Such as see where the ball is played, giue notice thereof to their mates, crying, Ware East, Ware West, &c. as the same is carried.

The Hurlers take their next way ouer hilles, dales, hedges, ditches; yea, and thorow bushes, briers, mires, plashes and riuers whatsoeuer; so as you shall sometimes see 20. or 30. lie tugging together in the water, scrambling and scratching for the ball. A play (verily) both rude & rough, and yet such, as is not destitute of policies, in some sort resembling the feats of warre: for you shall haue companies layd out before, on the one side, to encounter them that come with the ball, and of the other party to succor them, in maner of a fore-ward. Againe, other troups lye houering on the sides, like wings, to helpe or stop their escape: and where the ball it selfe goeth, it resembleth the ioyning of the two mayne battels: the slowest footed who come lagge, supply the showe of a rere-ward: yea, there are horsemen placed also on either party (as it were in ambush) and ready to ride away with the ball, if they can catch it at aduantage. But they may not so steale the palme: for gallop any one of them neuer so fast, yet he shall be surely met at some hedge corner, crosse-lane, bridge, or deep water, which (by casting the Countrie) they know he must needs touch at: and if his good fortune gard him not the better, hee is like to pay the price of his theft, with his owne and his horses ouerthrowe to the ground. Sometimes, the whole company runneth with the ball, seuen or eight miles out of the direct way, which they should keepe. Sometimes a foote-man getting it by stealth, the better to scape vnespied, will carry the same quite backwards, and so, at last, get to the goale by a windlace: which once knowne to be wonne, all that side flocke thither with great iolity: and if the same bee a Gentlemans house, they giue him the ball for a Trophee, and the drinking out of his Beere to boote.

The ball in this play may bee compared to an infernall spirit: for whosoeuer catcheth it, fareth straightwayes like a madde man, strugling and fighting with those that goe about to holde him: and no sooner is the ball gone from him, but hee resigneth this fury to the [76] next recyuer, and himselfe becommeth peaceable as before. I cannot well resolue, whether I should more commend this game for the manhood and exercise, or condemne it for the boysterousnes and harmes which it begetteth: for as on the one side it makes their bodies strong, hard, and nimble, and puts a courage into their hearts, to meet an enemie in the face: so on the other part, it is accompanied with many dangers, some of which do euer fall to the players share. For proofe whereof, when the hurling is ended, you shall see them retyring home, as from a pitched battaile, with bloody pates, bones broken, and out of ioynt, and such bruses as serue to shorten their daies; yet al is good play, & neuer Attourney nor Crowner troubled for the matter.

Wrastling is as full of manlinesse; more delightfull, and lesse dangerous: which pastime, either Cornish men deriued from Corineus, their first pretended founder, or (at least) it ministred some stuffe to the farcing of that fable. But to let that passe, their continual exercise in this play, hath bred them so skilfull an habit, as they presume, that neither the ancient Greek Palestritae, nor the Turks so much delighted Peluianders,not their, once countrymen, and stil neighbours, the Bretons, can bereaue them of this Laurell: and matchlesse, certes, should they be, if their cunning were answerable to their practise: for you shall hardly find an assembly of boyes, in Deuon or Cornwall, where the most vntowardly amongst them, will not as readily giue you a muster of this exercise, as you are prone to require it. For performing this play, the beholders cast themselues in a ring, which they call, Making a place: into the middle space whereof, the two champion wrastlers step forth, stripped into their dublets and hosen, and vntrussed, that they may so the better commaund the vse of their lymmes, and first shaking hands in token of friendship, they fall presently to the effects of anger: for each, striueth how to take hold of other, with his best aduantage, and to beare his aduerse party downe: wherein, whosoeuer ouerthroweth his mate in such sort, as that either his backe, or the one shoulder, and contrary heele do touch the ground, is accounted to giue the fall. If he be endangered, and make a narrow escape, it is called a foyle. This hath also his lawes, of taking hold onely aboue girdle, wearing a girdle to take hold by, playing three pulles, for tryall of the mastery, the fall-giuer to be exempted from playing again with the taker, and bound to answere his successour, &c.

The Survey of Cornwall Page 65

Richard Carew

16th Century Literature

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Richard Carew
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