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The Return of Heenan.


July/August 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, July 19, 1860.


The Champion of the World at Home.


[From the New York Herald, July 18th.]

John C. Heenan, the pugilistic champion of the world, arrived in the Vanderbilt, at about eleven o’clock on Saturday night. Heenan was accompanied by his second and trainer, Jack Macdonald, whose rank in the estimation of all Heenan’s partisans is only second to that of the champion himself. The Vanderbilt anchored in the river opposite her dock, but Heenan and Macdonald disembarked in the doctor’s boat, at quarantine, according to an arrangement previously made, and took up their quarters at Tom Burns’ hotel. No one was waiting to receive them, for the most of Heenan’s friends had expected him the day before, and thought some accident had happened to the steamer; and the reception party, which had been cruising about Sandy Hook, during Friday and Saturday, had returned disappointed to New York and the Malta saloon.

As soon as the intelligence of the arrival of the steamer reached this city, however, two parties started in rowboats for the Island, arriving there at about four o’clock yesterday morning. They found Heenan safely ensconced in the snuggest of quarters, and receiving every attention from veteran Staten Islanders. After remaining at Quarantine for several hours, and enjoying a fine ride along the beach, Heenan reached this city, yesterday, and has been engaged in receiving the congratulations of his numerous friends.

* * * * * * * *


The sail down occupied about an hour, and upon arriving at Quarantine we were informed that Heenan and Macdonald, with another passenger, had landed in the doctor’s boat, and were then at Tom Burns’ hotel, having taken a boat as soon as the Vanderbilt was signalled, but hardly expected to find Heenan at the Island. Tom Burns, however, had boarded the ship at Quarantine, and Heenan, acting as directed by the note from Campbell, handed him by the pilot, had landed, expecting to find his friends there. The party at the hotel, therefore, was composed of Messrs. Hill, Houghton, McCabe, Otter, Turner, Baker, our reporter, and one or two veteran Staten Islanders, among whom was Vandersee, a prize fighter of some note in those old times when Boss Harrington and other “old uns” sported it largely. Above them all towered


whom we found in full dress, doing the honors in the parlor of the comfortable little hostelrie. Heenan greeted the party most heartily, and expressed his delight at taking his old friends once more by the hand. “It’s a good thing to be back,” was his smiling remark, when asked how he liked England. Heenan has grown considerably since his departure and is now a very giant in his proportions, and would seem to be very much taller if he had not acquired an English stoutness and rotundity with his increased height. He seems more manly, and his broken nose, short hair and burned face make him look quite the pugilistic gentleman he is. He was in the very best of health and spirits, and enjoyed his voyage very much. Amid roars of laughter at his English accent, he bustled around the room, delighted at seeing old faces, and recalling old times by all sorts of jokes and stories. Macdonald had retired, but after the first congratulations were over, Heenan ordered him to be called, and in the meantime took an arm chair and prepared to answer his friends’ interrogatories.

He had not brought the champion belt, he said, for it was not paid for, and Dowling would not let him have it. Sayers’ belt was in the same predicament, and the manufacturer now held the three belts-original ad the two fac similes—to guard him against loss. Sayers did not accompany him to the steamer, because he had hurt his arm by a fall from a wagon, and though anxious to go, Heenan refused to allow him to accompany him further than the railway station. Sayers would not suit our people; he was too flashy, and talked of himself too much for our notions. Heenan said that he was much more popular in Ireland, he thought, than Sayers was. There had been no disturbance while he was in Dublin, except from the immense crowd. Sayers was grossly insulted there, but Heenan was lifted up in his cab and carried about three miles by the people who kept saying “You may walk over our bodies and souls,” and such expressions.

The conversation was here interrupted by an invitation to drink, which Heenan declined, saying that he never took liquor-a proof that his strength of mind is equal to his strength of body, for he is continually among drinking men and has no lack of temptations. One of the Staten Islanders thereupon drank the champion’s health, with many expressions of admiration and regard. Heenan sat evidently much annoyed. “My heart is broken with such things,” he remarked in an undertone to our reporter; “if they knew how much I disliked it they wouldn’t say such things.”

Some one announced that Heenan’s father was unwell, and Heenan would not resume the conversation thus interrupted until he had made arrangements to have his father notified of his arrival and intention to visit him shortly. The remark was then made that Sayers was a great little man. “He is a great man,” said Heenan; “but a ‘little man’ do you call him? I wish you could see your ‘little man.’ That’s a strange idea some of you have about Sayers’ size. Why, I tell you, he is two inches broader across the shoulders than I am, (glancing at his immense chest.) but not so deep; and when we are both stripped Sayers seems the larger man of the two. I don’t know how it is, but it’s so.”

