Colonel John L. Sullivan, at large:
DEAR SIR–Will you permit me, without wishing to give you the slightest offense, to challenge you to fight in France with bare knuckles and police interference, between this and the close of navigation?
I have had no real good fight with anybody for some time, and should be glad to co-operate with you in that direction, preferring, however, to have it attended to in time so that I can go on with my fall plowing. I should also like to be my own stake holder.
We shall have to fight at 135 pounds, because I can not train above that figure without extra care and good feeding, while you could train down to that, I judge, if you begin to go without food on receipt of this challenge. I should ask that we fight under the rules of the London prize ring, in the Opera House in Paris. If you decide to accept, I will engage the house at once and put a few good reading notices in the papers.
I should expect a forfeit of $5,000 to be put up, so that in case you are in jail at the time, I may have something to reimburse me for my trip to Paris and the general upheaval of my whole being which arises from ocean travel.
I challenge you as a plain American citizen and an amateur, partially to assert the rights of a simple tax-payer and partly to secure for myself a name. I was, as a boy, the pride of my parents, and they wanted me to amount to something. So far, the results have been different. Will you not aid me, a poor struggler in the great race for supremacy, to obtain that notice which the newspapers now so reluctantly yield? You are said to be generous to a fault, especially your own faults, and I plead with you now to share your great fame by accepting my challenge and appearing with me in a mixed programme for the evening, in which we will jointly amuse and instruct the people, while at the same time it will give me a chance to become great in one day, even if I am defeated.
I have often admired your scholarly and spiritual expressions, and your modest life, and you will remember that at one time I asked you for your autograph, and you told me to go where the worm dieth not and the fire department is ineffectual. Will you not, I ask, aid a struggler and panter for fame, who desires the eye of the public, even if his own be italicised at the same time?
I must close this challenge, which is in the nature of an appeal to one of America’s best-known men. Will you accept my humble challenge, so that I can go into training at once? We can leave the details of the fight to the Mail and Express, if you will, and the championship belt we can buy afterward. All I care for is the honor of being mixed up with you in some way, and enough of the gate money to pay for arnica and medical attendance.
Will you do it?
I know the audience would enjoy seeing us dressed for the fray, you so strong and so wide, I so pensive and so flat busted about the chest. Let us proceed at once, Colonel, to draw up the writings and begin to train. You will never regret it, I am sure, and it will be the making of me.
I do not know your address, but trust that this will reach you through this book, for, as I write, you are on you way toward Canada, with a requisition and the police reaching after you at every town.
I am glad to hear that you are not drinking any more, especially while engaged in sleep. If you only confine your drinking to your waking hours, you may live to be a very old man, and your great, massive brain will continue to expand until your hat will not begin to hold it.