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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 187

              [newspaper clipping]
          How a Newspaper Secured a �Beat.�
  To a correspondent of the Indianapolis Journal
Mr. Henry L. Stephens has told the follwing
story: �It was about 1860.  The Illustrated News,
published by Demorest, and Frank Leslie�s Illus-
trated Newspaper had been fighting for months
over Sickle�s trial and the John Brown trials and
execution: and it was about nip and tuck, for the
News had Nast.  Then came the Heenan-Sayers
prize fight, in England.  It was a mortal strug-
gle between the two papers.  Both sent artists to
England.
  �About the time the fight was to come off, and
a week or two before we could possibly hear of
it, for there was no cable then, the Illustrated
News came out with the announcement that they
had sent Mr. Thomas Nast to England to draw a
picture of the fight, and Mr. Anthony to engrave
it on wood on the Vanderbilt while coming home,
and that it would be published on the very day
of the steamer�s arrival.  Something must be
done to save us from wreck.  Next morning �the
governor� (Mr. Leslie) called me to a vacant
room up stairs, and locked the door as I went in.
�We must have a picture of the fight,� said he.
�on this.�  And he laid his hand on a great block
on the table, large enough for a four-page pic-
ture.  Said he, �take this room.  Keep it locked.
Admit nobody but me and the two or three other
artists that you will need and compel us to give
a certain specified signal.  We must knock the 
News out of time.�
  �He told me to call for anything or any man I
wanted.  I sent for Perkins, who was English,
and who knew the low country around Farns-
borough.  Leslie, who was English too, thought
the fight would come off on level ground with a
background of English farms.  Perkins was sworn
on the horns of Highgate, and then he struck the
ring and laid out a vague perspective with Eng-
lish trees and hedge-rows.
  �Then we sent down to �The Pewter Mug� for
Brown to represent Heenan.  Brown was a strap-
per, standing at least six feet three inches and
weighing not less than two hundred pounds.  We
got Thad. Glover to do Sayers.  He was a very
lively and pretty sparer.  They went at it ham-
mer and tongs, as I waited, crayon in hand, to
catch their attitude when it was right.  I can
see them now skittering and hopping
around the little room, driving one another into
a corner, and getting one another�s heads in
chancery, and finally, when Heenan-Brown
gave Sayers-Glover a vicious side-winder
on the ear, taking pains not to hit
him though, the governor cried �stop!� and they
posed in that attitude, and I caught it on paper.
Then the pugilists went out and took a drink.  I
drew the faces of Heenan and Sayers on the
bodies; then I put a lot of figures and heads, and
then sent for Wollin, and Englishman, and
he put in a dozen or so typical En-
glish heads, with English hats, etc., and then I
sent for Twaites, and he added a great lot of En-
glish spectators.  I took it then and finished it
up, and then the block was sawed into sixty
pieces and divided among sixty artists to be en-
graved.  About half of it was sent to Philadel-
phia and Boston.  Of course, they didn�t recognize
their own work when the paper was out.  Then
the whole was electrotyped, and an immense
edition of the paper was printed on one side,
ready for the type on the other.
  �When we came to write out the account of
the fight we made it very vague, making much
of the preliminaries already known here, with
biographies of the men, etc.  Everything was
ready.  One morning I came down town and
found the streets flooded with Frank Leslie�s
Newspaper.  It seemed to me there were mil-
lions of copies.  I never saw so many papers in
my life.  The News, with Nast�s picture, was not
out till six hours afterward, and then the whole
picture made only two pages, and looked mean
enough by the side of our four-page cut.  And
the best of it was that we had ten times as much
landscape and perspective as Nast, his picture
showing nothing but conventional tree tops over
the heads of the spectators, while we had miles
and miles of mead and woodland.
  �Leslie was delighted.  I never saw him in
such a happy frame of mind.  He must have
made thousands of dollars that week.  What�s
the sense of denouncing such pictures as bogus,�
said he, �when we have ten times as good a pic-
ture as that, taken on the spot?�  The beauty of
it was that by accident we placed the men right 
�Heenan�s back to the sun, as it actually was in
the fight, though of course we couldn�t know he
had won the toss.  This puzzled even those who
knew we must have made the picture here, and
everybody was bewildered.�               
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