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The Water Quintain—XIV. Century

The Water Quintain—XIV. Century.jpg Egyptian Ships in the time of HatasuThumbnailsA Greenland Eskimo FishingEgyptian Ships in the time of HatasuThumbnailsA Greenland Eskimo FishingEgyptian Ships in the time of HatasuThumbnailsA Greenland Eskimo Fishing

To the best of my recollection, Fitzstephen is the first of our writers who speaks of an exercise of this kind, which he tells us was usually practised by the young Londoners upon the water during the Easter holidays. A pole or mast, he says, is fixed in the midst of the Thames, with a shield strongly attached to it; and a boat being previously placed at some distance, is driven swiftly towards it by the force of oars and the violence of the tide, having a young man standing in the prow, who holds a lance in his hand with which he is to strike the shield: and if he be dexterous enough to break the lance against it and retain his place, his most sanguine wishes are satisfied: on the contrary, if the lance be not broken, he is sure to be thrown into the water, and the vessel goes away without him, but at the same time two other boats are stationed near to the shield, and furnished with many young persons who are in readiness to rescue the champion from danger. It appears to have been a very popular pastime; for the bridge, the wharfs, and the houses near the river, were crowded with people on this occasion, who come, says the author, to see the sports and make themselves merry. The water quintain, taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century, in the Royal Library, where a square piece of board is substituted for the shield, is represented below.