A juggler riding a velocipede placed high on a rope causes a riot (1869)

A juggler riding a velocipede placed high on a rope causes a riot

Sunday last a trivial incident at Moabit [an inner city locality of Berlin] led to one of those affrays between the police and the populace which may be considered as belonging to the metropolitan institutions, and certainly are among the most popular enjoyments of this city. Some juggler had advertised that he would ride a velocipede placed high on a rope. The blacksmiths and engineers in that neighbourhood, who from the nature of their profession take a keen interest in mechanical feats, crowded round the arena to gaze at this latest acrobatic wonder; but what was their disappointment when they perceived the velocipede to be tied to the rope in such a way as to render an accident impossible. Not humane enough to derive satisfaction from this cautious display of selfishness, they, on the contrary, considered themselves cheated of the awful emotion they had a right to expect. Their resentment was increased by the juggler, as an additional attraction, calling himself a Swede, when, as appeared, on his being examined by a travelled stoker, he was entirely innocent of the Scandinavian tongue. For this twofold fraud he, poor fellow, found himself presently handed over to Judge Lynch, and had to undergo a most instructive reprimand at the hands of that demonstrative personage. Eventually the police tore him from the grasp of his castigators, which, however, could not be effected without their charging the crowd. Then began the ordinary heroic combat between Greeks and Trojans. The constables first had recourse to their clubs, then drew their swords, yet could not vanquish their adversaries. A shower of bricks eventually drove the guardians of the public peace from the field, when a detachment of cavalry was dispatched, and soon routed the victors. A number of wounded, among them one with his right hand cut off, will have occasion to remember this Sunday campaign with very mixed sensations. This row, which happened close to the monastery, gave the fathers such a dose of Berlin pugnacity that, as the papers state, they have resolved to evacuate their newly-acquired asylum and not return until a high wall has been built round the sacred precincts.

The Times, Aug 21st, 1869, p. 10

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