« AnteriorContinuar »
of a favourite marble. The demand for bowls has occasioned, according to the prevailing systems of mercantile economy, a corresponding increase in the manufacture. In my time there were only two species, marble and stone bowls; but now there are five or six different kinds, formed of stucco, clay, &c. which, though more of them can be got for a penny, yet I doubt much if they would stand the force of a breaker of former days.
Rowing girrs, (rolling hoops,) forms another healthy exercise to the boys of Edinburgh. Hoops seem less in use now, however, than formerly; and I have observed that few are now decorated (thanks to the police bill) with ginglers. The operation of guiding the path of a girr, which is done with a short stick, I should think an excellent preparation for those young gentlemen who may afterwards be called, in the course of events, to drive their own four-in-hand, or display their ability in more humbly guiding the equipage of another. Bummers, or a thin piece of wood swung round by a small cord, I have not seen for many a day.
Ho, spy! is chiefly a summer game. Some of the party of boys conceal themselves, and when in their hiding-places call out these words to their companions; and the first who finds has next the pleasure of exercising his ingenuity at concealment. Hide and seek is, I believe, played much in the same manner; but the watchword of this last is hidee. The English and Scots used to be played by parties of boys, who, divided by a fixed line, endeavoured to pull one another across this line, or to seize, by bodily strength or nimbleness, a wad (the coats or hats of the players) from the little heap deposited in the different territories at a convenient distance. The person pulled across, or seized in his attempt to rob the camp, was made a prisoner, and conducted to the enemy's station, where he remained under the denomination of stinkard till relieved by one of the same side, or by a general exchange of prisoners.
Pen-guns are made and fired at the season when the turnip first comes to market, which turnip, cut in thin alices, and bored through with the
quill, forms the charge. Bountry-guns are formed of the alder tree, the soft pith being taken out, and are charged with wet paper; and pipe-staples form a very amusing play thing, by putting two pins crosswise through a green pea, placing the pea at the upper end of the pipe-staple, and, holding it vertically, blowing gently through it. Making soap-bells with a tobacco-pipe, and witnessing the fragile globe sailing in the air, is still a frequent and innocent amusement.
·Flying dragon's is a very common thing in Edinburgh in harvest; and very beautiful objects these dragons are, as they flutter in the air in an autumnal evening. To prevent misapprehension, however, on the part of readers of romances, I beg to remark; that our Scottish dragons are perfectly harmless animals, and have no connection whatever with giants' castles, or maidens in jeopardy. They are generally guided by very young boys, with a chain no stronger than a piece of slight packing twine, and are found to be perfectly at the command of their little masters. In short, a dragon in Scotland is what is called in England, with no greater propriety, a kite; and, in both countries, I believe, they are generally formed of the same material -paper.
Pitch-and-Toss, is played with halfpence or buttons. The parties stand at a little distance, and pitch the halfpenny to a mark, or gog, and he who is nearest the mark, has the envied privilege of tossing up for heads or tails, and the first shot at the next trial of skill. Penny-stanes are played much in the same manner as the quoit or discus of the ancient Romans, to which warlike people the idle tradesmen of Edinburgh probably owe this favourite game. The duck is a small stone placed on a larger, and attempted to be hit off by the players at the distance of a few paces.
If the reader be tired with these recollections of former days, I can have no objection, by concluding the chapter here, to give him a barley, (parley ;) and if he feels he has enough of the subject, he has nothing to do but shut the book, and (to use a very expressive juvenile term,) spit and gửç owre.
Zickety, dickety, dock,
HALLOWEEN, and HALLOWFAIR, in Edinburgh, usher in nuts, gingerbread, and other articles for fuirings; and has been the appointed time, ever since I remember, for all the boys to possess themselves of shintys. The shinty, or hummy, is played by a set of boys in two divisions, who attempt, as they best can, to drive with curved sticks, a ball, or what is more common, part of the vertebral bone of a sheep, in opposite directions. When the ob ject driven along reaches the appoint ed place in either termination, the cry of hail! stops the play, till it is knocked off anew by the boy who was so for tunate as to drive it past the gog.. Playing at the ba' is also a favourite game with the boys of Edinburgh, and penny Herioters were at one time very celebrated. These balls were manufactured by the boys of George Heriot's Hospital, and, from this circumstance, got the name of Herioters. I can vouch to their being an excellent article of the kind, and famous stotters. Golf is played also by young as well as old gentlemen; and running the gauntrice, or gauntlet, is a punishment frequently inflicted on the least dexterous, as dumps are on the knuckles of those who are unsuccessful at bowls.
