1799.1

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Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Contemp. "Base Ball" usage, Fiction
City/State/Country: England
Game Base-ball, cricket
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Adult
Notables Oliver Cromwell, Jane Austen
Text

 

A fictional character in a novel set in the mid-17th Century recalls how, when his clerkship to a lawyer ended, a former playmate took his leave by saying:

"Ah! no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva."

 

Sources

Cooke, Cassandra, Battleridge" an Historical tale, Founded on facts. In Two Volumes. By a Lady of Quality (G. Cawthorn, London, 1799).

Warning

Block advises, August 2015: 

That Cassandra Cooke, writing in the late 18th century, would have her readers believe that baseball was part of the vernacular in the early 17th century is certainly interesting, but since one contemporary reviewer labelled her book "despicable" there is absolutely no reason to think she had any more insight into the era than we do 216 years later.

Comment

David Block (BBWKI, page 183; see also his 19CBB advice, below) notes that Cooke was in correspondence with her cousin Jane Austen in 1798, when both were evidently writing novels containing references to base-ball. Also submitted to Protoball 8/19/06 by Ian Maun.

Cooke, like Austen, did seem to believe that readers in the early 1800s might be familiar with base- ball.

Submitted by David Block; Ian Maun
Submission Note 19CBB Posting 8/18/2015; email of 8/6/2006
Has Supplemental Text Yes



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Supplemental Text

Responding to Peter Mancuso's query about base ball being included in Oliver Cromwell's expectation that English police troops would actively suppress "vice, Sabbath-breaking, blasphemy and many popular sports" in the 1650's, David Block posted this to 19CBB on August 19, 2015:

"There were, indeed, many popular sports played in Britain during the 17th century, although there is no credible evidence that baseball was among them. That police were charged with suppressing popular sports during the Interregnum is not surprising, given that the practice of sports, especially on Sundays, was among the hot button issues in the cultural war that had raged all century. Puritan anger at the "book of sports," the royal decree that permitted the playing of many games on Sunday afternoons, was one of the burning issues that fueled the revolution.

"Cassandra Cooke, Jane Austen's cousin, published a historical novel in 1799 entitled "Battleridge" that was set in the 1650s during the Cromwell years. One bit of dialog in the book stands out. Amid a flashback conversation that ostensibly occurred during the 1630s, one character says to another: 'no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva.' That Cassandra Cooke, writing in the late 18th century, would have her readers believe that baseball was part of the vernacular in the early 17th century is certainly interesting, but since one contemporary reviewer labelled her book "despicable" there is absolutely no reason to think she had any more insight into the era than we do 216 years later.

David Block

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