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Fists AND THE MAN I sing, who, in the valleys of Hampshire,
Close to the borough of Andover, one fine day of the spring-time,
Being the twentieth of May, (the day, moreover, was Tuesday,)
Eighteen hundred and twenty-three, in a fistical combat,
Beat, in a handful of rounds, Bill Neat, the butcher of Bristol.
What is the hero's name? Indeed, 'tis bootless to mention.
Every one knows 'tis Spring— Tom Spring, now Champion of England.
Full of honours and gout, Tom Cribb surrendered his kingdom,
And in the Champion's cup no more he quaffs as the Champion.
Who is to fill his place ? the anxious nation, inquiring,
Looks round the ring with a glance of hope and eagerness blended.
Everywhere would you see deep-drawn and puckered-up faces,
Worn by the people in thought on this high and ponderous matter.
Spain and Greece are forgot-they may box it about at their pleasure ;
Newport may brandish his brogue unheard at the Sheriff of Dublin ;
Canning may give the lie to Brougham, and Brougham be a Christian ;
Hume may be puffing Carlisle, or waging a war upon Cocker;
Byron may write a poem, and Hazlitt a Liber Amoris ;
Nobody cares a fig for the Balaam of Baron or Cockney.
All were absorbed at once in the one profound speculation,
Who was the man to be the new pugilistical Dymoke.
Neat and the Gasman put up, and the light of Gas was extinguished.
Woe is my heart for Gas! accursed be the wheel of the waggon
Which made a tpancake of blood of the head of that elegant fellow.
He had no chance with Neat; the fist of that brawny Bristolian
Laid him in full defeat on the downs of Hungerford prostrate.
Great was the fame of Bill; the ancient city of Bristol
[Bristol, the birth-place dear of the Laureate LL.D. Southey-
Bristol, the birth-place too of Thomas Cribb the ex-Champion]
Hailed him with greetings loud; and, boldly declaring him matchless,
Challenged the boxing world to try his valour in contest.
• I acknowledge my obligations to the + " My troth, gin yon chield had shalearned and elegant reporter of this battle ved twa inches nearer you, your head, my for the Fancy Gazette. (See No. XVIII. man, would have lookit very like a bluidy p. 406_411.) He has been to me what pancake."--Reginald Dalton. Miss Lee's Kruitzner was to Lord Byron's You see I agree with Southey, a man Werner; and the careful and judicious cri. for whom I have a particular esteem, that tic will find, that I have, like his lordship, people ought to indicate the most minute a man for whom I have a particular esteem, sources of information. Yet the Doctor is copied the very words of my original. I not always so fair-the most splendid pas. give free leave to any critic to contrast the sage in his Roderick is merely a transcript Gazette with this Idyllium of mine, print- of a conversation I had with him on the ing them, if they choose, in parallel columns, top of one of the Bristol coaches in the year and cutting me up as a plagiary. If North 1814; and yet I do not recollect that he will give me the room and pay me for it, I anywhere alludes to the circumstance. In. shall do it myself most unmercifully. It is deed, he seldom mentions my name in any a long time since I have been sufficiently of his writings. Yet I respect him highly, hacked to pieces.-M. OD.
and frequently mention him in my works. [Send your Balaam to Sir Richard, if -M. OD. you please.-C. N.)
London replied to the call the land of the Cockneys, indignant
At this * yokel attempt to set up a Champion provincial,
Looked with its great big eyes at Spring, and Spring understood it.
Everything soon was arranged; the time was fixed for the battle ;
Cash on each side was posted, a cool two hundred of sovereigns;
And the affair was put beneath the guidance of Jackson.
I sha'n't delay my song to say, how some Justices tasteless
Twice by the felon hand of power prevented the combat.
Vain the attempt as base--as well the clashing of comets
Would be prevented by them, as the onslaught of pugilist rivals.
