Ye roaring Blades who nightly rove, / Ye fam'd Broughtonian Sons; / With pleasure cast your Eyes above / And stag poor Bucky's Muns. / Like greater Blackguards he ne'er rails / For Pension, Place or Fee; / But honest Industry prevails / Nor dreads thefatal Tree.
A very scarce copper engraving. 322 x 204mm. 12¾ x 8". Small tear to the right-hand edge. Trimmed just inside platemark.
Portrait of John 'Buckhorse' Smith [1732-1746] running through Covent Garden holding his hat; St Paul's Church behind to the right. Buckhorse Smith was another famous fighting man, whose ugliness was probably a result of some form of infantile encephalitis. Whatever the reason, his head was big and bulbous at the top and his face pinched and narrow. He was born, according to Eccentric Magazine, “in the house of a sinner” in the notorious Lewkner’s Lane near Drury Lane, where rogues, thieves and ne’er-do-wells gathered to eke out their grimy, violent and precarious existences. Buckhorse learned to steal, and then to fight, with equal mastery and through his appearances at Figg’s Academy and then under Broughton, he became something of a cult celebrity. He ranked high for courage and strength among the boxers of his day and displayed great muscular powers in the battles he had contested. “As ugly as Buckhorse” became a cliché of the time. Buckhorse was never a champion, but apparently his strange looks belied his talents. He was sought after by ladies, who it was said regarded him as enthusiastic and energetic in the arts of love. He died in a ditch one wintry night, cuddling his last bottle of gin. The earliest known autobiography of an English boxer, Memoirs of the Noted Buckhorse, is printed in London. He was never much of a boxer, and reportedly earned his living picking pockets and singing in the streets (it is said that he "sucked in the love of gin" from his first nurse). In 1767 Buckhorse was also the subject of an ode by Christopher Anstey; this too celebrated the man about town rather than the pugilist. The 1745 rebellion brought the heads of fresh victims to the Bar, and this was the last triumph of barbarous justice. Colonel Francis Townley's was the sixth head. Townley was hanged on Kennington Common. Before the carts drove away, the men flung their prayer-books, written speeches, and gold-laced hats gaily to the crowd. As soon as they were dead the hangman cut down the bodies, disemboweled, beheaded, and quartered them, throwing the hearts into the fire. A monster—a fighting-man of the day, named Buckhorse—is said to have actually eaten a piece of Townley's flesh, to show his loyalty.
[Ref: 21298] £230.00