I've seen it declared on numerous occasions that, compared to E.M., W.G. Grace was little more than an overgrown patsy.
However, having read (and, thus far, enjoyed) most of Simon Rae's commanding biography of the latter, I'm beginning to believe that, of all the Graces, it's Fred who ought to be deemed the nastiest. He seems always to have looked to bring his substantial fists into the equation when not getting his way -- and it goes without saying that it generally took little persuasion thereafter to ensure that he did.
In contrast, I've just read of E.M., in 1878, dealing commendably with a fair uproar at Old Trafford. A ball was thumped to the ring, where a member of the crowd fielded and lobbed it back to a Gloucestershire fielder.
The two Lancastrian batsmen were crossing unhurriedly as the ball was thrown in and the stumps at one end broken. W.G. immediately appealed to umpire Storer, who, under the impression that it hadn't been a boundary, gave Allan Steel his marching orders.
"No! No!" cried the crowd in its collective adamantine insistence. "A four!"
The matter was disputed fervidly for a while -- until E.M., of all people, strode over to the boundary to establish what really had happened, and, shortly afterwards (directly as a result of E.M.'s intercession), Steel and calm were both restored.
"This," according to the Manchester Guardian, "was as it should be, of course, among gentlemen." Perhaps E.M.'s been served a touch poorly in the past.