When the great day arrived, big with the glory of Britain,
Bustle be sure there was, and riding, and running, and racing;
Nay, for three days before, the roads were wofully crowded;
All the inns were beset, each bed had a previous engagement;
So, if you came in late, you were left in a bit of a hobble
Either to cainp in the street, or sleep on three chairs in the bar-room.
Chaises, coaches, barouches, taxed carts, tilburies, whiskeys,
Curricles, shandry-dans, gigs, tall phaetons, jaunting cars, waggons,
Cabriolets, landaus, all sorts of vehicles rolling,
Four-wheeled, or two-wheeled, drawn by one, two, three, or four horses ;
Steeds of various degrees, high-mettled racer, or hunter,
Bit of blood, skin-and-boner, pad, hack, mule, jackass, or donkey ; +
Sniffers on foot in droves, by choice or economy prompted ;
Grumbling Radical, pickpocket Whig, and gentleman Tory,
Down from ducal rank to the rascally fisher of fogles,
Poured from London town to see the wonderful action.
Thirty thousand at least were there; and ladies in numbers
Rained from their beautiful eyes sweet influence over the buffers.
Well the ground was chosen, and quite with the eye of a poet ;
Close to the field of fight, the land all rises around it,
Amphitheatrical wise, in a most judgmatical fashion.
There had the Johnny-raws of Hants ta’en places at leisure,
Many an hour before the combatants came to the turn-up.
We were not idle, be sure, although we waited in patience ;
Drink of all sorts and shapes was kindly provided to cheer us;
Ales from the famous towns of Burton, Marlboro', Taunton ;
Porter from lordly Thames, and beer of various descriptions ;
Brandy of Gallic growth, and rum from the isle of Jamaica;
Deady, and heavy wet, blue ruin, max, and Geneva ;
Hollands that ne'er saw Holland, mum, brown stout, perry, and cyder;
Spirits in all ways prepared, stark-naked, hot or cold watered ;
Negus, or godlike grog, flip, lambswool, syllabub, rumbo;
Toddy, or punch, or shrub, or the much sung stingo of gin-twist; '
Wines, in proportions less, their radiance intermingling, S
• Yokel.]-Provincial, I opine ; but am not sure. If wrong, shall correct in second edition; or, at all events, in time for the third.-M. OD.
+ Jackass, or donkey.)-I mean the four footed animals. No allusion whatever to any he or she Whig-tbey being biped. M. OD.
Fisher of fogles] i. e. pickpocket. A fogle is a handkerchief.-M. OD.
Š Their ra-di-ance inter-mingling: There is a fine spondaic fall. What do you think of that, Doctor Carey ? Read the line over three times before you answer. It must put you in mind of Ag-mi-na circum-spexit."-Virg.
Flowed like a stream round the ring, refreshing the dry population.
Glad was I in my soul, though I missed my national liquor,
And with a tear in my eye my heart fled back into Ireland.
*Whisky, my jewel dear, what though I have chosen a dwelling
Far away, and my throat is now-a-days moistened by Hodges,-
Drink of my early days, I swear I shall never forget thee!
Round the ring we sat, the stiff stuff tipsily quaffing. +
[Thanks be to thee, Jack Keats; our thanks for the dactyl and spondee;
Pestleman Jack, whom, according to Shelley, the Quarterly murdered
With a critique as fell as one of his own patent medicines.]
Gibbons appeared at last; and, with adjutants versed in the business,
Drove in the stakes and roped them. The hawbuck| Hottentot Hantsmen
Felt an objection to be whipped out of the ring by the Gibbons.
Fight was accordingly shewn, and Bill, afraid of the numbers,
Kept his whip in peace, awaiting the coming of Jackson.
Soon did his eloquent tongue tip off the blarney among them;
And what force could not do, soft talk performed in a jiffy.
Arm-in-arm with his backer and Belcher, followed by Harmer,
Neat in a moment appeared, and instantly flung down his castor.
