Skip to main content

Full text of "Pastimes and players"

See other formats



SB Efll fl3D 


Foresters and the Horsham Park Eleven. From the accom- 
panying description we learn that the Foresters made 109 runs 
in their first innings, and 136 in their second, while their field- 
ing and bowling were so exceedingly good that their opponents 
were put out for sixty runs in their first and sixteen in their 
second innings. The bats used were small wooden instru- 
ments, like a battledore or racket, only with rather shorter 
handles, while the ball was a full-sized tennis. Balls had to be 
bowled underhand and full pitch. 

A large gathering of the neighbouring gentry assembled to 
witness the match, which excited the greatest interest. " The 
two elevens were dressed in picturesque uniforms of light blue 
and pink, and the beautiful grounds adjoining the house were 
gaily decorated with flags. The whole formed a most striking 
scene." With such allurements the great chances are that not 
a few recreant cricketers may find the parent more enjoyable 
than the child, may desert cricket, and, like Richard in Shad- 
well's " Woman Captain," resolve that for the future they 
"will play at stool-ball with the maids/' 

Certain correspondents of Notes and Queries, some time 
ago were disposed to hold that the obsolete game of stob-ball 
was another variety of the principle of cricket. Very little is 
known about this old game, but from the glimpses we do get 
of it in old authors it seems to have been akin to golf rather 
than to cricket. There are two allusions to it in the Berkeley 
MSS. (1618), published by Mr. T. D. Fosbrooke in 1821, one 
in which the writer only records that the " Earl of Leicester, 
with an extraordinary number of attendants, and multitudes of 
country people that resorted to him, came to Wotton, and 
thence to Michaelwood Lodge, casting downe part of the pales 
which, like a little parke, then enclosed that lodge, and thence 
went to Wotton Hill, \\here hee played a match at stoball ;'* 
while, in the o.her, the writer most tantalisingly refrains from 
describing the game, on the plea that it is so well known. 
" The large and levell playnes of Slimbridge, Warth, and others, 


in the vale of this hundred," he writes, " and downes or hilly 
playnes of Stinchcombe, Westridge, Tickraydinge, and others 
in the hilly or Coteswold part, doe witnes the inbred delight 
that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes and children doe 
take in a game called stoball, the play whereat each child of 
twelve yeares old can (I suppose) as well describe as myselfe : 
and not a sonne of mine but at seven was furnished with his 
double stoball staves and a gamester thereat." Aubrey, how- 
ever, in his " Natural History of Wiltshire," gives us a suf- 
ficiently minute account of the pastime to show that cricket 
owes no part of its play to stob-ball. " This game is peculiar 
to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of 
Somerset, near Bath," says he. " They strike a ball stuffed 
very hard with quills and covered with soale leather as big as 
a bullet (elsewhere he says this ball is of about four inches in 
diameter), with a staffe commonly made of withy, about three 
and a halfe feet long. Colemdowne is the place so famous and 
so frequented for stob-ball playing. The turfe is very fine and 
the rock freestone is within an inch and half of the surface, 
which gives the ball so quick a rebound. ... I doe not 
heare that this game is used anywhere in England, but in 
this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining." There 
appears to be no vestige of this old game left in those counties 
now. Stob-ball in Tothill Fields is one of the games of Eng- 
land enumerated by Locke in 1679. 

In a curious book published in 1706, " The Scotch Rogue : 
The Life and Actions of Donald Macdonald, a Highland Scot," 
the vagabond hero tells us he was fond of " cat and dog," an 
old form of cricket once very popular in certain parts of Scot- 
land. " I was but a sorry proficient in learning," he writes, 
" being readier at cat and dog . . wrestling, and foot-ball, and 
such other sports as we use in our country, than at my book." 
Dr. Jamieson says that this game was chiefly played in Angus 
and Lothian, and that at the very least three players are re- 
quired, who are furnished with clubs. They cut out two holes, 

Post 8v0, cloth limp, 2s. 6d. per volume. 





JEUX D'ESPRIT. Collected and Edited by HENRY S. LEIGH. 


taining The Wicked World, Pygmalion and Galatea, Charity, 

The Princess, The Palace of Truth, Trial by Jury. 

Containing Broken Hearts, Engaged, Sweethearts, Dan'l 

Druce, Gretchen, Tom Cobb, The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore, 

The Pirates of Penzance. 





MELANCHOLY ANATOMISED: a Popular Abridgment of 

" Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy." 

TO 1870. Edited by ALICE CLAY. 



%* Other Volumes are in preparation. 










A II rights reserved"] 
















X. KAYLES 118 








The groundwork of these sketches of the earlier history of some 
British pastimes was a set of magazine articles published in " B el- 
grama " and other periodicals. These papers, in their present form, 
have been carefully revised, partly rewritten, and have had much 
new matter added to them. 




THOUGH the earliest mention of our national English game by 
its modern name of " cricket " occurs no further back than the 
reign of Elizabeth, it is quite clear that Britons batted and 
bowled away merrily long before the days of the Virgin Queen, 
though they called their pastime by other names. 

The name, of course, is of minor importance, if the principle 
of the games can be proved to be the same, as nothing is more 
common than to find a pastime with many different names, 
according to the place where it is played. Thus, "rounders" 
is still the same good old English game, though Edinburgh 
street boys call it " dully,'' and our American cousins have 
elevated it into their national game under the name of " base- 
ball." So with our game : and the only question is whether 
the identity of cricket with "club-ball," "stool-ball," and the 
other names we shall notice below, can be proved as clearly as 
that of, say, rounders with base-ball, or hockey with shinty 
and hurling. This question may easily be answered in the 

Before entering, then, on the history of our great game 
under its present name, let us glance at some of these old 
pastimes, and see if we can find in them the rude beginnings 
from which the scientific game of to-day has been built up. 


According to Strutt, club-ball was the earliest name for the 
game. It was popular enough in the reign of Edward III. to 
be included under its Latin name of Pila bacculorea in his 
proclamation against football, handball, and other pastimes 
specified, which unduly occupied the attention of the people, 
to the great detriment of their military exercises, and especially 
of archery. Strutt, however, has not noticed a paragraph in 
the Gentleman* s Magazine for 1788, where Sylvanus Urban 
draws attention to perhaps the earliest allusion to the game 
under a name curiously like "cricket." " In the wardrobe 
account of the 28th year of King Edward I., A.D. 1300 (page 
126), published in 1787 by the Society of Antiquaries, among 
the entries of money paid to one Mr. John Leek, his chaplain, 
for the use of that King's son, Prince Edward, in playing at 
different games, is the following : ' Domino Johanni de Leek, 
capellano Domini Edwardi fil' Regis, pro den' per ipsum liberal' 
eidem Domino suo ad ludendum ad CREAG' et alios ludos 
per vices, per manus proprias 100 Sh.' >; Glossaries, the 
writer says, have been searched in vain for any other pastime, 
except cricket, to which the name " creag " can apply ; and it 
is allowable for us to say that, even in these early times, our 
game was played by some of the highest personages in the 
kingdom, and that, too, under a name from which its modern 
appellation is most probably derived. 

No written description of the mode of play in club-ball or 
creag exists, but we can get a clear enough idea of it from 
engravings in two old manuscripts. The earliest of these 
representations of the pastime is in a genealogical roll of the 
Kings of England down to Henry III. " Chronique d'Angle- 
lerre depuis Ethelberd jusqu'a Henri III." in the royal library. 
It is a delineation of two male figures playing a gajne with 
a bat and ball. The batsman holds the ball in one hand, 
while in the other he has his bat held perpendicularly, as if 
about to strike the ball : the other player is drawn with both 
arms extended, as if eagerly anxious and watchful for a catch. 


The bat is straight and broadest at the point, from which it 
gradually tapers to the handle. It is quite probable that the 
holding of the ball by the batsman was only a conventional 
way of showing its existence adopted by the artist, if he found 
it desirable to omit, or difficult to introduce, the bowler (who, 
as we shall see, appears in the other MS.) ; indeed, in another 
drawing in this same chronicle, the artist has only delineated 
a batsman and a female fielder, and has left out the ball as 
well as the bowler. Very similar illustrations of boys playing 
games with bat and ball are to be found in the MS. Book of 
Decretals, made about this time for Rayer's Priory of St. 
Bartholomew, close to the great playground of the Londoners 
of that period ; on which, no doubt, the friar who illuminated 
the gay volume witnessed all the merry sports he has thus 
depicted for the benefit of future ages. 

A much more complete representation of a club-ball match 
in the latter days of the Plantagenets is given in a drawing in 
the " Romance of the good King Alexander," a manuscript in 
the Bodleian Library, dated 1344. Here we have a batsman, 
a bowler, and four fielders, who are all monks, which proves 
that the game was one held in favour by Mother Church as 
well as by the Court. 

Strutt, indeed, has taken the bowler and some of the fielders 
to be women, but it is more likely that they are monks with 
their cowls up. However this may be, in the drawing we have 
a capital delineation of a single-wicket game, the bowler 
poising the ball with outstretched arm, as if in the act of 
bowling it to the batsman, who holds his long and slightly- 
curved bat raised vertically in the air, ready for a hit ; while 
behind the bowler are the fielders, with their hands raised, 
waiting to catch or stop the ball when hit by the batsman, 
and all looking very eager for a " chance." This seems quite 

tisfactory proof that the principle of this old game was, at 

:ast, closely akin to that of cricket; and though no stumps 
appear in either of these drawings, this is rather an additional 


proof of the practical identity of the games than otherwise, for 
it is quite clearly proved that wickets are a very recent 
addition to cricket, and that, as we shall see, in the infancy of 
the game the batsman stood before a circular hole in the turf, 
and was put out, as in "rounders," by being caught, or by the 
ball being put into this hole. A century and a half ago this 
hole was still in use, though it had on each side a stump only 
one foot high, with a long cross-bar of two feet in length laid 
on the top of them what Mr. Frederick Gale calls a 
"skeleton hurdle of about two feet wide and one foot high." 

An old game, called "handyn and handoute," is supposed 
to have been another form of what was destined to develop 
into the scientific cricket of modem times ; but the only 
authority for this conjecture appears to be contained in this 
extract from Daines Barrington's " Observations on the more 
Ancient Statutes," when commenting on King Edward IV/s 
law against unlawful games, in 1477: "The disciplined 
soldiers were not only guilty of pilfering on their return, but 
also of the vice of gaming. The third chapter therefore 
forbids playing at cloish, ragle, half-bowle, queke-borde, 
handyn and handoute. Whosoever shall permit these games 
to be played in their house or yard is punishable with three 
years' imprisonment : those who play at any of the said games 
are to be fined ^10, or lie in jail two years. This is the 
most severe law ever made in any country against gaming ; 
and some of those forbidden seem to have been manly exer- 
cises, particularly the ' handyn and handoute/ which I should 
suppose to be a kind of cricket, as the term ' hands ' is still 
(1766) retained in that game." This is meagre evidence 
enough to connect this prohibited pastime with cricket, but 
nothing more seems to be known about it. 

Strutt makes no attempt to describe this game, but merely 
notes that it was spoken of as a new game, and forbidden by 
King Edward's severe statute. 

Even though we have to give up the case of handyn and 


handoute for lack of evidence, we find ample amends when we 
turn to the next of our progenitors of cricket, the merry old 
game of stool-ball, in which lads and lasses used to join on 
their village greens in the " good olden time," and which still 
exists in some of the southern counties as a special game for 

Its season seems to have been very much that of cricket 
nowadays, though perhaps it was more especially a game for 
spring and early summer : thus, in Poor Robin's Almanac for 
1677, in the observations on April, we find against Easter 
Monday and Tuesday a note that 

Young men and maids, 

Now very brisk, 
At barley-break and 

Stool-ball frisk ; 

while in the same almanac for 1740 we are told that when the 
merry month of May has come, 

Much time is wasted now away 

At pigeon-holes and nine-pin play ; 

Whilst hob-nailed Dick and simpering Frances 

Trip it away in country dances ; 

At stool-ball and at barley-break, 

Wherewith they harmless pastime make. 

It was a common thing for the lads and lasses to play at 
stool-ball during the Easter holidays for tansy cakes, a prize 
which Selden, in his " Table Talk/' conceives to have origi- 
nated from the Jewish custom of eating bitter herbs at the 
time of the Passover. Among the many writers of the last 
two centuries who allude to stool-ball, several notice this 
custom, as Herrick does in these lines from his "Hes- 
perides " : 

At stool-ball, Lucia, let us play, 

For sugar-cakes and wine ; 
Or for a tansie let us pay, 

The losse be thine or mine. 


If thou, my deere, a winner be 

At trundling of the ball, 
The wager thou shalt have, and me, 

And my misfortunes all. 

This custom, however, does not appear to have been con- 
fined to Easter-tide, or, at any rate, this pleasant little fillip to 
flagging interest was soon extended to summer games, for in 
Tom D'Urfey's play of "The Comical History of Don 
Quixote," acted at Dorset Gardens in 1694, occur these 

lines : 

Down in a vale, on a summer's day, 

All the lads and lasses met to be merry ; 
A match for kisses at stool-ball to play, 

And for cakes and ale, and cider and perry. 
Chorus. Come all, great, small, short, tall, away to stool-ball. 

Though the frequent allusions to stool-ball in the literature 
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries testify to its great 
popularity among the lower orders, we might have been at a 
loss to know how it was played if it were not that it still is played 
in Sussex, and that local tradition seems to have preserved the 
old rules of the game. Dr. Johnson, indeed, tells us, in his 
dictionary, that it was a game where balls were driven from 
stool to stool, but he contents himself with this meagre defi- 
nition, and does not go any deeper into the mysteries of 
stool-ball. Strutt never saw the game played, though he tells 
us that he was informed " that a pastime called stool-ball is 
practised to this day in the northern parts of England, which 
consists in simply setting a stool upon the ground, and one of 
the players takes his place before it, while his antagonist, 
standing at a distance, tosses a ball with the intention of 
striking the stool ; and this it is the business of the former to 
prevent by beating it away with the hand, reckoning one to 
the game for every stroke of the ball ; if, on the contrary, it 
should be missed by the hand, and touch the stool, the 
players change places." Strutt's stool-ball, however, is rather 
" rounders " than cricket, for he goes on to say that sometimes 


a certain number of stools are set up in a circular form, and at 
a distance from each other, and that at each stroke of the ball 
the players stationed at the stools must run in succession from 
stool to stool, being put out if hit by the ball or caught out. 

The real stool-ball, however, was and is a double-wicket 
game, in which the players used a kind of bat, and defended 
wickets, which, perhaps, originally were stools, but afterwards 
became two boards about a foot square, fixed on short poles 
from three to four feet high, according to the age of the 
players, and about thirteen yards from each other. Balls were 
bowled, runs scored, and catches made, just as in cricket. 
The players usually numbered from eight to eleven on each 
side, and the fields were placed as nearly as possible as they 
are in cricket. From the height of the wicket-boards, balls 
had necessarily to be bowled full pitch, and the striker was 
out if the board was hit or the ball caught. 

This cheerful and exciting game appears to have been played 
chiefly in Sussex, and there only by the female sex. In the 
Sussex villages, some years ago, it was to girls what cricket is 
to boys. " Women's cricket," says a writer in Notes and 
Queries, " was played in almost every village of the county." 
It was a favourite game at fairs ; at school feasts the clergy- 
men's families and the gentry joined the girls in the game. 
Matches, too, were played by the ladies of one parish against 
those of another. The advent of croquet, however, seems to 
have lessened the interest taken in it then, but it is now being 
revived in Sussex, the initiative being taken by a ladies' club, 
composed of members of the principal county families near 
Horsham. As it is a lively and exciting game, it is surprising 
that it has not been taken up in other places ; if it were, it 
would very probably run lawn-tennis hard for the pride of place 
once occupied by the deposed croquet. 

In the Graphic for October 12, 1878, there is a spirited illus- 
tration of a match at stool-ball played at Horsham Park that 
autumn, between two county clubs of young ladies the 


Foresters and the Horsham Park Eleven. From the accom- 
panying description we learn that the Foresters made 109 runs 
in their first innings, and 136 in their second, while their field- 
ing and bowling were so exceedingly good that their opponents 
were put out for sixty runs in their first and sixteen in their 
second innings. The bats used were small wooden instru- 
ments, like a battledore or racket, only with rather shorter 
handles, while the ball was a full-sized tennis. Balls had to be 
bowled underhand and full pitch. 

A large gathering of the neighbouring gentry assembled to 
witness the match, which excited the greatest interest. " The 
two elevens were dressed in picturesque uniforms of light blue 
and pink, and the beautiful grounds adjoining the house were 
gaily decorated with flags. The whole formed a most striking 
scene." With such allurements the great chances are that not 
a few recreant cricketers may find the parent more enjoyable 
than the child, may desert cricket, and, like Richard in Shad- 
well's " Woman Captain," resolve that for the future they 
" will play at stool-ball with the maids." 

Certain correspondents of Notes and Queries, some time 
ago were disposed to hold that the obsolete game of stob-ball 
was another variety of the principle of cricket. Very little is 
known about this old game, but from the glimpses we do get 
of it in old authors it seems to have been akin to golf rather 
than to cricket. There are two allusions to it in the Berkeley 
MSS. (1618), published by Mr. T. D. Fosbrooke in 1821, one 
in which the writer only records that the " Earl of Leicester, 
with an extraordinary number of attendants, and multitudes of 
country people that resorted to him, came to Wotton, and 
thence to Michaelwood Lodge, casting downe part of the pales 
which, like a little parke, then enclosed that lodge, and thence 
went to Wotton Hill, where hee played a match at stoball ;'* 
while, in the o.her, the writer most tantalisingly refrains from 
describing the game, on the plea that it is so well known. 
" The large and levell playnes of Slimbridge, Warth, and others, 


in the vale of this hundred," he writes, " and downes or hilly 
playnes of Stinchcombe, Westridge, Tickraydinge, and others 
in the hilly or Coteswold part, doe witnes the inbred delight 
that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes and children doe 
take in a game called stoball, the play whereat each child of 
twelve yeares old can (I suppose) as well describe as myselfe : 
and not a sonne of mine but at seven was furnished with his 
double stoball staves and a gamester thereat." Aubrey, how- 
ever, in his " Natural History of Wiltshire," gives us a suf- 
ficiently minute account of the pastime to show that cricket 
owes no part of its play to stob-ball. " This game is peculiar 
to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of 
Somerset, near Bath," says he. " They strike a ball stuffed 
very hard with quills and covered with soale leather as big as- 
a bullet (elsewhere he says this ball is of about four inches in 
diameter), with a staffe commonly made of withy, about three 
and a halfe feet long. Colemdowne is the place so famous and 
so frequented for stob-ball playing. The turfe is very fine and 
the rock freestone is within an inch and half of the surface, 
which gives the ball so quick a rebound. ... I doe not 
heare that this game is used anywhere in England, but in 
this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining/' There 
appears to be no vestige of this old game left in those counties 
now. Stob-ball in Tothill Fields is one of the games of Eng- 
land enumerated by Locke in 1679. 

In a curious book published in 1706, " The Scotch Rogue : 
The Life and Actions of Donald Macdonald, a Highland Scot," 
the vagabond hero tells us he was fond of " cat and dog," an 
old form of cricket once very popular in certain parts of Scot- 
land. " I was but a sorry proficient in learning," he writes, 
" being readier at cat and dog . . wrestling, and foot-ball, and 
such other sports as we use in our country, than at my book." 
Dr. Jamieson says that this game was chiefly played in Angus 
and Lothian, and that at the very least three players are re- 
quired, who are furnished with clubs. They cut out two holes, 


each about a foot in diameter, and seven inches in depth, and 
twenty-six feet apart. One man guards each hole with his 
club. These clubs are called dogs. A piece of wood about 
four inches long and one inch in diameter, called a cat, is pitched 
by a third person from one hole towards the player at the other, 
who has to prevent the cat from getting into the hole. If it pitches 
into the hole the batsman is out, and the bowler who threw the 
cat takes his turn with the club. If the cat be struck, the club- 
bearers change places, and each change of place counts one to 
the score of the two who hold the clubs, who are viewed as 

This is manifestly a rude foreshadowing of the cricket of to- 
day, and if we substitute a ball for the more easily obtained 
piece of wood, " cat and dog " would be most probably identi- 
cal with the game played by the cricketers of the end of the 
seventeenth century. 

From all this, then, we have sufficient proof that, though 
cricket is hardly mentioned by its modern name before the 
Revolution, yet that it existed long before then under other 




"N our last chapter we noticed some of the earlier forms of the 
game that has been developed, within comparatively recent 
years, into the scientific cricket of to-day. Let us now glance 
at the annals of the game from the time we first find it alluded 
to under its modern name. 

The earliest mention of the name carries us back to the 
middle of the sixteenth century. In Russell's " History of 
Guildford," we have an account of some legal proceedings, in 
1593, in respect to " a garden withhelde from the towne." It 
appears that, a few years before Elizabeth began to reign, one 
John Parvish, an innkeeper, rented a piece of waste land in 
the parish of Holy Trinity, in Guildford, which he soon after- 
wards enclosed. He and his successors were allowed to re- 
main in undisturbed possession of this field till 1593, when the 
matter was made the subject of a legal investigation, which 
resulted in an order that the ground should be disenclosed and 
laid waste again. This piece of ground is the first cricket- 
field known in history, as we learn from the evidence at the 
trial of " John Derrick, gent, one of the Queen's Majesties 
Coroners of the county of Sussex, aged 59." Mr. Derrick 
said he knew the field " for fifty years or more. It lay waste, 
and was used and occupyd by the inhabitants of Guldeforde to 
saw timber in, and for sawpits, and for makinge of frames of 
timber for the said inhabitants." But there was a merry corner 
of the little common, we may be sure as far away as possible 
from the timber stacks and sawpits, and there the Guildford 


schoolboys had their cricket-ground. Mr. Derrick says : 
" When he was a scholler in the free school of Guldeforde he 
and several 1 of his fellowes did runne and play there at crickett 
and other plaies ; and also that the same was used for the 
baytinge of beares in the said towne, until the said John 
Parvish did inclose the said parcell of land.' ; 

This, of course, proves that " cricket " as a name for one 
game was in use at this period ; but it is quite clear that for a 
very long time after this neither name nor pastime was very 
popular in England. While there are many allusions to foot- 
ball, tennis, bowls, and other sports in Shakespeare and his 
brother dramatists, they are all silent about the national game 
of the future. Mr. Pycroft cites in support of this the Rev. 
John Mitford and Mr. Payne Collier, who say that they have 
never met with any mention of cricket in any dramatist earlier 
than 1685. No notice is taken of it in the lists of English 
games given us by King James L, by Burton in the " Anatomy 
of Melancholy," or by Locke ; and Mr. Pycroft is mistaken 
when he says that the game is mentioned by Stow in his " Sur- 
vey of London" in 1591. It is possible Stow may have 
meant to include cricket in his statement that " the ball is now 
used by noblemen and gentlemen in tennis courts and by 
people of the meaner sorts in the open fields and streets," but 
the name " cricket " does not occur in the work till Strype 
published his edifion of the " Survey " in 1720. 

In the latter part of the seventeenth century, however, we 
begin to come upon casual allusions to the game, but still very 
little to show that it had any hold upon the popular taste at 
all equal to that exercised by many other games. It did not 
come back with the King at the Restoration, because it was 
then too plebeian a game ever to have gone away with him, 
though, curiously enough, it was during the sport-abhorring 
rule of the Commonwealth that it gained its earliest footing in 
the public schools. To Winchester the credit appears to be 
due of bringing this about ; indeed, it has been urged that 


cricket was a Wykehamist game even in the days of Queen 
Bess ; for Christopher Johnson, afterwards head-master of 
Winchester, wrote a Latin poem while a schoolboy there in 
Elizabeth's reign, describing college life there, from which we 
learn that the boys played at quoits, foot-ball, and a game that 
may have been cricket, thus alluded to : " Saepe repercusso 
pila te juvat icta bacillo." However this may be, cricket was 
established at Winchester in 1650, for Lisle Bowles, writing of 
Bishop Ken, says : " On the fifth or sixth day [Ken was 
admitted on January 13, 1650] our junior is found for the first 
time attempting to wield a cricket bat. " 

Mr. Pycroft quotes a passage from the diary of the Rev. 
Henry Teonge, chaplain of H.M.S. Assistance in the years 
1675-1679, which shows that cricket was one of the games 
played by the English residents at Antioch at that time. 
"This morning early (May 16, 1676), as is the custom all the 
summer long, at least forty of the English, with his worship 
the consul, rode out of the city about four miles to a fine 
valley by a river side to recreate themselves. There a princely 
tent was pitched, and we had several pastimes and sports, as 
duck-hunting, fishing, shooting, handball, and cricket, and then 
a noble dinner brought thither, with great plenty of all sorts 
of wines, punch, and lemonade, and at six o'clock we re- 
turned all home in good order, but soundly tired and weary." 

We have stated above Mr. Payne Collier's belief that no 
mention of cricket is made by any dramatist before 1685. In 
that year was published a play by Edward Phillips (a nephew 
of Milton), called "Mysteries of Love and Eloquence," in 
which one of the characters asks : "Will you not, when you 
have me, throw stocks at my head and say, ' Would my eyes 
had been beaten out of my head with a cricket ball the day 

efore I saw thee'?" 
As the next century advances, we find cricket emerge by 

egrees from the obscurity in which it has hitherto been too 
closely veiled. Even in the early years of the century the 




frequent references to the game in prose and poetry bear wit- 
ness to its growing popularity. Besides D'Urfey's Welshman 
Shenkin, who * was the prettiest fellow 

At football and at cricket,' 

we find Swift writing that John Bull, for all his new-born 
serious air, " could not help discovering some remains of his 
nature when he happened to meet with a foot-ball or a match at 
cricket." Pope makes " senators at cricket urge the ball." 
Later on, Buncombe tells of 

An ill-timed cricket match there did 
At Bishopsbourne befal, 

while we get a good idea of the damage suffered by cricket for 
a long time on account of the speculative propensities of its 
sporting votaries from Soame Jenyng's lines 

England, when once of peace and wealth possessed, 
Began to think frugality a jest ; 
So grew polite : hence all her well-bred heirs 
Gamesters and jockeys turned, and cricket players. 

It was largely owing to bookmakers making the game more 
or less a means of swindling that, until the century was nearly 
half over, cricket was not deemed a game for gentlemen to 
play at, while improvements in farming, enclosure of common 
lands, and the clipping of many a village green, greatly 
retarded its spread among the country lads, whose forefathers 
had mainly helped to keep the old game alive. Then, all at 
once, it was discovered that " poor Hodge was very ignorant, 
reckless, vicious at times, and that church-ales and statute 
hirings did him actual injury ; and then the gentry and clergy 
set heartily to work for his reformation." In their new-born 
zeal they overdid their crusade against the old sports, and at 
one time " it seemed as if England would be a sad country 
for the poor. Every sport was out of favour. No more trials 
of s'rem th and speed ; no more feats of dexterity and daring, 


smiled on and encouraged by the little great ones of the 
parish; that was all past, and all the mirth was hole-and- 
corner mirth, low, blackguard, and barbarous." 

It was the dark hour before the dawn. When things looked 
blackest, " cricket," says the writer we have quoted above, 
" suddenly came, like the good fairy in a pantomime, to save 
the nation from a slough of sottish despondency. Quite 
abruptly, knights, nobles, and gentlemen doffed their embroi- 
dered coats, flung aside their absurd three-cornered hats, and 
fell to batting and bowling as if for life and death. The game 
was taken up on all sides. It was one equally adapted for poor 
and rich ; better still, it was one in which rich and poor could 
share. All over the land the old game, never very popular 
before, came into vogue and reigned supreme." 

This commingling of all ranks in the cricket-field was, how- 
ever, at the time looked upon with great apprehension. 
Sylvanus Urban quotes, in 1743, from the British Champion 
of Sept. 8 of that year, an article in which the writer seems to 
be as much disgusted at " lords and gentlemen, clergymen 
and lawyers, associating themselves with butchers and cob- 
blers in pursuit of their diversions," as he is at the crying 
evils of matches being played for large stakes, and being 
farmed by innkeepers, who largely advertised their adventures, 
and were strongly suspected of all sorts of tricks to make 
their betting safe. The old Artillery Ground at Finsbury, the 
first Metropolitan cricket-ground on record, was the earliest 
scene of this kind of match, though it is not much more than 
half a century since Lord's had its bookmakers betting as 
openly and professionally on the game as in the ring at 

In 1 748 the Court cf King's Bench had before it a question 
of bets at cricket, when the point was whether it was a game 
within the meaning of the Act 9 of Anne, chapter 19. The 
Court held " that cricket was a game, and a very manly game 
too ; not bad in itself, but only in the ill-use made of it by 


betting more than ten pounds on it; but that was bad, and 
.against the law." 

We have seen above that cricket was played at Winchester 
at least as early as the Commonwealth. Eton seems to be 
the next school that took it up. In 1688 one of the extras in 
an Eton school-bill was " a ram and bat, 9^." Walpole found 
it there when he entered Eton in 1728, though precocious 
Horry thought very little of it. " I can't say I am sorry I was 
never quite a schoolboy," he writes ; " an expedition against 
bargemen or a match at cricket may be very pretty things to 
recollect, but, thank my stars, I can remember things that are 
very near as pretty." 

When Frederick, Prince of Wales, died suddenly in 1751, 
many causes were given of his death ; one of them, that 
stated by Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, makes it an accident at 
cricket. " Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II., ex- 
pired suddenly in 1751, at Leicester House, in the arms of 
Desnoyers, the celebrated dancing-master. His end was 
caused by an internal abscess that had long been forming, in 
consequence of a blow which he received in the side from a 
cricket-ball, while he was engaged in playing at that game on 
the lawn at Cliefden House, in Buckinghamshire, where he 
then principally resided. Death did not take place, however, 
till several months after the accident, when a collection of 
matter burst, and instantly suffocated him." 

We may see how the game was played about this time from 
the picture, of date 1743, in the possession of the Surrey 
County Club. The wicket was a " skeleton hurdle," one foot 
high and two feet wide, consisting of two stumps only, with a 
third laid across. The bat was curved at the end, and made for 
free hitting rather than defence. The bowling was all along 
the ground, and the great art was to bowl under the bat. All 
play was forward of the wicket, as it is now in single wicket 
games of less than five players a side. With these exceptions, 
the game was very much the same as it is to-day. 


In the infancy of cricket there were no stumps at all ; in- 
stead of wickets, the early players cut in the turf two circular 
holes, and the batsmen were put out in running, not, as now, 
by putting down a wicket, but by the ball being popped into 
this hole (whence "popping crease," says Mr. Pycroft) before 
the point of the bat was grounded in it. It is most probable 
that originally the single stump was placed at the hole to point 
it out to bowlers and fielders, very much as the "flags " used 
for this purpose at the holes in golf. In process of time, the 
frequent disputes as to whether bat or ball reached this hole 
first, as well as injuries received in the unseemly tussles, would 
naturally suggest that the beacon-stump should be made more 
useful, and that the runner should be out if this were displaced 
as well as by holeing the ball. It is uncertain when the second 
stump was added, but it was a very obvious step from a single 
stump to one on each side of the old block-hole. In 1700 we 
find Mr. Gale's "skeleton hurdle," only a foot high, though 
two feet wide. There was no middle stump till, in a match of 
the Hambledon Club, in 1775, it was observed that at a 
critical part of the game the ball went three times between 
the stumps without knocking off the bail ; then a third stump 
was added, and by degrees inches were added to the dimen- 
sions of the wicket, till, in 1817, it attained to the size at 
which it has ever since remained. 

In 1797 the Earl of Winchester, a good cricketer and great 
supporter of the game, attempted to introduce a fourth stump, 
that "the game might be thus rendered shorter by easier bowl- 
ing out " ; but nothing came of this except on one memorable 
occasion, when, in July, 1837, Mr. Ward proposed, as a method 
of equalising the Gentlemen and Players, that the former 
should defend wickets of twenty-seven by eight inches ; the latter 
four stumps thirty -six by twelve. This was called the "Barn-door 
Match," or " Ward's Folly," and, notwithstanding the great odds 
against them, the Players won in a single innings by ten runs. 

Undoubtedly the greatest and most pregnant innovation in 



cricket was the introduction of round-arm bowling. The credit 
for its invention appears to be due to Tom Walker, a profes- 
sional of the old Hambledon Club ; but his " throwing " was 
pronounced unfair, and was suppressed and forgotten, till, 
about a quarter of a century afterwards, it was again introduced 
by Mr. John Willes, a Kentish amateur, who, it was said, 
learned the delivery from his sister, who used to throw the ball 
at him in practice. Mr. Willes's bowling figured in one or two 
great matches, notably in one on July 20, 1807, Thirteen of 
All England against Twenty-three of Kent, for a thousand 
guineas, on Penenden Heath. Kent won by 162 runs, and 
Willes's bowling greatly helped to bring this about. 

As with Tom Walker, so with Mr. Willes. He and his 
bowling "were frequently barred in making a match," says 
Mr. Pycroft, " and he played sometimes amid much uproar and 
confusion. Still, he would persevere, till the ring closed in on 
the players, the stumps were lawlessly pulled up, and all came 
to a standstill." 

It was not till Mr. Knight, of Alton, espoused the cause of 
round-arm bowling, in 1825, that it became a permanent insti- 
tution, after much controversy though, and no little ridicule of 
the "throwing" style. 

Hampshire was clearly the first county to study cricket as a 
science. The first cricket club in England was the famous 
Hambledon, which played on Broadhalfpenny and Windmill 
Downs, near Hambledon. This club appears to have been 
founded about the beginning of last century ; the heyday of 
its prosperity was in the latter part of the century, when it had 
on its books most of the principal players of the kingdom, and 
could play and beat All England. It practically broke up in 
1791, though it was kept up in name till 1825. 

In London the earliest cricket fields were the Artillery 
Ground at Finsbury, and the White Conduit Fields. A club 
was formed of the players on this latter field, and from among 
its members in 1787 was established the Marylebone Club, 




which, at an early period, seems to have set itself to discuss 
and formulate the laws of the game. 

Among the ground bowlers of the White Conduit Club was 
Thomas Lord, a Scotsman, who had left Scotland on account 
of his Jacobite predilections. Lord, being promised support 
by the new M.C.C., took a piece of ground where Dorset 
Square now stands, and so set up the first "Lord's." When 
this site was needed for building purposes, Lord carried his 
turf to a field at South Bank, near the Regent's Park, where he 
remained until the cutting of the canal caused him once more 
to roll up his old turf and remove it to the " Lord's " of the pre- 
sent day. Club and ground rapidly rose into the front rank, 
and in those days of slow travelling, when players could not 
extend their circuit as they can nowadays, a lion's share of the 
patronage and practice of cricket was given to Lord's. 

Before the immense impetus given to cricket by the rail- 
ways, matches were necessarily confined very much to contests 
between neighbouring counties or clubs. The Hambledon 
Club had a caravan to take their Eleven about, and when Farn- 
ham played on Broadhalfpenny, old Beldham told the author 
of the " Cricket Field" that they used to ride the twenty-seven 
miles both ways the same day, early and late. A journey to 
London was the utmost expedition attempted by the players of 
Hants, Surrey, or Kent ; and though Walpole, writing in June, 
1749, says, "I could tell you of Lord Montford's making 
cricket matches, and fetching up persons by express from dif- 
ferent parts of England to play on Richmond Green," this 
must have been a most exceptional case, and the custom of 
wing members of an eleven from different parts of the king- 
on, or the existence of such a peripatetic body as I Zingari, 
nly became practicable when railways gave speedy means of 

The All England Eleven originated in a match played be- 
tween an eleven of England, under Clarke, and twenty of Shef- 
field, in 1846. So much interest was excited by the match 


that Clarke resolved to play with the same eleven against sides 
all over the country. " It will make good for cricket, and for 
your trade too," said he to Mr. Dark ; who adds, "And sure 
enough, the increase of my bat and ball trade bears witness to 
Clarke's long-sighted speculation." The Zingari had the start 
of the professionals by a year, for the meeting in the Blenheim 
Hotel that formed the club took place in July, 1845. 

The public school matches began towards the end of the last 
century. Eton and Westminster were the first opponents^ but 
Westminster soon ceased to play, and Harrow took its place. 
Lord Byron played in the Eton-Harrow match of 1805. A 
correspondent of the Daily News recently gave in that journal 
the following interesting notes on this match : " The most 
interesting fact about the match is Lord Byron's share in it. 
Now, here is a question for a new Byron Society : If Lord 
Byron was as hopelessly lame as Mr. Trelawny declares, where 
did he stand in the field? Did he 'jerk in' from short leg? 
Did he keep wickets ? Had he anyone to run for him ? Byron 
cannot have been a bad bat, as times went, for Harrow sent 
him in sixth wicket down. He followed, by a curious accident, 
A. Shakspeare. Byron scored (c. b. Barnard) 7 and (b. Carter) 
2. We do not know that any biographer has pointed out that 
Byron was at least a change bowler. Shakspeare took most of 
the wickets, but the poet bowled Kaye clean, and some of the 
men who were caught may have been taken off his bowling. 
Could he have done this if Mr. Trelawny's account of his 
lameness is correct ? " 

The earliest Gentlemen against Players match was in 1798, 
when the Players gave T. Walker, Beldham, and Ham- 
mond, but even then won. The amateurs did not again enter 
the lists till 1821, when they were again defeated; but next 
year they won, though in 1823 the Players gave them such a 
beating that the match was abandoned for some years, and 
only occasionally played again with odds till, in 1841, it be- 
came regularly established as an annual event. 


After this sketch of the progress of cricket from the rough 
pastime of Elizabethan schoolboys up to the scientific national 
game of to-day, it may be interesting to note some of the 
curiosities of the game. 

Though the fair sex have got in stool-ball a species of 
cricket for themselves, they have frequently figured with bat 
and ball on the legitimate cricket-field. Southey notes a 
match between the Matrons and the Maids of Bury, in which 
the older ladies were victorious. In 1811 a female Eleven of 
Surrey lost a match for 500 guineas a side to eleven women 
of Hants, and since then several similar matches have been 

Much more curious are these two matches, in each of 
which a dog took a prominent part. Lord William Lennox, 

his " Celebrities I have Known," tells us that Lord Charles 
r backed his servant James Bridger and his water spaniel 
rake" to play a match against Mr. J. Cock and Mr. 
Weatherell for fifty guineas a side. This novel contest came 
off at Holt Pond Cricketing Ground, near Farnham. ' Drake's 
post was to field out, and as he always caught the ball at its 
first bound he proved himself a most excellent fieldsman. 
Bridger went in first and scored fifty runs. Mr. Cock made 
six before he was caught by Bridger. Mr. Weatherell then 
took his place at the wicket, and hit his first ball smartly for 
a run, but ' Drake ' was up so much faster than he expected, 
stopped the ball so well, and delivered it so quickly to 
Bridger, that Mr. W T eatherell's stumps went down without a 
run. Mr. Cock then gave up the match." Mr. Pycroft 
records a similar match on Hartfield Common, near Rick- 
mansworth, on May 21, 1827, "between two gentlemen of 
Middlesex and Mr. Francis Trumper, a farmer at Harefield, 
who was to have the help of his dog. In the first innings of 
the two gentlemen they got three runs, and Mr. Trumper got 
three for himself and two for his dog. In their second innings 
the two gentlemen again got three runs, and Mr. Trumper 



then going in and getting two runs, beat the two gentlemen 
by two wickets. Betting at starting, five to one against Mr. 
Trumper and his dog. The dog always stood near his master 
when he was bowling, and ran after the ball when struck, and 
returned with it in his mouth so quickly that the two gentle- 
men had great difficulty to run even from a long hit. The 
dog was a thorough-bred sheep dog." 

Lord William Lennox tells of a curious match he witnessed 
early in the century between the one-armed and the one-legged 
pensioners of Greenwich Hospital. As with most matches 
then, it was for a heavy stake a thousand guineas ; " it took 
place at Montpelier Gardens, Walworth, and created much 
diversion, and several lost or broke their wooden walls." 
The one-armed players won ; but on a more recent occasion, 
when a similar match was played at Kennington Oval, after 
some excellent play on both sides, the one-legged men won. 
They were more handy than their opponents in picking up 
the ball. 

"The glorious uncertainty of cricket" has become pro- 
verbial : the finest teams have been dismissed many a time 
for less than a run apiece, but there seems to be only one 
instance on record of a good eleven being all out without a 
single run being scored. This was in a match in 1855 
between Earl Winterton's Club and the Second Royal Surrey 
Militia, in which the military eleven did not break their 
" duck's egg," though they had some good bats among them 
who, in the next innings, scored a hundred. What made it 
more extraordinary was, that Challen, one of Lord Winterton's 
bowlers, was a fast bowler. 

Fuller Pilch once bowled out eight of his antagonists for 
nothing, and the other three only made four runs between 
them. This was in a match, the Paltisvvick Club against 
Bury, in 1824, and it is probably the second smallest score 
on record, though it is not nearly so wonderful as the score in 
one of the famous B. matches in 1810. On this occasion, 


Mr. E. H. Budd was absent, and J. Wells was given to supply 
his place. Lord Frederick Beauclerk, Beldham, Bennett, the 
Bentleys, and the rest of the famous B.'s only made two runs 
between them, and the given man making four at one hit and 
then being put out, the eleven that had made 137 in their 
first innings thus only ran up six in their second. 

Elevens made up of men bearing the same initial or the 
same name are common enough. A correspondent of Notes 
and Queries records among the novel matches of 1877 one 
played at Shalford, Surrey, between eleven Heaths and eleven 
Mitchells, which the Mitchells won. The victors had already 
vanquished eleven Miles and eleven Muggeridges, and the 
Surrey newspaper he quotes says they were about to challenge 
an eleven named Lucas. 

The late Lord Lyttelton, with his two brothers and eight 
sons, played a famous match at Hagley against King Edward's 
School, Bromsgrove, in August, 1867, and won by ten wickets. 
Lord Lyttelton, in a humorous set of verses, proceeds to cele- 
>rate the victory, and 

Sing the song of Hagley cricket, 
When the peer and all his clan 

Grasped the bat to guard the wicket 
As no other household can, 

d so on, as the curious reader may find in the ninth volume 
ui the fifth series of Notes and Queries. 

