Historically minded party-makers might just be contemplating staging (a) party game(s) from the past to occupy the time of their guests this evening while awaiting the bells. Some games have survived from at least the early 19th century to this day, such as Blind Man’s Buff (now more often referred to as ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’). Others have been abandoned as unsuitable for the changing social, cultural, and material environments of succeeding generations.
Several contemporaneous sources survive to describe games that some might have played during the 17th – 19th centuries in England. While continuing research on Christmas traditions of this period (in preparation for talks and tours next year), I came across one such source: a book on winter games, written during the reign of George IV in the early 19th century, reputedly by ‘A Spinster’.[i] As, we should remember, until the Victorian era Christmas festivities often continued to or after the 6th January (more on this another time!), such games may well have been played at New Year get-togethers.
However, hosts inclined to do something different this year by reviving past games might not find those in this book particularly appealing. Although variations of old familiars such as Blind Man’s Buff are provided (which I may outline on another blog in time for Twelfth Night), a large portion of this text is dedicated to ‘forfeit’ games – which, the author tells us, commonly rounded off the evening of Christmas party amusements.
Most of the games are sufficiently dreary and wearisome to put off modern partygoers, the descriptions typically convoluted; the verses and other ‘lines’ to be spoken by participants – which include some terrible puns – frequently cringe-worthy; modern readers might find the premises for some games downright bizarre. But (although perhaps tempting the student and stag night party-animal) the frequent infliction (upon the ‘penitent’ subject to ‘forfeits’) of personal discomfort – physical (surely, at times, painful), including acts of interpersonal violence; and emotional (often involving humiliation) may repel many prospective gamesters. More uncomfortable still are the games that involve close physical contact, which without mutual, informed, consent might (particularly considering the level of compulsion and physicality) be rightly considered today as sexual harassment or abuse – and so best be avoided.[ii]
But the games may be of interest with regard to how attitudes and behaviour have both changed, and continued, since the early 19th century. The extracts are verbatim, retaining original spellings and punctuation (although due to time and space constraints, the italicised emphases have been omitted, and some paragraphs combined) – as is the nauseating sexism of both the narratives and descriptions, endemic to the society and culture of the time.
KISS THE NUN.
The gentleman on whom this penance is imposed is allowed to choose the lady who is to personate the Nun; she, in turn, is to nominate her person, who is to play the part of grate. The Penitent may be ordered to kiss the Nun’s cheek, or her hand only, according to the discretion of the crier…by her side [the ‘nun’s’] sits the person chosen to play the part of grate, who, opening her fingers wide, holds her hand on the Nun’s cheek, so as to represent the bars of a convent grate: through these openings the Penitent is to try and kiss the Nun’s cheek or hand (according to the order given), he begins by exclaiming “Alas! these bars— these cruel, cruel bars !” The Nun then replies, ” They’re not so narrow but you may bestow on me a kiss—one parting kiss!” At the word kiss, the Penitent must try to kiss the Nun, while the lady who performs grate endeavours to baffle him by closing her fingers; if he kisses the bars of the grate, the lady who plays grate, cries, “Take this for your bad management” (pulling his ear) , ” how dare you waste your kisses on cold iron !” His attempts must be renewed and continued until he succeeds by his own quickness, or from the compassion of the grate, who thinks he has been sufficiently tantalized, and there fore leaves her fingers open intentionally. The Nun at each trial is to cry, ” one parting kiss.”
KISS IF YOU CAN.
The penitent having a lady assigned whom he is to kiss, she is to kneel in the middle of the room ; he is to kneel also, his back being turned to the lady’s back. At the words make ready, the lady is to look over her left shoulder, and the gentleman’s head is at the same instant to be turned over his right shoulder ; at the word present, he must approach his lips to her cheek as much as possible; at the word fire, he must try to kiss her ; she must endeavour, however, to baffle his attempt, either by stooping down or suddenly springing up: if he is nimble, he will secure her by passing one arm round her waist, and holding Tier head with his other hand. If he fails, he must cry, “T beg your pardon for being so awkward, but ‘I hope to behave better another time.” If she escapes, she must scoffingly cry, ” a miss is as good as a mile.”
FISHING FOR A KISS.