In about ten minutes more, came Spring, attended by Painter ;
Cribb, the illustrious Cribb, however, acted as second.
Compliments, then, were exchanged, hands shaken, after the fashion
Of merry England for ever, the beef-eating land of the John Bulls.
Blue as the arch of Heaven, or the much-loved eyes of my darling,
Was the colour of Spring-to the stakes Cribb tied it in person.
Yellow, like Severn stream, when the might of rain has descended,
Shone forth the kerchief of Neat. Tom Belcher tied it above Spring's—
But with a delicate twist, Tom Cribb reversed the arrangement,
Putting the blue above. The men then peeled for the onset.
Twenty minutes past One P.M.--So far for a preface.
Round the first.
Spring was a model of manhood. Chantrey, Canova, or Scoular, |||
Graved not a finer form ; his muscles firmly were filled up,
And with elastic vigour played all over his corpus;
Fine did his deltoid show; his neck rose towering gently
Curved from the shoulder broad; his back was lightsomely dropt in.
Over his cuticle spread a slightly ruddy suffusion,
Shewing his excellent state, and the famous care of his trainers ;
Confidence beamed from his face; his eye shone steady in valour.
Valiantly, too, looked Neat, a truly respectable butcher,
But o'er his skin the flush was but in irregular patches :
• Whisky, my jewel dear, &c.]-These mitted on that promising young man. fine lines are imitated from the Vision of Murray can never come to luck. Indeed, Judgment. See the passage beginning, since Keats' death, he has been publishing “Bristol, my birth-place dear, what though Sardanapalus, and Cain, and Fleury's MeI have chosen a dwelling,” &c. &c. moirs, &c. &c. which must give some sa. M. OD.
tisfaction to the injured shade of the de. + T'ipsily quaffing.) – From a poem ceased.-M. OD. about Bacchus, written by poor Jack Keats, Harobuck.]_Johnny Raw to the last a man for whom I had a particular esteem. degree.-M. OD. I never can read the Quarterly of late, on Scoular.] His head of D. Bridges account of the barbarous murder it com. ranks with Chantrey's of Sir W. Scott.
Even on his cheeks, the bloom was scarve the breadth of a dollar.
Gin, thou wert plainly there! I would he had left thee to Hazlitt,
Ay, or to any one else, all during the process of training !
Bootless ʼtis now to complain—Bill Neat, you were bothered by Daffy !
Long did they pause ere they hit-much cautious dodging and guarding
Shewed their respect for each other; four tedious minutes, ere either
Struck, had elapsed ; at last Tom Spring hit out with the left hand,
So did Bill Neat with the right, but neither blow did the business.
Neat then made up for offence, and flung out a jolly right-hander,
Full for the stomach of Spring; but Spring judiciously stopped it,
Else it had flattened the lad as flat as the flattest of flounders :
Even as it was, it contused the fleshy part of his fore-arm.
Neat tried the business again-'twas now more happily parried.
Spring, with a smile at the thought of the smash he had given to Bill's fist,
Put down his hands for a while, but soon gathered up to the onset :
Hit and re-hit now passed, but Neat threw off a right-hander
Meant for certain effect. The true scientifical manner
Shewn by William in this was loftily cheered by the audience,
Thunders of clapping ensued, and the whole ring roared like a bullock.
Neat grew offensive now, but the stop and parry of Winter
[Winter is Spring's real name, though they call him, for brevity, Tom Spring]
Punished him step by step, as Bill drove him into the corner.
“ Now is the time,” cried Belcher, and Bristol waited the triumph.
But the position of Spring prevented all awkward invasion.
In-fighting then was tried, that came to a close and a struggle :
Under came Billy Neat, as Ajax under Ulysses.
Spring came over him hard-and 3 to 2 was the betting.