In answer to many interrogatories, and with that modesty which has always distinguished him, Heenan said that he lost his left hand in the third round of the fight. After that he had to close it before he left his second’s knees, and then some one would hallo, “You’ve got something in it,” and he would have to open and close it again with his right hand. He could not strike hard with it, and every time he did strike, the pain went into his heart. Sayers had been informed that he was a coward, and therefore at first looked to see him run after every blow. Morrissey was the cause of this mistake, and this explains what the London Times says about Sayers peering curiously to see the effect of his blows. Macdonald advised him not to rush the fight—having seen so many big men whipped by Sayers—or he would have finished it sooner. He put on the gloves with Nat Langham three days before the fight, and Nat had no chance whatever.

It was in the thirty-ninth round he got Sayers under his arm to give him a squeeze, since he could not hit him with his left hand. His other arm was over the rope, with which it got entangled while he was trying to hit Sayers. Then they cut the ropes, hit him with clubs, and cut him from head to foot. Shepard hit him with a club, in spite of Bob Brettle’s flourishing a whip and threatening to knock Shepard’s brains out. Then they pushed Sayers up, only to be knocked down and caught in chancery again. Welch then ripped up Heenan, everything being in confusion, and Dowling away. When Heenan went back to his second, he told him what Welch had done, and that now he should whip not only Sayers, but “the whole bloody corner.” He went to the scratch, and called on Sayers to come out or throw up the sponge. Sayers was leaned up against a stake in order to stand erect. Welch came between Heenan and Sayers, and Heenan knocked Welch down, then Broughton, and then hit Sayers, who fell half over, supported by the stake. Then he took a chair at the scratch, and if any referee had been there he would have had the fight.

He was sorry now that he had accepted the fac simile belt, but wished that he had just come home without any belt, if they refused him the original. When Shepard was accused of his conduct afterwards, in a bar-room, he dropped on his back and cried, “Don’t hit me when I’m down; I dare not fight you,” and he wasn’t worth noticing.

Some of the party then related to Heenan the manner in which various women had claimed him as their husband, dwelling particularly upon the case of Mrs. Ada Isaacs, &c., Menken, who had even imposed on Heenan’s brother, who visited her at the Bowery theater. Heenan seemed very much annoyed at these claimants, and only said, “Hasn’t she got cheek? I’ll give any of them who come along in charge of the first policeman I meet.” Heenan was jokingly threatened that he would be arrested and taken to Buffalo on account of his fight with Morrissey, but did not seem at all daunted at the information.

Just then Macdonald came down stairs and was most heartily greeted. Macdonald is a short, natty little man, with a very intelligent and prepossessing countenance, sunburned and framed in narrow black whiskers, and with a high, well developed forehead. He seems more like a gentleman jockey than a pugilist, and, indeed, his love for horseflesh is well known. Heenan tells many a good story of Macdonald’s little ponies and immense wagons, and Mr. Hill has already purchased a very fine horse for Macdonald’s driving. The attachment between Heenan and Macdonald is very great, and is unconsciously displayed whenever they are together, and when separated they are never tired of sounding each other’s praises. Both seem to be, in truth, men to inspire and to reciprocate affection.

Soon after Macdonald’s appearance, Captain James Turner, in a brief speech, welcomed Heenan and his friend to this country, saying that Heenan had reflected dignity and credit upon the country abroad, and that his indorsement was sufficient to make any man loved here. Heenan insisted upon Macdonald’s answering for himself, he said, bashfully and without rising, “I’m no speechmaker. Thank you; it’s all very right.”

The party were then invited to take a ride. A carriage with four horses was provided for Heenan, but he declined to ride in such a carriage, saying that he was too democratic to want more than two horses. A fine ride of several miles, a call at Mr. Weed’s fine suburban residence, where the party were most cordially received, and a hasty breakfast at a country inn wound up the morning’s entertainment. Heenan and his friends, after a collation at Burns’, came to this city in the ten o’clock boat, leaving the Staten Islanders delighted not only at the éclat of a visit from so distinguished a personage, but also at the unaffected gentle manliness and courtesy with which their attentions were received. He has received many invitations to repeat his visit.


In order to secure a day of quiet, it was the intention of Heenan, as we stated in the Herald of yesterday, to remain on Staten Island all day; but as his baggage and that of Mr. McDonald, his second, had been brought to the city in the Vanderbilt, and not even a change of clothing had been retained by either, it was thought best that both should come to New York. This they did in the ten o’clock boat, quietly and without display, the party being composed only of a few of the most intimate friends of the Boy. In fact, this movement was so privately made that it was not generally known, either on the island or in the city, and the consequence was that he was enabled to move about here with a freedom which would not have been allowed had his whereabouts been known.

