Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/465

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In this year of grace 1897 all the British Empire is joining together to congratulate her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria upon the unparalleled duration of her reign. There is no part or condition of her loyal subjects' lives which may not fairly be called upon to prove its right to be regarded as one of the blessings her Majesty may associate with her happy occupation of the throne of England.

The rise and development of athleticism, until it has become a most important aspect of British life, has been one of the marked characteristics of the Victorian era. I do not mean to say that the nation had not athletic tastes and tendencies long before Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. That would be untrue. For from time immemorial the English have been passionately fond of sports and pastimes, and have carried their love for them wherever they have wandered on their many errands of peace and war. But in former days games of all kinds were offshoots and ornaments of daily life rather than distinct and absorbing interests. It is during the last sixty years, and especially during the latter half of this period, that the two great games cricket and football have become such enormous factors in the sum of English life. It may also be said that the average modern Englishman has two separate sides to his nature—one for work and one for games. And though his work may sometimes make it impossible for him to play games, though his interest in games may sometimes prevent him from working, still if an average be struck the two sides will be found fairly well balanced. At any rate, games form a very large part of modern English life. Queen Victoria reigns over a people who find much of the pleasure of life in games—either actively or passively.