Round the Second. Spring shewed the same strong guard, but ever ready for action. Neat began to breathe short, when, wap! came a flushy right-hander, Plump on his fore-head, and, lo! the stream of the claret was flowing, * Sanguine as butchers will bleed, not at all like the ichor of angels. Out did he hit to the right-Spring sprung back-Neat again tried it, But, on the side of the head, he got such a lump of a twister, That he was turned quite round, and nearly saluted his mother.t Stupid and senseless he looked like a young whig lawyer of Embro'(Some little mealy-faced pup, amazed with a recent suffusion From the uplifted leg of some big boardly bull-dog of Blackwood) Then did the hooting arise, from various people indignant ; And, in the hubbub loud, “ Cross, Cross !” was frequently mentioned, This brought Neat to his senses, and straight he took to in-fighting. Bloody hard hits came from both-'twas head-work chiefly between them: Down in the end went Neat, and blue looked the betters of Bristol !
Round the Third. Neat tried his hand at hard hitting—and then were the heavy exchanges. But in one counter-hit, his blow was heavier than Tommy's,
For it sent him away. Bill Neat then burst out a-laughing,
Like the Olympian Gods at Vulcan handing the stingo.
He followed up his success; and after ringing the changes,
Planted a terrible lunge on the short-rib department of Thomas.
Then he gave all his weight to a blow, and floored his opponent,
Coming down with him himself. On this, a terrible uproar
Rose from the Men of the West -a shout of jubilant cheering.
Short is the vision of man! that very round had undone him,
For, in the counter-hit, he broke a bone in his fore-arm.
What is the name of the bone?-Well, since you ask me the question,
Radius, 'tis called by Cline, a most anatomical surgeon.
Round the Fourth.
Firm was the guard of Spring ; Neat worked most anxious to get in-
Vainly-for Spring baffled all his attempts, just as if he was sparring.
Soon he took the offensive, and the woful yokels of Avon
Heard his fists, right and left, rap! rap! on the body of Billy. *
One-two nobbers, besides, did he administer freely;
All the while poor Bill felt out for the ribs with the left hand;
Every hit being short, and the right hand quite ineffective:
Backward and forward jumped Spring, and grasping his burly opponent,
Caught him up from the ground, and fell down fairly upon him.
Glorious ! sublime was the feat, and there was no saying against it.
Bristol looked very blank, as blank as the Island of Byron.
Loud did the Westerns cry, “ Bill, what has become of your right hand ?
Gemini, man! My eyes! Hey! Go it! What are you arter ?"+
Betting was 5 to 1. In fact, Bill Neat was defeated.
Rounds Fifth and Sirth.
Lump we a couple of rounds, for I'm in a devilish hurry,
Being invited to dine at the Dog and Duck with Pearce Egan.
Neat was quite stupified now, I a mere Phrenological fellow,
Who, as we happen to know, cannot tell a man's head from a turnip.
All his hits were at random; on getting a bodier slanting,
Down he'd have gone for time, but Spring, with the kindest intentions,
Lent him a merry-go-down, to freshen his way in the tumble.
Murmurs then were of foul play, as if he had fallen out of fancy
Without the aid of a hit; but Jackson, unerring as Delphi,
Stated the fact as it was, and decision dwelt on his dictate.
As for round the sixth, 'tis hardly worth the relating.
Neat was pelted about, and knocked down like a cow in the shambles.
Round the Seventh.
Still there was pluck in Bill; Spring feared a customer rummish.
Cautiously, therefore, he fought and parried the sinister lunges.
• Heard his fists, right and left, rap! rap! on the body of Billy.) - Imitated from « Heard the bell from the tower toll! toll! in the silence of evening.”
SOUTHEY.-M. OD. † Arter.) Bristolian for after.
A mere Phrenological fellow, who, as we happen to know, cannot tell a man's head from a turnip. 1–See the organization of that celebrated Swede, Professor Tornhippson, as developed in those two scientific works, the Transactions of the Phrenologie cal Society, and the Noctes Ambrosinne, No. VIII.-M. OD.