To execute this a small piece of barley sugar, Spanish liquorice, a Barbary drop, or any piece of confectionary, &c. must be tied to the end of a piece of thread, silk, or cotton: he is to suspend this line, thus baited, to the end of a twig, a pen, or something to imitate a fishing rod ; then, approaching the lady allotted for his prey, he must suspend the bait near her lips : she, having once taken it into her mouth, is constrained not to let it go, under the penalty of paying a forfeit. “I have hooked her: a famous fish ! what if it should prove a mermaid? O how gloriously she nibbles ! I must take care not to loose her—as I am an old sportsman. I know there’s nothing to he done with such fish, except by playing them well.” During this speech he detaches his end of the line; and, putting it into his mouth, gradually walks up to the lady, observing to draw the thread into his mouth as he advances : the consequence will be, that his lips will be finally brought in contact with those of the lady, who will thus get kissed.
KISSING GOES BY FAVOR.
The Penitent is put into a corner, as a prisoner, with a screen or chair before him : he begins to lament, and cry, “Alas! alas!” [One of the party] “A lass?—What do you want with a lass?”
By Fate from liberty debar’d,
Behold me caged, dear Miss!
And here I am condemned to stay
Till let out by a kiss.
I fear for so mighty a boon to sue,
Yet fain would I venture to beg it from you ;
As a matter of right I can’t claim it, ’tis clear,
For kissing, alas ! goes by favor I hear.
The Penitent must remain until some lady consents to give him a kiss, which releases him from his penance.
KISSING GOES BY CHANCE; OR, MARRIAGE IS ALL A LOTTERY.
Take the honours of two or three packs of cards, according to the number of persons present; separate the Kings and Knaves, to be dealt to the men: the Queens and Aces to he dealt for the ladies : to each of these parcels may be added a sufficient number of other cards, to deal one for each person : the penitent shuffles the ladies’ pack, and then, beginning at the top of the room, presents the cards for the lady to draw one, which must be done in rotation until each has taken one. The men must then each draw one from their pack, in like manner. When all the cards are distributed, the penitent, going into the middle of the room, calls for the Queen of Hearts; on her stepping out he takes her by the hand, and calls for the King of Hearts : standing between them, he joins their hands, saying,
Happy pair! ’tis fate’s decree
That you, to-night, shall married be.
He then proceeds, in like manner, with all the rest: observe one thing, if there are several sets of honors used, it will then be necessary to mark a figure on each card with a pencil : King of Hearts, 1,2,3, Sec. that they may be paired with the corresponding numbers of queens ; the same thing, however, need not be done with the knaves and aces. Should the party not consist of more than eighteen persons, the honors of one pack will suffice. The kings must all kiss their queens’ hands, saying, ” Mr. Penitent, I thank you for my bride:” he replies, ” nay, your majesty must thank dame Fortune, for she made the match : I am glad you are pleased with your lot, and hope you’ll have no cause to repent your bargain.” Those who have drawn the knaves, stepping up to the Penitent, shake hands with him, one after another, saying, ‘ ‘ take this for having indulged me with the luxury of continuing a bachelor; ” those who have drawn the aces, cry, ” take this for having doomed me to die an old maid;” and each bestows on the, penitent a blow with her fan; or a box on the ear, which provokes much merriment at the Penitent’s expense. There is scope for drollery, as the bachelors may make their observations when they produce their cards ; as, for instance, Knave of clubs : “Well, I am glad to find the staff of power is still left in my possession, for I dreaded lest Fortune should have sent me a partner who would have snatched it from my hand, to lay it about my shoulders.” Knave of diamonds: “Well, after all my brilliant freaks in the diamond button line, I find Fortune is determined not to enrich my collection of gems with that jewel called a wife ; Soloman says a good woman is better than rubies, umph ! I know which of the two I would rather have.” Knave of hearts: ” I never knew Fortune act so wisely; people say she is blind; but, In my case, she has shown the clearest discernment ; for if there is a man in the world who can dispense with marriage, it most assuredly must be the knave of hearts!” Knave of spades: “With a spade in his hand, a single man may taste true happiness, while cultivating his garden, but if fortune bestows a wife, the sooner he hangs himself on one of his apple trees the better.”
The old maids have an equal scope for venting spleen. Ace of clubs: ” This club could not be better bestowed than in drubbing that spiteful hussey, Madam Fortune; and as for the men, I could cudgel every booby of them, for their want of taste, to let Miss Barbara Crabtree wither thus disconsolately single—O shame ! shame ! ! shame ! ! ! ”—clubbing Penitent with a fan. Ace of diamonds : ” I thought the display of the valuable diamond ring I wear,
would have induced some one to have asked for my hand, long ago ; as for you, Sir, [to the Penitent] I’ll let you have it without your going to the trouble of formally demanding it.” [Boxes his ears.] Ace of hearts : “I, who am all heart, to die single! How could you have the heart to deal thus with me, thou vile footman of Fortune ! thou valet of destiny ! did not the Fates inform you I was doomed to box your ears? [suits the action to the word.]—Ace of spades: I am so mortified I could dig a hole with my spade to hide my head in ; but first let me dig out your eyes, Sirrah! I’ll make yon as blind as Cupid, your master, and Fortune, your mistress.” [Flies at the Penitent, and attacks him with tooth and nail.]
