« PreviousContinue »
Ma Egan, our good friend, what can you possibly mean by publishing no fewer than three several sporting works, without sending us presentation copies? Have we offended you in any way? If so, believe that it was unintentionally, and see that you transmit to Messrs Cadell and Davies, on or before the 8th of April-in time for our Coach parcel-your book upon Bath-that inimitable panoramic view of "Going to a Fight"-and your Magnum Opus on Gymnastics. We shall make an amusing Article on each of them ;-and be pleased to recollect, that we are the only Editor of a literary journal who has yet sported his canvass in the ring.
We have extreme pleasure in writing the series "Boxiana"-and we know that it is excessively popular! It is true, that one elderly maiden lady has written us an expostulatory epistle on the subject, and expressed herself shocked by the indecency of the spectacle of two enormous por ters, (such were her very words) exhibiting themselves stripped before twenty thousand spectators. We answered that letter privately-and assured the nun that Pugilists fight in flannel drawers-and that they are very little more exposed than young ladies in a ball-room. We also ventured to state it as our opinion, that it is less indelicate in such a man as Tom Belcher to give Cropley a cross but tock, than an officer of Hussars to put one hand on the bare neck of a virgin of eighteen years, another round her
waist, and thus to whirl her about for a quarter of an hour in his arms, till both parties are blind, and that too in presence of three hundred spectators. A waltzing match is, we humbly suggested, a more indecent exhibition than a boxing match. What can be more so, than to step, ready stripped, into the ring, and hug in succession a long series of military men, occasionally relieved by civilians? The amazon dismisses from her embrace captain, and colonel, and knight at arms, all panting and perspiring and reeling-while she stands victorious and unexhausted in the ring. And who compose the ring? Judges, senators, soldiers, grand-mothers, matrons, maids, and among them our own shrivelled correspondent. Go, Tabitha, to Moulsey Hurst, when Turner fights young Cabbage, and then, on your conscience, tell the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine, that their conduct is as indecent as that of Cornet Sabretache and Miss Julia Dyaway.
Well, well Mr North, no more about indecency, but think of the cruelty of boxing. Mr Leigh Hunt thinks it cruel-brutal-and unworthy of the pages of the Examiner. No doubt, Mr Leigh Hunt would be entitled to complain of the cruelty of boxing, were Little Puss to tip him a stomacher while meditating a crisp sonnet in some farmy field, in front of Hampstead. But who would talk of the cruelty of giving a facer to the champion of England? It would be 4 H
to the last degree cruel to force Mr Leigh Hunt out of his study into a smithy-and insist upon his beating' on an anvil for an hour, with a prodigious sledge hammer, instead of fingering away on the piano-forte. This would be converting Apollo into Vulcan. But Elias Spray, the coppersmith, who fought the Chicken, worked at his profession, without exciting the pity of the tender-hearted. That game-pugilists enjoy intense pleasure in knocking and being knocked down, is obvious to the most careless observer-and there is not a sentiment of more universally acknowledged humanity, than pleasure in the way we like it."
Boxing, therefore, being both decent and humane, why call it brutal? No brute animal of our acquaintance 'is a pugilist. Dogs do not boxcocks do not box-a bear is good at a close-but he is a round hitter, and too much of a ruffian for the ring. Man, is in fact, distinguished from the brute creation by nothing so much as being a boxing animal. He shares the faculty of speech with the bullfinch, the starling, the magpie, and the parrot-and in the art of cookery he was excelled by Maculloch of the Royal Hotel-extinguish in his bosom the love of pugilism, and you reduce him to a level with the beasts that perish.
The philosophic observer of human nature perceives the connecting principles by which that human nature, multiform and multitudinous as it is, is yet blended into one grand and harmonious whole. There is a necessary connexion between all the fine arts. Richmond, the black, gives lessons in dancing every time he fights-Randal, as a statuary, is superior to Chantrey, Canova, and Thorvalsden. Crib is an admirable artist in body colours.— Pollux was in his day a Painter. The society for the suppression of vice has done but little harm-but we do not like the idea of a society for the suppression of virtue and, therefore, hope, that the magistracy of England will at all times allow Bill Gibbons to form the ring undisturbed. We are persuaded that the Manchester Magistrates did their duty on the 16th of August-but may Pugilism flourish, and radicalism decay-so "Let Dares beat Entellus black and blue." Nothing can be more good-humour
ed than an assemblage of Englishmen at a fight. No seditious banners-no orators-no occasion afterwards for the grand inquest of the nation to inte fere every thing is left to the u pires-and no Pope was ever so infa is ever lible as Mr John Jackson. How nobly was this illustrated in the late disputed question respecting Belasco and the Birmingham Youth! The Whigs moved for a reference to the Jockey Club, for an inquiry into the behavior of the Jew. But Egan, Kent, Cray, and Jackson, supported the ministry; and, considering it altogether as a party question, by which the opposition expected to get a "turn out," all the most sound pugilists of the day rallied round the established authori ties, and by their firmness, and deafness to popular clamour, vindicated and sustained the character of the British ring all over the world.
