Giant, at which Johnny Broome snapped, as well as 20 to 10 immediately after from the same innocent, who said he had £50 to lay out and was satisfied with a small profit. This, however, did not advance Freeman much in the betting, for, after a good deal of ‘screwing,’ higher odds than 6 to 4, and this reluctantly, could not be obtained. In consequence of a private agreement between the backers of both men, the appointed toss for choice of ground did not take place.”

There had long been a complaint in the Fancy circles of the dearth of “great men;” if “great” be synonymous with “big,” then this was a “great fight.” How far it deserved that epithet the reader will shortly be able to decide. The Slasher had never been credited with scientific qualifications, and “the American Giant” was remarkable solely for his prodigious bulk and weight-lifting pretensions, never having fought a prize battle before. The match, we are inclined to think, arose rather from a desire to put the pretensions of “the Yankee critter” to the test than from any belief that a man could be found capable of successfully competing with such “a mountain of humanity;” the more especially as Ben Caunt, 165 the Champion of England, had signified that he and Freeman were sworn friends, and were, therefore, unlikely to come in hostile collision. Johnny Broome was consulted as to whether he could find a man willing to try his hand with the Giant, and he at once answered in the affirmative, experience having afforded him opportunities of estimating the game and muscular qualities of the Slasher, who was perfectly willing to make the experiment. It was under these circumstances the challenge was given and accepted. This was the position in which matters stood when the match was made, and in due course the men went into training, each taking every pains to improve his stamina and physical qualities. We may here remark that, in the opinion of competent judges, the mere fact of Freeman being so much taller and heavier than his opponent was not regarded as an argument in favour of his real superiority. In truth, we have seen, and over and over again been led to believe, that a man standing six feet high, and weighing between twelve and thirteen stone, with muscular power and activity in proportion, is the beau ideal of manly perfection; and that anything beyond this is mere surplusage, seldom, if ever, of any real advantage, as has been remarked of most of the giants who have been exhibited as objects of curiosity. We must admit, however, that for his size, we never saw a man so symmetrical in all respects as Freeman; there was nothing unwieldy or awkward in his appearance. In point of muscular development and strength, too, we are persuaded there was not his equal, and in point of activity and lightness, and springiness of action, he was not less to be admired; in fact, his early career was in the equestrian school, where, among other feats, he rode two horses at once, at the same time balancing a man with his arms above his head as he galloped round the circus, added to which he was renowned for the number of somersaults he could throw in succession. In lifting weights, too, on more occasions than one, he has raised fifteen cwt. from the ground. With all these appliances, however, there yet might be a want of animal courage and natural powers of enduring punishment and fatigue; and in the absence of any criterion upon which an opinion on these latter points could be formed, considerable doubts were entertained of the probable issue of his battle with the Slasher, who was known to possess fearless intrepidity, great bodily strength, some science, and sufficient height and weight to entitle himself to be ranked among the most dangerous of our modern millers. Hence the betting, which seldom exceeded 5 to 4 in favour of Freeman, did not prove him to have inspired any extraordinary confidence in the minds of 166 his friends, of whom, from his really unassuming conduct, civil deportment, and good temper, he had many.

We may here state that the wisdom of not ascribing too much merit to superior bulk derived confirmation from scientific calculations made by Mr. Hutchinson, a surgeon of eminence, who made some curious experiments by means of hydraulic and other instruments to ascertain the constitutional powers of human beings, founded on comparisons of the strength of their lungs, by respiration and inspiration, the state of their pulse, capacity of chest, height, weight, &c. Mr. Hutchinson submitted both Freeman and Perry to his tests, and the result of his observation was, that although Freeman’s admeasurement was extraordinary in every respect, yet, comparatively, when the dimensions of both men were taken into account, the balance of bodily power, strength, and endurance was in favour of Perry, who Mr. Hutchinson considered more calculated to sustain fatigue and punishment than his gigantic antagonist. Mr. Hutchinson, of course, admitted that the inference which he thus drew may be defeated by accidental or other causes; but looking to the mere animal qualities of the men, such was his conclusion. That his hypothesis was fairly tried cannot be asserted, for, as will be seen, both men left off, so far as we were capable of judging from the darkness which prevailed, pretty much on a par, whether as respects punishment or fatigue.

It will be borne in mind that at the making of the last deposit, the toss for choice of ground was dispensed with, Spring, on the part of Freeman, and Broome, on the part of Perry, having determined on the probable locality. It was felt desirable to preserve the secret as long as possible, and it was not till Monday that the direction was generally known, when a trip by the Eastern Counties Railway to the borders of Hertfordshire and Essex was announced, with an intimation that a simultaneous departure by the half-past nine o’clock train to Sawbridgeworth (about seven and twenty miles from London) would suit all purposes, and prevent any unnecessary bustle at the immediate scene of action. Notwithstanding the secrecy which had been observed, however, some few “go-carts” with their motley inmates were seen going down the road the night before, and thus a hint was given, of which the police took advantage; and hence, being on the alert, the attendance of a magistrate was obtained, and much trouble and inconvenience, as the sequel will show, were experienced. In the interim both men arrived in town at their respective head-quarters, Freeman at Tom Spring’s, and Perry at Johnny Broome’s, so as to 167 be ready for their morning start, and both houses were crowded to excess.

With the dawn all were in motion, and by eight o’clock the London terminus of the chosen railway was besieged by visitors. Many of these brought drags, which were placed upon the trucks, while others trusted to the “chapter of accidents,” which proved to have a very wide range, for the means of conveyance. Among the first arrivals were the Tipton Slasher and his friends, who thus took time by the forelock, so as to be near the point of rendezvous in due season. This division agreed to alight at Harlow station, as the train did not pull up at Sawbridgeworth, which was, however, but two miles further, within convenient toddling distance, and thither all proceeded. On reaching the fixture a damper was thrown on the prospects of the travellers. The superintendent of police was found at his post. He had received orders from London to prevent hostilities, and to this was added the fact that Mr. Phillips, a Hertfordshire magistrate, was in readiness to “keep the peace.” In this unpleasant dilemma all waited till the arrival of the half-past nine o’clock train, in which came Freeman, Tom Spring, Caunt, and a vast accession of the Fancy. Fortunately there was a carriage and four horses waiting the arrival of Freeman, and after a short deliberation it was resolved to move on to Hatfield Heath, about four miles further, in the county of Essex, and the “office” being given, away all went in that direction—​the great proportion on their ten toes, for conveyances were out of the question—​and the roads being heavy the pilgrimage was far from agreeable, especially to “the London particulars,” who were unprepared for such a journey. For this unexpected tax upon their patience there was no remedy, and on they went till the desired goal was reached. On the road there were some few mishaps, but still all were cheered on by hope. The Commissary lost no time in examining the intended field of battle, which he found swampy, and far from desirable; but there was no help for it, and he was about to form a ring when a fresh alarm was given. The Sawbridgeworth police superintendent and Mr. Phillips, the magistrate, once more presented their ill-omened countenances, and plainly declared their determination to prevent the fight taking place either in Essex or Hertfordshire This was a poser. A council of war was held—​suggestions of all sorts were offered, and a great deal of time was lost. Cambridgeshire, the adjoining county, was deemed too distant to be reached in time, and more especially by the pedestrians; and at last it was determined to “try back,” and return towards London; Broxbourne, 168 on the borders of Middlesex and Essex, being agreed on as the point of re-assemblage.

This point settled, a general move took place towards the nearest stations—​the toddlers to Sawbridgeworth, and the charioteers to Bishop Stortford, there to repack their nags and drags, while the beak and his co-partner, considering that a move had been made to get out of their bailiwick, also moved off. On reaching Bishop Stortford a fresh resolution was formed. “While the cat’s away the mice will play;” so, as the conservators of propriety were no longer present, it was urged that the ring might be formed in the place originally intended, half a mile from the Sawbridgeworth station, not far from the same field in which Turner beat Scroggins, in June, 1817, and scarcely more distant from the scene of Oliver’s conquest over Shelton, in 1820. No sooner said than done; and, in the absence of those who had promised to avoid the county of Hertford, at half-past two o’clock all agreed to drop down to the place from whence they came, with the exception of the Commissary, Freeman, and his friends, who took the main road in a carriage kindly yielded to them by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Bond Street, who also hospitably furnished their larders with a very welcome supply of roast fowls and other “combustibles,” of which their “inward men” stood beseechingly in need. In the interim the Slasher threw himself on a bed at Bishop Stortford, and all who had wisdom took some hasty refreshment. On again reaching Sawbridgeworth we were informed that the lists were formed, and a competent guide being found, all set out along the towing-path of the canal to a very eligible site, about half a mile off, on an elevated piece of ground admirably calculated for the purpose. The evening was now fast approaching, for it was nearly four o’clock, and it was hoped there would be still daylight sufficient to decide which was the better man. The privilege tickets were distributed, and in a short time everything was arranged for the commencement of hostilities.

All being in readiness, Freeman entered the ring in high spirits, attended by Caunt and King Dick, and was received with loud cheers. Rumours were now afloat that the Slasher did not mean to come, and sovereigns even were offered to be laid that there would be no fight. In the interim horsemen were sent off to Sawbridgeworth station to urge the approach of the missing man, who it was known had been left there in charge of Broome. Matters thus remained in doubt for some time, and great impatience began to be manifested, when it was announced, to the great joy of 169 the spectators, that the Slasher was coming—​and come at last he did, amidst the encouraging shouts of his friends. He lost no time in entering the ring, and was immediately met with a friendly shake of the mauley by Freeman. The Slasher was attended by Ben Terry and a provincial friend named Tom Parker. No time was now lost in “trimming” the men for battle, and their superfluous “feathers” were quickly removed. Both appeared in high spirits and eager for business. Umpires and a referee having been chosen, the ring was cleared out, and the “privileged” dropped contentedly on the damp earth, with such preservatives to their sitting places as circumstances would permit; but it must be acknowledged that these were far from satisfactory, owing to the difficulties to which the Commissary had been exposed in the various transfers of his materiel.

On being stripped and placed in juxtaposition, the towering height of Freeman presented a most formidable aspect, while the muscular development of every limb, and the broad expanse of his chest and shoulders, gave him the appearance of herculean strength. His weight, without his clothes, we understood was but little above seventeen stone, for it was remarked that during the last week of his training he rather diminished than increased in bulk. Still, he was in high spirits, and moved about with elastic and graceful step. In the following July he would be 23 years of age. The Slasher also wore a cheerful smile on his mug, which betrayed the fact that he had already lost some of his head rails. From his hips up his bust displayed great muscular power, but being in-kneed, there was less of symmetry in his figure than in Freeman’s. On throwing himself into position, however, this was scarcely perceptible, and he may be described as a model of burly strength. He appeared to be, and said he was, in excellent condition, and, judging from his cheerful index, there was no want of self-confidence. His height six feet, his age twenty-three, and his weight 13st. 4lb.; but notwithstanding the fearful odds against him, he evidently regarded the coming struggle with gallant indifference. Of betting there was but little—​5 to 3 was offered but not taken, and the only bet we heard laid was one of 6 to 4 on Freeman.


Round 1.—​Precisely at seven minutes after four o’clock the men were conducted to the scratch, their fogles having been first tied to the corner stake, and having shaken hand with great good humour, the seconds retired to their corners. The towering height and gigantic proportions of Freeman led all to suppose that he would endeavour to fight down his opponent; but, as will be seen, this anticipation was not fulfilled. The Slasher stood on the defensive and Freeman broke ground, hitting 170 out with his left; from this the Slasher retreated, when Freeman followed him quickly, popped in his left and right slightly, and the Slasher was down. Freeman laughing, and no mischief done.

2.—​The Slasher again to the scratch, when Freeman led off left and right; the latter blow got well home, and dropped the Slasher. First knock-down blow for Freeman; but no damage done, as the Slasher received it when retreating.

3.—​The Slasher made play, and tried his left on Freeman’s body, but was stopped. Freeman rushed to him, the Slasher retiring and hitting short and wild. Freeman popped in his left and right, caught the Slasher in his arms, and threw him with ease.

4.—​The Slasher, on the defensive system, dodged a little, delivered his left on the ribs, in getting away he fell, and thus escaped Freeman’s return.

5.—​Freeman hit out left and right, but the Slasher ducked his head and fell on his knees.

6.—​The Slasher on the dodging system, stepped back; Freeman after him to the corner, where there was a wild rally, in which hits right and left were exchanged. The Slasher got within Freeman’s long arms, gave him a tidy smack with his right on the left eye, and got down. (First blood from Freeman’s brow, and the Tipton lads uproarious.)

7.—​The Slasher, the first to fight, hit out left and right, but was stopped. Freeman slashed away left and right but without precision, and after some trifling deliveries the Slasher got down.

8.—​The Slasher popped in his left on Freeman’s ribs, and got away; Freeman after him, when the Slasher closed. Freeman lifted him clean off the ground, but was unable to get his arm loose to fib, and after a short struggle the Slasher slipped from his grasp and got down.

9.—​The Slasher again led off with his left at the body, and in getting away fell from accident or design. [Cries of “foul” and “foul” was claimed on the part of Freeman; but the referee did not feel himself justified in stopping the fight, and “time” was called.]

10.—​The Slasher again tried the artful dodge, rushed in to hit with the left at the body; but Freeman seized him in his powerful feelers, held him up for a short time, and finding he could do nothing at in-fighting fell on him, but not so as to do him any mischief.

11.—​The Slasher as lively as a grig popped in his left on Freeman’s arm and got away; Freeman followed, gave him one, two, left and right The Slasher broke from him, and delivered his right on his shoulder; then getting away, fell to avoid.

12.—​The Slasher once more led off with his left, but was short. Freeman after him delivered left and right; the Slasher down.

13.—​Freeman popped in his left, The Slasher retreated and fell.

14.—​Freeman again planted his left slightly. The Slasher adhered to his retiring system. Freeman followed him to the ropes, and after a scrambling exchange of hits the Slasher got down. Freeman pointing at him derisively with his finger and laughing.

15.—​Freeman hit left and right, and the Slasher rushed in and caught him round the body, to try for the fall; Freeman held him up completely off the ground by the neck, then chopped first with the left and then with the right; the Slasher hit up left and right, and caught Freeman on the mouth with his right; and after a short struggle was thrown, Freeman on him.

16.—​The Slasher again tried his left at the body, but was short, the blow falling slightly on Freeman’s arm. Exchange of blows. Freeman with the left on the nob, and Slasher on the shoulder with the right, which sounded, but was of no effect. Slasher, in retreating, fell.

17.—​Slasher came up on the defensive, but Freeman hit him down with his left.

18.—​Slasher again popped his left at the body, but was hit down with a counter-hit from Freeman’s left. Freeman fell on him, and foul was claimed by Slasher’s party, but not acknowledged, as it was obvious the fall was accidental.

19.—​Slasher hit Freeman on the shoulder with his right, and in return caught it left and right as he retreated. Slasher returned to the charge with his right, and fell.

20.—​A wild exchange of blows, but not effective, and the Slasher slipped down in retreating.

21.—​[Twenty-three minutes had now elapsed, no real damage done on either side, and both as fresh as when they commenced.] The Slasher popped in his left on the body, and stepped back; Freeman after him, hit left and right, and the Slasher fell.

22.—​Freeman delivered left and right; the Slasher was short in his return, and again received two pops left and right, and fell.

23.—​Freeman delivered left and right, and Slasher down.

24.—​Freeman led off with his left. The Slasher popped in his left on the mark and tried to drop, but Freeman caught him round the neck and held him up some time, and then let him fall, tumbling over him. (Another claim of foul not allowed.)

25.—​Freeman popped in his right on Slasher’s left eye; the Slasher countered on his shoulder, when Freeman caught him with his left, and the Slasher was down.

26.—​Freeman again planted his left; and, on Slasher rushing in, caught him in his arms, held him for a second or two, and fell on him.

27.—​Freeman popped in his left, and dropped his man with his right.


28.—​The Slasher hit short with his left, and renewed the dodging system, playing round his man. Freeman tried to nail him, but he got away, hit out with his left at the body, and fell without a return. [Another claim of foul for Freeman, not admitted.]

29.—​Slasher hit at the body with his left and broke away, Freeman after him, all for mischief, caught him on the hop, and hit him down with his right.

30.—​The Slasher delivered his right on Freeman’s shoulder, broke away, and tried it with the left on the body, but was stopped. Freeman let go left and right, but the Slasher ducked his nob, escaped, and fell.

31.—​The Slasher again in with his left on the ribs and away; Freeman after him, caught him on the pimple, and he fell.

32.—​The Slasher hit short left and right, and was hit down with Freeman’s left.

33.—​The Slasher pursued his left-handed game at the body, but, in getting away, was hit down with a touch from Freeman’s left.

34.—​The Slasher missed left and right, caught it left and right, and was down.

35.—​[It now became so dark that it was difficult to see what was doing in the ring, and the spectators came closer to the ropes. The partisans of the Slasher were extremely uproarious, and one of them especially was constantly interfering with the umpires, called “time” when it was not time, and was guilty of other most offensive and unfair conduct.] The Slasher, as usual, led off with his left at the body, but without effect, and in return was hit down.

36.—​The Slasher hit short with his left, and was hit down by a counter from Freeman’s left as he was getting away.

37.—​Slasher planted his favourite body blow with the left, but without producing any visible effect; Freeman did not seem to feel it, and he was again down.

38.—​Trifling exchanges with the left, and the Slasher down.

39.—​The Slasher rushed in to make another effort for the throw, but Freeman again seized him in his powerful grasp, fibbed, and fell with him, but not on him.

40, 41, 42, 43, 44.—​Slasher down in every round, but apparently no mischief done, and as far as the glimpse of light left would permit, we could discover no distinct mark of punishment on either man.

45.—​The Slasher delivered his left at the body and fell, as if from the force of his own blow. Freeman fell over him, but evidently with a desire to avoid falling on him. [Another appeal was made to the referee on the ground of the Slasher falling without a blow, but the referee declared it was impossible to form a correct opinion, and expressed a strong wish that the fight should either be drawn or adjourned, but to this neither party would accede.]

46, 47, and 48.—​The Slasher down in each round, and Freeman manfully avoiding falling on him.

49.—​The Slasher in with his left on the body, but as he attempted to retreat Freeman caught him in his arms, held him for some time, occasionally chopping, and at last fell forward on him, but too much over to produce any consequence.

50.—​The Slasher showed some fatigue, but came up full of confidence. He delivered his left at the body, but did not get well home; Freeman caught him left and right, and he went down to avoid further mementoes.

To describe the remaining rounds would be an idle attempt, in fact it became so dark that the men were only visible from the light colour of their skins and drawers. The Slasher pursued his dodging, getting away, and falling system, occasionally making his left and right hits at the body and shoulder, and sometimes appearing to recoil from the effects of his own blows, but without producing any turn in his favour. Freeman hitting left and right, and now and then seizing his man, lifting him up, and flinging him down, but almost invariably avoiding falling on him; in one instance actually making an arch over his carcase, his head and legs on the ground, amidst the acclamations of the throng. In the last few rounds there was an evident attempt to draw Freeman into the Slasher’s corner, round which a desperate set of ruffians had collected, who, by the most offensive vociferations, endeavoured to intimidate and alarm him. He, however, kept his temper, and came up every round cool and collected, grumbling only at the Slasher not standing up to fight. In the 69th round the Slasher exclaimed, “I’ve got you now, old fellow!” but the words were scarcely out of his mouth when Freeman hit him down with his left. The darkness, combined with a fog, now became so intense that it was impossible to see what was doing from one side of the ring to the other. The referee declared his utter inability to form any judgment of the character of the fight, and, unable to get both umpires to agree on the expediency of putting an end to the battle, he jumped into the ring, and, getting between the men, declared he would not permit them to prolong the contest. At this moment both men were fresh and vigorous, and each seemed disinclined to leave his chance of victory in doubt, Slasher especially, who said he considered he was robbed of the fight, while Freeman laughed, and said, if they were permitted to proceed, the result would perhaps prove he was mistaken. The referee was, however, peremptory, and both men were taken from the ring after having fought seventy rounds in one hour and twenty-four minutes. They walked away as fresh as when they began, with a mutual desire that they might renew the combat the next day at twelve o’clock, at such place as the referee might appoint, to which the latter assented, as there did not appear to be anything in their appearance to justify a further delay in the gratification of their desires.


Remarks.—​It is much to be regretted that this curious encounter was not brought to a more satisfactory conclusion, inasmuch as the merits of the men still remain undecided; and so evenly had their pretensions been balanced in the minds of their respective friends that each party declares, had time and circumstances permitted, their favourite must have been crowned with victory. How far these conclusions may be well or ill founded we will not pretend to say; but certainly we feel justified in giving to both men an equal proportion of praise, so far at least as their game qualities are concerned. It is true, we may be disposed to take exception to the “getting down” system which was adopted by the Slasher, but then it must be borne in mind he fought at fearful odds both as regards weight and length, and could never hope successfully to compete with such an antagonist unless by a degree of caution and cunning, which with a man of his own inches would have been unjustifiable and amounted to cowardice. There is no doubt that occasionally his dropping after delivering his blows had too much the appearance of being at variance with our notion of “a fair stand-up fight;” but then the ground was slippery, and he asserts that when he did fall it was from the recoil of his own blows or from his being unable to keep his feet in endeavouring to avoid the tremendous return which he had sufficient reason to expect. That this was provoking to Freeman we can well imagine; but, under all the circumstances, we do not think it detracts from the game qualities of the Slasher, who certainly came up from first to last undismayed, and with a manly determination to win if he could. Of his scientific qualifications we cannot say much. If he possessed any they were reserved for a future occasion. He never attempted to stop the blows which were showered on his canister, and throughout confined himself to attempts to disable Freeman by body blows from his left or round hits with his right. The former occasionally reached their destination with sounding effect, but we are inclined to believe they fell more frequently on Freeman’s arm, which was dropped to catch them, than upon his more vulnerable corpus. That some of them might have got home we are inclined to believe, but it was clear they did not produce any serious consequence, for on examining the Giant’s body subsequently we were surprised to find so few symptoms of forcible collision on his ribs, while we discovered sundry bruises on his fore and upper arm, which showed these had been exposed to heavy visitations, and no doubt stopped numerous kind intentions which, had they reached their destination, would have been far from agreeable. With the right the Slasher was unsuccessful, as it generally fell on Freeman’s left shoulder, and with the exception of the cut on the left eye, which gained first blood in the sixth round, this weapon did not produce much damage, for the only other punishment visible was a slight scratch and swelling on the under lip, which was produced by the upper cut in the fifteenth round. In his attempts to throw, the Slasher had not the most remote chance of success, for when the attempt was made Freeman lifted him completely off the ground and threw him as he pleased, occasionally going down with him, from overbalancing himself. Throughout the fight it struck us that the Slasher showed no symptoms of distress, except after the struggle in which he was suspended between heaven and earth for some time in Freeman’s grasp, and was then thrown, Freeman falling on him. With respect to Freeman, although a novice in the milling arena, it must be admitted that throughout he showed great coolness and presence of mind. He never lost his temper, and was only indignant that the Slasher would not stand up to receive his sledge-hammer compliments. It struck us, however, that with immense power he wanted judgment in its application. His left and right hits were straight and well directed, but he failed in countering with his left, for had he let fly at the same moment that the Slasher tried his left at the body, the consequences would no doubt have been serious. He too frequently suffered the Slasher to lead off and get away, so that in following, his blows did not tell with half the effect. Of this there was sufficient evidence in the little impression he made, there being no material damage discernible on the Slasher’s countenance beyond a slight cut on his left brow, and a few contusions which afterwards produced discolouration—​a black eye included. We learn also that he received sundry raps on the head and neck, out of sight, which required the aid of leeches to allay inflammation. His left hand, too, was a good deal puffed. Freeman’s left thumb was also injured, and from the force of one blow was actually put out of joint; but the dislocation was reduced, and little harm arose from this. There is no doubt that many felt astonished, after witnessing so many apparently heavy deliveries followed by instant prostration, that more decisive consequences were not produced. It must be borne in mind, however, that Freeman hit against a yielding object, which of course offered little resistance, and fell from the slightest concussion. Had the Slasher hit with him, or stood firmly on his legs, the effect would have been different; and many of his hits were rather shoves or pokes, instead of coming well from the shoulder. The tumbling system of the Slasher cannot be pursued with impunity, and if it be clearly shown that he falls without a blow, there will be less hesitation in condemning him to defeat, as he must now perfectly understand the distinction between accident and design.


The sports thus most unsatisfactorily concluded, and the excitement which prevailed having subsided, those of the throng who remained to the last—​for a great number had already taken their departure—​began to speculate on the best mode of getting home. So intense was the darkness that it was almost impossible to distinguish your best friend, although close at your elbow; and the calls for Bill, Tom, and Harry resounded in all directions, with unsatisfactory responses of “Here; where are you?” and so forth. Then came inquiries as to the best mode of reaching the station. Some by guess, who thought they had marked the road they came, ventured to set out on their journey, and were soon heard floundering in the ditches or swamps into which they had wandered, and roaring lustily for relief. Others employed the yokels as guides, and thus they went, in connected chains, pursuing their devious paths. The Bishop of Bond Street, who had magnanimously resigned his carriage to Freeman, was foremost among the unfortunates, and went floundering on through mud and mire, but cheerfully submitting to all manner of casualties, till he reached the Sawbridgeworth station, where he was joined by hundreds of others, some of whom had got into the canal, others into dreary swamps, and all more or less miserable, but still happy in having escaped the perils to which they had been exposed. Complaints were loud and numerous; and verily some of our friends presented piteous specimens of human misery, with pretty certain prospects of future suffering from colds and other ills to which flesh is heir. A great number got off by the six o’clock train, but many had to remain for that which followed, and did not reach their destination till a late hour. There were but few carriages on the battle-field, and these were with difficulty piloted to the main road, and by that route either to the Harlow station or to the Metropolis. The Slasher with difficulty reached Sawbridgeworth, where he obtained requisite refreshment; and Freeman, equally fortunate, got to the Harlow station, and in a room of one of the attendants found “a good Samaritan,” who attended to all his wants. He was in good spirits, and but little the worse for wear. Caunt and Spring paid him every attention. The numerous assemblage here, half famished, had to send half a mile for the means of satisfying their appetites, and bread, cheese, and beer were in anxious requisition; to these a lucky contribution of a Yorkshire ham and sundry chickens, from the hamper of a swell drag, proved a most acceptable addition for a party of “the select.”

Before the departure of the train, the Slasher, accompanied by Johnny 174 Broome, arrived at the station, and the proposed renewal of the battle on the ensuing day, at twelve o’clock, was discussed. Broome foresaw the difficulty in which he would be placed to afford due information of the whereabouts to some of the Slasher’s backers who had gone to London, and who were more desirous than ever of witnessing the termination of the contest. At his request, to which Spring did not object, it was settled that a meeting should take place the next day at four o’clock, at the house of the referee, to arrange this important point. The Slasher was unusually bounceable, and asked Spring if he was disposed to add a hundred to the stakes. A reply in the affirmative was instantly given, but the challenge evaporated, and nothing more was done. The arrival of the up-train put an end to discussion. All were soon embarked, and away they were whisked to Shoreditch. Freeman arrived at the “Castle” about half-past nine, where an immense crowd greeted his return; and the Slasher, in the same way, could scarcely obtain ingress to the domicile of Johnny Broome of which he is, just now, the “Rising Sun.”

The next day Spring attended, at the time appointed, at the place of rendezvous, but Broome did not make his appearance till an hour after. In the interim, with a view to give each man sufficient time to resuscitate his energies, the referee appointed the following Thursday, between twelve and one o’clock, for the renewal of the combat; the “whereabouts” to be communicated to the backers of each in time to enable them to reach their destination without inconvenience. On the next morning both men went back to their training quarters to prepare for the coming struggle. An earlier day could not have been named without interfering with the arrangements for the mill between Maley and M’Grath, which was fixed for the ensuing Tuesday between London and Manchester.

On Wednesday evening Freeman left London in company with Caunt, Spring, and his trainer, and put up at “The Bull” at Royston, his movements being kept a profound secret. Broome, for some reason, would not take his man to Royston, but preferred travelling, with a few friends only, by an early Eastern Counties train to Bishop Stortford, and thence posting to Littlebury, Essex, the appointed place for meeting, though it was privately arranged that Cambridgeshire should be the locus in quo the affair was to be finished off. That quietness, and therefore secrecy, was pretty well observed, we may note that on Wednesday night there were only eight strangers in Royston, and five only in Littlebury, including Dick Curtis. The Commissary, and his assistant, Broome, having given the “office” for 175 Bishop Stortford, a goodly number of the London division came down by later trains, and the demand for drags, post-horses, or indeed anything on wheels or four legs, became astonishing. Broome, Slasher, and party arrived at Littlebury in a carriage with four posters in more than good time.

Meantime, Freeman and his friends remained quietly at Royston, and it was not until Thursday morning that the Commissary received a despatch, directing him to have the ring formed, before twelve o’clock, at Triplow Heath, Cambridgeshire, on the spot where Bungaree and Sambo Sutton last fought—​eight miles from Littlebury and three from Royston—​where, it was added, Freeman would be present at that hour. Word of these arrangements was to be sent to Broome. All this was strictly attended to, and the ring was accordingly formed without interruption. Thus all looked well; but just before twelve o’clock, up rode Mr. Metcalf, a neighbouring magistrate, who by “some chance” had got “a letter,” and who, quitting his “toast and ale,” thought it wise to interfere. He at once said the fight must not take place on that spot, and a courier was sent forward to apprise Freeman of the ominous interruption. Freeman had come in sight of the ring at the moment, and a general halt took place, a small cavalcade having been formed by a few of the right sort, who had posted by way of Ware and Buntingford to Royston, and a respectable troop of mounted yeomen. A consultation immediately took place, and Haydon Grange, within two miles of the spot, in the neighbouring county of Essex, over which Mr. Metcalf was said to have no jurisdiction, was selected. Thither the materiel was quickly transferred by the Commissary and his assistants, and by one o’clock all was again “in apple-pie order” on the top of a hill, and on a spot particularly eligible for the purpose. Care was taken to provide for the due direction of the Littlebury divison, and a gentleman provided with Spring’s stop-watch kindly remained on Triplow Heath to note the time of the Slasher’s arrival, to prevent any mistake as to the road he was to take. This gentleman remained till after one o’clock, but no Slasher appeared, although all those who had come by the same train trotted briskly forward to the new location. Other scouts were left, but it was nearly two o’clock before any tidings were heard of the absentee. The ring being perfect, all were impatiently deploring the loss of time, during which the fight might have been commenced, continued, and perhaps concluded. During this unfortunate lapse offers were again made to take 2 to 1 there would be “no fight,” and some who had passed Broome on the road reported that he had declared he did not intend to be in the ring till two 176 o’clock. Spring claimed forfeit, on the plea that the Slasher was not at the place first appointed between twelve and one, according to articles; but the referee refused to admit this claim, on the ground that the ropes and stakes had been removed, and Freeman had not thrown his castor within them. Had it been otherwise he would have had no hesitation in agreeing that the claim would have been well founded. At last the agreeable intelligence was received that Broome had arrived, and he entered the ring out of breath, asserting that he had been detained for the want of post-horses, but that he was at Triplow Heath at seven minutes before one—​a statement which the gentleman who remained on the Heath to meet him positively denied. He then said that he had only been told the place of fighting on the morning before. Still the Slasher did not appear; and two o’clock having arrived, Spring said he would only give five minutes more, and should then consider Freeman was entitled to the money if the Slasher did not arrive. Within the time specified Slasher was brought slowly to the field of battle, having, according to Broome’s account, taken from seven minutes to one to five minutes after two to come very little more than two miles. Cheerfulness succeeded wrangling, and all looked well for the gratification of the throng, who had come far and near to witness the battle. Umpires were chosen, privilege tickets distributed, the ring effectually cleared out, and Freeman threw his tile into the arena—​an example which all anticipated the Slasher was about to follow—​when to the dismay of everybody, in marched Captain Robinson, the superintendent of police, who had ridden a steeplechase across the country, attended by an orderly. This authority emphatically announced that he had warrants for the apprehension of both men, and would not permit the peace to be broken, adding it was not wise to attempt such amusements in a county in which the character of the new police for vigilance was at stake; but worse than all, to secure obedience to his behest, he called upon Tom Spring and Tom Oliver, in the name of her most gracious Majesty, to assist him in the discharge of his duty! This was indeed a settler; and to watch the physiognomies of the two Toms on finding themselves thus suddenly metamorphosed into constables would have given food for speculation to the most astute student of Lavater. “Blow my dickey!” exclaimed the Commissary, “so I’m to act as a special, am I?” “This bangs Bannagher!” said Spring, looking as black with his right eye as if he had knocked it against Caunt’s fist. Parley, however, was out of the question, for Captain Robinson said his own reputation as well as his appointment 177 were at stake. A belief existing that Captain Robinson would be content with preserving the peace of his own county, Essex, a resolution was formed to try Cambridgeshire once more. “Bock agin, Sandy,” was the cry; and away went the pioneers of the Ring through the lower part of Royston, on the road towards Bedfordshire, where fresh ground was sought. But a new beak was started from his lair on the road, in the form of a Royston banker, who peremptorily said it should be “no go.” Some disposition arose to question this gentleman’s authority in Cambridgeshire; but all argument was at an end on the arrival of Captain Robinson with his assistants. He plainly told the assemblage that it was in vain for them to attempt getting the fight off in Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, or Bedfordshire, for he was empowered to act in all, and must stick by them till night if they remained. This was conclusive. “To the right about,” was the word, and away all returned to Royston. There was some talk of stopping all night, to fight the first thing in the morning, to which the Slasher said he was agreeable; but a gentle whisper having been given that if the belligerents stopped longer in that neighbourhood the warrants might be enforced against them, a general retreat was ordered, and away the Cockney division scampered—​Broome, with the Slasher, back to Chesterford, from whence they had had their last relay of horses—​and Spring, Freeman, and friends, by Buntingford to London. All were too late for the trains, and thus many remained on the road all night, while others did not reach “the village” till a late hour. Again were hundreds collected in front of Spring and Broome’s houses to know the result, among whom conflicting accounts were afloat till the authentic courier arrived and diffused fresh dissatisfaction.

The chances, changes, and fortunes of this incongruous match were thus sung in some contemporary verses, of sufficient merit to warrant their preservation.


Freeman, of giant frame! to thee a welcome warm we gave,
When wafted to the British shores across the Atlantic wave;
In harmony we saw thee move with gallant champion Caunt,
As muscular as Hercules, and tall as John of Gaunt.
We hail’d thee of thy countrymen the model and the flower,
And modest was thy bearing, though possessed of giant power;
Against thee Slander never dar’d her poisoned tongue to wag,
And never was it thine to bounce, to bluster, or to brag.
You came not to our land the gauntlet down to fling.
Here to no conquest you aspired within our battle ring,
But ready to come forward still at Friendship’s special call,
To take a fragrant pipe of weed and cordial cup withal.
“But yet I love my native land, and scorn each action base,
And never Craven act of mine a Freeman shall disgrace;
Whoever dares me to the fight, by no proud threat’ning scar’d,
Will find me anxious still for peace, and yet for war prepared!”
“By Heavens!” cried Johnny Broome, “my pink, tho’ nothing you’re afraid of,
I have a Novice in the Ring who’ll try what stuff you’re made of;
Deposits shall be duly made, and matters go on snugly,
And there you’ll meet a customer as rum as he is ugly.
“One who professes bull-dog game I to the scratch will bring,
Welcome to whom is punishment as flowers in early spring;
One who in contest fierce and long, ‘Enough!’ has never cried,
But rushes forward to his man, and will not be denied.
“The same to him is Briton bold and Transatlantic foeman,
With courage at the sticking-place like ancient Greek or Roman;
Regardless still of body hits, or on the snout a smasher,
Bill Perry is the trump I mean, the slaughtering Tipton Slasher!”
“Bravo! bold Johnny,” Freeman cried, “then to your text be steady,
Fixed be the time, as well as place, and Freeman’s tin is ready;
Into condition get your friend as early as you can,
And trust me I will do my best to floor your Tipton man.”
The heroes trained as fine as stars, with gallantry untam’d,
And in December’s dreary month the day of fight was nam’d;
“Who heeds,” the Slasher cried, “dark days, cold blast, or storm?
We’ll have sufficient work cut out to keep our systems warm.
“Tho’ twixt the Giant and myself the difference is great,
I care not for his stature high, I care not for his weight,
Nor for his wondrous length of reach does Perry care a whit;
And where so huge a carcase shows, the easier ’tis to hit.”
Thus to Big Caunt the Giant cried, “My friend, ’tis time to trot,
But bear me witness ere we start, this fight I courted not;
My manly foe, I do not doubt, possesses thorough game.
But if he falls ’tis he alone and Johnny Broome to blame.
“Tho’ with your gallant countrymen peace was my only aim,
Boston, New York, and Washington my prowess can proclaim,
And never in my proud career white feather did I show;
Nor ever cut a friend in need, nor shrunk before a foe.”
December sixth in darkness broke, the dawn was chill and damp,
And numerous Fancy toddlers betimes were on the tramp;
Corinthian swells and commoners made simultaneous rush
To Sawbridgeworth, in Hertfordshire, through muck, and mire, and slush.
But how the beaks in wrath proclaim’d, amid the motley race,
That no prize fight or milling match should then and there take place;
And how the pugilists themselves looked very down and blank,
While the spectators made a move both retrograde and flank—
And how they managed after all to give the traps the slip,
And hastening back to Sawbridgeworth prepared at once to strip;
How seventy gallant rounds were fought ’till deepening shades of night
With its extinguisher forbade the finish of the fight—
And how the assembled multitude with sundry rueful shrugs,
Homeward retraced their weary way with disappointed mugs;
And how in Despond’s dismal slough a lot of worthies fell—
Next week the bard of “London Life” will accurately tell.
But tho’ no victory was achieved by well intended thumps,
Both men have proved undoubted game, and turn’d out genuine trumps;
And all uninjur’d and unscath’d in Tuesday’s battle fray,
Slasher and Freeman both survive to fight another day.

The referee having been called on to name the next time and place, the parties interested met at his house the next day (Friday). The Slasher was present, and expressed an anxious desire to have the fight over; he declared he had no wish to evade the meeting, and was quite ready to fight the following day (Saturday). To this Spring replied that as the Commissary had not yet returned to London with the ropes and stakes, and as his whereabouts might not be known in time, the proposal would not be accepted. The Tipton objected to a long delay, and as Bungaree the Australian and M’Ginty were to fight on the following Tuesday, it was suggested that both couples should be “asked out” at the same place and time. It was then found that the backers of Bungaree and his opponent had selected a locality where it would be most imprudent for such noticeable men as the Giant and Slasher to show themselves without certainty of interruption. The Bungaree division, however, proposed to alter their plans and effect an amalgamation, by jointly hiring two steamboats for the conveyance of the men and their friends to the field of battle—​that the vessels should leave London Bridge on the Tuesday morning at eight o’clock, and proceeding down the river, pick up the “big’uns” at places appointed; and that, with the view of securing the absence of undesirable voyagers, two sets of tickets of contrasted colours should be issued by Spring and Broome only, no person to be admitted on board except those presenting the one for the downward the other the homeward voyage.

On the next day, Saturday, Freeman took a benefit, previously announced, at the Westminster Road Baths, the immense area of the “Mechanics’ Bath” being crowded to excess. That these affairs, of which there was too much at this period, were profitable speculations may be gathered from the fact that exclusive of free admission and tickets sold elsewhere, £178 was taken at the doors, although the performers were the humbler outsiders of the Ring, with the exception of Freeman (who showed, but did not set to, in view of the impending contest) and Caunt, whom Tom Spring kindly assisted by putting on the gloves with him. Although Big Ben showed some improvement, his style, as compared with the accomplished ex-champion of a long bygone day, could not fail to awaken unpleasant comparisons in the minds of such men as Mr. John Jackson, old Tom Cribb, and Thomas Belcher, all of whom were recognised at this gathering 180 Freeman, who stripped, had not a bruise upon his body, and except a little swelling of the lip and an injury of the right thumb, bore no marks of the recent encounter.

