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it, had given a very elegant description of the exercise.* Scaliger, he continued, is of opinion, that the throwing the discus, or quoit, is but an improvement of the old sport of casting the sheep-hook; a conjecture, which, the vicar thought, received some support from a passage in the fourth Iliad.
66 Mr. Twaddleton," cried Mr. Seymour,
you look at every sport with the eye of a classic or antiquary; I, on the other hand, as you well know, cautiously examine every action, to discover whether some scientific principle may not find an illustration. On the present occasion, I am desirous of directing the attention of the children to the manner in which yonder skilful player hurls his quoit.”
“I do not exactly comprehend the object they have in view in throwing the quoits,” said Louisa,
“ Do you not perceive that two iron pins, or hobs, are driven into the ground, at the distance of eighteen or twenty yards asunder ?” asked her father.
“ To be sure, and I suppose that each player attempts to hit one of those pins."
* Ovid's Metamorphoses, 10.
“ The players stand at one of the hobs, and throw an equal number of quoits at the other ; the nearest of them to the hob are reckoned towards the game. When they have cast all their quoits, the candidates go over to the point at which they have been throwing, and when they have determined the state of the game, they throw their quoits back again at the hob where they had before stood; and thus continue to act, on alternate sides, till the game is ended.”
“ I now understand it,” cried Louisa.
“ You doubtless know, Mr. Twaddleton," said Mr. Seymour, " that the casting of stones, darts, and other missiles, was among the amusements practised in the twelfth century by the young Londoners."
Casting of the bar,” replied the vicar, “ was formerly a part of a hero's education ; and kings and princes were admired for their agility and grace in throwing the stone, the bar, and the plummet.' Henry the Eighth, even after his accession to the throne, retained the casting of the bar among his favourite amusements. The sledge-hammer, and, among rustics, an axle-tree, were also used for the same purpose as the bar and the stone.”
of quoits is certainly far superior
to such pastimes,” said Mr. Seymour,“ on account of its depending less on mere strength, and more upon superior skill.”
“Did not you say, papa, that its action would illustrate some principle of science ? I have been looking at the quoit, which I perceive is a circular piece of iron with a hole in the middle, but I cannot discover in what manner any scientific principle can be connected with its motion.”
“ If you will attentively observe a skilful player, you will perceive that he steadies the flight of the quoit, by imparting to it a spinning motion; were he not thus to rifle it, you would find that it would fly very far from the mark.”
Upon the same principle, I suppose, that we impart to the ball a spinning motion at the game of bilboquet?”
“ Precisely so," replied her father.
The “penthalum” having been concluded, the populace retired into several booths which were appropriated to refreshments. The shows now recommenced; those not already described were principally devoted to the exhibition of wild animals, an entertainment which the vicar considered as sanctioned by the highest
* See Vol. I. p.225.
classical authority; although he, at once, rejected a proposition made by the major, to render the amusement still more in accordance with ancient custom, by encouraging a fight between a lion and a tiger.
The hour had now arrived for the grand banquet; and, by the command of the major, the band paraded the fair, playing the inviting tune of “ Oh, the roast beef of old England.” The populace hastened to the tent, and each took his place according to the number upon his ticket. It so happened, that Dr. Doseall found himself seated between Ned Hopkins and Giles Gingerly; and when we consider the cutting wit of the one, and the hostile calling of the other, we can readily imagine that the poor doctor considered his seat as any thing rather than a velvet cushion.
“ I suppose the doctor will open upon us presently,” observed Giles ; " at present, he is as close as an oyster.”
“ Roast him," whispered Ned; “ depend upon it, there is no better way of opening an oyster.”
This exposed a very pretty prospect for poor Doseall, and he thought the wisest plan was to bolt, and take his chance of discovering some
other seat; luckily, the major and his party were advancing to their places, at the very moment the doctor was retiring from the booth, and an explanation led the way to an invitation to the upper table.
We shall not detain our readers by an account of the dinner; it will be sufficient to state, in the language generally used upon such occasions, that the whole went off with great eclat, and gave universal satisfaction to the delighted guests.
The reader must now be contented to retire from the scene of frolic, and leave the villagers to the undisturbed enjoyment of their jollity. The major and his party returned to the house, where they remained until the hour approached at which the fire-works were to be discharged, and the festivities of the day concluded.
Mr. Seymour accompanied his children to the stage, erected for the pyrotechnic exhibition, in order that he might explain the construction of the fire-works before they witnessed them in action.
Upon my word, the major has provided most liberally for our entertainment!” exclaimed Mr. Seymour, as he ascended the steps which