HAND OR GLOVE.
The Penitent being ordered to kiss a certain lady, when he approaches she demands what he wants :
” I am ordered to kiss you, Madam.” ” How will you have this kiss, hand or glove?” He makes a choice. ” Stop, Sir; you must answer still another question : Will you be my handy man, or will you be my footman?” Having decided, he is now awarded the kiss, but by the rule of contraries ; for instance ; if he has chosen to kiss the glove, and to be a foot man, he kisses the hand as a reward for his humility : if he has chosen to kiss the hand, and be footman, she takes off her glove and gives him to kiss : if he has chosen to be handy man, and kiss her hand, he must kiss her shoe : if handy man, and to kiss the glove, he must kiss her foot, taking off the shoe.
In fine, humility is in this penance rewarded, while presumption is punished.
The Penitent is ordered to cruize on the Pacific ocean, until he captures a prize : having selected a lady, he makes her prisoner, tying her hands behind her with a ribbon, scarf, or silk handkerchief : he then demands what she will give for her ransom : she offers various things—a bottle of moonshine, a gold mine in Utopia, a shadow of hope, a prospect of happiness, Aladdin’s lamp, Fortunatus’s wishing-cap, a baiter, a pig’s ear stuffed with treacle, a patent hog-trough, a musical gridiron, and various whimsical things:—” No, no; you are far from imagining the ransom I demand ; if you will send me one of your friends, I will whisper to her what it is, and she shall hint it to you.” A lady being deputed by the captive, the penitent approaches as if he designed to whisper in her ear ; but he kisses her, and says, aloud, ” Go tell yon slave she has no other mode of escaping from bondage than by coming to kiss her master, who, at that price, consents to set her free.” She must execute this command ; the penitent, pretending to avoid her, goes to a corner, where he is held by some of the ladies until the ransom is paid.
A CURE FOR THE SPLEEN.
The Penitent is ordered to recline, as if confined by sickness. The conductor, after a short pause, goes to ask the Penitent how he finds himself—”So bad that I don’t wish to be disturbed : leave me to die in peace.” ” Your case is not so desperate, I hope ; have you consulted eminent Physicians?” “What will they tell me, except that I must pay their fees?” ” Come, come, you are too severe : I’ll recommend you one who not only possesses transcendent talents, but unbounded liberality.” [The conductor then selects a Lady to whom he communicates, in a whisper, such instructions as will appear by the part she now plays.] Doctor. Have you been long sick ?— Patient. Too long..— Doctor. Let me feel your pulse— all is not right here— I suspect you to be somewhat wrongheaded too. — Patient. You surely must deal with the Devil, to find that out so soon ! — Doctor. Can you eat? — Patient. Like a wolf. — Doctor. Can you drink? — Patient. Like a fish. — Doctor. Can you sleep? — Patient. Like a top. — Doctor. Like a humming top I believe ; I think if you were treated like a whipping top it might be serviceable : shall I prescribe for you a few stripes with eel skins every four hours?—Patient. No, I thank you. — Doctor. You feel horrid giddy —a spinning, as it were, in the head, eh ?— Patient. A swimming Doctor, a perfect swimming. I believe, for my part, that there are as many Tittlebats in my brain as in Rosamond’s pond.— Doctor. No, no — you mistake the matter — I admit your brains are somewhat washy — but they contain no fish — nothing but maggots, plenty of maggots— Your nerves? — Patient. Steel — Doctor. Your heart? — Patient. Oak. — Doctor. Your lungs? Patient. Leather. — Doctor. I think I’ll hit your case — I begin to suspect something — you must promise to answer my questions without reserve— Patient. Always, when expedient.—Doctor. Does it not excite your indignation to see the innocent oppressed? — Patient. Always. — Doctor. Does it not move your contempt to see rogues and fools wallowing in riches, while men of wit and learning pine in want? — Patient. It makes my blood boil till my very breath comes singing and smoking out of my nostrils, like steam from the spout of a tea-kettle !— Doctor. I begin to understand the nature of your case — put out your tongue — tut ! man—half a foot would do ; I don’t want to see root and all.—Patient. That’s neat. — Doctor. More like a bullock’s I think. Patient. Doctor, you’re so droll it is a thousand pities I have not got the quinsy ; the point of your wit would pierce what lancets never could reach. — Doctor. Don’t talk too much, ’tis bad for your complaint; I have almost done—I have but a couple more questions to ask you. How do you feel if you ask a pretty woman to dance, and she declines—yet, two minutes after, accepts a dandy for her partner?