(From the Saturday Revievj.) The career of Mr Gully has been, perhaps, the most remarkable in the records of English ■port. Born of humble parents, bred butcher, by natural taste a prize-fighter, and afterwards successively a publican, a professional better, the winner of great races, a country gentleman, and a member of ParJiament — such was the varied course of that energetic and successful life of eighty years which ended on the 9th instant. The events of that life, both in connection with the prizeriajj and the turf, have been fully detailed in Tanous journals, from which we shall briefly ejtrapt the leading feature o.f this truly English aiftory." ' ' • . • •
l(lr Gulljr wag born at Bristol in 1783. ■^hile learning the trade of a butcher in that pity, he showed a considerably aptitude for the jpugiligtic art. Like other (sanacious possessors ©f peculiar talent, he made his way to London, Where fortune wag at first so unkind as to east him into a debtors' prison. Here he wag visited by a fellow-townsman, Pearce— called, in the annals oCtbe prise-ring, "the Chicken" «~who developed Gully's talent in a friendly bout which they had with gloves to beguile the time. Gully did so well as to get talked about, and he found friends to liberate him from prison, and make a match for him to fight the Chicken. A very game battle of one hour and ten minutes ended in the defeat of Gully, who, however, far from being dig* graced, became a great favorite with thf public. On the retirement of Pearce he was offered the title of Champion, but declined it, He fought two successful battles with a man named Gregson, and at the conclusion of the second he announced ! his retirement from the ring. Like many other successful pugilists, he now took a public-house, combining with it the business oj bating, which soon Occupied his whole at- ' In | qH, he had horsies of his own j Wain 1827, he attained prominence in the j fa^Wf-tforld by buying Mameluke after he h«a*on the Derby." This horse was first aronte for the St. Leger, and Mr Gully ht«M lum heavily, relying, as weU tie might, -
on his own opinion of the horse's quality. But Mameluke was beaten by Matilda, who got an advantage by the misconduct of the starter. The blow would have been fatal to almost any other self-mnde man ; but Mr Gully paid" his losses cheerfully, and survived it. lie wished to run his horse a second time against Matilda ; but John Scott, who trained the marc, understood when to let well alone. Mr Gully now became coniederate with Mr Ridsdale, whose horse, St. Giles, won the Derby in 1632. In the same year Mr Gully's -hoiße, Margrave, won the St. "Leger. About this time he lived in a hou-e he lv.d bought near Newmarket. Aftet wards he bought Ackworth Park, near Pontefracr, and his residence in that neighborhood led to his being twice elected for the borough. His greatest year upon the turf was in 1846, when he won the Derby with Pyrrhus the First, and the Oaks with Mendicant. The mare was known before the race to be so good that her owner could not win much money on her. She was afterwards sold to Sir Joseph Ilawlcy, and in his stud she gave birth to Beadsman, who won the Derby in 1858. Mr Gully nad another great year in 1854, when he won the Two Thousand Guineas with Hermit, and the Derby with Andover. Advancing years and failing health caused Mr Gully's retirement from the turf. His last residence was near Durham, where he possessed valuable collcries. From the career of Mr Gully we may turn to the consideration of his character. The most inveterate enemy of the prize -ring and the turf must admit that this man was of a quality to attain eminence in any sphere of life, and to adorn it. Some of the combinations which we find in Mr Gully are easy and ordinary, but ;he difficulty and wonder would be to find them all in anybody else. We hear of prizefighter* who become publicans, of publicans who operate largely upon the turf, and of winners of great races who have seats in Parliament; but Mr Gully ia the only example of the united character* of prizefighter, publican, book-maker, owner of race horses, legislator, and, above all, gentleman. In every path of life in which he walked, Mr Gully has left a name of which followers will be proud, and a pattern which they would do well to imitate. The professional student of Boxiana will be stirred with a sense of dignity, when he reads of " Gully as a pugilist," and learns that this butcher-boy of Bristol, the associate of " Pets" aud " Chickens," carried off the highest prizes, and became familiar with the most aristocratic circle of the turf ; and, after a long and happy life, bequeathed to his posterity an ample fortune and an honoured name. There have been many other apprentices to various trades whose peculiar rocation for fisticuffs has been early recorded in provincial circles, who have attracted the notice of champions, and have justified the confidence of friends by fighting a succession of hard battles, with varying luck, but unfaltering determination, and ever improving skill. The strength, the art, and the pluck of Gully have been often equalled, and so, up to a certaiu point, has his success. Many a pugilist has fought his way to the possession of a public-house, where he has grown slothful after mighty labors, intemperate by way of recompense for severe abstinence, and prematurely old while still in the flower of life. But Mr Gully had no sooner reached one vantage ground than he started forward on a new quest after name and wealth. Certainly he had never read the line 3in Pope's version : —
