Chauncey Wetmore Wells.

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or by implication, in every one's face. Even a highwayman, in
the way of trade, may blow out your brains, but if he uses foul
language at the same time, I should say he was no gentleman.
A boxer, I would infer, need not be a blackguard or a coxcomb,
more than another. Perhaps I press this point too much on a
fallen man Mr. Thomas Hickman has by this time learnt that
first of all lessons, "That man was made to mourn." He has
lost nothing by the late fight but his presumption; and that
every man may do as well without!



WILLIAM HAZLITT 261

By an over display of this quality, however, the public had
been prejudiced against him, and the knowing ones were taken
in. Few but those who had bet on him wished Gas to win.
With my own prepossessions on the subject, the result of the
nth of December appeared to me as fine a piece of poetical
justice as I had ever witnessed. The difference of weight be-
tween the two combatants (14 stones to 12) was nothing to the
sporting men. Great, heavy, clumsy, long-armed Bill Neate
kicked the beam in the scale of the Gasman's vanity. The ama-
teurs were frightened at his big words, and thought they would
make up for the difference of six feet and five feet nine. Truly,
the Fancy are not men of imagination. They judge of what has
been, and cannot conceive of anything that is to be. The Gas-
man had won hitherto; therefore he must beat a man half as
big again as himself and that to a certainty. Besides, there
are as many feuds, factions, prejudices, pedantic notions in the
Fancy as in the state or in the schools. Mr. Gully is almost the
only cool, sensible man among them, who exercises an unbiassed
discretion, and is not a slave to his passions in these matters.

But enough of reflections, and to our tale. The day, as I have
said, was fine for a December morning. The grass was wet, and
the ground miry, and ploughed up with multitudinous feet,
except that, within the ring itself, there was a spot of virgin-
green, closed in and unprofaned by vulgar tread, that shone
with dazzling brightness in the mid-day sun. For it was now
noon, and we had an hour to wait. This is the trying time. It is
then the heart sickens, as you think what the two champions are
about, and how short a time will determine their fate. After
the first blow is struck, there is no opportunity for nervous
apprehensions; you are swallowed up in the immediate interest
of the scene but

Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream.



262 PROSE NARRATIVES

I found it so as I felt the sun's rays clinging to my back,
and saw the white wintry clouds sink below the verge of the
horizon. "So," I thought, "my fairest hopes have faded
*from my sight! so will the Gasman's glory, or that of his
adversary, vanish in an hour." The swells were parading in
their white box-coats, the outer ring was cleared with some
bruises on the heads and shins of the rustic assembly (for
the cockneys had been distanced by the sixty-six miles); the
time drew near.

I had got a good stand; a bustle, a buzz, ran through the
crowd; and from the opposite side entered Neate, between his
second and bottle-holder. He rolled along, swathed in his loose
greatcoat, his knock-knees bending under his huge bulk; and,
with a modest, cheerful air, threw his hat into the ring. He
then just looked round, and begun quietly to undress; when from
the other side there was a similar rush and an opening made,
and the Gasman came forward with a conscious air of anticipated
triumph, too much like the cock-of-the-walk. He strutted about
more than became a hero, sucked oranges with a supercilious air,
and threw away the skin with a toss of his head, and went up and
looked at Neate, which was an act of supererogation. The only
sensible thing he did was, as he strode away from the modern
Ajax, to fling out his arms, as if he wanted to try whether they
would do their work that day. By this time they had stripped,
and presented a strong contrast in appearance. If Neate was
like Ajax, "with Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear" the pugilistic
reputation of all Bristol, Hickman might be compared toDiomed,
light, vigorous, elastic, and his back glistened in the sun, as
he moved about, like a panther's hide. There was now a dead
pause attention was awe-struck. Who at that moment, big
with a great event, did not draw his breath short did not feel
his heart throb? All was ready. They tossed up for the sun,
and the Gasman won. They were led up to the scratch shook
hands, and went at it.