On May 6, 1794, a match was played at Linsted Park 
between the Gentlemen of the Hill against the Gentlemen of 
the Dale, for a guinea a man, when all the players were on 
horseback. Sir Horace Mann got up a similar match, on 
ponies, at Harrietsham, in 1800. 

In 1849 a game was played on the ice on Christchurch 
Meadow at Oxford ; and during the long frost of the most 
severe winter of 1878-9, on several occasions immense crowds 
were attracted to witness similar matches, as at Grantchester 


Meadows, in December, 1878 ; between the elevens of 
R. Carpenter and Mr. Riggs, at Shipley,, in January ; at 
Bushey, and elsewhere. 

With the doings in India of the famous Parsee eleven and 
in New Zealand of the Maori players before us, it might 
appear that there is an end to the oft-repeated assertion that 
cricket is a game that can be appreciated only by the Anglo- 
Saxon ; but this is perhaps only the proverbial exception, and 
we may still go on telling stories about the " benighted 
foreigner," like the anecdote Cuthbert Bede somewhere relates 
of Ibrahim Pasha's visit to Lord's during his visit to England. 
Among the efforts made to amuse the Pasha, he was taken to 
see a cricket-match at Lord's. After staring wearily for two 
hours at the strenuous exertions of picked players, he at 
length, in despair, sent a message to the captains of the 
elevens that he did not wish to hurry them, but that when 
they were tired of running about he would be much obliged to 
them if they would begin their game. 

This same story has been told of the Duchesse de Berri, 
but that does not matter; the anecdote is but the Briton's 
belief that cricket flourishes only on beef and beer. 



There never was a game like the old Scottish game, 

That's played 'twixt the hole and the tee ; 
You may roam the world o'er, but the game at your door 

Is the very best game you will see. 

FOR ages golf has been pre-eminently the national game of 
Scotland. As its history emerges from the mists of antiquity 
we find foot-ball and it linked together as representative 
games, in fulminations against "unprofitabill sportis," unduly 
distracting the attention of the people from more serious 
affairs. But our game far exceeds this old rival in interest ; 
and if it were not for the popularity of curling in its season, 
no rival pastime could pretend to vie with golf in Scotland. 

The mode of playing golf is so well known in these days, 
even to the ill-starred beings who dwell where Nature has not 
made "links," that it need only be said that the playing fields 
are extensive downs Scotice, "links" generally near the sea, 
with the surface diversified and made interesting to the skilful 
players by patches of gorse, sand-holes, ''bunkers," and other 
"hazards." Victory lies with the player who, avoiding or 
skilfully overcoming these "hazards," drives his ball into a 
series of small, carefully-cut, round holes, in the fewest strokes. 
The clubs used are several in number ; some designed to drive 
the small gutta-percha ball a long distance, others to extricate 
balls from "hazards" unfortunately fallen into, and others for 
the cautious and skilful short strokes that send a near- lying 
ball into the wished-for hole. 

To those unfortunates who have only read of the pastime, 


it may appear hard to believe in the reality of the enthusiasm 
shown by its votaries; but whenever they are privileged to 
come under its influence, even as spectators, they will find it 
is one of the most fascinating of pursuits. How can a man 
describe in fitting language the subtle spell that brings him 
out in all weathers and seasons, and makes him find perfect 
pleasure in "grinding round a barren stretch of ground, im- 
pelling a gutta-percha ball before him, striving to land it in a 
succession of small holes in fewer strokes than his companion 
and opponent," as the game has been described by one of 
the "Peter Bell" class of men, to whom the primrose by the 
river's brim is a yellow primrose and nothing more. 

No space need be wasted on unprofitable speculations as to 
the origin of golf. All that is clear in this vexed subject is 
that though Scotland is the chosen home of the game, she is 
not its birthplace. It is, however, of little moment whether 
the game came in with the Scandinavians who settled on the 
east coast of Scotland, or whether it was brought northward, 
over the border, as a variety of the English " bandy-ball "; or 
even if we have to go back to the Campus Martins, and look 
for the parent of golf in the feather ball of the Roman paganica : 
or further back still, with those enthusiastic golfers who are 
quite prepared to hold that the old Greeks beguiled their 
weary wait by many a keen game on the " links of Troy." 
Games of ball seem to have existed in all ages, and it is 
therefore probable that golf is a development of some older 
game, or perhaps a "selection of the fittest" from several 
previously existing ball-games. It is sufficient for our purpose 
that early in the fifteenth century it was at least as popular 
with all classes in Scotland as it is to-day. 

So all-engrossing was the game then that it became a cause 
of danger to the State; so much so that the Scottish king, 
James II., found himself constrained to pass a penal Act or- 
daining that the "fut ball and golf be utterly cryt doune, and 
nocht usyt," as their popularity seriously interfered with the 


archery practice necessary to make the Scots fit to meet " our 
auld enemies of England." This Act of 1457 is the first of a 
series, extending to the time of James IV., who, thirteen years 
before he fell at Flodden, made the last of these attempts to 
put down golf and make archery popular by Act of Parlia- 
ment. This monarch, however, was one of the first to break 
his own law ; an example followed by that king of good fellows, 
James V., who dearly loved a day on the green. 

When gunpowder made archery a thing of the past, the 
conflict between love of country and love of golf ceased, and 
the game went on prospering under the smiles of royal favour, 
surviving proclamations of various town-councils directed 
against sacrilegious golfers, whose sin was held to be, not so 
much that they played on Sunday, as on that part of the day 
called " the tyme of the sermonnes." This matter was set at 
rest by the decree of James VI., of Scotland, who, in 1618, 
sent from his new kingdom of England an order that after 
divine service "our good people be not discouraged from any 
harmless recreation," but prohibiting " the said recreations to 
any that are not present in the church, at the service of God, 
before their going to the said recreations " ; or as Charles I., 
when subsequently ratifying this order, puts it, "having first 
done their dutie to God." 

James VI. and I. was a good friend of golf, both in his old 
kingdom and in his new, into which he probably introduced it 
some time before he founded the Royal Blackheath Club, in 
1608. In England, Strutt tells us, " it should seem that golf 
was a fashionable game among the nobility at the commence- 
ment of the seventeenth century, and it was one of the exercises 
with which Prince Henry, eldest son of James I., occasionally 
amused himself, as we learn from the following anecdote re- 
corded by a person who was present (Harl. MS., 6391) : 'At 
another time playing at goff, a play not unlike to pale maille, 
whilst his schoolmaster stood talking with another, and marked 
lot his highness warning him to stand farther off, the prince, 


thinking he had gone aside, lifted up his goff club to strike the 
ball ; mean tyme, one standing by said to him, " Beware that 
you hit not Master Newton "; wherewith he, drawing back his 
hand, said, " Had I done so, I had but paid my debts." ' " 

A cherished event in the anecdotic history of the game is 
that Charles I. was playing on Leith Links when a courier 
arrived with tidings of Sir Phelim O'Neal's rising in Ireland, 
in 1641. No doubt Dr. Dryasdusts shake their heads at this, 
but golfers believe it, and Sir John Gilbert has immortalised 
the incident so, what more could one want ? 

When the Duke of York came to live at Holyrood, in 1679, 
he studied to make himself popular with all classes. He joined 
heartily in all the pastimes of the time, and when his daughter, 
afterwards Queen Anne, joined him in 1681, Holyrood was 
gay with balls and plays, much to the horror of the more rigid 
Presbyterians. Mr. William Tytler, who had conversed with 
many who remembered the Duke's visit, tells us that " the 
Duke was frequently seen in a party at golf on the links of 
Leith, with some of the nobility and gentry. I remember in 
my youth to have often conversed with an old man, named 
Andrew Dickson, a golf club maker, who said that when a boy 
he used to carry the Duke's golf clubs, and to run before him 
and announce where the balls fell." 

" In the Canongate of Edinburgh, nearly opposite to Queens- 
berry House," says Dr. Robert Chambers, in his " Traditions 
of Edinburgh," "is a narrow, old-fashioned mansion of peculiar 
form, having a coat-armorial conspicuously placed at the top, 
and a plain slab over the doorway containing the following in- 
scriptions : 

Cum victor ludo Scotis qui proprius esset, 

Ter tres victores post redimitus avos, 
Patersonus, humo tune educebat in ahum, 

I lane quae victores tot tulit una clomum. 
' I hate no person.' 

It appears that this quatrain was the production of Dr. 


Pitcairn, while the sentence below is an anagram upon the 
name of John Patersone. The stanza expresses that, when 
Patersone had been crowned victor in a game peculiar to Scot- 
land, in which his ancestors had also often been victorious, he 
then built this mansion, which one conquest raised him above 
all his predecessors. We must resort to tradition for an ex- 
planation of this obscure hint." 

The story tradition tells is that, during the Duke's visit, "he 
had on one occasion a discussion with two English noblemen 
as to the native country of golf ; His Royal Highness assert- 
ing that it was peculiar to Scotland, while they as pertinaciously 
insisted that it was an English game as well. The two English 
nobles proposed, good-humouredly, to prove its English cha- 
racter by taking up the Duke in a match, to be played on Leith 
Links. James, glad of an opportunity to make popularity in 
Scotland, in however small a way, accepted the challenge, and 
sought for the best partner he could find. By an association 
not at this day surprising to those who practise the game, the 
heir-presumptive of the British throne played in concert with 
a poor shoemaker named John Patersone, the worthy descend- 
t of a long line of illustrious golfers. If the two Southerns 
re, as might be expected, inexperienced in the game, they 
,d no chance against a pair one member of which was a 
good player. So the Duke got the best of the practical argu- 
ment, and Patersone's merits were rewarded by a gift of the 
sum played for. The story goes on to say that John was thus 
enabled to build a somewhat stylish house for himself in the 
Canongate; on the top of which, being a Scotsman, and 
having, of course, a pedigree, he clapped the Patersone arms 
three pelicans vulned ; on a chief three mullets ; crest, a 
dexter hand grasping a golf club ; together with the motto, 
dear to all golfers, Far and Sure. 

" It must be admitted there is some uncertainty about this 
tale. The house, the inscriptions, and arms only indicate that 
Patersone built the house after being a victor at golf, and that 


Pitcairn had a hand in decorating it. One might* even see, in 
the fact of the epigram, as if a gentleman wit were indulging 
in a jest at the expense of some simple plebeian, who held all 
notoriety honourable. It might have been expected that, if 
Patersone had been enriched by a match in which he was con- 
nected with the Duke of York, a Jacobite like Pitcairn would 
have made distinct allusion to the circumstance. The tradition, 
nevertheless, seems too curious to be entirely overlooked, and 
the reader may therefore take it at its worth/' 

With the Stuarts went out for a time royal countenance of 
the game, till William IV. became patron of the Royal and 
Ancient Club of St. Andrews, and presented to it for 
annual competition that coveted golfing trophy, the gold 

But though there came kings who knew not golf, the game 
lost none of its old popularity. Still, as before, pre-eminently 
the game of the people, we find it associated with many a 
notable scene and character in the history of Scotland. So 
fond of the game was the great Montrose that hardly had the 
minstrels ceased to serenade the boy-husband and his bride, 
" Sweet Mistress Magdalene Carnegie," when we find him hard 
at work with clubs and ball. That fifty years later it continued 
to be the favourite amusement of the aristocracy of the Scottish 
capital, we can gather from the curious books of expenditure 
of Sir John Foulis, of Ravelstoun, who seems to have spent 
most of his leisure time " losing at golfe " on Musselburgh and 
Leith Links, with Hamilton and Rothes, and others of the 
highest quality of the time. We read of Balmerino's brother, 
Alexander Elphinston, and Captain Porteous, playing in 1724 
" a solemn match at golf" for twenty guineas on Leith Links. 
Eight years afterwards, on the very ground where he had won 
this match, Elphinston shot his man dead in a duel, while the 
other player in the match was the victim of the famous " Por- 
teous Mob." On these Leith Links might there very often 
be seen Lord President Duncan Forbes, of Culloden, who 


was so keen a golfer^that, when the links were covered with 
snow, he played on the sands by the sea-shore. 

Golf has had many enthusiastic votaries, but perhaps never 
one so devoted, heart and soul, to the game as " the Cock o' 
the Green," Alexander McKellar, the hero of one of " Kay's 
Portraits." He played every day and all day long on Brunts- 
field Links ; even when night fell he could not tear himself 
away, but played the " short holes " by candlelight. Yet, with 
all his excessive practice, he was by no means a dexterous 
player. As McKellar could not play on Sundays, he acted on 
that day as doorkeeper to a church in Edinburgh. One day 
Mr. Douglas Gourlay, a well-known club and ball-maker, on 
entering the church, jocularly placed a golf ball in " the plate ; ' 
instead of his usual donation ; as he anticipated, this prize was 
at once secured by McKellar, " who was not more astonished 
than gratified by the novelty of the deposit." 

Perhaps the most remarkable match at golf ever played was 
the one Mr. Wheeler gives, in his " Sportascrapiana," in the 
words of that veteran sportsman, Captain Horatio Ross. The 
match, Captain Ross says, was got up at the race ordinary at 
Montrose, by Mr. Cruickshank, of Langley Park, and Lord 
Kennedy both very good players. "They got up a match 
of three holes, for ^500 each hole, and agreed to play it then 
and there. It was about ten or half-past ten p.m., and quite 
dark. No lights were allowed, except one lantern placed on 
the hole, and another carried by the attendants of the player, 
in order that they might ascertain to whom the ball struck 
belonged. We all moved down to the golf-course to see this 
curious match. Boys were placed along the course, who were 
quite accustomed to the game, to listen to the flight of the 
balls, and to run to the spot where a ball struck and rested on 
the ground. I do not remember which of the players won the 
odd hole ; the match was won, I know, by only one hole. 
But the most remarkable part of the match was that they made 
out their holes with much about the same number of strokes 


as they usually did when playing in daylight. I think, on an 
average, that they took about five or six strokes in daylight, 
and in the dark six or seven. They were, however, in the 
constant habit of playing over the Montrose course." 

The old Acts of the Scots Parliament referred to above cry 
down golf and enjoin the practice of archery, that the Scots 
might be better able to fight the English bowmen with their 
own weapons. The penalties for default, and the time of 
practice, were not such as would recommend themselves to 
Sir Wilfrid Lawson and the opponents of the Sunday Society 
in Scotland. Every man who did not attend had to pay two- 
pence, which was spent in liquor for those present ; while the 
day and the hour were Sunday afternoon, after service ! Of 
course, at that period Sunday after mass was the great time for 
all sports and pastimes ; but neither the liquor nor the penalty 
seems to have made golf unpopular, nor sent men from the 
links to the bowmarks by the parish kirks. The Scot of those 
days did not take kindly to the bow, and no Acts of Parlia- 
ment could make him ; in spite of them he played golf and 
football, and trusted to his spear and sword to pull him through 
in his contests with the bowmen across the border. Archery 
and golf were brought into antagonism in another way on 
Luffness Links on October 15, 1874. The Scotsman of next 
day records this novel match. The Rev. Mr. Tait, chaplain 
to the Royal Company of Archers (Queen's Scotch Body- 
guard), played a match with a bow and arrow against the club 
and ball of the veteran golfer "Old Tom" Morris, over the 
Luffness course. When the round of eighteen holes was 
ended, it was found that the bow had beaten the club com- 
pletely, Mr. Tait having done the round in seventy-six " shots/' 
while Old Tom required eighty-two " strokes " to finish ; by 
holes the bow won by five. 

The dexterity and nicety of some players are well illustrated 
by that feat of a St. Andrew's golfer, who struck off three balls 
from one hole to another about 500 \ards-\vith such pro- 


cision that, giving a uniform number of strokes to each ball, 
the three would so cluster round the second hole that he could 
touch them all with his club. The Rev. Mr. Carlyle, of In- 
veresk, tells us, in his Autobiography, how he astonished 
Garrick and some others at Windsor by the nicety of his play 
in driving a ball from a good distance through a narrow gate- 
way into the Thames. The late " Young Tom " Morris could, 
it is said, drive a ball off a watch, as a " tee," without doing 
any harm to the watch. 

Let us now glance at some feats, not in the game, but 
achieved by golfers with club and ball. 

Just about a century ago to be exact, in 1775 an English 
gentleman, Captain Topham, devoted six months of his life to 
getting up material for a book on the manners and customs of 
the Scotch. Naturally, his accuracy is not equal to his bold- 
ness ; indeed, in several instances some " pawky chiel " seems 
to have hoaxed the indefatigable Captain notably his authority 
for the statement that Edinburgh people play golf "on the 
summit of these hills," Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crag. But 
Captain Topham's statement is not half so funny as worthy 
Hugo Arnot's serious refutation of it. " This observation," 
says the historian of Edinburgh, " is still more unfortunate 
than the general train of his remarks. Were a person to play 
a ball from the top of Arthur's Seat he would probably have 
to walk upwards of half a mile before he would touch it again, 
and we will venture to say that the whole art of man would not 
play the ball back again." This "venture" of Arnot's seems 
to have commended itself to the golfers of his day, but, in 
1815, two daring members of the Edinburgh Burgess Golf Club 
thought they could do it. Mr. Brown, one of these, backed 
himself to drive a ball from inside the Golf House on Brunts- 
field Links over Arthur's Seat in forty-five strokes (the 
distance is nearly two miles). He accomplished his task in 
forty-four strokes, and thus won his wager; but a brother 
member, who attempted the same feat, failed to do it in 



less than forty-six strokes. Arthur's Seat is upwards of 
800 feet high. 

In 1798 a wager was laid that there were no two members 
of the above-named club who could drive a ball over the spire 
of St. Giles's Cathedral in Edinburgh. The society took the 
bet; Mr. Sceales, of Leith, and Mr. Smellie, a printer of 
Edinburgh, were chosen to do battle for their club. In case 
of need they could use six balls each. The necessary elevation 
was got by a barrel stave, suitably fixed in the south-east 
corner of the Parliament Square. The balls were struck off in 
the early morning ; both soared considerably higher than the 
weathercock on the dome, and were found nearly opposite the 
Advocate's Close ; the height, including the base distance, is 
1 68 feet. A suitable erection for the judges was placed up 
beside the weathercock, and they at once decided that the club 
had won the wager. 

Thirty years later, two similar matches were made to drive a 
ball over the Melville Monument, in St. Andrew's Square, 
Edinburgh. In both cases the club and ball won ; in the one 
case Mr. Donald Maclean, Writer to the Signet, accomplishing 
the feat; in the other Mr. Skipsey, a clerk in the Exchequer, 
Edinburgh. This is a smaller undertaking than the St. Giles's 
feat, as the pillar here is only 136 feet high, and the statue 
14 feet, in all 150 against 168 feet. 

This Mr. Skipsey was a noted " driver." On one occasion 
he drove a ball upwards and forwards 200 yards before it 
touched the ground. Tradition tells of a feat in driving greater 
even than this, that of Mr. Messieux, who, on St. Andrew's 
Links, drove one of the old feather balls 308 yards before it 
stopped. Another hero of the olden time was William St. 
Clair, of Roslyn, whose feats of strength, and skill at golf and 
archery, Scott and his schoolfellows of the High School of 
Edinburgh used to crowd to witness. 

On one occasion, at the Antipodes, skill at golf was of great 
service. The rains had so swollen an Australian river that the 


mails could not venture across. By no means could a rope be 
got across to pull the letters over. Guns, slings, arrows were 
tried, but all failed, much to the disappointment of the crowd 
waiting for the news from home that lay in the bags on the 
other side. At last a Scot, a keen and earnest golfer in the 
old days at home, volunteered to try what he could do with 
the clubs and ball he had carried with him to his new home. 
A long string was attached to the ball, which was carefully 
" tee'd " ; then, with a long, steady " swipe " of his supple 
driver, the Scot sent the ball curving into the air, till it landed 
on the opposite bank, and re-established the broken communi- 

It is almost superfluous to say that in our own day the 
noble and ancient pastime is still the game of the Scots of all 
classes and in all parts of the world. One little fact, that in- 
contestably proves the eminent respectability of the game in 
Scottish eyes, is that "the minister" can be a golfer without 
the least fear of the straightest-laced of presbyteries. Students 
of national characteristics say that when the canny Scot 
abroad "prospects" for a new settlement, while he naturally 
rivets one eye on the main chance, with the other he reckons 
up the capabilities of the ground for his favourite game ; there- 
fore it is that golf has taken firm root and flourishes in many a 
distant colony. Across the border the game is so acclima- 
tised that formidable rivals to our native players are now 
trained on well-known English greens. That it may go on 
and prosper is, of course, the wish of every true lover of the 
invigorating pastime. 

The fascinations of golf have enlisted in the ranks of its 
votaries men of all classes, many of them famous on other 
fields, who have made their reminiscences of their beloved 
pursuit mediums for many a bright word-picture in prose and 
verse. Until recent years no attempt had been made to 
gather together what has been so said and sung in praise 
of the pastime, but Mr. Robert Clark, of Edinburgh, has made 


ample amends for this neglect in his sumptuous and now 
scarce volume, "Golf: A Royal and Ancient Game" (Edin- 
burgh : R. & R. Clark). 

This author has gone for his information to the most various 
sources old Acts of the Scots Parliament, proclamations by 
kings, burgh records, minutes of the more prominent golf 
clubs, books, and magazines ; and by judicious editing of this 
medley, has shown the many-sidedness of the game in a way 
that none but a devotee could. In this volume every golfing 
reader will find material for the fullest knowledge of all that 
is interesting about his favourite sport. 

Mr. Clark gives us some historical notes of the more 
prominent of the many golfing clubs that now flourish in 
different parts of Scotland, and extracts from their minute- 
books the leading events of their career. Now and then we 
come across eccentricities, such as those of Mr. Brown and 
Mr. Smellie, noted above ; as a rule, however, these clubs 
pursue the even tenor of their way, the members finding their 
best happiness in playing the pure and simple game. 

While the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers 
is generally held to be the oldest Scotch club, so great has 
been the development of its sister club at St. Andrews, and 
so great are the attractions of golfing on the famous links 
of the venerable city, that the " Royal and Ancient" takes 
precedence over all, and is indisputably the club of the 

In St. Andrews golf is not a mere pastime, but a business 
and a passion. It is the one recreation of the inhabitants, 
from the Principal of the University to the youngest urchin ; 
it has even invaded the domain of lawn tennis and croquet, 
and has taken captive the ladies, who now take so keen 
an interest in the game, that on more links than those of 
St. Andrews their green is a charming feature of the place. 
In short, in St. Andrews, " no living thing that does not play 
golf, or talk golf, or think golf, or at least thoroughly knock 


under to golf, can live." It was, however, on Musselburgh 
Links greatest golfing rival of St. Andrews that women 
first took to the club and ball, as we see from this extract 
from the minutes of the Musselburgh Golf Club : " Decem- 
ber 1 4th, 1 8 10. The club resolved to present by subscription 
a handsome new creel (fish basket) and shawl to the best 
female golfer who plays on the annual occasion, on January ist 
next, old style ; to be intimated to the fish ladies by William 
Robertson, the officer of the club. Two of the best Barcelona 
silk handkerchiefs to be added to the above premium of the 
creel/' These "fish ladies" were those of Fisherrow, near 
Musselburgh, of whom the Rev. Dr. Carlyle, of Inveresk, 
gives so amusing a sketch in the old " Statistical Account" 
"they frequently play at golf," he writes in 1795. 

The chief prize of the " Royal and Ancient" the gold 
challenge medal played for every autumn, presented in 1837 
by King William IV. is the " Blue Ribbon of Golf." To 
win it is the dream of every member of the club. Other 
clubs, such as North Berwick, Musselburgh, Montrose, Perth, 
Prestwick, Edinburgh Burgess, &c., have each its own time- 
honoured challenge trophy, that of the Royal Musselburgh 
being laden with more than a century of medals, each com- 
memorating a winner's name. 

So much for the history of the game; let us now glance at 
its literature. In the interesting collection of prose papers 
Mr. Clark has gathered from various quarters, we can study 
the peculiar features of the game and the effect it has, for the 
time, on the tempers of its votaries. As we have seen, at 
St. Andrews the ardent golfer has little time for thought or 
conversation unconnected with the game. For the time 
being, the be-all and end-all of his life lies within the pothook- 
shaped course he has to traverse ; and not a little of his 
happiness or his misery for the day depends on the nature of 
the match he succeeds in getting. 

The true golfer at work is essentially a man of silence 


chattering daring the crises of the game is as abhorrent to 
him as conversation during whist ; one thing only is as 
obnoxious as the human voice to him then that is, any 
movement of the human body near him. 

This over-sensitiveness to external influences may explain 
the seeming ungallantry of the "Colonel" in " H. J. M.'s" 
amusing account of " The Golfer at Home," which appeared 
in the Cornhill Magazine a few years ago. After a charming 
little picture of the " Colonel" resenting, though he does not 
openly object to, Browne being accompanied over the course 
by "his women," as he ungallantly terms Mrs. Browne and 
her sister, he says to his partner : " The links is not the 
place for women ; they talk incessantly, they never stand still, 
and if they do, the wind won't allow their dresses to stand 
still." However, as they settle down to their game, the 
" Colonel's" good temper returns, under the healthy influence 
of an invigorating " round," and gives "H.J.M." an opportunity 
of pointing out how all ill-humours of body and mind give 
way before the equable and bracing exercise of a round or 
two of the links of St. Rule. 

That the reader may see the amount of walking exercise 
taken in a round of St. Andrews Links, it may be interesting 
to note that the exact distance, as the crow flies, is three 
miles eleven hundred and fifty-four yards ; so that the golfer 
who takes his daily three rounds walks at least eleven miles. 
It is no wonder, then, that in addition to its own attractions, 
golf is esteemed as a capital preparation for the moors or the 
stubbles, hardening as it does the muscles both of arms and 

Pages might be filled with genial gossip about St. An- 
drews and St. Andrews players amateur and professional 
so interesting to frequenters of the links of " Great Golfington," 
but unfortunately too local for very general favour. Three 
names, however, demand mention in any notice of golf. 
Green to every golfer are the memories of the great champion 


of the professionals, Allan Robertson, who was " never beaten 
in a match " ; of the brilliant but short-lived career of poor 
" Young Tom Morris," the champion player of his day son 
of a worthy sire who still survives ; of Mr. Sutherland, an old 
gentleman who made golf the chief business of his life, whose 
interest in his fellow-men, not as men but as golfers, is well 
shown in this anecdote. His antagonist was about to strike 
oft for the finishing hole at St. Andrews, when a boy appeared 
on the bridge over the burn. Old Sutherland shouted out : 
" Stop, stop ! Don't play upon him; he's a fine young golfer ! " 

It is in verse, however, that the votary of golf finds the 
field most congenial to his subject. 

Perhaps the earliest mention of golf in verse is to be found 
in a scrap that occurs in a very rare book called " Westminster 
Drollery" (London, 1671), where Thomas Shadwell sings of 
this and other games : 

Thus all our life long we are frolick and gay, 
And instead of Court revels we merrily play 
At trap, at rules, and at barley break run, 
At golf, and at foot-ball, and when we have done 
These innocent sports we'll laugh and lie down ; 

And to each pretty lass 

We will give a green gown. 

In 1743 appeared a heroi-comic poem in three cantos, 
called "The Goff," written by Thomas Mathison, minister of 
Brechin, which commemorates the Edinburgh players of his 
day. In it occurs two lines on President Forbes, of Culloden, 
that one finds occasionally quoted. Mathison calls the Lord 
President the 

Patron of the just, 
The dread of villains, and the good man's trust. 

Many of the excellent song writers of our grandfathers' day 
wrote merry ditties on the game, but no long set of verses was 
published until there appeared, in 1842, a clever collection of 
poems, entitled " Golfiana," by George Fullerton Carnegie, of 


Pittarrow, which delighted the golfers of that day by the 
humorous way in which it hit off the playing characteristics of 
the men he introduced into it. He begins by throwing down 
the gauntlet to those students of Scottish history who sigh 
over the musty memories and deplore the decayed glories of 
the city of their patron saint : 

St. Andrews ! they say that thy glories are gone, 
That thy streets are deserted, thy castles o'erthrovvn : 
If thy glories be gone, they are only, methinks, 
As it were by enchantment transferred to thy links. 
Though thy streets be not now, as of yore, full of prelates, 
Of abbots and monks, and of hot-headed zealots, 
Let none judge us rashly, or blame us as scoffers, 
When we say that instead there are links full of golfers, 
With more of good heart and good feeling among them 
Than the abbots, the monks, and the zealots who sung them ! 

Then in various short poems Carnegie sings the praises of 
the game, for which he claims, as an early scene, fields more 
celebrated even than those of St. Andrews. 

I heard it whispered once 
That he who could not play was held a dunce 
On old Olympus, when it teemed with gods. 

Golf poems of recent date are legion, and there are many 
capital songs in honour of the game ; amongst others a parody 
of Lord Houghton's well-known song, " Strangers yet," from 
which it will be seen that something more is necessary to 
make a good golfer than a set of clubs and an anxious "cady" 
to carry them : 

After years of play together, 
After fair and stormy weather, 
After rounds of every green 
From Westward Ho ! to Aberdeen ; 
Why did e'er we buy a set 
If we must be duffers yet ! 

Duffers yet ! Duffers yet ! 


After singles, foursomes all, 
Fractured club and cloven ball ; 
After grief in sand and whin, 
Foozled drives and "putts " not in 
Ev'n our cadies scarce regret 
When we part as duffers yet, 

Duffers yet! Duffers yet ! 

After days of frugal fare, 
Still we spend our force in air ; 
After nips to give us nerve, 
Not the less our drivers swerve ; 
Friends may back and foes may bet, 
And ourselves be duffers yet, 

Duffers yet ! Duffers yet ! 

Must it ever then be thus ? 
Failure most mysterious ! 
Shall we never fairly stand 
Eye on ball as club in hand ? 
Are the bounds eternal set 
To retain us duffers yet ? 

Duffers yet ! Duffers yet ! 



" ALTHOUGH the life of Alexander III.," says Mr. Fraser 
Tytler, in his "Lives of Scottish Worthies," " cannot be esti- 
mated as the boundary between the authentic and the fabulous 
in Scottish history, yet it may be truly said that with the reign 
of this able prince the history of the country, when compared 
with the eras which precede it, assumes a more interesting and 
attractive form to the general reader." 

For our special purpose in this chapter it is a convenient 
starting-point, as during this king's reign (1249-85) tradition 
says the Scots borrowed from their good friends, the French, 
that famous old game, which, under various names paume, 
each, tennis was for so long such a favourite pastime in this 

To France the world is indebted for tennis ; but when the 
pastime began to spread abroad from the country of its origin 
into other lands, is very uncertain. In Britain, at any rate, we 
can find no traces of it before the days of King Alexander. 

The mother of the Scottish king was Marie de Couci, 
daughter of that flower of chivalry, Enguerand of Picardy. It 
is supposed that ihejeu de paume was introduced into Scotland 
by the knights who came over from France in the train of the 
queen ; but however this may be, whether they brought it 
over with them, or merely raised an existing game of " fives " 
up to the scientific level of their own pastime, it is affirmed 
that tennis was a favourite game of king and courtiers during 
the too short reign of good King Alexander. 

TEX Mb. 43 

When the unfortunate stumble over the cliffs of Kinghorn 
threw the peaceful and prosperous Scotland of Alexander into 
all the turmoils of the disputed succession and its conse- 
quences, tennis, like other games in the North, would naturally 
give place to sterner realities. The oldest scrap of Scottish 
song now extant is a fragment of a thirteenth century ballad, 
preserved in Wynton's "Chronicle." It is an elegy on King 
Alexander's unfortunate death, and laments the sad changes 
to Scotland that flowed from it. Away, mourns the old poet, 
are peace and prosperity, mirth and merry pastimes ; nought 
is left but woe and dire trouble and perplexity : 

Quhen Alysandyr our kyng was dede, 
That Scotland led in luive and lee, [peace] 
Away wes sons [abundance] of ale and brede, 
Of wyne and wax, of gamyn and glee. 

Our gold was changyd into lede : 
Cryst, born into virgynte, 
Succour Scotland, and remede, 
That stad is in perplexyte. 

That tennis might still be played in Scotland, however, is 
probable enough, when we remember the intimate connection 
between that country and France, whither so many of the 
young Scottish nobles went for their training in knightly 
accomplishments ; but we find no definite mention of the 
game till we come to the days of the first James of Scotland. 

It was in France, as we have said, that what its devotees 
call " the king of games " originated, but the groundwork 
of this elaborate pastime is to be found, of course, in the 
simple old hand-ball play that figured so conspicuously in the 
every-day life of the classical world. It is of little use to 
speculate in which of the varieties of ball play mentioned in 
ancient writers is to be found the progenitor of this pastime, 
as so much light remains to be thrown on the exact method 
of play in many of the old games, but the principle of tennis 
in its simplest form is discernible clearly enough in pila, as 


well as in the pastime played with the follis, or large inflated 
ball that in later times players struck with a kind of glove or 
hand-guard, between which and the racket the step was short 
and manifest. 

Hand-play, or palm-play (pila palmaria, jeu de paume), are 
older names of the game, given to it when the propulsive force 
was applied by the hand alone. " Tennis," as well as " fives," 
Strutt is inclined to think, was derived from the numbers who 
engaged in the game ; but it is more probable that the deriva- 
tion of tennis is " tenez," cognate to the Scotch names of the 
game, " each " or " caitche," while a favourite explanation of 
the name of " fives " is that which refers it to the hand of five 
fingers with which the ball was struck. 

Allusions to tennis in the old romances of chivalry are fre- 
quent, but what may be called the earliest reference to it in 
English literature is Chaucer's metaphor in " Troylus and 

But canstow playen racket to and fro, 

Nettle in, dokke out, now this, now that, Pandare. 

At any rate, a game very like tennis, in which a racket was 
used to drive a ball to and fro, must have been sufficiently 
well known, about 1380, to make the metaphor the poet puts 
in Troylus's mouth intelligible to his readers. Further proof of 
the existence of the game about this time we find in the second 
of the restrictive Acts against games passed in this century, 
when in 1389 the Act of Richard II. includes this amusement 
among the unlawful games that labourers, artizans, and others 
were forbidden to engage in. 

The name " tennis " first occurs in Gower's " Balade," about 
1400. If we could believe the by no means very credible story 
told by the old annalists, one of the most interesting historical 
events in connection with our game happened when Henry V. 
was meditating his unjustifiable war against France. The story 
is familiar enough, of Henry's demand and the Dauphin's 
answer, indicating that implements of peace better suited the 


English king than weapons of war. As Wynkin de Worde 
puts it, as a reply to the English king's message, the Dauphin, 
"somewhat in scorne and despyte, sent to him a tonne full of 
tenes balls." "The Dolphyn," says Hall in his "Chronicle," 
" thynkyng Kyng Henry to be given still to suche plaies and 
lyght folies as he exercised and used before the tyme that he 
was exalted to the croune, sent to hym a tunne of tennis balles 
to plaie with, as who saied that he had better skill of tennis 
than of warre." On the foundation of this incident, as told by 
Holingshed, Shakespeare has constructed his fine scene of the 
French ambassadors' audience in " Henry V." When the first 
ambassador gives the Dauphin's message and insulting gift, 
the English king speaks thus : 

We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us : 
His present and your pains we thank you for. 
When we have match'd our rackets to these balls, 
We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set 
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. 
Tell him, he hath made a match with such a wrangler 
That all the courts of France will be disturbed 
With chaces. 

While Henry was receiving the French ambassadors and 
their "ton of treasure," there was another king in England 
whose love for tennis may be said to have cost him his life. 
This was the Scottish king, James I., whom Henry had most 
unwarrantably seized in 1405, during a time of truce, while 
the boy was on his way to be educated in France. Henry, 
however, spared no pains in giving the young king an educa- 
tion worthy of his rank. The future author of the " King's 
Quhair " did credit to his tutor, Sir John de Pelham, the Con- 
stable of Pevensey, not only in music and the other elegant 
accomplishments of the time, but his fine tall figure and mus- 
cular frame made the captive prince foremost in all knightly 
exercises and the various games that were then such important 
parts of a young esquire's education. 


After eighteen years' captivity James returned to Scotland, 
and for four short years we find him giving his whole mind to 
the improvement of his country. At Yuletide of 1436-7 the 
Court kept the festival at Perth, in the Blackfriars Monastery, 
and here, on a February night, after the royal party had broken 
up, and as James, dressed in a dressing-gown, lingered before 
the fire of the reception room, chatting with the queen and 
her ladies, ominous sounds were heard without. The great 
bolt of the door was found to be away, but a lady a Douglas 
thrust her arm through the staples and held the door till 
the conspirators snapped this frail defence. Her noble de- 
votion, however, gave James time to tear up a plank of 
the flooring and drop into a small vault below the apartment, 
whence it was thought escape would be easy. "As fate would 
have it," says Dr. Hill Burton, " there had been an opening to 
it by which he might have escaped, but this had, a few days 
earlier, been closed by his own order, because the balls by 
which he played at tennis were apt to fall into it." Then the 
conspirators leapt into the vault, and as the prosaic Adamson, 
the seventeenth century historian of Perth, tells us : 

King James the First, of everlasting name, 
Killed by that mischant traitor, Robert Grahame, 
Intending of his crown for to have rob'd him, 
With twenty-eight wounds in the breast he stab'd him. 

When we reach the reigns of the fourth and fifth James of 
Scotland, we find from that invaluable mine of historical 
wealth, the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, many evi- 
dences of the kings' fondness for this game, and the consider- 
able sums they lost at it with their courtiers, lay and clerical. 
After several entries of sums paid for balls and for stakes to 
the king at Stirling, we find this item [under date June yth, 
1496 : "To Wat of Lesly that he wan at the each frae the 
king, ^"23 85-." Next year, on September 23, he is again 
losing at tennis in Stirling, this time "with Peter Crechtounc 
and Patrick Hammiltoune, three unicorns," that is 2 13^.; 

TENiVIS. 47 

and, not to multiply extracts, on other occasions he is entered 
in the Treasurer's books as having "tynt" ^"54 to Andrew 
Forman, the Prothonotary, and ^18 to the Laird of Caprin- 
toune. About the time James IV. was thus devoting himself 
to our game, Henry VII., as the register of his expenditure 
shows, was also a tennis player. " Item, for the king's loss at 
tennis, twelve pence : for the loss of balls, three pence." From 
this last clause Strutt infers " that the game was played abroad, 
for the loss of balls would hardly have happened in a tennis 
court." Though courts appear to have frequently been open 
at a much later period than this for instance, the one the 
young Duke of York (James II.) is depicted as standing in, 
in a contemporary print, is open Strutt's inference hardly 
follows, for " loss " may very easily mean the destruction of 
the covering of the balls, which wears out rapidly. 

When Philip, Archduke of Austria, became King of Castile, 
he sailed from the Netherlands in 1506 to take possession of 
his new kingdom. Stress of weather compelled him to seek 
shelter in Falmouth, and Henry, hearing of his arrival, sent the 
Earl of Arundel and a gallant train to bring him to Windsor. 
Here for many days he was splendidly entertained. During 
the festivities, the account of an eye witness tells us, the two 
kings one day looked on while the Marquis of Dorset, Lord 
Howard, and two other gentlemen played tennis. Then the 
King of Castile joined in the game, playing with Dorset ; 
" but," says the chronicler, " the Kyng of Castille played with 
the rackett, and gave the Lord Marques XV.," Dorset evidently 
playing with the hand only. This is interesting as showing 
that the use of the racket had not superseded the older form 
of the hand game as late as 1506 in England. 

The fifth Scottish James's love for amusements of all kinds 
was so excessive that every moment he could get was devoted 
to sport or pastime of some kind. From the Treasurer's 
accounts we can see the large sums that were lavished on all 
sorts of amusements ; but perhaps Dunbar's "Remonstrance" 


best shows James's reckless prodigality, and most admirably 
portrays the state of affairs that ruined the king's health and 
impoverished his exchequer. Here are the lines in which the 
poet alludes to the excessive devotion to tennis shown by' the 
people, following the king's example : 

Sa many rackettis, sa many ketche-pillaris,* 
Sic ballis, sic nackettis,t and sic tutivillaris,! 
Within this land was nevir hard nor sene. 

In the poems of Sir David Lyndesay the "Lord Lion King 
at Arms " of " Marmion " we are told that the young prince, 
whose tutor Lyndesay was, "raiffled at the rakkat," that is, 
played tennis \ while elsewhere in the Lion's verses we see that 
not only did king and courtiers frequent the "cach-pule" 
(tennis-court), but that the ecclesiastics of the time were 
devotees of the game, as their successors nowadays, even in 
Presbyterian Scotland, are of golf and curling. Lyndesay 
gives us this picture of a friar, ;who was, it may be supposed, 
by no means singular in his age : 

Thoch I preich nocht, I can play at the caiche ; 
I wat thair is nocht ane amang you all 
Mair ferilie can play at the fute ball. 

We might infer from Shakespeare's classing, in "King 
Henry VIII.," tennis with other "remnants of fool and feather " 
which the English courtiers got in France, that our game had 
then newly been imported into England; but though the 
dramatist makes the conditions of the proclamation run that 
these courtiers must renounce 

The faith they have in tennis and tall stockings, 
Short blister'd breeches, and those types of travel, 

Or pack to their old playfellows, 
these travelled nobles might easily have learned the game with- 

* Players at tennis. t Lads who marked at tennis ; Fr. naquette. 

% Worthless, frivolous things. 


out ever crossing the Channel. A correspondent of Notes and 
Queries has been able, from the records of the Ironmongers' 
Company, to trace the existence of tennis in England from 
the tenth year of Edward IV. down to the twenty-sixth of 
Henry VIII. The following are a few examples of these 
entries : 

Tern. Edward IV. Resseyued of Robert Tooke for teneis ballis \\\d. 
,, Richard III. William Bruyth for a grosse of balles xvi^/. 
,, Henry VIII. Item. Rs. of Maystier Bentley of the tennys play 
for a year, 1 1 s. 