On Tuesday, December 20th, 1842, at 8 a.m., we embarked on board the “Father Thames” steamer at the Old Swan Pier, London Bridge, Freeman having been put on board from a row-boat half an hour previously, while the vessel lay in midstream, and privately ensconced in the after-cabin, his immense stature being rightly considered as placing him in great peril of arrest if exposed to the public gaze. At Blackwall the Slasher came on board, looking rough and hardy in the sou’wester and blue frieze of a river pilot. The other combatant couple, M’Ginty the Scotchman, and Bungaree the Australian, had quietly embarked at London Bridge. The company on board, about four hundred in number, was truly representative of the Ring patrons of the day. A Scotch marquis, two or three scions of the peerage, a sprinkling of military men, a veteran “salt,” sundry hunting and university men, doctors, barristers, with some sporting clubbists from “the sweet shady side of Pall Mall” and the dingy smoking snuggery of the now resplendent “Limmer’s,” formed the “upper-crust.” The Church, of course, was not represented, unless we may enumerate the Right Rev. the Bishop of Bond Street in that category. That facetious worthy was indeed prominent, and, with the forethought gained by long experience, had brought on board a capacious hamper, accompanied by a handsome basket of white willow, which, to the delight of the Corinthians, who formed “the excursionists” thus “personally conducted,” disclosed at an after period a wealth of game-pie, pigeon-pie, chickens, ham, tongue, salad, and the various comestibles for which Fortnum and Mason are renowned. That the white willow basket was a worthy auxiliary of the big hamper “goes without saying.” “Schnapps,” in several square-shouldered and short-necked bottles and flasks, cognac, sherry, and a battalion of silver and gold-necked champagne, came forth at intervals in such succession as made us think that the Bishop had really the supernatural gift boasted by Glendower, “I can call spirits from the vasty deep,” and that “they do come when I do call them.” But we are anticipating. The “old familiar faces” of Ned Painter, from Norwich, Tom Spring, Peter Crawley, Oliver, and Burn were on deck, together with Adams, Johnny Walker, Langham, Orme, Parker, Johnny Broome and his brother Harry, Tom Maley, Jemmy Shaw, &c., &c.; while the “sporting publican” division was represented by Owen Swift, Jem Cross, Jack Gardiner, Jemmy 181 Moore, “Stunning” Joe Banks, and a host of “hosts.” On her downward course the “Father Thames” was followed by several craft, and by the time she arrived at the Lower Hope Point, about six miles below Gravesend, there was quite a “mosquito fleet” in sight, not including a “tail” of Gravesend wherries which were permitted to hang on to her stern tow-rope.

When off Cliffe Marshes, the welcome sounds of “Ease her!” “Stop her!” “Easy astarn!” sounded from the bridge. All on deck were in a bustle of delight. The facetious Joe Banks, backed up by jolly Jem Burn, having, with impressive gravity, informed a group of listeners, the destination of the craft being as yet a secret, “that the swells below had arranged with the captain for a trip to the coast of France, as they were determined to have no more stoppages from beaks nor blues,” the horrid rumour ran from stem to stern; and not a few were sorely exercised in their minds as to how a limited knowledge of the French language, and a slender exchequer, would serve them in a trip to the Continent, much more bring them back again, should they miss the boat. Great, then, was the laughter at those who were beginning to believe in “the sell” when the paddles were backed, the chain-cable run out, and the smartest of the boatmen hooked their craft on to ropes hanging from the sponsons of the “Father Thames.” The ground was well chosen, under the lee of a high ridge of the river bank, in a level intersected by broad ditches, and approachable only by crossing a deep drain, bridged by a couple of stout scaffold planks, at each end of which was a cluster of ring-constables, who secured comparative safety to the single file of pilgrims, many of whom carried folding-seats from the steamer, forms, trestles, bundles of straw, baskets, and other conveniences, to say nothing of two enterprising Israelitish speculators, who, with dubious steps, staggered over the wooden bridge, amid the cheers and laughter of the admiring crowd, carrying a beer-barrel slung on a slight, springy pole. This bridge of Al Sirat passed, and “the land of promise” reached, the cheerful groups assembled round the outer rope, while the privilege-ticket holders, press-men, and officials, seated themselves on the stools aforesaid, or, with the best waterproof protection procurable, assumed recumbent positions on the damp and springy morass. The outer circle was soon after materially increased by a crowd of East Enders, conveyed by sundry steam-tugs, which, at a very low tariff, conveyed the multitude to the Kentish Champ de Mars.

And now the doughty champions hove in sight from a hovel where they had been ensconced. The American Ajax had for his armour-bearer Ben 182 Caunt, and for his page King Dick, who certainly, in this instance, carried in his little noddle the larger portion of the scientific knowledge of the trio. The Slasher loomed large, enveloped in a long white frieze coat, his head surmounted by an Indian fur cap, with a ferocious wild-cat mask as a vizor, which he wore upon his forehead over his own hard, grinning physiognomy. Ben Terry and Harry Broome were his henchmen. On stripping it was evident that Freeman had increased in bulk by a stone and a half—​18 stone 12 lbs. being the result told by the weighing-chair that morning. His confidence, too, seemed to have increased in a corresponding degree. The Slasher, on stripping, looked thinner, and certainly paler than when he last peeled in Cambridgeshire; but he had lost none of that careless, “dare-devil” expression for which his countenance is remarkable. A Scotch sportsman, and backer of M’Ginty, having accepted the onerous and difficult position of referee, the first battle was brought to the arbitrament of attack and defence.


Round 1.—​At thirteen minutes after twelve precisely the men were conducted to the scratch, shook hands, and threw themselves into position, the towering height and great bulk of Freeman presenting the same fearful odds we have before described. The Slasher dodged round his man, waiting for an opening, but he found the Giant ready to hit with him, and he had already felt the weight of his feelers with sufficient force to have the prudence of keeping at a distance. The Slasher tried his left and right, but was out of distance. The Giant followed him in his pirouettes, and at last, getting closer, hit out left and right; the former passed over the Slasher’s head, but the latter caught him slightly on the nut, and the Slasher went down.

2.—​The Slasher again cautious and à la distance. Freeman followed his dodging manœuvres, and at last rushed in to hit, but the Slasher in getting away fell without being struck, and got up laughing.

3.—​The Slasher got near to his man and let out with his left at the nob, but did not get home. Trifling exchanges with the left, the Slasher retreating, Freeman at him left and right, just reaching him, when the Slasher tumbled down. No mischief done.

4.—​After renewed dodging the Slasher made himself up for mischief, feinted once or twice, and then hit out with his left. This brought the men to a rally, in which favours were exchanged, and the Slasher catching it on the nozzle showed first blood. After some wild fighting, in which hits were exchanged, the Slasher was down.

5.—​Slasher cautious and getting away from the Giant; he at last steadied himself, and counter-hits with the left were exchanged. The Giant followed up his man to the corner, but missed both left and right, and Slasher got down.

6.—​Counter-hits with the left, but no sting in them. The Giant hit out well with his right, but the Slasher dodged and got away. The Slasher was short with his left and right, and again got away. He returned to the charge, and caught Freeman slightly on the body with his left. Freeman returned the compliment on the temple, but it was more of a shove than a blow. Slasher hit short with his left, ducked, and got away laughing. The Giant steadied himself, waited for the attack, stopped the Slasher’s left, and caught him a stinger on the left ear with his right. The Slasher scrambled down in a sort of rally.

7.—​The Slasher planted his right on the Giant’s shoulder, and got away; the Giant after him, and after exchanging left and right out of distance, the Slasher got down.

8.—​Pretty exchanges left and right, and flesh marks left. The Slasher tried at the body with his left, stooped, and got away. The Giant pursued him, hitting wildly left and right. He at last caught the Tipton in his arms and chopped him on his head several times with his right, but without administering any serious punishment. The Slasher slipped down to avoid further hitting.

9.—​The Slasher tried his left, was short, and got away. The Giant followed him as he dodged round the ring, but his blows did not reach their destination. After a wild scrambling rally the Slasher got down. 183 There was a want of precision in Freeman’s deliveries which forbade the hope of execution.

10.—​The Slasher dropped a heavy smack on the Giant’s ivories with his left, which, coming in contact with his teeth, inflicted a wound on his own finger, that bled profusely. He tried it again, but was short, as was the Giant in his attempt to return, and the Slasher fell on his knees.

11.—​The Giant’s mouth showed the effect of the blow in the last round, his lips were swollen a little, and a tinge of blood was perceptible. The Slasher led off left and right; the former on the ribs, and the latter on the shoulder, and rushing in after a struggle, went down on his knees.

12.—​The Slasher came up laughing, the Giant looking serious; counter-hits with the left. The Slasher dodged, and retreated towards the ropes; the Giant followed him impetuously, and missed his one two. The Slasher dropped, looked up, and laughed.

13.—​The Slasher hit open handed, and retreated; he then tried to drop his left on the Giant’s dial, but his hand went over his shoulder; he then retreated, but finding the Giant rushing in for mischief, he dropped. [Cries of “foul,” but the umpires did not interfere.]

14.—​The Slasher got home with his left, and dropped on the Giant’s jaw. The Giant returned the compliment on the cheek and ear, right and left, when the Slasher went down. It scarcely could be called a knock-down blow.

15.—​The Slasher led off, and popped his left on the Giant’s mouth. The Giant after him, and caught him heavily with his right on the ear, which became seriously swollen. A rally, in which there were some heavy hits exchanged, and in the close the Slasher got down.

16.—​The Slasher, as usual, commenced hitting out left and right, but did no execution, his blows being wide of their mark. Freeman to him left and right, but the deliveries were not effective. The Slasher down.

17.—​Freeman popped a heavy smack with his right on the Slasher’s neck. The Slasher, stung, rushed in wildly. The Giant steadied himself, hit out well with his left, and the Slasher dropped.

18.—​The Slasher made play left and right, was short, and went down. His second was observed rubbing his neck, and there was a little of the doldrum appearance in his phis.

19.—​The Slasher hit short and only reached Freeman’s shoulder with his right. He then fought on the retreat to the corner, where he got down.

20.—​The Slasher showed symptoms of blowing. He led off in his old wild way, evidently afraid of the return, and on the Giant lunging out right and left, he went down anyhow.

21.—​Slasher short with his left, and caught it heavily from the Giant’s right on the ear; trifling exchanges, and the Slasher down.

22.—​The Slasher again short in his deliveries. The Giant nailed him left and right, but not with much severity, then seized him in his arms and flung him down, walking contemptuously to his corner.

23, 24, 25, and 26.—​Scrambling work, and Slasher down in every round.

27.—​The injury to the Slasher’s left hand appeared to increase, but in this and the two following rounds no mischief was done, and he invariably dropped grinning.

28.—​A wild blundering round, in which there was no precision on either side—​the Slasher slipped down, but was up again and renewed the round. After a scrambling rally, the Slasher again got down, and slipped completely under the Giant’s fork, at whom he looked up and grinned.

29.—​The Slasher hit short left and right, and threw himself down with a whop to avoid. Freeman laughed and shook his head, seeming to consider that it was intended to induce him to strike foul.

30.—​The Slasher succeeded in planting a right-handed chopper on the Giant’s pimple, and got away. The Giant dashed after him, hitting left and right, and then endeavoured to seize him, but the Slasher slipped away and fell.

31, 32, 33, and 34.—​The fighting wild and indecisive; in the last round, the Giant hit the Slasher down; but it struck us as rather a push than a blow.

35.—​The Giant in left and right—​the Slasher retreated—​the Giant after him, but it was no go—​he let fly right and left, and then went down. The ground now became extremely slippery for both men.

36.—​Freeman led off, but was short and wild, and did not reach his man. Slasher popped in his right on the Giant’s shoulder, and in getting away went down.

37 and last.—​Freeman ready, when the Slasher rushed to close quarters, struck him on the shoulder with his right, but, on the Giant attempting to return, he went down without a blow.

A call was made by the seconds of Freeman on the umpires, who disagreed, and on appealing to the referee he pronounced “foul;” and, no doubt, had a similar appeal been made to him before, he would have given a like decision.

The Giant was immediately proclaimed the winner, and was taken out of the ring after fighting thirty-nine minutes.

The Slasher came up again “fresh as paint,” and evidently but little injured by the contest. His left ear alone showed serious marks of punishment; it was much swollen and filled with coagulated blood. The finger of his left hand was likewise cut; but the contusions on his index were few and of trifling consequence. He seemed 184 anxious to renew the contest, and denied that he had fallen purposely. The judgment had been pronounced, however, and there was no recalling it.

Johnny Broome was evidently mortified, and offered to put down a score for the Slasher to fight Ben Caunt, “then and there.” Spring said such a proposition savoured too much of passion and folly, but said Caunt was prepared to fight the Slasher or any man in England for from £100 to £500, and the money was always ready at his house.

Remarks.—​This was altogether an unsatisfactory contest. The match was unequal, and the difference in the size of the men, Freeman having already shown no lack of personal bravery, left no room for speculation on the issue. Everybody foresaw that the Giant must be triumphant, notwithstanding he fought badly. In fact he did not hit at points, and missed most of his well-intentioned but ill-directed blows from the shifty character of his opponent, as well as from his own wild and uncertain mode of delivery. He hits round with his right, as the Slasher’s ear testified, and his left-handed deliveries are more like pokes than punishing hits. That he is a game man we have no doubt, but he is unwieldy, and possesses too much of “the milk of human kindness” ever to become a “star” in the Ring, even if his equal could be found. We are inclined to think, however, that this will have been his last appearance in the P.R., and should recommend him to choose some more suitable occupation—​although as a sparrer, from his great size, he will always be an object of curiosity. The Slasher is a mere rough, who must be beaten by a well-scienced man. That he would have shown to more advantage with a man of his own pretensions and size we have no doubt; but with Freeman he felt he could not hope to win, and therefore became reckless and careless—​seeking only how to escape those visitations which, had he made a “fair stand-up fight,” must have ended in more serious punishment. As it was, both escaped with comparatively trifling injuries, and remained to witness the subsequent fight. The contusions on the Slasher’s ear were reduced by a surgeon who was on board the steamer, and after a little ablution he was himself again, repeating that his going down without a blow was the effect of accident, and not of design—​an assertion the truth of which few who saw the performance were disposed to admit.

The ring being cleared, and M’Ginty, the Scotchman, having defeated Bungaree (John Gorrick), the Australian, after a game battle of one hour and forty-seven minutes, the voyagers possessed of “return tickets” re-embarked on “Father Thames;” οι πολλος betaking themselves to their tugs, row-boats, and ten toes, as necessity might compel. Although it was dark ere the boat passed Blackwall, all were safely landed by seven p.m. at “Old Swan,” highly gratified with the good order preserved by the ring-constables, and the perfect arrangements of the managers for this great day’s “outing.”

As a compliment and a help to Dick Curtis, who, on the Tuesday, assiduously seconded both the Giant and Bungaree, his benefit was fixed for the following Thursday, at the Westminster Baths, which were crowded to excess by all classes, from the Corinthian to the costermonger. The crowd assembled was scarcely less numerous than at the Giant’s benefit, and the spirit in favour of boxing certainly more apparent. We were gratified to recognise Mr. Jackson, Tom Cribb, Tom Belcher, Tom Spring, Jem Burn, and most of the old originals. Freeman, the Slasher, and Bungaree showed, but M’Ginty was non inventus. Freeman and the Slasher scarcely displayed a scratch; but Bungaree showed a few marks of chasing and hammering on the mug, and his left hand was in a sling, the sinews 185 of the knuckle having been divided. The setting-to was excellent and abundant, and included a long list of talented exhibitors. Among others, Johnny Broome and Johnny Hannan displayed great vigour and determination, and, after a matchless exhibition of talent, it would be difficult to say which “bore the bell.” Their exertions were rewarded by thunders of applause. Freeman and Caunt also elicited the warmest approbation, the Giant sparring with a freedom and ease that surprised many who were disinclined to believe in his improvement. The appearance of Tom Spring with the veteran Tom Belcher—​who made his first appearance after a retirement of fourteen years from the sparring-schools—​produced an enthusiastic sensation, and the set-to between these men afforded the greatest satisfaction. Belcher, by the beauty of his position, and quickness and neatness of his stops and hits, reminded us of what were indeed the palmy days of the Ring. Spring had the advantage in length and bulk of frame; still, the display was, upon the whole, a finished specimen of the science of self-defence. King Dick and Owen Swift, the retired champions of the light weights, wound up the sports, and were most favourably received.

Johnny Broome then mounted the stage, and announced that the Slasher would take a benefit in the same popular arena on Monday, January 2, at which Freeman and Caunt had kindly promised again to appear; and, by way of opening the New Tear, the Slasher would then be prepared to make a match with Caunt, at 13st. 4lb., for £100 a side. [This proposition had been previously made to Caunt, but he had declined.]

Tom Spring immediately mounted the stage, and said Johnny Broome well knew his challenge would not be accepted, as it was impossible for Caunt to reduce himself to the weight proposed. Caunt was ready to fight Slasher or any man in England, from £100 to £500, “catch weight;” but he (Tom Spring) knew too well the consequence of men reducing themselves below the natural standard to sanction such a proceeding. For himself, he could only say that he never fought 13st., and never barred weight, country, or colour, for he was satisfied 13st. was weight enough for anything living who meant fighting. He had stated Caunt’s terms, and if Slasher did not choose to accept them, there was no harm done.

Broome said he would not have made the proposition had not the Slasher told him that Caunt himself made the offer.

Thus ended this sensational burlesque on boxing. On the ensuing Tuesday the “Castle” was crowded to excess, on the occasion of the giving up of the stakes to the undoubted winner. Freeman, the Slasher, 186 Caunt, Johnny Broome, Bungaree, cum multis aliis, were present. The Stakeholder, in rendering his due to the victor, observed that he should refrain from offering any comments on the character of the fight, but at the same time give Freeman every credit for his unassuming conduct since his arrival in this country, as well as for his strict observance in the ring of those principles of fair play which formed the groundwork of the rules of British boxing. He had never offered a challenge, but being challenged he could not with honour decline the invitation, but at the same time he entered the arena without the most remote hostility towards his opponent. He had come to this country on a friendly speculation in conjunction with Caunt, and he (the Stakeholder) believed the match had been made on the part of the Slasher rather to try the value of the weight of metal which Freeman carried when placed in competition with the old English breed, than from any anticipation that so small a craft could compete successfully with a vessel of such magnitude. The issue had shown that “the Giant” was too much for “the pigmy,” but as the experiment had been fairly tried, there was no ground for censure on either side. After some further remarks on the necessity of union among professional boxers themselves, a strict adherence to honesty and fair play, and a due sense of the necessity of propriety in their general demeanour, he handed the “flimsies” to Freeman.

Freeman immediately rose, and dusting the cobwebs from the ceiling with his “thatch,” expressed his deep sense of the kind and hospitable manner in which he had been received in this country. He confessed he touched English ground with different anticipations, but he was glad of the opportunity of acknowledging that in England neither country nor colour made any difference, and that all were alike sure of fair play. He came in company with Caunt rather to see England than for any other purpose, and being a little in the “glove fancy,” he thought he might bring it to account to pay expenses. He never entertained the idea of fighting, but being challenged, in justice to the United States, of which he was a native, he felt that he could not do less than stand by his flag when its character for courage was at stake. He should have great pride when he returned to Yankeeland in expressing his grateful feelings for the favours he had received, which were those rather to be expected by a brother than a stranger.[19]


An appeal was then made for the losing man, and a few pounds were realised, for which the Slasher returned thanks by giving his pimple an extra pull forwards.

“The British and American Flags,” with an ardent hope that they might never be unfurled but as the tokens of peace and union, was drunk with enthusiasm, and this was followed by the healths of Tom Cribb, Tom Spring, and Ben Caunt, the two past and present champions of England; to which was added the health of Johnny Broome, who denied that the imputations cast upon him of a disinclination to bring his man to “the scratch” had any foundation. He said he was already £115 out of pocket by the match, but that he believed the gentleman who had proposed the match would not suffer him to be the loser.

The year 1842 ended, and 1843 opened for the Slasher with a round of “benefits” in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, &c., organised and engineered by the clever Johnny Broome, who showed his “golden belt” and intimated the immediate readiness of the Slasher to meet Caunt on “fair” terms, which, however, were, when they came to particulars, far from being “fair” in Big Ben’s estimation. A match with Wm. Renwick, of Liverpool, to fight for £50 on the 22nd of August, 1843, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ended in a severe disappointment, Renwick being arrested on the previous Saturday at his training quarters, when the whole of the stakes were down.

Perry lost no time in advertising his readiness for another customer, barring neither weight, country, nor colour, and Tass Parker, of West Bromwich, answered his cartel. Tass had just carried his fame to the summit by his defeat of Brassey of Bradford, after a game and scientific battle of 158 rounds, occupying two hours and fifty minutes, in August, 1841, and subsequently receiving £70 forfeit from Bendigo in June, 1842; the Nottingham champion being arrested at his brother’s instance, which 188 the suspicious did not fail to attribute to Bendy “not fancying the job,” which was not the truth. Broome, who certainly was “nuts” on this match, went straight ahead, and Tass’s backers were equally fond, so that on Dec. 17th, the fight being fixed for Tuesday, Dec. 19th, 1843, we find the coming battle thus announced in Bell’s Life:—

“On Wednesday evening the ‘Rising Sun,’ in Air Street, was crowded to an overflow by patrons of the milling school, anxious to witness the completion of the stakes for the match between these men, which was duly accomplished according to articles. It was mutually agreed by the friends of both to ‘sport a toe on the water,’ according to modern usage, and the ‘Nymph’ Woolwich steamer has been chartered for the occasion. She will leave her moorings off Hungerford Market on Tuesday morning precisely at eight o’clock, drop down to London Bridge, and from thence ruffle the stream to Blackwall Pier, from whence she will make her final plunge towards the Nore, and we heartily wish her a pleasant and prosperous voyage. Tickets are on sale at Owen Swift’s, Johnny Broome’s, and Tom Spring’s, and we recommend an early application, as the number will necessarily be limited. Tass Parker has arrived in town, looking so ‘full of bloom’ that he has been backed at 6 to 4, and even 2 to 1. He certainly is quite up to the mark, and books winning as a point already gained. The Tipton Slasher has been finishing his training at Stockbridge, under the watchful eye of Levi Eckersley, who pronounces him right well, and fit for the battle-field. We had heard that the Slasher had hurt his right arm in setting-to with Harry Broome, at Bristol; but of this we have no personal knowledge, and learn that the blemish has been completely removed. Were it otherwise, we should scarcely anticipate that Johnny Broome, who says he has had to find almost all the money, would have gone on with the match, and he certainly speaks with great confidence. Parker has been visible at Owen Swift’s every evening since Wednesday, and the Tipton Slasher will be at Johnny Broome’s, Air Street, Piccadilly, to-morrow evening. That Parker is a most accomplished fighter none will doubt, but against this comes the rough and ready tact of the Slasher, who combines courage with superior weight. All we can hope is, that we shall have a fair and manly contest, and that the best man may win.”

How little these expectations were realised, and these good wishes availed in the event, may be read in the tale we shall now briefly deliver; for we consider that a detailed account of the shifty and contemptible farce performed by Parker, which occupied more than two columns of 189 small print in Bell’s Life of December 24, 1843, would be mere waste of space in a work like the present. This is more especially the case when we find that the second and adjourned fight (which we shall give) was as wearisomely similar in character and incidents to the first.

Suffice it, then, to say, that the voyage per steamer was safely carried out, and that the attendance of amateurs and professionals was immense, notwithstanding the severity of the weather and the dreary and inhospitable character of the Dartford Marshes, whereon the ring was pitched. Peter Crawley having consented to preside as referee, the performance began. In the opening rounds Parker displayed his superior skill, both in getting on to his man and getting away; but the Tipton had certainly greatly improved under the skilful mentorship of the Broomes, and was no longer the mere hardy rough which many yet considered him. He every now and then waited for, timed, and neatly stopped his clever and crafty assailant, inflicting severe punishment with his right upon Parker, who, finding he could not get near enough to deliver without exposing himself to heavy returns, soon began to fight shy. Indeed, round after round, after getting in a blow, Parker resorted to the reprehensible dropping system, not only to avoid hitting, but also to provoke and irritate his less skilful adversary and thus tempt him to deliver a foul blow, or, at the worst, to bring the fight to a “tie,” “draw,” or “wrangle.” In this way sixty-seven rounds were fought, with no prospect of an approach to the decision of the battle. At this period—​one hour and thirty-four minutes having been consumed—​the Kentish constabulary made their appearance, and stopped the tedious exhibition. The company, of necessity, re-embarked, and the disappointed excursionists returned to the Metropolis.

At a meeting of the men and their backers, at Peter Crawley’s (the referee’s), to arrange when and how their interrupted encounter should be concluded, Johnny Broome, on the part of the Tipton, asked a postponement for three months, and produced the following medical certificate:—

“194, Blackfriars Road. Dec. 25, 1843.

“This certifies that we reduced a fracture of the fore-arm of William Perry on or about the 7th of November, and a fracture of the lower jaw on the evening of the 19th of December. These serious injuries will require a period of at least three months before he can be in a situation to fight again.


Parker, after some protestation against so long a delay, was met by Broome consenting to name that day ten weeks for the renewal of hostilities. Parker insisting on eight weeks, Broome consented to “split the difference,” and, finally, that day nine weeks was agreed upon.


The adjourned battle was fixed for Tuesday, the 27th of February, 1844. Peter Crawley, who had been referee on the first occasion, declaring he had no further interest in the affair, left it to the parties themselves to settle their future proceedings. This was done by Jem Parker (Tass’s brother), on the part of his Birmingham backers, and Johnny Broome, on behalf of the Slasher. It was decided to engage a special train on the Brighton line (an experiment which had proved successful on some recent occasions). The tickets, at 10s. 6d. each, were secured under the guise of “an excursion;” the departure and return being arranged with the manager, so as not to interfere with the order and regularity of the traffic at the London Bridge terminus.

In consequence of the damage received by both men in their previous encounter, they were early sent into training, Tass Parker at Finchley, the Slasher near Tring, and, in point of condition, no two men could have been brought into better trim.

The time appointed for departure was nine o’clock, and before that hour the terminus-platform was crowded by persons of all classes, among whom we distinguished many members of the “upper ten thousand,” some of whom had travelled long distances to be witness of what they hoped would be a fair and manly mill. All were soon seated, and at a few minutes to ten the iron-horse puffed and panted his way out of the station, and after a single draw-up of a few minutes at Croydon, for the passing of a down train, disembarked its living freight at Horley (about twenty-five miles from London) at a little before eleven.

The excursionists, immediately on alighting, repaired to the “King’s Arms” inn, and about half a mile thence, across Horley Common, the Commissary obtained the use of a field, high and dry, and screened by a dense belt of evergreen trees from the view of travellers by road or by the Brighton line. The weather was delightful; but although there had been a sharp frost during the night, the genial influence of the sun had produced an unwelcome change in the roads and paths leading to the field of action, and as all had to find their way to the “fixture” upon their ten toes, the quagmire through which they had to wade, however agreeable it might be in softness to their corns, was anything but favourable to the polish on their trotter-cases, or pleasant to those who happened not to have the good fortune to be well shod. These little difficulties having been got over, the greatest good-humour prevailed, and all waited anxiously for the appearance of the men.


With a view to prevent the inconvenience of the slippery state of the sward, a quantity of sawdust was obtained, which was liberally spread at the corners chosen by the men for their resting places. For the accommodation of the members of the inner ring there was an ample supply of stools, benches, and trusses of straw; while a few waggons, after the fashion of times gone by, afforded comfortable standing-places for those who preferred the outer circle. The new plan of one person disposing of the tickets of privilege was on this occasion adopted by Tom Spring, who undertook subsequently to distribute the proceeds amongst those men who assisted in preserving order. The plan proved most effective, and it is but justice to state that all those who paid for the privilege of the inner ring were most pleasantly located, and were enabled to sit comfortably without the usual incursion of the “Vandals,” a result productive of the highest satisfaction. That the partisans of the men occasionally indulged in chaff we will not deny; but this, however unseemly, did not lead to any encroachment upon general good order, and in this respect the expressions of approval were general. Spring, Caunt, Crawley, Jem Burn, the Greeks (old and young), Barney Aaron, Young Reid, Bill Jones, cum multis aliis, assisted in this desirable plan, and kept the disorderlies in control.

Shortly before one o’clock, everything being in readiness, the men were brought to the field, Tass Parker attended by Fuller and Tom Reidie, and the Slasher by Bob Castles and a Nottingham amateur. The former sported a flag of blue, with a white spot, and the latter a stone colour, with a pink spot. On entering the ring, they shook hands with apparent good humour, and each retired to his corner to prepare. Then came the important question, the selection of umpires and a referee. With respect to the former no difficulty was felt, and an amateur for the Slasher, and Jack Hannan for Parker, were named. The choice of a referee, however, was not so easily adjusted, and nearly an hour was wasted in discussing the merits of various persons named by both parties, each on his own especial behalf objecting to those offered by his opponent. On the part of Parker it seemed to be determined to have only one of four persons, and to five or six named by the Slasher, some of whom were persons of the highest respectability, a decided objection was made. In this way time progressively, but unprofitably, advanced, and the greatest impatience was displayed. At length Johnny Broome, on behalf of the Slasher, said he was willing that each should select a referee, and that those two persons should decide by toss which was to act, but this met with as firm an opposition as anything by 192 which it had been preceded. Johnny Broome then offered to adopt any gentleman who might be selected from the surrounding crowd, unknown to either party, but to this there was again a negative response, and still more time was lost, while the patience of the throng was put to the severest test from their inactivity and the chilling blast to which they were exposed. All this time the men remained wrapped in blankets at their respective corners. The Slasher now rose from his bottle-holder’s knee, and approaching Parker, offered to fight without a referee, the fight to be protracted until one or other gave in, but still the obstinacy of Parker’s friends was not to be overcome. Finally, after the expiration of an hour at least, the stakeholder, who was present, stepped into the arena, urged on by the repeated expressions of discontent from the surrounding multitude, and having recapitulated the various propositions which had been made, declared that, unless Tass Parker and his friends thought proper to agree either to toss for choice of referee or to fight without one, he should feel it his duty to give up the stakes to that man who was willing to abide by one or other of these propositions. The backer of Tass Parker, finding that he had no alternative, at last agreed that the men should fight without a referee; a resolution for which the subsequent conduct of his principal throughout the fight afforded a sufficient reason, for had any fair and honest referee been in office, there is no doubt that he must have lost the fight over and over again. The interference of the stakeholder was hailed with universal approbation, and the men forthwith proceeded to peel for action, while the “All out!” of the Commissary and the ring-keepers sent the stragglers to their posts.

The umpires having taken their seat close together, provided with a time-telling chronometer, and all being removed from the immediate vicinity of the ring—​with the exception of one individual to take charge of the water, and other refreshments of each combatant—​Johnny Broome for the Slasher, and Parker’s namesake for his protége (a most wholesome arrangement under the New Rules) business commenced.

Nothing but the force of habit could have made us write the words “The Fight” at the head of the extraordinary and disgraceful parody on a stand-up battle which we are now about to describe. It is, however, only proper to premise that the Slasher must be entirely exonerated from any personal share in this discreditable libel on the already falling P.R., and therefore “to put the saddle on the right horse,” we proceed to our account of



Round 1.—​The men came up with their hands in good position, and after manœuvring for a short time Parker let fly his left, which was cleverly stopped. This led to a rally, in which very trifling hits were exchanged left and right, but as they were out of distance no harm was done, with the exception of a slight discolouration on the Slasher’s right cheek. Parker, in getting away from the Slasher’s rush, fell on one knee.

2.—​Parker again advanced bold as brass, looking all over confident, while the Slasher was not less prepared for action. After a few dodges, advancing and retreating, Parker popped in his left on the Slasher’s cheek. The Slasher fought wildly left and right, missing some of his hits, but planting his right heavily on the ribs under Parker’s left arm. Wild exchanges, when, as Parker was slipping on his knees, the Slasher caught his head under his arm, held it as if in a vice, and hung on him till he fell tumbling on him. The exchanges were trifling in their consequences, and a little flush on the skin was the only indication of punishment.

3.—​Parker came up obviously undismayed by the result of the last struggle, and apparently resolved to do his best. He tried his left, which the Slasher neatly threw aside with his right. The Slasher then advanced, hitting left and right wildly, and Parker stepping back to avoid execution. Trifling exchanges with the left. Parker again away, and watching for an opening to advance; dodging left and right, but no hitting. Parker stole a march, popped his left in slightly on the Slasher’s mouth, and broke away, the Slasher wildly after him, hitting left and right, but Parker slipped down on his knees and evaded receiving, thus commencing his old system. On the Slasher being picked up, blood was visible from his domino case, and this event was declared in favour of Parker.

4.—​Parker again prepared to lead off, advancing and retreating, finding the Slasher ready to hit or stop. At last he hit out with his left, which the Slasher stopped, and then rushing in left and right he administered a trifling upper cut with the latter. Parker retired to his corner, the Slasher after him. Parker, in ducking to avoid, slipped on his knees, but was up again in an instant and popped in his left. The Slasher hit out left and right without precision, and after a wild, scrambling rally, without mischief, Parker slipped down.

5.—​Slasher first up to the scratch, waiting for the attack. Parker dodged with his left once or twice, but not within distance. At length he got closer to his man, popped in his left on the Slasher’s jaw, who countered slightly with the left, rushing after Parker, who retreated to the corner, where he slipped down to avoid, the Slasher dropping on his knees beside him.

6.—​Both ready, but Parker afraid to approach his man. The Slasher hit out left and right, but was out of distance, and Parker broke away. Parker again dodging for an opening, and on getting close up to the work, left-handed counters were exchanged, but the impressions were trifling. A wild rally, in which the Slasher got a slap on the mug, and Parker a heavy hit on the ribs from the Slasher’s right. A scrambling exchange of hits left and right, when Parker slipped down. The hitting was wild, and anything but effective.

7.—​The Slasher’s mug somewhat flushed, but anything but serious in its aspect. Parker feinted with his left and popped in a pretty crack with his right on the Slasher’s jaw, and then broke away. Dodging, but no hitting. The Slasher hit out left and right, but was short; Parker retreated to his corner; wild but ineffective exchanges left and right, and Parker dropped on his knees.

8.—​Both at the scratch at the call of time. Parker tried his left, but was stopped; advancing and retreating. Parker endeavoured to steal a march, but was unable to get home, and the Slasher retired laughing. Parker again advanced, while the Slasher retreated; neither would go near enough to get to work. At last they got to a wild rally, missing their hits, and Parker retreating. Having reached Parker’s corner, the Slasher weaved left and right, but did not plant his intended compliments. Parker slipped down, the Slasher upon him. Parker’s right was puffed from the effect of one of his flying nobbers.

9.—​Offers, but no blows. The Slasher tried his right at Parker’s nob, but was beautifully stopped, and Parker broke away. Parker advanced ready to hit with his left, when the Slasher rushed wildly to him, weaving left and right, catching Parker on the left ear with the latter. In the scramble which followed Parker slipped down, the Slasher upon him.

10.—​Parker’s ear flushed, and his nose following suit in a slight degree. Parker advanced, but retreated the next moment, and the Slasher went to him. On getting to his corner there were slight exchanges with the left; the Slasher hit over Parker’s head with his right, and Parker dropped.

11.—​Parker slow to the scratch, and on the Slasher advancing he retreated to the ropes. A wild exchange of hits with the left, when Parker again slipped down on his knees.

12.—​No mischief done as yet, although Parker’s flesh under the arm indicated the visitations to which it had been subject. Attempts left and right, in which both missed their blows. Parker broke away, slipped on one knee, but jumped up again. Wild exchanges, Slasher trying his left and right. Parker, ducking to avoid the Slasher, retreated, but again rushed to the charge, weaving 194 left and right, ultimately slipping on his knees, amidst the cries of “cur.”

13.—​No sooner at the scratch than the Slasher advanced; Parker immediately retreated to the ropes, the Slasher after him; the Slasher hit out right and left, but Tass ducked under his arm, and escaped the intended compliments. Parker dropped on one knee, but again sprang up and caught the Slasher on the cheek with his left. Slasher missed his left and right, and Parker fell.

14.—​Parker fought on the retreat: a wild scrambling rally to the corner, and the Slasher slipped down.

15.—​Parker advanced and retreated, the Slasher after him, to his corner. Wild attempts at hitting left and right on the part of the Slasher, but he was out of distance, and missed. The Slasher then bored Parker down on the ropes, himself falling over outside the ring.

16.—​Still no indications of serious mischief. The Slasher desirous of going to work, Parker retreating. The Slasher weaving left and right; an exchange of hits with the latter, and the Slasher again popped in his right on Parker’s ear, from whence blood was visible. The Slasher closed, forced Parker down on his knees, and fell on him.

17.—​Parker on the retreat to his corner, the Slasher after him. Exchanges with the left and right, Parker getting prettily home with the former. A wild rally, both missing their blows, when Parker dropped.

18.—​Slasher the first to the scratch, and full of fight; Parker retreated to his corner, the Slasher after him. Slasher hit out left and right, but without precision. Parker, on his guard, went down without attempting to hit.

19.—​The Slasher, as usual, the first to obey the call of time. Parker tried his left, but was cleverly stopped. The Slasher then rattled to him; Parker evidently ready to drop, when the Slasher slipped and fell.

20.—​Parker hugging his corner, when the Slasher rattled to him, but missed; wild hits left and right. Parker popped in his left and broke away. Slasher again to the charge, followed his man, caught him a heavy whack with his right on the jaw, from the effects of which Parker staggered and fell. The first knock-down blow for the Slasher.

21.—​Tass’s left stopped, and the Slasher rushed in wildly left and right. In the exchanges the Slasher had it on the mouth, but again planted his right on his shifty opponent’s pimple, when he got down.

22.—​The Slasher the favourite, and offers to back him at evens. The Slasher first on his pins. Parker retreated, the Tipton after him, hitting wildly left and right, when Parker dropped, but jumped up, hit out with his left, caught the Slasher slightly, and again fell, amid exclamations of disgust.

23.—​Parker slow from his corner, the Slasher to him, when, after wild exchanges left and right, with no execution, Tass went down.

24.—​Parker came up evidently a dastard in spirit, and upon the Slasher rushing to him he slipped down, amidst the cries of “cur!” and “coward!” Blood was now flowing freely from the knuckle of Parker’s left hand, which had in some of the previous rounds come in contact with the Slasher’s tooth. From this to the thirtieth round Parker pursued the same cowardly game of making a show as if he intended to fight, but the moment the Slasher went to him to hit left and right purposely dropping, and thereby avoiding the mischief which might be effected. The Slasher was greatly incensed, turned round as if appealing to the spectators, who shouted “cur!” and “coward!” with stentorian voices. The Slasher’s umpire repeatedly cried “foul,” and nothing could have been more decidedly opposed to every rule of fair play; but Hannan, Parker’s umpire, did not respond. He was silent, but it was not difficult to discover which way his feelings inclined. In the thirtieth round Parker, after retreating to his corner, endeavoured to get down to avoid one of the Slasher’s wild rushes. The Slasher endeavoured to hold him up, but in vain; down he went, and the Slasher dropped on him with his knees. Parker’s backer immediately claimed “foul” amidst the derision of all around him. It would be an insult to the understandings of our readers if we were to pursue our description of the 102 imaginary rounds which followed, during which Parker went down fifty times at least, the Slasher most forbearingly avoiding all temptations to strike or even to fall on him so as to afford pretence for a claim of “foul.” More than once Tass threw up his feet so as almost to kick at his man as he rolled or scrambled over him, after missing his one, two. It was in vain that the Slasher essayed to nail him left and right. He ducked and tumbled whenever there was the slightest chance of sustaining a hit, inducing universal marks of disgust at his cowardice, and the words “cur” and “coward” resounding from all quarters.

