London in the Time of the Stuarts

By Walter Besant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS

A LIST of sports in is quoted in Furnivall's notes to Stubbes (Part I. Series vi. No. 6, P. 316).

"Man, I dare challenge thee to throw the sledge,
To iumpe or leape ouer a ditch or hedge,
To wrestle, play at stooleball, or to runne,
To pitch the barre, or to shoote off a gunne:
To play at loggets, nine holes, or ten pinnes,
To trie it out at foot-ball by the shinnes;
At Ticktacke, Irish, Noddie, Maw, and Ruffe;
At hot-cockles, leape-frogge, or blindman-buffe;
To drinke halfe pots, or deale at the whole canne
To play at base, or pen-and-ynk-horne sir Ihan:
To daunce the Morris, play at Barly-breake:
At all exploytes a man can thinke or speake:
At shoue-groute, venter-poynt, or crosse and pile:
At beshrow him that's last at yonder style."

The prohibition of games on Sunday by the Puritans led to the abolition of the working-class's amusements altogether, and was therefore answerable for much of that hideous brutality which possessed that class during the latter part of the eighteenth century. They were not to wrestle, shoot, play at bowls, ring bells, hold masques, wakes, play games of any kind, dance, or exercise any other pastime on Sunday. Now, as Sunday was the only day when the working people could play games or have any recreation, this prohibition destroyed the knowledge of these games, the old delight in them, the desire for, them, the skill, in them. After eighteen years of Puritan rule a new type of working man grew up, one who knew no games and could practise none; a duller creature, heavy witted, slow of sight, and clumsy of hand; one who would yield to the temptation of drink without resistance; one who was capable of sinking lower and lower still. This is one of the many blessings which have been bestowed upon London by the Puritans.

For winter amusements the better class had a variety of games, such as "cards, tables, dice, shovelboard, chess, the philosophers game, small trunks, shuttlecock, billiards, music, masks, singing, dancing, all games, frolicks, jests, riddles, catches,

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