In the Shadow of Slavery

Amusements and Sports,
page 3 of 12

Occasional glimpses of pretty country hospitality in country homes are afforded through old-time letters. One of the Rutherfurd letters reads:—

“We were very elegantly entertained at the Clarks’, and everything of their own production. By way of amusement after dinner we all went into the garden to pick roses. We gathered a large basket full, and prepared them for distilling. As I had never seen Rose-water made, Mrs. Clark got her still and set it going, and made several bottles while we were there. They were extremely civil, and begged us whenever we rode that way in the evening to stop and take a syllabub with them.”

This certainly presents a very dainty scene; the sweet June rose-garden, the delicate housewifery, the drinking of syllabubs make it seem more French than plain New York Dutch in tone and color.

The Dutch were no haters of games as were the Puritans; games were known and played even in the time of the first settlers. Steven Janse had a tick-tack bort at Fort Orange. Tick-tack was a complicated kind of backgammon, played with both men and pegs. “The Compleat Gamester” says ticktack is so called from touch and take, for if you touch a man you must play him though to your loss. “Tick-tacking” was prohibited during time of divine service in New Amsterdam in 1656. Another Dutch tapster had a trock-table, which Florio says was “a kind of game used in England with casting little bowles at a boord with thirteen holes in it.” A trock-table was a table much like a pool table, on which an ivory ball was struck under a wire wicket by a cue. Trock was also played on the grass, —a seventeenth-century modification of croquet. Of bowling we hear plenty of talk; it was universally played, from clergy down to negro slaves, and a famous street in New York, the Bowling Green, perpetuates its popularity. The English brought card-playing and gaming, to which the Dutch never abandoned themselves.

By the middle of the eighteenth century we find more amusements and a gayer life. The first regularly banded company of comedians which played in New York strayed thence from Philadelphia in March, 1750, where they had been bound over to good


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