The writer thinks these balls were made of iron. He speaks 
of a tombstone erected to a lad who had been killed at tennis 
by one of these strange balls ; but if the tomb is that one in 
Elford Church, in Staffordshire, in which the effigy holds a ball 
against his forehead, while the inscription runs, ' ' Ubi dolor, 
ibi digitus," it is quite consistent with the idea that in their sale 
of tennis balls the ironmongers may have acted merely as 
agents for some workers in material more suitable for a racket 
ball. A blow from a well-stuffed ball might easily have proved 
fatal, though its material was far lighter than impossible iron. 
"The tennis ball is hard and inelastic," says the Edinburgh Re- 
view ', " being composed of shreds of rag and cloth bound 
solidly together with string, two inches and a half in diameter, 
and weighing about two ounces and a half. It is a solid thing 
to stop, especially at a volley, and a strong racket is required 
to arrest and repel its vehement momentum. When fairly hit, 
with the full swing of a heavy racket tightly strung, it is a really 
formidable projectile. It was a tradition of the Haymarket 
court that a duke had been killed there." The usual materials 
of which balls were made in early times were " good wool," 
closely packed feathers, as in golf balls, or worsted thread. 
Shakespeare adds to these substances hair ; for he says of 
Benedick, " the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuffed 
tennis balls." Nash, too, in 1591, writes: "They may sell 



their haire by the pound to stuff tennis balles ;" but it is sup- 
posed that these lighter materials were used only for balls when 
tennis was played on grass. 

Henry VIII. was much attached to this game. Strutt 
quotes from Hall's life of the king that his " propensity being 
perceived by certayne craftie persons about him, they brought 
in Frenchmen and Lombards to make wagers with hym, and 
so he lost muche money ; but when he perceyved theyr crafte, 
he escheued the company and let them go." He did not give 
up the game, however, for, according to the same biographer, a 
dozen years afterwards he is playing at tennis, with the Emperor 
Maximilian for his partner, against the Prince of Orange and 
the Marquis of Brandenborow ; "the Earl of Devonshire 
stopped on the Prince's side, and the Lord Edmond on the 
other side ; and they departed even hands on both sides, after 
eleven games fully played." " Eleven " here is supposed to 
be a mistake for "ten" or "twelve," as, of course, it is impos- 
sible for two sides to be " even hands " in an odd number of 

Though we find the bluff king adding to Whitehall " divers 
fair tennis courts " one on the site now occupied by the Privy 
Council Office for the enjoyment of his beloved game, yet 
there was passed in the thirty-third year of his reign the most 
stringent Act against the keeping "for gain or living" of any 
tennis court, or the enjoyment of this and several other 
" unlawful games " at any time but Christmas, by artificers, 
apprentices, mariners, serving-men, and many others an Act 
that was only repealed in 1863. 

In Scotland tennis never recovered from the shock that all 
games in the North got at the Reformation. We find traces 
of it down to the end of the eighteenth century, but its exist- 
ence was weak when compared to the lusty life it enjoyed in 
the days of the "Commons' King" and his predecessors. In 
Mary's Court, too, before the fierce zealots swept it away, it 
was much played. We can get an idea of the extent to which 


gambling at cards and dice was carried then from a statement 
of David Home of Godscroft, in a sketch he has left of his 
brother, Sir George Home of Wedderburn. While at Court in 
his youth, George, being stinted of money by a stepmother, 
had to avoid cards and dice, and restrict himself to tennis, 
says the historian of the house of Douglas. 

Mary's son does not appear to have been a tennis player 
himself, but in the rules he drew out and addressed to Henry, 
the Prince of Wales, he recommends it in these words : " The 
exercises that I would have you to use, although but mode- 
rately, not making a craft of them, are, running, leaping, 
playing at the caitch, or tennise, archerie, palle-malle, and 
such-like other fair and pleasant field games." 

Prince Henry seems to have been very fond of tennis, 
though it appears to have had as disturbing an effect on his 
temper as it had on that of Gascone de Foix in Froissart's 
story. He once got so angry at tennis with his father's in- 
famous favourite, Carr, Earl of Somerset, that he struck him 
with his racket. On another occasion he and the young Earl 
of Essex, afterwards the famous Parliamentary General, were 
playing, when a dispute arose. Prince Henry, in his anger, 
called Essex the " son of a traitor," alluding to the execution 
of his father, Elizabeth's favourite. The young earl struck the 
prince so hard a blow as to draw blood, but the king, when 
he heard all the circumstances, declined to punish the high- 
spirited lad. Prince Henry's fatal illness is said to have 
been brought on by playing tennis one evening without his 

During the Commonwealth the exiled Court played the 
game abroad. In September, 1658, it is said Sir Stephen Fox 
found King Charles at tennis in Hochstraten when he arrived 
with the important tidings of Cromwell's death. 

At the Restoration Charles reintroduced the game into Eng- 
land, and probably the next few years were the palmy days of 
tennis in England. Courts were set up in a great many places j 


king and courtiers, as we see from Pepys and others, and all 
in the land that Henry's Act would permit, plied the racket, 
till the state of matters was very much what we have seen 
Dunbar satirising in the Scotland of the pleasure-loving 
James V. 

In December, 1663, we find the gossipping Secretary to the 
Admiralty, " walking through Whitehall, I heard the king was 
gone to play at tennis. So I down to the new tennis court, 
and saw him and Sir Arthur Slingsby play against my Lord of 
Suffolk and my Lord Chesterfield. The king beat three and 
lost two sets, they all, and he particularly, playing well, I 
thought." Though Mr. Pepys is ready to give all praise where 
praise is due, the sycophancy of his brother courtiers is 
sometimes too much for him, as when he writes on 4th 
January, 1664: "Thence to the tennis court, and there 
saw the king play at tennis, and others : but to see how the 
king's play was extolled without any excuse at all, was a 
loathsome sight, though sometimes, indeed, he did play very 
well, and deserved to be commended, but such open flattery 
is beastly." 

Ossory, Arran, Prince Rupert, and many others, are spe- 
cially praised for their tennis play at this time. Pepys records 
a great match he witnessed between Prince Rupert and Cooke, 
the Master of the king's tennis court, against Baptist May 
and Chichly, in the Whitehall court, on 2nd September, 1667. 
" I went to see a great match at tennis between Prince Rupert 
and one Captain Cooke against Bab May and the elder 
Chichly, where the king was, and the court, and it seems they 
are the best players at tennis in the nation. But this puts 
me in mind of what I observed in the morning, that the 
king, playing at tennis, had a steeleyard carried to him, 
and I was told it was to weigh him after he had done 
playing : and at noon Mr. Ashburnham told me that it 
is only the king's curiosity which he usually hath of weighing 
himself before and after his piny, to see how much he loses 


in weight by playing, and this day he lost four and a half 

When the Duke of York paid his famous visit to Edinburgh, 
in 1679-82, the royal party occupied Holy rood House, where 
they gave balls, masquerades, and private theatricals, much to 
the enjoyment of the nobility and gentry that attended the 
court, though the more rigid Presbyterians were horror-struck. 
(It may be interesting to note here that the Scotch ladies tasted 
tea at these parties for the first time in Scotland.) The duke 
and his attendants played golf and tennis ; this last in the old 
tennis court of Edinburgh, which stood immediately without 
the Water Gate, beside " Queen Mary's Bath," and quite close 
to the palace. This tennis court also served for a theatre for 
the company of actors the duke brought from England ; and 
in this connection we may mention that the old building 
which in the past had served for the few theatrical entertain- 
ments in Scotland then had good grounds for the boast that 
Shakespeare acted in it during Lawrence Fletcher's tour with 
his company of " king's servants " in 1603. It is not abso- 
lutely certain that the great dramatist was in Scotland then 
with Fletcher ; but Mr. Charles Knight has shown from internal 
evidence in " Macbeth," and from other circumstances, that it 
is highly probable he was. The tennis court by the Water 
Gate, after it had become a weavers' workhouse, was burnt to 
the ground in the year 1777, many years after the game for 
which it had been built had died out in Scotland. The last 
celebrated Scotch each-players are said to have been James 
Hepburn of Keith and his famous contemporary, John Law of 
Lauriston, Comptroller-General of the Finances of France, and 
projector of the Mississippi Scheme. A game is still played 
by school-boys in some parts of Scotland which they call 
"cage-ball;" it is a rough kind of "fives," but probably in 
itself, as in its name, it is a reminiscence in a corrupted form 
of the old each. As far as we know, there is not a single 
tennis court now in Scotland. 


During the last century the records of tennis are meagre : 
it seems to have been played only in one or two places. 
According to Horace Walpole, indeed, in his " Memoirs of the 
Reign of King George II.," it was a game played by Frederick, 
Prince of Wales, and it shares with cricket and a fall while 
riding the imputation of being the cause of the prince's death. 
Speaking of his sudden death, Walpole says: "An impos- 
thume had broken, which, on his being opened, the physicians 
were of opinion had not been occasioned by the fall, but from 
a blow of a tennis ball three years before." 

Even in England it may be said that tennis as a popular 
amusement went out with the Stuarts. Of course the pastime 
has never actually died out, and in recent years it has had 
increased attention paid to it, but even now the number of 
courts does not appear to exceed a score. " Tennis," says 
the Edinburgh Reviewer we have already quoted, " the most 
perfect of games, because with the most continuous certainty 
it exercises and rewards all the faculties of the players, has 
only been prevented hitherto from becoming as popular as it 
deserves, from its being, under its original condition, so expen- 
sive, so difficult to learn, and so puzzling to count, as to 
discourage those who were not 'to the manner born' from 

touching it The first difficulty of expense seemed 

for the many insuperable, until the recent revival turned the 
ancient and noble but almost moribund game out to grass, and 
introduced the rudiments of it to the broad levels of a thou- 
sand English lawns. To build a tennis court cost from ^3,000 
to ^4,000. Now a few rackets, a few sixpenny balls and a 
net, with some streaks of whitewash to mark your limits, and 
le jeu est fait." 

Lawn tennis, however, like the pastime, croquet, it drove off 
the lawn, is not a new form of tennis. It is at least three 
centuries old, for in 1591, when Queen Elizabeth was enter- 
tained at Elvetham, in Hampshire, by the Earl of Hertford, 
Strutt, quoting from Nichols' " Progress of Queen Elizabeth," 


tells us that "after dinner, about three o'clock, ten of his 
lordship's servants, all Somersetshire men, in a square green 
court, before Her Majesty's window, did hang up lines, 
squaring out the form of a tennis court, and making a cross 
line in the middle. In this square they, being stript out 
of their doublets, played, five to five, with hand ball, at 
bord and cord, as they termed it, to the great liking of Her 



"O, sweet lady, 'tis a strong play with the arm." 

Eastward Hoe, Old Play. 

OF the many good old English games, once great favourites in 
this country, but now so obsolete as to require explanatory 
notes in the old poets or dramatists that allude to them, one of 
the best was the "Baloun" of the Middle Ages, a game that 
our ancestors owed to the Romans, either directly or, which is 
more likely, through the Italians during the time when the in- 
fluence exercised by Italy in the common affairs of England 
was very great. The old English " Baloun," or balloon ball, 
was a game played with a large inflated ball of strong leather, 
the players on the opposite sides striking it backwards and for- 
wards with the hand, on which they generally wore a bracer of 
wood to lend force and a peculiar motion to the ball. 

The rudiments of the game we clearly find in the follis or 
folliculus of the Romans, among whom, as we know from 
many references in classical authors, this was a very favourite 
means of gentle exercise. It was especially the game of old 
men and boys, who found in the large, but very light, inflated 
ball of leather a pastime that healthily exercised without un- 
duly taxing their weak muscles. Besides this, however, it held 
a prominent place among the more or less severe varieties of 
ball-play that the Romans of all ages indulged in to cause pers- 
piration before the daily bath that, along with the exercise, was 
such an essential in their idea of a regular and healthy mode 
of life. " Among the Romans," says Dr. J. H. Krause, " in 
*he Republican, as well as Imperial days, ball-play was univer- 


sally delighted in, even more as a health-giving, manly recrea- 
tion than as a puerile sport. Cato the Elder played at pila in 
the Campus Martius on the very day he had been accepted as 
a candidate for the Consulate." Another authority, Becker, in 
his " Callus," says : " While in modern times games are con- 
fined to the period of youth, in Rome, on the contrary, there 
was not the slightest idea of impropriety when the consul or 
triumphator, the world raling Csesar himself, sought in the 
game of ball ... an exertion wholesome for both body and 
mind, and they who omitted such exercises were accused of 
indolence." Cicero was one of the few men of consequence 
who were exceptions to the general rule, though Augustus, ac- 
cording to Suetonius, showed his increasing love for ease by 
deserting first the more energetic outdoor exercises for the pila 
and folliculus, and then, after a time, discontinuing even these 
gentle games at ball. 

The follis, or follis pugilatorius as Plautus calls it, xvas a 
large inflated ball of leather, light and easily knocked about; in 
one of his epigrams, Martial tells us that the pastime in which 
it was used was the peculiar game of old men and boys : 

Ite procul juvenes, mitis mihi, convenit anas ; 
Folle decet pueros ludere, folle senes. 

Begone swift-footed, fiercely swiping youth, 
From me, too old for racketings uncouth ; 
Old age, a second childhood, needs must fall 
Back upon childhood's large, light, soft, slow bal'. 

"The folliculus," says a writer in the Edinburgh Review, "was 
merely a smaller follis, apparently about the same size as the 
paganica, also a middle-sized ball, stuffed with feathers, and 
therefore harder than the follis, which was only filled with air, 
but tenderer than the pila, which was probably as hard and 
heavy as our tennis ball. Martial mentions all the three prin- 
cipal balls in a couplet 

Haec quas difficili target Paganica pluma 
Folle minus laxa est et minus arcta pila. 


"This paganica stuffed with stiff feathers is of tougher sub- 
stance than the balloon, but of less compact substance than 
the tennis ball ; laxa and arcta, as describing loosent ss and 
tightness of girth, beside difference of substance, imply differ- 
ence of bulk." 

It is probable that, in process of time, as the heavier folli- 
culus supplanted the follis in the fisting game, some protection 
to the hand and aid in striking became necessary. "If we 
may trust," says Becker, " the copy given by Mercurialis (De 
Arte Gymnast) of a coin of Gordian III., the right arm was 
sometimes equipped with a sort of glove to assist in striking." 
For the same reason in most of the later traces of the game, 
both in Italy and in other countries, we find some kind of im- 
plement employed. It has been held, because the ball in early 
delineations of players at " club-ball" the germ from which 
sprang cricket is a very large light sphere, that balloon may 
have been the parent of this game, and therefore of the Eng- 
lish national game of to-day ; but the evidence of this is very 
slight, even though Dr. A. L. Fisher, in his treatise on the 
Italian game of " Pallone," tells us that in an old book of games 
published at Venice in 1555, there is "a representation of a 
heavy wooden club about two feet long, called 'scanno,' which, 
according to the description given of it, was used instead of 
the bracciale [the Pallone bracer] for the purpose of striking 
the ball." This scanno and its ball are certainly very like the 
club and ball that Strutt engraves from a drawing in the 
genealogical roll of the Kings of England to the time of Henry 
III., but there is great doubt whether the scanno was ever used 
in Pallone, though this suggests an interesting question whether 
a game something like cricket may not have been played by 
the Italians three centuries ago. 

Balloon ball, however, in its pure form that is, played with 
or without a hand-guard, as the legitimate descendant of the 
Roman follis there is little doubt existed in England at a 
very early period. Strutt quotes from Commenius a descrip- 


tion of it as " a large ball made of double leather, which, being 
filled with wind by means of a ventil, was driven to and fro by 
the strength of men's arms ; and for this purpose every one of 
the players had a round hollow bracer of wood to cover the 
hand and lower part of the arm with which he struck the ball. 
This pastime was usually practised in the open fields, and 
is much commended for the healthiness of the exercise it 

Strutt, however, is inclined to believe that balloon ball was 
originally played in England without the assistance of the 
bracer; "this supposition," he says, "will be perfectly estab- 
lished if it be granted and I see no reason why it should not 
that the four figures represented below are engaged in bal- 
loon play." The four figures Strutt reproduces are from a 
manuscript of the fourteenth century in the Royal Library. 
In other illustrations, too from the Harleian MSS., and one 
given by Mr. Thomas Wright, from a carving of the miserere 
seats in Gloucester Cathedral, in which the players wear the 
long tails to the hood belonging to the costume of the latter 
part of the fourteenth century no glove or bracer is used. 
The inconvenience and pain of playing thus with the unpro- 
tected hand, especially as we see from some of the old 
drawings that this was a game of both sexes, would, however, 
soon suggest the employment of the bracer as described by 

Except for a short time at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, balloon never seems to have become a fashionable 
game with the upper classes in England, as tennis or pall-mall 
did. It is not mentioned in King James' list of " pleasant field 
games," nor in any of the other records of the fashionable 
English games that we possess, but nevertheless it seems to 
have been one of the pastimes of Prince Henry, if by the 
" balownes," for which a Frenchman was paid for bringing 
him, we understand the balls used in this game. Better evi- 
dence of its reputation at this time is afforded by the following 


extract from the play of t( Eastward Hoe," the joint composi- 
tion of Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston, pub- 
lished in 1605, and for which the authors were committed to 
prison, as some passages in it were held to reflect on the Scots. 
In Act I., Scene i., Girtred, the daughter of Touchstone, a rich 
London goldsmith, and who affects to be a fine lady, asks Sir 
Petronel Flash, a poor knight, who aspires to her hand : 

G. And how chance ye came no sooner, Knight ? 

SIR P. Faith, I was so entertained in the progress with one Count 
Epernoum, a Welch Knight ; we had a match at baloon, too, with my 
Lord Whachum, for four crowns. 

G. At baboon? Jesu ! you and I will play at baboon in the country. 

SIR P. O sweet lady ; 'tis a strong play with the arm. 

G. With arm or leg, or any other member, if it be a Court sport. 

Gervase Markham, too, in his " Country Contentments," 
(1615) tells us that " not inferior to these sports [archery and 
bowls] either for health or active exercise are the Tenish and 
Baloone, the first being a pastime in close or open courts, 
striking little round balls to and fro, either with the palm of 
the hand or with rackets ; the other a strong and moving sport 
in the open fields with a great ball of double leather fild with 
winde, and driven to and fro with the strength of a man's arme 
in a bracer of wood." 

In a few years, however, this game appears to have fallen 
out of favour as a "Court sport." Burton, indeed, expressly 
tells us, in the "Anatomy of Melancholy" (1660), that 
"balowns, running at the quintain, and the like, are common 
recreations of country folks," not like some other pastimes, 
"which are disports of greater men." Like throwing the ham- 
mer and wrestling, of which Peacham, in his " Complete Gen- 
tleman" (1622), says: "I hold them exercises not so well 
beseeming nobility, but rather the soldiers in the camp and the 
prince's guard," it was a very favourite game at rural gather- 
ings and " feasts," where the country folk assembled, the 


elders to exhibit their best bred cattle, while there were games 
for the lads, dancing for the maids, and a 

Grassy board, 
With flawns, lards, clowted cream, and country dainties stored, 

for all. 

The most famous of these festivals was the annual meeting 
that Robert Dover, a Warwickshire attorney, established at 
Cotswold in James I.'s time, as a countercheck to the spirit of 
religious austerity that would fain have put a stop to all merry 
and wholesome outdoor amusements. Dover had a formal au- 
thority from the king, and made the sports at "Cotsall " famous 
all over the kingdom during the forty years they lasted till, as 
Anthony Wood says, " the rascally rebellion was begun by the 
Presbyterians, which gave a stop to their proceedings and 
spoiled all that was generous and ingenious elsewhere." These 
sports took place at Whitsuntide, and consisted of horse- 
racing, coursing (Master Page's fallow greyhound who was 
"outrun on Cotsall " would have won a silver collar if he had 
been best dog), wrestling, cudgel-playing, balloon, leaping, &c., 
for the men, with dancing for the maidens. 

Burton's allusion to balloon in his Anatomy appears to be 
the latest in existence. Strutt thinks that Tom D'Urfey may 
have meant to include it in the expression "Olympian Games," 
in his reference to the pastimes of Charles II. 's reign, but it 
seems certainly to have died out with the Stuarts in England. 

While, then, in Britain this game was only for a short time 
in the front rank of pastimes, on the Continent, and especially 
in Italy, it has ever been, until quite recent years, held in the 
highest esteem. Books have been written there in the past to 
show the athletic and manly character of this "game of giants," 
while Italian municipalities have built courts for the sport, and 
public bodies have set up busts of famous players. Pallone in 
those times caused a furore throughout Italy, and, even up to 
about forty years ago, Dr. Fisher, in his little work on the game 


("The Game of Pallone," by Anthony L. Fisher, M.D. Lon- 
don : Bell and Daldy, 1865) " recollects witnessing an exhibi- 
tion of it in Florence, when there was a concourse of people 
collected similar to what would now be attracted by an opera 
executed by a company of first-rate artists. At that day, in 
every town where an arena for the game existed, there was a 
company of professional players; but the gentlemen of the 
place also made it their favourite pastime, as we now see in 
England with regard to cricket. Challenges were frequently 
sent from the professionals of one town to those of another, 
and during the game the elite of the place of both sexes were 
constant in their attendance ; high bets were made, and a state 
of excitement prevailed similar to what may now be seen in a 
country town in England during its annual race week." A 
company was annually formed, too, of first-rate players from 
" all Italy," who visited towns noted for their love of the game; 
in short, in the Italy of that day pallone occupied exactly the 
place that cricket does among us nowadays. Naturally 
enough, in the days of political agitation in the country, men's 
minds were occupied with other matters, and they became in- 
different to the game in which they had formerly taken so much 
pleasure. Some years ago efforts were made to revive the in- 
terest once felt in the game in Italy, while Dr. A. L. Fisher 
wrote his book " with a view to bring this noble game more 
prominently before the English public," but in both cases the 
efforts were fruitless. The old enthusiasm for the game seems 
no longer to exist in Italy ; and in England Dr. Fisher did not 
succeed in gaining a footing for his favourite pastime. 

The game is played in Italy in courts something like tennis 
courts, only with the playing floor several times larger. In 
the arena at Bologna a model court specially built by the 
municipality fifty-six years ago the floor is a parallelogram 
three hundred feet long by sixty feet wide, bounded on one of 
its sides by a high wall, and on the other side and along the 
ends by galleries for spectators. 


Mr. W. W. Story gives a good description of the game in 
his "Robadi Roma." " Each of the players," he says, "is 
armed with a bracciale or gauntlet of wood, covering the hand, 
and extending nearly up to the elbow, with which a heavy 
ball is beaten backwards and forwards, high into the air, from 
one side to the other. The object of the game is to keep the 
ball in constant flight, and whoever suffers it to fall dead 
within his bounds loses. It may, however, be struck in its 
rebound, though the best strokes are before it touches the 
ground. The gauntlets are hollow tubes of wood, thickly 
studded outside with pointed bosses, projecting an inch and a 
half, and having inside, across the end, a transverse bar, which 
is grasped by the hand, so as to render them manageable to 
the wearer. . . . Whenever a ball either falls outside the 
lateral boundary of the court or is not struck over the central 
line, it counts against the party playing it. When it flies over 
the extreme limits it is called a volata, and is reckoned the 
best stroke that can be made. At the [service] end of the 
lists is a spring board on which the principal player stands. 
The best batter is always selected for this post; the others are 
distributed about. Near him stands the pallonaio, whose 
office is to keep the balls well inflated with air, and he is busy 
nearly all the time. Facing him, at a short distance, is the 
mandarino, who gives ball. As soon as the ball leaves the 
mandarine's hand, the chief batter runs forward to meet it, and 
strikes it as far and high as he can, with the gauntlet. Four 
times in succession have I seen a good player strike a volata, 
with the loud applause of the spectators. When this does not 
occur, the two sides bat the ball backwards and forwards, from 
one to the other, sometimes fifteen or twenty times before the 
point is won ; and as it falls here and there, now flying high 
in the air and caught at once on the gauntlet before touching 
ground, now glancing back from the wall which generally 

>rms one side of the lists, the players rush eagerly to hit 
calling loudly to each other, and often displaying great 


agility, skill, and strength. The interest now becomes very 
exciting ; the bystanders shout when a good stroke is made, 
and groan and hiss at a miss, until finally the ball is struck 
over the lists or lost within them." 

The ordinary game consists of three players on each side, the 
duty of the two " primi," or best players, being to stand well 
back to return all the long and difficult balls, while the third 
is on the look-out for any ball that comes between him and 
the transverse line, or that is not likely to reach his com- 

The ball is five inches in diameter, and is made of two coats 
of cowhide inflated with air. It weighs twelve ounces, and as 
the " bracciale," or wooden instrument into which the right 
hand is inserted to strike with, weighs four pounds, it can at 
once be seen what a laborious game pallone is. A complete 
company of players on an exhibition tour consists of twelve in- 
dividuals, divided into two parties of six ; but in consequence 
of the excessive exertion required in the game, each party 
plays only for three days in succession, and then rests for 
three days to recover from the exhaustion consequent on the 
exertion. The perspiration caused while playing is so profuse 
that a necessary part of a man's equipment is a napkin in the 
left hand, to wipe the moisture from his face. 

" I have frequently heard Englishmen," says Dr. Fisher, 
" who had seen pallone played in Italy, express astonishment 
that so noble and manly a game had never been introduced 
into England." A correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, too, 
writing from Florence in July, 1865, expresses his surprise " that 
so athletic and exciting a sport should never have been 
naturalised in England, especially as it bears a certain analogy 
to the national game of cricket." Certainly the " element of 
danger" supposed to form one of the attractions of cricket is 
not wanting in the Italian game. There is even perhaps too 
much of it, for the ground occupied by the plnyer is compara- 
tively of small extent, and the bail, if missed by the person 




whose duty it is to receive and drive it back with his bracciale, or 
spiked gauntlet, generally alights with terrific force among the 
spectators, whose sudden scrambles to get out of the way form 
no small part of the diversion for those who are on the oppo- 
site side. The Florentine players have a good reputation, and 
the ground outside Porta Pinti is occupied every evening by a 
large concourse of spectators, many of whom lay wagers upon 
the respective players with almost the eagerness of Englishmen 
,t a race-course." 

In the winter of 1852-3 an attempt was made to show Lon- 
don how the game was played. At this time there were a great 
many Italian refugees in the metropolis, many of whom could 
lay pallone. Dr. Fisher took advantage of this circumstance, 
d, by their means, and the concurrence of a few members of 
e Italian opera acquainted with this game, who kindly 
nt their aid to their less fortunate countrymen, he was 
able to have an exhibition match played at Lord's Cricket 
Ground, which " was witnessed by a numerous party assembled 
to see a cricket match, many of whom strongly expressed their 
admiration of the performance, and a desire to have a repeti- 
tion of it," but various circumstances obliged the promoter to 
abandon the intention of further play at that time. 

Among the trees of the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris were 
rtain clear square spaces, where parties of three or four 
played at " ballon/' striking backwards and forwards with the 
t a light leather ball, inflated with air, about six or eight 
hes in diameter ; that party losing a point on whose side 
e ball remained. Though this game identical with the old 
Roman follis was a good deal played some years ago, and 

tssibly still may be, yet an attempt made in 1855 to teach 
* Parisians the scientific development of it not only failed, 
t so indifferent were the French to the beauties of pallone, 
it the crack company of Bolognese players, specially brought 
over, had to go back again to Italy in a week. 

While we may not agree with Dr. Fisher that the British 

F io,j 


people " would consider it a want of patriotism to learn any 
foreign game, no matter what might be its merit," it is sur- 
prising that none of the many excellent varieties of the tennis 
family of ball-games in use in various parts of the Conti* 
nent should ever have been carried across the channel. 
Our ancestors freely adopted the pastimes of many nation's, 
but we are seemingly content with those they left us. 
Though its popularity for long suffered eclipse, tennis proper, 
as we have seen, has always been played by a select few in 
England ; but until the recent revival of the long-dormant 
lawn tennis, no one seems to have thought of introducing any 
of the simpler forms of the game that have long been popular 
on the Continent. Dr. Fisher mentions two of these varieties 
of tennis games : one, " le jeu de paume au tamis," played in 
the North of France and in Belgium ; the other an Italian 
game called " tamburello," played with a ball about the 
dimensions of an ordinary sized orange, made of pieces of 
cloth covered with wash-leather. This ball is struck by an in- 
strument made like a tambourine a round framework covered 
with stout vellum. The rules are those of pallone ; and as 
an exhibition the game is nearly as interesting, while of course 
it is much less fatiguing, and might easily be modified so that 
ladies could join in it. Mr. Story tells us that the boys from 
the studios and shops of Rome call the game pillotta, and 
play it in the streets of the city with a round parchment- 
covered bat. 



SOME time ago a correspondent of Notes and Queries, writing 
about cricket, said that he " did not know that Erin had any 
national sport, except hunting." As there may be many with 
the same idea, we propose here to show that the Irish and 
their brother Celts of the Scotch Highlands have a national 
game, a sport, in its own way, as typical of the fiery Celt as 
cricket is of the Englishman. 

"Hurling," says Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, in his " Ballad 
Poetry of Ireland," "is a thoroughly national diversion, and 
is played with intense zeal by parish against parish, barony 
against barony, county against county, or even province against 
province. It is played not only by the peasant, but by the 
students of the university, where it is an established pastime. 
Twiss, the most sweeping calumniator of Ireland, calls it, if I 
mistake not, the cricket of barbarians ; but, though fully pre- 
pared to pay a just tribute to the elegance of the English 
game, I own that I think the Irish sport fully as civilized, and 
much better calculated for the display of vigour and activity." 

This game flourishes under many different names hurling, 
shinty, club, camanach, &c., but everywhere it is played in 
pretty much the same way. 

As most of my readers are probably familiar with the school 
game of "hockey/' which is, in a very mild form, the wild 
" hurling" of Irish Patrick, or the " camanach" of his brother 
Donald in the Highlands, I shall say no more of the mode of 
play in the game than that two opposing parties, armed with 


curved sticks, each try to drive the ball through their own 
goal. Let me rather do for this game what I have already 
done for golf and football in these pages, give a slight anec- 
dotic sketch of its life among us, with some notable incidents 
about the game and its lovers. 

Donald is disposed to claim an early origin for his favourite 
game. Golf he looks upon as an effeminate offshoot of it, 
having its descent through " bandy-ball/' a game much in 
favour with schoolboys as far back as the thirteenth century. 
Strutt engraves from an old prayer-book of about this period 
an illustration of two boys playing at bandy-ball, in which the 
form of the club or bandy is exactly the same as the caman or 
hurly used by players at our game in the present day. 

There appears to be little doubt that this game is the oldest 
of all ball games in which a bat or other instrument is used ; 
indeed, under one form in which hurling existed in Cornwall, 
where the bat was subsidiary to the hand, and was only used 
on occasion, the game is as old as Homer, where, as Pope 
translates it, the Princess of Corcyra and her maidens play at 

ball : 

O'er the green mead the sporting virgins play, 
Their shining veils unbound ; along the skies, 
Tost and retost, the ball incessant flies. 

This, however, was rather the graceful ball play in which the 
ancients indulged as a gentle means of exercise : the ball was 
thrown from hand to hand without any emulation ; it is in the 
games in which hostile parties strove for success that we find 
the germ of our game. " In the Greek epikoinos, or common 
ball," says Mr. E. B. Tylor, " the ball was put on the middle 
line, and each party tried to seize it and throw it over the 
adversary's goal line. This game also lasted on into modern 
Europe, and our proper English name for it is hurling. . . . 
Now % as hurling was an ordinary classical game, the ancients 
need only have taken a stick to drive the ball instead of using 
hands or feet and would thus have arrived at hockey. But Cory- 


don never seems to have thought of borrowing Phillis's crook 
for the purpose it would have so exactly suited. No mention 
of games like hockey appears in the ancient world, and the 
course of invention which brought them into the modern world 
is at once unexpected and instructive." We owe the use of 
the bat or club in these games to the Persians, among whom 
Sir W. Ouseley has traced its use back to before the eighth 
century. However it may have reached this country, we find 
our pastime under various names firmly established in Britain 
many centuries ago. Northbrooke, in 1577, mentions it as a 
favourite game in Devonshire, while from many sources we 
see that it was a much practised pastime in the Western 
Counties generally. In those days, unfortunately, there were 
no men with any learned leisure among the Celts of Scotland 
or Ireland to tell us when the game was introduced among 
them, but, from references in early Gaelic songs and elsewhere, 
it is pretty clear that this ball-play must have been adopted by 
the Gael very long ago. 

In Mr. J. F. Campbell's " Popular Tales of the West High- 
lands " the references to this game show us in what high esti- 
mation it was held by the Western Celts. These strange 
stories in which, their collector tells us, "amidst curious rub- 
bish you will find sound sense if you look for it " are of great 
antiquity, and have been orally handed down through many 
generations of story-tellers, who recited them to crowds of 
people who used to gather during the long winter nights to 
the houses of those who were esteemed good story-tellers. 
Many of these stories closely resemble the " Nursery Tales " 
common to all languages, but though Mr. Campbell's object 
may have been chiefly to make a contribution to the " new 
science of ' Storyology/ " the student of Celtic manners will 
find in the local details of these recitations much most interest- 
ing information on life and customs in the West. 

It would be impossible for a story-teller, speaking before a 
critical audience, to make his heroes play habitually at games 


thought little of, or seldom indulged in, by his hearers ; we are 
entitled, therefore, to believe that the games oftenest mentioned 
in the stories were the most popular with the people. Shinty 
is very often referred to. In the story called " The Knight of 
Riddles," the Hero of the White Shield takes the wandering 
boy past a palace, beside which twelve men were playing 
shinty. The boy thought he would join them, but he had not 
played long till a quarrel arose and he was violently treated. 
When Osgar, the son of Oisein, was a boy at school, we are 
told in another story, the pupils played shinty during the mid- 
day interval, and so expert at the game was Osgar that his side 
always won when sides were of equal number. In the last of 
these stories we need refer to here, the " Rider of Grianaig," 
the adventures of the youngest of the soldier's three sons are 
caused by his persuading his brothers to play the game on 
the lawn of the Knight of Greenock. " They went to play 
shinty and Ian won three hails [goals] from his brothers. The 
Knight put his head out of a window, and he saw them play- 
ing at shinty, and he took great wrath that anyone had the 
heart to play shinty on his lawn, a thing that was bringing the 
loss of his daughters to his mind and putting contempt on 
him." The angry Knight had the lads brought before him, 
and as a punishment he sent Ian away in a ship to search for 
his daughters. During the voyage the young man meets with 
many wonderful adventures before he succeeds in rescuing the 
youngest of the missing ladies, whom he gets for his wife. 

Early in the seventeenth century there was no greater "Chief 
in the North " than Patrick, Earl of Orkney, cousin-german to 
King James VI. So grand and ambitious were Earl Patrick's 
views that, in February, 1615, he was beheaded in the High 
Street of Edinburgh for usurping royal authority in his island 
estate. Our ball-play appears to have been a favourite game 
of his, and it is said that when, in 1604, he paid a visit to the 
Earl of Sutherland, he was "honourably entertained with 
comedies, and all other sports and recreations that Earl John 


could make him," among them being camanach matches. 
Martin, who visited St. Kilda in 1697, tells us that the natives 
" use for their diversion short clubs and balls of wood. The 
sand is a fair field for the sport and exercise, in which they 
take great pleasure and are very nimble at it. They play for 
eggs, fowls, hooks, or tobacco, and so eager are they for vic- 
tory that they strip themselves to their shirts to obtain it." 

Curiously enough, though we see from Fitzstephen, North- 
brooke, and others that the game was a popular one at a very 
early age of our history, yet it escaped mention in all the Acts 
against unlawful games, that is, those statutes prohibiting farm 
servants, labourers, artificers, &c., from playing tennis, foot- 
ball, handball, &c. Indeed, it never appears to have got into 
Parliament at all, unless the mysterious game of somewhat 
similar name proclaimed against just before the Restoration 
was our game. On July 13, 1659, the House of Commons 
ordered " that a Proclamation be issued prohibiting all horse 
races, cock matches, bull baiting, out-hurlings, public wrestling, 
and other meetings of like nature until the first day of Octo- 
ber next." 

Carew, in his "Survey of Cornwall" (1602), minutely de- 
scribes two kinds of hurling played there : one, in which the 
players of the opposing sides " match themselves by payres, 
one embracing another," and so strive, man against man, to 
goal the ball ; the other, a large gathering of players, not un- 
like the great district matches that used to take place in Ire- 
land and the Highlands during the last century, and which 
are being revived again, to a certain extent, in the North of 
Scotland just now. Carew says that " two or three or more 
parishes agree to hurl against two or three other parishes. 
The matches are usually made by gentlemen, and their goales 
are either those gentlemen's houses, or some towns or villages, 
three or four miles asunder, of which either side maketh choice 
after the nearnesse of their dwellings. When they meet there 
is neyther comparing of numbers nor matching of men, but a 


silver ball is cast up, and that company which can catch and 
carry it by force or slight to the place assigned, gaineth the 
ball and the victory." This game looks more like handball 
than like the hurling of to-day, but a club or bat was used at 
the old game. Strutt cites a passage in " Philogamus," a book 
published in Queen Elizabeth's time, where the instrument is 
called " a clubbe " or " hurle-batte." Besides, both in hurling 
and shinty, till recently, " carrying " was quite allowable. A 
writer in Charles Knight's Penny Magazine (No. 181, for 
Jan. 31, 1835, in which there is a very spirited drawing of the 
game as played in Scotland), tells us he witnessed a match in 
which one of the players, having gained possession of the ball, 
contrived to run a mile with it in his hand, pursued by all the 
other players, till he reached the goal and his victory was ad- 

In early days, in all the three kingdoms, Sunday was the 
great day for this game, as it still is in many parts of Ireland. 
There are some curious anecdotes told in connection with this. 
Mr. Halliwell quotes from a Cornish book a curious belief in 
the county about a "judgment" that overtook a party of 
Sunday hurlers. There are a number of large stones, set in a 
kind of square figure, near St. Clare in Cornwall, which are 
called " the Hurlers," "from an odd opinion held by the com- 
mon people, that they are so many men petrified or changed 
into stone for profaning the Sabbath day by hurling the ball, 
an exercise for which the people of that country have always 
been famous. * The Hurlers ' are oblong, rude, and unhewed, 
and have been conjectured to be sepulchral monuments." 

Hugh Miller, in his Cromarty sketches, "Scenes and 
Legends of the North of Scotland," tells a somewhat similar 
story : " Every Sunday forenoon they [the people of Nigg] 
attended church, but the evening of the day was devoted 
to the common athletic games of the country. A robust, 
active young fellow, named Donald Roy, was deemed their 
best club player; and as the game was a popular one, his 


Sabbath evenings were usually spent at the club. He was 
a farmer, and the owner of a small herd of black cattle. 
On returning home one Sabbath evening, after vanquish- 
ing the most skilful of his competitors, he found the 
carcass of one of his best cattle lying across the threshold, 
where she had dropped down a few minutes before. Next 
Sabbath he headed the club players as usual, and on returning 
at the same hour, he found the dead body of a second cow 
lying in exactly the same place. 'Can it be possible?' thought 
he, 'that the Whigs are in the right after all?' A challenge, 
however, had been given to the club players of a neighbouring 
parish, and as the game was to be played out on the following 
Sabbath, he could not bring himself to resolve the question. 
When the day came, Donald played beyond all praise, and, 
elated by the victory which his exertions had at length secured 
to his parish, he was striding homewards through a green lane, 
when a fine cow, which he had purchased only a few days 
before, came pressing through the fence, and flinging herself 
down before him, expired at his feet with a deep horrible 
bellow. 'This is God's judgment,' exclaimed Donald; 'the 
Whigamores are in the right ; I have taken His day, and He 
takes my cattle.' He never afterwards played at the club, and 
such was the change effected on his character that at the 
Revolution he was ordained an elder of the Church, and he be- 
came afterwards one of the most notable worthies of the North." 
Notwithstanding Donald Roy's defection, the game flourished 
in the Highlands for the next century after his time. After 
the " Forty-five," however, for many reasons, shinty and other 
out-door games fell into disuse among the clansmen. The 
Rev. A. Stewart, of Moulin in Perthshire, writing in 1793, 
says : " It is observable that those gymnastic exercises which 
constituted the chief pastime of the Highlanders forty or fifty 
years ago, have almost totally disappeared. At every fair or 
meeting of the country people there were contests at racing, 
wrestling, putting the stone, &c. ; and on holidays, all the 


males of a district, young and old, met to play at football, but 
o-ftener at shinty. These games are now only practised by 
schoolboys." About the same time an Irish clergyman, the 
Rev. Mr. Ledwich, in the Statistical Account of the Parish of 
Aghaboe, Queen's County, laments that the "national character 
of the original natives is with us entirely lost. Their diversions 
of football and hurling are seldom practised." 

Both among the Irish and Scotch, however, there were 
enthusiastic lovers of the game whose devotion to it carried it 
over this dead portion of its history into the prosperous times 
of this century. Strutt tells us how greatly amused he was to 
see the skill and enthusiasm of the Irishmen who " hurled 
to goals" in the fields at the back of the British Museum; but 
perhaps as good an instance of love for the game as any can 
be found in this quotation from Mr. Sylvanus Urban in 1795 : 
"It may be mentioned that Provost Brown, late of Inverary, 
when TOO years old, headed one of the contending parties at a 
shinty match, and carried the town colours in procession among 
the victors. He died in the n6th year of his age." 