The last objection urged against pugilism is, that it is dangerous-the ar gument of a coward. But, dangerous as it may be, is it not true, that any one doctor that ever administered a prescription, has killed more men than all the pugilists that ever fought, either with cestus or naked fist? The destruction of human life in the prize ring has been trifling. You may write all their names with a single drop of ink. Neither Jem Belcher, nor the Chicken, nor Crib, ever made a widow-but when the two former died. But supposing that a dozen pugilists were killed per annum, would such an allowance prove fatal to this country? Has not the population of Britain increased greatly these last twenty years, even in spite of the daily operation of many hundred stage-coaches?
This, we find, is likely to be a sort of rambling article, quite chitty-chatty and off-hand-the best sort of leading article, perhaps, after all, now that there are so many magazines at work all over the island. One hates to see scores of editors all hammering away at one and the same thing-Living Authors, No I. Scott-No II. Wordsworth-On the Cockney School of Poetry, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,-Letters from the Lakes-Comparison between Kemble and Kean, &c. &c. There is really something quite shocking in this everlasting ringing of bells, and this taratantararaing of trumpets. No sooner has one editor started a subject from some secret covert, than fifty others
join full cry, with all their pack of contributors, in pursuit ; and no wonder that the game is run down and hausted at last, though often not vorth the bagging, so wofully torn and mangled. It is a puzzling matter to know how to act at present; one request we have to make of our facetious friends, Bon-mots, and Janus Weathercock, that they do not seduce Mr P. Egan from our service, and that the leave us in possession of the g. The truth is, that the world is not wide enough for all the present magazines, and some of them must be blown up. Our own private opinion is, (though it might be dangerous to express it) that three magazines are sufficient for Great Britain and Ireland Baldwin, Blackwood, and Colbourn.*
To return to Boxiana. It is a book that we never tire of take it up when we will it puts us into immediate spirits. It is a sufficient justification of pugilism to say, that Mr Egan is its historian-for a better natured, more gentlemanly person, never wore a glove. On a former occasion we ventured to suggest a resemblance between Mr P. Egan and Mr Thomas Campbell, as the historians of pugilism and poetry. But, in truth, highly as we admire the abilities of the author of the Pleasures of Hope and the Specimens, we cannot affirm, that he has yet produced any such work as Boxiana. Mr Egan combines within himself, as the historian of British pugilism, all the qualifications possessed by all the historians of British poetry. He has all the elegance and feeling of a Percy-all the classical grace and inventive ingenuity of a Warton-all the enthusiasm and zeal of a Headley -all the acuteness and vigour of a Ritson-all the learning and wit of an Ellis-all the delicacy and discernment of a Campbell; and at the same time, his style is perfectly his own, and likely to remain so, for it is as inimitable as it is excellent. The man who has not read "Boxiana" is ignorant of the power of the English language.
Our readers have already studied with us the history of two Eras of British pugilism. They have been initiated into the mysteries of the schools
of Broughton, and of Big Ben. We are now about to make them acquainted with a new school-that of Mendoza a school whose fame is in some measure gone by, but a school that will ever continue to be admired by every lover of correct taste, sound judgment, elegant execution, and good bottom. This was, indeed, the Augustan age of pugilism, though fortunately it did not precede the decline and fall of the art. There was indubitably a finished and perfect beauty in the finest performances of Mendoza, for which we may now look, in vain. He was the Virgil-or, perhaps, the Addison of his time. His battle with Humphries was perhaps superior to any thing in the Æneid. It was a most elaborate performance; yet art was so blended with nature, that its striking merits were visible to the eyes even of the unscientific, and the name of Mendoza now rises up in our memory when we think of all that was most graceful in attitude, and correct in distance. He was indeed the great founder of the Jewish school,-nor has either Dutch Sam, Belasco, or Iky Pig, eclipsed the fame of their master.
Dan has fought upwards of thirty pitched battles, but of these eight only are on record-one with Martin, the celebrated Bath Butcher, three with Humphries, two with Ward, one with Jackson, and one with Lee. In his first contest with Humphries, he was beaten; but in his two others his superiority was immeasureable. The first fight is thus described by Mr Egan:
Humphries, upon ascending the stage, was received with loud and repeated cheers, which he gratefully acknowledged by his genteel deportment, when Tom Johnson appeared as his second, the athletic Tring as his bottle-holder, and Mr Allen as um
pire. Mendoza, almost instantly following, was greeted with the most flattering marks of attention and respect from the surrounding spectators; a Mr Moravia acted as his umpire, David Benjamin was his second, and Jacobs his bottle-holder, and the whole of them were Jews. Humphries' appearance, when stripped for the fight, was peculiarly attractive, and his fine manly form was seen to great advantage; he had on a pair of fine flannel drawers, white silk stockings, the clocks of which were spangled with gold, and pumps tied with ribbon. The dress of
We have bracketted the three senior wranglers this year, and also adopted an alphabetical arrangement.