In the fifty-seventh round the Slasher was lucky enough to afford him another excuse for a fall, by giving him a home slap from the left on the mouth, and laying him prostrate, while he pointed at him with derision. The real motive for refusing to agree to the appointment of an impartial referee now admitted of no doubt. It had been foreseen that such a man would have long before this settled the point at issue by declaring the battle won over and over again by the Slasher. But even the absence of such a character did not serve the intended purpose. Hannan, who acted as umpire, declared his situation to be of a most unenviable description. He looked appealingly to all around him, and, satisfied that the conduct of 195 Parker was at variance with every principle of honour and fair play, he repeatedly sent to warn him that if he persisted in the same atrocious cowardice he must agree with the repeated claims of his co-umpire, who in vain called for his honest and impartial judgment. The poor fellow actually trembled with vexation at the shouts of derision which were directed towards his man, and at length, in the 126th round, on Parker going down without the most remote shadow of a blow, unless the wind of the Slasher’s fist could deserve that character, he involuntarily exclaimed, in conjunction with his co-partner, and in accordance with the universal exclamations from every quarter of the ring, “foul!” This conduct on the part of Hannan elicited loud approbation, but in a moment he was surrounded by a knot of the most outrageous partisans of Parker, who threatened instant annihilation if he dared to repeat his just opinion. It was in vain we looked for the honest co-operation of the real members of the Ring to drive these ruffians from the arena—​they ruled the roost with unblushing impudence, and treated those who cried shame on their conduct with insolence and contempt. At last a second appeal was made to Hannan, but he was dumb, and nothing but a renewal of the fight would satisfy his assailants, and renewed the disgraceful scene was, but with a perfect anticipation of what must be the ultimate result. Many gentlemen, old and sincere patrons of fair boxing matches, retired from the discreditable exhibition. The backer of Tass Parker asserted that he was so weak as to be incapable of keeping his legs, while every person who had the power of exercising the commonest judgment saw that when he thought proper he could stand as firmly on his pins as when he commenced. He had not, in fact, received a blow which could have, in the slightest degree, impaired his vigour, and were his heart in the right place, he was just as capable of continuing operations as at the commencement of the fight. Hannan having resumed his seat, but pale as ashes, and shaking like an aspen leaf, the farce was renewed, and for seven rounds more Parker got up but to fall in the same dastardly manner which had marked his career. In the 133rd round he made a show of fighting, and exchanges left and right took place. Parker then retreated towards the ropes, the Slasher after him. When the Slasher was about to commence his wild and indecisive deliveries left and right, Parker, finding he could not get away, for the last time dropped without a blow, and the shouts of “cur” and “coward” were renewed with additional indignation. This was too much for Hannan, and incapable longer of stultifying himself and the Ring, of which he had been, and is, a gallant member, he at once agreed with the umpire on the other side that Parker had fallen without a blow, and had thereby lost the fight. Thus ended this libel on the “manly sports of the Ring.” The roughs were taken by surprise, and were incapable of stemming the torrent of general indignation; but the weak and powerless Parker, in order to justify the false opinion expressed by his backer, jumped up with the vigour of a lion, and rushing to the corner where Johnny Broome stood, having possessed himself of the colours which had been tied round the stakes, tore his own colours from his hand, thereby proving that weakness was the least excuse which could be offered for his poltroonery. Everybody except the partisans of Parker was rejoiced at the termination of this most contemptible display, and heartily concurred in the propriety of Hannan’s conduct.

The battle, if it may be so called, admits of but few remarks. The Slasher fought with a wildness and want of precision which enabled Parker to protract the struggle almost indefinitely; for had he been lucky enough to give him one or two stingers, his heart, which was not bigger than a pea, would have forced him at once to shut up; but by his contemptible shifting and dropping he escaped the visitation, and thus owed the confirmation of his defeat to his own pusillanimity. It is stated that the injury to Parker’s right hand early in the fight had disabled that limb, and that he acted under an impression that as there was no referee he had a right to protract the battle by any device, till one or other was incapable of obeying the call of time—​that is to say, that every principle which renders boxing praiseworthy should be abandoned, and its worse enemies gratified. In other words, that he might exercise a treacherous strike and drop from 196 the return. Such an argument would not be recognised by the veriest tyro in the P.R. The Slasher, also, complained of his right arm being injured, from having come in contact with Parker’s nob early in the contest, but he certainly brought it into use notwithstanding this injury.

All being over, the crowd returned to the train, stopping at the “King’s Arms” to partake of such refreshment as that hostelrie afforded, which, from long privation, became most acceptable. Parker went through the farce of going to bed, but soon afterwards joined his co-travellers in the train, and all were quickly wafted to the London Bridge terminus once more, from whence they took their departure to their respective quarters. The Slasher scarcely bore a mark of punishment, and on arriving at Johnny Broome’s was hailed with general acclamations. Some of Parker’s friends expressing doubts of his qualities, he announced that he was ready to make a fresh match for £200 a side with his opponent.

On the following Wednesday the stakeholder, notwithstanding a notice of action from Parker’s backers, gave up the stakes (£200) to Johnny Broome, under a guarantee, and of course all bets went with the battle-money. We shall pass over the cloud of correspondence, challenges, and counter-challenges which ensued, to come to the renewed match, which, after innumerable delays, was finally made in the early months of 1846.

On the 4th of August, 1846, Parker for the third and last time entered the ring with “the Tipton,” assuring his somewhat sceptical friends that he had “screwed his courage to the sticking place” and determined to do or die. As the Slasher was now viewed by many as the “coming champion” the final contest between him and his scientific but soft-hearted opponent will be read with interest.

Lindrick Common, Nottinghamshire, eight miles from Sheffield, was the scene of action, the ropes and stakes being furnished by the Manchester Commissary. The attendance of the “upper crust” was by no means numerous, but there was a tidy sprinkling of Yorkshire sportsmen of the north-country Fancy, and a perfect crowd of swarthy miners and pitmen from the neighbouring districts as far as Chesterfield and Derby. An excellent ring was formed, and, as the writer can testify, a degree of order observed which might well shame the “roughs” nearer home. At half-past eleven o’clock the men entered the ring, Reid, of Sheffield, and Nobby Clarke waiting on the Slasher, Jem Parker and Cottrell, of Birmingham, seconding Tass. The betting was tolerably brisk at five to four on Parker, whose friends seemed to be in the ascendant, and certainly better “breeched” 197 than those from “the Potteries.” After nearly an hour’s delay, owing to objections to several parties named as referee—​the representative of Bell’s Life positively declining—​Squire Edison accepted the office amidst acclamations, and the men faced each other for


Round 1.—​The attitude of Parker, his left well up in a line with his left foot, and his right fore-arm slightly bent, and below the level of his left elbow, was graceful and attractive; he stood firm, yet springy, poised lightly on his forward foot, and was equally prepared for advance or retreat. His condition appeared first-rate, and his weight, 11st. 6lb., seemed well distributed for activity and powerful effort; his countenance was smiling and confident, and his age (33 years) sat lightly upon him. His massive and ungainly antagonist offered a striking contrast; brown, burly, and, as Paddy would say, “big for his size,” he grinned grotesquely at his slighter rival, nor was the oddity of his mirthful mug by any means lessened by the fact of his front railings having been displaced in bygone battles. He, too, was hard, and had evidently been brought, by severe training, into as good condition as we have ever seen him on former occasions. From the waist to the shoulders he was a model for a gladiator, but we doubt if the artist or the sculptor would feel inclined to copy his capital or his pedestals, inasmuch as the first is, despite a comic expression of good-humour, as odd a conglomeration of features as Gillray or Cruikshank would desire to pencil; while the latter more resemble the letter K than the parallel supports which society has agreed to term symmetrical. His weight was 13st. 4lb.; his age twenty-seven, having been born in 1819, although the displacement of his grinders gave him a more antique aspect. Little time was lost in sparring, for the Slasher, his left presented and his right kept close to the mark, walked in upon his man, grinning mischief. Tass let go his left, but was stopped rather neatly; he broke ground and retreated, but the Slasher, working round, forced him into his corner, where several sharp and rapid exchanges took place, Parker twice popping in his left, but ineffectively, and the Slasher countering, in one instance with a heavy hit on Tass’s chest. After a little manœuvring, the Tipton, resolved to force the fighting, stepped gradually in, Tass retreating, and endeavouring to plant his favourite job; it was no go; taught by previous experience, the Tipton would not make play until his opponent let loose, and then, with more tact than we have hitherto seen him display, he countered with his left, and bringing up his right, caught Tass a sounder on the ribs. Toss leaped back, but renewed the hitting merrily, getting down at close quarters to avoid a return of the Tipton’s right.

2.—​Tass, serious, looked as if measuring his work; the Tipton grinning. Fast fighting for big’uns seemed the order of the day. Tass got in on the Slasher’s mouth, who followed him fiercely, screwing himself up for mischief. Tass fought beautifully, but there seemed little sting in his deliveries; there was some excellent mutual stopping, which elicited applause, especially for the Slasher, of whom it was least expected. Tass again got in one on the Tipton’s chest, who returned it with his right, and Tass went to earth, half with his own consent.

3.—​The Slasher came up on the grin, and walked into his opponent without delay. Parker again fought well, though both were over fast. Merry work, but little harm done, till Tass sent his right, straight as an arrow, on the Tipton’s left jaw, and down went his house, Parker also falling from his own blow. An uproarious chevy; first knock-down for Parker.

4.—​Parker came up cautious, with an ugly cut over the right eyebrow. First blood for the Slasher. A short round; the Tipton again drove Tass before him to his corner, where he got down to avoid.

5.—​As before, the Slasher seemed to have made up his mind there should be no idling; no sooner at the scratch than he was at work. Tass popped at him, but was short, and the Tipton missed his counter-hit. The Slasher laughed, and tried it again, but was stopped. A little rally at the ropes, and Parker, after an exchange or two, dropped on his knees.

6.—​Tass manœuvring, Tipton fighting, but not getting home. Tipton’s seconds advised him to wait for Tass’s play; he did so, and was rewarded by success. He met Parker, as he jumped in, with the left, and bringing up his right gave him a ribber that laid him on the earth, half doubled up.

7.—​Slasher too fast, his opponent too slow. A short specimen of “You run away, and see if I don’t come after you.” At length Tass popped in a blow on Slasher’s shoulder, who closed. A brief struggle followed; the Tipton got the crook with his crooked leg, and threw Tass, falling with his broad base on his antagonist’s victualling store. It was a burster (two to one on the Slasher).

8.—​A short bout of hitting, stopping, and feinting. Tipton let fly, Tass slipped away and got down cunning.

9.—​Slasher’s left neatly stopped, and 198 Parker’s return parried. Parker flared up for a moment, and got in one, two, but produced no impression on his man, who went in laughing. Tass tried to evade him, but the Slasher closed; both down after a struggle, during which Tass’s hand was seen across the Tipton man’s face, and a cry of “foul” was raised. Some confusion; Slasher appealed to the referee, charging Parker with the unmanly act of biting him in a previous round, when he was in the act of throwing him, and in this round of an attempt to injure his eye. The referee ordered the men to proceed.

10.—​Tass came up with a large black patch on his sinister eyebrow, and his most prominent feature somewhat damaged. Tipton eagerly after him, but Tass was too shifty to be immediately had; he gave the Slasher two pops; the latter, however, was with him, and ultimately hit him down.

11.—​Tass held his arms almost at full extent, and manœuvred round his man; the Slasher, more cautious, faced him steadily. At length the men got nearer, exchanged blows, and Tass fell to finish the round.

12.—​So soon as up the Tipton went in, but Tass declined the compliment, and avoiding his one, two, which were wasted on thin air, got down anyhow.

13.—​Half a minute’s posturing. Tass plunged in with his left, but was short; tried his right, but was stopped. The Slasher got close, Tass was unable to hit him off, and he delivered a half-arm pounder with his right. Tass fell because this time he could not help it.

14.—​Tass played with his man; he seemed more than half tired of his job. The Tipton leary, and not to be drawn by feints. Slasher went in, and down tumbled Tass, amidst shouts of disapprobation.

15.—​Parker came up slowly; good stops on both sides; Tipton, quitting the defensive, rattled in; Tass rallied sharply, but in the end received an ugly upper-cut on the dial, and fell.

16.—​Tass somewhat disfigured, while the Tipton’s ugly mug seemed altogether unaltered. After some slight exchanges Tass dropped.

17.—​Parker’s tactics seemed at fault; he sparred a few seconds, but on the Slasher stepping in, found his way to the ground rather equivocally.

18.—​Tass flared up momentarily. He tried it on with both hands in succession. Tipton cleverly foiled him; indeed, Tass did not get near enough to his man to do work. Tipton returned. The old game was played—​Tass selected his mother earth.

19.—​Tass’s left again short; he was too fond of long bowls. A close, and Tass got down as well as he could.

20.—​Parker made play, and getting a little nearer, dropped his bunch of fives on the Tipton’s mouth; tried it again, but fell short, and got a left-handed nobber in return that floored him neatly.

21.—​Both Tass’s hands seemed to have lost their cunning. His heart was not big enough to carry him in, nor, when there by accident, to allow him to stand a rally. He fought badly and out of distance, and at length scrambled down to avoid the resolute charge of the Slasher, who gave him a nasty one on the side of the nut as he was on his journey to earth.

22.—​Perry drove his man all across the ring. Some pretty exchanges. Parker got home on Tipton’s dial, who missed the return. A short, irregular rally. Tass again got in once or twice, but they seemed mere taps. At length the Slasher, who had been screwing himself up, sent out his left straight as an arrow at his opponent’s head. The concussion was like the kick of a coach-horse, took effect at the base of Parker’s left nostril, and he fell as if shot. “It’s all over,” was the cry; and the Tipton remained for some time in the middle of the ring to favour the company with a few polka steps, for which his swing leg was peculiarly adapted.

23 and last.—​Tass, to the astonishment of all, came up at the call of time, but it was evident the last hit had been a settler and had sent his faculties all abroad. Although he assumed an attitude, he stared perplexedly at his opponent, and swerved from the perpendicular as he broke ground. The Tipton surveyed him a moment before he stepped forward, but no sooner did Tass perceive his approach, than, either from bewilderment or a faint heart, he fell forward on both knees, and thence on his hands. The Slasher turned appealingly to the umpires and referee, without having even offered to strike. The case was clear; and amid the shouts of the multitude the Slasher was greeted as the conqueror. Time, twenty-seven minutes.

Remarks.—​The Slasher fought better than we have seen him on any previous occasion; his confidence and condition—​of which latter absurd rumours were afloat—​were on a par with his coolness and courage. To the former he added tact in waiting for his opponent’s delivery of a blow, and a skill in counter-hitting for which we did not give him credit; this, added to his physical superiority in weight and thews, left his lighter and more active opponent almost without a chance, and the contest was reduced to a mere question of time, the ultimate result being scarcely within the scope of doubt. Of the defeated man we can only say that although he fought three or four rounds in a spirited—​nay, an almost desperate manner, his conduct in the vast majority so much savoured of Falstaff’s “better part of valour,” that his claim to the character of a game man still remains unproven, while his attribute of skill, so loudly vaunted by his infatuated admirers, has suffered considerably by this exhibition; this, however, may partly be owing to the 199 improvement in his antagonist’s tactics which, by frustrating his earlier efforts, so disheartened him that he never showed to less advantage. The question of superiority can no longer be mooted; Tass’s quickness and skill have lost their striking advantage, while the Slasher’s strength and pluck, on this occasion seconded by a respectable amount of science, have by no means fallen off. Tass’s friends attribute his defeat to his having had two ribs broken in the seventh round, from the Slasher falling heavily on him, and he certainly remained under the surgeon’s hands, who confirmed the aforesaid fracture.

After the above battle, the Tipton Slasher issued a challenge to Caunt to fight for £100 a side; this Caunt declined to do, and staked £500 in the hands of the editor of Bell’s Life, declaring, at the same time, his willingness to fight the Slasher for £500, but for no smaller sum. Much angry correspondence passed between them, which is utterly unworthy of preservation; and in the latter part of 1846 Johnny Broome presented a belt to the Slasher, whereon Caunt lowered his terms to £200, with a stipulation that if that condition was not accepted within a month, his retirement from the Ring was absolute. This, however, was not suitable to Broome and Co., though the Slasher was ready and willing.[20]

We may hear note, retrospectively, that in December, 1844, yet another “big ’un” had made his debut in the P.R., who, in a future chapter, will figure among the numerous candidates for the much-wrangled Championship. 200 This was Tom Paddock, who, in the month of December, beat Elijah Parsons, at Sutton Coldfield. Following this, he twice defeated Nobby Clarke, a chicken-hearted but scientific 12-stone man, in January, 1846, and in April, 1847. Paddock’s next venture was with the renowned Bendigo, with whom he lost the battle by a foul blow, June 5, 1850.

In September, 1849, the Tipton, having forfeited to Con Parker, on account of ill-health, was challenged thereafter by Tom Paddock, soon after the latter had lost what many thought to be a winning fight with Bendigo. In this affair, by some shuffling on the part of Perry’s money-finders, a curious “draw” was manipulated, neither of the parties being ready to go on at the fourth deposit, on August 22nd, 1850, taking back their stakes by mutual consent. The Slasher, finding other and more reliable friends, renewed the articles, and on December 17th, 1850, the rivals at last came together, face to face, in the ring. The Tipton trained for this encounter under Levi Eckersley, near Liverpool, while Paddock had his advice and exercise with Bob Fuller and Jem Turner, than whom two better trainers did not exist.

On the Monday previous, the Slasher arrived at Tom Spring’s, and Paddock set up his rest at Jem Burn’s, where they were surrounded by admiring coteries. The betting was 6 to 4 on the Slasher, whose superior weight and experience gave him that advantage in the odds.

All requisite arrangements for the meeting had been undertaken by Spring and Burn, and after sundry cogitations they decided on an excursion-train on the South Western Railway. Half-past nine on Tuesday morning was the time named for departure, and long before that hour arrived, the platform at Waterloo displayed a goodly muster of folks “wot love a mill,” including many old stagers, “swells,” and patrons of all degrees. The professors were also numerous in their attendance, and included twenty men who had been selected to preserve order. We could not but remark, however, the absence of that quaint fun and humour which, in the days of Josh Hudson, Jack Scroggins, Young Dutch Sam, and Frosty-faced Fogo, flung an air of good-humoured frolic on such assemblages, affording scenes for the pencil of George Cruikshank, and food for the pen-and-ink sketches of the Ring-historians of the day. To the question “Whither are we bound?” no response was given. The captain started with sealed orders, and had a sort of roving commission as to the place at which he should cast anchor. Suffice it to say, the pace was first-rate and there was but one stoppage till Bishopstoke was reached. The 201 men were in separate carriages, and there was a wide contrast in their bearing, Paddock being all mercurial and double jolly, and the Slasher as solid and steady as Cardinal Wiseman on a fast-day.

It was intended to turn off on the Salisbury line and bring up at Dean, on the borders of Wilts. The Hampshire police, however, were on the alert, with an assurance that the Wiltshire folks were equally wide-awake, and determined to spoil sport. Information to this extent was quickly conveyed to the managers, and, after a short consultation, “bock agen” was the order of the day. Various places were mentioned as likely to afford a quiet and welcome reception, and the first attempt was made between Andover and Winchfield, but no sooner was the ring pitched than the Hampshire blues once more hove in sight, and the jaded travellers had again to enter the carriages. Thus was time wasted, and the hour of three arrived before the caravan again got under way. It was then agreed to go to Woking Common, and many bets were offered that the contest would not come off that day. A strong desire, however, was expressed that it should be settled, and about half-past three a stoppage was made between a couple of high embankments, which, on being scaled, exposed to view a remote corner of Woking Common. The land of promise thus reached, the office was given, for the last time, to disembark. A site for a ring was quickly discovered, and although not a very desirable spot, still, it was the only one to be had, and no time was lost in forming the magic square. A limited outer ring was also formed, and tickets, at 5s. each, distributed to those who sought the privilege of a close proximity to the scene of action, the produce being afterwards equally divided among the ringkeepers. It was now four o’clock, and the day fast waning; in fact, it was difficult to distinguish the faces of persons from one side of the ring to the other; but a clear moon hung out its lamp, and promised a continuance of light. All being in readiness, Paddock flung his castor into the ring, following it himself amidst loud cheers. He was attended by Jack Hannan and Bob Fuller. The Slasher, who was not long after him, was waited on by Nobby Clarke and Jem Molyneux. Paddock looked fresh, laughing, and apparently confident; while the Slasher was cool, quiet, and smiling. After a great deal of difficulty as to the selection of a referee, both parties agreed upon Ned Donnelly. Jem Burn addressed this functionary on the part of Paddock, and said all he wanted was a fair and manly fight, and that there should be no captious objections to any accidental occurrence. He wished the merits of the men might be fairly 202 tested, and only desired that the best man might win. The men now prepared for action, and at thirty minutes past four, the rising moon looking modest from the east, and the last rays of the setting sun painting the western horizon, the gladiators appeared at the scratch, and commenced


Round 1.—​The men having chosen their corners, fortune enabled the Slasher to place his back to the rising moon, so that his toothless mug was in shade. His herculean frame was, however, sufficiently visible, and his easy confidence and quiet deportment increased the confidence of his friends, and led all who scanned his proportions to consider him perfectly competent to hit down a hippopotamus; or, like the Greek boxer of old, floor a cantankerous bull, even without the assistance of the cestus. Paddock, although when opposed to Bendigo he appeared of the burly breed, loomed small in contrast with the Slasher. The disparity in their size was obvious, and as he jumped about seeking an opening, a veteran ring-goer exclaimed, “It’s any odds against the young’un, he’s got his master before him now.” In fact, the very style of holding up his hands, and the yokel-like feints (completely out of distance) with which he commenced, showed he was puzzled how to begin the job he had so confidently undertaken; presently he determined to chance it, and jumped in. Fortune favours the bold, and he gave the Slasher a clout on the jaw-bone with his left, the Tipton hitting in return on his shoulder or breast, and driving him back. The Slasher stepped in; Paddock retreated before him to his corner, hitting up again, but the Tipton stopped him. A smart exchange took place, and Paddock slipped down to get out of mischief.

2.—​Paddock began by trying his left twice, and barely reaching the Slasher, who dealt him a body blow with the right. Some heavy hits in weaving style, and a half-round body blow or two followed, the sound rather than the effect of the hitting being perceptible. The Tipton closed with Paddock, who struggled for a moment, and was then thrown on his back, the Tipton lending him thirteen stone additional to hasten his fall.

3.—​Two to one on the Tipton. The Slasher missed Paddock two or three times, owing to his active, jumping away; still he steadily pursued him. Paddock tried both hands, but had the worst of the exchanges; still there was no harm done. Paddock made a lunge with the right, but Tipton met him a smasher, and hit him down, almost falling over him. First knock-down for the Slasher.

4.—​It was now stated that Paddock had dislocated his shoulder; it was no doubt injured, but not out of joint. He tried his left in a flurried manner, but the Tipton feinted with the left, drove him back, and Paddock fell to avoid.

5.—​The Tipton went to work quickly, but steadily; he caught Paddock on the body with the right, and on the left cheek heavily with the left, as he was jumping round, and down went Paddock among the bottles in his own corner.

6.—​Tipton gave Paddock no rest or time for reflection, but pelted away. Paddock skipped about, and escaped against the ropes; from his corner, hit up, catching the Tipton on the side of the neck slightly, and dropped on one knee. The Tipton might have given him a finisher, but did not avail himself of the chance, threw up his hands and walked away.

7.—​Paddock hit Tipton sharply with the left on the forehead as he came in. Tipton missed his right, but caught Paddock a nasty “polthogue” on the nob as he was going back. Paddock fell on the ropes but was not down. The Tipton dropped his hands and came away from him, disdaining to hit him in that position. “Bravo, Tipton!”

8.—​As before; Tipton making the play and forcing his man, who could not make head against the attack, and jumped about like “a parched pea.” Paddock fell at Tipton’s feet, who, the friends of Paddock declared, tried to tread on him, and appealed accordingly. It was a “forlorn hope,” and the referee said “he saw nothing foul.”

9.—​Paddock jumped up as usual, just reaching Tipton’s chin, for which he was punished with a sounding ribber. Tipton stepped in, and down dropped Master Paddock.

10.—​Exchanges, but no effects visible, except a little blood from Paddock’s cheek. First blood for Tipton. The Tipton hit out right and left, and caught the Redditch man on the nob and body, who staggered half-way across the ring, and fell.

11.—​Tipton once again on Paddock’s body. Paddock fell in the bustle without a hit.

12.—​Paddock shifting and retreating. A slight exchange, and Paddock fell to avoid.

13.—​Tipton forced Paddock into his corner, but before he could do any mischief Paddock fell. A claim of “foul,” but not acknowledged.

14.—​Tipton just touched Paddock with his left, who kept slipping back. Tipton followed 203 him, and he dropped. Another appeal that Paddock fell without a blow, but the Tipton party waived the objection.

15.—​Paddock hit the Tipton, then slipped half down, jumped up again, and resumed the fight. Tipton went to work, and hit him down in the short rally.

16, 17, 18, and 19.—​As like each other as peas. Slasher made at Paddock, who wouldn’t stand his charge, and fell to avoid. Appeals. “We don’t want to win by a foul,” said the Tiptonians.

20.—​Paddock’s right arm hung as if disabled, but he brought it into play when action commenced. The Tipton drove him to the ropes, and hit him down.

21.—​Paddock, in jumping away, caught his right heel against the centre stake, and stumbled down, but jumped up again. Seeing Tipton close on to him, however, he dropped on to his knees.

22.—​As the moon got higher, the light improved. The Tipton, in bustling Paddock, got a body hit, which he retorted with a heavy right-hander on Paddock’s smelling organ, and down he went quite bothered.

23.—​Paddock came up with his face painted carmine colour, and was no sooner at the scratch than he was down. Another appeal.

24.—​Wild exchanges. Paddock on the shift. The Tipton gave Paddock a topper on the head, high up, when he fell, and Tipton over him.

25.—​A slight rally in Paddock’s corner. Paddock rushed at Tipton, who made an awkward step back. Paddock pushed rather than struck at him with the left, and forced the Tipton over. (Cheers for Paddock.)

26.—​It was all U.P. Tipton went in with both hands, and Paddock fell without a blow. Appeal repeated.

27 and last.—​The odds were the Great Glass-case of ’51 against a cucumber-frame. The Tipton gave Master Paddock a pelt on the head, and began punching at him among his bottles and traps at the corner stake. Paddock dropped, and the Tipton, fearing to give a chance away, was about to return to his own corner, as he had several times done when up jumped the Redditch man, and rushing at the Slasher, lent him such a dig just at the back of the left ear, with his right, that down tumbled Tipton, half with astonishment, half with the blow, and, as Paddy would say, “the third half of him fell just because it was not used to stand upright.” A more palpable “foul” was never seen. The spectators jumped from their seats, and all sorts of people got into the ring. The Tipton walked towards the referee for his decision, and that functionary pronounced it “foul;” and so ended the great little fight for the Championship, in forty-two minutes, the dial showing twelve minutes after five.

Remarks.—​A Scotch proverb declares—

“It’s muckle cry, and little woo,
As the de’il said, when he clipt the soo;”

and this exhibition was certainly a complete “pig-shearing” excursion. The Slasher was not only in splendid condition, but his method of fighting, long arms, and great experience, made it no match. True, he was not to blame that it was so bad a fight, for as one man can take a horse to water, but twenty can’t make him drink, so let a man be ever so willing to make a merry mill of it, he can’t do so, if his opponent won’t have it. As to Paddock, he was so manifestly over-matched, and over-rated, that he had not the shadow of a chance; and the rush that proved perilous to Bendigo—​old, stale, under 12 stone, and a practiser of retreating tactics—​was not only useless against the bulky, firm-standing Slasher, but was certain destruction to the assailant, from the Tipton’s tact at countering, his superior strength, and immense weight. In fact, it was “a horse to a hen” on all points.

The return to the carriages was as speedy as circumstances and awkward clayey drains and ditches would permit, but all were safely seated, the agreeable whistle of departure sounded, and the whole party delivered at the Nine Elms terminus by six o’clock; the Slasher, merry as a grig, and loudly cheered, while Paddock complained of severe injury to his shoulder, which, if serious, was certainly aggravated by his last effort to do unlawful execution. The Tipton was received at the “Castle” with a flourish of “See the conquering hero comes!” while Paddock quietly returned to the “Queen’s Head,” where he received surgical attendance; and it was officially reported that he “had injured the bone of his shoulder, and that a sling must be worn as a safeguard against the consequences of moving the joint.”


Once more the Slasher laid claim to the Championship, and requested that Bendigo would, “according to agreement (?)” hand over the belt which he had so long held, or, if he declined doing so, the Tipton “would be proud to give him the chance of retaining it, by meeting him for any sum he might like to name.” The Tipton further announced his readiness “to make a match with any man in the world from £200 to £500 a side.”

A fortnight after the annonce, a letter appeared from Bendigo, stating that he would fight for £500 a side, but so far as the belt was concerned, it had been presented to him as a gift or testimonial, and was his own property. This vaunt was quickly replied to by the Tipton, who at once sent £50 to the Editor of Bell’s Life, “to make a match on Bendy’s own terms,” whereupon the latter backed out, and never after appeared as a candidate for fistic honours.

Finding that high prices would not command the market, the Tipton issued another challenge to fight any man for £100 or £200, but for several months this lay unaccepted. At length, at the latter end of May, 1851, his former patron and backer, Johnny Broome, appeared in print, accepting the Slasher’s gage on the part of “an unknown;” Johnny’s favourite mode of exciting public curiosity in matchmaking. Spring,[21] on this occasion, acted as Perry’s best friend, and declared his readiness to “go on” upon the name of “the unknown” being declared. What was the surprise of the “knowing ones” when Johnny declared his brother Harry to be the “veiled prophet,” on whose future championship he would wager £200, while Harry, who was present, stepped smilingly forward and modestly declared his candidature. The Tipton “grinned horribly a ghastly smile,” and could hardly be persuaded as he “saw Young Harry with his beaver up,” gallantly and coolly affirming his readiness to second his brother’s words by deeds. The Tipton, as Michaelmas day (September 29) was named as “no quarter-day,” at once went into training at Hoylake, in Cheshire, under the care of Jem Wharton and Jem Ward. How they met, and how the Slasher lost the fight, without a scratch, by his own clumsy precipitancy, must be read in the Life and Career of Harry Broome, in a future chapter of this volume.

Broome, on the giving up of the stakes, professing his readiness to maintain his title against all comers, accepted the offer of the Tipton to settle the vexata quæstio by another meeting, and articles were drawn up, and 205 deposits to the amount of £25 made good, when Harry forfeited, on the plea that he had a match on (it came to nothing) with Aaron Jones, and had also accepted an engagement with Paddock. Curiously enough, the Slasher, who now dubbed himself “Champion,” afterwards signed articles with both these men, who both forfeited to him; Aaron Jones to the tune of £70, in July, 1856, and Paddock (whom he had formerly beaten), to the amount of £80, in October following.

Perry, who had been twenty-one years before the public, now became a publican and vendor of eatables and drinkables in a canvas caravansery at races, fairs, and all sorts of rural gatherings in the Black Country.

All this time the star of a 10st. 10lb. champion had been rapidly rising on the pugilistic world. Tom Sayers, having polished off the middle-weights, had been playing havoc among the “big ’un’s;” in 1856 defeating Harry Poulson (who had once beaten Paddock), and, in 1857, Aaron Jones fell beneath his conquering arm.

Six years had elapsed when “The Old Tipton,” as he was now popularly designated, was dared to the field by this new David. Right cheerfully did the old “Philistine man of might”—​for the Tipton never lacked personal courage—​respond to the “little ’un’s” crow. How the oft-repeated error of “trusting the issue of battle to waning age,” was again exemplified on the 16th of June, 1857, at the Isle of Grain, when the once formidable Slasher was conquered in the contest for £400 and the Champion’s belt by the marvellous little miller, Tom Sayers, may be read by those who are curious in minute details, in the life of that phenomenal pugilist, in Chapter XI. of this volume. This was the closing scene of the Tipton’s long and chequered career. He retired, defeated but not dishonoured, to his native county and early associates. In his latter days the Tipton is said to have never refused “a drink for the good of the house,” said house being his own special “tap.” Death finally overtook him, rather suddenly, at his home, near Wolverhampton, on January 18, 1881, in his sixty-first year.

[19] From this period Freeman returned to his theatrical and professional circus exhibitions, in which his gigantic size attracted the popular wonderment. He was a careless, good-natured fellow; and it was stated by the medical officers of Winchester Hospital, where the emaciated giant died of consumption on the 18th of October, 1845, that he had within him the fatal seeds of pulmonary disease from his first period of manhood. His end was of necessity accelerated by repeated colds, caught in the light attire of fleshings and spangles, in which he exhibited in draughty canvas erections, and crowded theatres and booths. This last remark is drawn from us by a senseless paragraph, in which a Hampshire penny-a-liner endeavoured to “improve the occasion” by suggesting that the early death of the good-natured, soft-headed acrobat was due to the dreadful injuries “he must necessarily have received in his terrible combat with the formidable bruiser known as the Tipton Slasher—​injuries which from the tremendous stature of the combatants, must have been beyond ordinary calculation.” To this it may fairly be replied that the few fatal results on record from battles between big men is actually phenomenal—​Andrew M’Kay (June, 1830) and Simon Byrne (May, 1833) being the only two on record; the others resulting from contests between middle or light weights, and several of these regrettable fatalities being proved by subsequent surgical examination to have resulted from accident, excitement, or apoplexy, induced by violent exertion.

[20] Not to complicate this confusion of “claimants” for the belt, we may here state that while Caunt, Bendigo, the Deaf’un, and the Tipton were playing duettos, trios, and quartettes, as leading performers in the discordant overture to the farce of “Who’s the Champion?” there was no lack of accompanying instrumentalists, each blowing his own trumpet of defiance, and thumping the big drum of “benefit” bounce. At the end of 1845, Caunt introduced a new candidate in the person of a formidable black, standing a trifle over six feet, and weighing hard upon 13st., who, rather curiously, dubbed himself William Perry! This mysterious “darkey” displayed such remarkable talent with the gloves, and was, in many respects, a man of such superior address and conversation, that he might well have been expected to turn out more than a second Molyneux. As, however, the proof of all pudding, whether black or white, is in the eating, an opponent was sought for the American importation. Bill Burton, of Leicester, a much smaller man, standing five feet nine, and weighing 11st. 10lb., was selected. Burton’s credentials were good; he had defeated Angelo, of Windsor, in May, 1845—​a game contest of seventy-four rounds—​and had been previously victor in many unrecorded affairs. The meeting took place on the 20th January, 1846. The Black more than justified the anticipations of his backers. He defeated Burton with the greatest ease in fifteen rounds, the Leicester man’s friends humanely throwing up the sponge at the end of twenty-four minutes of a hopeless, one-sided contest. This was the first and last appearance of the so-called William Perry in the English P.R. He proved to be connected with a gang of forgers of American bank-notes, and having been previously imprisoned more than once, he was now transported to the Antipodes, being provided with passage to Australia at Government expense, where, it would appear, he became a ticket-of-leave man, as he is recorded as having defeated Hough, the “Champion of Australia,” at Cumming’s Point, Sydney, in December, 1849. In the last-named year (1849) another “big ’un” came out, but quietly went in again. This was Con (Cornelius) Parker, standing six feet, and weighing 12st. 10lb.; his first victory was over Jem Bailey (Irish), in the Essex Marshes, February 13th, 1849. He then received forfeit from the Tipton in the same year; but, on November 26th, also in 1849, he had his “championship” pretensions ignominiously snuffed out at Frimley, in Surrey, by Tass Parker, who somewhat retrieved the disgrace of his double defeat by the Tipton, by triumphantly thrashing Mister Con, who ended the battle by a “foul.” Con then emigrated to America, where he died rather suddenly, on the 2nd December, 1854, at Buffalo, U.S. Soon after Tass took the money for this victory, his friends injudiciously claimed for him the title of “Champion,” but Tass wisely declined, in a letter, such a prominent position.

[21] Spring, after a short illness, died on August 20th, 1851, while this match was in progress. (See vol. ii. chapter 1.)




The claim of Nick Ward to a chapter in a History of the Ring is, though certainly slender, of a twofold character. In the first place, as another and more recently fallen warrior was described as “the nephew of his uncle,” so Nick Ward may be signalised as “the brother of Jem;” the second, and more cogent, reason is the high flight of his ambition, and the consequent eminence of his adversaries, he having beaten Deaf Burke, and, by a fluke, won a fight for the Championship with the modern “Big Ben.” These things premised, we proceed to a brief sketch of his quasi-pugilistic performances.

Nick Ward was born on an ominous day, the 1st of April, in the year 1811, in St. George’s-in-the-East, London; and on February 24th, 1835, having previously acquired a reputation in the sparring-schools of the Metropolis, he stripped at Moulsey Hurst, to face John Lockyer, of Cranbrook, a yokel bruiser of about 12st., whose only scored victory was a win with one Bridger, of Maidstone, in February, 1833. Jack Lockyer (named “Harry,” in Fistiana, under Ward) was a mere chopping-block in the skilful hands of Nick, his longer-reached and more artistic antagonist; and being “satisfied” at the end of 18 rounds, gave no criterion by which to judge of Young Nick’s game or endurance. It was pretty evident, however, that his brother and friends were not much taken with this initiative display of his qualities, for the next match looked out for Master Nick was with a 11st. man, Jem Wharton (afterwards celebrated as “Young Molyneaux,” and “the Morocco Prince”[22] ) for £15 a side. The deposits were made good, and the day, May 12th, 1835, fixed Nick Ward’s 207 backer having won the toss for choice of place (within thirty miles of London) named the well-known Moulsey Hurst as the champ clos of combat.

On the appointed Tuesday, the patrons of the fistic art were on the qui vive to witness the tourney between “the brother of the Champion” and the aspiring “Young Molyneaux”—​a worthy, albeit a miniature, counterpart of the dusky gladiator of the same name, who, in times gone by, twice fell beneath the all-conquering arm of Cribb, as may be read by those who are curious in the first volume of this work.

Nick went into training at Norwood, putting up at the “Rose and Crown,” our old friend Ned Neale’s hostelrie, and, as we thought, making himself rather more of a public character in the neighbourhood than was either prudent or desirable. Nevertheless, all looked, thus far, promising. Of betting there was little or none; for such was the confidence in favour of Ward, that three to one was offered, but no takers—​a circumstance attributable to his superiority in science, length, and weight (for he weighed 12st. 10lb., while the Black was more than a stone under that standard, as well as being much shorter). It was still thought there would be excellent sport afforded, and there were those who, although not disposed to risk their rhino, yet entertained “a shrewd suspicion” that the Black would win. The necessary preparations were made for conveying the men to the scene of action on Tuesday morning; but, unluckily, on the evening before a “stopper” was placed upon Ward, who was apprehended (on the authority of a warrant issued by the magistrates at Union Hall), and taken before Mr. Ellyard, a local magistrate at Norwood, by whom he was held to bail to keep the peace towards all his Majesty’s subjects in general, and the Black Prince in particular. The unpleasant intelligence was soon conveyed to town, and produced no small panic in the minds of those to whose knowledge it came; but a vast number remained in ignorance of the fact till the next day, when too late to save them the expense and trouble of a long trot. The road to Hampton on Tuesday presented the customary bustle, and it was not till the throng congregated in hundreds in view of the Hurst, that the rumours with which they were assailed on the road were confirmed. Great indignation was, of course, expressed, and various speculations were afloat as to the author of the mischief; some attributing the step to Jem Burn or his party, and others to the malice of some secret enemy of the sports of the Ring. There was, however, no help for it, and as it was found that orders were also given to prevent “any 208 breach of the peace” on Moulsey Hurst, it was resolved to seek consolation in a minor mill, which was yet to the good, in a meadow about two miles from Hampton, whither the ropes and stakes were conveyed, followed by a countless succession of go-carts, and vehicles of a more aristocratic description, which joined in the motley cavalcade.

This “little go” we may note in a parenthesis. It was between Evans (nicknamed “the Pumpborer”), and an aspirant who contented himself with the title of “Jack January’s brother.” These “obscurities” having punished each other for seventy minutes, Evans was hailed the victor.