This patriarch may have seen the dawn of shinty's new day. 
With this century the game got a new lease of life, which it is 
not likely again to lose. On New Year's day (in the old style) 
this is the game nearly always played in the Highlands. 
District plays district, or the picked men of one county strive 
against the flower of another. Most interesting, perhaps, are 
those mimic fights between neighbouring clans, that recall the 
contests of a century ago. When the writer was a boy in the 
Highlands, crowds used to assemble from far and near to be 
spectators of the annual shinty match in Strathglass, between 
the Frasers often headed by Lord Lovat, their chief, or some 
of his family and the Chisho'.ms, under their chief. The 
annual contest may be, and most probably is, still played every 
"old New Year." At Edinburgh, one of the "things to 
be done" by the holiday-makers on New Years day is to 
witness the " wild Highlandmen " resident in the Scottish 


capital play their annual match at our game. Almost thoroughly 
civilised Macs, whose " brawny limbs " for three hundred odd 
days in the year are hidden by the garb of " the Saxon," and 
whose hands usually know no mightier weapon than the pen, 
on that day don their kilts, grasp their camans, and spend two 
hours of wild excitement and violent exercise in the Queen's 
Park at their national game. Of course, there are among them 
players who practise hard for most of the cold weather, but 
the majority of the ''grave and reverend seigniors," notable 
citizens, whose presence gives interest to the contest, renew on 
this day only their hot and lusty youth. 

Want of time and opportunity to practise their game is a 
great drawback to its enjoyment in many country districts. It 
is not that men who have been working hard all day are too 
tired to indulge in such an energetic amusement, but that, by 
the time the day's task is over in the shinty season, the short 
day has closed in, and there is no daylight left for the game. 
There are no Saturday half-holidays in most country districts 
yet, so the only thing left is to play by moonlight. On 
many a clear, frosty moonlight night do the country lads con- 
tend for the honour of " hailing " (goals are always " hails " in 
Scotland at our game) the ball, and wonderful is the skill 
which the crack players display, as they " birl " (or " dribble," 
as football players call it) the ball along running it on past 
all obstacles and attacks, and keeping it well within reach of 
their club-head until they have passed all their opponents, and 
the hail lies before them within reach of the good player's first 
long shot. 

At Candlemas time, and on Eastern's E'en, the game is 
played in some districts still, but the matches on these occa- 
sions nowadays are extremely few when we compare them with 
the contests of the old days, when these festivals were reli- 
giously observed as holiday times all over the Highlands. At 
the old pagan festival of Beltane, too, a shinty match was, till 
times almost within living memory, a " survival " of the old 


sun-worship handed down to us from our fire-worshipping fore- 
fathers. At Edinburgh, about the beginning of the century, 
Hallowe'en was the appointed time, and the great market 
called Hallow Fair, the proper place for all players to provide 
themselves with shinty sticks and balls. Boys usually pre- 
ferred to play with part of the vertebral bone of a sheep instead 
of a ball, but if one did buy a ball, undoubtedly the best were 
the " penny Herioters " excellent balls made by the founda- 
tioners of " Jingling Geordie " Heriot ; a branch of business, 
by the way, still cultivated by the inmates of the Hospital, 
though, like everything else, their price has risen since then, 
and Christopher North could no longer talk in his hearty way 
of an hour's brisk fun behind a " penny Herioter." 

It is easy to account for the popularity of this game among 
Celtic peoples. It is a stirring, impetuous pastime, with no dry 
intervals to test the patience exactly the game suited to the 
Celtic nature. There may be something in another reason 
alleged, that Donald or Patrick always likes a weapon in his 
hand, both in the contests of peace and war. When English- 
men quarrelled, they fought with fists, but the Celt always 
used claymore or cudgel. So in their games, and it is per- 
haps this that gave to their manly game, in Celtic eyes, many 
recommendations that football the nearest approach to it in 
Lowland games lacks. Mr. J. F. Campbell tells two little 
anecdotes that show how hot and furious Celts on both sides 
of the water sometimes get over their game, but it is only 
fair to say that contests, as a rule, even between keenly rival 
parishes, are conducted with much good humour and quite as 
few disputes as in many big football matches. 

Mr. Campbell was once at a Christmas hurling match in Ire- 
land, where the game was played on ice on a lake. The owner of 
the lake sent down his Scotch butler with bread and cheese and 
whisky for the players. For no apparent cause, a furious battle 
began, " but in ten minutes the storm was over, the butler was 
up again in his cart dispensing the refreshments, the man in 


the bush was consoling himself with a dram, and all was peace. 
But that night the country party took up a position behind a 
stone wall, and when the others came, they sallied forth and 
there was a battle royal." 

" So I have seen a parish shinty match in the Highlands 
become so hot and furious that the leaders were forced to get 
two pipers and march their troops out of the field in opposite 
directions to prevent a civil war of parishes." 

The fact that in the cradle of humanity there has for ages 
existed a game which is exactly shinty on horseback, helps to 
support the contention that our game is the oldest of bat-and- 
ball games. Not only have those who believe this got the 
polo of the East, but they contend that in the West they have 
another proof that this, or something very like it, is the game 
that would most likely suggest itself to primitive man. 
Lacrosse, the famous ball-play of the North American Indians, 
has a strong family likeness to hurling, especially to that 
variety of it that Strutt tells us he saw played by the Irish in 
London, when they used a bat, flat on both sides, and curving 
at the lower end ; they caught up and carried the ball on the 
flat sides for a considerable time, and then either hit it along 
with the curve or tossed it to their companions, who were fol- 
lowing behind, ready to catch it and help it forward to the goal. 
It is quite clear, however, that Lacrosse was introduced into 
America by Europeans, Spanish or French, in the sixteenth or 
seventeenth century, and thus, of course, is destroyed any 
argument founded on its supposed originality of invention by 
the Indians of America. 



AMONG the many things this country has owed to her lively 
neighbour across the channel, undoubtedly one was the game 
of pall mall. While in England no trace of the pastime can 
be found till about the seventeenth century, we know it 
flourished in France at least as early as the thirteenth. Those 
who like to begin at the very beginning in such a matter as 
this tell us that the ancestor of pall mall was the " chugan " 
of the Persians a game so-called from the long-handled 
mallet which the mounted players used in the pastime. This 
old polo-mallet is the root from which have sprung all the 
clubs, bats, and mallets of croquet, golf, cricket and other 
similar games. We first hear of pall mall in Europe as a game 
of Languedoc, where, according to Ducange, it was called 
" chicane "a manifest corruption of its Eastern name of 
" chugan "though the other provinces, in adopting the pas- 
time, dropped this name and gave it that of " le jeu de 
mail," under which, some centuries afterwards, it crossed the 
channel, and became so fashionable in the England of the 
Stuart Kings. 

The earliest reference to pall mall we have been able to find 
in this country is in the papers presented to Norfolk, Sussex, 
and Sir Ralph Sadler, the Commissioners appointed by Eliza- 
beth in 1568, nominally to inquire into the conduct towards 
his Queen of the Scotch Regent Murray, but in reality to try 
Mary, Queen of Scots, for complicity in the murder of Darnley. 

When, in February 1567, a fortnight after the tragedy in 


the Kirk o' Field, the Scottish Queen went, by the advice of 
her Council and physicians, to Seton Castle, she set all 
the scandal-loving tongues, native and foreign, in her king- 
dom, a-wagging. Sir William Drury, writing to Cecil from 
Berwick, regales the Secretary with some of the absurd 
stories then current, such as that the Queen and Bothwell 
had been shooting at the butts against Huntley and Seton, 
for a dinner at Tranent, which the latter had to pay a 
story he had afterwards to contradict, and tell Cecil he 
had been misinformed in regard to the Scottish Queen's 
proceedings, as she had never stirred from Seton. The 
undoubted fact that Mary had never " stirred from Seton," 
however, had only this effect, that it transferred the scene of 
her " shameful diversions " to the grounds of that house. 
When George Buchanan appeared as one of the counsellors 
before the Commissioners at York, and afterwards at West- 
minster, he charged his Queen, in the " Detection " he pre- 
sented, with going every day into a field near the Castle, 
accompanied by a great crowd of nobles, to play " ludos con- 
suetos nee eos plane muliebres ; " and, though he does not 
tell us what those games of the time, which were not quite 
suitable for ladies, were, luckily another document in the pro- 
ceedings, written in the vernacular, is more explicit. The 
Earl of Murray's own " Articles" say that for a "few dayes 
aftir the murthir, remaining at Halyrude hous, she [then] past 
to Seytoun, exercising hir one day richt oppenlie at the fieldis, 
with the palm all and go if " It is beside our purpose here to 
show how it has been conclusively proved that these state- 
ments are as false as Drury's shooting story : the charge is 
chiefly interesting to us because it proves that our game was 
known in Scotland at this time, even though we may not be 
able to claim for it the full force of Buchanan's language, and 
say that it was one of the games in popular use then in 

South of the Tweed, pall mall does not appear to have been 


played for at least thirty years after the sitting of the West- 
minster Commission. It can hardly have been introduced in 
1598, for in that year Sir Robert Dallington, in his " Method 
for Travel," extols its merits, and suggests its introduction in 
these words : " Among all the exercises of France, I prefer 
none before the paile maille, both because it is a gentleman- 
like sport, not violent, and yields good occasion and oppor- 
tunity of discourse as they walke from one marke to the other. 
I marvell among many more apish and foolish toys which we 
'have brought out of France, that we have not brought this 
sport also into England." 

Whether or not it was owing to the traveller's praises, the 
game was adopted in England very soon after the publication 
of Dallington's book. It is one of the "fair and pleasant field 
games " that King James I. recommends to Prince Henry in 
the " Basilikon Doron ;" and though the King himself does 
not seem to have been a player at the game, we have abundant 
evidence that it became very popular at Court during the early 
years of the seventeenth century. 

Though Dr. Jeremy Taylor "includes pall mall among the 
games that are "lawful" if played in moderation, and for "re- 
freshment " only, and not for money, it is very doubtful if 
he saw it played during the gloomy dozen years before the 
publication of the " Ductor Dubitantium ;" but, when the 
" white rose bloomed again," among the pastimes that returned 
in the royal train was pall mall. Indeed, the palmy days of 
the game were from the Restoration to the Revolution. During 
this quarter-century it was one of the most fashionable of games 
at Court ; at the Restoration pall mall, like the King, got its 
" own again," and though, as we shall see, Dr. Chambers is 
hardly correct in saying, " it is rather surprising that it should 
have so entirely gone out, there being no trace of it after the 
Revolution," undoubtedly the landing of King William de- 
posed the game from a pride of place that had no rival among 
outdoor sports except, perhaps, tennis. 


On April 2, 1661, Mr. Secretary Pepys walks "to St. James's 
Park, where I saw the Duke of York playing at pall mall, the 
first time I ever saw the sport." Probably the alley the Duke 
played on was the new mall King Charles had, among other 
improvements in the Park, caused to be made in place of the 
old mall that occupied the site of the street now called after 
it, Pall Mall. Though this avenue does not appear to have 
been enclosed as a street till about 1690, even in the time of 
the Commonwealth it began to be built upon, and Charles 
immediately after his return had a new mall laid out ; which 
still bears the name then given to it as being the arena of our 

We find many references to the new mall and its frequenters 
in contemporary writers. Pepys, in September, 1663, falls a- 
gossiping with the keeper of the alley, "who was sweeping of 
it ; who told me of what the earth is mixed that do floor the 
mall, and that over all there is cockle shells powdered, and 
spread to keep it fast, which, however, in dry weather turns to 
dust and deadens the ball." 

We see this smoothness of the alley alluded to by the 
flatterer Waller, when, in his poem on St. James's Park, he 
describes the Merry Monarch engaged in this favourite game 
of his : 

Here a well polished mall gives us the joy, 

To see our Prince his matchless force employ ; 

His manly posture and his graceful mien, 

Vigour and youth in all his motions seen ; 

No sooner has he touched the flying ball, 

But 'tis already more than half the mall, 

And such a fury from his arm has got 

As from a smoking culverin 'twere shot. 

On January 4, 1664, we find the Secretary to the Admiralty 
again writing about our game. After a visit to the tennis 
court, where the king is playing, and being driven away in 
disgust with the behaviour of the Courtiers, whose " open 


flattery is beastly," Mr. Secretary quite recovers his spirits at 
a little scene of a directly opposite nature he witnesses when 
he walks "afterwards to St. James's Parke, seeing people play 
at pell mell, when it pleased me mightily to hear a gallant, 
lately come from France, swear at one of his companions for 
suffering his man (a spruce blade) to be so saucy as to strike 
a ball while his master was playing on the mall." 

Evelyn, too, speaks of King Charles's fondness for this 
game ; but while we find such ample testimony to its popu- 
larity at Court, there is nothing to show that the game ever 
became a favourite with the citizens of London generally, or 
that it was ever played in the provinces, where, however, a 
game of a ruder kind, but the same in principle, existed as a 
children's game. 

No rules of the game have been preserved, but from con- 
temporary prints and descriptions we can get a good idea of 
how pall mall was played. Cotgrave, in 1611, tells us that 
' ; Palemaille is a game wherein a round box bowle is with a 
mallet strucke through a high arch of iron (standing at either 
end of an alley, one), which he that can do at the fewest 
blows, or at the number agreed on, winnes." A similar 
description is given in a note to a conversation in a very rare 
book published in 1621, and quoted by Brand in his " Popular 
Antiquities," where a lady says to her companion : " If we 
had paile mals, it were good to play in this alley, for it is a 
reasonable good length, straight and even." This, along with 
what we have already seen Waller and Pepys say about the 
" well-polished mall," shows that a prime requisite for the game 
was evenness of surface in the playground, as is necessary in 
our own day for pall mall's descendant, croquet. Mr. Augustus 
Hare surely must have overlooked this when, in his recently 
published " Walks in London," he wrote that the name of the 
street Pall Mall " is derived from a game still popular in the 
deserted streets of old, sleepy Italian cities, and deriving its 
name from/ftz//#, a ball, and maglia, a mallet." It is difficult 


to say which is the more unsuitable, the game for the street, 
however sleepy, or the street for the game. Very probably, 
however, the game Mr. Hare was thinking of is pallone, or 
pillotta, with which, as we have seen, the Italians, with the 
strange perversity that made 'prentices play football in the 
Strand, may waken up their sleepy streets now and then. 

In a view of the garden and terrace of the Palace of Nanci, 
which Jacques Callot, the eminent French engraver, dedicated 
to the Duchess of Lorraine in 1624, we find a representation 
of a game at pall mall. " The scene of the pastime," says a 
writer, describing the engraving in Notes and Queries, " is a 
broad straight walk, running between parterres, and apparently 
a hundred feet in length. At either end is erected a single 
hoop, of width and height seemingly two and a half feet. 
Several balls are grouped close to one of these hoops, round 
which stand several players, mallet in hand, while a few feet 
in front of the other hoop another player is about to deliver a 
stroke, and is evidently aiming to send his ball up among its 
companions near the goal opposite him. Mallets, balls, hoops, 
and players, though on a minute scale, are all so distinctly 
drawn that no mistake can occur in perceiving at a glance 
the action of the performers and the instruments of perform- 

Fortunately, however, we have not to depend upon illustra- 
tions for our knowledge of the " instruments of performance." 
A lucky discovery in London brought to light several speci- 
mens of both the mallets and balls used in the old game. In 
January, 1854, in the old house, No. 68, Pall Mall, the resi- 
dence of the late Mr. Vulliamy, and for more than a century 
in the possession of his family, a parcel of pall mall mallets 
and some balls were found in a lumber room, where they had 
been carefully packed and laid away. " They are," said Mr. 
Albert Way, F.S. A., " very probably the only existing reliques 
of the obsolete game of pall mall in this country." 

A pair of the mallets and one of the balls were presented by 


Mr. G. Vulliamy to the British Museum. The mallet is very like 
the familiar croquet mallet of our own day, except that the head 
is slightly curved, and the flat ends are cut obliquely upwards, 
and strongly hooped with iron. The handle is about three feet 
eight inches long, and about a foot of the upper part of it is 
wound round with soft white leather : these little differences 
showing that the duty of this mallet was to drive a ball fur- 
ther than the croquet mallet is required to do. The ball is 
two inches and a half in diameter only, and is made of root of 

While all the authorities we have noted unite in showing us 
that the object of the player at pall mall was to drive a ball 
along a specially prepared alley often lined with boards to 
prevent the ball from escaping and through " the pass," or 
high arch at each end, according to a contemporary print 
which Charles Knight has reproduced in his " Pictorial His- 
tory of England," instead of the pass and the " well-polished 
mall," the goal must sometimes have been a ring, suspended 
from an arm projecting from a pole, and hanging at a height 
of about ten or twelve feet above the ground, which appears 
t) be a rather rough piece of grass. Of course, with an 
ordinary mallet it would be impossible to send the ball 
through this ring, and accordingly the implements used seem 
to have been shaped like golf clubs. This must have been the 
variety of the game alluded to by an anonymous author in the 
icign of James I., who tells an anecdote of Prince Henry 
"playing at goff a play not unlike to pale-maille." This 
appears to have puzzled Strutt, for, as he says, " if the defini- 
tion of pall mall given by Cotgrave be correct, it will be found 
to differ materially from golf." The explanation, however, 
seems clear enough; there were two kinds of pall mall, one a 
dainty game, the other a rougher pastime, played in the fields 
oa ground whose ups and downs may have been chosen as an 
addition to the attractions of the game, just as the " hazards " 
of the golfing greens are half the fun in that fine game. 


Dr. Chambers, as we have seen, is surprised that such a 
healthful game, and one of such a social nature, should have 
gone out so entirely, " there being no trace of it after the 
Revolution " ; but it is by no means certain that the game has 
ever been allowed entirely to die out in this kingdom; indeed, 
there seems to be pretty good evidence that under various 
names, and in modified forms, a game virtually pall mall 
existed in the country from the date of the last records of the 
old pastime till croquet took the nation by storm a quarter of 
a century ago. 

Mr. Albert Way has been unable to ascertain exactly at what 
time pall mall ceased to be in vogue, but he has clearly shown 
from old plates of St. James's Park that the date of the decline 
was between 1716 and 1724. Among the plates engraved for 
that "Britannia Illustrata," produced in 1716-19, is a picture ol 
St. James's Palace and the Park. "A brief description notices 
amongst the attractions of the latter, 'un tres beau mail,' 
shown in the plate, and occupying the central avenue of the 
long walk, planted probably under the direction of Le Notre, 
and still known as ' the Mall.' It here appears to have been 
separated from the avenues on either side by a low barricade, 
upon the rail of which persons are seated ; this served doubt- 
less to confine the ball within bounds and keep off intruders/' 
Two gentlemen are engaged in playing the game with mallets 
precisely similar to those found in Mr. Vulliamy's house, but, 
though " the engravers have not neglected to represent the 
artificial surface of the 'well polished mall,'" they have omitted 
to put in a " pass " at either end of the alley. 

In 1716, then, we may hold that the game was still played, 
but when a later representation of the Park appeared in an en- 
larged edition of this work in 1724, pall mall must have either 
gone greatly out of fashion or perhaps fallen entirely into dis- 
use, for though the Mall is distinctly shown in this " Nouveau 
Theatre de la Grande Bretagne," in no part are its occupants 
pall mall players, but all the avenues are given up to the ladies 


and fashionable loungers who continued up to the beginning 
of this century to hold the Mall in high favour as a promenade. 

The ladies, gaily dressed, the Mall adorn 
With various dyes and paint the sunny morn, 

says Gay, in his " Trivia," about the promenade in his time, 
while Mr. Hare quotes for us a wail over its departed glories 
when eclipsed by its rival, Hyde Park, in the early years of 
this century : " Here could be seen in one moving mass, ex- 
tending the whole length of the Mall, five thousand of the 
most lovely women in this country of female beauty; all 
splendidly attired, and accompanied by as many well-dressed 

But though in the original pall mall, as a mild punster has 
put it, clubs took the place of mallets, and the new ground of 
Charles II. knew the old game no more, it seems possible to 
trace the pastime under other names up till the present time. 
Strutt, in his article on " Ring-ball," shows that in the seven- 
teenth century that game, then a children's amusement, " con- 
sisted in striking a ball with a bandy through a ring fastened 
into the ground. A similar kind of pastime, I am informed, 
exists to this day in the north of England ; it is played in a 
ground or alley appropriated to the purpose, and a ball is to 
be driven from one end of it to the other with a mallet . . . 
towards an arch of iron, through which it is necessary for the 
ball to be passed." This brings the pastime into this century, 
but for the next trace of the game we must cross St. 
George's Channel. According to a writer in the new edition 
ot the " Encyclopaedia Britannica" (1877), Mr. Dickson, an 
ivory turner of Gracechurch Street, London, remembers having 
made a set of croquet implements for Ireland over forty years 
ago. This is a faint enough proof of its existence in perhaps 
more than an isolated case, but in 1852, as most croquet 
players know, the courtly old pastime was brought back again 
into the country from the South of France by a young Irish 


lady, under whose auspices it was played on a lawn at the late 
Lord Lonsdale's seat in Ireland. Four years afterwards a 
well-known purveyor of pastime requisites saw the game in the 
sister isle, and began to manufacture croquet implements in 
England. Almost at once the game began a new lease of 
wonderful popularity, but now it seems as if it were destined 
to obey that law in the life of most contrivances, and drop 
into disuse just as it has attained perfection. 



Thir ar the bewteis of the fute ball. 

Poem in the M ait land MSS. 

IT is within comparatively recent times that football ceased to 
be a rude and lawless pastime of the people of this country. 
When put down by the force of public opinion, on account of 
the dangers attending its pursuit as then played on certain 
long-established football saturnalia, the game was kept alive 
almost entirely at the public schools for the thirty years before 
the great athletic revival that followed the Volunteer move- 
ment in 1860. Football as played at Rugby was likest the 
old rough game \ how it was and is played we all know from 
"Tom Brown." At other schools, as Harrow, kicking the ball 
only was allowed, and from these two great types the game, 
under the fostering care of the Union and the Association, 
became the scientific winter sport so popular just now under 
its two different phases. This later aspect of football, how- 
ever, lies outside the special purpose of this chapter, which is to 
gather together some of the many notable incidents in the 
long career 'of the old football the rough, unscientific game 
of our ancestors for many centuries on both sides of the 

Indeed, except in name, the new and the old games have 
little in common. The roughest " Rugby game " of to-day is 
mild and harmless when compared with the contests of two or 
three hundred years ago, when parish fought parish, or all the 
men of one county kicked their hardest to defeat a neighbour- 


ing shire. In its primitive form the game was merely a trial of 
speed, strength, and endurance ; there were no rules and little 
/science. ^/Naturally, therefore, when the player could use any 
f means to bring victory to his side, a premium was put upon 
violence, and the roughness of the game soon greatly increased. 
The heroes of the field became those who could plunge into 
the struggling mass of players, grappling right and left, and 
giving at least as good as they got in " hacks" on the shins, 
or more direct blows that laid opposing players sprawling on 
their backs, with a strong probability of serious damage to 
limb or even to life. Victory in such a struggle was to be 
looked for more from the reckless use of muscular strength 
than from agility or skill ; so violent, indeed, did many of the 
matches become, that at a very early period attempts were 
made to put them down by authority as a public nuisance. 
" From this Court," writes James I. to his eldest son, " I 
debarre all rough and violent exercises, as the footeball, 
meeter for lameing than making able the users thereof." 
The author of the following quatrain in the Maitland MSS. 
grimly recites the beauties of the game in much the same 

strain : 

Brissit brawnis and brokin banis ; 

Stryf, discorde, and waistie wanis ; [dwellings] 

Cruikit in eld, syn halt withall ; 

Thir ar the bewteis of the fute ball, 

while in later days we find Bishop Butler, when head-master 
of Shrewsbury, though he was himself an old Rugbeian, for- 
bidding football in the earlier years of his reign in the western 
school, and denouncing it as " only fit for butcher boys." 

It is difficult to determine when football originated among 
us, though it is clear we owe its introduction to the Romans. 
The Greeks had a game called " episkuros," which is described 
in "Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities" as " the game of football, 
played in much the same way as with us, by a great number of 
persons divided into two parties opposed to one another." A 


similar ball game seems to have been played by the Romans, 
though it is rather uncertain under what name, and from them 
the old Britons picked up the pastime. Fitz Stephen alludes 
to it, about 1 175, among the pastimes of the youth of London 
in the time of Henry II., when on Shrove Tuesday all the 
lads went out to the fields of the suburbs, after dinner, to play. 
The first actual mention of the game as football pila pedira 
occurs in the proclamation of Edward III., in 1365, when 
that king found it necessary to put down our game and several 
others, because they interfered with the all-important practice 
of archery among his subjects. Eighty years afterwards the 
Scottish king had, for the same reason, to pass the first of a series 
of Acts against this and other " unprofitabill sportis " ; but as 
he and his followers, keen players all, paid little attention to 
their own edicts, the game naturally continued quite as popular 
as ever. Thus, to give one instance, we find the High Trea- 
surer of James IV., in 1497, a few years after Parliament 
passed one of those Acts, paying two shillings " to Jame Dog 
to buy fut balles to the king" while at Stirling, in April. In 
the next reign it was a popular game with all clashes in 
Scotland. That type of the knighthood of his time, Squire 
Meldrum, of Sir David Lindsay's poem, was a proficient in 
the game : 

He won the prize above them all, 

Both at the butts and the foot ball, 

the Lord Lyon tells us, while the same poet, in a 

Flash of that satiric rage, 
Which, bursting on the early stage, 
Branded the vices of the age 
And broke the keys of Rome, 

makes a priest boast that, though he does not preach, 

I wot there is not one among you all 
Mair ferylie can play at the foot ball. 

Barclay, the priest of St. Mary Ottery, in Devon, who adapted 


Brandt's " Ship of Fools," has left us in his " Eclogues " a 
lively picture of football in a rural district in 1514 : 

And now in the winter, when men kill the fat swine, 
They get the bladder and blow it great and thin, 
With many beans or peason put within, 
It rattleth, soundeth, and shineth clear and fair, 
While it is thrown and cast up in the air, 
Each one contendeth and hath a great delight 
With foot and with hand the bladder for to smite : 
If it fall to ground they lift it up again, 
This wise to labour they count it for no pain, 
Running and leaping they drive away the cold : 
The sturdy ploughmen, lusty, strong, and bold, 
Overcometh the winter with driving the football, 
Forgetting labour and many a grievous fall. 

And from many other sources we can gather that the game 
enjoyed a fair share of popularity for many ages. 

Shrove Tuesday was the great day in the year for football 
matches in all parts of the kingdom. A great many of these , / 
contests were held in the streets of towns, when windows had ^ 
to be barricaded, women kept indoors, and the place given 
over for the day to a contest that too often ended in rights and 
broken bones. Strutt quotes a Chester antiquary, who says 
that " it had been the custom, time out of mind, for the shoe- 
makers yearly on the Shrove Tuesday to deliver to the drapers, 
in the presence of the Mayor of Chester, at the cross on the 
Rodehee, one ball of leather called a football, of the value of 
three shillings and fourpence, or above, to play at from thence 
to the Common Hall of the said city; which practice was 
productive of much inconvenience, and therefore this year 
(1540), by consent of the parties concerned, the ball was 
changed into six glayves of silver of the like value, as a prize 
for the best runner that day upon the aforesaid Rodehee." 

Perhaps in no place was this Shrovetide sport pursued with 
greater energy than at Scone, in Perthshire. The sides con- 
sisted of the married and single men of the neighbourhood, 


who assembled at the village cross at two in the afternoon of 
the " Eastern's E'en," as Shrove Tuesday is called in Scotland. 
At the appointed hour the ball was thrown up, and the game, 
by immemorial custom, had to last till sunset. The minister 
of the parish describes the game thus in Sir John Sinclair's 
''Statistical Account of Scotland": The player who at any 
time got the ball into his hands ran with it till he was over- 
taken by one of the opposite party ; then, if he could shake 
himself loose from those on the opposite side who seized him, 
he ran on ; if not, he threw the ball from him, unless it was 
wrested from him by the other party, but no one was allowed 
to kick it! The object of the married men was to "hang" 
it, that is, to put it three times into a small hole on the moor, 
which was the dool or limit on the one hand ; that of the 
bachelors was to "drown" the ball, or dip it three times into 
a deep place in the river, the goal on the other side. The 
party who could effect either of these objects won the game ; 
but if neither side succeeded in winning a goal, the ball was 
cut into two equal parts at sunset. In the course of the game 
there was usually such violence between the parties that this 
match gave rise to a proverb in Scotland, "All is fair at 
the Ba' of Scone." Tradition said that this match was insti- 
tuted centuries ago to commemorate the victory of a Scone 
champion over an Italian knight who had challenged the 
chivalry of the county. However this may be, while the 
custom lasted, every man, gentle or simple, in the district 
had to turn out to support his side, on pain of fine. At the 
time the minister wrote (1796), this old match had been dis- 
continued for a few years, and it has never been revived. 
Writers on " survivals " of old superstitious customs hold that 
the Candlemas and Beltane games of ball are, like the Breton 
game of Soule, lingering vestiges of the old worship paid by 
the Celts to the sun-god. It is interesting in this connection 
to read the words of a writer in an early number of J I case- 
hold Words, which prove how persistently old customs cling 


to districts, and how recently it was necessary for the pulpit 
to wage war with the remains of heathen rites in Scotland. 

"In the year 1826 or 1827," we are told, "the writer heard a 
sermon against heathen observances preached in the parish 
church of Stow, a village twenty-four miles to the south of 
Edinburgh. The pastoral district of Gala- water, in which Stow 
is situated, was at that time much less occupied with agricul- 
tural and other active pursuits than it now is, and its inhabi- 
tants were then attached to the observance of several annual 
solemnities of pagan origin, regarding which, perhaps, they 
are now less enthusiastic. The special occasion of the sermon 
was the approach of Eastern's E'en, or Shrove Tuesday, as it 
is called south of the Tweed. The custom was on that day 
for the married and unmarried men of the parish to play a 
match at handball. The day, till within a few years of the 
date mentioned, had from time immemorial been ushered in 
by ringing the church bell. This being persisted in in defiance 
of the minister, was at last discontinued. The ball was the 
remaining feature of the festival. The first proceeding oc- 
curred at two in the afternoon, when the ball was thrown over 
the church. The contest then began ; the one party striving 
to convey the ball to a given point about half a mile up the 
valley, and the other party trying to take it about a similar 
distance in the opposite direction. The down-water winning 
place was the Lady's Well, a famous spring at or near which 
tradition says the Virgin Mary descended and left her foot- 
print on a large stone. In the sermon referred to, the 
preacher pointed out that the ball sport of Eastern's E'en was 
a mongrel relic of paganism and popery, in which it was 
sinful to participate. He also said that the superstitious prac- 
tices of the district peculiar to the 'daft days,' to Beltane, and 
to Candlemas were equally to be eschewed." 

The famous match that up to about forty years ago used to 
begin in the market-place of Derby on Shrove Tuesday after- 
noon is a good example of the old game south of the Tweed. 


The good folks of Derby turned out in all their bravery to 
witness the struggle. Ladies filled the windows overlooking 
the market-place, where, at 2 P.M., the men of St. Peter's 
parish met to do battle with all comers from the other parishes 
of the town. The ball was of very strong leather, a foot in 
diameter, and stuffed hard with cork shavings. At the ap- 
pointed hour this ball was tossed into the air, and the mass of 
about a thousand players made a rush at it, the one side, 
whose rallying-cry was " St. Peter's," trying to drive the ball 
towards their goal, the gate of a nursery ground about a mile 
out of town, while the " All Saints " party as strenuously fought 
to goal the ball against a distant water-mill wheel. It was the 
policy of the St. Peter's party to get the ball into the river 
which leads towards their goal. A man swimming with the 
floating ball had a good chance of getting it far on its way ; 
but the great struggle was in carrying it across the ground that 
separated the landing-place and the goal gate. The brook on 
which was the water-mill sometimes helped the other party ; 
but so great was the press of players that goals were generally 
taken by stratagem, very seldom by direct and open kicking. 
Many amusing stories are told of how wily players have slipped 
unawares through the strong guard that surrounded the goals 
and brought victory to their side. Sometimes the shavings 
were taken out and the cover smuggled in under a smock- 
frock or a woman's shawl. Once the ball was in the middle 
of a big scrimmage, where everyone was kicking and no one 
could see the ball. A cunning fellow outside just then threw 
his hat over the mass; they saw a dark object, called out 
" There it goes," and dispersed, while he picked up the ball, 
hid it under his coat, and sauntered to the brook, dropped in 
the ball, which he did not follow closely but merely kept in 
view. The goal-keepers saw the mass of players far off, and 
suspected nothing till the clever fellow slipped past them, 
jumped into the water, and pushed the ball in triumph against 
the wheel. 


The following day. Ash Wednesday, was the " Boys' Day," 
when the men of both sides attended to see fair play and to 
decide delicate questions as to whether claimants were small 
men or great boys. Disputes were much more frequent on 
this day than on that of the match proper ; indeed, it was said 
that if a cause of quarrel cropped up on Shrove Tuesday it was 
by common consent put off for decision on the " Boys' Day." 
This game was, like most others, put down as " tending to 
foment quarrels and endanger life." 

The ladies of Derby graced the contest with their presence, 
and even in some cases of stratagem, as we have seen, were 
ready with more active assistance ; but the fair sex in Inveresk 
went far beyond this, and had an annual match of their own. 
In an amusing sketch of the fishwomen of Musselburgh, in 
this parish, Dr. Alexander Carlyle tells us, in the end of the 
last century, that these women, " having so great a share in the 
maintenance of the family, have no small sway in it, as may 
be inferred from a saying not unusual among them when 
speaking of a young woman reported to be on the point of 
marriage. ' Hout,' say they, ' how can she keep a man who 
can hardly maintain hersel' ? ' As they do the work of men 
their manners are masculine, and their strength and activity 
are equal to their work. Their amusements are of the mascu- 
line kind. On holidays they frequently play at golf, and on 
Shrove Tuesday there is a standing match at football between 
the married and unmarried women, in which the former are 
always victors " a result which the chronicler of this curious 
custom declares he must leave to his fair readers to account for. 
So much for Shrovetide football, which, however, still lingers 
among us in its old form in some districts. Thus, lately, a 
local newspaper told how the tradesmen of Sedgefield, in Dur- 
ham, beat the ploughmen at a match played on what the writer 
called "probably the thousandth anniversary" of a game 
exactly like that of Derby ; while in several of the Scottish 
Border towns the annual matches still excite the greatest 


interest, and bring the whole community out to witness the 
play in a state of high enthusiasm. " On one occasion," says 
the "Book of Days," "not long ago, when the sport took place 
in Jedburgh, the contending parties [one end of the town 
against the other], after a struggle of two hours in the streets, 
transferred the contention to the bed of the river Jed, and 
there fought it out amidst a scene of fearful splash and dabble- 
ment, to the infinite amusement of a multitude looking on 
from the bridge." In the towns, " Ba' Day " is recognised as 
a half-holiday, and all the mills stop at noon. At a recent 
election it chanced that the polling took place at Jedburgh on 
the same day as the Ba', and " our own reporter " was much 
astonished that in this town of keen politicians enthusiasm for 
the old custom should overcome interest in the election. 
" Any special stir that prevailed in the morning," writes " our 
correspondent," " seemed to be caused less by the polling than 
by the play between the 'uppies' and 'downies,' and during 
the afternoon interest in the polling paled entirely before the 
game." The Scotsman of February 3rd, 1881, thus describes 
the latest celebration of this old custom : " Yesterday the 
Candlemas Ball, or, as it is familiarly called, the ' callants' 
Ba',' was played in the streets of the burgh as usual. Pre- 
cisely at twelve o'clock the ball, decorated with ribbons of 
various colours, was thrown up at the Market Place by the 
* King,' and a very large number took part in the game, which 
was keenly contested. The two first ' hails,' or goals, were 
won by the townhead players, but the third ball was carried to 
the townfoot, and kicked into the river. Some ' splendid 
plunging ' took place in the water, and many of the players 
got a thorough ducking. On the whole, the townhead had 
the best of the game." 

J It is difficult to imagine anything more out of place in the 
streets of a large town than football ; yet for centuries the 
streets of London were every now and then infested with the 
players at what Stubbes calls " a bloody and numbering prac- 


tice rather than a fellowly sport or pastime." In Elizabeth's 
time we find complaints about this. Davenant's Frenchman 
thus writes of the streets immediately after the Restoration : 
11 1 would now make a safe retreat, but that methinks I am 
stopped by one of your heroic games called football, which I 
conceive (under your favour) not very conveniently civil in 
the streets, especially in such irregular and narrow roads as 
Crooked Lane." Pepys, under date January 2nd, 1664-5, tells 
us he went " to my Lord Brouncker's, by appointment, in the 
Piazza, Covent Garden ; the street full of foot-balls, it being a 
great frost ; " while, as late as a century and a half ago, along 
Cheapside or Covent Garden, or by the Maypole in the 
Strand, rushed the football players : 

The 'prentice quits his shop to join the crew, 
Increasing crowds the flying game pursue. 

The author of <c The Public Schools " alludes to another 
memorable little disturbance caused by football, when telling 
us that the Westminster boys now play the game " either in 
Dean's Yard or Vincent Square, so that there is no risk of 
the shade of Addison being disturbed, as he complains that 
his living meditations once were, by the king's scholars play- 
ing football in the cloisters/' 

Away north on the Border in the troublous days the votaries 
of the game contrived to annoy their neighbours in perhaps a 
more serious way. Football there was, then as now, a very 
favourite sport ; it smacked of the excitement of a real fight ; 
but probably, too, the facilities the gathering gave for making 
a raid across the Border, or taking some hostile clan by sur- 
prise, added a charm to the game in the moss-troopers' eyes. 
In Border records we find many bloody endings to meetings 
ostensibly for playing football, as when in 1600 Sir John Car- 
michael of Carmichael, the Warden of the Middle Marches, 
was killed by a band of Armstrongs returning from a football 
match, at which, as it came out at the trial of his slayers, the 



crime was concerted. Sir Robert Carey, in his " Memoirs of 
Border Transactions," speaks of his vigilance and his appre- 
hension being excited by hearing of a great meeting appointed 
by the Scottish riders to be held at Kelso for the purpose ol 
playing at football. As the English Warden of the East 
Marches suspected, this meeting was an expedient for collect- 
ing together a large body of moss-troopers, for it appears to 
have terminated in an incursion into England. Undoubtedly, 
however, the most notable event in the history of Border foot- 
ball is the famous match played on the plain of Carterhaugh, 
near the junction of the Ettrick and the Yarrow, on Decem- 
ber 4th, 1815. The opponents were those old rivals, the 
" Souters (Anglice, shoemakers) o' Selkirk " and the Earl of 
Home with his retainers in the Forest of Yarrow. Lord 
Home, while at Buccleuch's lodge at Bowhill, challenged Sir 
Walter Scott, then " Shirra " of Selkirk, to fight out at football 
the ancient feud alluded to in the old ballad beginning 

Tis up wi' the Sutors o' Selkirk, 
An' 'tis down wi' the Earl of Home, 
And 'tis up wi' the bonnie braw lads 
That sew the single-soled shoon, 

in which the prowess of the Burghers in many a hard-fought 
field is celebrated, while its sting lay in the tradition that it 
alluded specially to the conduct of Home and his men of the 
Merse at Flodden in holding back, while the men of Ettrick 
fought to the death, and their memory lives as 

Those Flowers whom plaintive lay 
In Scotland mourns as " wede away." 

When the eventful Monday arrived, players and spectators 
poured from all sides into the Carterhaugh : u the appearance 
of the various parties/' says Scott, " marching from their dif- 
ferent glens to the place of rendezvous, with pipes playing and 
loud acclamations, carried back the coldest imagination to the 
old times when the Foresters assembled with the less peace- 
able purpose of invading the English territory, or defending 


their own." The signal for action was the unfurling of the old 
banner of the Buccleuch family, which Lady Ann Scott 
handed to Master Walter Scott, younger, of Abbotsford, then 
a boy of thirteen, who rode over the field, appropriately 
dressed and with his horse caparisoned with old Border hous- 
ings, bearing aloft this old relic of an ancient military custom. 
The Duke of Buccleuch then threw up the ball, and imme- 
diately began the tug of war. So numerous were the players, 
and so closely did they press round the ball, that for long the 
only indication of play was a heaving here and there of the 
immense mass until two stalwart " Flowers of the Forest " got 
the ball out. One "chucked" to the other, who at once ran 
off with it towards the only open side, the woods of Bowhill, 
intending to make a long circuit and carry it to the Yarrow 
goal. So fleet of foot was he, that probably he would have 
succeeded if he had not been ridden down by a man on 
horseback. So excited were the players, that, it is said, Lord 
Home swore if he had had a gun he would have shot the 
horseman. The tide now turned against the men of the 
Forest, and after an hour and a half's play a mason of Selkirk 
gained a goal for his side. Three hours more of fierce strug- 
gle brought a goal for Yarrow. Honours being now equal, 
and the feelings of the players being up to the fighting point, 
it was thought advisable not to bring matters to an issue by 
playing a deciding game. As it was, in the heat of their 
passion many came to blows, and, as an eye-witness says, "the 
ba' had nearly ended in a battle." Scott tells us that, before they 
left the ground, he threw up his hat, and, in Lord Dalkeith's 
name and his own, challenged the Yarrow men, on the part 
of the Sutors, to a match to be played upon the first con- 
venient opportunity, with a hundred picked men only on each 
side. Lord Home accepted the challenge ; but this match 
never took place, probably for the reason alluded to in what 
Scott told Washington Irving two years afterwards at Abbots- 
ford, that " the old feuds and local interests and rivalries and 


animosities of the Scotch still slept in their ashes, and might 
easily be roused ; their hereditary feeling for names was still 
great ; it was not always safe to have even the game of foot- 
ball between villages : the old clannish spirit was too apt to 
break out." 

While Scott took a prominent part on the side of the people 
of his sherirTdom, the Yarrow men also had their poet. The 
Ettrick Shepherd acted as aide-de-camp to Lord Home, and 
both he and Scott wrote verses specially for the occasion. " The 
Lifting of the Banner" was Scott's contribution, beginning : 

From the brown crest of Newark its summons extending, 

Our signal is waving in smoke and in flame, 
And each Forester blythe from his mountain descending, 

Bounds light o'er the heather to join in the game ; 
Then up with the Banner ! let forest winds fan her ! 

She has blazed over Ettrick eight ages and more ; 
In sport we'll attend her, in battle defend her, 

"With heart and with hand, like our Fathers before. 