WILLIAM HAZLITT 263

In the first round every one thought it was all over. After
making play a short time, the Gasman flew at his adversary like
a tiger, struck five blows in as many seconds, three first, and
then following him as he staggered back, two more, right and
left, and down he fell, a mighty ruin. There was a shout, and I
said, "There is no standing this." Neate seemed like a lifeless
lump of flesh and bone, round which the Gasman's blows played
with the rapidity of electricity or lightning, and you imagined he
would only be lifted up to be knocked down again. It was as if
Hickman held a sword or a fire in that right hand of his, and
directed it against an unarmed body. They met again, and
Neate seemed, not cowed, but particularly cautious. I saw his
teeth clenched together and his brows knit close against the sun.
He held out both his arms at full length straight before him, like
two sledge hammers, and raised his left an inch or two higher.
The Gasman could not get over this guard they struck mutu-
ally and fell, but without advantage on either side. It was the
same in the next round; but the balance of power was thus
restored the fate of the battle was suspended. No one could tell
how it would end. This was the only moment in which opinion
was divided; for, in the next, the Gasman aiming a mortal blow
at his adversary's neck, with his right hand, and failing from
the length he had to reach, the other returned it with his left'at
full swing, planted a tremendous blow on his cheek-bone and
eyebrow, and made a red ruin of that side of his face. The Gas-
man went down, and there was another shout a roar of triumph
as the waves of fortune rolled tumultuously from side to side.

This was a settler. Hickman got up, and "grinned horrible a
ghastly smile," yet he was evidently dashed in his opinion of
himself; it was the first time he had ever been so punished; all
one side of his face was perfect scarlet, and his right eye was
closed in dingy blackness, as he advanced to the fight, less con-
fident, but still determined. After one or two rounds, not re-
ceiving another such remembrancer, he rallied and went at it



264 PROSE NARRATIVES

with his former impetuosity. But in vain. His strength had
been weakened his blows could not tell at such a distance he
was obliged to fling himself at his adversary, and could not strike
from his feet; and almost as regularly as he flew at him with his
right hand, Neate warded the blow, or drew back out of its
reach, and felled him with the return of his left. There was
little cautious sparring no half-hits no tapping and trifling,
none of the petit-maitreship of the art they were almost all
knock-down blows: the fight was a good stand-up fight.

The wonder was the half-minute time. If there had been a
minute or more allowed between each round, it would have been
intelligible how they should by degrees recover strength and reso-
lution; but to see two men smashed to the ground, smeared with
gore, stunned, senseless, the breath beaten out of their bodies;
and then, before you recover from the shock, to see them rise up
with new strength and courage, stand ready to inflict or receive
mortal offence, and rush upon each other "like two clouds over
the Caspian" this is the most astonishing thing of all: this is
the high and heroic state of man !

From this time forward the event became more certain every
round; and about the twelfth it seemed as if it must have been
over. Hickman generally stood with his back to me; but in the
scuffle, he had changed positions, and Neate just then made a
tremendous lunge at him, and hit him full in the face. It was
doubtful whether he would fall backwards or forwards; he hung
suspended for a minute or two, and then fell back, throwing his
hands in the air, and with his face lifted up to the sky. I never
saw anything more terrific than his aspect just before he fell.
All traces of life, of natural expression, were gone from him.
His face was like a human skull, a death's head spouting blood.
The eyes were filled with blood, the nose streamed with blood, the
mouth gaped blood. He was not like an actual man, but like a
preternatural, spectral appearance, or like one of the figures in
Dante's Inferno. Yet he fought on after this for several rounds,



WILLIAM HAZLITT 265

still striking the first desperate blow, and Neate standing on the
defensive, and using the same cautious guard to the last, as if
he had still all his work to do ; and it was not till the Gasman was
so stunned in the seventeenth or eighteenth round, that his
senses forsook him, and he could not come to time, that the
battle was declared over. 1

Ye who despise the Fancy, do something to show as much
pluck, or as much self-possession as this, before you assume a
superiority which you have never given a single proof of by any
one action in the whole course of your lives ! When the Gasman
came to himself, the first words he uttered were, " Where am I?
What is the matter?" " Nothing is the matter, Tom, you have
lost the battle, but you are the bravest man alive." And Jack-
son whispered to him, "I am collecting a purse for you, Tom."-
Vain sounds, and unheard at that moment! Neate instantly
went up and shook him cordially by the hand, and seeing some
old acquaintance, began to flourish with his fists, calling out,
"Ah! you always said I could n't fight what do you think now?"
But all in good-humour, and without any appearance of arro-
gance; only it was evident Bill Neate was pleased that he had
won the fight. When it was over, I asked Cribb if he did not
think it was a good one? He said, "Pretty well/" The carrier-
pigeons now mounted into the air, and one of them flew with the
news of her husband's victory to the bosom of Mrs. Neate.
Alas, for Mrs. Hickman!