We ought to state that Wharton was driven on to the ground in style, looking bright as “Day and Martin’s Japan,” and jauntily tossed his hat into the ring, his “soul in arms and eager for the fray.” This was, however, a mere matter of form, as “magisterial interference” having placed his antagonist out of harm’s way, no forfeit could be claimed. The mischance, of course, excited much speculation among the disappointed, as to the author of the interruption, some attributing it to the friends of the Black, and others to the partisans of Ward; while a third party laid the blame, and not without fair ground of suspicion, to some dog in the manger, who, disliking the sports of the Ring himself, determined to deprive others of a pleasure in which he did not choose to participate. There was nothing in the character of the match to warrant a belief that the backers of either man had a sufficient motive for declining the contest. The stakes were trifling, and made up by subscription, so that the loss in this way could not have been worth consideration. The expenses of training had already been incurred, handkerchiefs bought, and vehicles to take the men to the ground engaged. Both men were in first-rate condition, and both, notwithstanding the disparity in their size, equally confident, and more especially Wharton, who booked winning, and nothing else; and then, as to the betting, there were no bets made which could have influenced any of the contracting parties to contrive a “draw.” The real cause of the fiasco, which was never clearly made out, may be surmised, when read by the knowledge acquired by subsequent events; and, without much damage to young Nick’s reputation, we may conclude that he had “no stomach for the fight,” and was secretly glad that the affair had a bloodless termination by “magisterial interference,” and his being formally bound over, for a whole twelvemonth, “to keep the peace towards all her Majesty’s subjects.”

From this time (May, 1835), Nick merely exhibited with the gloves, in “brother Jem’s” saloon, or at other “assaults of arms,” for benefits, &c., 209 though his name appears as “challenged by Burke, Hampson, Brassey, Fisher, Bailey, and other “big ’uns.”

On the 24th May, 1836, Bendigo beat Brassey at Sheffield, and three days afterwards, on Friday, the 27th, Jem Ward, Brother Nick, Jem Burn, Bendy, and an aristocratic assemblage of “swells,” were at Tottenham, where, at a private farm, there was some “cocking.” The facetious Sambo Sutton, too, was among the company; and as a sequel to the sports of the pit, at a merry meeting at mine host Harry Milbourne’s, there was some lively chaff about the late “black job;” the said chaff being specially promoted by Jem Burn, who was retorted upon (he being the patron of “Young Molyneaux,” and now of the eccentric “Sambo”) as a dealer in sable specimens of humanity. Some reflections on Nick’s pluck being of a very “pale complexion,” led to an offer to match him against Burn’s latest “new black,” and on Massa Sambo enthusiastically declaring how delighted he would be “jest to hab a roun’ or two,” Nick “screwed his courage to the sticking-place,” and a “purse” being at once subscribed, “a field near Finchley” was offered by a sporting gentleman present, and off the whole party started. At this time Sambo was only known, beyond some sparring capabilities, to be a merry mountebank of the original Ethiopian order, and is described in a contemporary paper as having “a head like a cow-cabbage, a mouth laughing all across his face, and possesing an extraordinary faculty of standing upon his flat head, with his flatter feet flourishing in the air, dancing and singing for an hour together, and varying the fun by drinking miscellaneous liquors in that uncomfortable position.” To these accomplishments, says the writer, “he adds great bodily strength, long arms, and such a gluttonous appetite for ‘towelling’ that nobody can give him enough with the gloves.” The affair was really got up as an experiment to try Nick’s mettle, and such was the consequence drawn from his “blood and breeding,” that two and three to one on him were offered, but no takers.

The fight did not take place until seven in the evening, when the real P.C. ropes and stakes were got down from town, and pitched in an excellent spot, hidden from the North Road, Finchley, by a rising ground. Jack Adams and Fitzmaurice waited on Ward, Byng Stocks and Jack Clarke on Sambo.

For the first ten rounds Nick took the lead in good style, nobbing his man neatly, stopping his attempts at returning, and gaining first blood in the third round. Sambo also made some very clever stops, and now and 210 then got home a sort of swinger on Nick’s ribs; nevertheless, he was down anyhow at the end of each round. Still, he rolled about like an india-rubber tombola, and when he did get in a “little ’un” the “big ’un” seemed to jump away, and fight very shy till he could himself “get on” again. Ward came up, once or twice, “blowing” in a manner that did not indicate first-rate condition. In the eleventh round, Sambo being pretty considerably cut about the head, Adams called on Nick to “go in and finish him;” Nick tried to obey orders. He caught the Nigger a slashing hit on the head, which Sambo took kindly, merely shaking it; and, darting in, he drew Ward’s cork from his smelling-bottle so suddenly that a gush of claret followed; Nick made an involuntary backward step, and Sambo bustled him down. The “clerks of St. Nicholas” looked blank.

Ward came up slowly for round 12, when Sambo went in furiously. Ward met him a hot ’un on the nob; but the darkey would not be denied, and in a wild sort of rally Sambo caught Master Nick such an awful chop on the smeller, as they were both going down, that Ward was under, by his own consent, and the tap again copiously turned on. This was enough. Nick declared he would “have no more of it.” Remonstrance was useless: “he would fight no longer,” and the sponge was thrown up. Sambo, shaking his head like a black and red rag-mop, cut a “break-down” caper, and sang a song of triumph which defied the art of stenography, while Ward hurried off, amidst the laughter and cheering of the assembly, like a “trundle-tailed cur,” declaring, “it was no use, he was not cut out for a fighting man!” an assertion, in the words of the old song, “Which nobody can deny, deny, Which nobody can deny.”

After this public manifestation that whatever “devil” there may be in “Old Nick” his young namesake was endowed with none of that fiery quality, “the Champion’s brother” confined himself to “attitude,” the horse-hair pads, and, in the words of pugilistic M.C.’s., to “walking round and showing his muscle.” Meantime the “cow-cabbage hero” kept continually challenging him to another bout “in the reg’lar ring,” while starring it on sparring tours at Cambridge, Oxford, and elsewhere—​for Sambo was an immense favourite among the “’Varsity men.” At last the smoke kindled into a flame, and out came Nick, with a declaration that he would “no longer stand this black buffoon’s bounce.” Articles were accordingly signed, a match made for £50 a side, and the stakes deposited in the hands of old Tom Cribb. Tuesday, the 27th March, 1838, was named as the day, half-way between Birmingham and London as the 211 place of battle; for though the deposits were made in town it was not a metropolitan match. Nick Ward’s money was found by brother Jem and certain Liverpool supporters; while the funds for Sambo were readily raised, principally by some Oxford friends. Ward went into training at Crosby, near Liverpool, under the immediate eye of his brother and Peter Taylor. Sambo did his breathings and gymnastics at a village near Oxford city. Both men were reported to be in tip-top condition, and eager for the fray—​Nick to refurbish his tarnished reputation, and rub off the stain of pusillanimity, and Sambo, as he said, “’cos him like to hab anoder slap at Massa Ward, him so clebber at get away—​but p’raps not dis time;” and he shook his woolly nob like a black Burleigh. It was the desire of the London division that, under the shadow of the untoward result of the encounter between Owen Swift and Brighton Bill (March 13th, 1838), a postponement of the meeting should take place; but time would not permit, in those days of slow communication, to have a conference on the subject, so matters took their course. Ward, having won the toss, named Bicester, in Oxfordshire (the recent scene of the defeat of Byng Stocks, of Westminster, by Hammer Lane, of Birmingham), a town distinguished for the jovial character and sporting propensities of its inhabitants. Thither were the ropes and stakes sent. The Commissary being laid up with the gout, and unable to accompany them, Jack Clarke was deputed to officiate, he being on the spot, and acting as trainer to Massa Sambo. As we feel best satisfied when we write from personal observation, we may note that on Monday afternoon we found ourselves comfortably seated in a room at the “King’s Arms,” Bicester, a house distinguished for solid customers, and them boasting a host of high sporting quality. There was no bustle in the town, which at that time was quiet as a Quakers’ meeting; none of the “old familiar faces” were visible. The London Fancy—​and we think they were right—​had determined that all matches should be postponed for a certain period. Hence, not a single familiar phiz graced the scene. It is true the town was enlivened by the presence of Sir Henry Peyton, with his spicy four-in-hand, and there, too, was Lord Chetwynd, on his cover-hack; but we could not help thinking, as his lordship gave us a sly nod of recognition, that there was a curious expression in his jolly face, as he made us aware that there had been “magisterial business” at the Town Hall, as a sort of reason why we saw him there. This was soon confirmed by a sporting friend, whom we fearlessly set down as that lusus naturæ, “an honest lawyer.” He told us, with regret, that “the Philistines were 212 abroad,” and that the Home Office, urged on by the twaddle of “My Grandmother” (the Morning Herald), and the goody-goody papers, with the awful denunciations of the supineness or complicity of the magistracy of Cambridgeshire and Herts in the melancholy affair of Swift and Phelps, had sent down warnings and counsels for extra vigilance to the police and magistracy of Oxford and Bucks. That “all this was sooth” we had afterwards reason to find. Sambo, we learned, had been at Lainton, about two miles from the town, but, as a measure of precaution, he was moved from a public to a private house, and in the domicile of an honest yeoman met with that kindly hospitality by which this class of our countrymen was characterised. Here he was thought perfectly safe, and all that was now wanting was the arrival of Jem Ward, or some emissary from him, to agree upon some less dangerous point of meeting. It was understood that Ward had been advised to stop short of Bicester, but it was fully expected that he would appear at head-quarters to settle upon preliminaries. Every avenue was watched, yet up to nine o’clock no tidings of him were heard, and although the country was scoured over a circuit of three-and-twenty miles, after nine o’clock, in search of him, and every village visited, his presence could not be discovered, for the best of all reasons, that he had stopped short at Banbury, and did not come forward till the morning, nor send any person forward to announce his proximity. This was more than mortifying, for it was soon seen that the magistrates of Buckinghamshire became more active, and a constable was despatched by the venerable and amatory Sir John Chetwood, with a warrant for the apprehension of Sambo, which was backed by an Oxfordshire magistrate. The constable thus entrusted was more than usually active in his vocation, and endeavoured, by every means in his power, to ferret out his sable prey: an activity, no doubt, very praiseworthy, but which led him into an adventure far from agreeable, and certainly likely to remain impressed on his memory. While grunting about, like a boar looking for a pig-nut, he met with a wag who informed him, on a solemn promise of secresy, that Sambo was stowed away in a badger-box, which he knew to be placed in an enclosed paddock behind the house of the honest lawyer to whom we have already alluded, and whose zoological collection was known, far and near, as being of an extensive and curious description. “A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse,” so Mister Constable, cock-sure of having marked down his game, silently stole into the paddock, where stood the long badger-box, of which he determined, from that instant, 213 never to lose sight until its occupant should disclose himself. Night was fast approaching, but it was clear and fine, so, after duly reconnoitring, the “copper” cautiously approached the box, and, tapping on the lid, in soothing terms invited Mister Sutton to come out and surrender, as he was “wanted,” or else, badger or no badger, he must be “drawn.” As Sambo was about two miles off he made no answer, so the invitation was repeated in more peremptory tones, but with no more success. “Bobby” became irate at what he considered nigger obstinacy, so he turned the button and thrust his hand into the sacking, and so into the round hole at the top, with the view of lifting the lid. Rash experiment! the lawful tenant—​a badger, not of African, but of British breed—​was “at home,” but not to Home Office visitors. Without growl, bark, or other warning, the sharp-toothed “varmint” revenged the violation of his sanctum by seizing the digits of the assailant of his castle, and nearly severing the top joints of at least three of his fingers. The luckless constable raised so loud an exclamation that forth rushed a favourite old retriever hight “Nelson,” who gave tongue so loudly that, though “his bark was worse than his bite,” it was lucky he was on the chain, or, perchance, the seat of the rural’s inexpressibles might have been absent without leave before he succeeded in clearing the low wall into the high road, whence he lost no time in making his way to the village surgery, and thence, his dexter fin, as the police-reporters say, “enveloped in surgical bandages,” he hastened to “report” himself and his adventure to his superior officers. The mischievous author of the hoax did not fail to spread the story of the success of his severe practical joke, and for some time it was dangerous, but not uncommon, for labourers and impertinent boys to address the query to the Buckinghamshire constables of “Who drew the badger?” without receiving a civil or satisfactory answer.

On Tuesday morning Sambo was still at the house of his friend, few knowing his whereabouts; when it transpired that every route from Bicester into Northamptonshire was closely watched to prevent the escape of Sambo, or the approach of Ward. It was therefore determined to cover his retreat by a “ruse,” which was thus arranged. A countryman was engaged by a bribe to allow his face to be blacked with cart-grease and soot, his neck encircled by Sambo’s colours (white with a blue border), wrapped in a white box-cloth driving coat, and sent off towards Oxford at as good a pace as a pair of posters could carry him. But alas! great conceptions often meet with untoward interruptions. One of the Buckinghamshire 214 “badger-drawers” discovered from a chawbacon lout the exact hiding place of the sable-fox, and carried the intelligence to Sir John Chetwood; then returning, with the baronet close at his heels, he boldly knocked at the door of the house, which was opened by a servantgirl. Demanding to see her master, and the wench stoutly refusing him admittance, he gallantly pulled out a pistol, and presenting it, marched on in triumph. Walking into the back-parlour, “from information he had received,” he at once recognised the real Sambo, and, producing his warrant, made a quiet capture of his prisoner. At this moment Lord Chetwynd, with attendants, rode up and joined Sir John Chetwood, so that “the majesty of the law” was fully represented at the capture of his Sable Highness. On reaching the front of the house, however, Sambo made a cunning and bold attempt at an escape from his “buckra” enemies. In vain; he was quickly overtaken and secured, and forthwith conveyed to Buckingham. Our friend the “honest lawyer” was not far off. He went back to Bicester, took a postchaise and pair, enlisted a friend and “householder,” and without hesitation followed the captive “Black Prince,” put in the required sureties, and restored him to freedom. Meantime the first news was received of Ward, that he and his friends were at Middleton, a village three miles off, and were awaiting Sambo’s arrival. It was now too late. A Mercury was despatched to Nick and Co., advising him to make himself scarce, as he too might be “wanted;” a hint which was in season, for, in an hour after, Lord Chetwynd and company were on the road to Middleton, where they arrived in time to find that the bird had flown. Ward, his brother, and friends, of course returned to Liverpool, and Sambo, though “bound over,” was at liberty to dance, sing, tumble, spar, and “jump Jem Crow,” a free man in all things but a “free fight.”

Another twelvemonth of rustication ended in a match with Jem Bailey, a 12 stone Irishman (not “Bailey of Bristol”), and the fight was fixed for January 14th, 1839, the stake £25 a side. This went off in a forfeit by Bailey, as did another match made by Ward himself. In October, however, after some clever and vicious “gloving,” and a very strong expression of opinion by Bailey of Nick’s mode of “cutting” it when “tackled,” two spirited gents, in the habit of frequenting Alec Reid’s sparring-room, Frith Street, Soho, expressed a willingness to back Bailey for £25 against Ward, who immediately found backers to that amount among some amateurs in the art of self-defence, at Owen Swift’s, in Tichborne Street. As the match was only made about a week before the day 215 fixed—​October 18th, 1839—​there was not much time allowed for training. Ward went to Acton for two or three days, but Bailey, we are informed, did not employ his leisure hours quite so profitably as many considered he ought to have done under the circumstances.

On the Thursday the whole of the stakes were deposited in the hands of Owen Swift, at the “Coach and Horses,” Frith Street, Soho, in the presence of a numerous assemblage of the Fancy, when a long discussion ensued respecting the place where the fight should come off. On the part of Ward it was contended that “down the river,” would be preferable to any other place, inasmuch as they were the less likely to be interfered with in that quarter than if they went out of town per railroad, as the partisans of Bailey wished. It was, however, decided that Ditton Marsh should be visited, and the majority of those who were in the secret repaired to the Southampton terminus at Nine Elms, by nine o’clock on the following morning (Friday), while some who possessed fast “tits” preferred the road. The Fancy having comfortably seated themselves in the train, in the full expectation of not meeting with any annoyance by the presence of a “beak,” were not a little flabbergasted by observing Mr. Hedger and several other magistrates of Surrey enter one of the first-class carriages.

“What could they do there at that early hour?” was the very natural inquiry, which query was not satisfactorily solved till the gentlemen in Her Majesty’s commission took their departure at Kingston, where it appears their presence was necessary at the Sessions. Never did the lovers of boxing part company with their travelling companions with a greater degree of satisfaction than they did with their worships. Ditton Station having been announced by the attendants of the railway, the train was nearly cleared of its passengers, and the veteran Commissary and his coadjutor, Little Jack, were not long in fixing the stakes and ropes at the further end of the common, on the left of the station. Some delay, however, ensued in consequence of the articles not stating that the men were to fight in accordance with the new rules of the P.R., and the circumstance of several parties refusing to take office under the old regulations. Alec Reid, who wished the fight to proceed in accordance with the articles, at length gave way, and it was agreed the new, and certainly more manly and humane laws, should be adopted. All the necessary preliminaries were then adjusted, and the men entered the ring.

Previous to the commencement of hostilities a good deal of betting took place at 6 to 4 on Ward, and Bailey accepted those odds with an eagerness which showed he had great confidence in himself.


Bailey, a native of the Emerald Isle, in height 5 feet 11 inches, weighing 12 st. 2 lb., aged 28, was well known in the neighbourhood of Norwich, where they thought him good enough to match him against the renowned Brassey, of Bradford, on two occasions, on both of which he was, of course, thrashed.

King Dick and Harry Holt, the “Cicero” of the Fancy, attended on Ward; the Essex Youth and a gallant son of Mars waited on Bailey. All being in readiness, the men peeled, and at twenty minutes past ten commenced


Round 1.—​Neither, from the circumstances above stated, looked quite up to the mark as regards condition, but a smile of confidence played on the features of both. Ward’s attitude was easier and more scientific than Bailey’s, who stood in a straggling and ungainly manner. They kept at a respectful distance from each other for some time, when Ward let fly with his left, and caught his man on the top of the head; an exchange of blows ensued, when they broke away from each other. Bailey, however, soon made play, and in the close Ward went down.

2.—​No damage done. Bailey came up smiling to the scratch. He tried it on with his right, but the hit was too round to take much effect on Ward’s side; the latter then went to work, but neither in their exchanges did any mischief. In the close Bailey tried for the cross-buttock, but he slipped and fell.

3.—​Both quickly resumed business, and as quickly closed, when some fibbing ensued, which Bailey had the best of, and both went down together. [Loud shouts for Bailey, from whose mouth, however, a little claret appeared.]

4.—​The smile on Bailey’s mug soon disappeared on Ward popping in his left on the nob sharply, and another on the sinister ogle. In the close Bailey was under.

5.—​Bailey made play, but received a clean counter-hit just above his right peeper, which evidently severed one of the small veins, for the crimson stream spurted forth in profusion; Bailey then closed on his opponent, who went down.

6.—​The left hand of Ward was evidently damaged from coming in contact with the knowledge box of Bailey, who made play with his right, but was admirably stopped; a close, Bailey bored to the ropes, when Ward tried the upper-cut, but missed his man, who dropped down at the corner.

7.—​Bailey came up smiling, and a good fighting round took place in favour of Ward, who again went down at the close to avoid any punishment he might receive at infighting.

8.—​After some sparring Ward shot out his left bang on the mug of Bailey, and kept countering him till they closed, when Nick cut work for a time by going down. [Much dissatisfaction was expressed at Ward’s conduct in dropping.]

9.—​The frontispiece of Bailey exhibited marks of severe punishment, and in addition to other hits, his left cheek-bone had received a nasty one, still he came up to his man courageously, and in trying it on with his right received a counter-hit, which however, missed the intended spot, and fell on the shoulder; a close, when Nick released himself in the usual way by going down.

10.—​Ward again at work with his left, which slightly fell on the nob; a close, and before Bailey could get a good hit at him, Nick dropped.

11.—​Bailey made play, but missed his antagonist, and in a scramble Ward fell.

12.—​The expressions of disapprobation at Ward’s continually going down were now so general that Ward smilingly exclaimed on coming up to the scratch “Bailey, don’t find fault; why should you?” Ward tried his left, but was stopped; he then put in his right, which slightly took effect on the nob; a rally, when Ward dropped on his knees, and Bailey was very near hitting him in that position.

13.—​Ward put in a chin-chopper; a rally to the ropes, and both down together, if anything, Ward under.

14.—​The left hand of Ward quickly visited the headpiece of Bailey, who rushed in, but it was “no go,” for his man went down as formerly.

15.—​Ward led off, but missed the intended visitation, when Bailey went in, and for once succeeded in giving Nick the upper cut, which made a slight incision over the eyebrow.

16.—​Bailey again felt Ward’s left on the canister, and the latter got away without a return, and was quickly down.


At this point, twenty-five minutes having elapsed, a policeman well mounted was seen in the distance, and the combatants had the office to “cut,” which they quickly did. The man in blue on arriving at the ring pulled out his “toasting fork,” and requested an old farmer, named Weston (who was also mounted, and had previously appeared to take extreme interest in the battle), to point out the fighting men. The jesuitical veteran, with evident pleasure, was about doing so, but both men escaped unperceived to a barn opposite. As the policeman expressed his determination to follow the parties, and prevent hostilities, a council of war was held, and it was decided that the train should be again had recourse to, and Woking Common the place of rendezvous. The Woking station was reached a little after one, and in less than half an hour the stakes were fixed in a retired spot at the end of the lane across the Common.

Here seventeen more rounds were fought in about thirty minutes, when the same style of fighting ensued as that above described, Ward, however, not going down quite so frequently as heretofore. Bailey received additional pepper on his mug, while Ward scarcely exhibited any marks of punishment. Many of the rounds were remarkable for their non-effect on either side, and their scrambling struggles were more like those of two big boys at school than men in the P.R. In the 12th round Bailey had the best of it, but “bad was the best.”

A dispute arose in the 15th round, Bailey having slipped down without a blow, but the fight was ordered to be proceeded with. In the next bout, after a short rally, Ward dropped to avoid in-fighting, when Bailey certainly struck Nick on the ribs while he was on his knees. The referee, however, gave a contrary opinion, and the men came to the scratch for the 17th time at this place, and the 33rd in the whole. They soon went to work, and immediately after closing Ward went down, when Bailey, it was said, again struck him foul.

The referee was once more appealed to, who decided that Bailey, although evidently accidentally, had hit his man when down. Ward immediately proceeded to the corner to untie the colours, which was resisted by Bailey, who “pitched into him,” and bored him with his neck against the ropes. They were soon separated, and Ward left the ring with his friends, Bailey reluctantly following.

The fight, Bell’s Life remarks, did not in any way come up to the expectations of those who had travelled so far to witness it. Bailey is as game a man as ever entered the ring, but he has very little knowledge of 218 the art, and as for countering, it appears such an idea never entered his head. His position is also bad, being too wide and straggling. Ward is a scientific boxer, but he wants determination and the heart to go in and punish his opponent when an opportunity presents itself, many of which Bailey gave him, but they were not taken advantage of. We heard him declare that he had received orders to fight cautiously, but his frequent “dropping” at close quarters cannot, notwithstanding his instructions, be considered commendable. Had the fight been continued, we have no doubt Bailey must have been defeated, although his courage might have protracted the battle for a much longer time, for in each succeeding round he was receiving punishment without returning it with any visible effect. Ward’s left hand was puffed, which, with the exception of the slight cut over the eye, was all the injury he appeared to have met with, while the frontispiece of his opponent was very much disfigured by the continual jobs from Ward’s left hand.

The majority of the spectators left Woking by the three o’clock train, and were conveyed to town, a distance of 33 miles, in about two minutes over the hour.

This affair was followed by another match, and a deposit of £10; but at the second deposit at Peter Crawley’s, on the 14th January, 1840, Ward was announced as “too unwell to fight,” and the stakes down were handed over to Bailey, at Mrs. Owen’s, Belgrave Mews, on the succeeding Tuesday; Bailey on the occasion proposing a match with Deaf Burke, which “ended in smoke.”

In May, Nick Ward was matched for £50 with Brassey, of Bradford, but this also went off in a refusal on the part of Brassey’s friends to allow their man to fight for less than £100.

At length, in July, the long-talked-of tourney between Nick and the Deaf’un took shape and substance, and £50 were down, to be made £100, for the men to meet on the 22nd of September, 1840, over 50 and under 100 miles from London. To that day we shall, therefore, come, without further preface.

“Thayre you air agin,” as Paddy said to the pig in his potato-trench—​and sure enough “thayre we were, body and bones,” on Tuesday, September 22nd, in the self-same field, on the borders of Oxfordshire, in which Isaac Dobell (lately defunct) whacked his friend Bailey the butcher, on the 7th of April, 1828; and we can only regret that in modern times we have not had more frequent opportunities of witnessing those manly demonstrations 219 of “fair play” which the sports of the Ring are so admirably calculated to afford. But how did you get there? Why, to tell the truth, as far as we were personally concerned, with tolerable ease—​although not without incurring divers dangers by “flood and field”—​bekase the Commissary had kindly engaged us a postchaise; and we regret that many of our friends were not equally fortunate. To be plain—​the fight was fixed to come off within sixty, and above fifty miles from London, on the Liverpool line, and hence the Deaf’un, who won the toss for choice of ground, named Wolverton, the first “grubbing bazaar” on the Birmingham railway (about fifty-one miles from the Euston Square station), as the point of rendezvous. Thither, on the day before, the Commissary and his deputy (Tom Oliver and Jack Clarke) repaired with their materiel, and it was ascertained that “the Deaf’un and Co.” had taken up their quarters at the “Bull,” at Stony Stratford, while “Nick Ward and Co.” were domiciled in a village not far distant.

The morning broke most inauspiciously, and heavy showers damped the ardour of many a boxing patron, who, instead of advancing to Buckinghamshire, quietly sojourned in Bedfordshire. Still, there was a fair “turn out” of spicy dare-devils, who were not to be scared by trifles from their favourite pastime, hence the morning trains took down a moderate sprinkling of “the right sort.” On reaching Wolverton, however, great was their dismay at finding that there were but two postchaises at that station—​both of which had been pre-engaged—​and that of other vehicles there was a similar scarcity. Scouts were sent to Stony Stratford, but in vain; for the few that were there had already been secured by the early birds, and thus “a pilgrimage through the Slough of Despond” stared them in the face. Poor Stony Stratford is, alas! not what it was before railroads were in fashion. It is reduced to a mere sleepy, out-of-the-way village, instead of being as, in our time, a centre of bustle and prosperity: indeed, in recent memory it was the high and popular road to Birmingham, distinguished by the number of mails and stage-coaches which “changed” there, and the continuous demand for post-horses. Alas! “The Cock,” the sign of its principal inn, has ceased to “crow,” and the host, like Dennis Bulgruddery, often calls in vain upon his ostler Dan, to know “if he sees a customer coming that way?” Happily, Tuesday’s call enabled Dan to respond—​not that there was a customer coming, but many, and thus the ordinary gloom of every-day melancholy was roused into cheerfulness and hope. All the nags were soon engaged, and “the Cock” without and 220 “the cocks” within chuckled with satisfaction. The “Bull,” at which the Burkites were assembled, also became rampant, and “sich a gittin up stairs” had not been witnessed for months.

As the day advanced the bells of the parish church rang a merry peal, “set a-going,” as the facetious Jem Burn said, “in honour of the occasion;” but, as we afterwards learnt, with the double intent of announcing a couple of village weddings. By a singular combination, the face of the clock of the said parish church, in gilt letters, forewarned the travellers of the fact that it was either the handiwork of “T. Oliver and J. Clarke” or had been erected or repaired during the official service of churchwardens bearing those popular names; a fact which produced on the “dials” of the venerable Commissary and his deputy, as they waited for orders, a grin of scarcely repressible self-sufficiency. The “office” was duly given as to “the where,” and away went the Commissary and his pioneers to Deanshanger, about four miles distant, in the county of Bucks, followed by a goodly multitude, horse and foot, embracing a large proportion of British yeomen, to whom the dripping weather gave a timely relief from the labours of the field. On reaching Deanshanger, however, the fact of a couple of mounted “rural blues” being abroad rendered it prudent to move on, and hence the arena was finally formed at Lillingstone Level, on the estate of Colonel Delappe, on the borders of Oxfordshire; the journey to which locality, “through the woods and through the woods,” was trying alike to man and horse. In truth, a more heathenish road never was travelled since the times of the Druids; nor ever did the modern invention of springs undergo a more severe ordeal, while the be-bogged pedestrian railed with bitter inveteracy against the railroads which had subjected them to such unforeseen difficulties, by causing a dearth of the ordinary modes of “civilised conveyance.” However, “barring all pother,” we at length reached our final destination, and there found the lists in fitting preparation.

It was now nearly one o’clock, and all was completed; but, as might have been said to the mob who surrounded Tyburn tree, awaiting the arrival of Jack Sheppard, “there’s no fun till the principals arrive,” so here there was no fun till Ward presented his agreeable mug. It is true that the Deaf’un shied his castor into the ring before one, and claimed forfeit in consequence of the absence of “Young” not “Old Nick;” but as the appointed ground had been changed, and Ward and his friends had to scramble through the bogs with the assistance only of a one-horse 221 cart, sufficient excuse was afforded for his absence, and the claim was premature.

At last the signal of approach was given, and hailed with satisfaction. At a quarter past one Ward was on the ground, and the Deaf’un, who had retired to his drag, was handed forth amidst loud cheers.

Now came “the tug of war.” The belligerents entered the ring in high spirits, the Deaf’un attended by Harry Preston and Sutton, the pedestrian; Nick Ward by Dick Curtis and Levi Eckersley. They shook hands with mutual good will, and having tied their fogles to the stake (blue and white spot for Nick, and fancy white and green for Burke), they tossed for choice of corners, which was won by the Deaf’un. Each immediately proceeded to his toilette, and, “in the wringing off of a door-knocker,” was prepared for action. This was at twenty-five minutes to two, and as the rain had ceased, a “comfortable mill” was anticipated by a vast multitude, horse and foot, which surrounded the magic circle, and which was every moment swelling from fresh arrivals through cross-country paths.

On presenting themselves at the scratch the fronts of the heroes were duly scanned and criticised. Burke, for an old ’un, who had contended in seventeen prize battles, of which he had won fifteen and lost but two, looked remarkably well. His condition was quite up to the mark, and easy confidence sat proudly on his veteran phiz. His ample muscle was finely developed, and his weight was close upon 12st. 4lb. His nether extremities were clothed in a pair of drawers, composed of green and white, the combined remnants of bygone uniforms in which he had figured as the victor. Nick Ward was also in beautiful condition, and, in appearance, was all his friends could desire. His weight was about 12st. 10lb., and he had the advantage in height and length, as well as youth and freshness, over his opponent. Burke was born in December, 1809, and Ward in April, 1813, so that there was nearly four years’ difference between them. Previous to setting-to the current odds were 6 and 7 to 4 on Ward; but 2 to 1 had been laid, and his friends booked success as certain.


Round 1.—​The Deaf’un came up smiling, and Ward quiet, but serious. After a good deal of dodging, in which neither seemed inclined to commence, Nick tried his left, but was neatly stopped. Burke had evidently made up his mind to the “waiting game,” foreseeing that if he “led off,” the long left-handed prop of Nick, which was always ready, would be inconvenient to his frontispiece. Ward seemed as little inclined to go to close quarters, but again tried his left, which was again stopped. In the third attempt he touched the Deaf’un slightly on the cheek. Again did the Deaf’un stop the left, and Ward, putting his hands down, looked as if he would if he could, while the Deaf’un, following his example, grinned and exclaimed “It won’t do, Nick.” Into position 222 again, but Nick extremely cautious, and evidently not desirous of close quarters. Burke beckoned him to come, but the hint was more civil than welcome. Nick let fly with his left, but the Deaf’un caught it on his elbow. More hitting and stopping, when Nick crept in and let fly with his left, but was admirably countered. Nick’s knuckles, however, reached home first, and a slight tinge of blood was visible on the Deaf’un’s left cheek (first blood for Ward). The mark of the counter-hit of Burke also became apparent on Nick’s left cheek, and this was “trick and tie.” Again did they counter-hit with the left, and the Deaf’un showed blood from his mouth. Ward put his hands down again, and they looked at each other with patience. Burke clearly determined not to play Nick’s game, but to wait for his onslaught. Nick recommenced his manœuvring, but found the Deaf’un so well covered that he dared not try it, and he dodged about as before, trying the patience of the spectators, who repeatedly cried, “Go in and fight” Out went his left, but Burke stopped it neatly. Nick drew back, and the Deaf’un amused the folks with a few of his “hankey pankey” antics, and shaking his head, exclaimed, “’Twon’t do dis time, Nicks.” Long sparring; Nick hit short, and the Deaf’un popped his thumb to his nose. Curtis called on Nick to shoot with his left, but it was no go, and the Deaf’un, who can hear when he likes, cried out, “You knows all about it betters as we can tell you.” The Deaf’un stole a march and popped in his left on Nick’s cheek (cries of “Bravo, Deaf’un!” from his friends). Long pauses and mutual stopping. (Twenty-three minutes had expired, but no mischief done; Jem Burn called for a pillow, and Tommy Roundhead told the Deaf’un he had ordered a leg of mutton to be ready by eleven at night.) Nick at last nailed the Deaf’un on the jaw with his left and got away (cheers for Nick). A jackdaw, which flew close over the ring several times, now relieved the monotony of the sport, but on seeing his big brother, Molyneux, he cut it. Mutual stopping and waiting, but no business done. The Deaf’un put in his right on the body, and at last they got to a rally; heavy hits were exchanged, and the Deaf’un closed for in-fighting; but Nick fell, the Deaf’un on him. (This round lasted thirty-seven minutes, and excited general displeasure, from its want of animation.)

2.—​Both men showed marks of pepper from the close contact in the last round. Burke bled from the mouth, and Ward a little from the ear; but there was no real mischief done. Again did Burke wait and Ward stand off, still disinclined for close quarters. “Why don’t you go and fight?” resounded from all sides. “I’m ready,” cried the Deaf’un; “why don’t he come?” Fifty minutes had elapsed. The men approached and retreated several times, till at length heavy counters with the left were exchanged, and away; more dodging. The Deaf’un crept in and caught Ward under the left arm with his right; had it been over the shoulder and reached the ear, it would have told tales. Jem Ward exclaimed, “The day’s long enough, take your time, Nick.” “Ay,” cried the Deaf’un, “it will be long enough for me to lick him, and you afterwards.” Nick now got closer, counter-hits were tried, but stopped; each brought up his right at the jaw and closed, and the Deaf’un was disposed to continue his work, but Ward fell on his knees. The round lasted twenty minutes, and fifty-seven minutes had passed away.

3.—​Again was the long and tedious system of waiting adopted. Each dropped his hands, and Nick scratched his head, and rubbed his breast, but did anything but go in to fight, although Dick Curtis assured him the Deaf’un would “stand it” The Deaf’un laughed and shook his head, tried his right, but was short; in a second attempt he was more successful, and caught Ward on the jaw, just under the old cheek hit. Ward looked serious. At last Ward rushed in left and right; blows were exchanged, but the round was closed by Ward getting down. He was clearly playing the safe game of caution, and had no desire to throw a chance away. One hour and forty-three minutes had elapsed.

4.—​Cries to Ward of “Go in,” but he was deaf to the incitement, and “bided his time;” finally he stole upon the Deaf’un, hit left and right, and for a moment there was some tidy in-fighting, and a few exchanges; in the close the Deaf’un was down. Nick, we thought, hit open-handed. On the Deaf’un rising his “bellows heaved,” and it was clear this long sparring delay was searching his wind, while his damaged right leg seemed to get weak from long standing.

5.—​The Deaf’un let fly with his right and caught Ward on the shoulder—​well meant, but too low. Counter-hits with the left, when Ward planted three left-handed hits in succession on Burke’s nob. Burke slightly countered, but was getting slow, and bled from the mouth and nose. Ward improved his advantage and again popped in his left three or four times. The Deaf’un went wildly to work, but was short with his right, and his counter-hits with the left did not get well home. In a scrambling close Ward was down, and Burke was evidently distressed and not firm on his pins (4 to 1 offered on Ward).

6.—​Ward, seeing the condition of his man, determined to improve his advantage—​popped in a left-hander on the Deaf’un’s eyebrow, which he cut; a rally followed, and good hits were exchanged; in the close Ward down. A blow from Ward’s right, below Burke’s waistband, excited some discontent, but it was not objected to by the umpire.

7.—​Burke stopped Nick’s left, and planted his right counter-hits with the left, and a 223 smart rally. Nick hit with his hand open, but the returns were rapid, and in the close Ward went down.

8.—​Both showed punishment, but the Deaf’un had the balance against him and his left eye was swollen. A spirited rally, although wild; the Deaf’un was slow and short with his right. In the close Ward fell on his hands and knees. He still continued to play the careful game.

9.—​Burke steadied himself, stopped Nick’s left with great precision, popping in his right heavily on Ward’s body. Nick popped in his left and got to a close; the Deaf’un fibbed, but Ward soon got down, the Deaf’un falling by his side.

10.—​The Deaf’un hit short with his right, but Nick planted his left, when the Deaf’un bored in and fell on his knees—​Ward withholding an intended blow in time.

11.—​(Two hours had now elapsed.) Nick hit short with his left, and the Deaf’un nodded. Counter-hits on the masticators. The Deaf’un planted his right on Nick’s nose, and drew claret. Nick made play with his left, and the Deaf’un fell on his knees. The visit to Nick’s smelling organ seemed anything but acceptable.

12.—​Ward’s proboscis bleeding; but he seemed not to have lost his spirits, and let fly his left, which Burke stopped. Heavy counter-hits with the left, and the Deaf’un delivered a good body-blow with his right; Nick in with his left, and went down. It was now thought to be anybody’s fight, and the odds were reduced to 6 to 4 on Ward; but still it was apparent that the Deaf’un was distressed, while Ward was fresh, and careful of his corpus.

13.—​Nick led off with his left, and followed the Deaf’un to his corner. The Deaf’un stood on the defensive, but received two or three heavy hits right and left. In the close he fell under the ropes, and Nick also went down.

14.—​Nick saw his man was abroad, and the moment he was up set to work left and right. The Deaf’un fought boldly, but was slow, and had the worst of the punishment; still he made some good round hits, and Ward was down.

15.—​Nick went to work left and right; the Deaf’un became groggy, and fought wildly, missing several blows. Both down, Ward under.

16.—​Nick now saw it was all in his favour: he hit as he pleased left and right; the Deaf’un, all abroad, hit wildly. In the close Ward down, and the Deaf’un on him, weak.

17.—​The Deaf’un came up quite groggy, when Ward went to work left and right, having it all his own way; he drove Burke against the ropes, upon which he threw him on his back, and, while in that position, hit him heavily with his right till he fell over; cries of “foul!” here burst from the Deaf’un’s friends, in which others joined, and a general rush was made to the ring, overturning all those who sat close to it, including ourselves. The umpires disagreed, of course, but not being close to the referee, had to go round to him: pending this, Nick Ward stood up in the ring, while the Deaf’un was picked up and seated on Sutton’s knee. At last the referee was reached, and on being appealed to, pronounced, as he was justified in doing, “fair.” It was said “time” was then called, although, from our position, involved in a crush, we did not hear it. The hat was immediately thrown up, and the battle was claimed for Ward. (We ought to state that during the last four or five rounds there was a tremendous fall of hail and rain.)

Subsequent to the termination of the 17th round, and previous to the referee giving his judgment, it was stated that while Deaf Burke was seated on his second’s knee Nick Ward went up to him and struck him twice or thrice in the face, and also struck Preston, and subsequently there was a battle raging between him and Preston, and then between Preston and Jem Ward, close to the referee. We have been further informed that if “time” was called, Burke refused to prolong the fight, alleging that Ward had struck him “foul” while on his second’s knee, and before the decision on the previous question had been given. With respect to all this, we confess we are unable to give an opinion; because we saw no part of it, being glad to escape from the overwhelming mass by which we were overborne. Our impression at the time was that the decision of the referee was conclusive, and that Burke was unable to come again, although, from the time occupied in the discussion, it is not improbable he might have recovered his wind and have once more met his man; still, in our opinion, with very little chance of turning the scale in his favour; but there is no calculating on the chapter of accidents. Ward walked from the ring in full vigour, and was seen walking about little the worse for wear, beyond the closure of his left eye, and we believe he would have seconded Corbett in the next fight had it been permitted. The Deaf’un was conducted to his carriage, and, like Ward, on recovering his wind was not materially damaged. He contended he was entitled to the stakes from Ward’s alleged foul conduct. Ward was so elated that he boldly challenged the winner of the coming great fight between Caunt and Brassey for £100—​a challenge in which his brother Jem heartily joined.

