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by two persons, it consists of batting the shuttlecock from one to the other; if by more than two, sides are chosen, and a game has been invented, and known as "Badminton." This latter game is not a traditional game, and does not therefore concern us now.
Strutt (Sports and Pastimes, p. 303) says this is a sport of long standing, and he gives an illustration, said to be of the fourteenth century, from a MS. in the possession of Mr. F. Douce. This would probably be the earliest mention of the game. It appears to have been a fashionable pastime among grown persons in the reign of James I. In the Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609, it is said, "To play at Shuttlecock methinkes is the game now," and among the anecdotes related of Prince Henry, son to James I., is the following: " His Highness playing at shittle-cocke with one farr taller than himself, and hittyng him by chance with the shittle-cock upon the forehead" (Harl. MS., 6391). Among the accounts of money paid for the Earl of Northumberland while he was prisoner in the Tower for supposed complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, is an item for the purchase of shuttlecocks (Hist. MSS. Com., v. p. 354).
But the popular nature of the game is not indicated by these facts. For this we have to turn to the doings of the people. In the villages of the West Riding the streets may be seen on the second Sunday in May full of grown-up men and women playing " Battledore and Shuttlefeathers " (Henderson's Folklore of the Northern Counties, p. 80). In Leicester the approach of Shrove Tuesday (known amongst the youngsters as " Shuttlecock Day ") is signalised by the appearance in the streets of a number of children playing at the game of " Battledore and Shuttlecock." On the day itself the streets literally swarm with juveniles, and even grown men and women engage in the pastime. Passing through a by-street the other day I heard a little girl singing—
Shuttlecock, shuttlecock, tell me true How many years have I to go through ? One, two, three, four, &c.
—Notes and Queries, 3rd series, iii. 87.
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