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An O Brien escapade, from
The Evening Post   written most
probably by Hills.  I believe
Marsh is the  M.      John Bon-
ner intimated that Stephens
the  artist  was one of the party.

[newspaper clipping]
     COLD WATER AND COURAGE.
	                 
      A DUEL, ALL BUT THE FIGHTING.
	                 
One of the New York Literati Baptized from a
  Window He Gives a Challenge and Recon-
  siders.
	                 
  When a human being exhibits extraordinary cou-
rage, whether in war, in single combat, or even in
the peaceful paths of literature, it is due both to
him and to the world that his deeds of valor should
be spread before mankind to be admired and imi-
tated.  It would have been a cruel injustice had
not the biographer mentioned that Hercules stran-
gled the Nemean lion and that Theseus slew the
Minotaur and worsted the Amazons; and if he had
failed  to tell us how Milo carried a four-year old
heifer through the Stadium at Olympia on his
shoulders, and afterward ate the unhappy animal
whole in a single day, what youth would have been
inspired to follow his noble example?
  We have a hero among us in this Mammon-ador-
ing Gotham; a hero, too, not bred to the use of
arms, nor familiar with feats of broil and battle;
who cannot, like the Moor, relate a story of most
disastrous chances, of moving accidents by flood
and field, of hair-breadth  scapes in the deadly im-
minent breech, or of being taken by the insolent 
foe and sold to slavery.   On the contrary, quite
the reverse.   He has pursued the flowery paths of
literature, has filled pages of Harper and the Atlan-
tic, and has been discussed in the papers.  Yet, un-
accustomed as he was to grim-visaged war, as soon
as occasion demanded the exercise of heroic quali-
ties, this knight of the quill came forth, like blue-
eyed Pallas-Athene, full armed, ready to stand be-
fore a deadly pistol on the blood-stained fields of
Hoboken.
  That the world may do justice to its modern hero,
we shall endeavor to give a full and impartial his-
tory of his chivalric deeds.
  In the vicinity of the Jones House, in Broadway,
(but not in the Jones House,) are rooms occupied
by sundry gentlemen; and on Saturday evening
these gentlemen, as quiet people are accustomed to
do, went to bed.  Not so, however, three young
men, of whom the hero was one.  They, it seems,
went about town, continuing their explorations to
various parts of the city, remote and near, until
after three o clock on Sunday morning.  Then the
idea occurred to them that the gentleman in bed
near the Jones House might not be in bed; or, if
they were, that they ought not to be and should not
be; and that whether they were or not, being ac-
quaintances, they would be glad to extend their
hospitalities to the weary travellers, and would
welcome them with delight.
  Accordingly, the three travellers bent their steps
towards the abode of the sleepers, now dark and
silent.  They opened the street door, one of them
being the happy possessor of a night-key which
fitted the lock, and ascended the stairs.  The
trampling of six feet through the deserted halls, at
four o clock on Sunday morning, the reader will
have no trouble in believing, was rather startling.
Nevertheless, they went on to the door of Mr. M    ____,
and knocked.  Mr. M____ called out from his couch,
telling them that while he should be happy to see
them at any other time, they must excuse him,
for he went to bed quite late and very much
fatigued.
  The travellers, however, had no idea of abandon-
ing the laudable purpose of paying their friend a
complimentary visit, and commenced pounding,
stamping and hammering, both with hands and
feet, in a manner which convinced Mr. M. that
his visitors had freely partaken of stimulating if
not intoxicating drinks.  He called out again, and
told them to leave; but the travellers persisted, and
only knocked the louder.
   Mr. O B!  at last shouted the disturbed occu-
pant of the room,  Mr. O B., I recognise your
voice, and if you are a gentleman you will go away. 
  The travellers knocked again.
   Go away!  shouted M.;  If you don t I will
give you some cold lead 
  Now it was that the valor of the hero of this his-
tory, Mr. O B., surpassing that of the renowned
Knight de la Mancha, shone forth in conspicuous
and sublime splendor.
   I am ready,  he replied;  I am ready; shoot
away! 
  Even this chivalric willingness to be shot (wor-