Mendoza was plain and neat. About twenty minutes after one, every thing be ing ready, the usual salutations took place, when the display of the science was infinite ly fine-much was expected from two such skilful artists, and the feints made by each party were elegant and scientific-Mendoza felt no terrors from the proud fame of his antagonist, and Humphries viewed the admirable skill displayed by his opponent with firmness and composure-the parryings were long and various, and the ama teur experienced one of the richest treats ever exhibited in this noble and manly art at length, Mendoza put in the first blow, and recoiling from its effects slipped and fell upon his back, in consequence of the stage being slippery from the rain which had fell previous to the battle, yet was of no material effect against Humphries, as he warded it off and retreated. In the second round Mendoza, full of vigour, went into his antagonist and knocked him down; and in closing in the next, the Jew threw Humphries. The odds which had been much in favour of Humphries, were now changing rapidly upon Mendoza. The Jew, flushed with his success, found his game all alive, and showed himself off to the best advantage, with all the heroism of a most experienced pugilist. Humphries appeared to make no way against Mendoza, who had now knock ed Dick down six times in succession. The Jews sported their cash freely, as the Chris tian, it was supposed, must soon be vanquished; but the friends of Humphries were not to be dismayed, and took the odds greedily. At one time the contest was nearly coming to a premature termination, from the cry of" foul, foul!" by the friends of Mendoza, who, in the early part of the fight, had drove Humphries upon the rail of the stage, and while the latter was upon. the balance, aimed a blow at his ribs which must have finished the battle, but Johnson caught it. The umpires considered it a knock-down blow, and that Johnson was correct. The stage was so slippery that Humphries could scarcely stand upon his legs, and soon discharged the finery from his legs, for the more substantial service of worsted hose-Dick now felt his feet, went in with his usual confidence, and the bets became even. Humphries was now himself, and fast recovering in wind and strength, the amateurs were delighted with his undaunted courage and neatness of execution. Mendoza was thrown, and in falling pitched upon his face, his forehead was dreadfully cut just above the right eye, and his nose assumed a different shape; but the Jew's pluck was good, and in the next round gave Humphries a prime facer, that the bets were still alive. Humphries was gaining ground fast, and soon put in a doubler upon the loins of Mendoza, one of the Jews most vulnerable parts; which was followed up by one in the neck, the Jew reeling fell with his leg under him, sprained
his ancle, and was reluctantly compelled to acknowledge the superiority of the Christian Mendoza almost immediately afterwards fainted, and was taken from the stage. Thus ended this truly celebrated contest, in twen ty-eight minutes, fifty-four seconds, in which, perhaps, there never was so much skill and dexterity ever witnessed; nor more money depending upon its termination. The Jews were severe sufferers and al though Mendoza was defeated, his fame and character as a pugilist were consider ably increased his style of fighting was highly spoken of by the scientific amateur and that in close fighting, and as a quick hitter, he was evidently superior to his antagonist. The advantage was also upon the side of Mendoza in point of strength of arm, and when struggling to obtain the throw, he punished his adversary considerably by keeping down his head. His guard was excellent, and displayed a thorough knowledge of the art, by keeping it closer to his body than that of his adversary, by which means his blows were given with more force when he struck out his arms, and with respect to stopping, he was not deficient to Humphries; but for elegance of position-cool and prompt judgment fortitude of manner-and force of blow, he was materially inferior. He wanted also that personal courage, which was so ap parent in Humphries, and whose confidence rendered him so indifferent of himself-but in point of throwing, Mendoza, though not expected, had the complete advantage, and the activity he displayed throughout the fight was considerable. Mendoza contended for victory with all the style andmi valour of a true Hero.
THE TABLES TURNED.
Humphries, attended by Tom Johnson as his second, entered between one and two o'clock, followed by Butcher, as his bottleholder, and Harvey Christian Coombe, Esq. as his umpire; and Mendoza immediately afterwards made his appearance, attended by Captain Brown and Michael Ryan, as his second and bottle-holder, having for his umpire, Sir Thomas Appreece. The se conds, according to an agreement, retired to separate corners on the setting-to of the combatants:-The moment became interesting, and anxiety was upon the utmost stretch-the opinions of the amateurs had undergone various changes since the last combat; and the issue of the contest was extremely doubtful-Mendoza was considered a formidable rival, and he had rather rose into estimation than otherwise since the first battle, and the betting had no stability about it. Humphries appeared strong and elegant in his position, and endeavoured to put in a facer; but Dan, on the alert, stopped it with great neatness, and returned a sharp blow, that levelled his opponent. Mendoza, elated with the attempt, concluded the second and third rounds in the