Ancient Specimens of Bowling--Poem on Bowling--Bowling-greens first made by the English--Bowling-alleys--Long-bowling--Gaming at Bowls--Charles I. and Charles II. fond of Bowls--Supposed Origin of Billiards--Kayles--Closh--Loggats--Nine-pins--Skittles--Dutch-pins--Four-corners--Half-bowl--Nine-holes--Troul in Madame--John Bull--Pitch and Hustle--Cock-fighting--Cock-fighting in nineteenth Century--Throwing at Cocks--Duck-hunting--Squirrel-hunting.
ANCIENT BOWLING--POEM ON BOWLING.--The pastime of bowling, whether practised upon open greens or in bowling-alleys, was probably an invention of the middle ages. I cannot by any means ascertain the time of its introduction; but I have traced it back to the thirteenth century. The earliest representation of a game played with bowls occurs on plate thirty from a manuscript of that century. 1
Here two small cones are placed upright at a distance from each other; and the business of the players is evidently to bowl at them alternately; the successful candidate being he who could lay his bowl the nearest to the mark. The French, according to Cotgrave, had a similar kind of game, called carreau, from a square stone which, says he, "is laid in level with and at the end of a bowling-alley, and in the midst thereof an upright point set as the mark whereat they bowl." At the top of the same plate is a fourteenth century drawing from a beautiful MS. Book of Prayers, in the possession of Mr Douce. It represents two other bowlers; but they have no apparent object to play at, unless the bowl cast by the first may be considered as such by the second, and the game require him to strike it from its place.
Below these we see three persons engaged in the pastime of bowling; and they have a small bowl, or jack, according to the modern practice, which serves them as a mark for the direction of their bowls: the action of the middle figure, whose bowl is supposed to be running towards the jack, will not appear by any means extravagant to such as are accustomed to visit the bowling-greens.
* It is recorded of Lord Brooke, who was killed at the storming of Lichfield, 1643, that "he used to be much resorted to by those of the preciser sort, who had got a powerful hand over him; yet they would allow him Christian libertie for his recreation. But being at bowles one day, and following his cast with much eagernesse, he cryed, 'Rubbe, rubbe, rubbe, rubbe, rubbe.' His chaplain (a very strict mann) runns presently to him; and, in the hearing of diverse, 'O good my Lord, leave that to God--you must leave that to God!' says he." 2
The following little poem, by William Stroad, which I found in "Justin
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[paragraph continues] Pagitt's Memorandum Book" (1633), one of the Harleian manuscripts at the British Museum, 1 expresses happily enough the turns and chances of the game of bowls:
A PARALLEL BETWIXT BOWLING AND PREFERMENT
Some, whose heate and zeal exceed,
Thrive well by rubbs that curb their haste,
And some that languish in their speed
Are cherished by some favour's blaste;
Some rest in other's cutting out
The fame by whom themselves are made;
Some fetch a compass farr about,
And secretly the marke invade.
Some get by knocks, and so advance
Their fortune by a boysterous aime:
And some, who have the sweetest chance,
Their en’mies hit, and win the game.
The fairest casts are those that owe
No thanks to fortune's giddy sway;
Such honest men good bowlers are
Whose own true bias cutts the way.
In the three delineations just represented, we may observe that the players have only one bowl for each person; the modern bowlers have usually three or four.
* In 1511, when Henry VIII. confirmed previous laws against illegal games in favour of archery, "bowls" occurs for the first time in the Statute Book. The much severer statute of 1541 forbad every kind of labourer, artisan, apprentice, or servant playing at bowls (among a number of other games) "out of Christmas," and even in Christmas only "in their master's houses or in their master's presence." It was further provided that no manner of persons were to play bowls in open places out of their gardens or orchards, under a penalty of 6s. 8d. Moreover, this curious kind of class legislation enabled any nobleman, or any one possessed of lands worth £100 a year, to obtain a license for bowl playing in his own domain.
