CAPTAIN MAYNE REID
IT is not more than truth to say, that CROQUET is the most attractive pastime of the age; while, in point of intellectuality, it will dispute the palm with billiards or whist - perhaps even with that selfish duality, chess.
No doubt the zealous devotee of any of the above-mentioned games will question the honesty of this assertion ; but he must be indeed strongly wedded to the habits of this own spécialité, if, after being brought within reach of its influence, he do not surrender to the seductions of the charmer, - Croquet.
In sober earnest, there are many points in which this game stands preëminent ; and were it our purpose to prove its preeminence, the task would be easy of accomplishment. The quick growth of its popularity still constantly and rapidly increasing - is proof of the superior attractiveness of the game ; and may justify the prediction, that croquet is destined, at no distant day, to become, not only the national sport of England, but the pastime of the age.
Unlike the games already mentioned, it is a sport of the open air, and therefore highly conducive to health ; while it has the advantage of most other out-door amusements, in affording an easy exercise to the body, without, requiring the violent muscular exertion which renders many of these objectionable.
Neither is the mind neglected in the play of this accommodating pastime. Its rules arc so varied, yet so rational, that the intellect is constantly kept on the alert, summoned to a painful stretch, and never allowed to subside into an equally painful inaction.
It is adapted to people of all ages, and every condition, The child just entering upon the walk of life, and the old man tottering toward its end, may play a “round” of Croquet, with equally childish delight.
Nor is its skill exclusive to either sex. The, pretty mignon, foot, piquantly encased in kid, may exhibit as much power in the play, as the thick-soled chaussure of calfskin. Ah! we might name more than one fair owner of such provoking feet who could send you, - per croquet, - to “Hong Kong” or “up the country” with as much velocity, as if you had been projected ex pede Hercul-is.
Though hitherto restricted to the lawn of the lordly mansion, and confined within the palings of the park, “croquet” will, erelong, escape from aristocratic keeping, and become equally the property of the paddock and the village green.
Let us hope that no class-jealousy will arise to prevent its spread, or lessen its attractiveness, to those who were the first to introduce and envoy it. Croquet is an innocent amusement, a game of true civilizing influences. While deserving every epithet of praise, worthy of hero designated the “king of games,” the “queen of sports,” or the “prince of pastimes," - let us hope that it may also become a pastime of the people.
Rejoicing in this hope, I neither feel reluctance, nor make apology, for putting myself forward as its advocate and expounder.
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