Extract of a Letter from Ashby-de-la-zouch dated Aug. 10 1767.
On the 10th day of this instant, August, was fought at the celebrated Dick Springthorpe’s Amphitheatre at Ashby-de-la-zouch, Leicestershire, a battle in the Bruising Way, between a Birmingham Champion, and a Derbyan Hero, for a large sum of money, and the Barn. The Odds at first were five to four on the Birmingham Hero, owing to his being in the best order for Fighting, though much the smaller man, and for that the Derbyan Hero had, by mistake the night before the Battle, eat a large quantity of old black-eye Beans and Rusty Bacon, which ’twas thought he could not throw off.
There were a vast number of spectators assembled on this occasion, such as Shoemakers, Taylors, Coalheavers (or Pitmen), Surgeons, Butchers, Country Esquires, Justices, Old Women, Parsons and Chimney Sweepers. Notwithstanding it was a Barn they fought in, let it not go unobserved, that this Barn was, by an ingenious country Wheelbarrow-maker, formed into a regular Amphitheatre; and to give air and throw lights into this dark shell, there were several pieces of thatch cut out of the roof, at which places, for want of cash to pay at the door, a great number of Country Lobs had planted themselves to see this talked of Trial of Skill.
All the Apparatus prepared, such as Seconds, Surgeons, wet and dry cloths, little Hand-mops about a foot long, two large tubs of water, Lemons, &c., these Heroes ascended the stage; stripping succeeded, when lo! the Derbyan Hero disclosed to view on his back several purple spots, which his Second said were the eyes of the beans he eat the night before, forcing their way through the pores of his skin; but then to make amends for it, he had a most tremendous arm, and such a pair of shoulders, with an arch back, denoting strength most potent, as reduced the bets from five to four to even money: the Birmingham Champion was much smaller made, but then he was clean without Gum, and his Limbs discovered much Agility. On they came; nor let your Broughton Heroes any more talk of Battles they have fought. Battles however lofty in descriptive strains they are sung, are but scratches to this.
These heroes were not the Chicken kind, not their judgement in Competition to be put with your Taylor, Turner, Slack James, Tom Smallwood, or even Buckhorse himself: no such were the Parries, Evasions, Shifts, Drops, and every Manoeuvre of that Noble Science, Defence; they fought full two hours and 20 minutes by Ashby Clock. So obstinate was this contest that even the seconds themselves were worn out, and fresh Seconds were obliged to be called in; nor was there, during the Fight, less than a hogshead of water wasted by a constant washing and mopping of the Heroes, which refreshed them so much; and but for a luckless alternative, this Battle must have lasted the whole night, for just as candles were ordered, the Derbyan Hero had at the period of two hours and 20 minutes, found a new mode of fighting, and that was after the manner of the battering Ram; he rushed, with great Violence, on his antagonist full drive with his head, which being evaded, he came with a force so rapid against the wall of the Barn, that he knocked out the side, against which he fell, and in tumbled the roof, and, with the Ruins, about thirty country Lobs (who were taking a peep) came down Neck and Heels upon the Stage. This put a final end to the most bloody and obstinate fight ever yet signalized by Records of antique or modern time.
Providentially, no other accident happened than a little laxative excremental discharge from some of the Lobs, occasioned by the shock of this tremendous fall, which being too offensive for the delicate Nostril to make this situation any longer Tenable, all parties speculative hurried precipitate out of this Remnant of a Barn, to breath a more pure Air, leaving these stinking Lobs blended on the floor, with the Ruins of the Barn, the mangled bruisers, and the jaded Seconds.
HOB in the WELL