James Hogg's " excellent ditty," as Lockhart calls it, is also 
on the old banner of Bellendaine : 

And hast thou here, like hermit grey, 

Thy mystic characters unroll'd, 
O'er peaceful revellers at play, 

Thou emblem of the days of old ? 
All hail ! memorial of the brave, 

The liegeman's pride, the Border's awe ; 
May thy grey pennon never wave 

O'er sterner field than Carterhaugh ! 

Among the Highlanders, football was never such a favourite 
game as " shinty " and some others, but with their Lowland 
neighbours in the north-eastern parts of Scotland our game 
was a prime favourite. Shrovetide and Yule were the times 
for the chief contests. At the latter festival, the author of 
" Notes on Northern Rural Life" tells us, "three entire days 
were abstracted from the routine of daily labour and reli- 


giously devoted to Yule observances. The requisite ' fordel 
strae ' for the cattle had been carefully provided beforehand, 
so that no flail need be lifted during Yule. In a Presbyterian 
community there was no formal religious service of a public 
sort, and thus there was abundant time for the ' ba'in, ' or any 
other recreation that might find favour." The game here was 
as rough as anywhere else. The Rev. Mr. Skinner, author of 
" Tullochgorum," in a juvenile poem (written in 1737), " The 
Monymusk Ba'in/' paints for us the incidents and accompani- 
ments of a big contest in Aberdeenshire, of which this is one 
stanza : 

Has ne'er in a' this countra been 

Sic slioulderin' an' sic fa'in' 
As happen't but few weeks sinsyne, 

Here at the Christmas ba'in'. 
At evenin* syne the fellows keen 

Drank till the neist day's dawin', 
Sae hard that some tint baith their e'en, 
An' couldna pay their lawin' 

Till the neist day. 

It is to be feared the observances in the last lines were looked 
upon as being quite as important and characteristic of the 
festival as the " ba'in " itself. 

In the Eastern Counties of England the villagers used to 
show so much rivalry in their contests at a game called "camp- 
ball " that the term " camping " came to be generally applied 
to contending in anything. At one time it was held to be 
doubtful whether the game was football under another name, 
but Mr. Halliwell has clearly proved by many quotations 
from old writers that the " campar " was, as one extract words 
it, a "pleyar at foottballe." 

Sir Henry Ellis quotes from Moor an account of camp, 
which shows that the game and name are very old. The 
"camping pightel" occurs in a deed of 30 Henry VI., about 
1486, Cullum's "Hawstead," p. 113, where Tusser is quoted 

i o 2 PA 3 7 'IMES A ND PL A YERS. 

in proof, that not only was the exercise manly and salutary, 
but good also for the pightel, or meadow. 

In meadow or pasture (to grow the more fine) 
Let campers be camping in any of thine ; 
Which if ye do suffer, when low is the spring, 
You gain to yourself a commodious thing. 

The ball generally used in Suffolk was about the size of a 
common cricket ball, which was carried, not kicked ; otherwise 
the game is very like the rough football gatherings noticed 
above. " Sometimes a large football was used, and the game 
v as. then called 'kicking camp,' and if played with the shoes 
on, ' savage camp.'" 

Camp, Moor says, fell into disuse in Suffolk during last 
century, in consequence of two men having been killed at 
Easton in their struggles at a grand match. 

In the North of England, Brand tells us, it was customary 
among the colliers for a party to watch the bridegroom coming 
out of church after the marriage ceremony in order to demand 
money for a football, a claim that admitted of no refusal. 

Mr. Timbs relates a curious football anecdote that well 
illustrates the state of political feeling in Ireland just before 
the Union. 

"Wogan Browne," he says, "a virulent opponent of the 
Irish Union, was a magistrate of Kildare, Meath and Dublin, 
and was highly popular and irreproachable as a magistrate of 
these three counties. Nevertheless, some time in 1797, he was 
one Sunday riding past a field where the country people were 
about to hold a football match. The whole assembly paid 
their respects to him, and at their request he got off his horse 
and opened the sports by giving the ball the first kick a sort 
of friendly sanctioning of the amusements of their neighbours, 
which was then not unusual among the gentry in Ireland. 
The custom, however, was not approved of by the Govern- 
ment, and Lord Chancellor C are, upon being informed of 


what Wogan Browne had done, at once suspended him in the 
Commission of the peace. He was soon afterwards restored 
by Lord Chancellor Ponsonby, upon the accession of the 
ministry of All the Talents, but was again, without further 
cause, deprived of his commission for two of the counties by 
Lord Chancellor Manners. This stupid insult, both to the 
individual and to the body of magistrates for if Mr. Browne 
was unfit to be a justice of the peace for two counties, it 
was an insult to associate him with the magistrates of a third 
was warmly resented by the gentry of Kildare." 

On the continent the causes that have dealt its death-blow 
to the old style of football among us have been at work too. 
The fiercely fought football matches of Friburg, Louvain, and 
many other cities, " where the contusions would have made 
some figure in a gazette and where several lives were yearly 
sacrificed," are as extinct as the similar contests at home. 
There was till lately one exception to this : the fierce game of 
the sotik, played in Brittany, of which M. Souvestre, in his 
"Les derniers Bretons " (Paris, 1836), tells the story as played 
in the Ponthivy district. He relates how a man whose father 
had been killed, and his own eye knocked out, by Francois, 
surnamed le Souleur, lay in wait for that renowned player, and 
got him down, soide and all, half way over the boundary 

This contest was the last vestige of the worship the Celts 
paid to the sun, whence the name of the enormous ball of 
leather, filled with bran or hay, which was used in the match. 
The fury and rancour with which the game was played are 
almost past belief. The combatants were generally the 
townsman against the rustic, and many a jealous grudge and 
little piece of caste feeling rankled in the breasts of the players. 
M. Souvestre speaks of malicious maimings, of bones broken, 
and even of murders committed from cherished revenge, but 
so effected as to appear accidental during the press round the 
ball when its possession was fought for over the miles that 


separated the goals. The party that first drove the ball into 
a township different from that in which the soule was thrown 
up, won. 

It is needless to dwell upon the most rapid extension of 
football whether "Rugby" or "Association" in Great 
Britain within the last twenty years. Every town and village 
have now one or more clubs playing under the rules either of 
the Association (founded in 1863), or the Union (established 
in 1871), and the old pastime in its new lease of life is pre- 
eminently the winter game of the kingdom, fitly taking the 
place of cricket during the months when bat and wickets are 
laid aside. 




Queen. What sport shall we devise here in this garden, 
To drive away the heavy thought of care? 

First Lady. Madam, we'll play at bowls. 

Queen. 'Twill make me think the world is full of rubs, 
And that my fortune runs against the bias. 

King Richard II. iii. Sc. 4. 

" THERE is another recreation,' 7 writes the author of the 
" Country Gentleman's Companion," nearly two centuries 
ago, " which, howsoever unlawful in the Abuse thereof, yet, 
exercised with moderation, is, even of Physicians themselves, 
held exceeding wholesome, and hath been prescribed for a 
Recreation to great Persons." The amusement that thus 
received the approval of the Faculty was the old English 
game of bowling, a fine old pastime too much neglected in its 
old home in these days of violent athletic exercises. 

Probably this game has as long a pedigree as most other 
pastimes, but little is known of its early days. Strutt declared 
himself unable " by any means to ascertain the time of its in- 
troduction," though he has traced it back in England to the 
thirteenth century. A writer in the " Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica," however, has gone further back than this, and has pretty 
conclusively proved that the "in jactu lapidum," which 
William FitzStephen includes among the amusements prac- 
tised by the young Londoners of the twelfth century on summer 
holidays, refers to bowls and not to slinging stones, as has 
been generally understood. However this may be, it is clear 
the game has been a British pastime for a very long time, 


though from the early drawings of players we see that it, like 
most of our pastimes, has passed through various changes and 
modifications in its long career. In the earliest of these 
representations of the game a drawing in a MS. in the 
Royal Library, which is reproduced by Strutt " two small 
cones are placed upright at a distance from each other ; and 
the business of the players is evidently to bowl at them alter- 
nately ; the successful candidate being he who could lay his 
bowl the nearest to this mark." In others of these delineations, 
in which the attitudes of the bowlers are given with remark- 
able spirit and effect, we find other varieties of the game 
such as one player being required by the game not to lay his 
bowl close to a mark, but to strike away from its place the 
sphere cast by his opponent. 

In process of time the third ball, or 1 jack, of smaller size 
than the playing bowls, was introduced to serve as a mark 
towards which to direct the bowls, and from then the principal 
changes in the game were probably only in the number of 
bowls allowed to each player, and in their material and shape. 
In the old drawings, instead of using two balls, as in the 
modern game, the player is provided with one only. The 
bowls were round, and certainly up to 1409, and most probably 
for long after, were made of stone. As we shall see, stone bowls 
were used in Scotland pretty commonly till about the end of 
the seventeenth century; in 1657 Lord Lorn, son of the Mar- 
quis of Argyll, was struck senseless by one of these " stone 
bullets " in Edinburgh Castle, and continued in danger of his 
life for some time. Dr. Daniel Wilson, in his " Prehistoric 
Annals of Scotland," thinks it by no means improbable that 
the spherical stone balls found along with ancient relics, and 
even in tumuli, may have been used in some such game as 

It seems clear that this game was originally played on open 
greens, more or less made smooth and prepared for the pas- 
time. These greens, however, being without cover, neces- 


sarily restricted the enjoyment of the game to the dry days of 
the warmer months of the year, and this naturally suggested 
the idea of making covered alleys, where the ground, being 
roofed over, might be used when the state of the weather 
would not permit the pursuit of the pastime outside. Unfor- 
tunately for the fair fame of bowls, these alleys became the 
haunts of idle and dissolute persons, and the discredit that 
fairly enough attached itself to them was extended to this inno- 
cent and healthful recreation as practised on the green in the 
open air. This discreditable relation it was that brought down 
on lawn-bowls the pains and penalties fulminated against it 
by so many statutes from Richard II /s time till 2 Geo. II. c. 28, 
though, no doubt, its own popularity, and the consequent in- 
terference with the due practice of the all-important archery, 
had caused it before then to be classed in the Close Roll of 
Edward III., in 1365, with other " games alike dishonourable, 
useless, and unprofitable" that absorbed too much of the 
leisure time of the king's famous bowmen. 

The name " bowls " first occurs in an Act of Henry VIII., 
in 151 1, where, and in a subsequent Act thirty years later, 
various " artificers, husbandmen, apprentices, and others of 
the lower classes, are prohibited, on pain of twenty shillings, 
from playing at "... bowls ... or other unlawful games 
out of Christmas, and in Christmas may play thereat in their 
masters' houses or presence, and no person shall play at bowls 
in open places out of his garden or orchard under pain of six 
shillings and eightpence;" but these laws must have been 
systematically broken, for many old writers deplore the exces- 
sive number of bowling alleys, and the evil effects arising from 
them. Stephen Gosson, in his "School of Abuse " (1579), 
speaking of the " wonderful change when . . . our courage 
is turned to cowardice, our running to ryot, our bowes into 
bowls, and our darts into dishes," says that " common bowling- 
alleys are privy mothes that eat up the credit of many idle 
citizens, whose gaynes at home are not able to weigh downe 


theyre losses abroad ; whose shoppes are so farre from main- 
taining their play that their wives and children cry out for 
bread, and go to bedde supperlesse ofte in the yeere." Stowe, 
too, laments the closing up for building purposes of the com- 
mon grounds, before then appropriated to open-air amuse- 
ments, which began to take place in his day, and which drove 
the citizens for amusement " into bowling alleys and ordinarie 
diceing houses neer home, where they have room enough to 
hazard their money at unlawful games." 

Up to the time of Henry VIII., bowling, both in greens and 
alleys, seems to have been an amusement little played except 
by the lower classes ; but not only did that bluff monarch add 
to Whitehall " divers fair tennice courts, bowling alleys, and a 
cockpit," but bowling greens began to be looked on as in- 
dispensable in the laying out of gentlemen's gardens. " Though 
gardening and horticulture in general, as arts," says Mr. 
Wright, in his "History of Domestic Manners and Senti- 
ments," " were undergoing considerable improvement during 
this period, the garden itself appears to have been much more 
neglected, except as far as it was the scene of other pastimes. 
A bowling green was the most important part of the pleasure 
garden in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; and bowls, 
and exercises of a similar character, were the favourite amuse- 
ments of all classes." Tytler, in his life of Raleigh, says that 
" it is traditionally reported that when the news reached the 
British navy of the sudden appearance of the Armada off the 
Lizard, the principal commanders were on shore at Plymouth 
playing bowls on the Hoe, and it is added that Drake 
insisted on the match being played out, saying, ' There would 
be plenty of time to win the game and beat the Spaniards 

Whatever foundation of fact there may be for this story, we 
may see how popular a pastime bowling was then by the 
frequent allusions to it in the works of the Elizabethan drama- 
tists. Thus, not only do Shakesperian characters play the 


game frequently, but the great dramatist several times adopts 
figures from the pastime, as when Petruchio says, " forward, 
forward, thus the bowl should run, and not unluckily against 
the bias;" or Menenius Agrippa, " Like to a bowl upon a 
subtle ground, I have tumbled past the throw." 

Of all the English kings, Charles I. was the greatest enthu- 
siast in our game. Many anecdotes are told of his great love 
for it, a love that survived through all his troubles, for we find 
him alike devoting himself to it while in power and solacing 
himself with it while a captive. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas "Curl's Corinna," as Pope calls 
her, when impaling her in the " Dunciad " for selling to Curl 
some boyish letters of his to Henry Cromwell in her autobio- 
graphic volumes, " Pylades and Corinna," speaks of a house at 
Barking, called Barking Hall, which once belonged to her 
great-grandfather, Richard Shute, Turkey merchant, and Mem- 
ber of Parliament for the City of London in Charles I.'s time. 
According to her description, it was situated at the end of a 
long avenue of elms, and was an antique building of a castel- 
lated form. In the grounds of this house Mr. Shute made one 
of the prettiest and most commodious bowling greens that had 
ever been seen. King Charles, Mrs. Thomas tells us, having 
heard of this fine new bowling green, and being very partial to 
the amusement, told Mr. Shute when he next came to court 
that he would dine with him the following day at Barking, and 
try his skill at bowls. Mr. Shute made the best preparation 
that the shortness of the warning would allow, and King 
Charles was so well pleased with his reception and entertain- 
ment, that frequently afterwards he would lay aside all state and 
repair to Barking Hall, with only two or three gentlemen as 
attendants, that he might enjoy a game on Mr. Shute's un- 
rivalled lawn. They generally played high, continues Corinna, 
and punctually paid the losings ; and though Mr. Shute often 
won, yet the king would at one time bet higher than usual, 
till, having lost several games, he gave off. " And if it please 


your Majesty," answered Mr. Shute, when asked what he had 
won, ",1,000;" and then he asked the king to play some 
rubbers more, as perhaps luck might turn. " No, Shute/' re- 
plied the king, laying his hand gently on his shoulder; "thou 
hast won the day, and much good may it do thee ; but I must 
remember I have a wife and children." 

In Herbert's "Memoirs of the last two years of King Charles 
I." we find many allusions to the captive monarch's fondness 
for the game. While at Holmby, in Northamptonshire, his 
faithful attendant tells us that " in regard there was no bowling 
green then well kept at Holmby, the king would sometimes 
ride to Harrowden, a house of the Lord Vaux, about nine 
miles off, where there was a good bowling green, with gardens, 
grass, and walks, that afforded much pleasure. And other 
whiles to Althorpe, a fair house about two or three miles from 
Holmby, belonging to the Lord Spencer, now Earl of Sunder- 
land, where also there was a green well kept." Charles was 
at the Aithorpe bowling green when Cornet Joyce arrived at 
Holmby to take him away. " His Majesty being one after- 
noon at bowls in the green at Althorpe, it was whispered 
among the Commissioners, who were then at bowls with the 
king, that a party of horse, obscurely headed, was marching 
towards Holmby, and for no good, it was presumed." Herbert 
and Rushworth refer to many other interesting incidents con- 
nected with bowls, but enough shall have been said to show 
Charles' fondness for the game when we quote this tradition, 
told by a correspondent of Notes and Queries in a note on 
some tavern signs : " In a secluded part of the Oxford- 
shire hills, at a place called Collins' End, situated between 
Hardwicke House and Goring Heath, is a neat little rustic 
inn, having for its sign a well-executed portrait of Charles I. 
There is a tradition that this unfortunate monarch, while re- 
siding as a prisoner at Caversham, rode one day, attended by 
an escort, into this part of the country, and hearing that there 
was a bowling green at this inn, frequented by the neighbour- 


ing gentry, struck down to the house and endeavoured to forget 
his sorrows for a while in a game at bowls. This circumstance is 
alluded to in the following lines, written beneath the sign-board : 

Stop, traveller, stop ! in yonder peaceful glade 
His favourite game the royal martyr played ; 
Here, stripped of honours, children, freedom, rank, 
Drank from the bowl, and bowl'd for what he drank ; 
Sought in a cheerful glass his cares to drown, 
And changed his guinea ere he lost a crown. 

" The sign," continues the writer, " which seems to be a copy 
from Vandyke, though much faded from exposure to the 
weather, evidently displays an amount of artistic skill that is 
not usually found among common sign-board painters. I 
once made some inquiries about it of the people of the house, 
but the only information they could give me was that they be- 
lieved it to have been painted in London." 

Evelyn frequently mentions bowls and bowling greens in his 
" Diary." When describing the attractions of Swallowfield in 
Berkshire, he sums up his enumeration of its beauties thus : 
" Also a very fine bowling green ; meadow, pasture, and wood j 
in a word, all that can render a country seat delightful/' On 
several occasions, even during the game-abhorring days of the 
Puritan rule, we find Evelyn, regardless of all risks from fierce 
zealots, playing bowls, not only for amusement, but for stakes! 
If this were unpardonable, yet even the starchiest wearer of 
sad-coloured raiment might have overlooked the anxious hus- 
band beguiling the weary hours of waiting at Rye with a game, 
"June n, 1652. About 4 in the afternoon, being at 
bowls on the green, we discovered a vessel, which proved to 
be that in which my wife was, and which got into the harbour 
about eight that evening, to my no small joy," but what would 
the Puritan despots have said to this indulgence in the "un- 
clean thing"? " August 14, 1657. We went to Durdans 
[now Lord Rosebery's seat at Epsom], to a challenged match 
at bowls for io/., which we won." 


With the Restoration, the click of the bowl was heard again 
on many a green. It became again a fashionable Court amuse- 
ment ; great attention was paid both to the manufacture of the 
bowls and to the preparation of the greens, whose velvety 
softness, and perfect level, excited the admiration of many of 
the foreign visitors of the day. 

In July, 1662, Pepys notes: "Whitehall Gardens and the 
Bowling Alley (where lords and ladies are now at bowles) in 
brave condition ;" while on another occasion he and some 
friends, being on an excursion, got " up early and bated at 
Petersfield, in the room which the king lay in lately at his 
being there. Here very merry, and played with our wives at 
bowles." It is in the Grammont " Memoirs," however, that 
we find the most complete picture of our game as a Court 
amusement of Charles II. 's reign. When the Court was at 
Tunbridge Wells " the place of all Europe," we are told by 
De Grammont, " the most rural and simple, and yet at the 
same time the most entertaining and agreeable" "the com- 
pany are accommodated with lodgings in little, clean, and 
convenient habitations that lie, straggling and separated from 
each other, a mile and a half all round the Wells, where the 
company meet in the morning. . . As soon as the evening 
comes, every one quits his little palace to assemble on the 
bowling green." 

" The game of bowls, which in France is the pastime of 
mechanics and servants only, is quite the contrary in England, 
where it is the exercise of gentlemen, and requires both art 
and address. It is only in use during the fair and dry part of 
the season, and the places where it is practised are charm- 
ing, delicious walks, called bowling greens, which are little 
square grass plots, where the turf is almost as smooth and 
level as the cloth of a billiard table. As soon as the heat ot 
the day is over, all the company assemble there ; they play 
deep, and spectators are at liberty to make what bets they 


Elsewhere in the Count's " Memoirs " we find the inhabi- 
tants of the "little palaces" at Tunbridge using the bowling 
greens for another purpose : " Those who choose dance in the 
open air upon a turf more soft and smooth than the finest 
carpet in the world." 

The great John Locke, writing in 1679, says that "the 
sports of England, for a curious stranger to see, are horse- 
racing, hawking, hunting, and bowling. At Marebone and 
Putney he may see several persons of quality bowling two or 
three times a week ; also wrestling in Lincoln's Inn Fields 
every evening ; bear and bull-baiting in the Bear Garden ; 
shooting with the long bow and stob-ball in the Tothill Fields ; 
and cudgel playing in the country, and hurling in Cornwall." 

While "persons of quality" were thus casting their bowls 
through the statute law on the open greens, the lower orders 
still clung to the alleys, which receive quite as much condem- 
nation from the moralists of this as of an earlier time. Bishop 
Earle devotes the whole of Essay No. XXX. of his " Micro- 
cosmography" to the evils caused by them. "A bowl alley," 
writes the bishop, " is the place where there are three things 
thrown away besides bowls, to wit, time, money, and curses, 
and the last ten for one. The best sport in it is the gamester's, 
and he enjoys it best that looks on and bets not. It is the 
school of wrangling, and worse than the schools, for men will 
cavil here for a hair's breadth, and make a stir when a straw 
would end the controversy. No antick screws men's bodies 
into such strange flexures, and you would think them here 
senseless to speak sense to their bowl, and put their trust in 
intreaties for a good cast." 

In Scotland, as in England, the game had been played from 
an early date, but probably both the greens and the bowls 
were of a rougher type than on the south side of the Tweed. 
James IV. and James V. were players at bowls, as they were 
of most games then known, but in the general estimation 
" trulis," as the game was often called, seems to have been 



looked upon as rather a childish pastime. Dunbar, in one ot 
his poems, alludes to it in this light when he speaks of 

So mony lordis, so mony naturall fulis 

That better accordis to play thame at the trulis ; 

Nor seis the dulis that commons dois sustene. 

In process of time the game grew in popular favour, and 
many greens and alleys sprang up throughout the kingdom. 
As we have seen, it is said to have been the game at which 
Lord Lorn met his severe accident in 1657 ; but this identi- 
fication of the particular game is hardly borne out by the 
account of the mishap in the invaluable letters of Principal 
Eaillie of Glasgow University. Baillie, in a long letter to his 
cousin in Holland, giving "a large account of our affaires this 
twelve moneth past " (1657-8), says : " My Lord Lorn, a most 
excellent and honest-minded youth, prisoner in the castle of 
Edinburgh, walking about while the lieutenant of the castle 
with others are playing with hand bullets, one of them, re- 
bounding off the wall, stricks him on the head, whereon he fell 
down dead and speechless for a long time ; his death sundry 
dayes was expected, but, blessed be God, I hear this day he 
was better." 

We may see from the proceedings noticed in our next 
chapter, in connection with the patent as "Masters of the 
Revels," granted to the brothers Fountain, that the bowling 
green continued, as the century grew older, to be a favourite 
resort of the Scottish people. 

Though bowling in alleys, and such games as nine pins were, 
as we shall see below, played until years well into the second 
half of last century, lawn bowls are seldom mentioned among 
games much played after the Revolution in England, until 
the Act of Queen Victoria in 1845 ade games of mere skill 
legal again. Even yet, this pleasant and invigorating old pas- 
time is much less popular in the southern counties than it is in 
the north and in Scotland, where it continues to be held in as 
high favour as ever it was. In nearly every town of Scotland 


there is at least one bowling club and green, on which in the 
summer evenings elderly men, or people tired out with work, 
may enjoy a pleasant exercise, and one not too vehement for 
those even of the most sedentary habits. In Edinburgh the 
city has long provided public greens for the use of those not 
able to pay club subscriptions ; and lately the Town Council 
has authorised a considerable additional expenditure for the 
same purpose in a part of the town convenient for the artisans 
living in the south-western districts. 

The game has long been a favourite in the Scottish capital. 
Probably the first club in the city of which a trace exists was 
the society that Hugo Arnot says was " erected by a ' seal of 
cause ' [charter of incorporation] granted by the magistrates of 
Edinburgh, Nov. 15, 1769. This society immediately upon 
its erection took from the governors of Heriot's Hospital a 
lease of the bowling-green belonging to the Hospital for twenty- 
one years." This is a much older club than the Glasgow 
"Willow-bank," which the " Encyclopaedia Britannica" gives as 
probably the first regular club ever founded, though Arnot's 
society is, on the other hand, younger than at least two others, 
that of Haddington, founded two years after the Union, and 
Kilmarnock, which dates from 1740. 

In Dr. Robert Chambers's " Minor Antiquities of Edin- 
burgh," we find some interesting gossip about old bowling 
greens in the city. When Dr. Chambers wrote in 1833, 
bowling, like other pastimes, seems to have suffered a tem- 
porary decline in popularity, but now it has much more than 
recovered the status it held when u honest Allan " Ramsay 
lived and wrote. 

Dr. Chambers after recounting the traditions clinging to 
the old Excise Office in the Cowgate, which in its early days 
had been the residence of the French Embassy in the time of 
Queen Mary, and then the dwelling of the first Earl of Had- 
dington, nicknamed by his royal master, James VI. and I., 
" Tarn o' the Cowgate" tells us that at the back of the Secre- 


tary of State's house " was a bowling green, which the Com- 
missioners of Excise let out to a person of the name of Thom- 
son. In those days [that is, about 1740] bowling was a much 
more prevalent amusement than now, being chiefly a favourite 
with the graver order of the citizens. There were then 
no fewer than three bowling greens in the grounds around 
Heriot's Hospital, one in the Canongate near the Tolbooth ; 
another on the opposite side of the street j another imme- 
diately behind the palace of Holyrood House, where the 
Duke of York used to play while in Scotland, and perhaps 
several others scattered about the outskirts of the town. At 
present there is only one bowling green in the town or neigh- 
bourhood. The arena behind the Excise Office was called 
Thomson's Green, from the name of the man who kept it, and 
it may be worth while to remind the reader that it is alluded to 
in that clever poem by Allan Ramsay in imitation of the 
" Vides ut alta" of Horace. 

Driving their ba's frae tee to tee, 
There's no ae gouffer to be seen 
Nor doucer folk wysing a-jee 
The byas bowls on Tamson's green. 

The green was latterly occupied by the relict of this Thom- 
son, and it is a curious fact that among the bad debts on the 
Excise books, all of which are yearly brought forward and 
enumerated, there still stands a sum of something more than 
six pounds against Widow Thomson, being the last half-year's 
rent of "the green," which the poor woman had been unable 
to pay. 

Mr. W. W. Story describes, in his " Roba di Roma," a 
favourite game among the modern Romans, which may possibly 
be the truest survival of the game played by their ancestors in 
the days of the Caesars. This pastime is called " bocce " or 
" boccette," and is played by two sides, each person having 
two wooden balls ; besides this there is the smaller " lecco " 
or jack. The mode of play is exactly the same as at lawn 


bowls, but instead of the smooth prepared surface of the bowl- 
ing green, this game is played on any piece of ground : " And 
as the lecco," says Mr. Story, " often runs into hollows, or 
poises itself on some uneven declivity, it is sometimes a matter 
of no small difficulty to play the other balls near to it. The 
great skill of the game consists, however, in displacing the 
balls of the adverse party so as to make the balls of the play- 
ing party count, and a clever player will often change the whole 
aspect of affairs by one well-directed throw. ... In the 
Piazza di Termini numerous parties may be seen every 
bright day in summer or spring playing this game under the 
locust trees, surrounded by idlers who stand by to approve or 
condemn, and to give their advice. The French soldiers 
[written in 1864] free from guard or drill, or from prac- 
tising trumpet-calls in the old agger of Servius Tullius near 
by, are sure to be rolling balls in this fascinating game. 
Having heated their blood sufficiently at it, they adjourn to 
a little osteria in the Piazza to refresh themselves with a glass 
of asciutto wine, after which they sit on a bench outside the 
door, or stretch themselves under the trees and take a siesta 
with their handkerchiefs over their eyes, while other parties 
take their turn at the bocce." 



Waive quoits and nine pins, those bear-garden sports. 


AMONG the quieter games that amused our ancestors in their 
abundant leisure hours, none have had a more chequered 
career, or suffered more ups and downs in popular estimation 
than the kindred pastimes that have been known at various 
times as kayles, loggats, nine pins, skittles, and several other 

In early times we find them in high favour as gentle, health- 
ful exercises, specially adapted for ladies, monks, old men and 
boys; then down they go in the scale of opinion and are 
fulminated against by Acts of Parliament and social reformers 
as " privy moths that eat up the credit of many idle citizens." 
Now and then there were breaks in the cloud their gambling 
and drinking accompaniments cast over these games as in 
those years of last century when they enjoyed a fitful popularity 
at a time when, curiously enough, cricket was not considered a 
proper game for gentlemen to play at but in general the re- 
spectable half of the world has looked askance at pastimes 
excellent in themselves, and likely enough to be popular again 
if they could only be dissociated in men's minds from ideas of 
bad beer and " sharping." 

Whether we owe these games, like lawn-bowls, to the Roman 
invader, it is difficult to say, but at any rate they are among the 
oldest of our extant pastimes. 

In Capgrave's "Chronicle" we are told that Pope Gregory IX. 


commanded his penitencer, Raymond, to gather " out of many 
books that book which they yclepe 'Decretals.' And the 
Pope wrote to the doctors of law that they should in school 
use this compiling." A copy of this text book was made for 
the priory of St. Bartholomew, founded by Rayer, monk and 
jester to Henry I., in West Smithfield. This copy, a manu- 
script of the thirteenth century, is now in the British Museum 
" It is lavishly adorned with pictures," says Mr. Henry Morley, 
the historian of Rayer's Priory and Fair, ''which are valuable 
illustrations of the manners, arts, and literature of the time ; " 
and here, among the many games figured by the old friar of 
St. Bartholomew, we find a player in the act of casting a stick 
at nine pins, which the fiiar's bad perspective arranges in three 
rows, perpendicularly one above the other. 

More accurate in drawing than the delineator of the recrea- 
tions of the >outh of London on the /'Smooth Field" six 
centuries ago, are the illuminators whose works are copied by 
Strutt, from MSS. of about the same age. In an engraving 
from a Book of Prayers that belonged to Mr. Francis Douce, 
we see the player about to cast his baton at six pins arranged 
in a row, while in another, from a MS. in the Royal Library, 
the castor has knocked over three pins and is about to repeat 
his throw at the five still standing in a line with the fallen three. 
In this old game so figured, while the number of pins varied, 
the missile thrown is always a stick, not, as now, a ball. This 
was a form of the game of bowling "which was called in 
French," says Mr. Thomas Wright, " the jeu dequiiles a baston, 
and in English club-kaylcs" In kayles, or closh, as it was also 
called, a ball was used instead of the baton, as we may infer 
from the qualifying " club " here, as well as from more positive 
evidence ot later date. 

Great as is the antiquity of the game of pins proved by these 
illustrations, it is of yesterday compared with the age of 
implements of the game discovered under twelve feet of 
peat in Kirkcudbright in 1834, if we apply to this depth 


of peat the calculations of growth put forward by many 

Mr. Joseph Train, whose help in supplying him with the 
groundwork of some of his novels, Sir Walter Scott so heartily 
acknowledges, tells us how these interesting relics of antiquity 
came to light. " In the summer of 1834," he writes, " as the 
servants of Mr. Bell of Baryown were casting peats on Iron- 
macaunnie Moor, when cutting near the bottom of the moss 
they laid open with their spades what appeared to be the 
instruments of an ancient game, consisting of an oaken ball 
eighteen inches in circumference, and seven wooden pins, each 
thirteen inches in length, of a conical shape, with a circular 
top. These ancient keel pins, as they are termed by Strutt, 
were all standing erect on the hard till, equidistant from each 
other, with the exception of two, which pointed towards the 
ball that lay about a yard in front, from which it may be in- 
ferred they were overthrown in the course of the game. The 
ball had been formed of solid oak, and from its decayed state 
must have remained undisturbed for centuries till discovered 
at a depth of not less than twelve feet from the original surface. 
At Pompeii utensils are often found seemingly in the very 
position in which they were last used. This may be accounted 
for by the suddenness of the calamity that befell that devoted 
city ; but what induced or impelled the ancient gamesters in 
this remote corner of the Glenkens to leave the instruments of 
their amusement in what might be considered the middle of 
the game ? " 

Dr. Daniel Wilson tells us, in his " Prehistoric Annals of 
Scotland," that in this lonely moss peats have been cut from 
time immemorial. " It were vain," he says, " to speculate on 
the origin or owners of these homely relics of obsolete 
pastimes ; yet to the curious fancy, indulging in the reanima- 
tion of such long-silent scenes, they seem suggestive of the 
sudden intrusion, it may be of invaders, the hasty call to arms, 
the utter desolation of the scene, and then the slow lapse of 

KAYLES. 121 

unnumbered centuries, during which the moss accumulated 
above them so gently that it seems as if the old revellers were 
to return to play out their unfinished game." 

We have ample evidence that our s;ame enjoyed considerable 
popularity in the later years of the fifteenth century among all 
classes of society. That it was played by Queen Elizabeth 
and her ladies in 1472 we know from an interesting contem- 
porary MS. published by Sir F. Madden in the Archaologia, 
vol. XXVL, entitled the " Narratives of the Arrival in England 
of Louis of Bruges, Seigneur de la Gruthuyse." 

When Edward IV., after Warwick's landing at Dartmouth 
in 1470, left crown and kingdom in the hands of the king- 
maker, and set sail from Lynn for Flanders, his ship was 
chased by pirate Easterlings, from whom the fugitive king was 
rescued by Louis de Bruges, the governor of Holland under 
Charles the Bold of Burgundy. 

Louis acted with great kindness to Edward, and in return 
the king on his restoration made him Earl of Winchester, and 
caused him to get the thanks of Parliament. The MS. Sir F. 
Madden edits is the description, by a herald who was an eye- 
witness of the scene, of his reception in England and creation 
as Earl of Winchester in 1472. In it we read that after the 
Burgundian's arrival, " when they had supte, my Lord Cham- 
berlain had hym againe to the kinge's chamber. Then incon- 
tinent the kinge had hym to the quene's chamber where she 
had there her ladyes playinge at the morteaulx, and sum of 
her ladyes and gentlewomen at the closheys of yvery and dan- 
singe. And sum at divers other games accordinge, the whiche 
sight was full plesaunte to them/' Sir F. Madden quotes from 
Roquefort's " Glossaire," " Morteaux jeu des petits palets" 
and thinks it also was probably a game resembling bowls. 

A year or two after we thus find his queen and her ladies 
playing at closh, Edward passed what Barrington calls " the 
most severe law ever made in any country against gaming," 
and among the forbidden games we find closh, kaylcs, and 


half-bowl. Mr. Wright says that at this time " the game was 
looked upon as belonging to the same class as hazard. In a 
series of metrical counsels to apprentices, compiled in the 
fifteenth century and printed in the 'Reliquiae Antique,' ii. 223, 
they are recommended to 

Exchewe allewey eville company, 
CAYLYS, carding and haserdy." 

The bad repute into which these games fell in England 
never attached to them in Scotland, though these forms of 
bowling never could compare there in popularity with the 
game played on the bowling-greens. However, in April, 1497, 
we find the Lord High Treasurer paying eighteen shillings for 
James IV. "to play at the lang bowlis" in St. Andrews, and in 
the previous year, while Perkin Warbeck was his guest at 
Stirling, we find James playing at " kilis " in Drummond 
Castle. On the whole, however, skittles then was looked upon 
in Scotland as a childish game, unworthy to divide men's 
leisure hours with tennis or golf or football. 

This game of long-bowls, at which King James played, is 
thus older than Strutt appears to think. " Bowling alleys, I 
believe," he writes, " were totally abolished before I knew 
London, but I have seen there a pastime which might originate 
from them, called long bowling. It was performed in a 
narrow enclosure, about twenty or thirty yards in length, and 
at the further end was placed a square frame with nine small 
pins upon it : at these pins the players bowled in succession, 
and a boy stood by the frame to set up the pins that were 
beat down by the bowl, called out the number which was placed 
to the account of the player, and the bowl was returned by the 
means of a small trough, placed with a gradual descent from 
the pins to the bowlers, on one side of the enclosure. Some 
call this game Dutch rubbers/' Indeed, many are of opinion, 
with Mr. R. S. Charnock, in Notes anJ Queries, that in closh, 
knyles, cvc., "Loth the name and the g* me were i 

KAYLES. 123 

from Holland. The Dutch," he tells us, " have always had a 
fondness for skittles and bowls. Even at the present day 
many of the towns in Holland are surrounded with gardens 
where the people amuse themselves at these games. More- 
over, the Dutch has klos, bobbin, whirl, bowl; klos baan, a 
place for playing at bowls ; klossen, to play at bowls. They, 
however, now generally make use of kegel baan for a skittle 
ground, and kegel (whence kail, kayle\ for a skittle." 

In the sixteenth century we find frequent complaints of the 
increase in the number of skittle-alleys, and the evil conse- 
quences caused by their position in the yards of taverns and 
other places, where they were convenient haunts for the idle 
and dissolute. An Act of Henry VIII. prohibited certain 
classes of the community, such as artificers, husbandmen, and 
apprentices, from playing at these games except at Christmas, 
and then only in their masters' premises or presence. The 
object of the statute was to put down gambling, not to dis- 
courage innocent recreation, and licenses could, apparently, be 
easily enough obtained to allow a man " to kepe in any place 
within our citie of London and the suburbs of the same, only 
for ale and bere and no money, the game of closshynge, for 
the dysport and recreation of honest persons resorting thither : 
al maner apprentices and vacabundes onely except," and this 
in spite of any Act to the contrary then existing. 

What the condition of things was in those bowling alleys 
where the stakes were not " for ale and bere and no money," 
we can easily gather from the condemnation of these nurseries 
of vice in Stephen Gosson, Stow, and Bishop Earle, already 
noticed in our last chapter ; and it is clear that Henry's enact- 
ments, like the many statutes subsequently directed against 
gambling in skittle-alleys, had very little effect in remedying 
this evil. " The frequent repetition and enforcement of the 
statutes in former times," says Strutt in 1801, "proves that 
they were then, as they are now, inadequate to the suppression 
of gaming for a long continuance ; and when one pastime was 


prohibited, another was presently invented to supply its place. 
I remember, about twenty years back, the magistrates caused 
all the skittle frames in or about the city of London to 
be taken up, and prohibited the playing at dutch-pins, nine 
pins, or in long bowling alleys, when in many places the game 
of nine-holes was revived as a substitute, with the new name 
of " Bubble the Justice," because the populace had taken it 
into their heads to imagine that the power of the magistrates 
extended only to the prevention of such pastimes as were 
specified by name in the public Acts and not to any new 
species of diversion." 

Shakespeare mentions only one of our kindred games, and 
naturally Hamlet's question in the graveyard scene, " Did 
these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggats 
with them?" has given this variety of the game a special 
prominence, and made the mode of play in it a matter of 
discussion by the editors of the great dramatist. Sir Thomas 
Hanmer says it is the same game as " kittle-pins, in which 
boys often make use of bones instead of wooden pins, throwing 
at them with another bone instead of bowling." Strutt, who 
agrees with Hanmer, quotes in corroboration an old Eliza- 
bethan play in which a rustic boasts of his skill 

At skales and playing with a sheepes joynte. 

This would make loggats exactly the same as the club-kayles 
we have seen figured in the St. Bartholomew MS. book of 
" Decretals," but other Shakesperian commentators hold that 
it was a new and different game. " Loggating in the fields," 
says Malone, "is mentioned for the first time among other new 
and crafty games and plays in 33 Henry VIII., chap ix. Not 
being mentioned in former Acts against unlawful games, it was 
probably not practised long before the statute of Henry VIII. 
was made." Blount tells us " a loggat ground, like a skittle 
ground, is strewed with ashes, but is more extensive. A bowl 
much larger than the jack of the game of bowls is thrown first. 

KAYLES. 125 

The pins, which I believe are called loggats, are much thinner 
and lighter at one extremity than the other. The bowl being 
first thrown, the players take the pins up by the thinner and 
lighter ends and fling them towards the bowl, and in such a 
manner that the pins may once turn round in the air and slide 
with the thinner extremity foremost towards the bowl. The 
pins are about twenty-one or twenty-two inches long." 

Stevens adds some interesting details to these descriptions, 
" This is a game," he says, " played in several parts of Eng- 
land even at this time (1766). A stake is fixed into the ground: 
those who play throw loggats at it, and he that is nearest the 
stake wins. I have seen it played in different counties at their 
sheep-shearing feasts, where the winner was entitled to a black 
fleece, which he afterwards presented to the farmer's maid to 
spin for the purpose of making a petticoat, and on condition 
that she knelt down on the fleece to be kissed by all the rustics 

Loggats and ten pins occur together in an enumeration of 
" Auntient Customs in Games used by Boys and Girles, 
merrily set out in verse," quoted by Strutt in his "Manners 
and Customs," from Harleian MS. 2057. 

To play at loggets, nine holes or ten pinnes, 
To try it out at foote-ball by the shinnes. 

Though in early days alley-bowling was not much thought 
of in Scotland, we find, curiously enough, in the century after 
the Reformation, not infrequent allusions to the pastime of a 
kind that attest considerable popularity for it. When the 
Reformers had overthrown the old Church, a great point they 
set themselves to attain was the observance of Sunday, but their 
demand for a complete abstinence from work or amusement on 
this day was not fully granted by the people for long after the 
Reformation ; indeed, many of the local courts seem to have 
looked upon it as an object impossible of attainment, and were 
disposed to be satisfied if neither market nor games were held 
during "the time of the sermons." Fine and imprisonment 


were decreed by many town councils and other bodies against 
those who, instead of going to church, played games, made 
"mercat merchandise," or walked idly about, and a pretty 
exhaustive list of the games of the period could be compiled 
from the ordinances of the various burghs and minutes of 
Kirk sessions dealing with the contumacious golfers, football 
players, bowlers, and others who preferred the open air and 
the customs of the old unthinking days to the long sermons 
and rigid discipline of the new order of things. It is unneces- 
sary to multiply instances of these proceedings here, but one 
of those against our pastime may be cited. In June, 1619, 
the Kirk session of Perth dealt with John Brown, a gardener, 
of the Fair City, " for as meikle as delation being made that 
he permits men to play at alye-bowles in my Lord Sanquhar's 
yard at the time of the sermones on the Sabbath day." 

