1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pall-Mall

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PALL-MALL, an obsolete English game of French origin, called in France paille-maille (from palla, ball, and malleus, mallet). Sir Robert Dallington, in his Method for Travel (1598), says: “Among all the exercises of France, I prefer none before the Paille-Maille.” James I., in his Basilikon doron, recommended it as a proper game for Prince Henry, and it was actually introduced into England in the reign of Charles I., or perhaps a few years earlier. Thomas Blount's Glossographia (ed. 1670) describes it as follows: “Pale Maille, a game wherein a round bowle is with a mallet struck through a high arch of iron (standing at either end of an alley), which he that can do at the fewest blows, or at the number agreed on, wins. This game was heretofore used in the long alley near St James's, and vulgarly called Pell-Mell.” The pronunciation here described as “vulgar” afterwards became classic. A mallet and balls used in the game were found in 1845 and are now in the British Museum. The mallet resembles that used in croquet, but its head is curved and its ends sloped towards the shaft. The balls are of boxwood and about one foot in circumference. Pepys describes the alley as of hard sand “dressed with powdered cockle-shells.” The length of the alley varied, that at St James's being about 800 yds. Some alleys had side walls.