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New York Herald

Friday, October 22, 1858
John Morrissey vs John Heenan

The Carnival of the Gladiators.

_ According to the opinions of a large and in some degree a respectable class of the community, the most important event of the day occurred on Wednesday near Buffalo. We refer to the pugilistic encounter between those distinguished champions of the ring, Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Heenan, the latter rejoicing in the affectionate soubriquet of the "Benica Boy." As will be seen by our telegraphic advices from the Canadian field of Mars, the fight resulted in the victory of Morrissey, who wears the champion's belt, and whose brows are decorated with the conqueror's bays.
_ The excitement in the city yesterday, when the result of the bloody encounter was announced, rose to the boiling point. For a few hours the great triumph of the successful gladiator clouded the sunlight of public favor which had sparked in the eyes of one of the most charming artistes that ever captivated our public, and obscured the laurels placed on the brow of La Piccolomini.
_ We have the great gladiatorial event the prominence and importance to which it is entitled. The Herald of to-day contains a full and graphic description of the preparations for the encounter, charming biographical sketches of the contending gladiators, an account of their preliminary training, and a copy of the rules under which they agree as to the exact manner in which they shall proceed to bruise and maul each other until one shall be pounded into an acknowledgment of the physical supremacy of the other. The record is in many respects a curious one, and although it seems paradoxical to say so, it is really an instance of the progress of the age. In medieval times the trial of skill by combat and the duello was confined, as a matter of course, to nobles and gentlemen. The common people, who were not privileged to bear arms, resorted to their fists, or to the quarterstaff, which cracked many an English skull in the good old days when the Eighth Harry was King. A century later we find the journals of the day recording the pleasing fact that any gentleman who was desirous to have his head battered, for the trifling consideration of a couple of shillings, might be accommodated on any day of the week at an agreeable establishment called the Cockpit. In those days there was no long training or heavy betting. A gladiator issued his defiance on one day, and was taken up on the next. We do these things more elegantly now-a-days. The ring has become one of the dearest institutions of the British realm, and has extended itself to our shores, where its influences have killed more of our young men than war or pestilence. This very fight between Morrissey and Heenan has made as much town talk as if it were some great achievement of science or wonderful exhibition of strategic skill on the battle field. The city has been temporarily emptied of the ringleaders in its fighting element, while their retainers are watching with the deepest anxiety for the announcement of the result. For the moment these very nice persons have overlooked the fact that to them is confided by a generous people the regulation of the political affairs of this metropolis, and we have good reason to fear that they have for the time being neglected their important duties. Let us hope they will make up for lost time before election day.
_ In view of the intense public interest in the encounter between modern gladiators who represent the principles upon which our municipal government is founded, we would suggest a grand "muscle demonstration" to the conquering hero and his defeated opponent. We would be magnanimous, because, though overcome, he may not be entirely wiped out, unless he should happen to die, which would be painful to him. The members of the Common Council must recollect, also, that these men of muscle are more faithful to each other than are the politicians for whom they work to their fellows, and that conciliating both parties is, therefore, the best policy. When the distinguished Mr. Hyer hammered the famous Mr. Sullivan, the conqueror was received with due honors by a number of "private gentlemen" representing the cream of the faro and fisticuff world. But as the Corporation has a direct interest in the fighting man per se, and frequently rewards the hardest hitter with the highest place, it seems eminently proper that the heroes of today should have a grand civic reception, including congratulatory orations, complimentary resolutions, and grand muscle processions, after the fashion of the cortege at the funeral of the late lamented Mr. William Poole. There should be grand fireworks - no doubt some patriotic pyrotechnist will give them gratis - in fact, altogether a Roman triumph. The return of the mighty men of muscle may be expected today (like railway directors, they will never meet with accidents by the way); but in order that the Common Council may have plenty of time to get up the demonstration, to erect triumphal arches, arrange the banners, the mottoes, legends and devices, and otherwise make a nice affair of it, the arrival of the recipients of Corporation honors might be postponed until tomorrow or Monday. We do hope that the Common Council will not fail to honor these men after its usual fashion. They have publicly left this State to engage in a prize fight, and have accomplished their laudable purpose. Some persons, who are so far behind the age as to have faith in the criminal code, say that they ought to be sent to the penitentiary; but they are above and beyond all codes, because they make the people who make the codes. Therefore, let us give them a grand reception by the Corporation, with a banquet at not less than ten dollars a head. They will be just in time, too, for a couple of Aldermanic nominations. Let them have all the reward that a grateful people can bestow upon its representative men.

OCTOBER 21, 1858

OCTOBER 22, 1858


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