* Henry VIII., who was devoted to every form of sport, added bowling-alleys to Whitehall, and his privy purse expenses show that he was in the habit of backing his prowess with bets. On January 29th, 1530, Mr Fitzwilliam, the treasurer, won £4:10s. of the king at bowls. On April 19th, 1532, Lord Wiltshire and Lord Rocheford won of the king and Mr Baynton £9 at the same
game, and £35:5s. a few days later. In the next month Lady Anne lost £12:7:6 at bowls to the serjeant of the cellar.
BOWLING-GREENS FIRST MADE BY THE ENGLISH.--Bowling-greens are said to have originated in England; and bowling upon them, in my memory (1800), was a very popular amusement. In most country towns of any note they are to be found, and some few are still remaining in the vicinity of the metropolis; but none of them, I believe, are now so generally frequented as they were accustomed to be formerly. 1
BOWLING-ALLEYS.--The inconveniency to which the open greens for bowling were necessarily obnoxious, suggested, I presume, the idea of making bowling-alleys, which, being covered over, might be used when the weather would not permit the pursuit of the pastime abroad; and therefore they were usually annexed to the residences of the opulent; wherein if the ladies were not themselves performers, they certainly countenanced the pastime by being spectators; hence the king of Hungary, in an old poem entitled "The Squyer of Low Degree" (circa 1475), says to his daughter, to amuse you in your garden
Andrew Borde, in his Dietarie of Helthe, describing a nobleman's mansion, supposes it not to be complete without "a bowling-alley."
* Dr John Jones, the physician at Buxton in Elizabethan days, recommended his patients to make use of "bowling in allayes, the weather convenient, and the bowles fitte to such a game, as eyther in playne or longe allayes, or in suche as have crankes with halfe bowles, whiche is the fyner and gentler exercise." 2 The reference to alleys and convenient weather is a reminder that the term "bowling-alley" as then used did not necessarily mean a covered-in place with a boarded floor, and might apply to a hedged-in turfed path or narrow enclosure in a garden. Dr Jones's reference to "crankes" and "halfe bowles" is not quite clear; but probably crank is used in the sense of a twist or bias, and half-bowl to the flattened form of bowl, slightly oblate on one side and prolate on the other. When the bowl ceased to be spherical and assumed this flattened shape, a kind of impetus termed "bias" was given to cause it to run obliquely. The term was used in the sixteenth century; thus Shakespeare in the Taming of the Shrew:--
* In the later Elizabethan days bowling-greens were a usual part of the "lay-out" of the larger gardens.
Bowling, according to an author in the seventeenth century, is a pastime
[paragraph continues] "in which a man shall find great art in choosing out his ground, and preventing the winding, hanging, and many turning advantages of the same, whether it be in open wilde places, or in close allies; and for his sport, the chusing of the bowle is the greatest cunning; your flat bowles being best for allies, your round byazed bowles for open grounds of advantage, and your round bowles, like a ball, for green swarthes that are plain and level." 1
* GAMING AT BOWLS.--Charles Cotton's Compleat Gamester, first issued in 1674, complains that bowling would be a much more commendable sport than it is, save for "those swarms of Rooks which so pester Bowling-greens, Bares, and Bowling-alleys . . . with cunning, betting, crafty matching, and basely playing booty." He further remarks, with some wit, that "A Bowling-green or Bowling-Ally is a place where three things are thrown away besides the Bowls, viz. Time, Money, and Curses, and the last ten for one. The best sport in it is the Gamesters, and he enjoys it that looks on and betts nothing. It is a School of Wrangling, and worse than the Schools; for here men will wrangle for a hair's breadth, and make a stir where a straw would end the controversie."
* CHARLES I. AND CHARLES II. FOND OF BOWLS.--Charles I. was much attached to the game. He made a bowling-green at Spring Gardens, and during his detention at Holdenby Palace, where the green was in bad order, he was allowed to ride over to Lord Vaux's at Harrowden and Earl Spencer's at Althorp, where there were good bowling-greens.
* Pepys enters in his Diary, under date May 1st, 1661--"Up early and baited 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." Again, on July 26th, 1662, he writes--"This afternoon I went to Westminster . . . and thence to White Hall garden and the Bowling-ally, where lords and ladies are now at bowles, in brave condition."
