Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/247

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193
OUT-OF-DOOR SPORTS

to the use of arms. The quintain was usually the wooden figure of a man with outstretched arm, pivoted so as to rotate freely. The young lancer endeavoured, as he rode by, to strike the quintain squarely in the breast. If he missed by ever so little, it dashed round, giving the unsuccessful adversary a sounding blow with its outstretched arm. There were many variations of the game. One of the most popular was the water quintain. Here one stood in the prow of a small boat. If he missed his aim he was likely, or almost certain, in fact, to fall headlong into the water.

So much space has been occupied with even these slight allusions and descriptions of the most typical Elizabethan sports for out of doors, that others must be passed over even more briefly. There were frequent wakes held in connection with the end of harvest time and the sheep-shearing. Shovel-board and wrestling were common. Marbles were frequently played. Tops were the delight of the boys. The tops were of the whipping variety, and a huge one was kept under the name of the parish top to exercise the muscles of the lazy and unemployed. "He turned me about with his finger and thumb, as one would set up a top." (Coriolanus, IV. v. 160. ) "Enters a little boy with