Mais au revoir, as Sir Fopling Flutter says. I went down with

Joe P s; I returned with Jack Pigott, whom I met on the

ground. Tom's is a rattle-brain; Pigott is a sentimentalist.
Now, under favour, I am a sentimentalist too therefore I say

1 Scroggins said of the Gasman, that he thought he was a man of that courage,
that if his hands were cut off he would still fight on with the stumps like that of
Widdrington

"In doleful dumps,

Who, when his legs were smitten off,

Still fought upon his stumps."



266 PROSE NARRATIVES

nothing, but that the interest of the excursion did not flag as I
came back. Pigott and I marched along the causeway leading
from Hungerford to Newbury, now observing the effect of a
brilliant sun on the tawny meads or moss-coloured cottages,
now exulting in the fight, now digressing to some topic of general
and elegant literature. My friend was dressed in character for
the occasion, or like one of the Fancy; that is, with a double
portion of greatcoats, clogs, and overhauls: and just as we had
agreed with a couple of country-lads to carry his superfluous
wearing-apparel to the next town, we were overtaken by a
return post-chaise, into which I got, Pigott preferring a seat
on the bar.

There were two strangers already in the chaise, and on their
observing they supposed I had been to the fight, I said I had,
and concluded they had done the same. They appeared, how-
ever, a little shy and sore on the subject; and it was not till after
several hints dropped, and questions put, that it turned out that
they had missed it. One of these friends had undertaken to
drive the other there in his gig: they had set out, to make sure
work, the day before at three in the afternoon. The owner of
the one-horse vehicle scorned to ask his way, and drove right on
to Bagshot, instead of turning off at Hounslow: there they
stopped all night, and set off the next day across the country to
Reading, from whence they took coach, and got down within a
mile or two of Hungerford, just half-an-hour after the fight was
over. This might be safely set down as one of the miseries of
human life.

We parted with these two gentlemen who had been to see the
fight, but had returned as they went, at Wolhampton, where we
were promised beds (an irresistible temptation, for Pigott had
passed the preceding night at Hungerford as we had done at
Newbury), and we turned into an old bow- windowed parlour
with a carpet and a snug fire; and after devouring a quantity of
tea, toast, and eggs, sat down to consider, during an hour of



WILLIAM HAZLITT 267

philosophic leisure, what we should have for supper. In the
midst of an Epicurean deliberation between a roasted fowl and
mutton chops with mashed potatoes, we were interrupted by
an inroad of Goths and Vandals O procul este profani not
real flash-men, but interlopers, noisy pretenders, butchers from
Tothill Fields, brokers from Whitechapel, who called immedi-
ately for pipes and tobacco, hoping it would not be disagreeable
to the gentlemen, and began to insist that it was a cross. Pigott
withdrew from the smoke and noise into another room, and left
me to dispute the point with them for a couple of hours sans
intermission by the dial.

The next morning we rose refreshed; and on observing
that Jack had a pocket volume in his hand, in which he read
in the intervals of our discourse, I inquired what it was, and
learned to my particular satisfaction that it was a volume
of the New Eloise. Ladies, after this, you will contend that
a love for the Fancy is incompatible with the cultivation of
sentiment? We jogged on as before, my friend setting me
up in a genteel drab great coat and green silk handkerchief
(which I must say became me exceedingly), and after stretching
our legs for a few miles, and seeing Jack Randall, Ned Turner,
and Scroggins pass on the top of one of the Bath coaches, we
engaged with the driver of the second to take us to London for
the usual fee.

I got inside, and found three other passengers. One of
them was an old gentleman with an aquiline nose, powdered
hair, and a pig-tail, and who looked as if he had played many a
rubber at the Bath rooms. I said to myself, he is very like
Mr. Windham; I wish he would enter into conversation, that I
might hear what fine observations would come from those
finely-turned features. However, nothing passed, till, stopping
to dine at Reading, some inquiry was made by the company
about the fight, and I gave (as the reader may believe) an
eloquent and animated description of it.