— Patient. I feel half angry, half mortified. — Doctor. I suspected as much— now, Sir, be kind enough to shut your eyes and tell me what you see ? Patient. A monstrous being, sixteen feet high, and ten across the shoulders,—-He’s all blue— clothes, beard and all- Amazing ‘. why its Bluebeard, magnified by Katterfelto’s Microscope ! — Doctor. Enough : I know your ailment now, and must proceed to cure you [giving him a small stone] throw this” —He throws it, and springs up, crying “I’m cured—I am restored : I am as well as ever I was in my life-” — Doctor. I knew how it would be : the prescription of my immortal predecessor, Dr. Greene, is an infallible cure. ” Throw but a stone the Giant diet.” Patient. Then I find my complaint was but the spleen : well, I am so grateful I could hug you ! prithee, my dear Doctor, what is your fee ? how are you generally paid ? — Doctor. For the poor I practise gratis : but for those like you, who can afford to pay, my terms are, when I go “to my patient a whole kiss for every visit ; from those who consult me at home I only take half a fee. Patient. Half a kiss ! that’s droll— I won’t do thing by halves, I’ll promise you : (kissing her heartily).
The author makes this comment before continuing to describing the several games that follow (of which I have provided a few):
There are usually imposed various penances, of a nature truly disagreeable, which, however they may suit the taste of the splenetic and unsocial, cannot but give pain to generous minds, on which account we shall not introduce them here, kind readers ; for I natter myself we are an inoffensive cheerful set, assembled to be happy, to whom coarse jokes and malicious tricks would afford no amusement ; nevertheless, as there is an ebb and flow in every tide, and as, in journeying through this world’s wilderness, we are doomed sometimes to walk in a rough path as well as a smooth one, we must now parade our poor penitent where he will encounter some mortification ; where his penitence will not be ideal; where, in fine, he will not be always allowed to ” boil his pease,” or stretch his limbs upon a bed of roses.
GIVING THE QUESTION.
The Penitent is to be laid on the ground, on a sofa, or on a couch, made of six chairs : four men are appointed to hold his wrists and ankles, to be secured, if necessary, by strong silk handkerchiefs. The Penitent is now to name his torturers, who are to consist of four ladies, and one, (the object of preference,) whom he is to choose to perform the part of Grand Inquisitrix. To terrify the Penitent, some formidable preparations must be made with poker, tongs, shovel, bellows, snuffers, candles, a decanter of water, &c. ; but the only inflictions to be used, are the following : when he does not immediately answer the interrogation of the Inquisitrix, she cries, ” Give him the Question.” The ladies are then to tickle his face and ears with a feather ; also, the palms of his hands, and his ribs, shouting all the while, ” Question, question, question ! ” In cases of obstinate resistance, the four ladies are to lean their chins on the Penitent’s breast, and kiss each other, crying, ” Rack him with envy, rack him with envy.” In an extreme case, the Inquisitrix is to approach her face near the Penitent’s, and say, ” Caitiff, salute me instantly! I’ll order you to kiss me ; if you don’t answer me immediately, I’ll order you to kiss me.” If he still resists ; ” If you don’t respond, I’ll go and kiss your rival.”
Penitent. O anguish insupportable! Hold, lovely torment ! that threat, if executed, will cause the hand of jealousy to pluck up all my heart-strings by the root !
The questions given to the Penitent, should, of course, be such as to excite the greatest mirth at his own expense ; whilst, in return, he must endeavour so to frame his responses as to throw some ridicule on his tormentors. We will now suppose the Penitent extended on the bed of torture.
Inquisitrix. Are you not of a character essentially wicked ; radically base ?
Penitent. Certainly, no !
Inquisitrix. Tormentors, do your duty ! (They operate on the Penitent.]
Penitent. Oil ! for Mercy’s sake forbear ! Yes, yes, yes ; I am, I am.
Inquisitrix. Ah ! I thought the truth would out. Secretary ! be particular in taking down this criminal’s confession : I expect to make some most important discoveries ! Have you not had dealings with the devil ?