* The Count de Gramont in his Memoirs makes frequent mention of visiting Tunbridge to play bowls, and of the devotion of Charles II. to the game.
SUPPOSED ORIGIN OF BILLIARDS.--On the top of is the representation of a very curious ancient pastime which seems to bear some analogy to bowling.
Here the bowls, instead of being cast by the hand, are driven with a battoon, or mace, through an arch, towards a mark at a distance from it; and hence, I make no doubt, originated the game of billiards, which formerly was played with a similar kind of arch and a mark called the king, but placed upon the table instead of the ground. The improvement by adding the table answered two good purposes; it precluded the necessity for the player to kneel, or stoop exceedingly, when he struck the bowl and accommodated the game to the limits of a chamber.
KAYLES.--Kayles, written also cayles and keiles, derived from the French word quilles, was played with pins, and no doubt gave origin to the modern
game of nine-pins; though primitively the kayle-pins do not appear to have been confined to any certain number, as we may observe by referring to plate thirty-one, where the pastime of kayles playing is twice represented. In the one instance there are six pins and in the other eight, and the form of the pins is somewhat different. One of them in both cases is taller than the rest, and this, I presume, was the king-pin; it is placed at the end to the left of the thrower upon the middle of the plate, and between the four upright pins at the bottom.
The arrangement of the kayle-pins differs greatly from that of the nine-pins, the latter being placed upon a square frame in three rows, and the former in one row only. The two delineations here copied, from fourteenth century manuscripts, represent that species of the game called club-kayles, jeux de quilles à baston, so denominated from the club or cudgel that was thrown at them. 1
CLOSH.--The game of cloish, or closh, mentioned frequently in the ancient statutes, 2 seems to have been the same as kayles, or at least exceedingly like it: cloish was played with pins, which were thrown at with a bowl instead of a truncheon, and probably differed only in name from the nine-pins of the present time.
LOGGATS.--Loggats, I make no doubt, was a pastime analogous to kayles and cloish, but played chiefly by boys and rustics, who substituted bones for pins. "Loggats," says Sir Thomas Hanmer, one of the editors of Shakespeare, "is the ancient name of a play or game, which is one of the unlawful games enumerated in the thirty-third statute of Henry VIII.: it is the same which is now called kittle-pins, in which the boys often make use of bones instead of wooden pins, throwing at them with another bone instead of bowling." Hence Shakespeare, in Hamlet, speaks thus: "did these bones cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggats with them?" And this game is evidently referred to in an old play, entitled "The longer thou livest the more Fool thou art," published in the reign of queen Elizabeth, 3 where a dunce boasts of his skill
[paragraph continues] In skales, or kayles, the sheepes-joynte was probably the bone used instead of a bowl.
NINE-PINS--SKITTLES.--The kayle-pins were afterwards called kettle, or kittle-pins; and hence, by an easy corruption, skittle-pins, an appellation well known in the present day. The game of skittles, as it is now played, differs materially from that of nine-pins, though the same number of pins are required in both. In performing the latter, the player stands at a distance settled by mutual consent of the parties concerned, and casts the bowl at the pins: the contest is, to beat them all down in the fewest throws. In playing at skittles, there is a double exertion; one by bowling, and the other by tipping: the first is performed at a given distance, and the second standing close to the frame
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upon which the pins are placed, and throwing the bowl through in the midst of them; in both cases, the number of pins beaten down before the return of the bowl, for it usually passes beyond the frame, are called fair, and reckoned to the account of the player; but those that fall by the coming back of the bowl are said to be foul, and of course not counted. One chalk or score is reckoned for every fair pin; and the game of skittles consists in obtaining thirty-one chalks precisely: less loses, or at least gives the antagonist a chance of winning the game; and more requires the player to go again for nine, which must also be brought exactly, to secure himself.
The preceding quotation from Hanmer intimates that the kittle-pins were sometimes made with bones; and this assertion is strengthened by the language of a dramatic writer, the author of the Merry Milk-maid of Islington, in 1680, who makes one of his characters speak thus to another: "I'll cleave you from the skull to the twist, and make nine skittles of thy bones."
