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of lot, regulated, as in many other games, by the repetition of an old rhythm. All the rest being seated, he who has no seat stands in the middle, repeating the words“ Change seats, change seats,” &c., while all the rest are on the alert, to observe, when he adds, "the king's come,” or, as it is sometimes expressed, change their seats. The sport lies in the bustle in consequence of every one's endeavouring to avoid the misfortune of being the unhappy individual who is left without a seat. The principal actor often slily says, “ The king's not come,” when of course the company ought to keep their seats ; but from their anxious expectation of the usual summons, they generally start up, which affords a great deal of merriment.
Sir Walter Scott, in Rob Roy, iii. 153, says: “Here auld ordering and counter-ordering—but patience! patience !- We may ae day play at Change seats, the king's coming.”
This game, although childish, is evidently meant to ridicule the political scramble for places on occasion of a change of government, or in the succession.
CHERRY-PIT. CHERRY-PIT is a play wherein they pitch cherry-stones into a little hole. It is noticed in the Pleasant Grove of New Fancies, 1657, and in Herrick’s Hesperides.
In the Instructions of Cornelius Scriblerus concerning the Plays and Playthings to be used by his son Martin, are a few remarks on the toys and minor sports of children, which it may not be irrelevant to notice.
Play, he observes, was invented as a remedy against hunger. “It is therefore wisely contrived by Nature, that children, as they have the keenest appetites, are most addicted to plays. To speak first of the whistle, as it is the first of all playthings. I will have it exactly to correspond with the ancient fistula,
and accordingly to be composed septem paribus disjuncta cicutis.
“I heartily wish a diligent search may be made after the true crepitaculum, or rattle of the ancients, for that (as Archytus Terentinus was of opinion) kept the children from breaking earthenware. The china cups in these days are not at all the safer for the modern rattles; which is an evident proof how far their crepitacula exceeded ours.
“ Julius Pollux describes the omilla, or chuck-farthing; tho' some will have our modern chuck-farthing to be nearer the aphetinda of the ancients. He also mentions the basilinda, or king I am ; and myinda, or hoopers-hide.
“But the chytindra described by the same author is certainly not our hot-cockle ; for that was by pinching, and not by striking; tho' there are good authors who affirm the ratha. pygismus to be yet nearer the modern hot-cockles. My son Martin may use either of them indifferently, they being equally antique.
“ Building of houses, and riding upon sticks, have been used by children in all ages. Ædificare casas, equitare in arundine longa. Yet I much doubt whether the riding upon sticks did not come into use after the age of the Centaurs.
“There is one play which shows the gravity of ancient education, called the acinetinda, in which children contended who could longest stand still. This we have suffered to perish entirely; and if I might be allowed to guess, it was certainly first lost among the French.
“I will permit my son to play at apodidascinda, which can be no other than our puss in a corner.
“ Julius Pollux, in his ninth book, speaks of the melolonthe, or the kite, but I question whether the kite of antiquity was the same with ours; and though the OpTurokomia, or quailfighting, is what is most taken notice of, they had doubtless cock-matches also, as is evident from certain ancient gems and relievos.
“In a word, let my son Martin disport himself at any game truly antique, except one which was invented by a people among the Thracians, who hung up one of their companions in a rope, and gave him a knife to cut himself down; which if he failed in, he was suffered to hang till he was dead; and
this was only reckoned a sort of joke. I am utterly against this as barbarous and cruel.” See Pope's Works, vi. 114, 115.
Dr. Arbuthnot, it is observed in a note, used to say, that notwithstanding all the boasts of the safe conveyance of tradition, it was nowhere preserved pure and uncorrupt but amongst schoolboys, whose plays and games are delivered down invariably the same from one generation to another.
COB or COBBING. GROSE has given us the definition of “cob or cobbing ; a punishment used by the seamen for petty offences, or irregularities, among themselves : it consists in bastinadoing the offender on the posteriors with a cobbing stick or pipe staff ; the number usually inflicted is a dozen. At the first stroke the executioner repeats the word watch, on which all persons present are to take off their hats, on pain of like punishment; the last stroke is always given as hard as possible, and is called the purse. Ashore, among soldiers, where this punishment is sometimes adopted, watch and the purse are not included in the number, but given over and above, or, in the vulgar phrase, free gratis for nothing. This piece of discipline is also inflicted in Ireland, by the schoolboys, on persons coming into the school without taking off their hats; it is there called School-butter.”