Twenty years after this, Henry Adamson, in his curious 
poem, " The Muses Threnodie," when enumerating the imple- 
ments of the games preserved by the old man whose death 
his verses lament, speaks of 

His alley-bowles, his curling stones, 
The sacred games to celebrate 
Which to the gods are consecrate. 

Sir Thomas Urquhart, of Cromarty, would not have taken 
this metaphor from the game if he had not thought the pastime 
was one of which the method of play would be well known to 
his readers. In his curious book, "The Discovery of a most 
exquisite Jewel, found in the kennel of Worcester Streets the 
day after the Fight," he says : " Verily I think they make use 
of kings as we do of card kings in playing at the hundred ; 
anyone whereof, if there be the appearance of a better game 
without him . . . is by good gamesters without any cere- 
mony discarded. They may likewise be said to use their king 
as the players at nine pins do the middle kyle, which they call 
the king, at whose fall alone they aim, the sooner to obtain 
the gaining of their prize." 

KA YLES. 127 

A little later on in the century we get more positive evidence 
of how widespread the love of bowling was. " In 1673, two 
brothers,, probably of English birth," says the " Domestic 
Annals of Scotland," " Edward Fountain of Loch-hill, and 
Captain James Fountain, had their patent formally proclaimed 
throughout Scotland as ' Masters of the Revels within the 
Kingdom.' They thus possessed a privilege of licensing and 
authorising balls, masks, plays, and such like entertainments. 
Nor was this quite such an empty or useless privilege as our 
traditionary notions of the religious objections formerly 
cherished against public amusements might have led us to 
suppose. The privilege of the Messrs. Fountain must have 
in time become an insupportable grievance to the lieges, or at 
least such of them as were inclined to embroider a little gaiety 
on the dull serge of common life.' ; So grievous did their ex- 
actions become that, Lord Fountainhall tells us, when 
the Scots Parliament sat in August, 1681, among other pro- 
posals, " rumoured as designed to be past in Acts," was one 
against "Mr. Fountain's gift as Master of the Revels, by 
which he exacts so much off every bowling green, kyle alley, 
&c., throughout the kingdom, as falling under his gift of lot- 
teries." Nothing was done then, but in 1684 another com- 
plaint was made that the Masters of the Revels went "almost 
through all Scotland " taxing every person who kept any such 
place of recreation; and an idea may be formed of the number 
of these places from the statement that they forced six thou- 
sand persons to compound with them, and had thus realised 
^16,000, "which is a most gross and manifest oppression." 

In the days of Charles I., when bowling of all kinds was 
so fashionable an amusement, the chief bowling place in 
London was the royal garden between Charing Cross and St. 
James's Park, known as Spring Garden, from a water-work in 
it that wetted those whose foot unguardedly pressed some part 
of its mechanism. Garrard, who was himself so devoted to 
bowling that he thus expresses the intensity of his concern for 


Northumberland's dangerous illness, " I never had so long a 
time of sorrow ; for seven weeks I did nothing heartily but 
pray, nor sleep, nor eat ; in all that time I never bowled" in a 
letter to Lord Strafford, in 1634, says : " The bowling in the 
Spring Gardens was by the king's command put down for one 
day, but by the intercession of the queen it was reprieved for 
this year, but hereafter it shall be no common bowling place. 
There was kept in it an ordinary of six shillings a meal ; con- 
tinual bibbing and drinking wine all day long under the trees ; 
two or three quarrels every week. It was grown scandalous 
and unsufferable. Besides, my Lord Digby, being repre- 
hended for striking in the king's garden, he answered that he 
took it for a common bowling place where all paid money for 
their coming in." 

It is doubtful whether this reprieve was not made indefinite 
in Charles's tmiv, ; at any rate the gardens seem to have been 
frequented by gay crowds till the time of the Civil War. 
Evelyn tells us " Cromwell and his partizans shut up and 
seized on Spring Garden," but we may see from his diary that 
even during the Commonwealth our games did not share in 
the condemnation accorded to so many other pastimes. Such 
a grave writer as Jeremy Taylor, in his " Ductor Dubitantium," 
written before 1657, includes bowling among pastimes that 
are "lawful" when separated from "evil appendages," and 
when the player is not immoderately addicted to them " not 
playing for money but for refreshment." 

We have at least one reference to nine pins among the 
amusements of the exiled courtiers, when, in the " Grammont 
Memoirs," the Earl of Arran speaks of his sister-in-law, the 
Countess of Ossory, Miss Hyde, and Jermyn playing at nine 
pins in the gallery at Honslaerdyk. 

After the Restoration the favourite bowling places seem to 
have been at Marylebone Gardens and Putney, where, accord- 
ing to Locke, in 1679, " a curious stranger " might have SL ( 
" several persons of quality bowling two or three time 

KAYLES. 129 

week." In the days of Pope and Gay, Buckingham and many 
others " bowled time away " in the famous alleys of the Mary- 
lebone Gardens, while in a puff of "The London Spa "in 
1720 we are told that 

Now nine-pin alleys and now skittles grace 
The late forlorn and desolated place ; 
Arbours of jasmine fragrant shades compose, 
And num'rous blended companies enclose. 
The spring is gratefully adorned with rails, 
Whose fame shall last till the New River fails ! 

We find occasional references to nine-pins being played by 
"persons of quality" in later times, as in the interesting 
instance Samuel Rogers has preserved in his " Recollections." 
" In a walk round Hyde Park," he writes, " with Mr. Thomas 
Grenville [one of the elder brothers of William, Lord Gren- 
ville] in August, 1841, he said, 'My father ived at Wotton 
[Bucks], and if I remember right, it was in 1767, when I was 
in my twelfth year and my brother George and myself (Eton 
boys) were at home for the midsummer holidays, that Lord 
Chatham and Lord Temple came there on a visit. We dined 
at three o'clock, and at half-past four sallied out to the nine- 
pins alley, where Lord Chatham and Lord Temple, two very 
tall men, the former in his fifty-ninth year, the latter in the 
fifty-seventh year of his age, played for an hour and a half, 
each taking one of us for his partner ; the ladies sat by, look- 
ing on and drinking their coffee, and in our walk home we 
stopped to regale ourselves with a syllabub under the cow.' " 
Within the last century, however, penal statutes, and what 
Jeremy Taylor calls " evil appendages," have reduced skittle 
play to the low position it now holds in popular estimation. 




Of a' the games that e'er I saw, 
Man, callant, laddie, birkie, wean, 
The dearest far aboon them a' 
Was aye the witching channel stane. 

7 he Ettrick Shepherd. 

WHEN a black frost seals up the ground, and ice covers our 
ponds and lochs, among the amusements then open to those 
north of the Tweed there is none more healthful and exhilara- 
ting than the game of curling. This " manly Scottish exer- 
cise," as the old poet Pennycuick calls it, is, as we said 
in our chapter on golf, the worthiest rival of that pastime for 
the title of the national game of Scotland. Alas, however ! it 
fights this battle under immense disadvantages. The good old 
times seem to have passed away when, for weeks on end, 

O'er burn and loch the warlock Frost 
A crystal brig would lay, 

and good ice might be confidently counted on for a long 
time. But this, far from disheartening curlers, only makes the 
ardent votaries of the game the more eager to take every 
advantage of such fleeting chances as the variable winters of 
our day send them. Night has often been added to day, 
when the interest in a great match has been more intense 
than the frost, and the ice has shown any signs of passing 
away. All this, and the endeavours made to get an artificial sub- 
stitute for the too-fleeting ice of these days, shall be spoken of 
below. Mean while, the history of the game requires a few 


Endless disputes have raged about the origin of this sport ; 
papers have been written to prove, on etymological and other 
grounds, that it was, and that it was not, introduced into Scot- 
land by the Flemish emigrants who came over towards the 
end of the sixteenth century. All the words in the technical 
language of the game are of Low Country origin ; but the 
" Noes " thought nothing of that, especially as one waggish 
enthusiast of their party had, they thought, triumphantly 
settled the origin of the game as native, or, at least, as of 
very great antiquity in Scotland, by the lines in " Ossian," 
telling how, "Amid the circle of stones, Swaran bends at the 
stone of might." 

He, however, was completely eclipsed by another patriotic 
joker who, in many verses, in the old Scots Magazine of last 
century, takes us much further back than the Fingalian heroes, 
and tells us how 

Auld Daddy Scotland sat ae day 
Bare-legged on a snawy brae, 
His brawny arms wi' cauld were blae, 
The wind was snelly blawing. 

When to him comes the King of gods, rebuking him for his 
grumbling against the weather : 

Quo' Jove, and gied his kilt a heeze, 

Fule carle ! what gars you grunt and wheeze ? 

Get up ! I'll get an exercise, 

To het your freezing heart wi'. 

I'll get a cheery, heartsome game, 
To send through a' the soul a flame, 
Pit birr and smeddum in the frame, 
And set the blude a-dinling. 

And forthwith Jove explained to the shivering old fellow all 
the mysteries of our game. 

Where doctors so differ, in joke and in earnest, it is difficult to 
decide ; but though curling is now so eminently a Scottish game, 
evidence goes to prove pretty clearly that the pastime was 


brought to us from the Continent not very long ago three 
hundred years or so and that, as in the case of golf, we are 
probably indebted to outsiders for the first rough sketches of 
the " roaring game." The technical language of the game is, 
as we have said, all of Low Country origin, and it is supposed 
to have been introduced into this country by the Flemish 
emigrants who, at various times during the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, were encouraged to settle on the eastern 
coast of Scotland. 

No authentic mention of the game occurs in any work till 
about the beginning of the seventeenth century, and there is 
no trustworthy evidence of any other kind of its existence much 
before this time. In the Carse of Gowrie, indeed, there is a 
model of a curling-stone in silver, which is played for annually 
by several parishes. Tradition says that it was given as a 
challenge trophy by King James IV., himself a keen curler, 
during Perkin Warbeck's visit to his Court. If it was so pre- 
sented, then certainly this merry monarch must have omitted 
to pay his silversmith for it, as in the accounts of his Lord 
Treasurer, though there are many entries relating to the king's 
other games of golf, football, "each" (tennis), "langbowlis," 
"kiles " (skittles), and many others, not a word is said about 
curling ; and it is quite clear James was not, as tradition says, 
a keen player, or else some expense would have been incurred 
in connection with it. 

It is said that the unfortunate Henry, Lord Darnley, amused 
himself during the severe winter (1566-7) he spent in exile at 
the little town of Peebles, on the Tweed, by curling on a 
flooded meadow, now part of the clergyman's glebe. Here, 
too, tradition is our only authority, and it is not until we get 
into the next century that the ground becomes firm under our 
feet, and we come upon undoubted references to the pastime 
in books. Curiously enough, the first author who mentions 
the game was neither a Scot nor a curler. This is Camden, 
who, in the sixth edition of his " Britannia," published in 1607, 



speaks of this game as if it were well known then. Writing of 
the Orkney Islands, he tells his readers that " to the east of 
the mainland [of Orkney] lies Copineta, or Copinshay, a little 
isle, but very conspicuous to seamen, in which, and in several 
other places of this country, are to be found in great plenty 
excellent stones for the game called curling." Interesting as 
stones from Copinshay are to antiquarian curlers, from their 
connection with this first historic notice of the game, they pro- 
nounce Camden mistaken in calling them " excellent," as 
upon trial that great authority upon the game, Sir Richard 
Brown of Lochmaben, reports them " not worth a rap." 

At this time, and for long after, the game appears to have 
been merely a rough kind of quoiting on ice ; indeed, for a 
great part of the last century its common name in this country 
was kuting. The stones of that day, rough undressed blocks 
so different from the polished missiles now used had no 
handle, but merely a kind of hollow or niche for the finger and 
thumb, and were evidently intended to be thrown for at least 
part of the course. Since these days, great strides have been 
taken in the improvement of the game ; now it is highly scien- 
tific, and with its many delicate strokes, its "wicks," or 
cannons, calculations of angles, of force, and of bias, it may 
without presumption be called the billiards of ice. In some 
places, however, the old game with its primitive implements, 
usually flattish stones from the bed of the nearest stream, still 
holds its place under the name of "channelling." 

The Caledonian Mercury ', of 2oth December, 1830, records 
the finding of one of these old seventeenth century kuting 
stones. " Last week," it says, " while the foundation of the 
' Old House ' of Loig, in Strathallan, was being dug out, a 
curling stone of a very different shape and texture from those 
now generally in use in that district was discovered. It is of 
an oblong form, and had been neatly finished with the hammer. 
The initials, J. M., and the date, 1611, are still distinctly 
legible, having been deeply, though uncouthly, engraven." 


After Camden, there are many references to curling in books 
of the seventeenth century, clearly proving that it had taken 
its place as a favourite pastime of the people. 

Sir William Scott, younger, of Harden a member of that 
noted family of Border raiders, one of whom is the hero of 
the/' Mickle-mouthed Meg " story, when he, a captive, had set 
before him the alternative of the rope or wedding his captor's 
ugly daughter, and wisely chose the latter, thereby getting an 
excellent wife having got into trouble in 1684 for his connec- 
tion with Jerviswoode's and Lord Tarras's conspiracy, and their 
correspondence with Russell, Shaftesbury, and the "Carolina 
Company," we are told by Lord Fountainhall, in his gossippy 
" Decisions of the Lords of Session," that a party of the forces 
were sent out to apprehend him, but that a William Scot of 
Langhope, getting notice of their coming, went and told Har- 
den of it, " as he was playing at the curling with Riddell of 
Haining and others." The story goes that Harden was so 
engrossed in his game, and so unwilling to spoil it by leaving, 
that he narrowly escaped capture, and had to ride hard before 
he baffled his pursuers ; but Fountainhall does not bear this 
out, as he makes Harden leave the ice at once. 

In the bead-roll of curling are no such mighty names as 
those that golf boasts of; our winter game has not got mixed 
up with historic events and personages, as the older pastime 
has ; but what her devotees lack in greatness is made up by 
the intense affection shown by them in all ages for their 
favourite sport. 

It appears to have been always a great game with poets. 
Allan Ramsay and Burns allude to it, and a host of minor 
bards have sung its praises at varying lengths, but with uniform 
appreciation of its excellences. One of the most eloquent 
passages in Christopher North's " Winter Rhapsody " deplores 
the failing popularity of the game in his later days ; for, like 
many other good things, curling has had its ups and downs in 
this world. In some few districts where it once flourished for 


a time, the interest in the game has died out ; but of later 
years the establishment of so many clubs has given a new 
impetus to the game, which now prospers in its season beyond 
all former experience. The south-western districts of Scotland 
were long the chosen home of curling, and the players of 
Lanark and Dumfriesshire were specially renowned for their 
great skill in the art ; but now it has spread over the whole 
country, and the grand matches of the Royal Caledonian Curl- 
ing Club witness the friendly rivalry of worthy foemen from 
Maidenkirk to John o'Groat's, and excite the enthusiasm 
of branch clubs south of the Tweed, and even across the 

The curlers of Lochmaben, in Dumfries, have long been 
celebrated for their excellence. They have given a phrase to 
the game, "Soutering," which has puzzled curling philologers 
to explain before now. Soutering means defeating an op- 
posing party in so hollow a way that they stand " love " when 
the victors are "game." In Lochmaben there was a rink of 
seven players, all shoemakers Scotice, souters by trade, who 
were so expert that not only did they conquer all comers, but 
often without allowing their opponents to score a single shot ; 
hence the phrase. On the same loch, during the French war, 
there was another rink, headed by Sir James Brown of 
Colstoun, famed all over curling Scotland as the " Invincible 
Board of Lochmaben." Many are the feats recorded of these 
doughty champions. So marvellous was the skill of Deacon 
Jardine, Chief of the " Souters," that he could with his stone 
thread a needle ! He attached, with a piece of shoemaker's 
wax, two needles to the side of two curling stones, just the 
width of the one he played with apart ; then, upon two stones 
in front, similarly apart, and in the line of direction, having 
affixed two "birses" bristles he played his stone so ac- 
curately that, in grazing through the "port," or opening be- 
tween the stones, it would impel the birses forward through 
the eyes of the needles. Unique as was this feat, it has often 


been rivalled in difficulty by delicate shots of other curlers. 
Nor was their strength behind their skill and delicacy of aim. 
There have been instances of a curling stone being thrown a 
mile upon the ice. Sir Richard Brown says that in his days 
there were many alive who could throw a stone across " the 
Kirk Loch" one of the many lakes at Lochmaben "a feat 
not much short of the above." Once a celebrated player of 
Tinwald, named Lawrie Young, challenged the Lochmaben 
curlers to a trial of strength. Their President stepped forward, 
and taking his stone, threw it with such strength across the 
" Mill Loch " that it jumped off the brink upon the other side, 
and tumbled over upon the grass. " Now," said he to Lawrie, 
"go and throw it back again ; I will then confess that you are 
too many for us." 

Captain H. Clapperton, R.N., an African traveller of some 
repute sixty years ago, used to play with an enormous mass of 
granite, known far and wide as " the Hen." This rough stone 
weighed about seventy pounds ; and yet such a strong man 
was Clapperton that he not only played some capital shots 
with it, but could hold it out at arm's length, and whirl it about 
as if it were a feather. An uncle of his used even a heavier 
stone, because, as he said, no other curler on the Lochmaben 
ice could throw it up but himself. These were roughly-shaped 
stones, almost as they were when found, and would never be 
allowed on a rink nowadays. 

At Edinburgh, perhaps as much as at any other place, has 
curling prospered within the last century, though in one point 
the game has lost a recognition it once had, if we believe the 
old tradition that, about a hundred and fifty years ago, the Town 
Council used to go to the ice in all the pomp and circumstance 
that it now reserves for the Commissioner's procession, with a 
band playing "appropriate airs " before it, which discoursed 
sweet music while the fathers of the city gave an hour or two 
to the game. The citizens then played on the Nor' Loch, a 
sheet of water which in those days divided the old Town from 


the New ; when it was drained, they went to the ponds at 
Canonmills, and subsequently to Duddingston Loch, where 
arose the Duddingston Curling Club, instituted in 1795, which 
has done great things in infusing a new spirit into the game. 
Among its members have been many fine curlers and good 
fellows, famed in other fields than this ; and even if the 
club had done nothing beyond giving us the capital songs 
of Sir Alexander Boswell (son of Johnson's " Bozzy"), Miller, 
and many others, it would still have deserved well of its 

Of late years, however, there has arisen a mightier than it 
the Royal Caledonian Curling Club now forty years old, 
which numbers among its members most curlers of note, both 
at home and abroad ; and to which are affiliated all the local 
societies, who once a year, when the weather permits, send 
their chosen champions to contend at the grand match held 
under the auspices of the Royal Club. 

No game promotes sociality more than curling ; none unites 
on one common platform the different classes of society better 

than it does. 

The tenant and his jolly laird, 
The pastor and his flock, 

join in the game, without patronage on one side or any loss of 
respect on the other. Harmony and friendly feeling prevail : 
and if, on the ice as elsewhere, all men are not equal, it is be- 
cause a quick eye, a sound head, and a steady hand., make 
now the shepherd, now the laird, " king o' a ; the core." 

Estimating the " transparent board," as he does, highly, on 
account of its rarity and short life, it is always a trial for a 
curler to see a sheet of ice lying fallow and unoccupied ; and 
when, on a Sunday in Scotland, the " crystal brig " on some 
fine loch lies smooth and keen, who has not seen hopeful 
enthusiasts taking a glance at the virgin expanse, with expres- 
sion of countenance impossible to misunderstand ! The marvel 
is that the strong temptation is so universally resisted, and that 


so little effect has followed the example set by that Bishop of 
Orkney two centuries ago, whose " process," says Baillie, in 
his Letters, " came before us ; he was a curler on the Sabbath- 

Many amusing stories are told of Sunday curling. Long ago 
it was believed that this was the favourite amusement of fairies 
on a fine frosty Sunday afternoon, and no doubt this helped, as 
much as anything else, to keep superstitious youngsters off the 
ice, lying there before them tempting as only forbidden fruit 
and Sunday ice can be. In an early number of Blackwood y a 
good story is told of " a pedlar, well known in Dumfriesshire, 
whose love of gain was generally considered as an overmatch 
for his conscience, but who was withal very fond of the amuse- 
ment of curling, who chanced to pass Loch Etterick, with his 
pack on his back, upon a Sabbath morning. The ice was 
evidently in fine order, and there were a few curling-stones 
lying on the banks of the loch, with which the shepherds of 
those mountainous districts had been in the habit of occasion- 
ally amusing themselves. Watty hesitated a little. . . . On 
the one hand there was the * Lord's Day ; and the sin, and so 
forth : but then, on the other, appeared the stones, lying quite 
ready ; the fine board of ice, together with the absence, at 
present, of all human eye. In a word, the result of this de- 
liberation was an advance made by Watty into the middle of 
the loch, where he quietly deposited his pack, and had re- 
course to a pair or two of the best stones he could select. 
Everybody who understands the game knows quite well how 
Watty would proceed. He would just set a stone on each tee, 
and then try to hit it off. The sport, no doubt, was imperfect 
without a companion, and so Watty felt it to be. He gave a 
glance or two to the surrounding hills, as if half desirous that 
* Will Crosby,' a rattling, reckless body, might heave in sight 
and bear a hand, but there was no human creature within 
view. The play became tiresome, and Watty, in order to 
rest and resolve upon future measures, seated himself quite at 


his ease upon his pack. No sooner had he done this, how- 
ever, than, with a boom and a roar that made the ice shake 
and sink beneath him, an invisible, and consequently a fairy 
curling-stone came full drive against Watty's shins. The 
instinct of self-preservation restored Watty immediately to 
his legs, and in the course of a certain number of hasty strides, 
to the adjoining bank. This was doubtless a visitation upon 
him for his profanation of the Sabbath. What was to be done ? 
The pack was in the power at least within the dominion of 
the ' Fairy Queen,' and to contest the possession upon her 
own element seemed little short of madness. At this in- 
stant another fairy stone made its presence audible, and 
Watty, unable any longer to resist his terrors, fled. He 
fled to a shieling about four miles off, and, with the assistance 
6f Will Crosby, whose faith was not much stronger than 
Watty's, possessed himself next morning of his lost goods. 
The story I have often heard him tell with a serious counte- 
nance ; nor have I the smallest doubt that he believed every 
word which he said." 

The following good story has been told by a reverend 
doctor whose projected history of this game is looked for with 
much interest by all curlers : The Rev. Adam Wadderstone, 
minister of Bathgate, who died in 1780, was a most excellent 
man, and took a deep interest in the temporal as well as the 
spiritual welfare of his flock. He was also an enthusiastic 
curler, and almost always headed his flock in their encounters 
on the ice with the neighbouring parishes. John Clarkson, a 
worthy member of his session, also a " true son of the broom," 
having very late one Saturday evening received from the 
people of Shotts a challenge to the curlers of Bathgate to 
meet them early on the following Monday, was at a loss how 
to communicate the pleasing intelligence to his minister. After 
many qualms of conscience and several hours of sleepless 
anxiety, he made up his mind to tell him the news in the 
session house on Sunday morning. Mr. Wadderstone no 


sooner entered than John said in a low tone, " Sir, I've some- 
thing to tell ye there's to be a parish play wi' the Shotts folk 
the morn at - -" " Whist, man, whist," was the rejoinder ; 
" O, fie shame, John, fie shame ; nae speaking to-day about 
warldy recreations!" But the ruling passion proved too 
strong for the worthy clergyman's scruples of conscience, for 
just as he was about to enter the kirk door he suddenly 
wheeled round, and returning to the elder, who was now 
standing at the plate, he whispered in his ear " But whan's 
the hour, John ? I'll be sure and be there." 

One of the Dukes of Athole, very fond both of curling and 
skating, suggested a game in which both were combined. The 
skater, armed with a long pole, impelled his curling-stone with 
it ; but, though it was described as an " elegant mode, making 
a highly interesting game," it never took with either curlers or 
skaters, never at any time best of friends on the ice. 

At a time when the game was not as fashionable with the 
Scottish nobility as it is nowadays, " Archibald the Hand- 
some, " the ninth Duke of Hamilton, was a great patron of 
curling. He often headed rinks from Hamilton in contests 
with other parishes, and took the keenest interest in the 
" spiel." Once in the " dear years," when meal was meal, the 
fate of a game depended on a critical shot being played ; his 
Grace called out to the player about to attempt it, " Now, 
John, if you take the shot and strike away the winner, your 
mother shanna want meal a' the winter I'll send her a load" 
a prize John had the satisfaction, both as a curler and a son, 
of winning. 

The Duke often risked more than a few sacks of oatmeal 
on the issue of a curling match, notably in 1784, when he and 
his Hamilton men played and won the famous match on Loch- 
winnoch for a thousand guineas, against Macdowal of Garth- 
land and a rink of celebrated curlers from Paisley. 

Let us now see how the game is played ; and first we shall 
give what is perhaps the earliest description of the game on 


record, that given by Pennant in his "Tour" in 1792. "Of 
all the sports of these parts," he says, " that of curling is the 
favourite, and one unknown in England. It is an amusement 
of the winter, and played on the ice by sliding from one mark 
to another great stones of from forty to seventy pounds weight, 
of a hemispherical form, with an iron or wooden handle at the 
top. The object of the player is to lay his stone as near the 
mark as possible, to guard that of his partner, which had been 
well laid before, or to strike his antagonist's." 

The game is played on a carefully-chosen piece of ice called 
the "rink," which should be forty-two yards long, unless 
special circumstances such as thaw and consequently " dull" 
ice require to be shortened. This piece of ice should be as 
level, smooth, and free from cracks as possible ; there is 
usually a trifling bias, which, however, to the skilled curler 
rather adds interest to the game, as it calls forth additional 
science in the play. 

When the rink is chosen, a little mark is made at each end ; 

is is called the " tee " ; it takes the place of the white ball 
or "jack" in bowls, and the whole object of the game is for 

e players of one side to lay as many of their stones as they 
closer to this mark than the nearest stone of the opposite 

e. Round the tees are scratched several concentric circles 
"broughs," a foot or so apart from each other, so that the 

tance at which stones are lying from the goal may be seen 
a glance during the game. In the normally long rink, a 
tch, called the hog-score usually made wavy, to distinguish 
it from any accidental crack is drawn across the line of play 
near each end, eight yards from the tee ; and any stones that 

>ve not had impetus enough imparted to them to carry them 
*r this line are "hogs," and are put off the ice as useless 
that " end." A common number of players in one rink is 
eight four against four ; but in some places more play on 
e side, and in others less, according to circumstances. As 
general rule, each man plays two stones. The game is 


counted by points ; and each stone of a side closer than their 
antagonists' nearest, is a point which scores towards the game. 
It will be observed that " tees," " broughs," and " hog-scores" 
are in duplicate, for as in quoits and bowls, ends are changed 
after each round. 

The best player of each side is usually made captain or 
" skip," and on his tact, judgment, and knowledge of the 
exact amount of confidence he can place on the skill of each 
of his followers depends much of the success of his side. As 
in bowls, he plays last himself, that the critical shot, on which 
perhaps victory or defeat hangs, may be in the best possible 
hands ; at the earlier part of the " end " he stands at the goal 
aimed at, directing and advising the play of the three first 
players of his side. 

The course of a game is generally something like this, 
though in no sport are there greater variations, or more cir- 
cumstances calling forth all that judgment, skill, and expe- 
rience only can teach. The " lead" or first player's object is 
simple : he tries to " draw " his shot that is, to play his stone 
as near the tee as he can, and if he is a skilful player his 
stone rests say a few feet short of the mark. The lead of the 
opposite side probably does much the same thing, or 
perhaps with one stone knocks his opponent's best away and 
rests in its place. Then comes the turn of the second 
players. If an opposing stone lies near the tee, this player 
tries to change places with it by driving it away ; but if a stone 
of his own side is next the tee, his play will be to " guard " it 
that is, to lay his own stone in a direct line before it, so 
that the enemy may be less likely to dislodge it. As the game 
proceeds it gets more intricate the stones round the tee may 
have been so placed that the " winner " is perfectly guarded 
from direct attack. Then is the time for the display of science : 
an experienced player by a cunning twist of the wrist may 
make his stone curl round the opposing guard and lie first, or 
he may hit a stone near the winner in an oblique direction, 


and so cannon off it on to the winning stone and knock it 
away. This last is called " wicking," and is exactly a stroke 
of the same kind so necessary in billiards. 

And so the game goes on a game of give and take ; but 
as Graeme says, who can 

Follow the experienced player 
Through all the mysteries of his art, or teach 
The undisciplined how to wick, to guard, 
Or ride full out the stone that blocks the pass ! 

Stories innumerable are told of the delicate feats of aiming 
performed by adepts in the game ; and it is wonderful what 
skill is often shown in the shots taken by good curlers with 
their unwieldy looking weapons ; the narrow " ports " or 
openings between two stones that they can make their missiles 
pass through, and the dexterity they show in calculating the 
bias of the ice and the exact amount of angle necessary to 
make their cannons. 

Each player provides himself with a broom to sweep up 
the ice before a too lazy stone ; and upon judicious sweeping 
much of the game depends. The shouts of " Soop ! soop ! " 
that follow the signal of the skip ; the excited gestures of the 
"capering combatants"; the constant cries of victory or defeat 
after the frequent changes of fortune ; the general exhilaration 
of spirits attending a healthy and exciting exercise in the bracing 
air of winter all tend to make the scene an extraordinary one. 
Of course if, instead of the ordinary match or game among 
the members of a club, we are witnessing a "bonspeil," or 
match between two rival clubs or parishes, the excitement is 
much intensified. Wraps put on by the careful goodwives' 
hands before the curlers left home are recklessly cast aside ; 
brawny arms vigorously ply the besoms ; strong lungs shout 
out encouragement ; and the engrossed combatants await the 
issue of a shot in all the attitudes so cunningly portrayed in 
>ir George Harvey's well-known picture. Of course the point 

most breathless interest is when perhaps one shot must 


decide the game. Hear how that inimitable curling song- 
writer, the Rev. Dr. Duncan, describes that moment : 

A moment's silence, still as death, 
Pervades the anxious thrang, man, 
Then sudden bursts the victors' shout, 
\Vi' hollos loud and lang, man ; 
Triumphant besoms wave in air, 
And friendly banters fly, man ; 
"Whilst, cold and hungry, to the inn 
"Wi* eager steps they hie, man ; 

where awaits them the true curlers' dinner of " beef and greens " ; 
to which simple viands the aj harpened by the keen 

ample ju And if a temperate tumbler of toddy 

is emptied, what then? A merry evening is spent; and 1 
ever keen the contest has been, or strong the rivalry bet. 
closely matched parishes, we can always say with the old song : 

They met baith merry in the mom, 
At night they parted friends. 

.ng these jovial evenings, " in words the fig}/ 
/jght again," and many stories of past curling are told, old 

.-.side, but all it d for that ar 

: all is mirth and jollity. pranks so. 

I \iin, 

>y night this time. 
A large party of Kilmanv 
day in a match, which they had After dim. 

should : 

[t was aboul 

. . 

of 1 


CURLJ:. us 

ition unknown until it dasher. :he others around the 

: the dark night, t 

stones in their \: 

llutu tartled from tru 

of the loch by the unusual intn. :heir haunts, fornu 

ene of interest and E 

ntinued with the utmost en: 
hilarity till long past ' the wee short hour ayont tru 

: on 
his tv ..ile upon I 

The shortness of good curling 
stimulated inventive minds to do for t 
..nd Mr. Plimpton have done : 

nial . 

-ubstitute for ice and curling sto:., 

I . 
peru - 

.. and the 

.:nd will ; :urn 

to Pi. Foulia 
made ol 
mother, - i - 

. id 01 

of N\ : 

- . 

a pat< . . 

e atones an 
osed t instead 

. i . 

I th< 

S a band o : 

rent the rink It 


at the same time makes the stones more lively when cannons 
are attempted in the course of play. While this is the perfect 
form of the "pond " and stones, a small size of the missiles is 
made for use in ordinary houses, where the game is played on 
a prepared substance resembling oil-cloth ; indeed, a capital 
" home rink 7 ' can readily be made by coating wax-cloth with 
the patent composition. 



THOUGH it appears to be impossible to fix on the time when 
skating first took root in this country, there can be no doubt 
that it was introduced to us from more northern climates, 
where it originated more from the necessities of the inha- 
bitants than as a pastime. When snow covered their land, 
and ice bound up their rivers, imperious necessity would 
soon suggest to the Scands or the Germans some ready 
means of winter locomotion. This first took the form of 
snow-shoes, with two long runners of wood, like those still 
used by the inhabitants of the northerly parts of Norway and 
Sweden in their journeys over the immense snow-fields. These 
seem originally to have been used by the Finns, "for which 
reason," says a Swedish writer, "they were called 'Skrid 
Finnai ' (sliding Finns), a common name for the most ancient 
inhabitants of Sweden, both in the North Saga and by foreign 

When used on ice, one runner would soon have been found 
more convenient than the widely separated two, and harder 
materials used than wood : first bone was substituted ; then it, 
in turn, gave place to iron ; and thus the present form of 
skate was developed in the North at a period set down by 
Scandinavian archaeologists as about A.D. 200. 

Frequent allusions occur in the old Northern poetry which 
prove that proficiency in skating was one of the most highly 
esteemed accomplishments of the Northern heroes. One of 
them, named Kolson, boasts that he is master of nine accom- 


plishments, skating being one ; while the hero Harold bitterly 
complains that though he could fight, ride, swim, glide along 
the ice on skates, dart the lance, and row, " yet a Russian 
maid disdains me." 

Eight arts are mine : to wield the steel, 

To curb the warlike horse, 
To swim the lake, or skate on heel 

To urge my rapid course. 
To hurl, well aimed, the martial spear, 

To brush with oar the main 
All these are mine, though doomed to bear 

A Russian maid's disdain. 

In the " Edda " this accomplishment is singled out for special 
praise : " Then the king asked what that young man could 
do who accompanied Thor. Thialfe answered, that in running 
upon skates he would dispute the prize with any of the 
countries. The king owned that the talent he spoke of was a 
very fine one." 

Olaus Magnus, the author of the famous chapter on the 
Snakes of Iceland, tells us that skates were made " of polished 
iron, or of the shank-bone of a deer or sheep, about a foot 
long, filed down on one side, and greased with hog's lard to 
repel the wet." These rough-and-ready bone skates were the 
kind first adopted by the English ; for Fitzstephen, in his de- 
scription of the amusements of the Londoners in his day 
(temp. Henry II.), tells us that "when that great fen that 
washes Moorfields at the north wall of the city is frozen over, 
great companies of young men go to sport upon the ice. 
Some striding as wide as they may, do slide swiftly ; some, 
better practised to the ice, bind to their shoes bones, as the 
legs of some beasts, and hold stakes in their hands, headed 
with sharp iron, which sometimes they strike against the ice ; 
these men go as swiftly as doth a bird in the air or a bolt 
from a cross-bow." Then he goes on to say that some, imitat- 
ing the fashion of the tournament, would start in full career 


against one another, armed with poles : " they meet, elevate 
their poles, attack and strike each other, when one or both of 
them fall, and not without some bodily hurt/' 

Specimens of these old bone skates are occasionally dug up 
in fenny parts of the country. There are some in the British 
Museum, in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, and pro- 
bably in other collections ; though perhaps some of the 
" finds " are not nearly as old as Fitzstephen's day, for there 
seems to be good evidence that even in London the primitive 
bone skate was not entirely superseded by implements of steel 
at the latter part of last century. 

Mr. Roach Smith, F.S.A., describing one found about 1839 
in Moorfields, near Finsbury Circus, in the boggy soil peculiar 
to that district, says that " it is formed of the bone of some 
animal, made smooth on one side, with a hole at one ex- 
tremity for a cord to fasten it to the shoe. At the other end 
a hole is also drilled horizontally to the depth of three inches, 
which might have received a plug, with another cord to secure 
' it more effectually." 

There is hardly a greater difference between these old bone 
skates and the " acme's " and club skates of to-day than there 
is between the skating of the middle ages and the artistic and 
graceful movements of good performers of to-day. Indeed, 
skating as a fine art is entirely a thing of modern growth in 
Britain. So little thought of was the exercise that for long 
after Fitzstephen's day we find few or no allusions to it, and 
up to the Restoration days it appears to have been an amuse- 
ment confined chiefly to the lower classes, among whom it 
never reached any very high pitch of art. " It was looked 
upon," says a writer in the Saturday Review in 1865, "much 
with the same view that the boys on the Serpentine even now 
seem to adopt, as an accomplishment, the acme of which was 
reached when the performer could succeed in running along 
quickly on his skates and finishing off with a long and trium- 
phant slide on two feet in a straight line forward. A gen- 


tleman would probably then have no more thought of trying 
to execute different figures on the ice than he would at the pre- 
sent day of dancing in a drawing-room on the tips of his toes." 

Even as an amusement of the common people it is not alluded 
to in any of the usual catalogues of sports so often referred 
to. Among the many games which Holinshed tells us were 
played on the Thames ice during the great frost of December, 
1564, he does not include skating ; but when the exiled Court 
returned to Britain at the Restoration, we find that many of 
King Charles's suite must have profited by their sojourn in 
the Low Countries, and had attained to considerable profi- 
ciency in swift, straightforward skating. Evelyn, under date 
December i, 1662, notes "having seen the strange and won- 
derful dexterity of the sliders on the canal in St. James's Park, 
performed before their Majesties by divers gentlemen and 
others with skates, after the manner of the Hollanders, with 
what swiftness they pass, how suddenly they stop in full career 
upon the ice. I went home by water, but not without ex- 
ceeding difficulty, the Thames being frozen, great flakes of ice 
encompassing our boat." Then a fortnight afterwards his 
brother diarist, Pepys, records that he went to the Duke of 
York, " and followed him into the Parke, where, though the 
ice was broken and dangerous, yet he would slide upon his 
skates, which I did not like, but he slides very well." 

From this time, then, we may consider skating firmly 
established as a British pastime. In Evelyn's description of 
the great Frost Fair on the Thames in January, 1684, when 
the river ' was planted with booths in formal streets ; coaches 
plied from Westminster to the Temple and from other stairs, 
to and fro, as in the streets," he tells us the people amused 
themselves with " sliding on skates, bull-baiting, horse and 
coach races, &c." In the illustrations of the next great Frost 
Fairs on the Thames, in 1716 and 1740, we see figures on 
skates wheeling round the oxen roasted whole, the puppet 
shows, and all "the fun of the fair" provided for the regale- 


ment of the crowds that disported themselves on the ice. 
Addison sang its praises in a Latin poem the " Cursus 
Glacialis;" Strype and Maitland give it a place among the 
pastimes of the Londoners ; Thomson has a spirited descrip- 
tion of a skating scene in his "Winter;" so that the exercise can 
complain of no want of notice during the eighteenth century. 
During all this time, when skating was struggling into notice 
in Britain, in its birthplace it continued to be cultivated as 
the one great winter amusement. In Holland, too, where it 
is looked upon less as a pastime than a necessity, nothing has 
so frequently struck travellers as the wonderful change the 
advent of ice brings about on the bearing of the inhabitants. 
" Heavy, massive, stiff creatures during the rest of the year," 
says Pilati, in his "Letters on Holland," "become suddenly 
active, ready and agile, as soon as the canals are frozen," 
and they are able to glide along the frozen surface with the 
speed and endurance for which their skating has been so long 
renowned, though these very qualities are bought at the 
expense of the elegance and grace we nowadays look for in 
the accomplished skater. Thomson thus graphically describes 
the enlivening effects of frost on the Dutch : 

Now in the Netherlands, and where the Rhine 
Branched out in many a long canal, extends, 
From every province swarming, void of care, 
Batavia rushes forth ; and as they sweep, 
On sounding skates, a thousand different ways 
In circling poise, swift as the winds along, 
The then gay land is maddened all to joy. 
Nor less the northern courts, wide o'er the snow, 
Pour a new pomp. Eager on rapid sleds, 
Their vigorous youth in bold contention wheel 
The long resounding course. Meantime to raise 
The manly strife, with highly blooming charms 
Flushed by the season, Scandinavia's dames 
Or Russia's buxom daughters glow around. 

Though the poet of the " Seasons " speaks of Russia here, 
it is curious to note that skating is not a national amusement 


of the Russians, but is entirely of foreign and quite recent 
introduction. It is quite unknown in the interior, and no 
Russian except a few who have picked up the art in St. 
Petersburg ever thinks of availing himself of the many pieces 
of water annually frozen hard in so cold a country. 

Perhaps it is in Friesland that the skate is most especially a 
necessary of life. What stilts are to the peasant of the 
Landes, skates are to the Frisian. The watercourses of the 
summer are his highways when winter sets in. " He goes to 
market on skates ; he goes to church on skates," we are told ; 
"he goes love-making on skates." Indeed, it may be doubted 
if this province could be inhabited if the art of skating were 
unknown, for without it the inhabitants would be confined to 
home for several months of each year. Frisians of both 
sexes actually skate more than they walk, says M. Depping; 
no sooner is an infant able to stand upright than the irons 
are fastened on his feet ; his parents lead him on to the ice, 
and teach him how to move along. At six years most of the 
young skaters have attained great proficiency, but in Frisian 
opinion even the best performers improve up to thirty. 

Here, as elsewhere in Holland, ice races are of frequent 
occurrence during the winter. " The races on the ice," says 
Pilati, " are the carnivals of the Dutch : they are their fetes, 
their operas, their dissipations ; " naturally, therefore, the 
people manifest the greatest interest in them ; skate long dis- 
tances to be present, and cherish the names of distinguished 
winners in a way we should never expect from such an un- 
emotional people as the Hollanders appear when the ice is 
gone and when most travellers see them. 

The races take place on large canals that intersect the 
country in every direction. In Friesland long strips of wood 
are ranged at length in lines to mark out the course of each 
competitor, so that there can be no fouling or crossing even in 
the heat of the most closely contested struggle. To make 
the heats perfectly fair for all the competitors, it is a rule that 


when the course on one side of the lines of separation is more 
favourable than on the other, the skaters must change their 
side every time. To win one of the more valuable prizes is 
a most arduous undertaking, as the victor must have come in 
first in from sixty to eighty heats. 

