Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/240

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number is optional and rarely exceeds twenty." (Strutt.)

The game of bowls was one of the commonest sports for gentlemen. It will be remembered that Drake, Hawkins, and other famous sea-captains were interrupted in a game of bowls upon the Hoe at Plymouth (a game that the sturdy and unruffled Drake wanted to play out), by the news that the Spanish Armada had been sighted in the Channel. In the country, or wherever space was sufficient, the game was played upon a close-cut turf called a green, hence the contemptuous term, green-men. An equally common variation of the game was like the modern nine-pins, and was played in alleys. The bowling alley was a common adjunct to the great house. The erection of such a place of amusement was one of the first tasks undertaken by Henry VIII. when he took possession of Whitehall. Stow is loud in his lamentations over the numerous public bowling alleys that took up men's time and "pestered" certain districts of London to the exclusion of more reputable buildings. There is not room here to describe the numerous terms that crept into the common speech from the game of bowls. One, however, is so frequently met with in Shakespeare as to warrant insertion. The bowl was