thy of a South Carolina volunteer) rather than
abandon his purpose, did not soften the heart of
the inhospitable Mr. M., who again informed his
visitors that, whether they went away or not, he
should, on no account, open his door.
  At length, weary of knocking and unable to be
shot, the three travellers returned to the street.  A
brother of M. then arose and told him (M.) that a
particular friend of theirs, Mr. Mac, was one of the
three visitors, and that they would, by way of pleas-
antry, give him a friendly baptism from the win-
dow.  Accordingly, as the three stepped upon the
sidewalk, M. gently raised his window and emptied
a basic on cold water, with the intention of pouring
it upon the heads of their friend Mac, without touch-
ing either of his associates.
  There was, however, a slight mistake.  Mr. Mac
was not one of the party, and when afterwards
spoken to in relation to the matter, was not a lit-
tle indignant that his friends should think him
guilty of disturbing people at 4 o clock in the morn-
ing.
  Mr. O B., chief of the benighted travellers, how-
ever, was indignant from another cause.  He re-
volved in his mind the cruel manner in which Mr.
M. had turned him and his friends from his inhos-
pitable door, and still more bitterly did he reflect
upon the basin of cold water which had been thrown
from the window.  Although no drop of that beve-
rage fell upon his head, the insult of throwing it,
he concluded, was precisely as great as though it
had drowned him.  He therefore resolved to fight,
and despatched a messenger to M. on Sunday morn-
ing, with a portentious missile.  We cannot give
the precise words, but the substance was, that the
insult offered to the writer and his friends the pre-
vious night demanded immediately the satisfaction
which one gentleman is, willing to accord to an-
other, and that his friend, the bearer, was author-
ized to make all necessary arrangements.
  Mr. M. promised to give the matter immediate
consideration, and the hostile messenger departed.
The challenged party called in a friend with whom
to consult and advise.  It was determined to post-
pone the reply until Monday; but on Monday the
matter assumed a new phase.  It seems that the
chivalrous O B. had been advised by his friends that
there was no casus belli.  He accordingly wrote an-
other letter, in which he withdrew his challenge;
expressed for M. the highest personal regard; swore
eternal and undying fidelity and friendship; for-
gave the water (a liquid which seemed greatly to
displease him); forgave everything which had oc-
curred might, could, would or should occur, and
expressed a burning desire to be enthroned in the
esteem and affections of the lovely M. forever.
  Thus the hero of this history had an opportunity
to display the heroic qualities with which nature
has endowed him, without endangering his own
life or the life of anybody else; and thus, happily,
the exhibition was made without the effusion of
blood.  It is probably that he will again turn his
attention to the pursuits of literature with a con-
tented mind.
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Sixteen: page thirty-six
Description:Newspaper clipping regarding a nighttime escapade of Fitzjames O'Brien.
Subject:Bohemians; Bonner, John; Drunkenness; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hills, A.C.; Marsh, John; New York evening post.; O'Brien, Fitz James; Stephens, Henry L.
Coverage (City/State):[New York, New York]
Coverage (Street):Broadway
Scan Date:2010-06-07

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Sixteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of the scene in New York at the commencement of the Civil War, boarding house living, visits to the Edwards family, Mort Thomson's engagement to Fanny Fern's daughter Grace Eldredge, Frank Cahill's return to New York from London, Frank Bellew's dissatisfaction with living in England, Thomas Nast's engagement to Sally Edwards, the scene in New York during the departure of the 7th New York Regiment for Washington, attending the wedding of Olive Waite and Hamilton Bragg, a visit with Frank Cahill to the camp of the 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers and the 2nd Regiment of New York State Militia on Staten Island, the death of Charles Welden, and his reporting work.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Military; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.