DUTCH-PINS.--Dutch-pins is a pastime much resembling skittles; but the pins are taller and slenderer, especially in the middle pin, which is higher than the rest, and called the king-pin. The pins are nine in number, and placed upon a frame in the manner of skittles; and the bowls used by the performers are very large, but made of a light kind of wood. The game consists of thirty-one scores precisely; and every player first stands at a certain distance from the frame, and throws his bowl at the pins, which is improperly enough called bowling; afterwards he approaches the frame and makes his tipp by casting the bowl among the pins, and the score towards the game is determined by the number of them beaten down. If this pin be taken out singly, when the bowl is thrown from a distance, the game is won; this instance excepted, it reckons for no more than the other pins.
FOUR-CORNERS.--Is so called from four large pins which are placed singly at each angle of a square frame. The players stand at a distance, which may be varied by joint consent, and throw at the pins a large heavy bowl, which sometimes weighs six or eight pounds. The excellency of the game consists in beating them down by the fewest casts of the bowl.
HALF-BOWL.--Half-bowl is one of the "new imagined" games prohibited in 1477 in favour of archery, 1 and received its denomination from being played with one half of a sphere of wood. Half-bow is practised to this day (1800) in Hertfordshire, where it is commonly called rolly-polly; and it is best performed upon the floor of a room, especially if it be smooth and level. There are fifteen small pins of a conical form required for this pastime; twelve of which are placed at equal distances upon the circumference of a circle of about two feet and a half diameter; one of the three remaining pins occupies the centre; and the other two are placed without the circle at the back part of it, and parallel with the bowling-place, but so as to be in a line with the middle pin; forming a row of five pins, including two of those upon the circumference. In
playing this game, the bowl, when delivered, must pass above the pins, and round the end-pin, without the circle, before it beats any of them down; if not, the cast is forfeited: and, owing to the great bias of the bowl, this task is not very readily performed by such as have not made themselves perfect by practice. The middle pin is distinguished by four balls at the top; and, if thrown down, is reckoned for four towards the game; the intermediate pin upon the circle, in the row of five, has three balls, and is reckoned for three; the first pin without the circle has two balls, and is counted for two; and the value of all the others singly is but one. Thirty-one chalks complete the game; which he who first obtains is the conqueror. If this number be exceeded, it is a matter of no consequence: the game is equally won.
NINE-HOLES.--This is mentioned as a boyish game, played at the commencement of the seventeenth century. I have not met with any description of this pastime; but I apprehend it resembled a modern one frequently practised at the outskirts of the metropolis; and said to have been instituted, or more probably revived, about 1780, as a succedaneum for skittles, when the magistrates caused the skittle grounds in and near London to be levelled, and the frames removed. Hence some say the game of nine-holes was called "Bubble the Justice," on the supposition that it could not be set aside by the justices, because no such pastime was named in the prohibitory statutes; others give this denomination to a different game: the name by which it is now most generally known is "Bumble-puppy"; and the vulgarity of the term is well adapted to the company by whom it is usually practised. The game is simply this: nine holes are made in a square board, and disposed in three rows, three holes in each row, all of them at equal distances, about twelve or fourteen inches apart; to every hole is affixed a numeral, from one to nine, so placed as to form fifteen in every row. The board, thus prepared, is fixed horizontally upon the ground, and surrounded on three sides with a gentle acclivity. Every one of the players being furnished with a certain number of small metal balls, stands in his turn, by a mark made upon the ground, about five or six feet from the board; at which he bowls the balls; and according to the value of the figures belonging to the holes into which they roll, his game is reckoned; and he who obtains the highest number is the winner. Doctor Johnson confounds this pastime with that of kayles, and says, "it is a kind of play still retained in Scotland, in which nine holes, ranged in threes, are made in the ground, and an iron bullet rolled in among them." 1
I have formerly seen a pastime practised by schoolboys, called nine-holes: it was played with marbles, which they bowled at a board, set upright, resembling a bridge, with nine small arches, all of them numbered; if the marble struck against the sides of the arches, it became the property of the boy to whom the board belonged; but, if it went through any one of them, the bowler claimed a number of marbles equal to the number upon the arch it passed through.