The games for girls are not so va❤ ried as those of the boys. Though they may occasionally assist at those of the boys, yet it would be accounted unboyish, or effeminate, did the little men venture to take a part in the amusements more peculiarly appropriated to the girls. Of these, the chucks, played with a bowl and chucks, a species of shell (Buccinum lapillus) found on the sea-shore; and the Beds, where a pitcher is kicked into chalked divisions of the pavement, the performer being on one leg, and hopping, are exclusively games for girls.
"Dab a prin in my lottery-book; dab ane dab twa, dab a' your prins awa," is putting a pin at random in a school-book, between the leaves of which little pictures are placed, The
Successful adventurer is the person who puts the pin between two leaves including a picture, which is the prize, and the pin itself is the forfeit. A' the Birds in the Air, and a' the Days of the Week, are also common games, as well as the Skipping-rope, and Honey-pots.
The rhymes used by children to decide who is to begin a game, are much the same in the period to which my recollection extends. The one at the head of this chapter is most frequently used for this purpose. To it may be added the following; and I would recommend the whole to the notice of the antiquarian.
Anery, twaery, tickery, seven,
Tweedlum, twodlum, twenty-one.
As I went up the Brandy hill
Blaw the bellows, auld man.
In another play, where all the littl actors are seated in a circle, the follow ing stanza is used as question and an
Who goes round my house this night ?
None but bloody Tom;
None but this poor one.
of children with a hold of one anothe
Brother Jack, if ye were mine,
Through the needle-e'e, boys! Pirley Pease-weep is a game play by boys, and the name demonstra that it is a native one; for it wo require a page of close writing to ma
it intelligible to an Englishman. The
Where shall this poor Scotsman go?
The terms of hot and cold, used in
Keep in, keep in, wherever you be,
Little wee laddie,
To the favourite tune of Nancy
London bridge is broken down-
But I must here stop; for in a work
discretion, it may be thought, that sufficient space has already been al lotted to the amusements of periods long since and for ever past.
Thus have I, Christopher Columbus, Esquire, shortly noticed the chief of those games which were, and still are, the amusement of the children of Edinburgh ; and I seldom walk the streets, or pass the High School in the intervals of the daily tasks, without wishing, that it were decorous still to partake of amusements so healthy, and so innocent. The billiard-table, dice, cards, fives-court, and pugilism, are. only improved modifications of the same games, transferred from the open air to the tavern or enclosed court, and the passions of the grown-up players excited by the stimulus of wine, or the still stronger one of stakes in money. In place of the exercise being conducive to health, it is often only the precursor to a dinner of repletion; and the ingenuity exercised, during the midnight hours, at cards, or the mad hazards of the dice, is often the prelude to permanent ruin. I do not envy the man who cannot take amusement or exercise for health, or for their own sakes; and I would rather that my stomach had lost all the taste for healthy viands which hunger induces, than that my mind should be the slave of the most degrading passions which can agitate the bosom of a hu man being.
It would, perhaps, be in vain now to expect, that judges should leave the bench to hold the bannets between two pugilistic competitors, though they may formerly have done so in the High School Yard—that a gambler at cards or dice should stop the ruin of his own or of another's fortune, by playing at nivy-nick-nack or pitch and toss; that colonels and generals should amuse themselves at Ho, spy! the wads, or join the jocund bands at the English and Scots;-or that lawyers and attornies should unprofitably exercise themselves at bowls or the cleckenbrod: And it perhaps
• May I venture to suggest to our erudite commentators, and those skilled in antiquarian lore, that it would be better, in place of amending poor Shakespeare, (whose writings require no emendation,) to turn their talents for conjectural criticism and historical research to such subjects as I have now set forth. It would be curious to know, that many of our present youthful games were played by Mark Antony or Julius Cæsar ;that Homer or Virgil had dozed taps and piries ;-that Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret had played at tig;-or that Sir William Wallace and Robert Bruce ever amused themselves, in fun, at the game of English and Scots.
would be equally vain to expect, that ladies should give up the luxurious waltz, and the beauty-killing attractions of late hours, to dance in daylight over the skipping-rope, or join the merry ring at Through the needle e'e,-A' the birds o' the uir, or Tig me if you can; but, as the difference between these amusements is only in degree, I see no reason to despair of inducing those, to whom innocence, and health, and happiness, are objects of interest, to return to the pastimes of childhood, with the same guileless hearts as when they entered into their spirit in the morning of their days.
It may be considered puerile, childish, or even infantine, O reader! if you will, to have said so much of games and times so long gone by; but I know at least one judge who was famous at making bumbee-binks; several advoeates who were celebrated for catching minnows and banstickles; and not a few writers to the signet who were dexterous at finding and herrying yel low-yites and linties. With many a
respectable merchant in Edinburgh have I been in partnership in a concern of rabbits and dows; drowned puppies and kittens with many a reverend divine; worried cats and rats with many a first-rate tradesman ; and bickered, as the scars on my forehead still testify, with many of the victors of the French at Waterloo. I have lived to see not a few of my early companions blotted from the list of animated beings; and I cannot think of their fate without feeling that every chapter of my Voyages and Travels here, draws me nearer to
HERE's a sight, fy haste ye, mither,
Tweedle-drone, drone-tweedle, O!