Most of Sunday was occupied in visiting intimate personal friends. Several of the principal restaurants were his friends were wont to congregate came within his route, but he made his principal rendezvous during the day at what are known as his headquarters-the Malta saloon, on the corner of Thirteenth street and Broadway. Here he dined at five o’clock, and also appeared once or twice in the evening, but with a modesty that is commendable. As soon as he was surrounded by a crowd, or discovered any marked manifestations of curiosity on the part of those in the robes, he immediately withdrew. Several attempted to draw him into conversation concerning the fight; but he quietly turned the tide by saying that others must speak for him if his actions had not already done so.

In regard to any ovation, he is understood to have expressed a decided objection to being made a public lion. He has already achieved a notoriety with which he is satisfied; and while he appreciates the kindness of his friends, prefers to be allowed to move quietly among them all, and in a private and social manner exchange the greetings which they would force upon him in a public way. He will probably spend to day out of the city, in some retired spot, where he can enjoy the repose he requires.

It is needless to say that his friends all appear delighted at his arrival; and, as it is a custom of the age to give vent to such emotions with a man’s nose pointed towards the bottom of his glass, we believe there is not a mixologist of tipulars in the city who, whenever the name of John C. Heenan was yesterday mentioned, did not find his hands busy as his heart could wish.

The hero of the day retired soon after nine o’clock in the evening, as was generally supposed, to his room at the Astor House, but in reality to the house of a friend.

Departure of Heenan for America.

[From the London Sporting Life, July 4]

Heenan and Jack Macdonald sail this day (Wednesday) at about two o’clock, in the Vanderbilt, for America. They will leave London for Southampton at a quarter to eight this morning, and among those who will accompany them to bid them adieu will be Tom Sayers, Mr. Cushing, of the Alhambra Palace, and a select circle of some dozen of fifteen friend. Heenan expressed a wish to have an interview with the editor of the Sporting Life previous to his departure, in order that he might thank his English friends for their numerous kindnesses during his stay in England. Jack Macdonald accompanied us to the New York Hotel, Leicester square, where we found the redoubtable “Boy” in the enjoyment of an afternoon nap. He, however, soon started up on our arrival; but as he lay upon the bed with his coat off, he really did not look the formidable fellow that he has proved himself. Heenan at one rattled off into a boyish narrative of what he intends to do with Morrissey when he gets home.

“I’ll improve that nose of his,” exclaimed Benicia’s child, with a heart laugh; and he continued, “When I’ve finished Morrissey, I’ll come over to England again, and send that Stanleybridge Infant to bi-bi,” whereupon the editor of the Sporting Life reminded Heenan that Hurst seemed as if he meant fighting. “Not a bit of it,” roars out the Yankee champion, “he means money-making, and hopes, by linking his name to mine, to get up benefits throughout the country, on the strength of a fight with me.” The Benicia Boy, however, is evidently counting upon an introduction to Morrissey, and over and anon exclaims, in a high glee, “Wait till I get home.” “Morrissey won’t fight,” we remark. “Ah!” (shouts Heenan, again,) “he must; besides, Morrissey’s in training to fight me when I get back. A friend of mine has written, to tell me so, and put a dash under the fact,” and Heenan, in order to give full effect to his emotions, slaps the head of a friend who has been placidly smoking a cigar at his bedside, and the friend starts up and keeps out of his reach for the remainder of the afternoon.

“He’s a nice novice,” says Jerry Noon, who has been quietly eyeing the champion, as he lies upon the bed. “I wonder what he’ll be when he knows a little more.”

Heenan was for showing us all his testimonials, and notwithstanding their being packed up in readiness to cross the Atlantic, he would insist on lugging out a massive cup presented to him o Monday night. The cup bears the inscription: “This cup is presented to J. C. Heenan by a few English men, frequenters of Mr. J. Prevost’s Anchor and Hope, Stepney, in admiration of his manly and gentlemanly conduct during his stay in England.” In addition to this, a party of Irishmen, residents in London, have presented him with a magnificent gold ring, of considerable value. Heenan’s last act in England has been of the most meritorious nature. At an expense of £80 he has raised a monument over the remains of his countryman Freeman, who lies buried at Winchester. “The poor fellow,” said Heenan to us, “I was determined he should not be forgotten, and when the physician who attended him in his fatal illness heard what I’d done, he sent me a pocket knife, the only thing in the world Freeman had to call his own when he died, and I value that very much.”