* TROUL IN MADAME.--A game borrowed from the French, and not unlike our modern bagatelle, only played without a cue or mace, called "Troul in Madame," was popular amongst the well-to-do in Elizabethan times. It was to some extent a precursor of nine-holes. In that curious little work, The Benefit of the Auncient Bathes of Buckstones, "by John Jones, Phisition at the King's Mede nigh Darby," published in 1572, occurs the following passage as to the exercise of his patients:
"The Ladyes, Gentle Women, Wyves, and Maydes maye in one of the Galleries walke: and if the weather bee not aggreeable too theire expectacion, they may have in the ende of a Benche eleven holes made, intoo the which to trowle premmetes, or bowles, of leade, bigge, little, or meane, or also of Copper, Tynne, Woode, eyther vyolent or softe, after their owne discretion, the pastyme Troule in Madame is termed.
"Lykewyse, men feeble the same may also practise in another Gallery of the Newe Buyldinges, and this dothe not only strengthen the stomach and upper parts above mydryfe or wast: but also the middle partes beneath the sharp gristle and the extreme partes, as the handes and legges, according to the wayght of the thing trouled, fast, soft, or meane."
JOHN BULL.--This is the name of a modern (1800) pastime, which may be played in the open air, or in a room. A square flat stone, being laid level on the surface of the ground, or let into the floor, is subdivided into sixteen small squares; in every one of these compartments a number is affixed, beginning from one; the next in value being five, the next ten; thence passing on by tens to an hundred, and thence again, by hundreds, to five hundred. These numbers are not placed regularly, but contrasted, so that those of the smallest value are nearest to those of the highest; and in some instances, as I am informed, the squares for the greater numbers are made much smaller than those for the small ones. On reaching five hundred a mark is made, at an optional distance from the stone, for the players to stand; who, in succession, throw up one halfpenny or more, and make their score according to the number assigned to the compartment in which the halfpenny rests, which must be within the square; for, if it lies upon one of the lines that divide it from the others, the cast is forfeited, and nothing scored. Two thousand is usually the game; but this number is extended or diminished at the pleasure of the gamesters.
PITCH AND HUSTLE.--This is a game commonly played in the fields by the lowest classes of the people. It requires two or more antagonists, who pitch or cast an equal number of halfpence at a mark set up at a short distance; and the owner of the nearest halfpenny claims the privilege to hustle first; the next nearest halfpenny entitles the owner to a second claim; and so on to as many as play. When they hustle, all the halfpence pitched at the mark are thrown into a hat held by the player who claims the first chance; after shaking them together, he turns the hat down upon the ground; and as many of them as lie with the impression of the head upwards belong to him; the remainder are then
put into the hat a second time, and the second claimant performs the same kind of operation; and so it passes in succession to all the players, or until all the halfpence appear with the heads upwards. Sometimes they are put into the hands of the player, instead of a hat, who shakes them, and casts them up into the air; but in both instances the heads become his property: but if it should so happen, that, after all of them have hustled, there remain some of the half-pence that have not come with the heads uppermost, the first player then hustles again, and the others in succession, until they do come so.