268 PROSE NARRATIVES

When we got into the coach again, the old gentleman, after a
graceful exordium, said he had, when a boy, been to a fight be-
tween the famous Broughton and George Stevenson, who was
called the Fighting Coachman, in the year 1770, with the late
Mr. Windham. This beginning flattered the spirit of prophecy
with me, and riveted my attention. He went on "George
Stevenson was coachman to a friend of my father's. He was an
old man when I saw him, some years afterwards. He took hold
of his own arm and said, ' there was muscle here once, but now it
is no more than this young gentleman's.' He added, 'well, no
matter; I have been here long, I am willing to go hence, and I
hope I have done no more harm than another man.' "Once,"
said my unknown companion, "I asked him if he had ever beat
Broughton? He said Yes; that he had fought with him three
times, and the last time he fairly beat him, though the world
did not allow it. ' I '11 tell you how it was, master. When the
seconds lifted us up in the last round, we were so exhausted that
neither of us could stand, and we fell upon one another, and as
Master Broughton fell uppermost, the mob gave it in his favour,
and he was said to have won the battle. But the fact was, that
as his second (John Cuthbert) lifted him up, he said to him,
"I '11 fight no more, I've had enough"; which,' said Stevenson,
' you know gave me the victory. And to prove to you that this
was the case, when John Cuthbert was on his death-bed, and
they asked him if there was anything on his mind which he
wished to confess, he answered, "Yes, that there was one thing
he wished to set right, for that certainly Master Stevenson won
that last fight with Master Broughton; for he whispered him as
he lifted him up in the last round of all, that he had had enough." J
"This," said the Bath gentleman, "was a bit of human nature; "
and I have written this account of the fight on purpose that it
might not be lost to the world. He also stated as a proof of the
candour of mind in this class of men, that Stevenson acknowl-
edged that Broughton could have beat him in his best day; but



WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY 269

that he (B rough ton) was getting old in their last rencounter.
When he stopped in Piccadilly, I wanted to ask the gentleman
some questions about the late Mr. Windham, but had not cour-
age. I got out, resigned my coat and green silk handkerchief to
Pigott (loth to part with these ornaments of life), and walked
home in high spirits.

P. S. Joe called upon me the next day, to ask me if I did not
think the fight was a complete thing? I said I thought it was.
I hope he will relish my account of it.



WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY

1811-1863
GENERAL WEBB AND THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH

[From The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., 1852.

The passage is a bit of feigned history reported by Henry Esmond, a
supposed officer in Webb's command during the continental campaign
in the so-called "War of the Spanish Succession."]

THE CAMPAIGN OF 1707, 1708

During the whole of the year which succeeded that in which the
glorious battle of Ramillies had been fought, our army made no
movement of importance, much to the disgust of very many of
our officers remaining inactive in Flanders, who said that his
Grace the Captain-General had had fighting enough, and was all
for money now, and the enjoyment of his five thousand a year
and his splendid palace at Woodstock, which was now being
built. And his Grace had sufficient occupation fighting his ene-
mies at home this year, where it began to be whispered that his
favour was decreasing, and his Duchess losing her hold on the
Queen, who was transferring her royal affections to the famous
Mrs. Masham, and Mrs. Masham's humble servant, Mr. Harley.
Against their intrigues, our Duke passed a great part of his time



270 PROSE NARRATIVES

intriguing. Mr. Harley was got out of office, and his Grace, in
so far, had a victory. But Her Majesty, convinced against her
will, was of that opinion still, of which the poet says people are
when so convinced, and Mr. Harley before long had his revenge.

Meanwhile the business of fighting did not go on any way to
the satisfaction of Marlborough's gallant lieutenants. During
all 1707, with the French before us, we had never so much as a
battle; our army in Spain was utterly routed at Almanza by the
gallant Duke of Berwick; and we of Webb's, which regiment the
young Duke had commanded before his father's abdication,
were a little proud to think that it was our colonel who had
achieved this victory. ' I think if I had had Galway 's place, and
my Fusileers,' says our General, 'we would not have laid down
our arms, even to our old colonel, as Galway did;' and Webb's
officers swore if we had had Webb, at least we would not have
been taken prisoners. Our dear old General talked incautiously
of himself and of others; a braver or a more brilliant soldier
never lived than he ; but he blew his honest trumpet rather more
loudly than became a commander of his station, and, mighty
man of valour as he was, shook his great spear and blustered
before the army too fiercely.

