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Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Females, Fiction
City/State/Country: England
Game Rounders, Bass Ball, Cricket
Age of Players Youth

"The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds." .


Cricket receives three references (pages 75, 110, and 211)in this book. The first of these, unlike the bass-ball/rounders account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party: "Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls."

Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book (page 211).


 A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.


As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and "wild plants"] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [post-pubescent, we guess] through a calendar year. The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing. So, now: Is the author denoting are there two distinct games with different rules, or just two distinct names for the same game?  The syntax here leaves that distinction muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day. 

Richard's take on the bass-ball/rounders ambiguity: "It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity." David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard. Richard also says "It is possible that as the English dialect moved from "base ball" to "rounders," English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say."

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Submitted by Richard Hershberger, 1/30/2008 posting to 19CBB


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