COCK-FIGHTING.--This barbarous pastime, which claims the sanction of high antiquity, was practised at an early period by the Grecians, and probably still more anciently in Asia. It is a very common sport, and of very long standing, in China. 1 It was practised by the Romans: 2 with us, it may be traced back to the twelfth century; at which period we are certain it was in usage; and seems to have been considered as a childish sport. "Every year," says Fitzstephen, "on the morning of Shrove-Tuesday, the school-boys of the city of London 3 bring game cocks to their masters, and in the fore part of the day, till dinner time, they are permitted to amuse themselves with seeing them fight." Probably the same custom prevailed in other cities and great towns. Stow having cited the preceding passage from Fitzstephen, adds, "cocks of the game are yet," that is at the close of the sixteenth century, "cherished by divers men for their pleasures, much money being laid on their heads when they fight in pits, whereof some are costly made for that purpose." 4 The cock-pit was the school, and the master the controller and director of the pastime. This custom, according to Mr. Brand, "was retained in many schools in Scotland within the last century, and perhaps may be still in use there: the schoolmasters claimed the runaway cocks as their perquisites; and these were called fugees, 'corrupt, I suppose,' says he, 'of refugees.'" 5
In the reign of Edward III. cock-fighting became a fashionable amusement; it was then taken up more seriously than it formerly had been, and the practice extended to grown persons; even at that early period it began to be productive of pernicious consequences, and was therefore prohibited in 1366 by a public proclamation, in which it was ranked with other idle and unlawful pastimes. But notwithstanding it was thus degraded and discountenanced, it still maintained its popularity, and in defiance of all temporary opposition has descended to the modern times. Among the additions made by Henry VIII. to the palace at Whitehall, was a cock-pit; 6 which indicates his relish for the pastime of cock-fighting; and James I. was so partial to this diversion, that he amused himself in seeing it twice a week. 7
* Gervaise Martsham issued a tract in 1614, which treats of "The Choice, Ordering, Breeding, and Dyeting of the Fighting Cocke;" he considered that "there is no pleasure more noble, delightsome, or voyd of couzenage and deceipt than this pleasure of cocking."
Exclusive of the royal cock-pit, we are told there was formerly one in Drury Lane, another in Jewin Street, and if the following story be founded on fact, a third in Shoe Lane: "Sir Thomas Jermin, meaning to make himself merry, and gull all the cockers, sent his man to the pit in Shoe Lane, with an hundred pounds and a dunghill cock, neatly cut and trimmed for the battle; the plot being well layd the fellow got another to throw the cock in, and fight him in Sir Thomas Jermin's name, while he betted his hundred pounds against him the cock was matched, and bearing Sir Thomas's name, had many betts layd upon his head; but after three or four good brushes, he showed a payre of heeles: every one wondered to see a cock belonging to Sir Thomas cry craven, and away came the man with his money doubled." 1
I shall not expatiate upon the nature and extent of this fashionable divertisement; but merely mention a part of it called the Welch main, which seems to be an abuse of the modern times; and as a late judicious author justly says, "a disgrace to us as Englishmen." 2 It consists of a certain or given number of pairs of cocks, suppose sixteen, which fight with each other until one half of them are killed; the sixteen conquerors are pitted a second time in like manner, and half are slain; the eight survivors, a third time; the four, a fourth time; and the remaining two, a fifth time: so that "thirty-one cocks are sure to be inhumanly murdered for the sport and pleasure of the spectators." I am informed that the Welch main usually consists of fourteen pairs of cocks, though sometimes the number might be extended.
In the old illuminated manuscripts we frequently meet with paintings representing cocks fighting; but I do not recollect to have seen in any of them the least indication of artificial spurs; the arming their heels with sharp points of steel is a cruelty, I trust, unknown in former ages to our ancestors. I have been told the artificial spurs are sometimes made with silver.
In addition to what has been said, I shall only observe, that the ancients fought partridges and quails as well as cocks; in like manner as the French do now (1800); how far, if at all, the example has been followed in England, I know not.
* After the fire of 1697, the old cock-pit of Whitehall was turned into the Privy Council room. Treasury Papers of the following century are often, curiously enough, headed "The Cock-pit."
* Pepys has two entries in his Diary with reference to cocking; a sport that attracted crowds in the days of "the merry monarch."
"21st December 1663.-To Shoe Lane, to see a cocke-fighting at a new
pit there, a spot I was nere at in my life; but, Lord! to see the strange variety of people, from Parliament man by name Wildes, that was Deputy Governor of the Tower when Robinson was Lord Mayor, to the poorest ’prentices, bakers, brewers, butchers, draymen, and what not; and all these fellows one with another cursing and betting. I soon had enough of it. It is strange to see how people of this poor rank, that look as if they had not bread to put in their mouths, shall bet three or four pounds at a time, and lose it, and yet bet as much the next battle, so that one of them will lose £10 or £20 at a meeting."
* "6th April 1668.--I to the new Cocke-pitt by the king's gate, and there saw the manner of it, and the mixed rabble of people that come thither, and saw two battles of cocks, wherein is no great sport, but only to consider how these creatures, without any provocation, do fight and kill one another, and aim only at one another."