The women have races of their own ; but most interesting 
of all the contests are those in which the sturdy dames, whom 
their own painters delight in depicting as gliding along to 
market with baskets on their heads and knitting needles in 
their busy fingers, are matched against the best of the other 
sex. Though, as a rule, these " Atalantas of the North" excel 
the men rather in beauty of style than in speed, yet the prize 
often enough goes to one of them. Captain Clias in his book 
on " Gymnastics," published about fifty years ago, says that at 
many contests at which he was present at Leuwarden, he saw 
young women beat their masculine rivals in long races. In 
1808, he tells us, two young women, named Scholtens and 
Johannes, won the prize in a skating race at Groningen. They 
went thirty miles in two hours a feat that will bear compari- 
son with any well authenticated record either in Holland or 
among our own swift skaters of the fens. Among these 
authentic instances we can hardly include a marvellous story 
told in the " Delights of Holland/' a book published at Amster- 
dam in 1697, where a father is said to have skated more than 
120 leagues in one day in order to reach the bedside of his son, 
who lay in danger of death ; though a favourite feat of expert 
skaters therein mentioned going fromLeyden to Amsterdam, 
a distance of fifteen miles, in an hour and a quarter has been 
often excelled. In the fens on the long running skates two 
miles have been covered in seven minutes four and a half 
seconds ; a mile, according to the Saturday Review, " in a 
little over the two minutes, the fastest pace in the world;" 
though this has been beaten by the feat said to have been 
accomplished by William Clark of Madison, Wisconsin, United 
States, who is credited with covering a mile in one minute 


fifty-six seconds. These "records," however, have no authentic 
evidence to support them. Time and distance were probably 
alike uncertain ; indeed the fastest authentic feat of skating on 
a properly measured mile is that of Mr. Sidney Tebbutt, who 
traversed a mile in two minutes fifteen seconds. Mr. Heath- 
cote, in his " Reminiscences of Fen and Mere," has much to 
say of the old skating times before the draining of so much of 
the fen country of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, "the 
greatest blow which has fallen upon English skating in 
modern times." When the fens were in an undrained state it 
was possible to skate from Connington to Ely Cathedral and 
back in the course of a winter's day. In 1799, one Francis 
Drake, an officer of the Bedford Level Corporation, is said to 
have put on his skates at Whittlesea and crossed both the 
Middle and South Levels without taking them off, having thus 
covered a distance of nearly fifty miles. Other flying fen- 
men on their long " runners," with the important help of a 
fair wind behind, have traversed seventy miles a day. 

Here, too, as in Holland, the event which excited the 
greatest interest was a skating race. "A good surface of 
ice," says Mr. Heathcote, "gave as good a prospect of com- 
petition and as happy a holiday as a day of the Derby." The 
candidates came from the surrounding towns and villages of 
the fens, and much rivalry was excited between them, and 
keen and severe were the contests for the cocked hat, the pig, 
or the purse of money offered as prizes. 

The fenmen still keep up their winter races, and most pro- 
bably attain a speed as great as the best in the days of old. 
The well-known fen skater, " Fish " Smart, over a straight 
course and with the wind behind him, is probably as fast a 
skater as ever stood on steel. 

In the great frost of 1860 three companies of Lincolnshire 
Volunteers gave a remarkable display of their skill as skaters 
on theWitham. They assembled below the Stamp End Lock 
on December 29, 1860, and, after {.oiivjj tlnou. h a number of 


evolutions in a steady and orderly way, skated down the river 
to Boston in "fours," rifle in hand, " keeping step " as well as 
on land. At the time it was suggested that in a special 
emergency in winter a rendezvous of the local troops might be 
effected with unusual expedition in this way. Similar musters, 
we believe, took place during the recent severe frosts : at one 
interesting parade by the City of Lincoln Volunteers, the 
newspaper correspondents say the corps went past in line and 
in column at the " quick " in good style, but " marking time " 
was a matter rather difficult of accomplishment. 

Frequently on the Continent skates have proved themselves 
excellent engines of war, both in actual fighting as when a 
Dutch army on skates once repulsed a force of Frenchmen on 
the Scheldt and as a rapid means of communication. During 
the winter of 1806, Napoleon, after the battle of Jena, wished 
to send an order with the utmost despatch to Marshal Mortier, 
directing him to make himself master, without delay, of the 
Hanseatic towns. The officer charged with this order found 
himself at the mouth of the Elbe at a point where it was seven 
and a half miles from bank to bank. To . cross in a boat was 
impossible, as the river was coated with a surface of newly-frozen 
ice ; to get over by a bridge would necessitate a detour of more 
than twenty miles. The officer, knowing how precious time was, 
determined to skate over the thin ice ; and though it was too 
weak to bear a man walking, he skimmed along so rapidly 
that he got across in safety; gaining great honour for the 
ingenuity and boldness that enabled him to deliver his des- 
patch six hours sooner than he possibly could have done by 
the ordinary route. 

In Holland, regiments have regular parades on the ice; but 
Norway is probably the only country where it has been con- 
sidered necessary to embody a special corps of skaters. In 
this regiment, " the men are furnished," says Mr. Russell in 
his translation of Guillaume Depping's book, " with the skates 
in ordinary use in the North, that fixed on the right foot 


being somewhat longer than that on the left. Furnished with 
these, the soldiers descend steep slopes with incredible rapidity, 
re-ascend them as quickly, cross rivers and lakes, and halt at 
the slightest signal, even while moving at the highest speed." 

It is only within the last hundred years that " the rude 
steps of the skaters were first moulded by cultivation, though 
who the instructor was who first taught the sUppery foot to 
adapt itself to ' threes ' and ' eights ' history does not record." 
A good deal of the credit, at least, of fostering the new-born 
art appears to be due to Edinburgh, whose skating club, 
immortalised in the "Noctes Ambrosianre," was the first insti- 
tuted in this kingdom. In Scotland generally, up to that time, 
skating was not a common form of recreation. What there 
was of it was very rude, and the "iron age" of the pastime 
must have been some centuries later in ousting that of bone 
than in England. Dr. Jamieson thinks that "guyting," a 
common provincial name for skating, is derived from a Teu- 
tonic word meaning a bone. But, besides this, we know that 
skates were called " bones," and probably were bones till 
comparatively recent times. Thus, in Adamson's rhyming 
inventory of the contents of Mr. George Ruthven's cabinet 
(Perth, 1638) are these lines : 

His hats, his hoods, his bells, his bones, 
His alley bowles, his curling stones, 
The sacred games to celebrate 
Which to the gods are consecrate. 

The skating enthusiasm of a few prominent Edinburgh men 
gave an immense impetus to the exercise about the beginning 
of the century in Scotland. These were the days before the 
recent woful degeneracy in winter weather that threatens to 
make skating one of the lost arts. Instead of Duddingstone 
Loch then rippling under a gentle westerly breeze on a mild 
January day, Dr. Robert Chambers could recall "with pleasure 
skating exhibitions which he saw there in the hard winters 
early in the present century, where Henry Cockburn and the 


philanthropist James Simpson were conspicuous amongst the 
most accomplished of the club for their handsome figures and 
great skill in the art. The scene of that loch " in full bearing," 
on a clear winter day, with its busy stirring multitude of 
sliders, skaters, and curlers, the snowy hills around glistening 
in the sun, the ring of the ice, the shouts of the careering 
youth, the rattle of the curling stones and the shouts of the 
players, once seen and heard, could never be forgotten." 

Our best authorities on skating Messrs. Vandervell and 
Witham, authors of " A System of Figure Skating ' ; affirm, 
from long experience and very close observation, that, in spite 
of mild winters, the art has gone on improving up to the pre- 
sent time. This has often been denied, and many are the 
wonderful feats of renowned skaters of the past cited in sup- 
port of this denial. Benjamin West, the President of the 
Academy, it is said, could trace with his skates on the 
ice the outlines of any statue that might be named. The 
Chevalier de St. George could sign his name upon the ice with 
the blade of his skate; while Strutt speaks of skaters "readily 
describing upon the ice the form of all the letters in the alpha- 
bet.'' "Who has not heard," says Mr. Vandervell, "from 
many old skaters of a generation that is fast fading away, how 
some famous skater of their day cut out his name f and who 
has not brought down their ire if the possibility of the feat was 
doubted? . . . It is most strange, but no less strange than 
true, that this feat (except when done by standing on one 
foot and scraping the ice into the resemblance of letters with 
the other) is an impossibility either to ancient or modern 

Skating has had many enthusiastic votaries, but probably 
none more so than the two illustrious names that continental 
skaters are so proud to reckon in their guild. 

Klopstock, even in his old age, was so ardent a lover of it 
that, after skimming over the ice of Altona for hours, " to call 
back that warmth of blood which age and inactivity had 


chilled," he retired to his study and wrote fiery lyrics in its 
praise. His friend and great successor, Goethe, took to 
skating under peculiar circumstances. He sought relief in 
violent exercise from embittered memories of a broken-orT love 
affair. He tried in vain riding and long journeys on foot ; at 
length he found relief when he went to the ice and learned to 
skate, an exercise of which he was devotedly fond to the last. 
" It is with good reason," he writes, " that Klopstock has 
praised this employment of our physical powers which brings 
us in contact with the happy activity of childhood, which urges 
youth to exert all its suppleness and agility, and which tends 
to drive away the inertia of age. We seem, when skating, to 
lose entirely any consciousness of the most serious objects 
that claim our attention. It was while abandoning myself to 
these aimless movements that the most noble aspirations, 
which had too long lain dormant within me, were reawakened ; 
and I owe to these hours, which seemed lost, the most rapid 
and successful development of my poetical projects." 

That skating has been in certain circumstances something 
more than mere elegant accomplishment is well illustrated by 
two anecdotes, told by the author of some entertaining " Remi- 
niscences of Quebec," of two settlers in the Far West, who 
saved their lives by the aid of their skates. In one case the 
backwoodsman had been captured by Indians, who intended 
soon after to torture him to death. Among his baggage there 
happened to be a pair of skates, and the Indians' curiosity was 
so excited that their captive was told to explain their use. He 
led his captors to the edge of a wide lake, where the smooth 
ice stretched away as far as the eye could see, and put on the 
skates. Exciting the laughter of the Indians by tumbling 
about in a clumsy manner, he gradually increased his distance 
from the shore, till he at length contrived to get a hundred 
yards from them without arousing their suspicion, when he 
skated away as fast as he could, and finally escaped. 

" The other settler is raid to have been skating alone one 


moonlight night, and, while contemplating the reflection of the 
firmament in the clear ice, and the vast dark mass of forest 
surrounding the lake and stretching away in the background, 
he suddenly discovered, to his horror, that the adjacent bank 
was lined with a pack of wolves. He at once ' made tracks ' 
for home, followed by these animals ; but the skater kept 
ahead, and one by one the pack tailed off; two or three of the 
foremost, however, kept up the chase, but when they attempted 
to close with the skater, by adroitly turning aside, he allowed 
them to pass him. And after a few unsuccessful and vicious 
attempts on the part of the wolves, he succeeded in reaching 
his log-hut in safety." 

The art of figure-skating had hardly outgrown its infancy 
before its delighted votaries, tantalised by the too frequent 
open winters of our variable climate, began to sigh for some 
means by which skating might become independent of tempe- 
rature, that thus they might practise their figures in all seasons 
of the year. Ingenious inventors taxed their brains to supply 
this want : some striving to devise an " artificial ice " medium 
which might be skated upon as pleasantly as the real thing ; 
but the difficulty of this caused the great body to set them- 
selves the easier task of modifying the skate and adapting it to 
use on any smooth surface. In neither case was the success 
attained very great till within the last few years, when some- 
thing as near perfection as probably will ever be reached has 
been attained in the one department by the roller-skate of 
Mr. Plimpton, and in the other by the " real ice " of Professor 

The earliest of the roller-skates was probably that invented 
by Joseph Merlin, an ingenious mechanician, who was born in 
the city of Huys, between Namur and Lie'ge, on September 
!7> I 735- Dr. E. F. Rimbault, in a sketch of his life, tells us 
that, after living some years in Paris, Merlin, on the recom- 
mendation of the Royal Academy of Sciences, came to England 
in May, 1760, in the suite of the Spanish Ambassador, Count 


de Fuentes, with whom he resided for some time in Soho 
Square. He was director of Cox's Museum in Spring Gardens 
for many years, and in it and elsewhere he exhibited many 
curious inventions, among others, as we see from this extract 
from "Bushby's Concert Room Anecdotes," a pair of roller- 
skates : " During the latter part of the eighteenth century 
this ingenious mechanician and musical instrument maker 
gratified the curious and tasteful by the public exhibition of his 
organ, pianoforte, and other inventions at his Museum in 
Prince's Street, Hanover Square. Merlin's mind was adequate 
to the embracing the whole compass of mechanical science 
and execution, at least in his articles connected with elegant 
and domestic amusements. One of his ingenious novelties was 
a pair of skates contrived to run on wheels. Supplied with 
a pair of these and a violin, he mixed in the motley group of 
the celebrated Mrs. Cornelly's masquerade at Carlisle House, 
when, not having provided the means of retarding his velocity 
or commanding its direction, he impelled himself against a 
mirror of more than five hundred pounds value, dashed it to 
atoms, broke his instrument to pieces, and wounded himself 
most severely." 

After these disastrous results of Merlin's skating, we hear 
no more about roller-skates till M. Petitbled took out a 
patent in France, in 1819, for a skate on which the skater 
could, according to the inventor, execute every figure in a 
room that could be done on ice with ordinary skates. This 
skate did not come at all up to the inventor's expectation, nor 
did the next invention that of a Piccadilly fruiterer, named 
Tyer turn out a greater success. About this time we find 
a great many of these inventions both here and in France ; 
but though several attracted a great deal of attention, they 
soon went the way of so many patents. In 1823 there was a 
roller-skate exhibition in the old tennis court in Windmill 
Street, London; in 1829 M. Perrine undertook for a wager to 
skate across the gardens of the Tuileries on these wheeled 


skates ; the " Ravel Family " used similar skates for many 
years, in their drama, "The Skaters of Wilna"; but, notwith- 
standing all this, roller-skating attracted comparatively little 
attention till Meyerbeer wrote his opera " Le Prophete" and 
it became necessary to devise a skate for use in the famous 
skating scene. M. Lagrange's " practicable " skate, used at 
the first representation of the opera in Paris, on April i6th, 
1849, has often been set down as the first roller-skate ; but all 
that can be said for it in this way is, that the interest excited 
by the well-known scene, both in Paris and London, gave an 
impetus to long dormant roller-skating greater far than any of 
the above-noted wagers, accidents, or exhibitions had ever 
done. Again invention followed invention, until at last Mr. 
J. Plimpton hit upon the idea of the " rocking-skate " that we 
all know so well. 

While some tried in this way to make skating possible at all 
seasons, other inventors attempted to achieve the same object 
by making artificial ice to be skated upon by ordinary skates. 
The first public effort in this direction was that in the 
Glaciarium in Baker Street, in 1842 ; but the attempt was a 
failure here and elsewhere, until Professor Gamgee established 
his " real ice " rinks at Chelsea, Manchester, &c., and gave 
skaters a beautiful sheet of genuine ice all the year round, 
frozen by conducting a mixture of glycerine and water, chilled 
by ether, through pipes laid on a non-conducting floor covered 
by an inch or two of water. These rinks have been used most 
successfully both by skaters and curlers, and it is a mere 
question of expense whether they should not become as com- 
mon as were the Plimpton rinks that we have just seen pass 
away from among us. 


1 62 


Now let us see your archery. Titus Andronicus, iv., 3, 

THOUGH it has often been hastily assumed that the annals of 
the bow in the northern kingdom would require no more space 
in the writing than did Olaus Magnus's famous chapter on the 
snakes of Iceland, yet this is only true of archery in battle ; 
and it is a curious fact that, though the Scots could never be 
j| induced to take to the bow as a military weapon, they became 
very fond of archery as a pastime, when firearms took the 
place of bows and arrows as " artilyerie," and there was no 
further need for statutes forcing the bow into their hands, and 
forbidding all outdoor amusements that interfered with its 
practice. It is a curious problem why, in two races so akin as 
the English and the Lowland Scots, national bent should in 
this respect take such opposite directions. While the southern 
yeoman delighted in his long-bow and the sheaf of shafts 
" the twelve Scots' lives " he bore under his girdle his kins- 
man foe across the Tweed could never be compelled either by 
experience or a long series of penal statutes to take to the 
weapon whose power in skilful hands he had felt on many a 
bloody field. " Few of thaim was sekyr of archarie," laments 
Blind Harry, the Minstrel, of Wallace's followers; and not 
only was this true of all succeeding Scottish soldiers, but it 
may be that the same national prejudice can be traced back 
for centuries before the Blind Minstrel's time, to the days of 
the sculptured stones that stud the north-eastern districts of 
Scotland. While on them are many delineations of the hunter 


aiming his arrow at deer or wild boar, there is only one in- 
stance, in all their many scenes of war, in which fighting men 
are armed with the bow. 

When the first James of Scotland returned to his northern 
kingdom with his " fairest English flower," Lady Jane Beau- 
fort, he brought back with him from his long captivity a deep 
impression of the value of the bow. Under the careful in- 
struction of the Constable of Pevensey, James had become a 
fine marksman ; and he tried by every means in his power to 
popularise the exercise at home. He forbade football andy' 
other " unprofitable sports " ; he ordered every man to shoot 
at the bow-marks near his parish church every Sunday ; he 
chose a body-guard for himself from among the most skilful 
archers at the periodical " Wappinshaws " ; and in his poem of 
"Christ's Kirk on the Green" he published a scathing satire 
on the clumsiness and inefficiency of his peasantry in archery. 
What the most energetic of the Stuart kings set his mind to 
he generally 1 succeeded in ; and possibly, if the dagger of 
" that mischant traitour, Robert Grahame," had spared his life 
at Perth, James might have done what so many Scottish kings 
failed to do ; as it was, we see signs of improvement among 
his people. It was in his reign that Charles VII. formed 
from the survivors of Lord Buchan's Scots the famous Archer- 
guard of France, familiar to every reader of " Quentin Dur- 
ward," who, " foreigners though they were, ever proved them- 
selves the most faithful troops in the service of the French 
crown. 7 ' 

The body-guard that the author of the " King's Quhair " 
embodied for himself was the origin of the famous " Royal 
Company of Archers " that still flourishes vigorously in Edin- 
burgh. So say the present "Body-guard for Scotland," though 
their oldest extant records stop short two centuries and a half 
of King James's time. 

With James's assassination at Perth, the new-born zeal for 
archery seems to have died away ; and it is not till we come to 


the time of James V. that any noteworthy traces of its prac- 
tice can be found. If we may judge from a story told in 
Lindsay of Pitscottie's quaint old chronicle of Scotland, the 
Commons' king had some fine archers in his kingdom ; for 
Lindsay tells us how the Scottish marksmen were victorious in 
what must surely have been the earliest friendly shooting- 
match between England and Scotland. The occasion of this 
international match was Henry VIII. sending an embassy with 
the Garter to his nephew, the young King of Scots, in 1534. 
" In this year," says Pitscottie, whose spelling we modernise, 
" came an English ambassador out of England, called Lord 
William Howard : a bishop and other gentlemen, to the 
number of three-score horse: who were all able wattled 
[picked] gentlemen for all kinds of pastimes, as shooting, 
leaping, wrestling, running, and casting of the stone. But 
they were well essayed in all these before they went home, and 
that by their own provocation, and they almost ever tint 
[lost] : while at the last the king's mother favoured the 
Englishmen, because she was the King of England's sister ; 
and therefore she took a wager of archery upon the English- 
men's hands, contrary to the king her son, and any half-dozen 
Scotsmen, either noblemen, gentlemen, or yeomen, that so 
many Englishmen should shoot against them at 'rovers,' 
' butts,' or ' prick-bonnet.' The king hearing of this bon- 
spiel [sporting match] of his mother, was well content. So 
there was laid a hundred crowns, and a tun of wine pandit 
[staked] on each side. The ground was chosen in St. 
Andrews. The Scottish archers were three landed gentlemen 
and three yeomen ; to wit, David Wemyss of that ilk, David 
Arnott of that ilk, and Mr. John Wedderburn, Vicar of 
Dundee. The yeomen were John Thomson in Leith, Steven 
Tabroner, and Alexander Baillie, who was a piper. [The 
Scottish archers] shot wondrous near, and won the wager from 
the Englishmen ; and thereafter went into the town, and made 
a banquet to the king and the queen and the English am- 


bassador, with the whole two hundred crowns and the two 
tuns of wine." 

Archery from this time became an established pastime in 
Scotland, amicably sharing men's leisure with its old enemies 
^olf and football, while with the ladies it took rank as their 
chief, if not only, outdoor pastime. Queen Margaret herself 
might possibly have taken her place with credit beside the six 
Englishmen she backed in this match against her son \ for we 
are told by Leland and others that Henry's sister was no mean 
shot, while her unfortunate grandchild, Mary Queen of Scots, 
was as fond of archery as was her cousin Elizabeth of England 
and many another lady of that time. One story of Queen 
Mary's shooting has often been cited against her since the 
time Sir William Drury wrote to Mr. Secretary Cecil from 
Berwick, telling him how Mary, a fortnight after her husband 
Darnley's murder in the Kirk O'Field, had been shooting 
with Bothwell at the butts of Tranent against Huntley and 
Seton for a dinner, which the latter pair had to pay. This 
story Drury soon afterwards found out to be untrue, but, cer- 
tainly, as much prominence has not been given by many a 
writer since then to this contradiction as to his original 

At schools, as we know from the " Memorie of the Sommer- 
villes," and from James Melville's Autobiography, archery was 
a favourite pastime of the boys. When Melville, who " by our 
maister was teached to handle the bow for archery " while at 
school, went to college at St. Andrews, he found archery and 
golf were then the favourite amusements of the gay little 
university town. 

Scottish literature in the early years of the seventeenth cen- 
tury is full of allusions to the pastime. " Buttis for archery " 
seem to have been indispensable adjuncts to a gentleman's 
house ; and we find the loyal Town Council of Aberdeen so 
impressed with this idea that, when it was expected that King 
James VI. was to visit their town, they voted among their 


other grants a sum of 10 to erect " one pair of buttis besyd 
the Castyll-hill, for serving of His Hieness and the noblemen 
that is to come heir with his Grace." 

King James V. had presented silver arrows to the royal 
burghs of Scotland to be competed for twicer a year at the 
" Weapon Schawings," which his Act of 1540 ordained to be 
held. None of these sixteenth century arrows can be proved 
to be in existence now, though, as the " Musselburgh Arrow " 
has, on the earliest of the medals it is customary for the 
winner to hang to the trophy as a memorial of his victory, the 
date 1603, Mr. Balfour Paul is inclined to think it is the sole 
survivor of the " Commons' King's " challenge trophies. .'..How- 
ever this may be, we find the seventeen-century archers of 
various good towns keenly competing for their arrows, not- 
withstanding the frowns of the Reformers and the repressive 
measures of both ecclesiastical and civil courts. Adamson, 
the rhyming chronicler of Perth and its worthies, dwells with 
pride on the 

Matchless skill in noble archery 
In these our days when archers did abound 
In Perth, then famous for such pastimes found ; 

and refers to matches with other towns in which the bowmen 
of the fair city 

Spared neither gains nor pains for to report 
To Perth the worship by such noble sport. 

The most interesting records of Scottish archery of this 
period are, however, those we find in Mr. Mark Napier's 
" Memoirs of Montrose." When James Graham, then Earl of 
Montrose, went to St. Andrews' University in 1627, he was 
accompanied by a tutor and guardian who was also purse- 
bearer, and from his careful entries of " my lord's expenses " 
Montrose's biographer is enabled to give us a graphic picture 
of the social life and amusements of the period at the uni- 
versity. Hunting, hawking, horse-racing, billiards, and tennis, 


all had a vigorous adherent in young Graham, and, says Mr. 
Napier, " to those who take interest in ancient sports the fact, 
hitherto unknown, will be acceptable that a most enthusiastic 
promoter of those still approved exercises, archery and golf, 
was the great Montrose. The fact acquires additional interest 
when compared with a passage in a letter from the Queen of 
Bohemia, sister of Charles I. In the month of August, 1649, 
twenty- one years later than the period we are now recording, 
and within a twelvemonth of Montrose's death, while he held 
a commission as plenipotentiary from Charles II. to the foreign 
states, Her Majesty, who had conceived a great affection for 
him, writes in these terms : ' We have nothing to do but to 
walk and shoot. I am grown a good archer to shoot with my 
Lord Kinnoul. If your office will suffer it, I hope you will 
come and help us to shoot.' (This letter was written from 
Rhenen, the queen's summer residence on the Rhine.) Mon- 
trose had retained throughout his life the reputation of a good 
archer, which, no doubt, he had acquired at the college of 
St. Andrews. In the old college there, three antique silver 
arrows, with many silver medals attached, are still preserved 
and exhibited to the curious. The medals are all dated, and 
bear the name, and generally some armorial insignia, of the 
prize-holder. . . . Upon one of them there is engraved, under- 
neath the full arms of the earldom, ' James Earle of Montroes, 
1628,' and on the reverse is rudely sculptured the figure of 
an archer drawing his bow, the usual effigies on most of 
the ancient medals. Montrose, it seems, held this arrow 
from 1628 to 1630, by which time, being married, he had lef: 

, / For many years before this the dominant Puritan party in 
Scotland had been trying to put down all games. They first 
succeeded, by vigorously prosecuting all offenders against 
their new laws, in putting an end to archery and the other 
pastimes the people were in the habit of indulging in on 
Sundays; and though King James's famous " Book of Sports/' 


in which the British Solomon declared it to be his pleasure 
"that after the end of divine service our good people be not 
discouraged from any lawful recreation, such as dancing, either 
men or women, archery for men," compelled them for a time 
to overlook practices they never ceased to abhor, yet when 
the days of civil war came, games were unsparingly put down, 
and in Scotland, as Macaulay says of Puritan England, " it 
was a sin to hang garlands on a Maypole, to drink a friend's 
health, to fly a hawk, to hunt a stag, to play at chess, to wear 
lovelocks, to put starch into a ruff, to touch the virginals, to 
readlthe Fairy Queen." As in other games there is a blank 
in \ the annals of pastime-archery till the Restoration ; it is 
said, r however, that Montrose employed the bow as a weapon 
in his campaigns. His fondness for it would make this appear 
likely enough, but for the fact that he relied chiefly on his 
Highland troops, " whose mode of righting was by the impetu- 
ous dash with pike and claymore, and had not the steadiness 
and discipline indispensable to a body of archers." At the 
same time it is undoubted that the Highland deer-stalkers in 
the northern forests used the bow in the chase very frequently 
in those days. Many of them preferred it to the gun of the 
period, partly for its greater accuracy, but chiefly because by 
its use the deer were less disturbed than by the report of the 

Though we find some references to archery meetings in the 
years succeeding the Restoration, the bowmen do not seem to 
have taken up their weapons again with the same zest with 
which golfers resumed their clubs, and it was with a view to 
stimulate this flagging interest in the ancient sport that the 
present Royal Company of Archers was revived in 1676, under 
the presidency of the Marquis of Atholl. We have already 
alluded to the tradition that would make the company the 
lineal descendants of the Archerguard raised by the first 
James of Scotland ; but whether or not this is founded on 
fact, there is certainly evidence in the Company's records 


to show that in one shape or another it existed for some 
time previous to the commencement of its present records 
in 1676. 

The first entry in their minute-book tells how " the noble 
and useful recreation of archery being for many years much 
neglected," several noblemen and gentlemen associated them- 
selves in a company for its encouragement. They appointed 
a goodly list of office-bearers, framed laws for the body, and 
obtained the approval of the Privy Council, which august body 
recommended the Treasury to grant the Company " one prize 
once in the year to be shot for as a public prize, to be called 
the King's Prize," a grant still annually voted by Parliament 
among the Queen's Plates. 

In December, 1703, Queen Anne granted a charter to the 
Company ratifying and confirming their old privileges, and 
prohibiting anyone " to cause any obstacle or impediment to 
the said Royal Company in the lawful exercise of the ancient 
arms of Bows and Arrows," the Company to render for this 
yearly to the sovereign " one pair of barbed arrows, if asked 
only." Mr. Balfour Paul, in his " History of the Royal Com- 
pany of Archers" (Blackwood. 1875), tells us tnat these 
Reddendo arrows have twice been delivered to the sovereign ; 
first to George IV., during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and 
again when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first came to 
Scotland in 1842. 

From the very beginning the Company had been composed 
almost entirely of men who had a common tie in their attach- 
ment to the Stuarts. Many of the members suffered severely 
for this in the " Forty-five," and for long after then the Govern- 
ment looked with suspicion on the body as a stronghold ot 
devotion to the cause of the exiled house. In Mr. Kington 
Oliphant's Grampian Club volume, " The Jacobite Lairds of 
Gask," is printed a letter from Oliphant of Gask in 1777, 
giving an amusing account of the adventures of his Archer 
uniform in the Rebellion. " Few things could give me greater 


pleasure than to hear of the revival of the Royal Company of 
Archers," he writes. " It is a manly and agreeable amuse- 
ment, and associates the best of the kingdom together. I lose 
no time in acquainting you," continues the Jacobite laird, 
" that my archer coat is still preserved. It is pretty odd if my 
coat be the only one left, especially as it was taken away in 
the '46 by the Duke of Cumberland's plunderers ; and Miss 
Anne Graeme, Inchbrakie, thinking it would be regretted by 
me, went out to the court and got it back from a soldier, 
insisting with him that it was a lady's riding habit ; but putting 
her hand to the breeches to take them too, he, with a thunder- 
ing oath, asked if the lady wore breeches ? " This interesting 
relic is carefully preserved by the Company. There is little of 
very general interest in the history of the Company for the 
last century, during which time they have continued steadily to 
prosper. A curious incident in October, 1818, however, 
deserves notice. A party of North American Indians, who 
were engaged at the Theatre Royal in the play of La Perouse, 
cr the Desolate Island, were invited by the Company to visit 
Archers' Hall and display their skill in archery. At about 
twelve paces their practice was very good, but at longer 
distances, and at field shooting, " their bows were too weak 
for the weight of their arrows," and they had no chance 
with the members of the Royal Company. Mr. Paul gives 
an interesting account of the Indians' mode of shooting and 
way of holding the bow, and says that after dinner their 
chief, through their interpreter, expressed his astonishment 
" to find warriors in a country so remote from his own who 
could exhibit such power and dexterity with the bow and 

The annals of Scottish archery, even within the last hundred 
years, have not always recorded such peaceful and friendly en- 
counters as this. On one occasion, at least, bows have been 
bent with most bloodthirsty intent. On February 10, 1791, a 
very ludicrous duel took place at Edinburgh, of which, unfor- 


tunately, only this meagre account is preserved : " Two 
gentlemen met on the Meadows, supplied with bows and 
arrows, to decide a point of honour. They were accompanied 
by seconds, and had a surgeon in attendance in case their 
Indian artillery should by any means prove effective. After a 
harmless exchange of three shots the parties retired, the 
point of honour, doubtless, being satisfactorily arranged. If 
similar weapons were always employed in duelling/' adds 
the newspaper reporter, " this amusement would speedily 
become unfashionable, seeing that the seconds would run 
quite as great, if not a greater, risk than the principals." 
" Let us hope," with Mr. Paul, "for the honour of the Royal 
Company, that the two Hectors we cannot call them ' fire- 
eaters ' did not belong to that respectable and peaceable 

The practice of archery in Scotland is now nearly entirely 
confined to the members of the Body-guard. The Company 
possess a great number of handsome "Arrows/' cups, and 
other prizes, which are periodically shot for. In these en- 
lightened days, of course, such old competitions as " The 
Goose Prize " and the " Papingo " exist only as names, though 
in comparatively recent times the archer shot at a live goose, 
" failled and biggit " (turfed and built) into a butt with nothing 
but the head visible. " The sport in all its barbarity," says 
Mr. Paul, "seems to have been kept up a considerable time, 
as it is only about 1764 that we find the item of * half-a-crown 
for a goose ' omitted from the treasurer's accounts. The 
method now adopted for shooting for the prize of the Goose is 
by inserting a small glass globe of about an inch in diameter in 
the centre of the butt-mark, which is a circular piece of card- 
board four inches in diameter. The competitor whose arrow 
first breaks this globe is declared ' Captain of the Goose ' for 
the year." The Goose medal is made of part of the very coins 
paid by Tippoo Sultan to the allies at the treaty of Seringapatam 
in 1792. 


The " Papingo " " the trembling mark at which their 
arrows fly " of the funeral games of Patroclus in the " Iliad " 
was in early times a milk-white dove tied to the top of a pole, 
or, as at Kilwinning, to the steeple of their abbey church ; then 
a wooden or stuffed bird, like the one Scott refers to in " Old 
Mortality." Now it is shot for in the butts like an ordinary 
butt prize. 




My better parts 

Are all thrown down ; and that which here stands up 
Is but a quintain : a mere lifeless block. As You Like //, i. 2. 

THOUGH in process of time the quintain became a mere pas- 
time and a source of amusement both to player and spectator, 
it was originally strictly a military exercise, and occupied an 
important place in the severe course of schooling that the 
young aspirant to knighthood had to go through in feudal 
times. Almost as soon as the youth of gentle blood began to 
learn his page's duty, he was set on horseback, and taught to 
ride at the ring, or to risk the sandbag and wooden sabre of 
the " Turk's head " quintain, till, from constant training of 
hand and eye, the young knight, by the time he had won his 
golden spurs, found it no very difficult matter to couch a lance 
in the lists, and to strike with true aim the helmet or shield of 
his opponent in the joust. 

The quintain that tyros in chivalry originally practised at 
was nothing more than a trunk of a tree, or a post set up for 
the purpose ; then a shield was fixed to this post, or often a 
spear was used, to which the shield was bound, and the tilter's 
object was to hit this shield in such a way as to break the 
ligatures and bear it to the ground. " In process of time," 
says Strutt, " this diversion was improved, and instead of the 
staff and the shield, the resemblance of a human figure, carved 
in wood, was introduced. To render the appearance of this 
figure more formidable, it was generally made in the likeness 
of a Turk or a Saracen, armed at all points, bearing a shield 


upon his left arm, and brandishing a club or a sabre with his 
right. Hence this exercise was called by the Italians ' running 
at the armed man,' or ' at the Saracen.' " This is " the Turk " 
of the old fifteenth century poet, whose apparently bloodthirsty 
lines read so strangely familiar to us after so much of the Eastern 
Question nowadays. 

Lepe on thy foe ; look if he dare abide. 
Will he not nee? wounde him : make woundes wide ; 
Hew of his honde : his legge : his theyhs : hisarmys : 
It is the Turk, though he be sleyn noon harm is. 

In tilting at the Saracen, the horseman had to direct his 
lance with great adroitness Strutt goes on to tell us and 
make his stroke on the forehead of the figure, between the 
eyes, or on the nose ; "for if he struck wide of these parts, 
especially upon the shield, the quintain turned about with much 
velocity, and, in case he was not exceedingly careful, would 
give him a severe blow upon the back with the wooden sabre 
held in the right hand, which was considered as highly dis- 
graceful to the performer, while it excited the laughter and 
ridicule of the spectators." 

The authorities are all at variance about the derivation of 
the word quintain, as well as the source from which the exer- 
cise was introduced into Britain. Some say it was a Greek 
game named after its inventor Quintas, about whom nothing is 
known ; equally absurd the derivation of Minshew, who thinks 
it derives its name from Quintus, either because it was the last 
of the "pentathloi," or because it was engaged in on the fifth 
or last day of the Olympic games ; while sticklers for a home 
derivation seem to have agreed that it was a corruption of the 
Welsh " gwyntyn," meaning a vane, till Dr. Charles Mackay 
recently published his book on the Gaelic etymology of the 
English language, and argued that the name of our pastime 
owes its origin to the Gaelic giiin, which means to pierce. 

Where doctors so differ it is unnecessary to say more than 
that an exercise something like quintain seems to have been in 


common use among the Romans, who caused their young mili- 
tary men to practise at it twice in the day, with weapons much 
heavier than those employed in actual warfare. 

Strutt points out that, in the code of laws compiled by the 
Emperor Justinian, the quintain is mentioned as a well-known 
sport ; and allowed to be continued upon condition that, at it, 
pointless spears only should be employed, contrary to the 
ancient usage, which, it seems, required them to have heads or 

Dr. Kennett was so convinced of the Roman origin of the 
game that he says he never saw the quintain practised in any 
part of the country but where Roman ways ran, or where 
Roman garrisons had been placed. 

While tyros in chivalry were practising hard at the Saracen 
to acquire skill, and older knights were charging it in the con- 
stant training needed to retain that skill, burgesses and yeomen 
began to adopt the quintain as a merry pastime, and village 
greens were beginning to resound with uproarious mirth as the 
staff or sandbag whirled round to belabour the clumsy rider 
who had failed to hit the proper part of the Turk's forehead. 
What made the quintain such a favourite pastime of the com- 
mon folk, was the rule of chivalry that forbade any person 
under the rank of an esquire to enter the lists as a combatant 
at tournament or joust. Accordingly, as the prohibition did 
not extend to the quintain, young men whose station debarred 
them from entering the lists set up a simple form of quintain 
on their village green, and, if they were not able to procure 
horses, contented themselves with running at this mark on 
foot. These village quintains of which one specimen at 
least is still preserved, that of OrTham, in Kent consisted 
only of a cross bar turning on a pivot, with a broad end to 
strike against, while from the other extremity hung a bag of 
sand or earth, that swung round and hit the back of a lagging 
rider. A correspondent of Notes and Queries says that 
the Offham quintain is still in good order; had it not been 


that a road has been made to pass within a few feet of it, a 
man might ride at it now. The striking board is not per- 
forated, that is, bored through, but some small round holes 
about a quarter of an inch deep are cut on it, probably to 
afford a better hold for the lance, and to prevent its glancing off. 

When many joined in running at the quintain, prizes were 
offered, and the winner was determined by the number and 
value of the strokes he had made. At the Saracen a stroke 
on the top of the nose counted three, others less and less, 
down to the foul stroke that turned the quintain round and 
disqualified the runner. It was at one of these prize gather- 
ings that the unlucky incident took place that Stowe tells from 
Mathew Paris. In 1254, the young Londoners, who, the 
historian tells us, were very expert horsemen, met together 
one day to run at the quintain for a peacock, a bird very often 
in those days set up as a prize for the best performer. King 
Henry the Third's Court being then at Westminster, some of 
his domestics came into the city to witness the sports. They 
behaved in a very disgraceful manner, and treated the Lon- 
doners with much insolence, calling them cowardly knaves and 
rascally clowns ; conduct which the citizens resented by beat- 
ing the king's menials soundly. Henry, however, was incensed 
at the indignity put upon his servants, and not taking into 
consideration the provocation on their part, fined the city one 
thousand marks. "Some have thought these fellows were 
sent thither purposely to promote a quarrel, it being known 
that the king was angry with the citizens of London for 
refusing to join in the crusade." 

Stowe goes on to say that in London this exercise of 
running at the quintain was practised at all seasons, but more 
especially at Christmas time. " I have seen," continues the 
author of the " Survey of London," " a quintain set up on 
Cornhill by Leadenhall, where the attendants of the lords of 
merry disports have run and made great pastimes ; for lie that 
hit not the broad end of the quintain was laughed to scorn, 


and he that hit it full, if he rode not the faster, had a sound 
blow upon his neck with a bag full of sand hanged on the 
other end." 

Though running at the quintain was a common exercise at 
all festive gatherings of the country people, it was the especial 
exercise at marriage rejoicings. Ben Jonson alludes to this 
when he writes of the bridegroom 

. . . at quintin he, 
In honour of his bridal-tee, 
Hath challenged either wide countee. 
Come cut and long taile, for there be 
Six bachelors as bold as he, 
Adjuting to his company ; 
And each one hath his livery. 

Roberts, in his " Popular Antiquities of Wales," gives this 
interesting account of the ancient marriage customs in the 
Principality : " On the day of the ceremony, the nuptial 
presents having previously been made, and the marriage 
privately celebrated at an early hour, the signal to the friends 
of the bridegroom was given by the piper, who was always 
present on these occasions, and mounted on a horse trained 
for the purpose ; and the cavalcade being all mounted, set off 
at full speed, with the piper playing in the midst of them, for 
the house of the bride. The friends of the bride in the mean- 
time having raised various obstructions to prevent their access 
to the house of the bride, such as ropes of straw across the 
road, blocking up the regular one, &c., and the quintain : the 
rider in passing struck the flat side, and, if not dexterous, was 
overtaken, and perhaps dismounted, by the sandbag, and 
became a fair object for laughter. The gwyntyn was also 
guarded by champions of the opposite party, who, if it was 
passed successfully, challenged the adventurers to a trial of 
skill at one of the four-and-twenty games, a challenge which 
could not be declined ; and hence to guard the gwyntyn was 
a service of high adventure." 



Laneham, in his " Progresses of Queen Elizabeth," gives an 
amusing description of a " country bridal," which the virgin 
Queen witnessed when she was at Kenilworth in 1575. After 
the wedding there " was set up in the castle a comely quintane 
for feats at armes, where, in a great company of young men 
and lasses, the bridegroom had the first course at the quintane 
and broke his spear very boldly. But his mare in his manage 
did a little stumble, that much adoe had his manhood to sit 
in his saddle. But after the bridegroom had made his course, 
ran the rest of the band, a while in some order, but soon after 
tag and rag, cut and long tail ; where the speciality of the 
sport was to see how some for his slackness had a good bob 
with the bag, and some for his haste to topple downright and 
come tumbling to the post ; some striving so much at the first 
setting out that it seemed a question between man and beast, 
whether the race should be performed on horseback or on 
foot ; and some put forth with spurs, would run his race byas, 
among the thickest of the throng, that down they came to- 
gether, hand over head. Another, while he directed his course 
to the quintane, his judgment would carry him to a mare 
among the people ; another would run and miss the quintane 
with his staff, and hit the board with his head." 