COB-NUT. COB-NUT, a master nut. The children in Yorkshire have a game which is probably an ancient English pastime, though I do not observe any notice of it in Strutt. Numerous hazelnuts are strung like the beads of a rosary. The game is played by two persons, each of whom has one of these strings, and consists in each party striking alternately with one of the nuts on his own string a nut of his adversary's. The field of combat is usually the crown of a hat. The object of each party is to crush the nuts of his opponent. A nut which has broken many of those of the adversary is a cob-nut. The author of the Craven Glossary has, from Minshew, “Kop-not, Belg. nux capitalis.” Hunter's Hallamshire Glossary.
The altar is not here foure-squar'd,
Herrick's HESPERIDES, p. 102.
In the English translation of Levinus Lemnius, 1658, p. 368, we read : “ The ancients used to play at Cockall, or casting of huckle-bones,' which is done with smooth sheeps' bones. The Dutch call them Pickelen, wherewith our young maids that are not yet ripe use to play for a husband, and young married folks despise these as soon as they are married. But young men use to contend one with another with a kind of bone taken forth of oxe-feet. The Duch call them coter, and they play with these at a set time of the year. Moreover cockals, which the Dutch call Teelings, are different from dice, for they are square, with four sides, and dice have six. Cockals are used by maids amongst us, and do no ways waste any one's estate. For either they passe away the time with them, or if they have time to be idle, they play for some small matter, as for chesnuts, filberds, pins, buttons, and some such juncats.”
(Let no Christian that hath true grace
· Naps upon Parnassus, 1658.) In Langley's abridgment of Polydore Vergile, f. l, we have another description of this game : “ There is a game also that is played with the posterne bone in the hynder foote of a sheepe, oxe, gote, fallowe, or redde dere, whiche in Latin is called talus. It hath foure chaunces : the ace point, that is named Canis, or Canicula, was one of the sides; he that cast it
1 In the Sanctuarie of Salvation, &c., translated from the Latin of Levinus Lemnius by Henry Kinder, 8vo. Lond. pr. by H. Singleton, p. 144, we read these bones are called “huckle-bones, or coytes."
leyed doune a peny, or so muche as the gamers were agreed on; the other side was called Venus, that signifieth seven. He that cast the chaunce wan sixe and all that was layd doune for the castyng of Canis. The two other sides were called Chius and Senio. He that did throwe Chius wan three. And he that cast Senio gained four. This game (as I take it) is used of children in Northfolke, and they cal it the Chaunce Bone ; they playe with three or foure of those bones together; it is either the same or very lyke to it.”[
See also the Account of the Statue belonging to a Group originally composed of Two Boys who quarrelled at the Game of Tali, now preserved in the British Museum. Library of Entertaining Knowledge, Townley Gallery, i. 305.
Dr. Clarke, in his Travels in Russia, 1810, i. 177, says : “ In all the villages and towns from Moscow to Woronetz, as in other parts of Russia, are seen boys, girls, and sometimes even old men, playing with the joint-bones of sheep. This game is called dibbs by the English. It is of very remote antiquity; for I have seen it very beautifully represented on Grecian vases ; particularly on a vase in the collection of the late Sir William Hamilton, where a female figure appeared most gracefully delineated kneeling upon one knee, with her right arm extended, the palm downwards, and the bones ranged along the back of her hand and arm. The second in the act of throwing up the bones in order to catch them. In this manner the Russians play the game.”
[The Times of 1847 contains a curious notice of a very old game, which deserves recording before it be buried in the massy files of that gigantic journal. A witness, whose conduct was impugned as light and unbecoming, is desired to inform
1 For further information relating to this game, as played by the ancients, the reader may consult Joannis Meursii Ludibunda, sive de Ludis Græcorum, Liber singularis, 8vo. Lugd. Bat. 1625, p. 7, v. ASTPA. PAASMO: and Dan. Souterii Palamedes, p. 81; but more particularly, I Tali ed altri Strumenti lusori degli antichi Romani, discritti da Francesco de 'Ficoroni, 4to. Rom. 1734.