* Although constantly reviled as a singularly cruel and coarse sport by the more refined, cock-fighting or cocking kept a continuous hold on the more sporting natures in England throughout the eighteenth century and in the earlier part of the nineteenth. In 1814, W. Sketchley of Burton-on-Trent published a book called The Cocker, which professed to contain every information useful "to the breeders and amateurs of that noble bird the Game Cock," with instruction for those who were attendants on the cock-pit. The names of the leading varieties of cocks then bred in different parts of the kingdom were Piles, Black-reds, Silver black-breasted Ducks, Pirchin Ducks, Dark Greys, Mealy Greys, Blacks, Spangles, Furnaces, Poll Cats, Cuckoos, Gingers, Red Duns, Duns, and Smoky Duns. Sketchley's own favourite breed was the Shropshire Red, a strain that originated in 1785-86 from thirty pairs of cocks that he bought of his "reverend friend," Rev. Mr. Brooks of Shiffnal, Shropshire. One of these cocks fought five mains in one year, twice at Burton-on-Trent, and once at Lichfield, Derby, and Nottingham, "without apparent injury."
COCK-FIGHTING IN NINETEENTH CENTURY.--Cock-fighting became illegal in 1849. In 1895 Cocking and its Votaries, by S. A. T., was issued for private circulation. It is an expensively got-up book, with coloured plates, and its pages make it quite manifest that not a few wealthy men in England still follow up this sport, stealthily but with much zeal--a fact that is as discreditable to the guardians of the law as it is to themselves.
THROWING AT COCKS.--If the opposing of one cock to fight with another may be justly esteemed a national barbarism, what shall be said of a custom more inhuman, which authorised the throwing at them with sticks, and ferociously putting them to a painful and lingering death? I know not at what time this unfortunate animal became the object of such wicked and wanton abuse: the sport, if such a denomination may be given to it, is certainly no recent invention, and perhaps is alluded to by Chaucer, in the Nonnes Priests' Tale, when he says:
The story supposes the cock to have overheard the young man ordering his servant to call him at the cock-crowing; upon which the malicious bird forbore to crow at the usual time, and owing to this artifice the youth was suffered to sleep till the ordination was over.
Throwing at cocks was a very popular diversion, especially among the younger parts of the community. Sir Thomas Moore, who wrote in the sixteenth century, describing the state of childhood, speaks of his skill in casting a cokstele, that is, a stick or cudgel to throw at a cock. It was universally practised upon Shrove-Tuesday. If the poor bird by chance had its legs broken, or was otherwise so lamed as not to be able to stand, the barbarous owners were wont to support it with sticks, in order to prolong the pleasure received from the re-iteration of its torment. The magistrates, greatly to their credit, have for some years past put a stop to this wicked custom, and at present (1800) it is nearly, if not entirely, discontinued in every part of the kingdom.
Heath, in his account of the Scilly Islands, 1 speaking of St Mary's, says, "on Shrove-Tuesday each year, after the throwing at cocks is over, the boys of this island have a custom of throwing stones in the evening against the doors of the dwellers' houses; a privilege they claim from time immemorial, and put in practice without control, for finishing the day's sport; the terms demanded by the boys are pancakes or money, to capitulate. Some of the older sort, exceeding the bounds of this whimsical toleration, break the doors and window-shutters, etc. sometimes making a job for the surgeon as well as for the smith, glazier, and carpenter."
In some places it was a common practice to put the cock into an earthen vessel made for the purpose, and to place him in such a position that his head and tail might be exposed to view; the vessel, with the bird in it, was then suspended across the street, about twelve or fourteen feet from the ground, to be thrown at by such as chose to make trial of their skill; twopence was paid for four throws, and he who broke the pot, and delivered the cock from his confinement, had him for a reward. At North Walsham, in Norfolk, about 1760, some wags put an owl into one of these vessels; and having procured the head and tail of a dead cock, they placed them in the same position as if they had appertained to a living one: the deception was successful, and at last, a labouring man belonging to the town, after several fruitless attempts, broke the pot, but missed his prize; for the owl being set at liberty, instantly flew away, to his great astonishment, and left him nothing more than the head and tail of the dead bird, with the potsherds, for his money and his trouble; this ridiculous adventure exposed him to the continual laughter of the town's people, and obliged him to quit the place, to which, I am told, he returned no more.