This interesting old wedding custom continued to be ob- 
served at marriages down to comparatively recent times. It is 
possible that it may still hold a place among the bridal re- 
joicings in the Principality j at any rate, Mr. John Strange, 
writing in 1796 (" Archaeologia," vol. i., p. 303), says that " this 
sport is still practised at weddings among the better sort of 
freeholders in Brecknockshire ;" and then goes on to describe 
the variety of the pastime in use there a few flat planks, 
erected on a green, against which the young men tilt with long 
thick sticks, " striking the stick against the planks with the 
utmost force, in order to break it, where the diversion ends ;" 
a variety of the quintain very like the " cane game," at which 
Richard Coeur de Lion lost his temper on Sunday afternoon 


outside the walls of Messina in Sicily, while on his way to the 
Holy Land. 

Mr. Anthony Trollope, in one of his Barsetshire novels, 
makes pleasant fun of old Miss Thome's attempt -to revive the 
quintain at a rural fete ; but, though the novelist makes dire 
disaster befall the old lady's riders, the old pastime has some- 
times been revived in real life, and with success. Indeed, as 
Mr. Bernhard Smith observes in Notes and Queries, the quin- 
tain is probably not so uncommon as is generally supposed. 
Mr. Smith has seen two one at Chartley, Lord Ferrers' seat 
in Staffordshire, and another in a riding-house belonging to 
the late Mr. Harrington, at his house near Crawley, in Sussex. 
The Times (August 7, 1827) had a long account of a revival 
of the old pastime, in which several varieties are described, 
and of which we may quote a part. " Viscount and Viscountess 
Gage gave a grand fete on Friday (August 3, 1827) at their 
seat at Firle Place, Sussex, to about a hundred and sixty of the 
nobility and gentry, at which the ancient game of quintain 
was revived. The sports commenced by gentlemen riding 
with light spiked staves at rings and apples suspended by a 
string, after which they changed their weapons to stout poles, 
and attacked the two quintains, which consisted of logs of 
wood fashioned to resemble the head and body of a man, and 
set upright upon a high bench, on which they were kept by a 
chain passing through the platform, and having a weight 
suspended to it, so that if the log was ever struck full and 
forcibly the figure resumed its seat. One was also divided 
in the middle, and the upper part being fixed on a pivot, 
turned, if not struck in the centre, and requited its assailant 
by a blow with a staff, to which was suspended a small bag of 

" The purses for unhorsing this quintain were won by John 
Slater and Thomas Trebeck, Esqrs. The other figure, which 
did not turn, offered a lance towards the assailant's face, and 
the rider was to avoid the lance and unhorse the quintain at 


the same time. The purses were won by Sheffield Neave, Esq., 
and the Hon. John Pelham. 

"A third pair of purses were offered for unhorsing the quin- 
tain by striking on a coloured belt, which hooped round the 
waist of the figure, thereby raising the weight, which was con- 
siderable, by a much shorter lever than when struck higher up. 
This was a feat requiring great strength and firmness of seat, 
and though not fairly won according to the rules of the game, 
the prizes were ultimately assigned to the very spirited exer- 
tions of Messrs. Cayley and Gardener." 

Strutt notices a great many games akin to or derived from 
the quintain, of which, perhaps, the most interesting were the 
" water quintain " and " running at the ring." 

The boat quintain and tilting at each other upon the water 
{a favourite pastime still at some sea-bathing places), were in- 
troduced by the Normans as amusements for the summer 
season, and were very soon established favourites among all 
classes of the people. Fitzstephen describes the exercise as 
practised by the Londoners of his day during the Easter holi- 
days, when a pole was fixed in the Thames, with a shield 
strongly attached to it, towards which a boat, with the tilter 
standing in the bows, was swiftly pulled. If the tilter's lance 
struck the shield fairly and broke, all went well ; but if other- 
wise, he was thrown into the water, greatly to the amusement 
of the people who crowded the bridges, wharves, and houses 
near the river, and "who come," says the author, " to see the 
sports and make themselves merry." 

Stowe has often seen, " in the summer season, upon the 
river of Thames, some rowed in wherries, with staves in their 
hands, flat at the fore end, running one against the other, and 
for the most part one or both of them were overthrown and 
well ducked." When Queen Elizabeth visited Sandwich, in 
1573, "certain wallounds that could well swim " entertained 
her with a water tilting, in which one of the combatants " did 
overthrow another, at which the Queene had good sport." 


A much more important descendant of the quintain than 
this laughable pastime was running at the ring, a sport de- 
manding all the skill of the quintain, but without its roughness 
and horse-play. Accordingly we find that, while Giles and 
Hodge continued to urge their dobbins with unabated relish 
against the whirling board and sandbag, the squire and the 
courtier transferred their attention to the more delicate exer- 
cise, and attained to high skill at it. In the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries " this generous exercise," as Whitelocke 
calls it, was reduced to a science, with minute rules and direc- 
tions on all points of procedure and parts of the equipment 

Randolph, in a letter from Scotland to Secretary Sir William 
Cecil, on December 7, 1561, gives us an account of the pastime 
as celebrated at the Scottish Court of Queen Mary. He is 
reporting part of a conversation he had with De Fois, the 
French Ambassador : "From this purpose we fell in talk of 
the pastimes that were the Sunday before, when the Lord 
Robert, the Lord John, and others ran at the ring, six against 
six, disguised and apparelled, the one half like women, the 
other half like strangers in strange masking garments. The 
Marquis [d'Elboeuf, the Queen's uncle], that day did very well ; 
but the women, whose part the Lord Robert did sustain, won 
the Ring. The Queen herself beheld it, and as many others 
as listed." 

A few years later, when the Admirable Crichton was in 
Paris, we find him distinguishing himself as highly in the tilt- 
yard as among the doctors of the University. Pennant, in his 
sketch of Crichton's life, quotes from Sir Thomas Urquhart, of 
Cromarty, the account of the famous disputation when Crichton 
caused notices to be affixed to the gates of the Parisian colleges 
and schools, inviting all the renowned doctors of the city to 
dispute with him at the College of Navarre in any art or 
science, and in any of twelve languages, on that day six weeks ; 
" and during all this time, instead of making a close applica- 


tion to his studies, he minded nothing but hunting, hawking, 
tilting, cards, dice, tennis, and other diversions of youth." 
" Yet on the day appointed he met with them in the College 
of Navarre, and acquit himself beyond expression in that 
dispute, which lasted from nine till six of the clock." But 
still, after all this hard work, " he was so little fatigued with that 
day's dispute that the very next day he went to the Louvre, 
where he had a match of tilting, an exercise in great request in 
those days ; and in the presence of some princes of the Court 
of France, and a great many ladies, he carried away the ring 
fifteen times on end, and broke as many lances on the Saracen. " 
No wonder that " ever after that he was called the Admirable 
Crichton ! " 

When King James's brother-in-law, Christian of Denmark, 
was in England in 1606, the recorder of his " Welcome " then 
tells us that: "On Monday, being the 4th day of August, it 
pleased our King's Majestic himself in person, and the King's 
Majestic of Denmark, likewise in person, and divers others of 
his estate, to runne at the ring in the tilt-yard at Greenwich, 
where the King of Denmark approved to all judgments that 
majestic is never unaccompanied with vertue ; for there, in the 
presence of all the beholders, he tooke the ring fower severall 
times, and would, I thinke, have done the like four score times, 
had he runne so many courses." 

Echard, in his " History of England," says that Charles the 
First was "so perfect in vaulting, riding the great horse, running 
at the ring, shooting with crossbows, muskets, and sometimes 
great guns, that if sovereignty had been the reward of excel- 
lence in those arts, he would have acquired a new title to the 
crown, being accounted the most celebrated marksman and 
the most perfect manager of the great horse of any in the 
three kingdoms." Gross flattery this probably was ; but many 
other passages might be cited to prove the fondness of the age 
for this and similar pastimes, by which, Burton tells us, " many 
gentlemen gallop quite out of their fortunes." 


Both the quintain " common recreation of country folk," 
and the ring "disport of greater men," according to the 
" Anatomy of Melancholy" appear to have gone out with 
the Stuarts in England, though in Scotland traces of tilting at 
the ring are found now and then in notices of country fairs and 
gatherings during the last century. A curious instance of this, 
where the pastime was cultivated as a preventive to intemper- 
ance that should endear it to Sir Wilfrid Lawson, is given in 
Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account of Scotland in 1798." 
An old Perthshire Society, the Fraternity of Chapmen, held 
their annual meeting for the election of their " Lord," or presi- 
dent, in the parish of Dunkeld. After the election the members 
dined together, and, after dinner, the minister of the parish 
tells us, " to prevent that intemperance to which social meet- 
ings in such situations are sometimes prone, they spend the 
evening in some public competition of dexterity or skill. Of 
these, riding at the ring (an amusement of ancient and warlike 
origin) is the chief. Two perpendicular posts are erected on 
this occasion, with a cross beam, from which is suspended a 
small ring ; the competitors are on horseback, each having a 
pointed rod in his hand, and he who at full gallop, passing 
betwixt the posts, carries away the ring on his rod, gains the 

In recent years running at the ring has again become 
popular, especially at " military sports," where the pastime, 
along with tent-pegging, its brother sport from the East, culti- 
vates quickness of eye and hand, and management of the 
charger among our cavalry, exactly as the old quintain and 
ring were designed to do among our ancestors eight centuries 

1 84 



Yet if for sylvan sports thy bosom glow, 
Let thy fleet greyhound urge his flying foe. 
With what delight the rapid course I view, 
How does my eye the circling race pursue ! 

GAY, Rural Sports. 

COURSING with greyhounds, though, as the author of " The 
Booke of Huntinge," says, "doubtlesse a noble pastime, and 
as meet for nobility and gentlemen as any of the other kinds 
of Venerie," probably was a mode of hunting of much more 
recent origin than that department of the chase in which 
hounds pursued the game by scent instead of by sight alone. 
It certainly was so in the classical world. Homer, indeed, has 
references to a sport very like coursing, as in the " Iliad," 
where he compares Ulysses and Diomede pursuing Dolon : 

As when two skilful hounds the leveret wind ; 

or praises in the " Odyssey " the swiftness and keenness of 
sight and smell of the famous hound " Argus " : 

His eye how piercing, and his scent how true 
To wind the vapour in the tainted dew. 

" But we cannot allow such a hound," says a learned translator 
of Arrian's " Cynegeticus," "within the precincts of a coursing 
kennel, where speed and keensightedness are the essential 
properties; to stoop to 'the tainted green,' with the sagacity 
of a harrier, invalidates the claim." 

" Greyhounds," says old Gervase Markham, "are oncly for 


the coursing of all sorts of wilde beasts by main swifinesse of 
foot ; they doe not anything more than their eyes govern them 
unto; " and such dogs, we have the authority of the younger 
Xenophon for saying, were quite unknown in ancient Greece. 

Ovid is the first classical author who refers to coursing. 
The accuracy of this description and the correctness of its 
technical phraseology imply not only that the poet was a prac- 
tical courser and derived his imagery from experience in the 
field, but that the sport must have had a systematic form and 
been governed by a well-established set of rules in Ovid's day. 
It probably was introduced into the southern parts of the 
Roman empire some little time before the poet lived, from the 
country of the Galli or Celts. The northern plains of Europe 
appear to have been the birthplace of coursing ; and the grey- 
hound is generally referred to by Greek and Roman writers as 
the Gallic dog, the Celtic dog, or as Vertragus, a name that is 
generally supposed to mean a dog adapted for coursing over 
plains or open country. 

Casual allusions to the Vertragus acer in Martial and other 
authors are all the records of coursing we have till we come 
to the time of Adrian and the Antonini, when we get a full 
and perfect picture of the pastime in the elaborate " Cyne- 
geticus " of Arrian of Nicomedia, in Bithynia, " the younger 
Xenophon," as he calls himself. His object, he tells us, was 
to supply an omission in the treatise on hunting of the son of 
Gryllus, who knew nothing of coursing, and accordingly the 
Bithynian like Xenophon, " a sportsman, a general, and a 
philosopher "enters minutely into all the details of kennel 
management, the "points >; of a properly bred greyhound, and 
the laws and practise of coursing, in a manner that his best 
translator and annotator tells us has left " little to be added to 
our knowledge in any department of coursing." 

The classical history of the leash may be said to terminate 
in the fourth century. Long before then, however, we come 
upon allusions to the existence of greyhounds in our own 


islands. Nemesian, a Carthaginian writer on the chase in the 
third century, speaks of these British dogs being exported to 
Rome ; and we know that, in the reign of Theodosius, Flavian 
sent seven Celtic or Irish dogs septem Scoticorum canum 
oblatio of the greatest speed and fire, to grace the spectacle 
of his brother Symmachus at Rome. Though Ireland was at 
that time the country of the Scoti, there is little reason to 
doubt that similar dogs of the chase were known in what is 
now Scotland ; for, besides the statements in Hector Boece, 
Fordun, and other old Scottish chroniclers of the high esti- 
mation in which greyhounds were held in those early times, 
we have the more trustworthy evidence of the sculptured 
stones of the North of Scotland, on many of which are stirring 
pictures of the chase in which lithe greyhounds are depicted 
in hot pursuit of their quarry. These invaluable pictures of old 
manners, which have been made accessible to us by Dr. John 
Stuart's Spalding Club volumes, have been set down by the 
best authorities to dates from the third to the ninth centuries. 

We have evidence of the renhund, or greyhound, being an 
inmate of Anglo-Saxon kennels as early as the days of Aelfric 
of Mercia. The Saxons got these dogs from Wales ; they 
always seem to have been favourite hounds, and there can be 
little doubt, from illustrations in old MSS., that coursing was an 
Anglo-Saxon pastime, and that the hounds there depicted in 
the leash in couples were slipped at game very much as grey- 
hounds always have been. 

For a longtime after the Norman Conquest we kno\v nothing 
of coursing, though there are frequent incidental allusions to 
the greyhound and his high repute, but principally as distinc- 
tive of the rank and grandeur of his possessor. A greyhound 
was among the most highly prized of gifts in times when the 
custom of making presents was an important point in social 
ceremony. It was an especial favourite with ladies and with 
the clergy. In the old metrical romance of " Sir Eglamore " a 
princess tells the knight that she would, as an especial mark of 


her favour, give him a greyhound, so swift in deer-coursing 
that nothing could escape him : 

Sir, if you be on hunting bound, 
I shall you give a good greyhound 
That is dun as a doe. 
For as I am true gentlewoman, 
There was never deer that he at ran 
That might escape him fro. 

While among the gifts the Kino; of Hungary promises his 
daughter in the " Squyer of lowe Degre ; ' is 

A lese of herhounds with her to strake. 

We find Richard I. giving to Henry de Grey, of Codnor, 
permission to hunt the hare in any lands belonging to the 
crown ; and probably this refers to coursing, especially as we 
know that King John had a large stud of greyhounds which 
he used in hare-coursing. It was in the reign of Edward I., 
however, that the sport was first established on a scientific 
footing, with regular rules for its guidance. Edward was him- 
self a courser, if we may judge by a curious tenure by which 
Bertram de Criol held the manor of Seaton in Kent from the 
king ; he was to provide a veltrarius, or greyhound keeper, to 
lead three greyhounds when the king went into Gascony, so 
long as a pair of shoes, valued at four pence, should last him. 

Though the hare was always considered the most appro- 
priate quarry for the greyhound, and the field instructions of 
Arrian refer almost exclusively to hare-coursing, yet, both in 
his day and at later times, we find the deer, the wolf, the fox, 
and even sometimes the wild cat, coursed with greyhounds. 
Even yet, though the hare alone competes in speed with the 
longtail, his rough-coated brother, the deerhound, is some- 
times slipped at a stag, and hunts him by sight alone. In 
old British field sports, however, deer-coursing held an im- 
portant place, and many stories are told us in old writers of 
the prowess of famous dogs in this sport of high repute. 


Father Augustus Hay, in his "Genealogie of the Sainte Claires 
of Rosslyn," tells a story of a deer-coursing in the days of 
King Robert the Bruce, a passionate lover of the chase, by 
which the St. Glairs gained a fine tract of territory near Edin- 
burgh. When peace had been restored in Scotland, one day 
there was a great hunting in the Pentland Forest, at which a 
white deer was seen, which Bruce said he had often coursed, 
but that his hounds " could never prevail, and he desired his 
nobles if they had any swifter dogs to try them. They, hear- 
ing the king's speech, denied that they had any could kill the 
deer." Sir William St. Clair, however, jocularly said that he 
would wager his head his two hounds, Help and Hold, would 
pull down the deer before she could cross a stream called the 
March Burn. Bruce, "taking indignation that his hounds 
should be speediest, would have him abide by his word, and 
laid against his head all Pentland Hills and Pentland Moor 
with the Forest." The worthy father goes on to relate in great 
detail how Sir William went on horseback with his hounds to 
the appointed spot; how beaters with dogs drove out the deer, 
at which Hdp and Hold were slipped. The hind managed to 
reach the middle of the stream before the hounds turned her 
back, and slew her on the right side to save St. Glair's head, 
and win for him the lands of Pentland in "free forestrie." 

Here we see a method of coursing in which two kinds of 
hounds were employed : dogs of scent to follow up and drive 
out the prey instead of "beaters," while the greyhounds were 
placed outside the covert ready to be slipped when the game 
appeared in sight. This is the sport Scott describes in 
"Marmion" : 

And foresters In greenwood trim 
Leid in the leash the ga/.ehounds grim, 
Attentive, as the brachct's bay 
From th; dark covert drove the prey, 
To slip them as he drove away. 
The startled quarry bounds amain, 
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain. 




It is a variety of coursing, however, that the oldest British 
authorities condemn. Thus, Edmund, Duke of York, who 
wrote a treatise on hunting called the " Maysrer of Game," in 
the latter part of the fourteenth century, for the use of the 
young prince, afterwards Henry V., says, if " spaynels and grey- 
hounds" be in the same field, " the spaynel will make al 
the ryot and al the harme." This treatise of Edmund de 
Langley's is the oldest English work on coursing we have. 
An earlier work, " The Crafte of Huntyng," by Tvvety and 
Gifford, huntsmen to Edward II., only mentions the greyhound 
once, and makes no allusion at all to hare-coursing, so that the 
sport must have greatly advanced in importance as the four- 
teenth century grew old. 

From the " Mayster of Game," and such subsequent works as 
the celebrated "Book of St. Albans," of Dame Juliana Berners, 
we get minute descriptions of the various kinds of coursing in 
fashion in olden times. Deer were coursed in forest and in 
paddock : in the one case the game was free, but in the paddock 
the quarry was enclosed in a portion of the park railed off 
with palings. At one end of this long enclosure were erected 
stands for the accommodation of the spectators, while at the 
other the game was kept confined in a covert. At this end 
were the greyhounds ready to be slipped when the deer were 
driven out of the cover, and matters were so arranged that 
dogs and deer went along in full view of the "trists," or 
stands on which the spectators were. This was the kind of 
pastime witnessed by Queen Elizabeth at Lord Montecute's 
seat, Cowdrey in Sussex, in 1591, when her Majesty one day 
after dinner saw from a turret " sixteen bucks, all having fayre 
lawe, pulled down with greyhounds in a lawn." 

In all the records of coursing we have glanced at hitherto 
e emulation seems entirely to have been looked on as 
etween the dogs on the one hand and the game on the other, 
trial of speed between hare, or deer and hound, and not at all 
a struggle for victory between the two hounds slipped at the 


game. In fact, frequently only one dog was slipped, and some- 
times we find three slipped all together. 

It is not till the reign of Elizabeth that we find any traces of 
match-coursing, which was usually in enclosures after deer. 
Hare-coursing, however, was a fashionable sport in her reign, 
and in the laws of the leash, compiled by the Duke of Norfolk 
in her reign, we find rules laid down that not above a brace of 
greyhounds should course a hare. 

We may see from the frequent allusions in Shakespeare and 
his brother-poets how popular coursing was then. King 
Henry V. sees his soldiers, impatient for the assault of Har- 

Stand like greyhounds in the slips, 
Straining upon the start. 

When Sly wakes from his drunken slumber his 

Greyhounds are as swift 
As breathed stags, ay, fleeter than the roe. 

Ben Jonson's references show he must have witnessed many a 
course ; while, to give one more instance, Drayton has a long 
and accurate description of a coursing in his " Polyolbion." 

The first public coursing meeting in Britain must have 
originated about this time at the great annual gathering of the 
country people of Gloucestershire, among the Cotswold hills. 
From an early period these good folk seem to have met in the 
Vale of Evesham to hold a primitive cattle show and pass a 
day in jovial festivity. Then games were added to the day's 
proceedings, and among them " coursing of silver-footed grey- 
hounds," for which pastime the Cotswold Games became very 
famous, especially when Robert Dover, a Warwickshire attorney, 
with strong views against Puritanism, resolved to enlarge and 
systematise the Cotswold gathering as a practical antidote to 
the kill-joy Puritan teaching. This he did in the reign of King 
James, but the public coursing match was part of the old pro- 
gramme, for it is immortalised by Shakespeare in the opening 


scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor, when Slender asks 
Page : 

How does your fallow greyhound, sir ? 

I heard say, he was outrun on Cotsall. 
Page. It could not be judged, sir. 

"The phrase, { I heard say he was outrun on Cotsall,' can 
obviously only refer," says Mr. E. W. Gosse, " to a competi- 
tive coursing in which Page's greyhound failed to win the first 
prize. It is remarkable that this passage does not occur in the 
quartos, and rests on the authority of the first folio ; but it 
would be very rash to argue from this fact, as has been done, 
however, that the Cotswold Games began between 1619 and 
1623. There can be no doubt that at the latter date they had 
the notoriety which follows twenty years of success. It was 
made a great point by the humane Dover that not the killing 
of the hare, but the winning of the prize, should be the aim 
men set before them in competing. He desired to supersede 
hunting as much as possible by instituting these games of 

In a quaint frontispiece to a rare volume of poems published 
in 1636, composed by Ben Jonson, Drayton, Randolph, and 
many others of the best poets of the time, we see Dover in 
full costume, on horseback, with his wand of office as ruler of 
the sports, while behind him are depicted scenes of coursing, 
horse-racing, dancing, feasting, wrestling, and other sports in 
his programme. This woodcut is reproduced in the " Book of 
Days," and recently the Rev. A. B. Grosart has reprinted the 
very rare little volume, the " Annalia Dubrensia " of which it 
is the frontispiece. 

The Cotswold Games, like other mirthful gatherings, were 
put down during the Puritan rule, and though they were re- 
vived again at the Restoration, their new lease of life seems to 
have been short, and public coursing cannot be said to have 
existed again until Lord Orford founded the Swaffham Club in 
1776. This club was restricted to twenty-six members ; in the 


Ashdown Park, Malton, and other clubs founded in the latter 
years of the last century, the membership was also very small, 
and none but members could enter dogs at the meetings. It 
was not until about half a century ago that the first public 
open coursing meeting was held in Glasgow. How numerous 
such meetings have become since then we all know nowadays, 
when the doings of greyhounds at all sorts of gatherings from 
lordly Altcar to the humblest local meeting fill up the gap in 
sporting life between the close and the opening of the legiti- 
mate racing season. 

With the absorbing attention given to match-coursing nowa- 
days, private coursing and the merry gatherings it gave rise to 
are in danger of falling aside : and yet one cannot help think- 
ing how much more real sport there was with Arrian after his 
fine bitch Horme, or " out wi' the grews " on the Ettrick hills 
with Christopher North and the Shepherd, than at public 
coursing meetings nowadays, with all their sordid accompani- 
ments subordinating all interests to that of betting. 

Lockhart, in his " Life of Scott," records one of these 
pleasant coursings on Newark Hill, in which Sir Walter, with 
Sir Humphry Davy, Dr. Wollaston, Mackenzie, " the Man of 
Feeling," and a merry party of other guests took part. 1 c A 
faithful sketch of what you at this instant see," said Lockhart 
to Sir William Allan the painter, as they were starting from 
Abbotsford, "would be more interesting a hundred years hence 
than the grandest so-called historical painting fhat you will 
ever exhibit at Somerset House." 

" Coursing on such a mountain as Newark Hill is not like 
the same sport over a set of firm English pastures. There were 
gulfs to be avoided and bogs enough to be threaded ; many a 
stiff nag stuck fast many a bold rider measured his length 
among the peat bogs, and another stranger to the ground be- 
sides Davy plunged neck deep into a treacherous well-head, 
which, till they were floundering in it, had borne all the 
appearance of a piece of delicate green turf. When Sir 

COURSiNG. 193 

Humphry emerged from his involuntary bath, his habiliments 
garnished with mud, slime, and mangled water-cresses, Sir 
Walter received him with a triumphant Encore! But the 
philosopher had his revenge, for joining soon afterwards in a 
brisk gallop, Scott put Sibyl Grey to a leap beyond her prowess, 
and lay humbled in the ditch, while Davy, who was better 
mounted, cleared it and him at a bound. Happily there was 
little damage done." 

Scott was always a passionate lover of coursing, and nothing 
delighted him more, as he often tells us, than to take part in 
the great annual coursing day, " the Abbotsford Hunt," or " at 
humbler sport," with a friend or two, after his 

Greyhounds true. 
O'er holt or hill there never flew, 
From slip or leash there never sprang, 
More fleet of foot or sure of fang. 

Loudly have been sung the praises of many a gallant grey- 
hound. Horme and Laelaps, Snowball, Maida and Bonny 
Heck, with the more modern heroes like Cerito and Master 
M'Grath, triple winners of the Waterloo Cup ; but certainly 
never was hare immortalised except the Hare of Balchristy, 
hero of this amusing anecdote told by Scott : 

" There was a coursing club once upon a time which met at 
Balchristy, in the Province, or as it is popularly called, the 
Kingdom of Fife. The members were elderly social men, to 
whom a very moderate allowance of sport served as an intro- 
duction to a hearty dinner and jolly evening. Now, there 
had been sent on the ground where they usually met, a certain 
large, stout hare, who seemed made on purpose to entertain 
these moderate sportsmen. She usually gave the amusement 
of three or four turns, as soon as she was put up a sure sign 
of a strong hare, when practised by any beyond the age of a 
leveret : then stretched out in great style, and after affording 
the gentlemen an easy canter of a mile or two, threw out the 
dogs by passing through a particular gap in an enclosure. 


This sport the same hare gave to the same party for one or two 
seasons, and it was just enough to afford the worthy members 
of the club a sufficient reason to be alleged to their wives, or 
others whom it might concern, for passing the day in the 
public-house. At length a fellow who attended the hunt, 
nefariously thrust his plaid into the gap I mentioned, and poor 
puss, her retreat being thus cut off, was in the language of the 
dying Desdemona, ' basely, basely murdered.' The sport of 
the Balchristy Club seemed to end with this famous hare. 
They either found no hares, or such as afforded only a halloo 
and a squeak, or such, finally, as gave them further runs than 
they had pleasure in following. The spirit of the meeting 
died away, and at length it was altogether given up. 

" The publican was, of course, the party most especially 
affected by the discontinuance of the club, and regarded, it 
may be supposed, with no complacency the person who had 
prevented the hare from escaping, and even his memory. 
One day, a gentleman asked him what was become of such 
a one, naming the obnoxious individual. ' He is dead, sir/ 
answered mine host, with an angry scowl, ' and his soul kens 
this day whether the Hare of Balchristy got fair play or not.' " 




. At Beltane game 

Thou ledst the dance with Malcolm Graeme. Lady of the Lake. 

LONG after the Druids were no more, and when Christianity 
had become established in Britain, many of the superstitions 
connected with the old fire-worship lingered among the people. 
So tenaciously did they cling to these old rites, that it is 
probable the early Christian priesthood made a virtue of neces- 
sity, and grafted on to the ceremonial of their faith modified 
forms of the old customs, endeared to their converts by life- 
long observance. To this day, in some places, we find curious 
remains of these ancient rites in usages which the people, 
though ignorant of their origin and meaning, still periodically 
observe. No clearer link of this kind between present and 
remote past exists than the observances of La Bealtuinn, or 
Beltane, as practised in Scotland till within the recollection of 
living people, and which, indeed, are not yet wholly extinct in 
remote districts. 

In the days of the Druids the first of May was the great 
festival in honour of Belus or Baal. From the sacred fires on 
the altars mighty fires were lighted on the hill-tops, through 
which were driven all the four-footed beasts of the district. 
The cattle were merely driven through, not sacrificed, and the 
object of the ceremony was partly to expiate the sins of the 
people, but chiefly to keep away from the herds all disorders 
till next May-day. On this day, too, all the hearth fires in the 
district were extinguished, in order that they might be rekindled 
from this purifying flame. 


From these circumstances, this day was called "La Beil- 
teine," the day of Belus' fire. As lately as 1790, we know that 
in the West of Scotland the cow-herds and young people in the 
country districts used to kindle these fires on the high grounds, 
in honour of Beltane ; while in many other parts of the 
country we find observances that, even more clearly still, point 
to the rites of the sun-god's worship. Several of the clerical 
contributors to Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account of 
Scotland," published at the end of last century, allude to the 
Beltane usages in their parishes ; but the most detailed account 
is that given by the Rev. James Robertson, the minister of the 
parish of Callander, in Perthshire, who, writing in 1791, says : 
" The people of this district have two customs, which are fast 
wearing out, not only here but all over the Highlands, and 
therefore ought to be taken notice of while they remain. Upon 
the first of May, which is called Beltane or Baltein-day, all the 
boys in a township or hamlet meet on the moors. They cut a 
table in the green sod of a round figure, by casting a trench in 
the ground of such circumference as to hold the whole com- 
pany. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk 
in the consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, 
which is toasted at the embers against a stone. After the 
custard is eaten up, they divide the cake into so many portions, 
as similar as possible to one another in size and shape, as there 
are persons in the company. They daub one of these portions 
all over with charcoal until it be perfectly black. They then 
put all the bits of cake into a bonnet. Everyone, blindfold, 
draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to 
the last bit; whoever draws the black bit is the devoted 
person who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favour they 
mean to implore in rendering the year productive of the suste- 
nance of man and beast. There is little doubt of these in- 
human sacrifices having been once offered in this country as 
well as in the East, although they now pass from the act of 
sacrifice, and only compel the devoted person to leap three times 


through the flames, with which act the ceremonies of this 
festival are closed." 

While it is clear that some of these rites are peculiarly like 
those of sun-worship, others suggest the Roman Palilia, or 
festival in honour of Pales, the goddess of shepherds. Below 
we shall see that in the Beltane usages there are suggestions 
of the Floralia, or festival in honour of the goddess of flowers, 
remains of which are so conspicuous in the less primitive 
May-day observances of England j also that another Roman 
festival, the Lemuria, contributed to the strange medley of 
pagan rites grafted on to the pliant Christianity of the second- 
century Briton. 

Ovid, in the fourth book of the " Fasti," tells how the shep- 
herds, in order to get the protection of Pales for themselves and 
their flocks, kindled fires in the fields, baked cakes, purified 
themselves by leaping through the flames ; while, for the caudle 
of the Perthshire peasants, they drank milk and sapa, that is, 
new wine boiled till only a third part of it remained. 

Pennant, in his " Tour in Scotland," gives an account of 
the Beltane rites in which some additional particulars are 
noted. "On the first of May," he says, "the herdsmen of 
every village hold their Beltein, a rural sacrifice. They cut a 
square trench on the ground, leaving the turf in the middle ; 
on that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large 
caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal, and milk, and bring, besides 
the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky, for 
each of the company must contribute something. The rites 
begin with spilling some of the caudle on the ground, by way 
of libation ; on that, everyone takes a cake of oatmeal, upon 
which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some 
particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and 
herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them ; 
each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, 
and, flinging it over his shoulders, says : * This I give to thee, 
preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my 


sheep ' ; and so on. After that they use the same ceremony 
to the noxious animals : * This I give to thee, O fox ! spare 
thou my lambs ; this to thee, O hooded crow ! this to thee, 
O eagle ! ' &c. 

" When the ceremony is over, they dine on the caudle, and 
after the feast is finished, what is left is hid by two persons 
deputed for that purpose ; but on the next Sunday they re- 
assemble and finish the relics of the first entertainment." 

There is a place in Perthshire on the borders of the High- 
lands which is called Tulliebeltane, that is, the eminence, or 
rising ground of the fire of Belus. " In the neighbourhood," 
says Dr. Jamieson in his Scottish Dictionary, " is a Druidical 
temple of eight upright stones, where it is supposed the fire 
was kindled. At some distance from this is another temple 
of the same kind, but smaller, and near it a well, still held in 
great veneration. On Beltane morning, superstitious people 
go to this well and drink of it ; then they make a procession 
round it nine times. After this they in like manner go round 
the temple." 

Nine was the sacred number in Druidical times, hence the 
number of turns here, and the number of knobs on the Beltane 
cakes. The Celtic veneration for the sun appears, too, in the 
way the pilgrims to the well would go round it. All would 
follow the course of the sun, " deas-iuil," the lucky way, while 
the opposite is " tuath-iuil," or the way that would make their 
pilgrimage bring misfortune to them. " When a Highlander 
goes to drink water out of a consecrated fountain," says Mr. 
Robertson, " he must approach by going round the place from 
east to west on the south side. So when the dead are laid in 
the grave, so when the bride is brought to her future husband 
before the minister; so a bottle goes round a company, &c." 

The proximity of dates caused many of these May-day rites 
to be transferred to Rude-day which, indeed, is called Beltane 
several times in old writers, as well as by its Christian name of 
"The Invention of the Cross." There is a quotation in 


Jamieson's Dictionary from Bellenden's Chronicle that shows 
this very well : " On Beltane day, in the yeir nixt following, 
callit the Inventioun of the haly Croce" James Stewart, the 
third son of Duke Mordo, burnt Dunbritane, and killed 
Stewart of Dundonald and thirty-two men because the Duke 
" was haldin in captivitie " there. From Acts of the Scots 
Parliament, too, it is clear Beltane often meant the season, 
perhaps equivalent to Whitsuntide. The Scotch proverb, 
" You have skill of man and beast, you were born between 
the Beltans " (i.e., in the first week of May), shows this too ; 
while we may see in it another proof of sun-worship in the 
idea that special strength and skill were given to those born 
during the festival of the god. 

These Rude-day observances that still linger in many parts 
of the Highlands clearly point to a pagan origin. There are 
still traces of the superstition that would not allow a bit of 
kindled coal to be carried out of a house on this day, lest it 
should be used for purposes of witchcraft. Children still 
"reel their bannocks" down many a hill-side on this day, to 
learn their future fate. On Beltane eve their mothers carefully 
bake these flat round cakes, marking on one side the cross, the 
sign of life, on the other the cipher, boding death. Next 
morning the children meet on some smooth, sloping hill ; range 
their bannocks in a line, and send them down the slope on 
their edges. This they repeat three times, and read their fate 
according as the cross or cipher oftenest turns up at the end 
of the journey. If the cross, then the owner will live to cele- 
brate another Beltane, but if the cipher, he is doomed to die 
in the course of the year. 

Before the pulpit and the schoolroom waged a successful 
war against the remains of paganism in many Scotch parishes 
and the success has only been very marked since the begin- 
ning of this century Rude-day was a time of much anxiety to 
country people, and was full of rites designed to allay their 
anxiety by counteracting the evil influences supposed to be 


particularly busy on that day. Satan, on its eve, held a review 
of all witches, fairies, and imps of evil of all kinds, who, natu- 
rally, on this great occasion tried to work as much mischief as 
possible. So, to make everything secure, bunches of the 
sacred mountain ash, the " rowan tree/' were tied above the 
doors of cow-house and stable, with scarlet ribbon, while 
pieces were bound by the same means to the animals' tails. 
This was specially the time when the witches " milked the 
tether," that is, carried off the cows' milk by pretending to 
perform the operation of milking on a hair tether ; so the milk- 
maid on this day always milked a little out of each dug on to 
the ground. This libation, clearly a pagan survival, would 
give the cow luck all the year, while its omission would be 
fatal to the animal's usefulness as a milker. 

The only trace we can find in Beltane celebrations of that 
outburst of pleasure at the new-born profusion of flower and 
blossom that found expression in the English May-day rites is 
in some Rude-day customs. Besides the branches of rowan- 
tree, the peasantry often gathered other greenery and flowers, 
but still the traces of the Floralia are very faint in Scotland 
indeed, so faint that many think that, where this custom of 
flower decoration existed, it too was a part of the sun-worship, 
an expression of gratitude to the sun-god for his genial influence 
in ripening the fruits of the earth. 

It is a curious fact that, while to this day we find one relic 
of sun-worship in tolerably vigorous life in the Scotch capital, 
another only died out within the memory of people still alive. 
In the early days of this century, the magistrates and council 
of the Canongate one of the three municipal bodies that 
governed the Edinburgh of that day used to walk to church 
in procession on the first Sunday after Beltane, each civic 
ruler carrying a nosegay, while their attendants were profusely 
adorned with flowers. 

Longer lived has been the other May-morning custom of 
Edinburgh going to the top of Arthur Seat to see the first 


May sun rise and bathe the face in May-dew. " In Scotland 
there are few relics of the old May-day observances," says 
'' The Book of Days," "we might rather say none, beyond a 
lingering propensity in the young of the female sex to go out 
at an early hour and wash their faces with dew. At Edinburgh 
this custom is kept up with considerable vigour, the favourite 
scene of the lavation being Arthur's Seat. On a fine May 
morning, the appearance of so many gay groups perambulating 
the hill-sides and the intermediate valleys, searching for dew, 
and rousing the echoes with their harmless mirth, has an inde- 
scribably cheerful effect." The young ladies who now climb 
the hill-side do it merely as a frolic, but their grandmothers 
believed that May-dew was an infallible cosmetic, and would 
ensure a blooming complexion for at least a year. A century 
ago, young and old of both sexes used to meet at the well 
beside St. Anthony's Chapel, to hail the first rays of the 
May sun ; then, when its beams lighted up the sparkling dew- 
drops, cheeks, pale or blooming, were bathed in the moist 
grass, while the elders of the party went to St. Anthony's 
crystal spring and drank of its waters. Poor Ferguson, writing 
the annual meeting was in full vigour, tells us that 

On May-day in a fairy ring 

We've seen them round St. Anthon's spring 

Frae grass the caller dew-draps wring, 

To wet their ein ; 
And water clear as crystal spring, 

To synd them clean. 

Besides these observances ot Beltane which had once been 
>f a religious character, there were others entirely of a festive 

iture. Scott's allusion, in the " Lady of the Lake," to the 

incing at the Beltane games, but especially the opening 
stanza of the poem, " Peblis to the Play," ascribed to the first 

.ing James of Scotland, will sufficiently show how the nation, 
ligh and low, amused itself at Beltane time. The little town 
>f Peebles was especially gay on this day during the reigns of 



the early Jameses, who fostered in every way the annual Bel- 
tane games held in the meadow by Tweedside. The old 
poem, describing this " play," begins thus : 

At Beltane, quhen ilk bodie bownis 

To Peblis to the play, 
To heir the singin and the soundis, 

The solace suth to say, 
Be firth and forrest furth they found ; 

They graythit tham full gay. 

In Edinburgh and some of the larger towns flourished 
down to the Reformation the well-known mummings called 
" The Abbot of Unreason," " The Queen of the May," &c. 
" The length to which the obstreperous follies of the Abbot and 
his train often proceeded," says the editor of the Scottish Lord 
Treasurer's Accounts, "is exemplified in a payment of^io by 
King James IV. to one Gilbert Brade ' for the spoiling of his 
hous in Striviling be the Abbot of Unresoun.' " Scott tells us, 
in his " Provincial Antiquities of Scotland," a story about an 
Abbot at Borthwick in 1547, when an apparitor of the See of 
St. Andrews came to Borthwick Church during the days of the 
Abbot's reign with letters of excommunication against Lord 
Borthwick. " This frolicsome person (the Abbot) with his 
retinue, notwithstanding this apparitor's character, entered the 
church, seized on the Primate's officer without hesitation, and 
dragging him to the mill dam on the south side of the castle, 
compelled him to leap into the water. Not contented with 
this partial immersion, the Abbot of Unreason pronounced 
that Mr. William Langlands (the apparitor) was not yet suffi- 
ciently bathed, and therefore caused his assistants to lay him 
on his back in the stream and duck him in the most satisfac- 
tory and perfect manner. The unfortunate apparitor was then 
conducted back to the church where, for his refreshment after 
his bath, the letters of excommunication were torn to pieces 
and steeped in a bowl of wine : the mock abbot being pro- 
bably of opinion that a tough parchment was but dry eating. 


Langlands was compelled to eat the letters and swallow the 
wine, and dismissed by the Abbot of Unreason with the com- 
fortable assurance that if any more such letters should arrive 
during the continuance of his office, ' they should a' gang the 
same gait ' i.e., ( go the same road.' " 

This boisterous Abbot carried on his disorderly pranks at 
Yule as well as May, to the scandal of all peace-loving folk. 
In 1555 the Scots Parliament passed an Act to suppress such 
mumming and unruly sports. Notwithstanding this measure, 
the common people loved their May games too much to give 
them up without a struggle. The attempt to enforce the Act, 
in May, 1561, caused a riot in the Scottish capital, and a rescue 
by the hammermen of one of the mummers who had been con- 
demned to be hanged in July for disregard of the law. At 
length, however, public opinion became strong against Robin 
Hood, the Abbot, and other members of the motley band. 
Though, as Dr. Chambers writes, " it came to be one of the 
first difficulties of the men who had carried through the 
Reformation, how to wrestle the people out of their love of the 
May games," they succeeded in their attempt ; the Lord of 
Inobedience, the Abbot, and their motley train appear never 
to have danced through the capital after the hammermen's riot. 

Elsewhere special matches at handball and football were 
held on Beltane, some of which are still played on this day, 
though denunciations from the pulpit against the partici- 
pation in these relics of paganism put down the matches in 
most places. 






v '.. 


.; 8- i 



JAN 3 01967 6 3 

end of SPRING Quarter 
subject to recoil at!H. - 

| q 



MAY 1 87 r 

YB S99I8