Mysterious Mr. Holtz went off on a secret expedition in the
early part of 1 708, with great elation of spirits and a prophecy to
Esmond that a wonderful something was about to take place.
This secret came out on my friend's return to the army, whither
he brought a most rueful and dejected countenance, and owned
that the great something he had been engaged upon, had failed
utterly. He had been indeed with that luckless expedition of
the Chevalier de St. George, who was sent by the French King
with ships and an army from Dunkirk, and was to have invaded
and conquered Scotland. But that ill wind which ever opposed
all the projects upon which the Prince ever embarked, prevented
the Chevalier's invasion of Scotland, as 't is known, and blew
poor Monsieur von Holtz back into our camp again, to scheme



WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY 271

and foretell, and to pry about as usual. The Chevalier (the
King of England, as some of us held him) went from Dunkirk
to the French army to make the campaign against us. The Duke
of Burgundy had the command this year, having the Duke of
Berry with him, and the famous Mareschal Vendosme and the
Duke of Matignon to aid him in the campaign. Holtz, who knew
everything that was passing in Flanders and France (and the
Indies for what I know), insisted that there would be no more
fighting in 1708 than there had been in the previous year, and
that our commander had reasons for keeping him quiet. Indeed,
Esmond's General, who was known as a grumbler, and to have a
hearty mistrust of the great .Duke, and hundreds more officers
besides, did not scruple to say that these private reasons came
to the Duke in the shape of crown-pieces from the French King,
by whom the Generalissimo was bribed to avoid a battle. There
were plenty of men in our lines, quidnuncs, to whom Mr. Webb
listened only too willingly, who could specify the exact sums the
Duke got, how much fell to Cadogan's share, and what was the
precise fee given to Doctor Hare.

And the successes with which the French began the campaign
of 1 708 served to give strength to these reports of treason, which
were in everybody's mouth. Our General allowed the enemy to
get between us and Ghent, and declined to attack him, though
for eight-and-forty hours the armies were in presence of each
other. Ghent was taken, and on the same day Monsieur de la
Mothe summoned Bruges; and these two great cities fell into
the hands of the French without firing a shot. A few days after-
wards La Mothe seized upon the fort of Plashendall: and it
began to be supposed that all Spanish Flanders, as well as Bra-
bant, would fall into the hands of the French troops; when the
Prince Eugene arrived from the Mozelle, and then there was no
more shilly-shallying.

The Prince of Savoy always signalised his arrival at the army
by a great feast (my Lord Duke's entertainments were both



272 PROSE NARRATIVES

seldom and shabby) ; and I remember our General returning from
this dinner with the two Commanders-in-Chief ; his honest riead
a little excited by wine, which was dealt out much more liberally
by the Austrian than by the English commander: 'Now,' says
my General, slapping the table, with an oath, 'he must fight;

and when he is forced to it, d it, no man in Europe can stand

up against Jack Churchill.' Within a week the battle of Oude-
narde was fought, when, hate each other as they might, Esmond's
General and the Commander-in-Chief were forced to admire
each other, so splendid was the gallantry of each upon this day.
The brigade commanded by Major-General Webb gave and
received about as hard knocks as any that were delivered in that
action, in which Mr. Esmond had the fortune to serve at the head
of his own company in his regiment, under the command of their
own Colonel as Major-General; and it was his good luck to bring
the regiment out of action as commander of it, the four senior
officers above him being killed in the prodigious slaughter which
happened on that day. I like to think that Jack Haythorn, who
sneered at me for being a bastard and a parasite of Webb's, as
he chose to call me, and with whom I had had words, shook
hands with me the day before the battle begun. Three days
before, poor Brace, our Lieutenant-Colonel, had heard of his
elder brother's death, and was heir to a baronetcy in Norfolk,
and four thousand a year. Fate, that had left him harmless
through a dozen campaigns, seized on him just as the world
was worth living for, and he went into action knowing, as he
said, that the luck was going to turn against him. The Major


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