DUCK-HUNTING.--This is another barbarous pastime, and for the performance
it is necessary to have recourse to a pond of water sufficiently extensive to give the duck plenty of room for making her escape from the dogs when she is closely pursued; which she does by diving as often as any of them come near to her. Duck-hunting was much practised in the neighbourhood of London about thirty or forty years ago; but of late it is gone out of fashion; yet I cannot help thinking, that the deficiency, at present, of places proper for the purpose, has done more towards the abolishment of this sport than any amendment in the nature and inclinations of the populace.
Sometimes the duck is tormented in a different manner, without the assistance of the dogs, by having an owl tied upon her back, and so put into the water, where she frequently dives in order to escape from the burden, and on her return for air, the miserable owl, half drowned, shakes itself, and hooting, frightens the duck; she of course dives again, and replunges the owl into the water; the frequent repetition of this action soon deprives the poor bird of its sensation, and generally ends in its death, if not in that of the duck also.
SQUIRREL-HUNTING.--This is a rustic pastime, and commonly practised at Christmas time and at Midsummer; those who pursue it find plenty of exercise; but nothing can excuse the wantonly tormenting so harmless an animal.
* "At Duffield wakes," says Glover in his history of Derbyshire (1831), "an ancient custom or right is kept up of hunting wild animals in the forest there. This is called the squirrel hunt. The young men of the village assemble in troops on the wakes Monday, some with horns, some with pans, and others with various articles calculated to make a great noise. They then proceed in a body to Kedleston Park, and with shouting and the noise of instruments, frighten the poor little animals until they drop from the trees and are taken by the hunters. After taking several in this manner, the hunters go back to Duffield, release the squirrels, and recommence hunting them again in a similar manner."
* This Derbyshire custom died out in the early fifties, but it survives as a Christmas custom in parts of the New Forest, particularly at Brockenhurst. The hunted squirrels are made into pies, which are said to be more delicate in flavour than rabbits. 1
216:1 Roy. Lib. No. 20, E. iv.
216:2 L’Estrange's Anecdotes, No. 164.
217:1 No. 1026, p. 41.
218:1 * Towards the close of the nineteenth century the revival in bowls was remarkable, and it still continues to grow in favour. There are bowling clubs in most towns, and the old bowling-greens attached to country inns, particularly In Norfolk, are again places of much resort.
218:2 The Benefit of the Auncient Bathes of Buckstones, 1572.
219:1 Country Contentments, 1615.
220:1 Roy. Lib. No. 2, B. vii.; Mr Douce's MS.
220:2 An. 17 Edw. IV. cap. 3; again 18 and 20 Hen. VIII. etc.; in all which acts this game is prohibited.
220:3 Garrick's Collection, vol. i. 18.
221:1 An. 17 Edw. IV. cap. 3; the prohibition extends also to closh and kayles.
222:1 Dictionary, word kayle.
224:1 Philos. Transact. vol. xix. p. 591.
224:2 For a full explanation of the manner of cock-fighting among the ancient Greeks and Romans, see a memoir upon that subject by Dr Pegge, Archæologia, vol. iii. p. 132.
224:3 Description of London; temp. Hen. II.
224:4 Survey of London, p. 76.
224:5 Bourne's Antiq. Vulgares by Brand, p. 233.
224:6 Stow's Survey of London, p. 496.
224:7 Mons. de la Boderie's Letters, vol. i. p. 56.
225:1 MS. Harl. 6395, written in the reign of James I., and bearing this title: "Merry Passages and Jeasts."
225:2 Mr Pegge's "Memoir on Cock-fighting," Archæol. vol. p. 132.
227:1 Published in London, 1750.
228:1 I talked to various New Forest squirrel hunters in 1900. They are most indignant at the charge of wanton cruelty made against them, saying that, at all events, fox hunters do not eat the foxes they kill. J. C. C.