After all Heenan returns to this country without a belt. The one presented to him at the Alhambra is not yet paid for. Messrs. Hancock, the manufacturers, detaining it until the cost is defrayed. It is to be regretted that some arrangement had not been made so that the new belt might have been ensured to Heenan, for as things stand at present the presentation at the Alhambra was a mere farce. Heenan, however, expressed no regret at the loss of the new belt, and declares he looks upon it as a toy in comparison with the belt which he yet means to fight for. During Heenan’s stay in England he has made an immense number of friends from his quiet and gentlemanly conduct, as well as his great pluck and talent, and we feel sure that our readers will join with us in wishing the gallant fellow and his accomplished second, Jack Macdonald, a safe voyage and prosperous career.

We may remark that both Heenan and Jack Macdonald express their intention of returning to England in October or November.

Sayers and Heenan in Edinburg.

[From the London Sporting Journal, July 4.]

For some days previous to Thursday last, it was announced by advertisements in the various newspapers, by placards and posters on the walls, of such magnitude that even those who ran might read without the smallest difficulty, that the “Champions of the Old and New Worlds” would, on the above day, give two entertainments in the Zoological Gardens; the first between two and four in the afternoon, at half-a-crown a head, and the second between eight and ten in the evening at one shilling each, so that all that desired, might have an opportunity of witnessing these renowned heroes at moderate charge. As the hour of two approached a stream of cabs and vehicles of various kinds, filled with visitors, began to pour in the direction of the gardens, and shortly after that hour there could scarcely have been fewer than 1,500 persons present, and like the assemblage at Farnborough, they represented almost every class, comprising members of the nobility, high legal dignitaries, advocates, lawyers, professors, painters, poets, authors, artists, actors, merchants, clerks, &c. It was truly a most respectable and orderly assemblage. Sayers and the Benicia Boy, as they walked about the grounds chatting cheerfully with their friends, or puffing on the light Havana, were, as a matter of course, the observed of all observers. The impression seemed to be general, that the disparity in size between Tom and “The Boy” was not quite so great as had been expected, but as they were generally walking apart from each other, there had been no opportunity for judging properly. Both looked well and cheerful, and beyond a slight mark of a healed cut on Heenan’s right cheek, neither bore any traces of their late severe punishment. The entertainment which took place in the open air, commenced with a series of gymnastic performances by a couple of clever acrobats, on an elevated stage, about four or five feet high, used on ordinary occasions as an orchestra. This stage which is about twenty feet long and ten or twelve feet in breadth, is covered in at the top; and closed on three sides, the fourth being left open, which was on this occasion protected by two lines of ropes (giving it somewhat of a prize ring air), while the space in front is capable of accommodating several thousand people. The acrobatic part of the entertainment was looked on with but little interest, as the spectators seemed more intent on witnessing the great display of the day; and shortly after the agile performers quitted the stage. Mr. Morris ascended the steps, closely followed by Sayers and Heenan who were loudly cheered. Mr. Morris took his place behind a small table, which was brought to the front of the stage, and on which were displayed the belts, Heenan taking his position on the right hand side, while Sayers stood on the left. Mr. Morris then introduced the heroes to the assembly, and in a short speech alluded briefly to the career of both men, together with the events connected with the late Farnborough encounter, and the presentation of a belt to each of the combatants, each belt being accompanied by an appropriate address, which addresses Mr. Morris proposed to read, lest there should be any present unacquainted with their nature; but of this part of his duty the audience kindly relieved him, as all seemed quite familiar with the addresses.

Tom then took up his belt, and holding it extended above his head, proceeded slowly from one end of the stage to the other, that the spectators might have a better opportunity of seeing it. Heenan, who seemed to have little desire for display, simply linked the two ends of his belt together, and prepared to retire, when a hint from one of the spectators induced him also to raise his belt above his head. It was then announced that the two men would retire for a few minutes, and, on returning, would present themselves as they appeared at Farnborough, and give a mimic representation of that memorable combat. The interval was filled up by more acrobatic feats, after which Tom and his “big brother” again mounted the platform, attired in true fighting costume, excepting that each wore a tight fitting shirt, that of Sayers being sleved to his wrists, while Heenan’s long white, muscular arms were bared from the shoulders. The relative size of the men was now clearly seen, and it was at once apparent that Heenan’s superior height gave him a great advantage over his more tiny, though wiry looking competitor. Both men were cheered as each in turn planted a blow cleverly or stopped a well intended compliment; and although Heenan’s length of arm enabled him to reach Tom’s knowledge box more frequently, yet the latter proved he had also “that within him which passeth show,” by the way in which he quickly countered with, and returned many of “the Boy’s” hits. Seven bouts were gone through, occupying rather less than ten minutes, at the conclusion of which both were loudly cheered. The evening’s entertainment was much similar to that of the afternoon, but the attendance was much greater and was more of a mixed character. There could not have been less than from 5,000 to 6,000 persons present. At the conclusion of the evening’s performance, Sayers and Heenan started immediately for London by the evening [train.]