Sic a sight was never seen, O!
THE Grassmarket, on a Wednesday, is a busy scene. Being the market for black-cattle and horses, a number of droves are weekly assembled there for sale. Though the amount of my agricultural knowledge might not qualify me to undertake a farm, yet I have occasionally peeped into the publications of our patriotic countryman Sir John Sinclair, and flatter myself that I am able at first sight to distinguish a bull from a cow, a horse from a mare, and a wether from a ram. I can tell an egg from a flour-dumpling; know that calves are not fed on field-mice,that geese are not quadrupeds,-and that butter and cheese are made, not of small beer, but of milk. Sauntering along one Wednesday morning, and stopping at every parcel of cattle ex
my new friend; "they war fed in my ain yard at Wirlyknows, and de'il a bit o' oilcake ever crossed their craigs: only find them, man-tak haud o' them-dinna be feared."
With that he half dragged me between two of the bullocks; and, not to shew my ignorance, I felt the flanks of the animals, in the manner I saw him, raised their tails, and patted their necks, as if I had been born a grazier or a butcher. "What do ye think may be the weight o' thae now? gie a guess.""I have no idea, indeed," replied I. "Toots, awa wi' your affectation, man,-ye ken fu' weel,-ye haena been sae lang a flesher without kennan mair than ye wish to tell. But if they dinna stand out aught-andforty stane, ye's get them for naething. I'm sure ye'll no grudge saxteen punds the piece for them-ye canna in your conscience ca' that dear."-" I really do not know their value correctly they may be worth that money, for aught I know."-" Worth the money! Deacon Mitchell took twal siclike for 5s. mair a-head; but no to stand gib bling gabbling, they're your's at that price, and we'll say nae mair about it." "But really, sir, I know nothing about the matter, and"- "Say nae mair about it, Mr Harrigals,it's a done bargain," said he, taking me by the hand; "I ken your father fu' weel, and he'll no be sorry ye've coft the beasts thrae me. If ye dinna double your money on them, I'll eat them a' mysell. We'll just stap into this house here, and tak half a mutchkin on the bargain, and ye can gie me your order on Sir William for the siller.-Sandy, drive these beasts to Mr Harrigals' parks at the Grange Toll, and then gang to Mrs Twopenny's and get your breakfast, and see the powney get a feed, for I'll leave the market at twal. Come awa, Mr Harrigals, and we'll settle the business," said he, taking me by the coat.
Remonstrance was of no availI could not get in a single word. A feeling of the ridicule I should incur among my friends in the town-council, and the figure I should make at home as the proprietor of twelve fat stots, kept me for the moment in a kind of stupor, and I followed, or rather was dragged along by my conductor, who was expatiating on the bargain he had sold me. Trusting to be able to explain matters when in the
house, or failing of that, to disposing of the animals, though at some loss, to my friend Deacon Sparerib, the butcher, I resolved to make the best of my unfortunate situation.
We were crossing the street to the fatal house, squeezing through a crowd of farmers, graziers, butchers, dogs, and cattle-drivers, when the attention of my friend was arrested by the calling of his name, in a loud voice, by a person at a little distance-" Andrew!
Andrew Cloverfield !-Mr Cloverfield, I say?-Deil's in the man, is he deaf?”- "Wha's that crying on me? Stop a wee, Mr Harrigals, till we see," said he, and turned in the direction from whence the voice proceeded. A young man, about my own size, was bustling through the crowd, dressed in a short white jacket, booted and spurred. "O, it's you! Preserve us a'-how like you are to your brither! I've been looking for you twa hours in the market the day, as I had halfpromised to your father to put a gude article in your hands. Herd Sandy's awa' wi' the beasts to your park, and now we'll a' gang in, and we'll hae our breakfast thegither.”—“ That's no my brither, Mr Cloverfield; you must be mista'en; and if ye hae sell'd the beasts, there's nae mair about it; but my siller's as gude as anither's, and there's as gude fish in the sea as ever cam out o't.", "For God's sake, sir, stop a moment," said I; "the bargain's yours, if you will take it. This honest gentleman has been under some sad mistake, which he would not allow me to clear up-do but take the animals at your own price."-"What!" said young Harrigals, " has this chield been imposing upon you by calling himself me? Grip him, Andrewhe maun be a swindler-and I'll ca' for the police.' "Wha may ye be? tell honestly this moment," said Cloverfield, seizing me by the neck; "if ye offer to cheat me, by a' that's good I'll gie you a sarkfu' o' sair banes, even in the open market. He may have accomplices-there may be mair than ane o' them."