6 SEPTEMBER 1890, Page 17


WHEN Mr. Jorrocks proposed the toast of " 'unting ; the sport of Kings, the image o' war without its guilt, and only five- and-twenty per cent. of its danger," he would no doubt have dismissed the notion of a future rival in the form of cricket, as he did the praises of Mr. Muleygrub's cheese,—" Children," said Mr. Jorrocks, " might like a good deal of it." But now, Cricket, which its admirers have long asserted to be the "prince of games," has been crowned King ; and if any one questions this, he will perhaps look at the four columns in last Monday's Times devoted to the subject of County Cricket, and doubt longeir if he dares. King Cricket, however, must be con- tent with the ordinary lot of monarchs, on earth, and submit to a little outside criticism from his new subjects, or the will of the majority in electing him will not pass unquestioned. Perhaps the most amusing side of his now established rule is the pains taken with the young generation to make them docile subjects. We are the most practical of nations, and when once the majority are per- suaded that a thing is excellent, our intolerance of any difference in the opinion of those of our own age is only equalled by the pains which we take to prevent the young ones from having two minds on the question at all. As for myself, I have long ago yielded to the wishes of persons better instructed, and am only too anxious to forward their views for their children. It was partly with this intention that I went down to visit a small friend of mine who has entered a justly famed preparatory school, where sound Latin grammar, and cricket, are taught with an exclusiveness. and devotion which only a perfect conviction of the all- sufficiency of both, and the total uselessness of any other mental or bodily gymnastics, could justify. Judge, then, of my surprise when Master Tommy, who, having but recently joined the establishment, was feeling a little low, and by no means as confident as when I had interrupted him in the paternal village during the Easter holidays, just as he had finished the third and last round of a fight before the black- smith's shop with Walter Briggs the shepherd's son, alleged as one of the causes of his discontent that " there was nothing to play at but cricket." " Good gracious, boy !" I replied, " and what else can you want P" " Well, Mr. C—," replied Tommy in a stage whisper, " to tell you the truth, I don't much care for cricket !" " Hush ! " I said, " some one may hear us."

We went for a walk through the lanes, and in the intervals of birds'-nesting and other childish amusements which, as Tommy becomes a real public-school cricketer, he will fed far, far beneath him, I listened with weak indulgence to his treasonable views on school games. " Cricket, cricket, nothing but cricket !" was his grievance. " I get sick of the sight of straw hats and flannel trousers ; they talk about nothing but hits to leg and fonrers,' and all the masters practise all their spare time, and make us field at the nets instead of setting us lines." "A good notion, that," I said. Tommy's revolt did not last long. A month later, he had fallen into. line with the rest, and entertained me with a long account of his innings of nineteen for the fifth eleven, and how he had bowled Stumps minor with a real clipper. But though I paid a tribute to the success of the system in reclaiming Tommy from his heresies, the thought would occur that his first instincts. were perhaps right, and that Mr. Hughes's complaint, in the opening chapter of " Tom Brown," that our boys do not know their own fields and lanes and hedgerows, was still true, and that even as the amusement of a leisure class, M. Jorrockes favourite fox-hunting, and the Rev. Esau Hittall's devotion to the gun were likely to last longer on into life, and to leave their votaries at least as good company for others as cricket. But the question of the cricketer's future—his occupation and solace when his limbs grow stiff, and his hair grey—no longer presses. sea It was answered in full when the Spirit of Golf flew down from the North, saying : " Courage ; you may now play with a ball from the cradle to the grave !"