Part 11: Warm Spouting Gore

As promised, Somerville delivered all of the above, courtesy of his antihero, Hobbinol, a farmer from the Vale who fights a burly shin-kicking champ from the Wold called Pastorel on Dover's Hill.

The rivals trade vicious blows until:

"The sweat distils, and from their batter'd shins
The clotted gore distains the beaten ground."

At the end, Pastorel nails his challenger's ankle with "a furious stroke", bringing Hobbinol to his knees.

As the champ prepares to celebrate, though, Hobbinol clambers to his feet and throws him out of the ring. The losers from the Wold start a brawl, and:

"Like bombs the bottles fly
Hissing in the air, their sharp-edged fragments drench'd
In the warm spouting gore."

A justice of the peace (not unlike Somerville) stops the carnage—just in time for more "warm spouting gore" to begin.

No one wants to fight the reigning backswords champ—a slaughterman with a smashed nose and missing eye—so Hobbinol takes up the challenge.

Although he's smaller than Gorgonius, he's quicker on his feet… and he fights dirtier.

Instead of aiming for the giant's head, he attacks his shins with his cudgel.

The low blows infuriate the Cotswold Cyclops so much that he drops his guard.

Hobbinol then cracks him over the skull, sending him crashing out of the ring.

Somerville was a fan of Hogarth's; this is a spoof of the latter's "Gin Lane"

Although the Puritans had long since fallen from power, Somerville's moralising shows that their reforming zeal was still a force.

Around the same time, a minister at nearby Stow-on-the-Wold singled out "Dover's Meetings" as examples of "profanations of the Lord's Day by the bodily exercise of wrestling and cudgel-playing".

Other reformers shared his views, particularly the spiritual heirs of the Puritans mocked as "Methodists".

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