Remarks.—​We must say that in this battle Burke exceeded our expectations—​his condition was far superior to that in which he fought Bendigo, and his style of fighting was excellent. He no longer gave his head as heretofore, but got it well out of mischief, and stopped beautifully, until exhausted by the protracted character of 224 Ward’s tactics, and the failure of his knee, on which he could not be persuaded to wear a cap, when he became slow, and was fatally exposed to Ward’s rapid and severe deliveries with his left. He fought manfully, and with no more than proper caution, and had Ward been disposed, would have joined issue in the first round. Ward, however, evidently fought to orders; both he and his friends knew that while Burke’s vigour was undiminished close contact was dangerous; and Ward has a very strong antipathy to punishment which can be avoided. This he showed, not only from his so long stopping out, but by his getting down at the end of the early rounds. The moment he saw he had got the Deaf’un safe, he threw off all reserve, and his youth, quickness, and vigour enabled him to gain an easy victory, which the increasing slowness and wildness of the Deaf’un rendered more certain. Of his courage, however, we cannot say much—​he wants “that within which passeth show,” and will never make “a kill-devil.”

The very next day the following notice was served upon the stakeholder:—

“I do hereby give you notice not to deliver up the stakes to the opposite party in the fight between me and Nick Ward, as I hereby claim the same from having received foul blows from my opponent, Nick Ward, while on my second’s knee, and before ‘Time’ was called. One of the umpires bears evidence that the last statement is correct, as a friend of the other umpire (Nick Ward’s) had taken away the only watch used for time-keeping, while he and my second, Harry Preston, were appealing to the referee with respect to a prior foul blow. My reason for entering the protest is in order that a meeting may be obtained with the referee and an appointed number of friends of each party, so that a proper and just arbitration may be obtained. I shall be prepared at that meeting to produce affidavits in confirmation of what I assert. My backers hold you liable for the amount of the stakes.

“24th September, 1849. “(Signed) JAMES BURKE.”

To this is added the following certificate from Burke’s umpire:—

Nick Ward and Burke.—​I hereby declare that no ‘Time’ was called after the appeal to the referee.”

Thus it would seem that this affair came to a wrangle, one of the misfortunes which arise from the headstrong folly with which the surrounding spectators rush to the ring the moment a dispute arises. Had they kept their places, nothing could have been more simple than the issue. The umpires disagreeing, the referee would at once have said “fair” or “foul;” and in the former, as decidedly must have been the case in this instance, “time” would have been called, and the men would have fought on, or he who refused to walk to the scratch would have lost the battle. But now comes a new position, all owing to the irregularity described, and of which we are persuaded neither the umpires nor referee had any knowledge whatever, except from hearsay. The obtrusion of any person within the ring, or close to the ring, until the fight shall have been fairly decided, is obviously wrong, and its mischief is here clearly demonstrated. The matter was now hedged round with difficulty, the decision of which could only be given by the appointed referee, and as he could not see the act complained of, his judgment was founded on the evidence submitted to him.


This decision quickly came, and was in favour of Ward, to whom the stakes were duly paid over.

Ward was now at the top of the tree, and confidence in his powers seemed to have come with victory. After sundry cartels and haggling about preliminaries, Caunt having defeated Brassey in October, Nick challenged Caunt for the honour of the title of “Champion.” Ben responded, nothing loth, and the subjoined articles were formulated by “the high contracting plenipotentaries”:—

“Articles of Agreement entered into this 8th day of December, 1840, between Benjamin Caunt and Nicholas Ward—​The said Ben Caunt agrees to fight the said Nick Ward, a fair stand-up fight, in a four-and-twenty foot roped ring, half minute time, within sixty miles of London, on Tuesday, the 2nd of February, 1841, for £100 a side, according to the provisions of the new rules. In pursuance of this agreement, £20 a side are now deposited; a second deposit of £10 a side to be made on Thursday, the 17th of December, at Young Dutch Sam’s; a third deposit of £10 a side on Monday, the 21st of December, at Peter Crawley’s; a fourth deposit of £10 a side, on Thursday, the 31st of December, at Jem Ward’s, Liverpool; a fifth deposit of £10 a side, on Friday, the 8th of January, 1841, at Owen Swift’s; a sixth deposit of £10 a side, on Thursday, the 14th of January, at Young Dutch Sam’s; a seventh deposit of £10 a side, on Monday, the 18th of January, at Peter Crawley’s; and the eighth and last deposit of £10 a side, on Thursday, the 28th of January, at the same house: the said deposits to be made between the hours of eight and ten in the evening, or the party failing to forfeit the money down. The choice of place to be decided at the last deposit by toss. The men to be in the ring between the hours of twelve and one o’clock, or the party absent to forfeit the battle-money, unless an earlier hour shall be mutually agreed upon at the last deposit, to which hour the same forfeiture shall be applicable. Two umpires and a referee to be chosen on the ground; in case of dispute the decision of the latter to be conclusive. Should magisterial interference take place, the stakeholder to name the next time and place of meeting, if possible on the same day. The use of resin or other powder to the hands during the battle to be considered foul, and the money not to be given up till fairly won or lost by a fight.

“Signed—​for Caunt—​Peter Crawley.

Do., for Ward—​Samuel Evans.”

On the 23rd of February, then, this anxiously anticipated meeting took 226 place, but resulted in a manner anything but satisfactory to the admirers of manly pugilism.

On the match being made, the men were quickly in training, Caunt under the wing of Peter Crawley, at Hatfield, near Barnet, and Nick Ward under the able supervision of Peter Taylor, near Liverpool. In point of condition there was no fault to be found; both were perfectly up to the mark, and in all respects judiciously prepared for their coming struggle.

According to the articles it was provided that the combat should take place within 60 miles of London. The choice of place was to be decided by toss, and this was won by the backer of Caunt, who named the vicinity of the Andover Road Station, on the Southampton Railway, as the place of meeting; thus imposing upon Nick Ward and his friends the necessity of coming a distance of upwards of 270 miles, after the Saturday morning, on which day only they could receive notice of the fixture. This circumstance produced a good deal of sore feeling among the Ward-ites, and on the morning of battle led to some angry expressions. We certainly think that the laws of “give and take” should have been observed in this instance, and that it was anything but considerate to have imposed so long a journey upon an honourable opponent. We believe that the selection rather arose from a desire to give “a turn” to the folks of Hampshire, than from any wish to take an unfair advantage of Ward. How this love of the “Hampshire hogs” was returned the vicissitudes hereafter described will show.

On the Sunday, Caunt and Hammer Lane, who were to exhibit in the same ring, arrived at the “Vine,” at Stockbridge, about ten miles from the Winchester Station, where they were joined by a select circle of their backers and friends, and on the day following Nick Ward and Sullivan (the opponent of Hammer Lane) reached the Andover Road Station, accompanied by Jem Ward, Peter Taylor, and other friends and admirers, to the great comfort of the railway officials, who obtained on that and the succeeding day a profitable accession of passengers. The owners of the houses of entertainment in the neighbourhood were not less delighted, but many, from the want of accommodation, proceeded to Winchester, where their patronage was equally acceptable. On Monday evening it was ascertained beyond a doubt that the “Hampshire hogs” were as stubborn as some of their namesakes in other counties, and the hostility of the beaks to the manly demonstrations of fair play in the Prize Ring was grunted forth by sundry official leaders of the rural police, by whom, however, it is due to say, every courtesy consistent with their situation was displayed. This 227 fact created additional unpopularity towards the original author of the disappointment, who was not less mortified than his grumbling opponents. There was no help for it, however, and in the evening it was agreed that both parties should meet the next morning at the village of Sutton, about four miles from the station, there to determine on the line of march. The Caunt-ites having ascertained that the affair might come off without interruption in the county of Wilts, proposed an adjournment in that direction; but as this step would have carried the Ward-ites some 14 or 15 miles beyond the stipulated distance of 60 miles from London, they peremptorily refused to budge an inch across the limit laid down in the articles, and the road back towards London was the only direction in which they would consent to proceed. This was the state of things on Monday evening, and on Tuesday morning, at half-past ten, the village of Sutton displayed a dense congregation of all classes, from the high-titled nob to the wooden-soled chawbacon. Carriages of all sorts, from Winchester, Andover, Stockbridge, Odiham, and all the surrounding post-towns, as well as from London and elsewhere, were huddled together in tangled confusion, anxiously waiting to receive the authorised “office” as to the road they should take. Among these the Commissary, in a light chaise cart, with the indispensable materiel of his calling, occupied a prominent position, while the belligerents in their respective drags patiently waited the order for advance. Amidst the turmoil, the superintendent and the inspectors of the rural police, attended by a number of constables, some on horseback and some in chaise carts, were preparing to do their duty, and to see the expectant multitude fairly out of their jurisdiction.

A council of war having been held at the head inn, Crookham Common, on the borders of Berkshire, and within three and a half miles of Newbury, was finally agreed upon as the scene of action, a distance of upwards of sixteen miles, through a country not very agreeably distinguished by a succession of steep hills, the ascent and descent of which tended not a little to retard the speed of the travellers, and still more to try the mettle of the nags upon whom this additional labour was imposed, while hundreds of the ten-toed amateurs were altogether thrown out of the sport. At Whitchurch the inhabitants were rather astonished at the sudden incursion of the cavalcade. Here there was a general halt for refreshment for man and beast, and, most ominously, the carriage in which Hammer Lane was placed broke down; an unfortunate fracture which was imitated by many other vehicles, which, for this particular occasion, had been drawn from 228 a retirement that previous wear and tear had led their owners to consider perpetual. After a short time “forward” was again the order of the day, and King’s Clere was reached in due course. Here was another halt, indispensable to men and cattle, and many of the jaded horses were for a time placed in stables, while the bonifaces received ample proofs of the beneficial effects resulting to the human appetite when whetted against the rough edge of a hard frost and a bracing atmosphere. It was now ascertained that the “land of promise” was within three miles of the village, and the Commissary was sent forward to make the necessary preparations for action, while the horses of the police, sharing the fate of their companions, were so knocked up that their masters determined to perform the rest of their journey to the verge of the county on foot, heartily sick of the ungracious office assigned them. In half an hour the general body made their final move, and, crossing the river Enborne, at last made their exit from the inhospitable county of Hants, and luckily sustained no further impediment. They reached the battle-field on Crookham Common about half-past three, quickly forming a spacious circle round the ring, which had been admirably prepared by the commissariat department. The ground was thinly covered with snow, and was as hard as adamant from the intensity of the frost, while a cutting breeze from the east, sweeping over the elevation on which the common is placed, left little ground of regret among those whose customary visits to their barbers had been neglected from the rapidity of their morning movements, as they were shaved free of cost. The assemblage, if not as numerous as might have been anticipated had not the move taken place, was in the honest sense of the word respectable, and many persons of bonâ fide distinction, both as to rank and station in society, studded the lively circle.

The umpires having been chosen, the difficulty of selecting a referee was presented in the same unpleasant aspect as in the then recent fight between Hannan and Broome,[23] but was at length got over, after a considerable argumentation, in the selection of a gentleman who, if not professionally engaged in the business of the Ring, was fully competent to decide any dispute which might arise, and who certainly discharged the duties of his unpleasant office with becoming firmness and determination, and, we must add, with perfect impartiality.

All being now prepared for combat, the men entered the ring, greeted 229 by the cheers of their friends. Caunt came forward, attended by Tass Parker and Johnny Broome, all sporting their “yellow men,” while Nick Ward made his bow under the friendly introduction of Dick Curtis and Harry Holt, each of whom displayed a fogle of blue and white spots. The men instantly advanced, and shook hands with apparent good-humour, Ward looked rather serious, while Caunt exhibited a nonchalance and gaiety which proved that he regarded the coming engagement with anything but personal apprehension. The betting round the ring at this moment was 5 to 4 on Caunt, with ready takers; and the preliminaries having been fully adjusted, the joust commenced.


Round 1.—​On getting into position, the scientific manner in which Ward presented himself, with his arms well up, prepared to stop with his right and shoot with his left, gave evident tokens of his being an accomplished member of the scientific school. Caunt also held his arms well up, but with a degree of awkwardness anything but calculated to lead the spectators to assume that he had taken his degree as a “Master of Arts.” He had evidently made up his mind to lose no time in commencing operations; he advanced upon his man, while Ward stepped back; Caunt, after a flourish or two of his mawleys, let fly with his left, but was stopped; Ward in return popped in his left and right slightly, and after a wild rally, in which neither hit with precision, and in which some slight returns were made, Ward’s left creating a blushing tinge on the big’un’s cheek, they closed, when Ward dropped, evidently disinclined to luxuriate in the embrace of his opponent.

2.—​Again the big ’un came up ripe for mischief, and made play left and right, but was neatly stopped; Ward then popped in his left, catching his antagonist on the nose; both then fought merrily left and right, but there a want of precision in Ward’s deliveries, his left passing the head of Caunt like “the idle wind,” and from the slippery state of the ground it was obvious that neither could obtain firm footing. Nick, however, contrived to plant two or three left-handed pops, and the round concluded by both slipping down. (Loud and encouraging shouts for Ward, whose friends seemed to deem it necessary to cheer him on to hopes of victory.)

3.—​Ward came up steady, prepared for the stop or the shoot. He waited for the attack, which was soon commenced by Caunt with vigorous but wild determination. He stopped left and right, but in his returns was short, his visitations not reaching their intended point of contact. Both in fact missed their blows, and no real mischief was done. Caunt rushed to a close, but Ward, still resolved to foil the grappling propensity of his opponent, slipped down.

4.—​Caunt came up resolved to do, but wild and awkward in his mode of attack. Nick waited for him, his left ready to pop. Caunt hit out with his left, but missed, and Nick in the return was out of distance. Counter-hitting with the left. Both stopped intended visitations. Heavy exchanges left and right, in which Caunt caught a stinger on the forehead and the nose, from the former of which blood was drawn, and declared for Ward amidst deafening shouts and exclamations of “It’s all your own!” A wild rally followed, in which Caunt caught Ward a crack on the nob with his right. In the close Caunt caught Ward in his arms, but he again went down.

5.—​Caunt tried a feint to draw his man, but Nick was too leary. He preserved his own position, evidently determined to nail his man with the left on coming in. Caunt, impatient, hit out wildly left and right, Nick broke ground and got away. On again getting to work Nick planted his left on Caunt’s eye, slight exchanges followed, but no serious impression was made, and Ward’s left passed over Caunt’s shoulder. In Caunt’s deliveries there was neither force nor accuracy. Ward getting nearer his man succeeded in planting a rap on his proboscis. Caunt instantly seized him in his arms and was about to fib, when Ward endeavoured to get down, but the big ’un held him too firmly, and fell heavily upon him.

6.—​On coming up Caunt exhibited symptoms of visitations to his nose and eye, as well as to his forehead, but still no material damage had been effected. Ward led off with his left, but the hit was short, and was attended with little effect. Caunt again closed, determined to give his man the benefit of a Nottinghamshire hug, but Ward frustrated his intention by dropping on his 230 knees. At the moment Caunt, determined to give him a compliment as he fell, let fly his right, which did not reach its destination (Ward’s lug) till Ward’s knees had actually reached the ground. (There was an immediate cry of “foul!” and the partisans of Ward, as well as his second, rushed to the referee to claim the battle. This was decidedly in opposition to the new rules, which prescribe that all such appeals shall be made to the umpires, and by them to the referee, and that no other person whatever shall presume to interfere. Amidst the turmoil and confusion of intimidation the referee remained silent until the umpires declared they disagreed, and when the question was then put to him deliberately pronounced “fair,” believing, as he said he did, that the blow was unintentional, and had commenced its flight before Ward was actually on the ground. All cavil was now at an end, and the fight proceeded; the friends of Caunt earnestly entreating that he would be cautious of what he was about, and be particularly careful in avoiding the repetition of the blow, which the falling system of Ward might unintentionally lead him to administer.)

7.—​Caunt came up as fresh as a sucking bull, and pregnant with deeds of mischief. Ward waited for him steadily, and let fly his left, catching Caunt slightly on the mug. Caunt hit wildly left and right, but missed; he then closed, again catching Ward in his forceps. Ward, however, renewed his dropping system, and slipped from between his arms on his knees, his hands up. While in this position, evidently down, Caunt instantaneously drew back his right hand, and hit him twice on the side of the head. The shout of “Foul!” was immediately renewed with redoubled ardour, and a simultaneous appeal was again made to the referee by some dozen persons who crowded round him, all vociferously demanding confirmation of their own impressions. This indecorous and disgraceful dictation was again manfully resisted by the referee, who, waiting with firmness till calmness was restored, listened to the appeal from the proper authorities, and pronounced the last blows to be “foul;” observing that Ward was clearly down upon both knees when the blows were delivered. Shouts of congratulation forthwith hailed Ward as the conqueror; a result which filled him with delight: and he quitted the ring with joyous satisfaction, scarcely exhibiting a mark of the conflict in which he had been engaged. Indeed of punishment he did not afford a specimen worth mentioning. The fight lasted but twelve minutes, and terminated at three minutes after four o’clock.

The backer of Caunt was naturally irritated at this disappointment of his hopes, and, sustained by the authority of an old ring-goer, contended that the decision of the referee, however honourably given, was in opposition to the rules of the Ring, for that by those rules it was provided, that it was necessary a man should have his hand on the ground, as well as both knees, before a blow given could be pronounced foul; and in this persuasion he said he should give notice to the stakeholder not to part with the stakes or the bets till the point was deliberately settled. The referee said he had given his decision with perfect impartiality, and he believed with perfect justice. In confirmation of which he turned to a copy of Fistiana, which he had in his possession, and quoted from thence (page 29) the 7th at Broughton’s Rules, which provides, “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.” He then quoted the 14th of the New Rules of the Ring (page 65), which provides, in the same spirit, “That a blow struck when a man is thrown, or down, shall be deemed foul. That a man with one hand and one knee on the ground, or with both knees on the ground, shall be deemed down; and a blow given in either of these positions shall be considered foul; providing always, that when in such position, the man so down shall not strike, or attempt to strike.” The articles having been framed according to the New Rules, this reference must be conclusive. It was contended, that in the battle between Tom Belcher and Dutch Sam, the Pugilistic Club had decided that a blow given when a man was on his knees, with both hands up, was not foul; but, as there was no written record of this decision, and as it is opposed both to Broughton’s Rules and the New Rules, the argument can have no weight, and the stakes, however easily and unsatisfactorily won, were of right given to Ward.

Remarks.—​Ward, in purchasing this almost bloodless victory, did not add much to his reputation. That he was entitled to the reward of conquest cannot be denied; but the opportunities of testing his improved qualities and courage were so limited, that it would be worse than hypocrisy to say he offered any peculiar claims to high praise. That he is more scientific than his opponent cannot be doubted; but it must be admitted that on comparing his tactics with the steady and cutting precision of his brother Jem, he has yet much to learn. Many of his blows were short, while others, well-intentioned, missed their aim—​a circumstance probably to be ascribed to the slippery state of the ground, and the unsteady manœuvres of his opponent. Whether, if the fight had been prolonged, he would have improved upon acquaintance, we cannot foresee. Regarding his courage, no particular exception can be taken, for although going down or trying to go down in every round is unsightly in the eyes of the spectators, and has the semblance of being opposed to the commonplace notions of a fair stand-up fight, yet, according to the 231 12th of the New Rules, it will be seen that such an expedient is allowable; that rule provides “that it shall be a fair stand-up fight; and if either man shall wilfully throw himself down without receiving a blow, he shall be deemed to have lost the battle: but this rule shall not apply to a man who in a close slips down from the grasp of his opponent to avoid punishment.” Here blows had been exchanged, and Ward obviously slipped down to avoid the punishment which Caunt had determined to administer. Moreover, it was to avoid the hugging end being borne on to the ropes which Ward evaded by slipping from the intended embrace. With regard to Caunt, we attribute the loss of the battle to his uncontrollable impetuosity. That he would have been defeated in fair fight by his accomplished antagonist is by no means a settled point, for although he showed marks of tapping, he was quite as fresh and vigorous as when he commenced, and was quite as likely to win in the last as he was in the first round. He has still, however, much to learn; he wants steadiness and precision, and the wildness with which he hits defeats his own object. In the use of his left, as well as in stopping, he has certainly improved, and we think, as his experience increases, he may become a greater adept in the art. He must learn to curb his impetuosity, and preserve that presence of mind the absence of which so speedily led to the downfall of his hopes in this case. So persuaded was he that he could have won, that immediately after judgment had been given against him, he declared he would make a fresh match, and post the whole hundred of his own money. It is singular that in his fights with Bendigo and Brassey he seldom lost a due command over his temper, although both these men pursued the same course of getting down as Ward. With regard to Brassey, his gift of punishment is far more severe than that of Ward, as the evidence of Caunt’s carved frontispiece on the former occasion sufficiently testified.

Here, once again, we will ask the reader to take our arm and stroll away from plain prose into the pleasant path of poetry, by presenting him with a Chant of the Ring about—


Hurrah for the Ring and the bunch of fives!
Like a giant refreshed the Ring revives,
It awakens again to vigorous life
To scare the assassin and crush the knife;
Then welcome to earth as the flowers in spring
Be the glory renew’d of the Boxing Ring,
And over each British boxer brave,
Long may the banner of fair play wave.
Let Puritans sour in accents shrill
Rave against Fistiana still,
And owl-faced beaks shake the nob and vow
To their fiat stern the Ring shall bow;
Let lobsters raw with their truncheons roar
“Disperse” to the pugilistic corps—
The pinks of the Prize Ring, in freedom nurs’d
Shall tell them undaunted to do their worst—
Shall proclaim to the traps ’tis weak and vain
To seek the brave boxer to restrain;
And better ’twould be by far to grab
Those who settle disputes by a mortal stab:
By Heaven, ’tis sufficient to make us blush
For those who are seeking fair play to crush,
To extinguish courage, and skill, and game,
And in letters of blood stamp England’s shame.
Keen is the morning, the glittering snow
Mantles the hills and the vales below,
The landscape around is bleak and bare,
Chill’d by the nipping and frosty air;
The north-east cold over land and sea
Is whistling a sharp, shrill melody;
But the sun is up, and the morning bright,
So hasten, brave boys, to the field of fight.
This day will decide whether Caunt or Nick
In the shape of conquest shall do the trick—
This day shall to Fancy lads declare
Which hero the Champion’s belt shall wear—
Whether Ben, the athletic, of giant limb,
Shall yield to young Ward, or Nick to him,
And after contention fierce and tough
Which combatant first shall sing “enough.”
From slumber rouse, let no time be lost,
Forward for Stockbridge through snow and frost,
Near which, when with creature comfort warmed,
Shall the stakes be pitch’d and the ring be form’d.
Strong was the muster upon that day
Of plebeians low and Corinthians gay,
But the beaks for Hants had in anger vow’d
No mill in their county should be allow’d.
Looks of despair the Fancy put on,
And determin’d to make a move to Sutton,
And thither hasten’d the fistic ranks,
With policemen hanging upon their flanks;
Then Captain Robbins, with gaze intense,
Cried, “Gentlemen, meaning no offence,
You mustn’t attempt, or I’m a liar,
To settle your matters in this here shire.”
Now suppose the Fancy, each peril pass’d,
As Crookham Common arriv’d at last,
Prepar’d for superior milling works
Without meddling traps in the shire of Berks:
Suppose the men in position plac’d.
With arms well up and with muscle brac’d,
Each champion seeming resolved to win,
For the love of glory, as well as tin!
But, ah! it is useless to recite
The details of this brief and no-go fight,
What pepper Nick dealt on the giant’s mug,
And how Caunt return’d with a Russian hug;
How Nick, though on serious mischief bent,
Dropp’d down to steer clear of punishment;
And how big Caunt, though in tip-top plight,
Hit his foe on his knees and lost the fight.
Yet hurrah for the Ring and the bunch of fives!
Like a giant refresh’d the Ring revives,
It awakens again to vigorous life
To scare the assassin and crush the knife:
Then welcome to earth as the flowers in spring
Be the glory renew’d of the Fighting Ring,
And over each British boxer brave
Long may the banner of fair play wave.

On the Thursday evening of the ensuing week, on the occasion of the giving up of the stakes, which took place at Young Dutch Sam’s, in Vinegar Yard, Drury Lane, Big Ben and his friends were “all there,” and a “motion for a new trial” was made and agreed to on both sides. 233 The articles, which were settled in the following week, will be found in a former page of this volume, in the Memoir of Caunt, who “reversed the former verdict” on the 11th of May, 1841, at Long Marsden, in thirty-five rounds, occupying forty-seven minutes.

This was Nick’s “Waterloo,” and his last appearance on any field. He became a publican, first in Liverpool, and then in London, and on the 17th of February, 1850, departed this life, at the “King’s Head,” Compton Street, Soho, the victim of a pulmonary attack.

[22] A detailed biography of this remarkable boxer will be found in the Author’s “Recollections of the Ring,” vol. i. “Pencilling,” III.

[23] See Recollections of the Ring and Pencillings of Pugilists. No. IX. Johnny Broome.




Take him for all in all,” the subject of this chapter, as a middle-weight, was “a man” of whom might be safely said “we shall not look upon his like again.” He was of the weight so often described by the “old school” as the “unlucky 11 stone; too heavy for the light, and too light for the heavy ones.” Yet at that weight it is indisputable that the finest specimens of skill, strength, and activity have been developed, where courage and endurance have been duly combined, “to give the world assurance of a man.”

Nathaniel Langham was born in May, 1820, at Hinckley in Leicestershire; his height 5 feet 10 inches, and weight, as already stated, 11 stone. Nat’s earlier years were passed as a country labourer’s are usually. In his boyish days he worked in the fields, and as soon as he was fitted, made his way into Leicester, where he was engaged by a tradesman, as he himself has told us, to “deliver goods with a horse and cart.” While in this town he attained, in the years 1841–1843, an insight into the more scientific manœuvres of the art pugilistic, for which he had a natural taste and instinctive aptitude, being much praised by Dick Cain, who often encouraged him to “put on the mittens” with rural roughs who might fancy their fistic abilities, and who gave Nat the best of tactical advice and instruction. Notwithstanding this episode of town life, it is certain that in February, 1843, Langham was again at his native village of Hinckley, for in Bell’s Life of February 12th we find the following paragraph, recording the first Ring fight of our hero:—

Nat Langham


From a Painting by Williams.

“A fight came off on Thursday last, near Hinckley, Leicestershire, between Nathaniel Langham, of Hinckley, and William Ellis, of Sabcote (an adjacent village), for £5 a side. The men were of pretty equal proportions, 235 each standing a little under six feet, but, if anything, Ellis is the larger man; he is an old fighter, and was considered by his backers (though they must now be convinced to the contrary) invincible. Langham, too, has appeared in the Ring before, and distinguished himself as a man of no small talent as regards his milling capabilities. The fight took place about eleven o’clock, when both men went to work hard and fast, Langham hitting well at his man, and getting his blows home. Ellis was unable to hit his antagonist with effect, and at the expiration of the eighth round showed his sense by giving in, having his peepers most effectually darkened, his lips cut, and other very visible marks of heavy and frequent visitations from Langham’s skilfully directed ‘fives.’”

Nat after this took his way to the great mart for all rising talent, the Metropolis, landing at Ben Caunt’s early in 1844. On the 7th of May in that year Langham found himself one of a pugilistic party, headed by Ben Caunt, on board of the “Nymph” steamer, outward bound in search of a convenient battle-field for the settlement of the “difference of opinion” between Joe Bostock (a former opponent of Johnny Broome) and Turner, the “Wychwood Forester.” This affair disposed of, by Bostock winning in thirty-four minutes, a purse was collected for “an afterpiece.” Thereupon Tom Lowe, a stalwart coal-whipper of some repute as conqueror in various bye-battles, and who afterwards beat Hurley at 12 stone, presented himself. Nat proposed to answer the challenger, and “Big Ben” gave his approval of the experiment. D’Orsay Turner, and Mike Driscoll seconded Langham, Jack Cullen and Ned Adams picking up Lowe. The battle was a curious, scrambling affair, according to the meagre paragraph which is afforded to it in Bell’s Life. In fact, it is within our knowledge that the reporter on this occasion had left the ring and gone aboard the steamer before it was known that a second fight was arranged. In the 43rd round, when Lowe was said to have “the best of the battle” (?) we are told, “On getting up from his corner Lowe, much to the surprise of most parties, went up to his adversary, and shaking hands with him, declined fighting any more; Langham was of course proclaimed the victor, after fighting 50 minutes.” We suspect the verbal amateur reporter of this affair did not know so much about Nat Langham’s capabilities as Mr. Lowe had found out during the 50 minutes he had faced him. At any rate, Caunt was so satisfied with his “novice’s” display that he offered to back him for £25 against any man of his weight. Langham also put forth a challenge to fight Joe Bostock, the conqueror in this day’s battle, “for £25, to meet 236 within six weeks of signing articles;” but Johnny Broome, who was behind Bostock, and than whom in his day there was no better judge, having availed himself of an opportunity of trying Nat with the gloves, would not have the engagement at any price, and so the affair came to nought. A clear twelvemonth now elapsed before Nat could meet with a customer, although we find him offering himself as a candidate for pugilistic honours at 11 stone, and give 7lb., for £25; money ready at “The Lion,” at Hinckley, or the “Coach and Horses,” St. Martin’s Lane.

In the month of June, 1845, Langham being then under the wing of Ben Caunt, an outsider presented himself at the Champion’s hostelrie, and in the course of conversation announced himself as “Doctor” Campbell; he was soon recognised as the successful opponent of Ben Hart, in a punishing fight of seventy-one rounds, which took place on the 3rd of November, 1842, in the Kentish marshes. A bout with the gloves with “brother Bob” (certainly no great “trial-horse”) was followed by the “Doctor,” who weighed close on 12 stone, declaring himself to be “in want of a job,” whereon Nat suggested to his patron Ben that he thought he could accommodate the “Doctor” by giving him a few pounds’ weight and a beating. Ben, who was ever close-fisted, offered to put down a “fiver” for Nat; and, as the “Doctor’s” friends were not flush of money, that modest sum remained without increase until the 12th of June, when Big Ben, as M.C., taking advantage of the hiring of a steamer for a more important “excursion,” shipped his man Nat, and conveyed him to the battle-field at Rainham Ferry, at which place “Doctor” Campbell and friends were in waiting. No contemporary report of the rounds is extant, but we know from eye-witnesses that Nat, though with small preparation, in the short space of thirty-five minutes so used his left “pickaxe”—​as it was afterwards expressively termed by no less a master of arts than Tom Sayers himself—​that the “Doctor” was completely “physicked.” In the 27th round he “retired from professional practice,” entirely disabled, and declined further contest, and never again showed within the ropes of the P.R.

Dan Hagerty, who had beaten Bill Amos, Jack Johnston, and subsequently the hard-hitting Aby Durell, was challenged by Nat for £25 a side; but Dan’s backers, after some conference, thought it best to leave the Leicester man alone, and a sov. down was forfeited.

Nat now retired into country quarters, and we next hear of him as matched with a boxer of great local renown, hight George Gutteridge, of Bourne, in Lincolnshire. Gutteridge, who was born in 1823, stood 237 5 feet 9 inches, and weighed 11 stone 7 lbs., began his rising career in April, 1845, by beating, in 23 sharp rounds, George Graham (known as the “Potter”); this he followed in June, 1846, by defeating Macdonald, of Derby (the conqueror of Jem Bailey and several others), in a slashing fight of thirty-five minutes, in which 31 rattling rounds were contested. About this time we saw Gutteridge in London, at Caunt’s, and a more likely young fellow for wear and tear, his pluck being undoubted, we have seldom seen. His skill as a fighter, like all rural champions, was, of course, ridiculously overrated; and when Ben pointed him out to us as “that’s the chap that’s matched against Langham, what do you think of him?” there was a sort of hesitancy in the Champion’s tone, that expressed anxious doubt for the safety of the “quarter of a hundred,” besides “training ex’s,” which he had invested on the “wager of battle.” Caunt having received £7 from Gutteridge’s friends, for the right of naming the place of meeting, Mr. Banton’s, New Inn, at Bourne, South Lincolnshire, was named as the rendezvous, and thither on the overnight of the battle, Tuesday, June 9th, 1846, Caunt, with Langham and friends, repaired. At 8 a.m. the men went to scale, Langham drawing 11 stone, Gutteridge 11 stone 8 lbs. Langham looked thin but hard, as if somewhat overtrained. Gutteridge showed wonderfully strong, though a trifle fleshy. An excellent ring was formed at South Farm Pastures, about three miles from Bourne, and around it was grouped a large attendance of the gentry, yeomen, farmers, and labourers, with a sprinkling of sporting men from Leicestershire and the Midlands. The order, good-temper, and we might say decorum of the assembly, and the conduct of the spectators throughout the fight, were an example to such gatherings which we despair in these days to see imitated, either down rail or river. Langham had for his seconds Dan Bufton and John Gill; Gutteridge was excited on by Homer Howden and his former antagonist “Potter George” (Graham). The colours, a canary yellow for Langham, and a blue and white spot for Gutteridge, being tied to the stakes, the men shook hands cheerfully, and the battle began, the current odds being 6 and 7 to 4 on Gutteridge.


Round 1.—​The attitude of Nat was by far the more artistic, though that of the Lincolnshire man was by no means awkward or constrained; yet he held his arms too close and across to deliver at a well-judged distance; accordingly, after a little sparring just to feel his way, Nat popped in a couple of such sharp facers, jumping back from the return, that the question of “first blood” was settled almost in the first hit, the crimson fluid trickling from Gutteridge’s left optic. The Lincoln man, who was evidently no flincher, went in ding-dong, Langham retreating perforce 238 from his determined rush, but delivering two or three cutting left-handers on his assailant’s frontispiece before he went down at the ropes on the saving suit.

2.—​Nat came up cool as a cucumber, with no visible marks of hitting save a red bump on his left cheek-bone, and a slight flush of colour which rather improved his complexion. Gutteridge, on the contrary, had a gaping cut over the right eye, a prominent blue mouse under the left optic, and his teeth were tinged from his cut lip. He rattled in undismayed, but got little by the motion, the balance of the exchanges being all in favour of Leicester. In a close, however, he gripped Master Nat, and embracing him, showed his superior strength by forcing him down and falling on him heavily. (Cheering for Gutteridge.)

3.—​Nat dodging in, and then retreating, to get his man to follow. Gutteridge, by advice of his seconds, refusing to do so, Nat woke him up by twice visiting his left eye clean over his guard, whereupon Gutteridge, stung by these long shots, rushed to close quarters, and after taking a prop or two fought Nat down in his own corner. (The Lincoln man’s friends in high glee.)

4 to 10.—​Langham seemed steady and cool, and none the worse for Mr. Gutteridge’s lunges, and the rapid rallies which followed at close quarters. Not so Gutteridge, whose portrait was gradually painted in crimson by a master-hand. Though there was active fighting on both sides, there was a somewhat tedious similarity in the rounds, Langham improving his lead in every bout, and Gutteridge failing in most cases, in clenching his adversary for the throw.

From the 11th to the 50th round Gutteridge showed himself dangerous, and with unflinching game every now and then raised the hopes of his partisans by remaining on his legs after severe exchanges of blows, then walking to his corner to seat himself on his second’s knee, while Nat, husbanding his strength, was tenderly carried, often sedan fashion, by his careful attendants to his appointed resting-place.

In the 51st round, to the surprise of all, Langham seemed to recover second wind; perceiving the shaky state of his brave opponent, he assumed the offensive, and delivered half a dozen hits left and right at arm’s length, the last of which sent down Gutteridge in his corner all of a heap; the first fair knock down. From this point the rounds became short, poor Gutteridge gradually losing almost every glimpse of daylight, coming up round after round until the 93rd, when, perceiving the last chance of his man had vanished, Hodgkiss threw up the sponge in Gutteridge’s corner in token of defeat, and Nat was hailed the victor of the day, after a severe contest of one hour and twenty-five minutes of active and actual fighting; Langham’s superiority as a boxer being evident from first to last.

At the giving up of the stakes at Caunt’s on the following Thursday, Angelo, of Windsor, was backed against Langham for £50 a side, but the match went off, Gutteridge’s backer posting a small deposit for a second encounter, which was covered on the part of Langham, who afterwards received forfeit, the Lincolnshire friends of the former considering the first judgment of the referee not likely to be reversed on a new trial.

William Sparkes, a hardy Australian, having fought his way to fame at the Antipodes, and made the voyage to the Old Country, in further search of “the bubble reputation,” was introduced in the early part of 1847 to the London Ring, under the patronage of Johnny Broome, and that ’cute observer at once commended him to his Corinthian visitors, as “just the sort of man to polish off Master Nat,” who, in the estimate of Johnny, “was dangerously clever, but had no constitution.” Sparkes, at this time, was certainly a fine, hardy specimen of a “corn-stalk” as could be seen in a summer’s day. Twenty-six years of age, firmly put together, round-limbed, muscular, and active, and not only bringing with him a belt as a pugilist, but also a trophy won by his fleetness of foot as a pedestrian “champion,” he was certainly a “representative man,” so far as Australian 239 prowess was in question. With him, then, Langham was matched, as champion of the honour of the Old Country, for £50 a side, and Tuesday, May 4th, 1847, was fixed for the final settlement of the question.

On that day, at an early hour, the “Nymph” being chartered for the voyage, the party embarked from the now-abolished Hungerford Market Pier, and thence dropped down to Blackwall, where, on the Brunswick Pier, a goodly muster of the Fancy had assembled, and where, also, a coal-tug or two, laden with “Cheapside” customers, were in waiting to follow in the wake of the Fancy “flag-ship.” From some petty jealousy, into the cause of which we do not care to inquire, Tom Spring, Peter Crawley, and a group of Corinthians here shipped themselves on board the regular Gravesend passenger-boat, instead of taking tickets by the chartered “Fancy” craft. Johnny Broome, who was in command, suppressed any mortification he might have felt, but did not the less determine to balance accounts with the Separatists, as the sequel will show. The “Nymph” cast off from the Blackwall Pier, and led the way towards Charlton, where Langham was taken on board, having been trained by Robinson (“Caunt’s Pet”), near Dartford; the Australian had already been shipped at Hungerford. While we lay-to off Charlton Pier, the Gravesend boat, with the two crowded tugs in attendance, pursued their downward course. Soon after, as the “Nymph,” at half-speed, was nearing Erith, Johnny Broome called “a council of war,” wherein he announced his resolution to disappoint those who had shown such a want of that unanimity which we had so often publicly advocated on these occasions. He proposed that we should “about ship,” and make a return voyage, leaving the “secessionists,” including the “tuggites” and the Gravesend passengers, to the enjoyment of their excursion, without the prospect of seeing the day’s mill, from the appointed and legitimate mode of being present at which they had thus wilfully disentitled themselves. His arguments were unanswerable. The bow of the “Nymph” was quickly put up stream, the tide was flowing, and back we went; indeed, almost before the downward voyagers were aware of our change of course, we were steaming through the Pool, and thence pursued our way, never stopping until Nine Elms Pier was reached. There the men and their friends disembarked, and, availing themselves of a train by the South Western Railway, proceeded to Woking Common. On arriving, the Commissary and assistants quickly prepared a ring, on the ground where Barnash and Martin fought a fortnight previous; and in half an hour, the party having refreshed themselves meantime at a neighbouring 240 hostelrie, a select party of about one hundred spectators surrounded the roped enclosure, heartily laughing at “the sell” practised upon the “Secesh,” who had cut themselves off by their own want of esprit du corps from witnessing the fight. Among the disappointed were some “knowing ones,” who, in those days of “pigeon expresses,” had carried down their feathered messengers, with the view of conveying to their London confederates the first news of the battle and its result.

At half-past two o’clock the combatants entered the lists; Langham esquired by D’Orsay Turner and Barnash, Sparkes seconded by Sam Simmonds (of Birmingham) and Joe Rowe. The “sestette” shook hands in a friendly manner, and the men proceeded to their toilettes, while umpires and a referee were chosen. All preliminaries being adjusted, and the colours (white with a scarlet border for Sparkes, and a blue birdseye for Langham) knotted to the stake, the men toed the scratch for


Round 1.—​On throwing themselves into position, the advantage on the part of Langham as to height and length was obvious to all, while the brawny frame of the Australian showed him to be the more powerful of the two. He stood with his left arm straight out from the shoulder, with his right hand well up, his body being inclined backwards in an extraordinary manner. Langham threw his arms about quickly, as if to put the Australian off his guard, but in vain. At length Langham led off with his right, which was twice cleverly stopped. Sparkes made play, catching Langham slightly on the side of the jaw with his left. Langham again tried his left, but was again stopped. In another attempt he was more successful, and caught the Australian on the nose slightly. Sparkes closed, delivered two good body blows, and both were down. (The opinion round the ring was that the Australian was far from being the “novice” that he was anticipated to be.)