One vent'rous gaiye this hand has won to-Jay, Another, Princess ! yet remains to play" - " he might have applied them to hi« own case when, after proving himself worthy of the belt of Champion, he prepared to try for the blue ribbon of the turf, so as to make himself the English counterpart at once of the horse-taming Castor and of the boxer Pollux, It is not only prize-fighters who will contemplate with pride and admiration the upward course of Gully's progress, but also every keeper of a bar, and every maker of a book upon a horse race, will count the member for Pontefract and the owner of Pyrrhus the First and Andover as having ornamented the fraternities to which they respectively belong. As public-houses and betting rings must continue, there can be no more effectual antidote against their abuses than is furnished by the example of Mv Gully. He was, perhaps, the heaviest better of his time ; and, amid all the temptations of that perilous game, he maintained his character unstained, and his confidence in the ultimate result of his own powers of judgment and calculation undisturbed. See him after that terrible disappointment, when Matilda beat Mameluke for the St. Leger ;— " Heavily as he had lost, the first man in the rooms, and the last to leave — never thinking of going, in fact, till every claim had been satisfied— was Mr Gully." As a sample of the magnitude and style of Mr Gully's operations, it may be mentioned that he laid Mr Crockford LIO.OOO thatpiameluke beat ten, and another LIO.OOO that he beat nine, named horses ; and, as Matilda was in both lots, it followed that he lost both bets. Mr Gully's character was raised so far above suspicion that he could do, and habitually diddo without question, things which when done by others have been sharply and perhaps not unjustly canvassed. A few months »go it was said in many quarters that the act of laying against one's own horse was necessarily fraudulent. But we read that Mr Gully, in what he would have considered the usual course of business, gave a commission to hedge his stake on Hermit when the horse went bad in his preparation for the Two Thousand. If all betting men had the honesty of Mr Gully, •uch transactions wculd be liable neither to abuse nor suspicion ; but unhappily, we might as well expect all butcher-boys to prove as tough customers for the Chicken. It is not, however, our intention to put forward Mr Gully as a model for imitation because he fought several game battles or because he took his turn at winning all the great races, or even because he — a butcherboy—became the associate of noblemen ; but there were qualities in the man which account for his success, and which render hia character worthy of the study of those who desire to succeed either in his or in any other line of life. A aporting writer who visited him at Newmarket was greatly struck with the fact that he had raised hnuself, not merely to wealth,, but to intimacy with gentlemen of taste. This position, he says, wa^ gained by " the undeviating good manners, and entertaining, unpresuming department" of Mr Qully, who owed these qualifications, to natural acuteness, grea,t comn^on sense, and a plastic dispqsition to observe aud benefit by his intercourse with courtly patrons. He was above pretence, and by np means shy of allu•ions to his own early history. Another writer describee Mr Gully'a quiet and almost Bubdued manner, his fine frame and commanding figure, his gentlemanly air and presence, and the innate dignity of bis his deportment. This writer says th^t his social success was due, " not merely to his great wealth, but far more to his keen judgment, his good sense, and a certain straightforward respectability about everything he did," Another writer enumerates the qualities by which he wqn success on the turf— yi?-, an intimate knowledge of horse-flesh, iron nerve, a cool brain, and high powers of calculation. " With these he worlced, and, aided by an unassuming disposition, like a skilful pioneer, he sapped every obstacle that stood in the way of his progress." His judgment in racing matters excited among one class of observers as much admiration as his prpwgss a t 8 a bQxgr did among another. There •9 7 et n °lher larger class which will admire him for those social triumphs for which newjy acquinjd'wealth so often strives in vain. "In exciting tlai sort'of emulation MrGully's hjstory will do unmixed good. All competitors, cannot win either prize fights or races.
and The great majority would d>> far better not to try to win them. But every man, however mean in origin or calling, may learn from the example of the fi jilting butcher Gully haw to make himself tolerable company for gentlemen.
Permanent link to this item
MR. GULLY., Otago Witness, Issue 602, 13 June 1863
MR. GULLY. Otago Witness, Issue 602, 13 June 1863
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.