Sports and Pastimes. 247

Sports and Pastimes.

and sportful. Whereupon, in the Seals of the Popes, until the Time of Pope Leo, on the one side was Saint Peter fishing, with a Key over him, reached as it were by the Hand of God out of Heaven, and about it this Verse:

Tu pro me navem liquisti, suscipe clavem.

You left the Ship for me, take you the Key.

And on the other side was a City, and this Inscription on it, Aurea Roma. Likewise to the Praise of Augustus Cæsar and the City, in respect of the Shews and Sports, was written,

Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane, &c.

All Night it Rains, and Shows     
at Morrow Tide return again,
And Cæsar with almighty Jove     
hath matcht an equal Reign.

But London for the Shows upon Theaters, and Comical Pastimes, hath holy Plays, Representations of Miracles, which holy Confessors have wrought; or Representations of Torments, wherein the Constancy of Martyrs appeared.

Stage Plays.

Every Year also on Shrove Tuesday, (that we may begin with Childrens Sports, seeing we all have been Children) the School Boys to bring Cocks of the Game to their Master, and all the Forenoon they delight themselves in Cock-fighting. After dinner, all the Youths go into the Fields to play at the Ball.


Ball play.

The Scholars of every School have their Ball, or Bastion in their Hands. The Antient and wealthy Men of the City come forth on horseback, to see the Sport of the Young Men, and to take Part of the Pleasure, in beholding their Agility.

Every Friday in Lent, a fresh Company of Young Men comes into the Field on Horseback, and the best Horsemen conduct the rest. Then march forth the Citizens Sons, and other Young Men with disarmed Lances and Shields, and there they practice Feats of War.

Exercises of warlike Seats on horseback woth disarmed Lances.

Many Courtiers likewise, when the King lyeth near, and Attendants on Noblemen, do repair to these Exercises; and while the hope of Victory doth inflame their Minds, they shew good Proof how serviceable they would be in martial Affairs.

In Easter Holydays, they fight Battels on the Water. A Shield is hanged on a Pole, fixed in the midst of the Stream; a Boat is prepared without Oars, to be carried by violence of the Water, and in the forepart thereof standeth a Young Man, ready to give charge upon the Shield with his Launce. If so be he break his Launce against the Shield and doth not fall, he is thought to have performed a worthy Deed. If so be without breaking his Launce, he runneth strongly against the Shield, down he falleth into the Water; for the Boat is violently forced with the Tide; but on each side of the Shield ride two Boats, furnished with Young Men, which recover him that falleth, as soon as they may. Upon the Bridge, Wharfs and Houses by the River side, stand great Numbers to see, and laugh thereat.

Battel on the Water.

In the Holydays all the Summer, the Youths are exercised in leaping, dancing, shooting, wrestling, casting the Stone, and practising their Shields. The Maidens trip with their Timbrels, and dance as long as they can well see. In Winter, every Holiday before dinner, the Boars prepared for Brawn are set to fight, or else Bulls or Bears are baited.

Fighting of Bores and Bulls.

When the great Fenn or Moor, which watereth the Walls of the City on the North side, is frozen, many Young Men play upon the Ice; some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftly: others make themselves Seats of Ice, as great as Milstones. One sits down, many (Hand n Hand) do draw him, and one slipping on a sudden, all fall together. Some tye Bones to their Feet, and under their Heels, and shoving themselves by a little picked Staff, do slide as swiftly as a Bird flyeth in the Air, or an Arrow out of a Cross-Bow. Sometimes two run together with Poles, and hitting one the other, either one or both do fall, not without Hurt; some break their Arms, some their Legs: but Youth (desirous of Glory) in this sort exerciseth it self against the Time of War. Many of the Citizens do delight themselves in Hawks and Hounds. For they have liberty of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all Chiltron, and in Kent to the Water of Cray. Thus far Fitzstephen of Sports.

Hawking and Hunting.

These or the like Exercises, have been continued till our Time, namely in Stage Plays, whereof we may read, in Anno 1391. a Play to be played by the Parish Clarks of London at the Skinners Well besides Smithfield; which Play continued three Days together, the King, Queen, and Nobles of the Realm being present. And of another played in the Year, 1409. which lasted Eight Days, and was of Matter from the Creation of the World. Whereat was present most part of the Nobility and Gentry of England, &c.

A Stage Play that continued 3 Days.

A Stage Play that lasted 8 Days.

Of late Time, instead of those Stage Plays, have been used Comedies, Tragedies, Interludes and Histories, both true and fained. For the acting whereof, certain publick Places, as the Theatre, the Curtein, &c. have been erected. [They played also at Juns, as the Crosskeys, &c.]


Tragedies of later Time.

This which was once a Recreation, and used therefore now and then occasionally, afterwards by Abuse became a Trade and Calling, and so remains to this Day. In those former Days, ingenious Tradesmen and Gentlemens Servants would sometimes gather a Company of themselves, and learn Interludes, to expose Vice, or to represent the Noble Actions of our Ancestors in former Times: And there they played at certain Festival Times, and in private Houses at Weddings, or other splendid Entertainments, for their own Profit; acted before such as were minded to divert themselves with them. But in process of Time it became an Occupation; and many there were that followed it for a Livelihood. And which was worse, it became the Occasion of much Sin and Evil; great Multitudes of People, especially Youth, in Q. Elizabeth's Reign, resorting to these Plays; and being commonly acted on Sundays and Festivals, the Churches were forsaken, and the Playhouses thronged. And great Disorders and Inconveniences were found to ensue to the City thereby. It occasioned Frays and evil Practices of Incontinency. Great Inns were used for this Purpose, which had secret Chambers and Places, as well as open Stages and Galleries. Here Maids, especially Orphans and good Citizens Children under Age, were inveigled and allured to privy and unmeet Contracts. Here were published unchast, uncomely and unshamefac'd Speeches and Doings. There was an unthrifty Waste of the Money of the Poor; Sundry Robberies by picking and cutting of Purses; uttering of popular and Seditious Matters: Many Corruptions of Youth, and other Enormities; besides sundry Slaughters, and Maimings of the Queen's Subjects, by Ruins of Scaffolds, Frames and Stages, and by Engines, Weapons, and Powder, used in the Plays. And in Time of God's Visitation by the Plague, such Assemblies of the People in Throngs and Presses were very dangerous for spreading the Infection.

Acting Plays became a Trade.

J. S.

The Consideration of these Things occasioned the express Prohibition of Plays by the Queen and the Lord Maior. And Sir James Hawes Maior, in the Year 1574. by an Act of Common