2.—​Langham led off at the nose with his left, and got on smartly. Sparkes returned heavily with his right on the body and side of the head with his left, knocking Langham off his legs. (First knock-down for Sparkes, amidst some astonishment.)

3.—​Langham immediately led off, getting slightly home on the body. Sparkes dashed in, hit up on the forehead, then fibbed his man in the ribs with the right, and Langham got down.

4.—​Langham made play and worked in at his man, who got cleverly away. Sparkes then went to him, delivered his favourite body blow, Langham staggered back against the ropes, and got down.

5.—​No hesitation on either side; Sparkes stopped two well-intended compliments from his adversary’s left. Counter-hits exchanged, Sparkes getting it on the nose twice, but without impression. Langham slipped down.

6.—​Sparkes tried his left and right, but was short in both attempts. Langham jobbed him in the left cheek heavily, and got down in the half-arm hitting, evidently not anxious to test the strength of his adversary in a close.

7.—​Langham led off with his left, but Sparkes met him with a heavy hit on the body, and Langham went down.

8.—​Langham again tried to lead off, but the Australian was as quick as himself, countered him in the forehead, Langham getting in sharply, at a well-judged distance, on his adversary’s nose, from which he displaced the bark, and drew first blood. Sparkes delivered his right heavily on the ribs, knocking Langham down for the second time.

9.—​Langham first to fight, catching Sparkes on the side of his nose, Sparkes returning heavily on the chest and ribs with both hands, and Langham down.

10.—​The men rushed together, and after a slight exchange of hits, Langham slipped down.

11.—​Langham commenced by delivering his left heavily on Sparkes’s left eye. Sparkes caught him on the forehead with his left, on the body with his right, and Langham got down.

12.—​Langham delivered on the left cheek, received a slight body blow, and got down. Sparkes by far the stronger man.

13.—​Good body blows were exchanged. Langham then planted upon his adversary’s nose with his left; Sparkes let fly at the body, and Langham was again down.


14 and 15.—​Sparkes forced the fighting, but Langham jobbed him heavily as he came in. Sparkes delivered very slightly on the ribs, and Langham got down leary. [The fighting was extremely quick, no round having lasted half a minute. Fourteen minutes had now elapsed.]

16.—​Langham got well in on the side of the head with his left twice as Sparkes tried to bore in. Counter-hits exchanged, Sparkes napping it on the nose, and Langham on the body. The latter then slipped down.

17.—​Good counter-hits and a sharp rally; a close, in which Langham fibbed his man in the head, and after a short struggle both were down, Sparkes this time under.

18.—​Sparkes led off, getting in one on the ribs with his right, and his left on the forehead, but too short to be effective. Langham seemed to have got the measure of his man; he jobbed him heavily in the left eye and on the cheek, and got down.

19 to 21.—​Similar to the last. Rapid fighting, Sparkes occasionally putting in a body blow, Langham jobbing him severely in the head, and getting down in the close.

22.—​Langham led off with his left, catching the Australian heavily on the side of his head; Sparkes returned on the nose, but not heavily. Langham then planted his left severely on Sparkes’s right cheek, drawing the claret. Sparkes closed, threw his man, and fell over him.

23.—​Langham tried to open with sparring on the defensive, but Sparkes forced the fighting. Heavy exchanges left and right, those of Langham drawing more blood from Sparkes’s cheek and eye, Sparkes still fighting at the body. Langham eventually got down.

24 to 32.—​Langham took the lead in these rounds, Sparkes hitting with less precision; Nat repeatedly jobbed his man heavily in the face, but Sparkes was thorough game, and would not be denied; he occasionally put in a body blow which sounded all over the ring; Sparkes’s left eye was fast closing, and his right cheek showed marks of punishment. In the 32nd round, in a rally, Langham caught the Australian a severe blow with his right on the left ear, from which the blood was quickly seen to flow. Langham showed no marks beyond a slight swelling on his forehead, and a redness about his ribs. So quick was the fighting that only 32 minutes had been occupied up to the close of this round.

33.—​Sparkes changed his style a little and hit higher, declining to be drawn on. He sent his right well home on Langham’s jaw; Langham returned with his left on the left eye-brow, which he cut. Sparkes then got in his right on Langham’s left eye, on which he raised a slight mouse. Langham got down in an attempt by Sparkes to close.

34 and 35.—​Langham met his man as he came in with well-directed jobs, the Australian still fighting at the body. In the latter round he closed, and threw Langham, falling on him.

36.—​Counter-hits; Langham catching his adversary heavily on the left ear, again drawing blood. Sparkes rushed in, delivered his favourite body blow, and again knocked Nat clean off his legs.

37.—​Langham came up slow, the last hit had evidently shaken him. Sparkes rushed at him to follow up his advantage, but Langham stopped him right and left, got away, and ultimately slipped down.

38.—​Langham, still keeping away, propped the Australian as he came in, and got down.

39.—​Langham had not yet recovered himself from the visitation in the 36th round, but Sparkes could not get the lead, as his man not only stopped cleverly, but got away immediately he went to him, and eventually slipped down.

From this to the 58th round the same style of fighting was continued; the men commenced work immediately on arriving at the scratch. Sparkes’s body blows came in occasionally with great force, but some were stopped by Langham very prettily, and the latter recovering his strength, he jobbed his man severely in the head. Sparkes’s right eye was following suit with his left, which was quite closed, and blood was drawn every round from his ear or cheek. The rounds were almost invariably finished by Langham going down to avoid the struggle and throw. In the 50th round, after a few rattling exchanges, Sparkes, for the fourth time, sent his man to grass, with a heavy right-handed hit in the ribs.

59 to 61.—​Langham propped his man heavily as he attempted to come in. Sparkes, however, fought with unflinching courage, and would not retreat, and often bored Nat down.

62.—​Langham got home on Sparkes’s neck, Sparkes returned on the ribs. A close followed, in which Langham was down, with Sparkes on him. Sparkes unfortunately had his right arm under his man, who fell heavily on it, and, as it afterwards appeared, broke the bone of his forearm. On coming up for the 63rd round, Sparkes held his right arm up, but was quickly compelled to drop it, from the pain he suffered. Langham went in and milled away until the Australian went down. From this to the 67th and last round Sparkes came up bravely, keeping his right arm close to his side, and attempted to plant upon his man with his left; it was of course in vain. Langham was too good a strategist to be planted on, and working in with both hands upon the game fellow in each round, punishing him until he went down. He was repeatedly asked by his seconds to give in, but in vain; his game was such that he almost disdained to sit on his second’s knee until the call of time. At length, in the 67th round, Johnny Broome entered the ring and threw up his hat in 242 token of defeat, after a contest of 68 minutes, and even then it was with the greatest difficulty that Sparkes’s seconds could prevent his rising and rushing at his man to have another “shy.” A gamer or more fearless boxer never entered the Ring.

Remarks.—​Langham in this contest confirmed the opinion we entertained of his former fight with Gutteridge. He is a clever, scientific fighter, good on his legs, and a heavy hitter; and although the practice of getting down is anything but commendable, still, with a determined adversary, possessing superior bodily powers, every allowance must be made for the caution of a wily general. He evidently saw that to struggle with such a man as Sparkes would be attended with no advantage to himself, and he therefore determined not to throw a chance away. His superior length, and his quickness in meeting the Australian hero as he came in, in a great measure protected his mug from damage; but the fact of his leaving the ring with scarcely a scratch was mainly to be attributed to the style of Sparkes, who, when he fought at the head, invariably hit too high to do damage. Sparkes proved himself one of the gamest fellows that ever pulled off a shirt; he is a hard hitter, and stops with great neatness; but in Langham he contended with an adversary who had the advantage of him in every respect except in strength and courage (the latter attribute was not, however, wanting in either man). Notwithstanding the severe punishment he received about the head, however, he came up as strong on his legs at the end as at the commencement of the fight, and in almost every round declined all assistance of his seconds to carry him to his corner. Had it not been for the accident to his arm in the 65th round, the contest would, no doubt, have lasted longer, possibly with a different result. As to style, however, Langham was the superior fighter. The affair concluded, all returned to town per train, and “The Nymph,” in attendance at Nine Elms, conveyed her cargo to the port whence they embarked. The battle money was given to Langham at Ben Caunt’s. This is the first time that Sparkes was beaten, having fought in and out of the ring in N.S.W. with several men. His last four adversaries were Chas. Wooten, of Nottingham (N.S.W.), for £25 a side; Joe Marshall, of the same place, for £50 a side; Bill Davis, of Liverpool (N.S.W.), for £100 a side (after the conquest of whom he received his belt); and “Tom the brewer,” for £100 a side.

The stakes were presented to Langham at Ben Caunt’s, when a collection was made for the losing man. This was considerably augmented on the Friday week following at a benefit given to Sparkes at Johnny Broome’s. Of course the “tuggites,” and some of those thrown out by Johnny’s strategic movement on the previous Tuesday, were loud in their denunciations of his “shameful conduct,” as it was termed. At these Johnny laughed, while the sporting Press reminded them that “they had only themselves to blame for their disappointment.”

Nat’s victory over Sparkes was certainly calculated to place him in the very front rank of middle-weight boxers, and from this time until the beginning of the year ’51 he was “laid up in lavender,” until after all sorts of negotiations, and breaks-off with all sorts of men, some too heavy, and others thinking themselves too light, unless Nat (who had never much to get off in the way of flesh) could consent to reduce himself, Harry Orme, though more than half a stone heavier, was proposed. Orme’s defeat of Aaron Jones, in December, 1849, had proved him a strong, resolute, and formidable, if not a scientific boxer, and his friends, thinking his chance a good one, entered into articles for £50 a side, the battle to be decided on the 6th of May, 1851. On this occasion Nat was doomed to experience his first and only defeat, after a contest which Bell’s Life characterises as “one of the gamest battles the 243 annals of the Ring can boast;” the details of which will be found in the ensuing chapter in the Life of Harry Orme.

Langham, who was always a well-conducted, steady fellow, now went into business as a publican at the Ram Inn, Bridge Street, Cambridge, where he won “golden opinions from all sorts of men,” securing the patronage of many University undergrads, and for two years none cared to dispute his title as “Champion of the Middle-weights,” a distinction a quarter of a century ago fully recognised at a period when the heavy weights had certainly sadly degenerated, though the time had yet to come in which “the Championship of England” should be held by a boxer under 11 stone!

So highly were Langham’s capabilities in his contest with Orme esteemed by all who witnessed that gallant fight, that his name was continually to the fore, not only in Cambridge, but among the Corinthians who held their conversaziones at Jem Burn’s, at the “Rising Sun;” at Owen Swift’s “Horseshoe;” at Limmer’s Hotel, and “The Corner;” while among the knowing ones who frequented Ben Caunt’s “Coach and Horses,” at Peter Crawley’s “Duke’s Head,” and places further east, all were of opinion that “Clever Nat” was not to be beaten by any man who had not a great pull in respect of weight.

There was, however, a sporting-house, unnamed by us as yet, situated in a street off the once-famed Seven Dials, where lived an ex-pugilist (recently deceased) who was unquestionably as good a judge of the merits of a fighting man as ever lived. This was Alec Keene, of the “Three Tuns,” Moor Street, Soho; and there were not a few Corinthians who often threaded their way through the intricacies of Soho to have a palaver with Alec Keene, and learn his straight opinion as to the chances of the competitors in some coming fight, or as to the advisability of backing this or the other candidate for a match. Among these we remember “young” Sir Robert Peel, his gallant brother William (both of them splendid boxers), Lord Ongley, Lord Drumlanrig, Sir Edward Kent, Colonel Higgins, Lord Winchilsea, cum multis aliis.

Now, among the special pets of Alec foremost stood Tom Sayers, whose merits Keene was the first among the professionals to fully perceive and boldly declare; and he never ceased to use his influence in finding him backers, in which he was zealously seconded by Harry Brunton.[24]


After Tom had beaten Jack Martin, in the January of 1853, both he and his friend Alec (who acted as his second on that occasion) were confident that the championship of the middle-weights was well within his reach, notwithstanding the admitted excellence of Nat Langham. Consequently, after many discussions and conferences, the money was made all right, and a challenge was issued from Moor Street, in which Tom announced his readiness to meet the redoubtable Nat on his own terms. There was some laughing in Air Street at Tom’s audacity, and in St. Martin’s Lane, although in the city on the Cam lots of “collegians” were ready to find a bit of Nat’s money. It was soon ascertained, however, when Langham had accepted the challenge, and a match had been made to fight for the sum named, on the 18th of October, 1853, that although Langham was the favourite, his adherents had only to offer the slightest shade of odds in Tichborne Street or Soho to be at once accommodated to any amount they desired.

Both men went into active training at an early period. Nat, whose long rest had rendered him somewhat rusty, retired to country quarters, under the care of Jemmy Welsh, who had to give him a full dose of work to bring him, without any loss of power, within the stipulated 11st., though at this period Nat’s fighting weight was only two or three pounds in excess of that point. However, his training went smoothly on, without a break or a hitch of any kind, and, as will be seen presently, he was brought to the post in prime fettle. Tom, on the other hand, who had, as usual, gone down to the neighbourhood of Brighton—​his mentor and attendant being the celebrated pedestrian, Bob Fuller—​encountered quite a series of mischances. He first caught a severe cold, almost deserving to be called an influenza, which stopped him in his work. This was followed by an ugly breaking out on his face and chin, which certainly did not indicate that his blood was in its ordinary healthful condition. No difficulties of this kind dismayed either Tom or his backers, and, consequently, Bell’s Life on the 16th of October was enabled to announce that both men were well and full of confidence. In consequence of the day fixed for the fight being the opening day of the Warwick Meeting, there had been an endeavour to alter the day to the Monday previous, but as this was the settling-day for the Cesarewitch, the alteration would have been no improvement, if, indeed, not rather the reverse, as backers and bookmakers would both be compelled to show at Tattersall’s—​the lucky backer of Haco to receive, and the unfortunate followers of the ill-fated Nabob (who was second that 245 year in both the great handicaps to the turned loose youngsters, Haco and Little David) to part with what had so nearly brought them safe home.

On another account it was fortunate that the fixture remained unchanged, for on Monday the rain came down in an almost ceaseless downpour from morning till night, and the Corinthians and professionals who assembled at Caunt’s and Alec Keene’s in the evening, to obtain their tickets for the excursion, and the straight tip as to the time and place of departure, prognosticated somewhat gloomily as to the weather possibilities of the morrow.

Fortunately, these prophecies were falsified by the event, and shortly before eight o’clock, as hansom after hansom dashed up to the Eastern Counties Railway Station, in Shoreditch—​the directors had not yet become sufficiently aristocratic to call it the Great Eastern Station, Bishopsgate, nor had they attained their grand terminus at Liverpool Street—​their occupants shook hands heartily with the first acquaintance they encountered, and congratulated themselves on the bright October sun, which was making even the dingy East End look moderately cheerful. At half-past eight the train started, and after a pleasant journey of about three hours, past Cambridge, Ely, and Mildenhall, pulled up at Lakenheath, in Suffolk, and the living cargo, which numbered not less than four hundred, among whom were most of the Corinthian supporters of the Ring, who had come down under the special care of Jem Burn, invaded and overran the little station.

For the benefit of those who slumbered too long to refresh the inner man satisfactorily before leaving, a copious breakfast had been provided by Mr. Moore, of the “Old Rum Puncheon,” Moorfields, who, we are happy to say, still survives in this year of grace, 1881, the hale and hearty host of the “Royal Standard” at Walthamstow. Ample justice being done to this repast, we found that Tom Oliver, assisted by Tom Callas, had decided on the spot for the ring, in a field about two hundred yards from the stopping-place. While the stakes and ropes were being placed in situ, Dan Dismore attended to the sale of inner ring tickets; and the character of the gathering may be inferred from the fact that about one in five of the travellers elected to become purchasers of “privilege” cards. The men having made their toilets, Sayers, just at half-past twelve, shied his castor into the ring, following it himself, with his seconds, Alec Keene and Bob Fuller. Tom received a loud and hearty greeting from his partisans; and this had hardly 246 died away when the cheers were renewed as Nat Langham entered, attended by the accomplished Jemmy Welsh and Jerry Noon, who was equally clever as a second when—​as upon this occasion he did—​he could refrain from those eccentric performances for which he was notorious, and which, however amusing they might be to the spectators, were anything but useful to his principal. On this particular day Jerry was on his good behaviour, and did not once attempt to raise a laugh until the fight was over. Immediately on entering the ring Tom and Nat, who were “old pals,” shook hands with great cordiality, evoking the cheers of the onlookers, who were delighted at this proof that the combatants were actuated only by the desire to win fame and reputation, and, in fact, realised the description of the prizefighter by the poet:—

Who are sworn friends to one another,
And first shake hands before they box;
Then give each other plaguy knocks,
With all the love and kindness of a brother.

This episode completed, the referee and umpires having taken their places, the seconds retired to their corners, and all was attention as the men approached each other and began


Round 1.—​On toeing the scratch the knowing ones eagerly scanned the appearance and condition of the men, in order, if possible, to gain thus some indication of the possible issue of the combat, and a few bets were made at 6 to 4 on Langham. There was a wide contrast between the men, both in appearance and condition; Langham was long and lathy; his frame was evidently that of a man who had seen severe work, and—​to all appearance—​not likely to last through the wear and tear of long-continued exertion. There was a smile of good-humoured confidence on his mug, however, that showed how little he feared the result of the coming combat, while his condition was simply perfect, and reflected the highest credit on his trainer. Sayers, on the other hand, although he looked—​as of old—​broad, strong, and burly, was clearly overburdened with flesh—​the 5lb. he scaled above his accustomed 10st. 7lb. being palpably all to the bad. The breaking out on his chin and face, already alluded to, certainly did not give one the idea of his being in a perfect state of health, and it may well be that to the fact of his not being in his best form may be attributed an anxious look about his eyes, so different to the gay, laughing confidence he exhibited in his other fights. Both men, on taking up position, stood with their legs too wide apart; their guards were neither easy nor graceful, nor was there anything strikingly artistic in their attitudes. They began with a good deal of sparring, and, at length, Langham let go his left, but did not get quite home. Caution was again the order of the day, until Langham once more got within distance, and tried his left a second time, just reaching Tom’s chest. Sayers now tried to draw his man, but Langham was not to be had. Sayers, therefore, approached him, when Langham popped in his left on the cheek, and then the same hand on the nose, and got away. Sayers soon followed him up, and Nat, as he retreated, again sent out his left on the cheek. More sparring now took place, and, at length, counter-hits were exchanged, Nat catching Tom on the chin and drawing first blood from a pimple below his mouth. Sayers now bored in, and caught Nat a nasty one on the forehead, from the effects of which Langham went to grass. (First knock-down blow for Sayers.) Little merit, however, could be attached to it, as the ground was in such a state from the previous day’s rain as to render it difficult for Nat to keep his legs, and the hit rather helped him to grass than fairly sent him there. Having now had an opportunity of judging and comparing the men, the betting settled down 247 to 5 to 4 on Nat, the odds being principally due to Tom’s obviously bad condition, and to the fact that, having lost the toss for choice of corners, he had to fight with the sun in his eyes.

2.—​In this round Nat commenced the saving game, which he persisted in throughout the fight, and after planting a tap on the mouth, and receiving on the forehead, slipped down.

3.—​Both men ready to the call of time, and Langham led off, but the blow fell short on Tom’s chest. A second attempt was more successful, as he got home a heavy spank on Tom’s snout, from which the ruby was instantly visible. Left-handed counter-hits followed, each getting it slightly on the cheek, and Nat, in getting back again slipped down.

4.—​On getting within distance both went to work. Tom made his left on Nat’s cheek, and his right rather heavily on his ribs. Heavy counter-hits followed, in favour of Nat, whose length here gave him the advantage. Tom napped it again severely on the smeller, just between the eyes, and returned on Nat’s side of his head and his short ribs, the latter a sounding right-hander. Langham now retreated, and, as Tom followed him up, pinked him twice in succession with effect on the nozzle, drawing more claret. Sayers returned slightly on the ribs, and again was met by Nat on the mouth and left eye. Sayers continued to persevere, occasionally getting in a little one on Nat’s ribs, but Nat in this round appeared to have it his own way; he propped his man repeatedly on the nose and mouth, and then on the dexter eye. Again and again did Sayers go to it, but Nat jobbed him with it severely on the old spot, and at length finished the round by going down, Sayers walking away, his face brightly crimsoned by Nat’s handiwork.

5.—​Nat, on getting his man, let go with his left with great quickness on Tom’s nose, completely over his guard. Sayers then went to in-fighting, and got home his left on the side of Nat’s knowledge-box, and, after a slight rally, both went down. A claim of foul was made, that Sayers had hit Nat while down, but it was not allowed, the men being on the ropes when the blow was delivered.

6.—​Tom came up grinning, but his mug was in anything but grinning order. Langham, as usual, led off, but Tom jumped away. Tom now feinted, let go his left on Nat’s jaw, and then repeated the dose without return. Some rattling exchanges followed in favour of Sayers, and in the end Langham fell.

7.—​Langham attempted to plant his left, but was out of distance. Two more efforts were frustrated by Tom jumping away. Nat was not to be denied; he went in, and some rattling exchanges took place in favour of Sayers, who got home on Nat’s cheek and ribs with severity, and received one or two on the kissing organ, from which more pink was drawn, and Langham in getting back fell.

8.—​Langham dodged his man, and again popped in his left with great quickness over his guard, turning on the tap. Sayers returned slightly on the cheek, and, on trying to improve upon this, was countered heavily on the mouth. This led to some rapid exchanges in favour of Sayers, who got home heavily on the ribs and jaw, and received on the nasal promontory. The round finished by Langham going to earth apparently weak.

9.—​Sayers came up with a visible puffiness under both eyes. Langham, as usual, led off on Tom’s mouth. Sayers returned left and right on the canister and ribs, received another little one on the nose, and then lunged out with his right a sounding spank in the side. Langham retreated, and was followed up by Tom, who caught him on the mouth with his left, and Nat, after an ineffectual attempt to return, fell.

10.—​Langham stepped back to draw his man, who came for it, and again napped an awkward one on the snout. Sayers tried a return, but was short, and got another smack on the nose for his pains. Counter-hits followed, Nat getting it rather heavily on the left eye, and Tom on the nose. Nat, after placing a little one on the nose, fell on his south pole.

11.—​Langham opened the pleadings by another well-delivered spank on the proboscis, from his left, over Tom’s guard. It was wonderful to see how completely Sayers’s index seemed to be within reach of Nat’s straight-darting deliveries. Left-handed exchanges followed, but Sayers appeared to hit short. Langham delivered again with severity on the bridge of the nose, when Sayers made a one, two (the left on the side of the head, and his right on the ribs), and Langham got down on the saving suit.

12.—​A pause now took place, and some mutual feinting and dodging, it being “bellows to mend” on each side. Nat at length tried his left, which was prettily stopped. Sayers now went in, made his left and right on the nose and ribs, but not heavily. Langham retaliated on the nose, which led to some slight exchanges, and a close, at the end of which both fell, Langham under.

13.—​Sayers attempted to take the lead, but was propped heavily on the snuff-box. He, however, got in his right with severity on the ribs, and then his left on Nat’s cheek. Nat’s returns were rendered abortive by the activity of Tom, who again visited his ribs heavily with his right, and Langham fell, Tom falling over him.

14.—​Langham resumed his lead, and got well on to Tom’s damaged nose and mouth. Sayers’s nose and cheeks puffing visibly, to the great danger of his clear sight for attack or defence. Tom countered him heavily on 248 cheek and ribs, and Langham fell, Tom on him.

15.—​Sayers went to his man, planted his left on the side of Nat’s brain-pan. Langham returned on the neck with his right, a round hit, and fell in getting away.

16.—​Nat sent in his left, over Tom’s guard, upon his nose heavily, and again turned on the main. Good counters followed, Nat on the nose, and Tom on the neck heavily. Exchanges, in which Tom got on to Nat’s left cheek, and Langham got down, Sayers falling over him.

17.—​Langham was short in two attempts with his left, and a third was stopped, when Sayers dashed out his left, getting home on the ribs. Langham returned with good effect on the nose, and both fell.

18.—​Long sparring until Nat let fly his left on the old spot. Tom made his right on the ribs, but again got a nasty crack on the side of his cranium, and Langham got down.

19.—​Nat was again short in his lead. Tom was more successful, got home his right on the ribs, and Nat was again down.

20.—​This was a good round on both sides. After a little sparring Langham tried his left, but Tom jumped well away. In a second attempt Nat got slightly home on the chest, and then on the nose. Sayers countered him on the mouth, and then some exchanges took place, in which Nat hit the straightest, Tom’s blows appearing to be open-handed. Sayers now went in, but got it heavily on the nose from Nat, who fought on the retreat. Tom followed him up, got well home on the jaw, and then on the nose and left eye, knocking Langham clean off his legs. (A fair knock-down blow.)

21.—​Tho last blow delivered by Sayers was evidently a stinger, as Nat’s left peeper and nose showed the effects of it. Tom immediately led off, got in his left and right on the nose and ribs without a return, and then, closing, threw Langham a back-fall, and fell heavily on him. (5 to 4 offered by an enthusiastic backer of Tom’s.)

22.—​Hitting over Tom’s guard Nat got well on Tom’s nose, but Sayers returning heavily on the mouth, Nat got back, and fell.

23.—​Odds of 5 to 4 on Sayers were now freely offered all round the ring, and he certainly seemed to have much the best of it, was full of confidence, and at once opened proceedings by sending in his left heavily on Nat’s ivory-box. The latter tried to get away, but Tom followed him up closely and again landed on the mouth, avoiding the return. Severe counter-hitting followed, in which Sayers again got on to Nat’s mouth, but received on the smeller, and then Langham went to the earth in a decided state of weakness.

24.—​Sayers, attempting to force the fighting all he could, again led off on Nat’s left cheek, and Nat retaliated on the nose heavily. Tom retreated, and, on going to it again, popped in his right on Nat’s commissariat department. He tried a repetition of this, but napped it severely on the nose for his pains. After some sparring Tom reached Nat’s ribs, and the latter, reaching his own corner, got down.

25.—​Sayers, first to begin, delivered a little one on Nat’s nose, but the blow wanted steam. Nat retreated, and as Tom followed him, Nat jobbed him on the nozzle, again disturbing the cochineal; and on receiving a little one on the chin Nat dropped.

26.—​Nat began the attack by a successful endeavour to resume his lead. He got home heavily on Tom’s left cheek, which led to exchanges in favour of Nat, who repeatedly met Tom in the middle of the head. Tom got in one or two on the ribs and chest, and one on Nat’s left peeper, but not heavily. Nat returned on the face, and in retreating slipped down.

27.—​Langham again made play on Tom’s nose, the cork being drawn. He got in a little one on the ribs in return, and Nat fell, Sayers on him.

28.—​On coming up Nat led off, but misjudged his distance and was short, the blow falling on Tom’s cheek. Tom sent out his left, but got a very heavy one on his mouth in return. Some heavy exchanges followed, in which Tom got well home on Nat’s cheek, from the effect of which Nat fell.

29.—​One hour had now elapsed, and still there was no decided lead. Langham was again short in his opening deliveries, and Sayers, after returning on the left cheek, closed and threw his man, falling heavily on him.

30.—​Nat’s left once more fell short of its destination, when Tom let out his left and caught him on the mouth; Langham returned quickly on the nose, from which once more the ruby trickled. Slight exchanges followed, and Langham fell evidently weak.

31.—​Sayers led off, caught Nat a heavy cross hit with his left over the left peeper, inflicting a deep cut and drawing the carmine; he in return had his cork drawn by Nat’s left. Some exchanges followed, in the course of which Tom again opened the cut over Nat’s left ogle by a heavy hit from his left, and Nat fell.

32.—​Another good round. Nat’s left peeper looked the worse for wear, but he came gamely up, and as Tom led off he countered him on the nose. Some exchanges followed in favour of Sayers, who got well on Nat’s left cheek, and received a return on the cheek-bone. They now got to work in earnest, and some ding-dong fighting took place, as if both thought this the turning point of the battle. Each got it heavily on the frontispiece, Sayers re-opening the cut over Nat’s left eye, and receiving one or two awkward reminders on the cheek and nose. A break away followed, and then Langham again went up to his man, who met him on 249 the left eye another heavy spank. Nat returned on the nozzle, and immediately afterwards received another reminder on the sinister peeper, and fell. This was a capital fighting round, exhibiting the determined resolve of both men.

33.—​Sayers led off, got home slightly on the throat, and received a heavy one from Nat’s left on the right cheek. Excellent counter-hits followed, Tom on the cheek and Nat on the right peeper, and Nat then got down.

34.—​Long sparring, Langham evidently wanting wind, and Tom not much better. At last Nat went to work, got well on Tom’s damaged nose with his left, and stopped Tom’s return. Sayers tried again, and succeeded in reaching Nat’s throat, when the latter again fell.

35.—​Another fighting round. Good counter-hits, each receiving on the left eye. A break away and more counter-hitting, Sayers on the left peeper, and Nat well on the nose. Langham now lunged out his right with great force, but, luckily for Tom, the blow missed its destination, and Nat, overreaching himself, fell.

36.—​Nat, on coming up, showed his left peeper in deep mourning, and nearly closed; he was evidently weak, and the friends of Sayers were up in the stirrups. Sayers feinted, and let out his left, which reached the damaged optic, re-opening the former wound. Langham was short in his return. Sayers twice got home his left on the throat, but was stopped in the third attempt; he afterwards succeeded in reaching Nat’s left cheek, and the latter, after an ineffectual attempt to return, got down.

37.—​In spite of the punishment he had received in the previous round, Langham was first up, and he sent out his left, but Tom jumped quickly away, returned heavily on the forehead and ribs, and then fell.

38.—​Some ineffectual countering, after which Sayers got nearer, and put in a little one on the left eye. Nat retreated, and on being followed by Tom, who delivered straight on the mouth, got down weak.

39.—​There could be no question as to the gallantry with which both men were fighting, and although appearances were in favour of Sayers, there were not wanting those who saw the danger lying before him, and among these must assuredly be numbered Nat’s clever seconds, under whose directions and advice Langham now seemed to devote himself to land just one blow on Tom’s swollen nose, or on one of his puffy eyes, and then to get down with as little punishment and as little exertion as possible; for it was impossible to conceal Nat’s weakness, and it was decidedly a moot point whether he would be able to hold out until Tom could be forced to “put up the shutters.” Nat tried to lead off, but was stopped. Sayers attempted to return, but Nat sent out his left very straight on the left eye, and on Sayers again coming on, he delivered the same hand on Tom’s damaged smeller, and drew more claret. Tom made his left slightly on the cheek, and Nat at once went to grass.

40.—​Tom let go his left, got slightly home on the chest, and Nat, after returning with his left on the forehead, fell.

41.—​Sayers tried to take the lead, but Nat jumped quickly away; Sayers followed him up, when Nat met him with a sharp tap on the left eye, and then another left-hander on the cheek. Sayers persevered until he got home his right on Nat’s ribs, when the latter again got down.

42.—​Nat led off, caught Tom heavily on the left cheek and then on the brow. He tried to repeat the visitation, when Tom caught him sharply over the right peeper, drawing blood, and Nat got down. Nat’s length and cleverness were conspicuous in his left-hand deliveries.

43.—​Sayers rushed in, but Nat countered him on the left peeper. Sayers got in his right heavily on the bread-basket, and Nat fell.

44.—​After a little sparring, the men got close together, and some sharp counter-hits were exchanged, Tom getting well on to Nat’s damaged left peeper, and receiving on the right cheek. Nat now attempted another delivery, but overreached himself and fell.

45.—​The temporary revival of Langham’s strength seemed at an end. Sayers let go his left, got home on the cheek, and Nat, who was decidedly in “Queer Street,” again went down sick and weak.

46.—​Nothing done. Nat got down as soon and as easily as he could manage it.

47.—​Sayers led off, and caught Nat over the left ogle; this led to some counter-hits, in which Langham got home heavily on Tom’s right peeper, which was now pretty nearly closed from the repeated hits on the nose and its exposure to the bright rays of the sun. Langham received a little one on the left cheek in return, and fell.

48.—​Tom led off, but was countered by Nat on the left eye. In a second attempt Nat stopped him, and then popped him heavily on the nose, drawing more of the ruby. Nat succeeded in planting another heavily on the left peeper, and Tom fell for the first time for many rounds.

49.—​Things looked by no means so cheerful for Sayers’ backers, for although he was by far the stronger man on his pins, he now came up bleeding from both eyes, his seconds having been compelled to lance them while he was in his corner to prevent his going blind. He dashed in, aware that although much the stronger man on his legs, he must be in total darkness if he did not finish his man soon. Slight exchanges took place, Tom getting it on both eyes slightly, and returning, but without effect, on Nat’s mouth, and in the end Sayers was first down.

50.—​Sayers once more dashed in but was met by Nat on the left peeper. Tom 250 returned slightly on the body, and Langham again went to grass, apparently weak.

51.—​Tom rushed in, delivered his left heavily on the conk, and then his right on the ribs without a return, and Nat dropped.

52.—​Tom again went to work, caught Langham on the side of his nut; Nat returned on the left peeper, and then slipped down.

53.—​Tom led off, got home on Langham’s left eye, but the blow lacked force, and Nat fell, Sayers falling over him.

54.—​Sayers stepped in with his left, but was short; he tried it again, catching Nat on the waistband. Langham attempted a return, but Sayers jumped away. Nat again lunged out, but, overreaching himself, fell.

55.—​Nat seemed to shake himself together, went up to his man, led off with his left on the right cheek, and got away. Sayers followed him up, when some sharp exchanges took place, Nat reaching Tom’s damaged snout, and once more turning on the tap. Tom returned the compliment on the left cheek, and Langham fell weak, Tom falling over him, not much better off.

56.—​It was now clear that Tom’s peepers had not many minutes to remain open, and he therefore at once led off, but was out of distance; in a second attempt he caught Nat over the left peeper, but received another hot one on the nose in return. He would not be shaken off, however; he followed Nat and let fly his left on the jaw. Sharp counter-hits followed, Sayers on the mouth and nose, and Nat on the right ogle, and Langham fell.

57.—​Tom at once rushed in, but was stopped. His next effort reached Nat’s mouth, and the latter got down.

58.—​Both were nearly pumped out, and it was evident that a chance hit might finish Langham, while Sayers, if he could not deliver that hit, must soon “cut it.” The men let fly simultaneously, each getting it on the frontispiece. A break away followed, after which Tom reached Nat’s left eye, but not effectively. A close, in which Tom caught his man with his right as he went down, and then fell on him.

59.—​Langham went to his man, delivered his left heavily on the nose, and received a little one on the jaw. He then rushed at Sayers, who stepped back, and Nat, missing his mark, fell.

60.—​Sayers’s fate was sealed; like Jack Broughton in the memorable account of Captain Godfrey,[25] he might have exclaimed, “I can’t see my man; I’m blind, not beat. Only let me see my man and he shall not gain the day yet!” Tom rushed in open-handed. Nat stepped on one side, met him as he came on the left peeper, and then beside the nose. Tom persevered, but Langham easily avoided him, and then propped him in the mouth heavily. Tom continued to bore in, and got in a round hit on the side of Nat’s head, whereon Nat returned with his left just behind Tom’s ear, and both fell. Sayers evidently all abroad.

61 and last.—​It was beyond a doubt now that Sayers could not see what he was doing or where he was going, and there were loud cries from his backers of “take him away,” which Alec Keene was anxious to do; but Tom, full of pluck as ever, resolutely refused to give in, and swinging his arms, walked deliberately to the scratch. He lunged out, but could not judge his distance, and Nat, waiting for him coolly until he came again, hit him heavily on the right eye. Poor Tom struck out wildly and altogether at random, and Nat getting out of his way delivered a heavy left-hander on the left eye, which put up the other shutter, and he rather fell than was knocked down. On being helped to his corner, despite his entreaties, Alec Keene, seeing there was no hope, threw up the sponge, and Langham was proclaimed the victor in this truly gallant struggle, after a contest that had been protracted for two hours and two minutes. Immediately the fiat had been pronounced in his favour, Nat walked across the ring to shake hands with his defeated opponent, who shed bitter tears of disappointment and humiliation, while Nat, seeming to acquire fresh strength from the consciousness of victory, contrived to leap over the ropes, although five minutes before he could hardly stand on his legs.

Remarks.—​Nothing could possibly be farther from our thoughts or wishes than any attempt to detract from the gallant achievements of Nat Langham in thus maintaining his title as middle-weight champion, and also earning a lasting fame as the only man who ever licked Tom Sayers. Still, in fairness to the beaten man, it must be remembered that Sayers was at that time by no means either so good a boxer nor so strong a man as he became a few years later, when he defeated one big man after another. Moreover, his defeat was palpably owing to his want of condition, in consequence of which his face puffed up and his eyes closed with far less punishment than he could otherwise have taken scatheless. But when all allowances have been made, the fact remains, that the gallant Nat did defeat the otherwise invincible Tom, and thus worthily dosed a pugilistic career, which, like Sayers’s, had only once been clouded by defeat. Nothing could be more deserving of the highest praise and warmest admiration than the cool courage and calculating generalship with which, when he found that the superior strength of his adversary was likely to prove too much for him, he at once adopted the only system of tactics likely to serve him, and deliberately set to work to avert defeat by blinding his opponent. How skilfully he 251 carried this plan into effect we have seen, and it is interesting to remember that Sayers never forgot the lesson he had received, but himself put it into practical effect on the occasion of his fight with Heenan.

Sayers’s gallant stand was duly appreciated by his friends, and upwards of fifty pounds were collected for him in the train during the homeward journey. Immediately he had recovered his eyesight Tom challenged Langham to another trial of skill, but Nat announced his retirement from the Ring; and, further, his opening of the “Cambrian Stores,” Castle Street, Leicester Square, where he decorated a showy lamp, bearing his name and the inscription, “Champion of the Middle-weights.” At this period our hero developed into a publican; for your successful pugilist is a publican in chrysalis, so sure as a caddis shall become a May-fly in due season. Sayers, however, had also become the landlord of the “Bricklayers’ Arms,” in his favourite locality of Camden Town, and demurred to Nat’s lamp and inscription. “Here am I,” said he, “ready for all comers, Nat Langham included. He has been beaten by Harry Orme, who has retired, and I have been beaten by him. As I do not believe myself conquered on my merits, but by inferior condition, I claim the Championship of the Middle-weights.”

The introduction of Harry Orme’s name is irrelevant, as Orme, Aaron Jones (12 stone), Tom Paddock (12 stone), Harry Broome (12 stone), claimed and fought for the actual and unlimited “Championship,” during the interregnum closed by Tom Sayers’s successive disposal of Aaron Jones, Bill Perry (the Tipton Slasher), 13 stone, Bill Benjamin (Bainge), 12 stone, and Tom Paddock. Quitting this point, however, Nat’s reply was conclusive. He had espoused the niece of Ben Caunt, had settled down, and did not see why he should risk all these “hostages given to fortune,” by trusting what Captain Godfrey calls in his sketch of Broughton, “a battle to a waning age.” Langham’s health, too, never robust, was by no means A 1, and he prudently preferred leaving off a winner, as disposing of such a boxer as Tom Sayers was by no means what betting men would call a “safe thing.” He, therefore, in a brief epistle declined Tom’s cartel, and told him he might paint his lamp at the “Bricklayers’ Arms” in any way he chose; meantime that he, Langham, had won the title of Middle-weight Champion and meant to wear it, and certainly should not transfer it from Castle Street to Camden Town; and there the controversy closed.