Penitent. No ; but he has sometimes been a customer of mine ; and I find, to my sorrow, he is dealing with me now.
Inquisitrix. Come, come, Sir! none of these circuitous movements ; if you do not know the way to give a direct answer, these, my guides, shall put you in the right road.
A Tormentor. Had I not better hold a needle up to his tongue’s end ?
Inquisitrix. That’s a bright thought ; for then he will be obliged to speak to the point.
Penitent. I would rather speak so as to gain my end.
Inquisitrix. I do not doubt it ; but it is touching my end you must now speak.
Penitent. Which end?
Inquisitrix. I’ll let you know that my end is to be gained.
Penitent. If t thought so, I would buy a ticket : I should like to win you from beginning to end.
Inquisitrix. Silence, Sirrah! If you prate thus, we shall never have done. Do you think you are the only man these ladies have to torment ? Penitent. Far from It ; I believe they would do as much for any man, if a fair opportunity occurred.
A Tormentor. Shall we not be allowed to punish this hardened culprit for his insolence ? I should like to stick this breast-pin in his bosom.
Inquisitrix. You may look pikes, swords, hatchets, and halberds, at him ;—” you may speak daggers, but use none ; ” my power only extends so far as to make him speak the truth.
Tormentor. Your power is miraculous ! Take nought from nought, and there remains nought.
Inquisitrix. Silence ! At this rate we shall never have done ; let us proceed to question. Where did we leave off?
2d Tormentor. At, at—
3d Tormentor. We were at, at—
4th Tormentor. Let me see ; we were at, at, at—
Penitent. Where I wish you all were now, with all my heart.
Inquisitrix. Make him say where ; give him the question.
Tormentor, (tickling him) Where were we ?— at where ?—at what do you wish us ?—at, at—
Penitent. Oh! oh! oh! the devil, the devil, the devil!
Inquisitrix, Hold ! he has spoken truth ; we were at the devil, sure enough. That brings me back to the question, which must be repeated. Prepare, ye Tormentors ! Have you not had dealings with the devil ?
Penitent. Yes, certainly, ever since you stretched me on this bed of torture !
Inquisitrix, Never was the foul fiend more firmly entrenched in human garrison ; the wretch avails himself of the subtlety of his evil spirit, thereby thinking he will foil us ; but, I flatter myself he shall find himself mistaken ; for it would be hard if a cunning woman were not more than a match for the devil. I must take up a new position.
Penitent. Yes, you had better come and sit on my lap ; then, your lovely face reclining on my faithful bosom, I’ll answer all your questions in the most satisfactory manner possible.
Inquisitrix. That came from the tempter ; that was inspired by—
Penitent. Love, the most ardent !
Inquisitrix. Write that down.
Penitent. In characters of Flame.
Inquisitrix. Nothing will satisfy these amorous sparks but setting every thing in a blaze.
Penitent. What can be done without warmth when frost is to be melted? for if the bosoms of their mistresses are whiter than snow their hearts are colder than ice.
Inquisitrix. He has got me on the ice, thinking to give me a fall, the slippery fellow !
Penitent. I should like to catch you tripping.
Inquisitrix. So we are getting on a little ; some times we find ourselves approaching a point when we suppose ourselves receding, as Navigators sail so far East as to get into West longitude at last.— Write down that the Penitent would like to catch me tripping : now this brings us home to one of the charges set forth against him in the indictment ; we are come to an important part. Did you not boast that you would catch me? Give him the question.
[He is tormented.]
Penitent. Yes, yes, I did— I did.
Inquisitrix. How, Sir !
Penitent. I won’t tell you.
Inquisitrix. Tormentors—do your duty ; mind I don’t tell you to scratch his eyes out—I only just hint that such a thing might be done if necessary.
Penitent. Oh ! Oh !—stop—stop.
Inquisitrix, Answer, then. How did you say you would catch me?
Penitent. By hook or by crook.
Inquisitrix. And pray what are are your hooks?—
Penitent. My fingers.
Inquisitrix. What your crooks ?
Penitent. These arms, on which I long to hitch yours, as the hook of a porridge pot hangs on the crook of the crane of the kitchen range.
Inquisitrix. Secretary, write down all this; you know how to make the pot-hooks and hangers-“— You have told by what you said you would catch me— you must now tell how you would catch me—What! silent? Tormentors, do your duty : question, question, rack him with envy, rack him with envy.—
Penitent. O horror ! horror ! horror ! help ! help ! help ! fire ! fire ! fire ! stop thieves ! stop ! thieves ! stop thieves ! watchman ! watchman ! watchman ! murder ! murder ! murder !
