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BALOON. [A GAME played with an inflated ball of strong leather, the ball being struck by the arm, which was defended by a bracer of wood.
“ 'Tis ten a clock and past; all whom the mues,
Donne's Poems, p. 133.]
BARLEY-BREAK. The following description of barley-break, written by Sir Philip Sidney, is taken from the song of Lamon, in the first volume of the Arcadia, where he relates the passion of Claius and Strephon for the beautiful Urania :
“She went abroad, thereby,
Then couples three be straight allotted there,
The two that in mid-space Hell called were
To catch of them, and them to hell to bear,
Like some that seek to salve their blotted name
There you may see, soon as the middle two
They, false and fearful, do their hands undo;
Heeding himself, cares not how fellow do,
As perjur'd cowards in adversity,
With sight of fear, from friends to friends do fly." Sir John Suckling, also, has given the following description of this pastime with allegorical personages :
“Love, Reason, Hate did once bespeak
Three mates to play at barley-break.
They break; and Love would Reason meet,
So Love and Folly were in Hell." }
“ Barley-break, or Last in Hell.
We'll wish in Hell we had been last and first." Dr. Jamieson, in his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, calls this “a game generally played by young people in a corn-yard. Hence called 'barla-bracks about the stacks, S. B.” (i. e. in the north of Scotland.) “ One stack is fixed on as the dule or goal; and one person is appointed to catch the rest of the company, who run out from the dule. He does not leave it till they are all out of sight. Then he sets off to catch them. Any one who is taken cannot run out again with his former associates, being accounted a prisoner ; but is obliged to assist his captor in pursuing the rest. When all are taken the game is finished ; and he who was first taken is bound to act as catcher in the next game. This innocent sport seems to be almost entirely forgotten in the south of Scotland. It is also falling into desuetude in the north.” He adds: “Perhaps from barley and break, q. breaking of the parley ; because, after a certain time allowed for settling preliminaries, on a cry being given, it is the business of one to catch as many prisoners as he can.
See the Dramatic Works of Philip Massinger, 1779, i. 167, whence these extracts are quoted. Barley-break is several times alluded to in Massinger's Plays. See also Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, published in 1614, book i. song 3, p. 76.
Did we suppose it to be allied to burlaw, this game might be viewed as originally meant as a sportive representation of the punishment of those who broke the laws of the boors.”
[“ In January, men do play
At cards and dice their time away :
Poor Robin, 1740.]
BEAR-BAITING appears anciently to have been one of the Christmas sports with our nobility. “Our nobility,” says Pennant, in his Zoology, i. 79, 1776, “ also kept their bearward ; twenty shillings was the annual reward of that officer from his lord, the fifth Earl of Northumberland, 'when he comyth to my lorde in Cristmas, with his lordshippe's beests for making of his lordschip pastyme the said twelve days."" Northumb. Household Book.
JAMIESON, in the Supplement to his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, calls this a childish game at cards, in which the players throw down a card alternately. Only two play ; and the person who throws down the highest takes the trick. In England it is called beggar-my-neighbour. He derives the name from the Islandic berk-ia, to boast; because the one rivals his antagonist with his card. He adds : “Of this game there are said to be two kinds, king's birke and common birkie.” Galt, alluding to this game in his Ayrshire Legatees, p. 49, says : “ It was an understood thing that not only whist and catch-honours were to be played, but even obstreperous birky itself, for the diversion of such of the company as were not used to gambling games.”
BLINDMAN'S-BUFF. This sport is found among the illuminations of an old missal formerly in the possession of John Ives, cited by Strutt, in his Manners and Customs. Gay says concerning it:
“As once I play'd at blindman's-buff, it hap't,
About my eyes the towel thick was wrapt.
True speaks that ancient proverb, · Love is blind.'" Dr. Jamieson, in his Etymological Dictionary, gives us a curious account of this game, which in Scotland was called belly-blind. In the Suio-Gothic it appears this game is called blind-boc, i. e. blind goat; and in German blind-kuhe, q. blind cow. The French call this game cligne-musset, from cligner, to wink, and musse, hidden; also, colin-maillard, equivalent to “Colin the buffoon.” “This game,” says Dr. Jamieson, not unknown to the Greeks. They called it kodlaßiouos, from kollaßiśw, impingo. It is thus defined : Ludi genus, quo hic quidem manibus expansis oculos suos tegit, ille vero postquam percussit, quærit num verberarit ; Pollux ap. Scapul. It was also used among the Romans. We are told that the great Gustavus Adolphus, at the very time that he proved the scourge of the house of Austria, and when he was in the midst of his triumphs, used in private to amuse himself in playing at blindman's-buff with his colonels. *Cela passoit (say the
" A pleasant writer in the Gent. Mag. for February, 1738, viii. 80, says that “blindman's-buff was a ridicule upon Henry VIII. and Wolsey ; where the cardinal minister was bewildering his master with treaty upon treaty with several princes, leaving him to catch whom he could, till at last he caught his minister, and gave him up to be buffeted. When this reign was farther advanced, and many of the abbey-lands had been alienated, but the clergy still retained some power, the play most in fashion was, I am upon the friar's ground, picking of gold and silver.”
authors of the Dict. Trev.) pour une galanterie admirable.' v. Colin-Maillard." “In addition to what has formerly been said,” Dr. Jamieson adds, under blind harie, “ (another name for blindman's-buff in Scotland) it may be observed that this sport in Isl. is designed kraekis-blinda.” Verelius supposes that the Ostrogoths had introduced this game into Italy; where it is called giuoco della cieca, or the play of the blind. Chacke-blynd-man and Jockie-blind-man are other Scottish appellations for the same game.
["Sometyme the one would goe, sometyme the other,
Sometymes all thre at once, and sometyme neither ;
The Newe Metamorphosis, 1600, MS.]
APPEARS to have been another childish game. Marmion, in his Antiquary, 4to. 1641, act i. says: “I have heard of a nobleman that has been drunk with a tinker, and of a magnifico that has plaid at blow-point." So, in the comedy of Lingua, 1607, act iii. sc. 2, Anamnestes introduces Memory as telling “how he played at blowe point with Jupiter when he was in his side-coats." See other references to allusions to this game in Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 188.
Misson, in his Memoirs and Observations in his Travels over England, ed. 1719, p. 304, speaking of sports and diversions, says:
Anything that looks like fighting is delicious to an Englishman. If two little boys quarrel in the street, the passengers stop, make a ring round them in a moment, and set them against one another, that they may come to fisticuffs. When 'tis come to a fight, each pulls off his neckcloth and wastcoat, and give them to hold to some of the standers-by (some will strip themselves naked quite to their