We should here close the history of Nat Langham’s career in the P.R. 252 but for the regrettable incident of his rescinding his commendable resolution of retirement four years later, in 1857, in the September of which year, owing to some domestic jars with his relative and neighbour, “Big Ben,” the ill-assorted pair met in battle array to decide their fistic merits, also who should forfeit a stake of £100 to the other, and to settle a family feud in which the public could not feel the slightest possible interest. How they did not achieve either of these three results will be found fully set forth in our account of their drawn-battle, in the Life of Caunt, in Chapter II. of the present volume.

Langham, in his later years, was host of the “Mitre” tavern in St. Martin’s Lane, and died at the “Cambrian,” Castle Street, Leicester Square, September 1st, 1871.

[24] Harry Brunton still flourishes (June, 1881), it cannot be said in a “green old age,” at the “Nag’s Head,” Wood Green, a handy house of call in the Green Lanes, near the Alexandra Palace.

[25] See Pugilistica, vol. i., p. 28.




The brown-skinned, hardy, game, and resolute boxer, whose name heads this somewhat brief biography, demands a niche in our gallery of prize pugilists who have aspired to the Championship, were it only for the obstinately contested battles in which he was engaged on each of the four occasions in which he made a public appearance in the twenty-four foot enclosure. In the short period between December, 1849, and April, 1853, Harry advanced from the position of a “novice” to that of a candidate, and a very dangerous one, for the Championship of England; reckoning among those who succumbed to his prowess, Aaron Jones (twice), the accomplished Nat Langham—​the only conqueror of Tom Sayers—​and closing his career by one of the most memorable battles of modern times, in which he fell before the conquering arm of Harry Broome.

Harry Orme was by birth a Londoner, having first seen daylight at Old Ford, near Bow, in the month of May, 1826; in which year, also, were born his antagonist, Harry Broome, and the yet more renowned Tom Sayers, doubtless under the influence of some pugilistic planet. Harry, who “came of decent people,” was introduced to the London Ring with less preliminary paragraphing than usual; he was an East-Ender by birth, parentage, and associations, and an East-Ender he remained to the end of his career.

It so happened that in the year 1849, Jem Burn, the Mæcenas of millers, had among his visitors at the “Queen’s Head” a powerful big one, hight Aaron Jones, of Shrewsbury, 20 years of age, weighing 11st. 4lb., standing 5ft. 10½in. in his stocking-feet, who had friends among the “proud Salopians,” who were anxious to get on a match with any “trial horse” Jem might select for their promising novice. Jones had passed a 254 favourable “competitive examination” in the sparring schools, and Jem had declared, with a qualifying if, that “If there was the right stuff in him he was big enough and clever enough for anything then on the list.” The “sages of the East” were of opinion that they had a novice as good as he of the West, so Harry, after taking stock of his opponent in futuro at a sparring soirée in Windmill Street, returned to his friends at the “Blue Anchor,” and “reported progress.” The result was favourable to a venture of the East against the West, the Orientals already well knowing that their man would take a great deal of beating to turn him from brown to blue. Articles were accordingly formulated at Mr. Hunter’s, “Weavers’ Arms,” Kingsland Road, with deposits at “Jolly Jem’s,” for a fight to come off on the 18th December, 1849, each man not to exceed 11st. 4lb. on the day before the fight. Frimley Green, Surrey, was duly reached per train on the day appointed, and at a quarter to one, in a drizzle of cold rain, the men entered the ring. The “Shrewsbury Youth” was waited on by Jack Hannan and Bob Fuller, the pedestrian; Orme by two well-known East End professionals, Joe Rowe and John Hazeltine. Umpires and a referee were quickly agreed upon; and the colours, a blue birdseye for Orme, and a fancy orange, shot with green, with a blue border, for Jones, being knotted to the stake, the men and their seconds crossed hands, and the principal performers stood up for


Round 1.—​Considering that the men were novices, there was a good deal of money laid out on the mill, Jones being made the favourite at 5 and 6 to 4—​chiefly from having the wealthier backers. He certainly, though young and light downwards, was lathy, long, and muscular, and looked dangerously like a fighter; while Orme, compact, well knit, and determined, seemed, with his mahogany frontispiece and walnut-brown skin, more like a gipsy than ever. Orme squared his elbows in the old-fashioned style that was called “navigatorish;” while Jones, though awkward and nervous, showed the superior school in which he had graduated. The Young One tried his left, but Orme jumped away, going bang against one of the stakes. The men crept close again, each sparring in what was meant to be a finished style, till Jones let fly with his left, but almost out of distance, so that he barely reached his man. After feeling his way again, Jones let go, but was stopped neatly, and in the exchanges that followed Orme threw in his right heavily on Jones’s left cheek. There was weight in this blow; the Young One shook his head as if puzzled, then went in resolutely. Orme missed his one, two. A rally followed, during which Jones hit Orme in the mouth, and received on the right eye in return. Both rolled down. In this, his very first round within the ropes, it was seen that Orme’s favourite weapon was his right, and that he was a heavy hitter.

2 to 6.—​These rounds were much alike, and although there were some sharp exchanges all through them, they were tedious. Novices are generally in one extreme or the other; they either rush at their opponents as if fights were to be won in a gallop, or else are ambitious to show how scientific they are, and so spar and manœuvre without any definite end in view. The fighting took place chiefly in Orme’s corner, the length of arm possessed by Jones forcing his opponent to retreat; here they manœuvred and jumped in and out, till at last they got close, and then staggering counter-hits would be exchanged. The closes were scrambling affairs, and generally ended in the men rolling down together.

Harry Orme



7.—​Another tedious example of ring manœuvring, without the skill which makes such fiddling, squaring, advancing, retreating, feinting, and shifting tolerable. Both novices, however, were actuated by a desire not to throw a chance away; but on a wet December day a little less generalship and busier work would have suited the spectators. The round lasted 27 minutes, but tedious as it was, it was wound up by a slashing rally, in which the big ones hit with all their steam. Jones drew first blood in profusion from Orme’s nose and mouth, while Harry delivered his right with tremendous force on Jones’s left ribs and left eye, badly marking the one and almost entirely closing the other.

8.—​Both slow in answering the call of time; more than a minute elapsed before they appeared at the scratch, the heavy hitting in the last round having told its tale. Orme, instead of going in and taking advantage of his weight and power of arm, stood out and retreated, by advice of his friends. The round lasted 17 minutes, and at last was closed by another desperate rally, Jones improving in his style, and using both hands well, but the returns of Orme were heaviest and most effective. Jones threw Orme cleverly in the close.

9.—​Jones jobbed Orme on the nose, and then on the cheek, but the blows, although well from the shoulder, left no mark. Orme seemed remarkably slow in showing contusions, while Jones was already much disfigured. Jones forced Orme towards his corner; Orme rushed forward as Jones retreated in turn; he let go both left and right viciously, but was short. Jones lunged out desperately with his right, and nailing Orme on the side of the head, knocked him clean down in the middle of the ring. (Cheers for the Shrewsbury Youth. First knock-down for Jones.)

10.—​Orme came up smiling, and as Jones made himself up for following his supposed advantage, surprised him by dashing in and planting his left a smasher on the nose. A pounding rally followed, in which some heavy counter-hitting took place, each man standing well to his gun, until Jones fell under the ropes.

For the next fifteen rounds the fighting grew quicker, the sparring less tedious, and the rallies more frequent. Jones, taking a leaf out of his opponent’s book, planted several slashing hits with his right on the side of Orme’s head, but being the taller man, he frequently hit too high, and his hand, rather than Orme’s hard skull, suffered. The East-Ender took his punishment patiently, and was with Jones in nearly all his attempts, with heavy right-handers on the left ribs, which gradually impaired the force of Jones’s hitting, and when they got closer still, his ponderous right fell on his cheek-bone or temple, till Jones was nearly blinded. The Shrewsbury man, however, was yet as strong as Orme, and was the better wrestler, for he threw his adversary in several of these rounds. Towards the 25th round, however, the repeated right-handers of Orme began to tell their tale, and Jones grew slower and weaker. In the last-mentioned round Orme led off, and hit Jones sharply in the head, repeating the dose without a return. Jones attempted to force a rally, but Orme got down more cleverly than heretofore. Jones fought with great fairness, and was much applauded.

26.—​Orme showed few marks of punishment, and was sent up by his seconds very clean, while Jones grew more disfigured each round. The men fought somewhat wildly, but managed to exchange some stinging counters, which led to a close; but Jones was now unable to throw his opponent, and both were down.

27 to 35.—​(Two hours and twenty-nine minutes had elapsed, and no odds were obtainable; indeed, it was yet on the cards for either to win.) Burn called to his man, Jones, to come away from Orme’s corner, and let the East-Ender come to him. Jones, who was evidently distressed, did so, and the same style of fighting was pursued. Jones fell from weakness in the 32nd round, which Orme noting, he forced the fighting again, and, in the 35th round delivered several of his slogging hits at close quarters with such staggering effect that Jones, whose returns were slight, dropped in the rally.

36.—​The last two or three rounds had told their tale, and it was evident that Jones’s chance was fading. (3 to 1 offered on Orme without takers.) Jones came up as game as a man could be, and still tried to look cheerful; but his knees were tottery, and he was plainly “going.” Orme went to him, forced another rally, and, after one or two heavy hits, dropped him with a right-hander. (“Take him away.”)

37 and 38.—​In each of these rounds Jones came to the scratch, and made one or two futile attempts to stop his adversary’s rush, dropping on his knee on receiving a hit from Orme.

39.—​Orme paused, as if hesitating to strike his opponent, who was quite at his mercy. Jones made a peck at him, and received a touch on the old spot in the ribs. It was but a push, yet it sent him to grass sideways.

40.—​Loud cries of “Take him away!” Jones faced his opponent for the fortieth time, but he was all abroad. Orme gradually forced him back into his corner, and harmlessly sent him down, when Hannan threw up the sponge in token of Jones’s defeat.

The fight lasted two hours and forty-five minutes, including several tedious rounds, and much useless breaking ground, advancing, and retreating. It was, nevertheless, a truly hard fight, and the two powerful boxers who made their début on this occasion inflicted severe mutual punishment. It was 256 manifest, early in the battle, that Orme was the more lasting of the two, and much the heavier hitter. It seemed, also, that Jones had commenced his career too early.

Each man proved himself thorough game, and possessed of undoubted stamina. Orme, in beating a man taller, longer in the reach, a shade heavier, and much the favourite in the betting, had done all expected of him, and his friends resolved on quietly biding their time, and—​when that time did come—​on playing for a good stake. Their confidence in their champion was shown by the character of the next antagonist selected for him being no other than Nat Langham, whose fame already stood high among the few who had an opportunity of judging of his merits.

Orme’s coup d’essai having proved eminently satisfactory, and Master Nat having been waiting in vain for a suitable customer from the day when he defeated Sparkes the Australian, as related in the previous chapter, a match was proposed for £50 a side, to be decided on the 6th day of May, 1851. A trip down the river being agreed on, “The Queen of the Thames” was the vessel engaged, and the oft-described voyage having been effected at two o’clock, the ring was pitched by Ould Tom Oliver, Tom Callas, and assistants. At three Orme tossed in his cap, and Langham followed his example. The usual ridiculous haggling with regard to a referee ensued, during which we adjourned to another part of the marsh, where a merry little mill between an Israelite and a son of Ishmael, in the person of a gipsy lad, which had been arranged for decision on this occasion, came off. The Hebrew was worsted after a stubborn resistance. This settled, we returned to the legitimate roped quadrangle called “the ring” because it is not round. Here, after positively refusing an arbitration which carries with its exercise nought but unpleasantness, a veteran Ring-goer (Old Tom Oliver), with the snows of sixty winters on his head, accepted the office. At fifteen minutes past four the men were escorted to the scratch. Orme was esquired by Jemmy Welsh and Jack Grant; Langham by D’Orsay Turner and Johnny Hannan. The men, at scale, were stated to be respectively 11st. 5lb. and 11st. 2lb.; but upon this point we have our doubts, Orme appearing upon every point far the heavier man. Orme had trained upon the Chatham hills, and was as tough-looking a dark grained bit of stuff as ever was selected by shipwright of that famed dockyard locality. Langham took his breathings on Newmarket Heath, and was as fine as any thoroughbred fresh from its gallops. The betting was now even, Langham for choice. After waiting a few minutes for a hailstorm, which, according to the precedent of this 257 “merry month,” will have its way, at a quarter past four the men stood up for


Round 1.—​Orme stood firmly, with his elbows rather high, his fists level and almost square, and his heavy, thick, round arms in anything but an elegant position; yet he loomed big, massive, and formidable, and his deep chest, matted with coarse black hair, and complexion of the deepest gipsy brown, gave an impression of hardihood and enduring strength. Langham was fine and fair in skin, clean built, with handsome shoulders and biceps, good length of reach and active pins. His attitude was artistic; the left well up and forward, the right playing easily across the mark, covering the short ribs, and ready for stop or delivery. Orme seemed a little flurried and worked forward, Langham shifting and retreating before him, coolly and collectedly. Orme let go his left, which Langham stopped, and caught Orme sharply on the cheekbone; Langham followed Orme on the bustle, and reached him slightly with the right, when Orme ducked his head, turned clean round, and rose up outside the ropes (laughter). Langham beckoned Orme, who came inside, nodding his head and smiling. Langham, cautious and steady, would not lead off. Orme tried to make his left, but was stopped, and following it immediately with his right was out of distance; Langham hit Orme sharply with the left in a quick exchange, drawing “first blood” from his mouth and nose. The men got at it, and fighting was the order of the round, Orme giving Langham a heavy body hit, but catching pepper about the frontispiece. Both down, Langham first, but with the best of the hitting.

2.—​Nat retreating, measuring Orme with his left, till the latter let fly; pretty counter-hits with the left, Orme home on Langham’s cheek, Langham on Orme’s nasal organ, from which more of the ruby distilled. Some exchanges of no great moment, Langham slipping down from his own hit.

3.—​Orme stopped Langham’s left neatly (applause); counters with left, Langham’s straightest, but did not seem much to mark Orme’s cast-iron nob. Orme bored in, pegging away; Langham propped him, but dropped when forced to the ropes.

4.—​Orme made several feints, Langham shifted and laughed; Langham tried to draw his man, but the latter, advised by Welsh, pointed to the scratch. Langham tried his left, but Orme was with him, and, after some heavy weaving work, Langham fell because it suited him.

5.—​Sparring; Langham cautious but lively. Orme had found that he got pepper whenever he attempted to lead off, and he paused awhile. There was some little chaff about each man having something in his hands, and they were shown to be empty. The mill recommenced by Langham rattling in one, two, catching Orme on the nose and ribs; in the scramble Langham was down.

6.—​Nat visited Orme’s left eye a stinger, raising a “mouse.” Orme rushed in and delivered with tremendous half-arm energy; Langham fought up and was bored down.

7.—​Orme rolled in, letting go both hands; Nat nobbed him, but Orme forced the fun, and ran Langham to earth.

8.—​Orme had got terribly disfigured by Langham’s retreating shots, but they did not seem to impair his strength or resolution; he hit Langham heavily on the ribs in the rally, but got one, straight as an arrow, in the nose from Langham’s left; it was a smasher, and was followed by a lunge from the right, as he was already on the stagger, and down he went on his south pole. (First knock-down far Langham. Great cheering.)

9.—​Orme came up more steady than was expected; he hemmed and coughed several times, as if troubled in the throat, but played about, waiting for Langham to begin. Langham led off, and made his left, but Orme dashed in desperately, and both were down in the rally. (6 to 4 on Langham.)

10.—​Langham propped Orme on the nose; Orme hit rather out of distance, and Langham slipped down.

11.—​Rapid exchanges. Langham made his straight left sharply on Orme’s right eye, raising a “mouse” to match the left. Orme got Langham in his arms, and, after a brief struggle, held him by the crook, forced him over, and threw him from his hip on his neck and head, lending his whole weight to the impetus of his fall. Langham, apparently stupefied, was picked up, all abroad, by Jem Turner and Hannan. (Cries of “It’s all over!”)

12.—​Langham came up loose in the knees and puzzled, but he had not lost his style. Orme could not get on to him, and he fell on the saving suit.

13.—​(“Time.”) Langham fought prettily on the defensive, but was in evident distress; indeed, he never entirely shook off effects of the throw in the previous round throughout the fight. Orme hit him in the body, but he was getting down when he received the blow.

14, 15, 16.—​Langham still merely defensive but the last a good fighting round.

17 to 20.—​Heavy work; both rather wild. Langham generally finished the rounds by getting to grass. (Offers of 3 to 2 on Orme.)

21.—​Punishing exchanges. Nat getting steadier; Orme gave way a little after a job or two from Langham’s left. Langham 258 followed him. After some hard fighting Orme threw Langham.

22.—​(A claim on account of Orme having some substance in his hand; it was disproved.) Ding-dong work, and Langham down in the hitting.

23.—​Orme pursued Langham, determined not to allow him to recover his wind; hard, but rather wild hitting, during which Orme getting close, sent Langham down.

24.—​Nat missed his left, Orme stepping back; Orme put out his tongue. Exchanges, and Langham fell.

25.—​Langham hit Orme several times as he came in, but could not stop himself from being bored down.

26.—​Langham tried his left twice, but was not near enough to his man. Orme let go his left, and Langham dropped. (An appeal from Orme on the plea that Langham dropped without a blow.)

27.—​Heavy counters; Orme on Langham’s jowl; Langham on Orme’s eye, which was nearly shut up. A rattling round. Nat got on Orme’s best eye (the right), then on his note. Orme hammered away, but was short of distance, except when in-fighting; a close, and Langham under. (One hour.)

28, 29.—​Exchanges; Langham precise, and timing his hits, got Orme to a standstill. When Orme came on again Langham fell. (Another claim.)

30, 31.—​As before, Langham slipped down in the hitting. (A claim each round for Orme.)

32.—​Orme wild and rushing; Langham steadied himself, and propped him severely. Langham fell at the ropes, Orme over him.

33, 34.—​Langham delivered and fell from his own blows.

35.—​Hard hitting; Orme would not be denied; Langham got down at the ropes, and Orme, bending his knee, tried to drop on him. (An appeal from Langham’s party, but overruled.)

36 to 40.—​Nat nailed Orme dexterously, swelling his lips till he resembled the portrait of the elder Molyneaux. In the 40th round he got him to a standstill for a few seconds. (“Where’s your 2 to 1 now?”) Langham fought cunningly, and got through the ropes, down.

41.—​Orme’s eye closed; he rushed at Langham, who dropped, and Orme was again charged with trying to “knee” him.

42.—​Exchanges; Langham made his left prettily, but Orme gave him such a sneezer that he dropped.

43.—​Langham game and clever, but weak. (80 minutes had elapsed.) In the struggle at the close Langham was undermost; a nasty back fall.

44.—​Some sharp work, the men falling from their own hits, reaching the ground at the same time.

45 to 60.—​It was wonderful to see how, round after round, such fighting could be kept up, Langham still holding the palm for generalship, straight hitting, and precision, but wanting strength from repeated falls. In the 60th round he fell weak. In the 64th, both men were again down in the hitting. From the 65th to the 100th round, time after time, did the men come up with fluctuating chances, the changes every three or four rounds being truly surprising. First Langham got so shaky that every round seemed his last; then Orme got such straight props from the shoulder, in return for his attempts to “go in and finish,” that it seemed a pity both could not win; several times he stood still, puzzled, but scorned to go down, while Langham could not get up steam enough to seize the advantage and secure victory. Orme was twice appealed against, on the ground that he lifted his foot when Langham was down. We do not think he either knew or intended to do what he did. Langham, too, was appealed against for going down, but the veteran referee would not have the battle snatched from such good men by a quibble. In the 100th round, 2 hours and 34 minutes having expired, Orme, on being carried to his corner, communicated to his seconds that he would fight no more; when the practised eye of Welsh perceiving that Langham’s head had dropped on Turner’s shoulder, he revived his man by the information that his opponent had “cut it.” Orme went up, but was not allowed to have it for asking. Langham showed, and pecked away like a game cock, though there was no power in his blows.

102 to 108.—​Short rounds, as they well might be. Langham got a turn in his favour, for he hit Orme in the last-mentioned round, and his head dropped when picked up.

109.—​Orme recovered quicker than could be expected, and again perceived that his opponent’s plight was no better than his own: he staggered in, punched away, and Langham fell.

110 to 113.—​Orme very much abroad, but still the stronger. Langham fell in the 113th round on the ropes, and Orme upon him.

114, 115.—​Both game as pebbles; Orme quite foggy in the optics; Langham staggering, and instinctively putting out his left for a pushing hit. (“Take them both away,” said a bystander. Orme shook his head, and Langham tried to muster the ghost of a smile.) The seconds went close to their men. “It’s all right,” said poor Langham to Jem Turner. If he thought so no one else did. After a slight pop with his left, Orme pushed Langham down, and fell over him.

116.—​Orme on his knees, and Langham down anyhow, in a weak rally.

117th and last.—​Langham sent out his left; Orme stepped back; Langham again hit out. He evidently did not perceive what was before him, and coming forward, from his own blow, fell on both knees and his hands. His seconds ran up to him, but 259 it was all over. Orme stood in his corner for a few seconds, when time was called, to which the Leicester man was yet deaf, walked slowly across the ring, and taking the hand of his brave, fallen adversary, tried to muster an expression of admiration at his bravery. The sponge had before gone up from Langham’s corner, and thus, at the close of two hours and forty-six minutes, was brought to a decision one of the gamest battles the modern annals of the Ring can boast.

The shades of evening were closing in as the voyagers got on board their respective steamers, many more, as is usual on such occasions, extending their patronage to the “men’s” peculiar boat on the upward voyage than came down by that conveyance; for the very obvious reason that as the voyage both ways was paid at starting, the disagreeable ceremony of paying would be insisted on, while having once got down by a Gravesender, tug, or other cheap conveyance, the homeward-bound voyage could be effected gratis. It was nearly midnight when the “Queen of the Thames,” working against tide and a head wind, reached London Bridge; the voyage being shortened by many an anecdote of brave battles in bygone days, with which all agreed the present mill might well bear a comparison.

Orme now rested for a year upon his well-earned laurels, when once again Aaron Jones, who during the interval of two years had, so rumour averred, wonderfully developed and immensely improved in the art, sought to reverse the verdict given against him in December, 1849. Aaron had, moreover, in the interim fought Bob Wade (the Dover Champion), a 12st. man, whom he defeated at Edenbridge, Kent, in one hour, in which forty-three punishing rounds were contested.

Monday, May 10th, 1852, was the fixture, instead of the customary Tuesday; the moving reason thereto being that the Turfites, among whom were Jones’s prominent patrons, might attend another “ring” at Newmarket on the latter day. On Jones’s improvement the Sporting Oracle thus delivered itself: “When Jones first contended with Orme he was a youth of eighteen, weighing 11st. 2lbs., and too young to bear the wear and tear of a long encounter. He has now increased in height and weight, stands 6 feet in height, and will draw a trifle over 12st., besides having materially improved in the pugilistic art.” At the last deposit of £10 a side, making up the stakes to £200, which took place on Tuesday last at Mr. Prior’s, “Nag’s Head,” South Audley Street, Jones had the call in the betting, his friends being West-enders and ready to back their own “stable.” As the rendezvous was in the vicinity of Newmarket, and a trip per Eastern Counties rail the mode of reaching the field of arms, we were glad, on presenting ourselves at the Shoreditch terminus at eight o’clock, to see at “the meet,” not only a large number of the Corinthian patrons of the 260 Ring, whose faces we have for some time missed from such gatherings, but many of the ex-professors of the art—​Owen Swift, Adams, Jem Burn, Shaw, Dan Pinxton, Jemmy Gardner, Alec Keene, Harry Milbourn, &c., &c. At a little before eight Jones arrived at the station, accompanied by the lively Bob Fuller and Alec Keene; the former being his trainer and the twain his selected seconds for the fistic duello. Jones looked remarkably bright and well, indeed, as Bob expressed it, he was “as fit as a fiddle,” and “would take a great deal of beating.” Orme did not put in an appearance at Shoreditch, but it was quickly made known that he had departed overnight for the neighbourhood of Newmarket, where he was awaiting the arrival of the “London particulars.” At a few minutes past eight the whistle sounded, and off we went, understanding that Chesterford, where we were told Orme awaited us, was our calling-place, and thence we should be conveyed to Mildenhall. This was a judicious ruse, but, as we shall presently see, failed in the trial. On arriving at Chesterford, however, our steam-steed merely took a drink of water, and sped on its way to Six Mile Bottom, on the Newmarket line. We must confess that we were a little staggered, knowing what we did of the Cambridge authorities, that the “managers” should have chosen their ground within that shire, and we argued that as one of the men had been training near the racing metropolis the watchful blues had doubtless an eye upon his movements.

On mentioning our misgivings, however, to some of the parties concerned, and expressing our surprise that so hazardous an attempt should be made, we were assured that it was all right, that there were no magistrates within call, and that the fight was certain to be settled without interruption. While waiting for the arrival of Orme, our fears for the result were verified to the fullest extent by the appearance of a body of Cambridge police, both horse and foot, evidently determined to spoil sport. It was now determined to go on to Newmarket at once to fetch Orme, who had prudently retreated into the town on finding that the enemy was in the field. At Newmarket it was stated that he had chartered a fly, and was about to proceed across country to Mildenhall. A despatch was instantly sent to recall him, and, after a delay of about half an hour, he made his appearance, looking big, brown, hardy, and confident. He immediately took his place in the train, and an inhabitant of the district having intimated that he knew a spot where there was no chance of interruption, consented to act as pilot, the train was once more put in motion, and taking its course up the old Newmarket line, which was at that time 261 closed for general traffic, was brought to a standstill by the side of a field at Bourne Bridge, a place rendered memorable as the scene of the first contest between Mr. Gully and Gregson, in days long vanished, passed away. Here a debarkation was effected, and when all the voyageurs by train were collected there were certainly not more than two hundred persons present. These, by the time the ropes and stakes were pitched, were increased by the arrival of some dozen equestrians from Cambridge and Newmarket, anxious, no doubt, to enjoy a treat so seldom witnessed by the inhabitants of those celebrated universities for the education of man and horse; but, as will be shortly seen, their arrival on horseback defeated the object they had in view, as it served to put the blues upon the scent, and enabled them, before much business had been got through, again to put in their unwelcome appearance, and once more to send the “peace breakers” to the right about.

On the recommendation of “the pilot” the business of constructing the arena was set about with unusual celerity by young Fred Oliver and the veteran Tom Callas, under the superintendence of the ancient Commissary himself, and by a few minutes past one o’clock all was in readiness. A capital outer ring was formed, round which the “cheapsiders” took their stations, while comfortable straw hassocks were provided for the tenants of the inner circle who chose to pay the price demanded by those who had been so thoughtful as to provide such luxuries. Jem Burn, whose hind feet and legs were not sufficiently under his command to enable him to take up a position so close to mother-earth, was accommodated with a chair, around which were grouped several of his ancient patrons, and all appeared now to be satisfied that at length fortune was favourable, and that the mill would be brought to a conclusion without let or hindrance. Umpires and a referee were quickly chosen, and the men at once proceeded to their toilettes, Jones, as we have already stated, being waited on by Bob Fuller and Alec Keene, while Orme had for valets Jemmy Welsh and a “Jolly Butcher” from Southwark. On stripping, Jones confirmed the opinion we had formed in the morning, that he was as “fine as a star,” and as fit as Fuller could make him. Orme, on denuding himself of his outer rind, looked big enough and strong enough for anything. His skin, of a nut-brown tint, gave him altogether an appearance of hardihood which lead a spectator to infer that he was an adversary by no means to be sneezed at, even by those who considered themselves his superiors in the fistic art. It was clear, nevertheless, that he had not devoted quite as 262 much time to his preparation as the nature of the encounter he had undertaken would have justified. There were indications of loose flesh about his ribs and chest which might have been well dispensed with. On inquiring his weight we were informed that he was about 11st. 8lb., being just 4lb. more than when he encountered Langham. Notwithstanding this exuberance of meat he looked remarkably well, was extremely confident, and “eager for th’ affray.” All being at length in readiness, the colours (blue for Orme, and yellow with blue border for Jones) were nailed to the mast—​we mean, tied to the stake. Orme laid his adversary a bet of £25 to £20, which was duly posted. The men and their seconds shook hands—​silence was proclaimed—​“Time” was called (half-past one)—​the seconds retired to their corners, and left the men at the scratch to commence


Round 1.—​On throwing themselves into attitude, which, as the dandies say, “is everything,” there was no very great display of artistic skill on either side. If anything, Jones’s position was the more graceful of the two; still he left his ribs totally unprotected, and held his hands much too far from his body to please our mind. Orme, on the contrary, held his arms, which loomed large and ponderous, closer to his corpus. He stood almost square, his thick, muscular legs seeming well calculated to support his enormous round shoulders, which resembled those of a miniature Atlas. Jones, after a dodge or two, feinted with his left, but Orme grinned and stepped back; Jones followed him up, when Orme stopped his further progress with a prop from his right on the side of the head. Counter-hits with the left followed without any mischief. Orme then swung round his right as if it was a sledgehammer, and caught Jones with tremendous force on the ribs under the left arm, in the region of the heart, where he left most unmistakable imprints of his knuckles, which never disappeared during the remainder of the battle. Jones returned slightly on the right ear, which led to a rally, in which Orme had the best of the hitting, again delivering a rib-bender with his right, removing the bark from Jones’s smeller, and drawing first blood with his left. A close, in which Orme held his man tight, and fibbed him on the nose and forehead until both were down in Jones’s corner.

2.—​Jones led off with his left, reaching Orme’s cheek, and cleverly stopping the return. Counter-hits followed, Jones drawing claret from Orme’s mouth, catching it in return heavily on the cheek and chin. Some slogging hits were exchanged without any regard to science, and Jones at length slipped down.

3.—​Jones again led off with his left, but was very wild in his deliveries, which passed over Orme’s shoulder. Had he been more precise his blows would have told a tale, for Orme appeared to think that “stopping” was quite beneath him. Orme went in, pegged away left and right on the left eye and ribs, and Jones fell.

4.—​Jones on coming up displayed the marks of Orme’s handiwork in the last round in the shape of a mouse on his left eye. He appeared loth to come out of his corner, whereupon Orme went to him. Jones retreated as far as he could, and delivered his left as Orme came in. Orme “stopped the blow” with his left cheek, returned the compliment with interest by two heavy cracks on Jones’s injured peeper and his forehead, when Jones got down.

5.—​Orme commenced business by rushing in and planting his left and right heavily on Jones’s mouth and nose, drawing more claret. Jones returned slightly on the left cheek and slipped down just as Orme was about to effect a delivery. He looked up as if anticipating a foul, but Orme restrained himself, grinned, shook his head, patted Jones on the back of his poll, and walked to his corner.

6.—​Jones led off with his left, catching Orme on the potato-trap. Orme countered him on the nose heavily, stepped back again, went in, repeated the dose on Jones’s nose and his left eye, and the latter was again down.

7.—​Jones came up much flushed, bleeding from the nose and left eye. His forehead was swelled, and altogether it was evident that Orme’s visitations had not been without their effect. The only mark Orme showed was a swelling under his left eye. Orme led off, caught Jones another rattler on the damaged ogle, drawing more of the 263 ruby. Jones wild, dashed in, planted a heavy blow on Orme’s left cheek, and fell on his latter end from the force of his own blow.

8.—​Jones stopped Orme’s left neatly, and tried a return which was short. A rally followed, in which Jones’s deliveries were mostly thrown away, inasmuch as they passed over Orme’s shoulder. Orme, whose punches, although very round, in general got home, again planted on Jones’s left eye and nose. At length Jones got one on Orme’s left peeper, drawing blood, and then slipped down.

9.—​Jones came up bleeding, and looking much the worse for wear, while Orme was all confidence. Jones led off with his left, got home slightly on Orme’s smeller, when suddenly was heard the unwelcome watchword of “Police”—​and sure enough, on looking round we perceived a detachment of neatly attired Cambridge “Peelers” making their way to the field of action. A cry of sauve qui peut was instantly raised, and the ground was cleared in a trice, every one making for the train and jumping into the first carriage that he could find open. It was soon discovered, however, that the object of the “powers that be” was not to apprehend any of the wrongdoers, but merely to prevent a breach of the peace in the county of Cambridge.

A council of war was called; the referee, whose duty it was to name the next time and place, if possible on the same day, suggested that there was yet time to go to Mildenhall, where he knew the matter could be concluded in peace. The officials, however, connected with the railway, said that, inasmuch as the train would have to return up the old Newmarket line, and then go round by Cambridge, where it would be detained so as not to interfere with the general traffic, it was very probable that Mildenhall could not be reached in time to finish the business in hand before dark. It was then hinted by “the pilot” that the affair might be completed in the neighbourhood of Newmarket, that town being in the county of Suffolk, and out of the jurisdiction of the Cambridgeshire authorities. The plan appeared feasible, and “bock agin” to Newmarket was the order of the day. The pilot conducted the Commissary and assistants to a likely piece of turf behind the plantation of firs at the top of the training-ground, not much more than a mile from the town, and here a second ring was formed with all due diligence, and here, of course, the crowd of spectators was largely increased by detachments of lovers of the sport from the town itself and the surrounding districts. At twenty-two minutes after three, all being for the second time in readiness, in the midst of a shower of rain, round nine was resumed.


Round 9 continued.—​On the men throwing off their blankets both looked rather the worse for wear, Jones having a most unmistakable black eye, and the bark being off his frontispiece in several places. The marks also of Orme’s hammerings on his ribs were very apparent. Orme displayed a slight swelling and discolouration under his left eye, and an enlargement of his upper lip. Both seemed fresher from the rest they had taken, and appeared anxious now to finish the fight out of hand. Jones led off twice, but was short. Orme then delivered a spank on his left eye. Jones returned rather heavily on the nose and slipped down.

10.—​Orme led off, planted his right again heavily on the ribs. Jones, after one or two wild plunges over his adversary’s shoulder, succeeded in reaching his damaged cheek, and slipped down.


11.—​Jones again led off twice with his left, but in both instances the blows fell short; Orme then went to his man, slight taps were exchanged, after which Orme popped in a nasty one on the nose, and slipped down.

12.—​Orme rushed in to fight, but Jones stepped back, caught him heavily on the left ear and left eye, drawing claret from the latter; Orme tried to return, but Jones got down cunning.

13.—​Orme on coming to the scratch showed that Jones’s last two hits had not been without their effect; his left ogle began to show symptoms of shutting up shop, while his left ear was considerably discoloured. Jones led off, delivered his left and right on Orme’s injured optic and his ear, stopped Orme’s returns cleverly, and slipped down.

14.—​Orme rushed in in a determined manner, but was again stopped. Jones stepped back, delivered his right on Orme’s left ear heavily; Orme would not be stalled off, but again bored in, when Jones slipped down.

15.—​Jones led off, but the blow passed harmless over Orme’s head; good counter-hits followed, Orme delivering on Jones’s nose, and receiving a heavy visitation on his right peeper. Jones then received a one-two on the nose and ribs, when both got down together, and, after a slight scramble, were down side by side.

16.—​Jones was again short in his deliveries, when Orme closed, and both were again down, no mischief being done.

17.—​Both rattled in to their work, and some sharp exchanges took place, in which Jack was as good as his master. Orme then caught Jones round the neck, fibbed him heavily in the mouth and nose, and after a short struggle threw him heavily, and fell upon him.

18.—​Jones, led off, his arm passing over his adversary’s head. He was more lucky in a second attempt, reaching Orme’s left ogle heavily. Some rattling exchanges followed, left and right, Jones catching it on the ribs and left eye, while he got home heavily on Orme’s ear, mouth, and left cheek. Orme bored in, planted his one-two on Jones’s nose and mouth, and was trying to improve his advantage when Jones slipped down cunning.

19.—​Jones first to fight, Orme appearing to blow from want of condition. Jones got home again on the left ear and nose; Orme returned slightly, but his hits now appeared to lack steam. Jones in this round rattled away in style, had all the best of the hitting, but in the end Orme counterbalanced these advantages by closing and throwing him a cross buttock, and falling heavily on him.

20.—​Jones led off, but was met by Orme with a sharp counter-hit, each reached his adversary’s left eye, after which Jones immediately got down. He had evidently been much shaken by the fall in the previous round.

21.—​Orme attempted to take the lead, but was short; Jones delivered a heavy right-hander on the left ear; counter-hits followed, Orme reaching Jones’s left eye heavily, and received on the nose. Jones finished the round by delivering a spank on Orme’s right eye and getting down.

22.—​Jones came up, bleeding from his left eye. Orme opened the ball by repeating the dose on the same optic, and drawing a fresh supply of the ruby. He attempted to do ditto ditto, but was cleverly stopped by Jones. Counter-hits followed, Orme succeeding in again planting upon the nearly closed eye of his adversary, who delivered on the left cheek and left ear and then got down.

23.—​Jones attempted to take the lead, but was wofully short. Orme went to him, delivered his left and right heavily, received a slight tap in return, and Jones fell.

It was now forty minutes past three, and before time could be called for the next round, “police!” was again the cry of the multitude—​a cry which, as at the first ring, proved to be only too true. Several individuals, clad in blue array, connected with the Suffolk constabulary, forced their way to the arena, and ordered the combatants to desist in the Queen’s name. A fly was close to the spot, and in this both men and their seconds quickly ensconced themselves. The stakes were once more drawn, and all repaired to the railway station, to once more ponder upon the reverses of a day which had dawned with every prospect of a successful expedition. The backers of the men applied to the referee to know his decision, and that functionary, after considering the circumstances of the case, decided that there must be another meeting, and, having taken council with the pilot, the excursionists 265 once more re-entered the train, the pilot and a backer of Orme taking their station on the tender, the former undertaking to direct the engine driver to a spot where it was thought a satisfactory last act might be appended to the two which had already been performed. The train once more flew past Six Mile Bottom, where the blue-coated fraternity were still observable on the qui vive, to prevent a second invasion of their bailiwick. The old Newmarket line was a second time traversed for some miles, and at length the pilot gave orders to “heave to” at a field of clover, about two miles on the Newmarket side of Chesterford. And now comes the unpleasant part of our narrative. On the referee leaving the train, he was asked by some of Jones’s backers why the train had stopped, as they understood he had decided that the fight was to be postponed until another day. The referee stated that he had given no decision of the kind; the articles specified that in case of magisterial interference the referee was to name the next time and place, if possible on the same day. He had named a place (having directed the engine driver under the orders of “the pilot” to go where there was a probability of a satisfactory conclusion); that place had been reached, there was plenty of daylight, he saw no excuse for postponing the battle to a future day, and he had no alternative but to order the men to fight. Jones’s friends replied that Orme’s principal backer had told them when the police arrived at the second ring that there would be no more fight that day, but that he should take his man back to London at once. They had therefore given Jones oranges to eat, and brandy-and-water to drink, and had, moreover, been smoking in the same carriage with him. The referee stated that this, if it was the case, was highly reprehensible on their part; Orme’s backers had no power to decide whether the fight was to be resumed or not; that was discretionary on his (the referee’s) part. He had stated to one or two of Jones’s friends what his intentions were, and if there had been any doubt upon the point, the least that could have been done by his seconds and attendants would have been to ask the question before they allowed their man to commit the excesses they alluded to. It was then urged by Jones’s backers that it would be a cruel thing to order the men to fight again after being twice stripped and twice disturbed. The referee said that might or might not be the case; his duty, according to the articles, was imperative. The men must fight, unless they chose mutually to agree to a postponement, when of course he could have no objection. Orme and his friends would not hear of an adjournment, and wished to have the matter decided at once. Jones’s backers then became very excited, 266 and one of them applied language to the referee which was utterly unjustifiable, and that gentleman said he would have nothing more to do with the matter, and that he would resign his office as referee. After a lengthened argument pro and con, however, the referee, seeing that if he resigned his office the friends of Jones would attain the object they evidently had in view—​namely, to save any bets they might have upon the fight, by refusing to agree to any other referee, and thus procuring an adjournment—​consented to leave the railway carriage into which he had retired. He was again begged by Jones’s friends to adjourn the fight, but again repeated his decision that they must make another attempt on that day to bring the affair to an issue. Jones and Co. appeared still reluctant to renew the encounter, whereupon the referee stated that he would give them half an hour, and if Jones was not in the ring ready to fight by that time he would award the stakes to Orme. Orme went to the ring, which had already been formed, whither he was followed, after a short delay, by Jones and his seconds. Jones, whose left eye was completely closed, and who showed other symptoms of severe chastisement, pulled off his trousers and coat, and was about to denude himself of his other clothing, when suddenly he appeared to change his mind; he whispered to one of his seconds that it was “No use his fighting any more, as he was sure to be licked.” He then resumed his extra toggery and went to the referee, to whom he stated that he would not fight again unless another referee was chosen, as he had resigned his office. The referee replied that his resignation was only threatened, and was not consummated, inasmuch as it had not been accepted by the parties concerned, who had asked him (after he had said that he would resign) to adjourn the fight to another day, and had thus acknowledged his authority. He was not disposed now to give up that authority, and thus deprive Orme of any chance he might have of finishing the battle that night. He did not consider that either man was licked, or that there was any great advantage on either side in point of punishment; there were still two hours of daylight. As he had said before, he could see no ground for a postponement, and fight they must, or he would certainly award the battle in favour of Orme. Jones still persisted in his refusal to fight, and at length left the ring, repeating the observation, that if he fought again he knew he should be licked. He did not leave the arena, however, without hearing sundry complimentary speeches from the spectators upon the courage (?) he displayed in refusing to finish the battle in a manly, upright manner, and without resorting to any petty subterfuges to obtain an 267 adjournment. Amongst others who commented in strong terms upon his behaviour was Jemmy Massey, who was backing him, and who has shown himself a pretty good judge of the quantity of punishment a man can take without being licked; Jemmy strongly advised Jones to at once leave the ring, acknowledge that he was afraid of Orme, and thus end the matter. The referee waited the promised half-hour, at the end of which time, finding that Jones still declined the contest, he awarded the victory to Orme, to whom he at once handed the sum of £45, being the bet of £25 to £20 which had been laid prior to the commencement of the fight. The battle lasted 15 minutes at Bourne Bridge, and 18 minutes at Newmarket—​total 33 minutes.