Inqusitrix. Speak then—how would you catch me.
Inquisitrix. This corresponds with that charge which states the affair of napping.—Now, Sir, it remains for you to confess when this is to be.
Penitent. In something less than ten lustres.
Inquisitrix. He has spoken truth, although not in the precise words set forth in the first count, which states that, by hook or by crook, he would be sure to catch me napping before I was fifty years older— napping forsooth ! the dozy-headed fellow !—But, to despatch him at once, I’ll read the second charge, which states that one fine summer’s evening, under a sycamore tree, he held with one of his companions, the following conversation : O this enchanting creature ! O this most fascinating darlingcum-diddlecumdido of a woman ! what would I not do to make her mine !—I wish I was a salamander ; I would carry her with me to the furnace of a glass-house : I wish I was a great giant ; I would whip her up and put her into the breast pocket of my great coat ! And here I must put a question : prithee with what view would you do this ?
Penitent. That I might cradle your dear form in my affectionate bosom, and rock you to sleep with the throbbing of my heart.
Inquisitrix. My cheek might as well be pillowed on the piston of the Chelsea water-works, or the prow of the Nore-light in a December gale.—But to proceed : after breathing a thousand wishes, each more extravagant than the other, such as that he was a spider— a bluebottle ; a mouse-trap—he, a mouse; moreover, he vowed he would suffer a Clare Market butcher to cut out every bone in his body, so that he could get me for his rib—he wished that there was not another man living but himself, for that then I should have Hobson’s choice for a husband.—As if want a husband, Ladies and Gentlemen ! as if want a dirty good-for-nothing husband ! Marry come up ! Marry ! But now I come to the darkest part of this affair : I mean that which relates to the black art.— I pray you attend to this : being asked by Ms confidant if he had no charms for me—he was candid enough to own he had not, but declared he had some thoughts of imitating Dr. Faustus, of selling himself to you know who— and of becoming a wizard—for the purpose of bewitching me !—And now, tormentors, let him have the question, till be owns that every syllable of what I urge is true.
The Penitent, after being variously tormented, and resisting, is destined to receive the Coup de Grace, which is thus inflicted ;—the Inquisitrix chooses one who is to perform the part of Rival.
Inquisitrix. Rival, give the Penitent the Coup de Grace.
Rival. I do what you are graciously pleased to order. [Kisses her: the Penitent groans.] Poor soul ! you have done his business ; you have broken the poor fellow’s heart !
Inquisitrix. Well, then, to mend the matter, let him eat a pound of Van Courer’s Cement, or swallow a quart of melted sealing-wax.
THE CENTRE OF A HOBBLE.
This penance is for a lady. A ring being formed by the gentlemen, a lady is enclosed :—she cries, ” I can’t get out—I’m in the centre of a hobble’:— ” why, there is no end to this ring!” The conductor replies—”There is an end to the ring, but it can only be found out by using a spell more potent than that of the magicians who formed it: the instant you touch, with your enchanting cheek, the lips of any of these Genii, you will find a loop-hole to creep out of.”
BLOW HIGH — BLOW LOW.
The Penitent is ordered to blow a candle out, which is to be executed in the following way :—he must put his hands behind him, while one of the ladies holds a candle near his face, but moves, it as soon as he endeavours to blow. Although this appears an easy penance, it is attended with considerable difficulty.—She must cry, ” Blow high, blow low— North, South, East, West,” &c.
A person of either sex may be banished to a corner of the room, to stand there for a certain period ; such as until three, six, or more, forfeits have been cried. A lady may put an end to her banishment by her own good behaviour; that is, if she will call some gentle man to kiss her, in which case she is liberated instantly—but the gentleman can only obtain his release by her majesty’s special grace; that is, she who has the character of Queen must make him kneel and kiss her hand.
The penitent may be ordered to obey the command of any particular matter or mistress, or be doomed the slave of all the party ; when he is obliged to perform all he is commanded to do ; the number of thing’s being previously arranged.
Play nicely, and have a Happy New Year!
[i] Rachel Revel (pseudo.), 1825 Winter Evening Pastimes; or, the Merry-Maker’s Companion.
[ii] Time permitting, I will discuss this issue on a website dedicated to a public history project that I co-direct, which contains more information on, and examples of, my research into abuse, as I feel that these games might provide useful comparisons for the study of past and present attitudes (and might be integrated within PSP project work).