Remarks.—​Few remarks are called for upon the style displayed by either of the combatants in this most unsatisfactory affair. Orme displayed all that fearless determination to do or die which has characterised his former encounters, but we could not perceive any improvement in his scientific acquirements since his battle with Nat Langham last year. His principal notion of stopping seemed to be with his head, which consequently received many sharp visitations from Jones’s wild deliveries, which a very little care would have enabled him entirely to escape. The art of getting away seemed to be one to the study of which he has paid very little attention. His game evidently is “nothing venture, nothing gain,” and he acted up to this to the fullest extent. Notwithstanding his want of skilful direction of his undoubted powers, Orme is a dangerous customer to any one at all near his weight. He is a very hard hitter, an extremely powerful and determined man, of indomitable courage, and, although his powers as a receiver were not severely tested on the present occasion, still, it is known that in his fight with Langham he showed that his qualities as a glutton are of the highest order. He is, moreover, possessed of an excellent temper, which enables him to control himself under circumstances which are calculated sometimes to “ruffle the feathers” of the coolest combatant. As to Jones, in whom we were taught to expect a most wonderful alteration for the better, we can only say that our expectations were grievously disappointed. He certainly did stop Orme’s swinging right-handers occasionally, but his returns, which from the opening afforded to him might have enabled him to punish his daring adversary’s temerity in a most signal manner, were mostly thrown to the winds. The tremendous blow he received on the ribs in the very first round appeared to take a good deal of the fight out of him, and it was with extreme caution that he trusted himself within reach of Orme’s pile-driving visitations. In the first ring, indeed, after the first round, he did little but receive what Orme could give, and on arriving at the second arena, previous to recommencing operations, it appeared to us that there was some little difficulty on the part of his seconds in persuading him that there was a chance left for him to snatch the laurel of victory from his more hardy opponent. When he did begin, however, he proved that he could fight very well if he chose, and that what he might lack in strength could be fully counterbalanced by steadiness; for whenever he collected himself and made up his mind to be with his man, the hits were pretty equally balanced, both as regarded their severity and their number. The fall which he received in the second act, to which was superadded the weight of Orme’s carcase, however, seemed again to take a good deal of fight out of him, and it was pretty evident to all, that although Orme was not likely to gain a victory without receiving a very considerable amount of punishment, still, barring an accident, victory must ultimately be his. The conduct of Jones at the third ring proved either that his heart was composed of a softer material than is necessary to render a man a successful bruiser, or that he acted under advice which, however well intended, was certainly as ill-timed as it was injudicious. We know that his seconds did all they could to endeavour to persuade him to fight, but finding that he was obviously disinclined, they, like clever counsellors, did their best for their client in trying to convert a bad cause into a good one, and obtain an adjournment to a future day; but, as has already been seen, the fiat had gone forth. Their man had but to choose one of two alternatives—​viz., to fight or lose the battle, and he, doubtless feeling assured in his own mind that the latter course would be the safer, declined to have any more, withdrew from the ring, leaving behind him a reputation little creditable to him as a 268 man of courage, and little calculated to raise him in the opinion of those Corinthians who were prepared to witness a manly struggle for pre-eminence, without any of those paltry shifts and subterfuge which appear now to be almost necessary concomitants of every encounter.

As was to be expected, the stakeholder received a legal notice from the backers of Jones, not to part with their portion of the money deposited. Nevertheless, on the Monday following, that gentleman handed over the £200 to Orme, pursuant to the decision of the referee. The stakeholder, in giving the money to Orme, animadverted severely on the conduct of the backers of Jones, which he characterised as unsportsmanlike and ill-judged. Such conduct was calculated to lower the already fallen fortunes of the P.R., and unless measures were taken to make an example of persons who could so far forget themselves, he feared that gentlemen would in future be deterred from putting down money to back men, from the fear that the backers of the opposing party would, if they found their man was getting the worst of it, take every unfair means in their power to prevent a manly and upright termination to the contest. On the present occasion two of Jones’s friends and supporters (whom he named) had, but whether with Jones’s consent he was unable to say, served him (the stakeholder) with a legal notice not to part with the money they had placed in his hands. Not feeling disposed to permit Orme to be thus deprived of a sum to which he had fairly entitled himself, he communicated the fact to the gentleman who staked the greater part of his money, and that gentle- and Orme executed a bond of indemnity to hold him (the stakeholder) harmless, in case Messrs. Ledger and Prior should take any further steps. The law expenses attending this bond of indemnity amounted to nearly £6. This sum would have to be paid by Orme, and it would make a considerable reduction in the amount of his winnings, which were already sufficiently circumscribed by the expenses incurred for training, paying his seconds, &c., &c. He felt assured that all persons who were disposed to look at the result of the contest in a proper light would agree with the referee in the decision he had given, and in this opinion he was upheld by remarks which had come to his ears, which had been made on the ground, by persons who had lost their money by backing Jones, many of whom said that the referee could not do otherwise than he had done. It was not necessary to trouble the company with any further remarks; they would form their own estimate of the proceedings of Jones and Co.; and in conclusion he was sure they would cordially agree with him in wishing that when Orme was again matched he would be more lucky in the choice of an 269 opponent. It was certain that whenever he did fight again he would do his best to win, and it would be from no lack of determination on his part if he lost. The stakeholder then handed to Orme the £200, minus £5 17s. 4d., the amount of the lawyer’s bill for preparing the bond of indemnity.

Orme expressed his thanks to the stakeholder for his determination in giving up the money. He said it was usual, when the winning man received the reward of his victory, to present the loser with something as a compensation for his disappointment. It had been his intention to act up to the custom on the present occasion, and give Jones a £5 note, if his (Jones’s) backers had not acted in such an unsportsmanlike manner. They had, however, put him to an expense of nearly £6, and this so reduced his winnings that he really could not afford to give anything. He was sorry for this, on Jones’s account, as he did not believe that he had any hand in the legal proceedings. Although he could not himself afford to do anything for Jones, however, he would make a collection among his friends.

Orme’s determination to give nothing to Jones was applauded by the parties present, who expressed their opinion that this was the true method of punishing him for any countenance he might have given to the dealing with the lawyers which had been commenced by his friends. Orme then went round the room, and made a collection for Jones. This he handed over to Jones, who immediately rose and thanked the company. He assured them that he had nothing to do with the notice served upon the stakeholder, and all he could say was, he hoped when he fought again he should get a better character from the Press than he had received on the present occasion. He was no coward, and he trusted that the day would come when he might be able to prove himself as game a man as Orme. As to the amount subscribed for him, he thought he could not do better than hand it over to the stakeholder, to be appropriated towards Spring’s monument. Jones’s speech was much applauded, and he sat down amidst considerable cheering, and the remainder of the evening passed off harmoniously.

Orme’s second victory over Aaron Jones, who, as must not be forgotten, was at this period (1852–3) looked upon by the Broomes and many good judges as the “coming man” for the championship in futuro, marked him out as a boxer who in time to come must “give away weight,” and who was not to be tackled by any middle-weight; for the phenomenon of a ten-and-a-half stone Champion had not yet presented itself to men’s eyes, or to their minds as a possibility or even a probability. At this juncture the 270 Champion’s title had passed into the hands of Harry Broome, in consequence of his very debatable conquest of the “Old Tipton” (through a foul blow), on the 27th of September, 1851, at Mildenhall, Suffolk. From that time Harry Broome had worn the title undisputed (Aaron Jones being of the Broome party), but now the East End friends of Orme thought they perceived their Champion within a “measurable distance” of the Championship. Accordingly Harry Orme, with laudable ambition, picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the Champion, the “other Harry,” and agreeing to the amount of stake, £500, articles were drawn, and the 23rd of March, 1853, fixed for its decision; owing, however, to that being the day of the Newmarket Handicap, a supplemental agreement was signed, postponing the battle to Monday, 18th of April. We need not here recapitulate the circumstances of the battle, seeing that they are minutely detailed in the Memoir of Harry Broome, Chapter IX. of this volume.

With this “glorious defeat,” more honourable to the loser than many victories, we close the Ring career of the brave, honest, and straightforward Harry Orme. We shall conclude our Ring memoirs of this courageous champion by a few words of quotation from a contemporary account of this final fight: “Orme is a remarkably quiet, civil fellow, and is much respected by his friends at the East End, and, indeed, by all who intimately know him. He is a man who never talks about fighting, except in the briefest terms, and then only when he means business. We do not ever recollect hearing from his lips, either at home or in public, any of that slang or loose talk which many of his brother professionals consider witty, or smart, and laughter-provoking. In fact, Harry Orme is singularly modest, and not only avoids boasting, but is always ready to concede credit to his opponent, and leave to others the praising of himself.”

Harry Orme was for many years known as the landlord of the “Jane Shore,” in Shoreditch. He died on the 9th of June, 1864, in his 41st year, and rests beneath a neat memorial in Abney Cemetery.


“Rari quippe boni: numero vix sunt totidem, quot
Thebarum portæ, vel divitis ostia Nili.”—​Juvenal, Sat.



In the little world as in the great, “history never tires of repeating itself,” according to the Napoleonic axiom; and so in the period in which the rustic, ruddy, round-boned, pugnacious Tom Paddock flourished his fists, the interregnum of the Ring exhibited a parallel to our ancient Heptarchy, the combats of which were compared by David Hume, the historian, to “the battles of the kites and the crows.” Big Ben Caunt, the crafty Bendigo (William Thompson, of Nottingham), Tom Paddock (of Redditch), Con Parker (for a few months), the Tipton Slasher (William Perry), and, finally, Harry Orme and Harry Broome, bandied and buffeted about the title of “Champion of England,” until the scarcity of “good men” reminded us of the lines of Juvenal:—

“Good men are scarce, indeed so thinly sown,
They thrive but ill, nor do they last when grown;
And should we count them, and our store compile,
Yet Thebes more gates could show, more mouths the Nile.[26]

and so went on the “confusion in the camp” until little Tom Sayers came, and, by disposing of Perry and Paddock, united England in one “Championship of all the weights.”

Paddock’s claims to a niche in our gallery of celebrities are indisputable, as it was his lot to encounter almost every big man of repute in his day. He fought, as we shall see, Nobby Clarke (twice), Bendigo, Harry Poulson (three times), Aaron Jones (twice), Harry Broome, the Tipton Slasher, Tom Sayers, and Sam Hurst. With this anticipation of his career we will proceed to a more detailed account of the doings of the “Redditch needlepointer” than has been hitherto given; merely noting that this nickname, which we many times heard from his intimates and other provincials, seemed 272 rather derived from the staple trade of Paddock’s native town than from any employment at “needlemaking” by the burly Tom himself, who was but slightly polished up from a rough and ready rustic chawbacon by his fourteen years of incidental town life.

Tom’s birth dated from 1824, and his pursuits, as we have intimated, were those of a farmer’s boy; indeed, Tom might have lived and died unknown, and taken his long nap in a nameless grave—

“Beneath those ragged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep”—

had not his good, or evil, fortune led him to “seek the bubble reputation” in the roped lists of the Prize Ring.

On the third day of the last month of the year 1844, a battle was fought between a brace of rustics, which soon after introduced yet another “Champion” candidate. The day above-named was a bustling one for the Fancy of the Hardware Town, there being no less than four fights on the far-famed battle-ground of Sutton Coldfield. The first of these, between William Shakespeare (of Brierly Hill) and Tom Jenkins (of Dudley)—​in which the namesake and possible kinsman of that other “Warwickshire lad,” renowned for all time, got an exemplary thrashing in about half an hour—​concerns us no farther than that the said Jenkins, in January of the same year, had beaten Elijah Parsons, of whom we shall hear more presently.

Illustration: Title or description


From a Photograph by Watkins.

Shakespeare and his conqueror having quitted the stage by the early hour of half-past eleven, and the Birmingham Commissary having rearranged his “properties,” the spectators resumed their seats for the second performance, in which the principal actors were our hero, announced as “Young Tom Paddock, of Redditch,” and his opponent, “Old Elijah Parsons, of Tambourne,” a village near Dudley. Parsons, who stood six feet and weighed 13st., was liberally backed by his local friends, he having in his younger days (he was then thirty) won some very hard battles. Paddock, who weighed a pound or two under 12st., and was in his twentieth year, had already stripped on one occasion in the P.R., when, at Mapleborough Green, he defeated Fred Pearce, of Cheltenham, for a purse, after Sam Simmonds, of Birmingham, had defeated Tom the Greek, on January 29, 1844. The country folk seemed to fancy “Old Elijah,” who for a fortnight had been under the care and tuition of Nobby Clarke, who, on this occasion also acted as his second, assisted by Bob Rowley. Ben Terry 273 had trained Paddock for the same short period, and now seconded him with Jem Hodgkiss. Parsons, who was in attire and staidness of demeanour a counterpart of a field-preacher, sported a white ground kerchief with a small yellow spot, Paddock the orthodox blue birdseye. Some time was lost, through local jealousy, in selecting a referee; but that and every other necessary preliminary settled, at half-past 12 o’clock the business began.


Round 1.—​As the men stood up Parsons looked big, bony, and formidable, Paddock round, rosy-red, and blooming with rude health. After a little rustic dodging and sparring, both went in right and left. Paddock succeeded in planting the first hit, a slashing left-hander on the Old’un’s mouth. Parsons missed a heavy hit, his right going over Paddock’s shoulder, who nailed him with a one, two. Parsons, evidently not knowing what to make of it, turned half-round and went from his man. Paddock followed him, and, hitting up, caught him a tidy smack with the left; Parsons, swinging completely round, made a good hit on the side of Paddock’s head, when they closed, and both fell. (5 and 6 to 4 offered on Paddock.)

2.—​Parsons came to the scratch looking serious, with his right eye already damaged and a bleeding cut on the left cheek-bone. (First blood claimed for the Young’un.) Parsons rushed in, chopping away with both hands, but with little effect. Paddock propped him, but was first down. (Cries of “2 to 1 on Redditch!”)

3.—​Parsons’s right eye showing symptoms of closing. Exchanges, Paddock nailing Parsons with his right on the damaged cheek, and Elijah retaliating on his opponent’s ribs. Both men pegged away at give and take; in the close, Parsons bored Paddock down.

4.—​Parsons tried to force the fight, but napped it severely; Paddock fought on the retreat and got down in the close, laughing.

5.—​Paddock sent in a staggering hit on Parsons’ left ear, but the Old’un stood it bravely, and grasped his opponent, but he could not hold him to fib, and Paddock slipped through his hands cleverly.

6.—​After a few seconds of sparring, Paddock shot out his left, reaching Parsons’s damaged ogle, and then got in one on the mouth. Parsons rushed in for a close, but again Paddock faced him and got down.

7.—​The Old’un again led off, both hitting away with mutual good will, a close, and Paddock under.

8.—​Ding-dong work so soon as the men were at the scratch, Parsons bleeding freely, while Paddock as yet had scarcely a mark.

9.—​Paddock dropped his left again on Parsons’s mug, and his right on the body, and fell. (Cries of “Stand up and fight like a man, you have got it all your own way.”)

10.—​Paddock again shot out his left on Parsons’s cheek, which was assuming a sorry appearance. Parsons closed, in-fighting, and Paddock down.

11.—​Paddock again made his left and right on Parsons’s dial, nevertheless, the Old’un did not flinch, but fought his man to the ropes, where Paddock fell.

12 to 17 were similar to the preceding, in favour of Paddock; still Parsons was game, and did all he could to turn the tide in his favour, but it was useless, his day had gone by.

18.—​This was a slashing round, and the best in the fight, Parsons making his right tell on Paddock’s ribs, but caught it awfully on his damaged mouth from Paddock’s left. A close, good in-fighting, and both fell together.

19 and 20.—​Parsons closed and bored his man to the ropes, where Paddock fell.

21.—​Parsons at the scratch, game, but it was no go. Paddock again shot out his left on the dial, and made an upper cut with his right. Parsons closed, a struggle for the throw, and both fell, Paddock under.

22.—​Parsons first at the scratch, with his left eye nearly closed and bleeding freely. (Cries of “Take him away.”) Parsons closed, both hitting away; at last Paddock got down.

23rd and last.—​Paddock went to his man, hit out left and right, and caught Parsons a tremendous smack over the left eye; it was a stunner. A close followed, Paddock getting his right arm round Parsons’s neck, hitting up with severity; the punishment was severe. Both men struggled, and fell together. Parsons was taken to his corner in an exhausted condition. His seconds, perceiving it was useless to prolong the contest, threw up the sponge, and Paddock was hailed as the winner. The fight lasted twenty-two minutes. Another instance of the folly of backing an Ould’un against Young’un.

Remarks.—​This was, certainly, a promising début; for though “Old Elijah” was too stale to contend with such an impetuous, hard-hitting, and resolute youngster as the “Redditch needle-grinder,” he certainly tested the Young’un’s game, who showed he was “all there,” if he did not possess the higher attainments of a scientific boxer.


As a proof that the Brums at this time kept the game alive, we may mention that another pair, Blackman and Chadwick, not choosing to lose time, actually made an extempore ring, and got off a hard fight of forty-three rounds in fifty-six minutes, in which Blackman was the victor, while Shakespeare and Jenkins, and Paddock and Parsons were settling their differences. Of course as, unlike Sir Boyle Roche’s bird, we could not be in two places at once, we saw nothing of this; but we did see the fourth fight, between Frazer Brown, of Walsall, who fought George Giles, a West Bromwich youth, for a purse, which, after an hour’s hard work, to the damage of both, but with no advantage to either, was divided, and so ended a full day’s sport.

In the month of September, 1844, a fine, fresh young fellow, aged 22, standing 6 feet, and weighing 12st. 6lbs., came up to London, and displayed such capabilities with the mittens that Johnny Broome at once “spotted” him for a competitor for the yet-untried Bob Caunt, younger brother to the Champion, Ben, who was just then being “trotted out” by the St. Martin’s Lane coterie. The new-comer, whose pals had denominated him, on account of his smartness and good looks, “Nobby” Clarke, was articled with “brother Bob” for £25 a side, and on the 22nd of October, 1844, he gave his opponent such a skilful thrashing in seven rounds, occupying the brief space of a quarter of an hour, that his friends, too hastily judging from this very short spin, announced the “Nobby One” as ready for any 12st. man for £50. Our hero, who was on the look-out for active service, replied to the challenge, and on the 27th of January, 1846, they met at Coleshill Castle, near West Bromwich; the battle exciting great interest in Birmingham and the Midlands. “Nobby” Clarke was seconded by the Tipton Slasher and Tass Parker; Tom Paddock by Hodgkiss and Sam Hurst. Clarke was in splendid condition, and in looks fully justified the 6 and 7 to 4 laid on him by the Brums. At a few minutes after eleven, the men stood up and began


Round 1.—​Clarke, who was a model of symmetry, had a noticeable superiority in length and reach over the round and ruddy Redditch man, who, however, not only seemed undismayed, but lost no time in sparring, and rattled in right and left. The “Nobby One” stopped him neatly and retreated; then let go his left at Paddock’s head, but did not seem to leave a mark. Paddock bored in, but Clarke caught him in his arms, and both were down, Paddock under.

2.—​Clarke sparred and broke ground; as Paddock came on, hitting out viciously, Clarke caught him an ugly crack on the cheek-bone, and also one in the mouth. (“First blood” for Clarke.) Paddock would not be denied, and there were some ding-dong exchanges, in which Paddock got in a smasher on Clarke’s eyebrow, making a cut, 275 which balanced the account; in the embrace which followed Paddock was undermost.

3.—​A rattling rally, in which Paddock showed most determination, the “Nobby One” breaking away twice during the hitting; but coming again to close quarters there were some sharp deliveries on both sides, and Paddock was first down.

4.—​Paddock made play, but Clarke avoided him, popping in one or two hits cleverly. Paddock persevered, and after an exchange or two, Clarke got the Redditch man undermost.

5.—​Clarke nailed Paddock left and right, but Tom bored in, caught Clarke a rib-roaster with the right; the “Nobby One” at the ropes made an attempt to butt, and then got down. Cries of “Foul.” A number of people forced themselves into the ring, declaring a “foul.” The referee called on the men to “go on.”

6.—​After some confusion the ring was cleared. Clarke had still, in appearance, the best of the hitting, Paddock’s cheek looking like a scored beefsteak. A merry bout, but Clarke would not get near enough; and, at last, as he launched out his right and closed, Paddock slipped down laughing. The ground was a perfect quagmire, and foothold very uncertain.

7, 8, 9.—​Paddock first to fight in these rounds. Clarke considerably shy in the rallies, and getting down amidst some disapprobation.

10, 11, 12.—​Paddock’s style a little improving. He, however, did not shine at out-fighting, “Nobby” getting on prettily now and again, but never following up an advantage. In the last-named round Paddock was hit down in a scramble.

13.—​Clarke began with more confidence, and nailed Paddock sharply twice in the head. Tom got in on Clarke’s ribs, a sounding thwack, and down went “Nobby,” to finish the round. (Applause for Paddock.)

14.—​Clarke shy and sparring, Paddock on to him, when “Nobby” threw Tom a back-fall in the close.

15.—​Exchanges; Paddock missed both hands; Clarke caught him heavily in the mouth, and Paddock was under in the throw.

16 to 21.—​Paddock, game as a pebble, went in, and though “Nobby” met him in the head, he never failed to get home on the body. Clarke clever at stopping and saving his head, but shifty and shy. (5 and 6 to 4 on Paddock.)

22.—​Clarke standing out and retreating on the saving suit; Paddock, resolute and determined, forcing the fighting. Clarke but little marked, except the cut over the eye in the second round though his left side showed some red bumps from Paddock’s right-hand body-blows, while Paddock was bleeding from half a dozen cuts on the cheek, nose, lips, and forehead. Still he was gay, and driving “Nobby” into his own corner, the latter dropped to avoid. (Hisses.)

23 to 30.—​Similar in character, Clarke going down almost every round.

31.—​Clarke, urged on by the Tipton, went in to fight and got the best of several exchanges, nearly closing his opponent’s left eye. Paddock got in a hit on “Nobby’s” neck, from which he turned round, and as Paddock was repeating his blow fell.

32.—​This ought to have been the last round. Clarke caught Paddock on the forehead, jumped back, ran away, and as Paddock threw out his left fell without a blow. (Great confusion, the ring broken in, and a minute or two expired before the referee’s decision could be obtained, who gave Clarke the “benefit of the doubt,” from the slipperiness of the ground.)

33–40.—​Paddock, despite the punishment he appeared to have received, was little the worse in wind or strength, while in pluck he was the very reverse of his clever antagonist. “Nobby” sparred cleverly, but was evidently afraid of his man, and when they got close and a half-arm hit was got in by Paddock, he was always a consenting party to going down; in fact, he was “on the go” before the blow reached him.

41.—​Another wrangle; “Nobby” getting down questionably after getting in a left-hander. (Hisses.)

42.—​Great wrangling and confusion. Paddock standing in the middle of the ring protesting, and calling on “Nobby” to come on, which he did after a minute or so of disputation. Paddock went at him, and “Nobby” slipped down. It was announced that Clarke would “fight no more.” Paddock again “orating;” the referee handed over the watch to a friend, called “Time!” and declared Paddock to be the winner. The Tipton created some amusement by his denunciations of the “Nobby One’s” cowardice, and was with difficulty prevented from striking the man he had just been seconding; politely addressing him as a “robber,” “cur,” “thief,” &c. with a variety of expletives which we decline to report, and ending by declaring he would “pay no bets on such a rank cross.” He had, however, to do so, as well as many others, and the stakes went to Paddock, as of right they were due.

Remarks.—​There was nothing so worthy of note in this battle as the utter unreliability of mere sparring skill when pitted against a fair amount of boxing acquirements, backed with those indispensable qualities, courage and endurance. Clarke had weight, length, skill, and, if properly applied, superior strength on his side; nevertheless, the Redditch man, by mere resolution and never losing trust in himself, literally frightened his opponent out of his victory. Paddock, though inferior to the “Nobby One,” displayed great improvement on his previous performance, and we did not hesitate to predict for him 276 a successful career, provided that he possessed temper, discretion, and teachability, which, for some time, he certainly did not. Strength, pluck, stamina, and fearless courage he had; the regulating and guiding qualities he had not.

Paddock having failed in meeting with a customer after his defeat of Clarke, did not again appear within the ropes in 1846; but, on the 27th of December in that year, the clever “Nobby One” having somewhat wiped off the stain of cowardice which had attached to his name, by a triumphant defeat of a 12st. 7lbs. man of the name of Jordan, calling himself “the Welsh Champion”—​his friends took “heart of grace,” and again offered to back their man for £50 a side against our hero. The second trial took place on the 6th of April, 1847, at Stony Stratford. We shall not inflict upon the reader a full report of this battle. It was, with little variation in its incidents, a mere replica of the first, except that it lasted seven minutes less—​48 minutes—​and the close of the 35th round brought Tom’s labours to a victorious conclusion. In the first few rounds Clarke, as on the former occasion, took a triumphant lead; but his game and hardy opponent stuck to him so determinedly, and, when he did get on, so completely—​as his half-reconciled and again-deluded friend the Tipton said—​“Knocked all the fight out of him,” that the result was merely a question of minutes more or less; the fight being finally declared to Paddock from a “foul” by the miscalled “Nobby One.”

In our Life of Bendigo (ante page 37), we have fully narrated the circumstances under which Paddock, as “Johnny Broome’s Unknown,” took up the gauntlet thrown down by Bendigo for £200 and the Championship; and how Paddock, after what appeared a winning fight, threw away his advantages, and lost the battle by losing his temper—​striking his shifty opponent a “foul” blow. This took place on the 5th of June, 1850, and as the Tipton had already pledged himself to fight the winner (Bendigo having announced his retirement from the Ring), the Slasher, then and there, challenged him for £350, which was afterwards reduced to £200 a side. This came to nothing, for on the 22nd of August, 1850, both parties failed in their deposits, and the money down was drawn. A new match was then entered into for £100 a side, and on this occasion, as the battle ended in a draw, we shall merely refer the reader to the Life of Perry (see ante page 157), where, also, will be found the account of his defeat by the Slasher, at Woking, December 17th, 1850, again from the delivery of a “foul” blow.

These defeats, greatly due to obstinate violence and ungovernable temper, seem to have induced some rash challenges to Paddock. In March, 1851, 277 Jack Grant was hastily matched with Paddock for £100, and £5 deposited; but at the next meeting Grant’s backers took second thoughts, and Tom pocketed the £5, as one of the “little fishes,” which are proverbially “sweet.” In June, at an evening at Jem Burn’s, Con Parker (who at that time kept the “Grapes,” in Aylesbury Street, Clerkenwell) proposed a battle for £50 a side, to come off July 24th; but on the following Wednesday Master Con’s courage, like Bob Acres’s, “oozed out at his fingers’ ends,” and Paddock pocketed this affront also, and a “fiver.”

Harry Poulson, of Nottingham, a sturdy, game, and resolute man, a trifle over 12st, was now thought good enough to dispute superiority with Paddock, and on the 23rd of September, 1851, the men met at Sedgebrook, near Grantham, for the small stake of £25 a side. This battle, which was lost by Paddock, after a desperate fight of 71 rounds, occupying 95 minutes, will be found under Poulson, in the Appendix to Period VII.

Paddock, who was under a passing cloud, seemed now to be shut out from the front rank, Harry Broome having attained the honours of the belt by beating the Slasher, on the 29th September, 1851. (See Life of Broome, post.) He was, in fact, at this time under articles with his former antagonist, Poulson, for a second trial, and the day fixed for December 16th, 1851. This proved an unfortunate affair for both parties. They met at Cross End, near Belper, Derbyshire, and the deposits being entirely carried out in Nottingham, no reporter from the London Press was on the ground, nor were any of the known patrons of the Ring present. The battle was gallantly contested, and Paddock, avoiding a fault conspicuous on a former occasion, had been most assiduous in his training. As usual, in gatherings where the roughs are predominant as partisans, there was a tedious waste of time in the appointment of a referee: any person of respectability who might have been present being either objected to, or himself objecting to take the thankless and often perilous office. The fight began at a little before one, Paddock gaining “first blood” and “first knock down,” by a delivery on Poulson’s left eye. After the first six rounds, Paddock forced the fighting, and had it nearly all his own way, Poulson’s want of condition telling against him. Eighty-six rounds were fought in 95 minutes, when Paddock was declared the winner amidst the plaudits of his friends.

Poulson was severely punished about the body. Paddock by no means escaped unscathed. Had the fight been conducted in a quiet manner, it 278 would have been an affair which would not have discredited the older days of the Ring; but we regret to say the worst part of our tale remains to be told. The magistrates of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire, aware that the fight was likely to come off in one of those counties, had for some days previously been on the look-out to ascertain the place of meeting, but had been put on the wrong scent; consequently, at the commencement of the battle, no efficient force was in attendance to prevent it. After the fight had continued some time, however, Messrs. John and Jedediah Strutt, with Captain Hopkins and another Derbyshire magistrate, arrived, and proceeded to dissolve the assemblage, with no other assistance than that of William Wragg, chief constable of Belper, to enforce their commands. The mob, however, refused to allow interference, when Mr. Jedediah Strutt rode up to the crowd, and ordered them to disperse. Paddock seem inclined to give over, but was told that if he did he would lose the money. The men, therefore, continued fighting, whereupon Mr. Jedediah Strutt attempted to force his way into the ring, for the purpose of reading the Riot Act, and Wragg, single-handed, endeavoured to clear a passage for him. A cry was raised of “Keep them out,” and about fifty roughs pounced upon the superintendent, and beat him savagely with sticks. The injured man was conveyed to Belper, where Mr. Allen and Mr. Lomas, surgeons, by skilful attendance, restored him to consciousness. The fight being concluded, the men set off for Derby, to which place Captain Hopkins had galloped off for assistance, and having obtained the co-operation of the borough-force, he met the combatants as they entered Derby, in different conveyances, with the intention of proceeding by train to Nottingham. Paddock and his second were taken out of a cab, and Poulson was apprehended amidst his friends in a “drag.” When taken, one of Paddock’s first observations was that “If he had won the toss for the choice of place, he would have chosen any place rather than that confounded county;” that he was sorry “the p’liceman was hurt; and he would have given over when the magistrates ordered them to disperse, but he was told that if he did he would lose the money; and, as he had been served so once before, he determined to go on with the fight.”

In this disgraceful riot and violence, we are happy to say, the men and their immediate seconds and backers took no part, as the subjoined letter from an eye-witness fully shows:—

To the Editor ofBell’s Life in London.’

“Derby, December 24th, 1851.

Mr. Editor.—​Believing that a few words on the outrages committed at Paddock and 279 Poulson’s fight may not be out of place, I send you the following: At the close of your Pedestrian Intelligence last week you gave some excellent advice to all connected with manly sports, and expressed a hope that those who by their ruffianly conduct thus disgrace the Ring, may receive their full deserts at the hands of the law. Were I the judge to try them, I would transport the whole; indeed, their conduct furnishes the opponents of prize-fighting with weightier arguments than could be found elsewhere. If pugilism, they may say, encourages fair play, and insists on equal strife, how comes it that one man shall be set upon by fifty of its supporters, and ill treated until it is doubtful whether he be dead or alive? But now let me say a word upon the state of the law in general, and the conduct of its instruments in this particular case. The same journal that reports the disturbance at the fight, details also the particulars of a murderous affray among the ‘navvies’ of the South Wales line; and, did we but alter the names of the places and persons, the whole of the latter skirmish might very well pass for a massacre among Malays or cannibals; stabbing, burning, maiming, and bruising—​a dozen nearly dead, perhaps quite so, by this time. Yet I will venture to predict that the perpetrator of these villanies will reap no heavier punishment than would a poor fellow, professed boxer or not, who may have chanced in fair and honourable fight—​such a thing occurring, perhaps, once out of a couple of thousand times—​to have caused the death of his antagonist. Such being the case—​the law looking with equal eyes at a butchery that would disgrace the Caffres, and a combat conducted with all possible fairness—​men have no reason to choose the latter mode of settling their quarrels, but may as well, they think, adopt the method which inflicts the greatest injury on their enemies. Where men get two or three months for ‘knifing’ an opponent, and others get imprisoned for a twelvemonth for seconding or being present at a prize fight—​although no harm may be done beyond the breach of our Sovereign Lady’s peace—​it does not require a prophet or a Solomon to tell us to what state of things such a course must lead among the lower orders of people. And now I must ask, in the name of common sense, what the magistrates who interfered at Paddock’s fight expected? I would as lieve venture among a pack of wolves, as go single-handed to thwart a mob of midland counties roughs. Had the officer died, his death would have been owing to sheer foolhardiness, or the obstinacy of those who urged him on. I have seen hundreds of men, more than once, quietly disperse at the order of a magistrate, though he was quite alone, unsupported by even a single officer. So it ought to be, so I hope it will be, and so it must be, if pugilists hope that the next generation may know anything of their doings, except by tradition. Allow me to add that none but the ‘roughs’ took part in the brutal assault on the constable, Wragg. Yours, &c.,


The upshot of this regretable riot was that Paddock and Poulson, being by law responsible as “principals,” were sentenced each, in March, 1852, to ten months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Paddock’s forced seclusion in Derby Gaol, although it appears to have had a favourable effect on his violence of temper, did not diminish his readiness to play the “rubber game” with Poulson; inasmuch as we find him articled to meet his old antagonist on the 14th of February, 1854, to try a final appeal, with £200 deposited to abide the issue.

Paddock at once went into assiduous training in company with Tom Sayers, at Mr. Patton’s, mine host of the “Old Hat,” Ealing; and Poulson did the same at the Neptune Inn, Hove, near Brighton, under the guidance of Jerry Noon; it being thought advisable to fix his training quarters far from the too friendly visits of his Nottingham admirers. Poulson was, on this occasion, backed from Caunt’s, Paddock from Alec Keene’s. As this battle was arranged for the London district, a trip per Eastern Counties rail was agreed on. By the time named, half-past eight, the crowd in the neighbourhood of the Shoreditch station gave evidence that something unusual was on the tapis, hundreds of East-Enders surrounding 280 the terminus to catch a glimpse of the heroes of the day. The first to show was Harry Poulson, who entered the station accompanied by Jerry Noon, Callaghan, of Derby, and a dozen of Nottingham friends; he looked hard as nails, bright-eyed, smiling, and confident, and in rare preservation for an old’un, 37 summers having shone on his nob. He was soon followed by the Redditch champion, attended by Tom Sayers, Alec Keene, and Mr. Hibburd (one of his principal backers). Both men now began to distribute their colours to the voyagers on the platform, and, from the numerous handkerchiefs of both designs which were seen knotted round the throttles of the ticket-holders, the sale must have been satisfactory. At a quarter before nine the bell rang for the start, and although the town air was foggy, no sooner were we well on our way than the sun of St. Valentine shone out brilliantly, the hoar-frost deposited overnight vanished, and the pairing birds chirruped their courting notes from every hedge and thicket. The commissariat, under the care of Dan Pinkstone, occupying a saloon carriage, was first-class, as in an after-part of the day we had occasion to prove. The train sped merrily; and at a quarter-past eleven o’clock all disembarked, in high spirits, at the appointed station, Mildenhall, where the veteran Commissary and Tom Callas formed the lists in double-quick time, and the men soon after made their appearance. Poulson was attended by Jemmy Welsh and Jerry Noon, and Paddock esquired by Jemmy Massey and Jack Macdonald, to our thinking the best of all seconds of the present day. On shaking hands Paddock offered to back himself for “an even tenner,” which Poulson accepted; but the backers of Paddock in this “the rubber game” stood out for odds, and so little business was done. At length, umpires and a referee being chosen, at half-past twelve the rival pugs, stood up for


Round 1.—​On the men throwing themselves into attitude their appearance was carefully scanned; the enormous development of muscle on Poulson’s arms and his blade-bones excited astonishment among the Londoners, who now saw him stripped for the first time. Still they were confident in the man of their adoption, for Paddock was indeed in robust health, and appeared to have so much the superiority in length and height that they now laid evens on him. No time was lost in sparring or in striking attitudes; Poulson at once dashed in, made his right on Tom’s ribs, and directly after on his mouth. Paddock was with him, and a shower of half-arm hits followed, each getting pepper on the left side of the nut until both were down.

2.—​Poulson went to work without delay, and began by pounding away with his right; Tom did not flinch, though he got it on the nose heavily, and then on his potato trap, from which the first vintage of the season was instantly perceived. (First blood for Poulson, amid cheers from the Nottingham lads.) Paddock slipped down.

3.—​Paddock, first to the scratch, led off with his left and gave Harry a tremendous crack on the forehead, Poulson returning almost a counter-hit on Tom’s left cheek. This led to a slogging rally, in which Poulson again visited Paddock’s cheek, while the 281 latter tapped the claret from Harry’s left eyebrow, and Poulson fell.

4.—​Paddock again led off, and just reached Poulson’s right eye, Poulson was with him, and some sharp counters took place, Paddock catching it on the nozzle from Poulson’s left, while Tom retorted with a swinging crack on Poulson’s left ear. They now broke away, but soon returned to work; Paddock let fly right and left viciously at Harry’s frontispiece, when Poulson countered him steadily on the snout and forehead. Poulson was first on the ground.

5.—​Paddock again opened the ball with a sharp rap on Harry’s cheek, but the latter retorted with such a sounding rib-bender that it was heard all round the ring. Soon after Tom landed a little one on Poulson’s right brow, cutting it, and producing the crimson. Both now banged away at close quarters, and in the end both came down.

6.—​Both sparred for wind; indeed, the fighting had been very fast; some random shots were exchanged, the men closed, and rolled down together.

7.—​Paddock let go his left, but it went clean over Poulson’s cranium. A second shot reached his forehead, but for this Tom caught a smasher on the mouth, that drew the Oporto copiously, and seemed for a second or two to puzzle Tom seriously. However, he went in, and more yard-arm to yard-arm cannonading followed; no quarter was given or asked for, but at the end of the ding-dong Paddock was down with the worst of the hitting.

8.—​Paddock came up crimson as the “Red Lion,” at Brentford, but he led off without delay, and they were soon at infighting; Paddock got on his knees in the scrimmage, and Poulson dealt him a “hot one” on his snuff-box. A claim of “foul” from Paddock’s friends, but disallowed. Poulson’s blow could not be withheld, as it was delivered simultaneously with Paddock’s knees reaching the ground.

9.—​Paddock, twice foiled in leading off, went in furiously, reaching Harry’s nose, and removing the bark, but getting a Roland for his Oliver in a smasher on his own olfactory organ that sadly spoilt its symmetry. Hitting