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THE FIRST EDITION.
THE following pages are devoted to the history and the science of our National Game. Isaac Walton has added a charm to the Rod and Line; Col. Hawker to the Dog and the Gun; and Nimrod and Harry Hieover to the "Hunting Field:" but, the "Cricket Field" is to this day untrodden ground. We have been long expecting to hear of some chronicler aided and abetted by the noblemen and gentlemen of the Marylebone Club, one who should combine, with all the resources of a ready writer, traditionary lore and practical experience. But, time is fast thinning the ranks of the veterans. Lord Frederick Beauclerk and the once celebrated player, the Hon. Henry Tufton, afterwards Earl of Thanet, have passed away; and probably Sparkes, of the Edinburgh Ground, and Mr. John Goldham, herein
after mentioned, are the only surviving players who have witnessed both the formation and the jubilee of the Marylebone Club— following, as it has, the fortunes of the Pavilion and of the enterprising Thomas Lord, literally through "three removes" and " one fire," from White Conduit Fields to the present Lord's.
How, then, it will be asked, do we presume to save from oblivion the records of Cricket?
As regards the Antiquities of the game, our history is the result of patient researches in old English literature. As regards its changes and chances and the players of olden time, it fortunately happens that, some fifteen years ago, we furnished ourselves with old Nyren's account of the Cricketers of his time and the Hambledon Club, and, using Bentley's Book of Matches from 1786 to 1825 to suggest questions and test the truth of answers, we passed many an interesting hour in Hampshire and Surrey, by the peat fires of those villages which reared the Walkers, David Harris, Beldham, Wells, and some others of the All England players of fifty years since. Bennett, Harry Hampton, Beldham, and Sparkes, who first taught us to play, — all men of the last century,
have at various times contributed to our earlier
annals; while Thomas Beagley, for some days our landlord, the late Mr. Ward, and especially Mr. E. H. Budd, often our antagonist in Lansdown matches, have respectively assisted in the first twenty years of the present century.
But, distinct mention must we make of one most important Chronicler, whose recollections were coextensive with the whole history of the game in its matured and perfect form-WILLIAM FENNEX. And here we must thank our kind friend the Rev. John Mitford, of Benhall, for his memoranda of many a winter's evening with that fine old player, -papers especially valuable because Fennex's impressions were so distinct, and his observation so correct, that, added to his practical illustrations with bat and ball, no other man could enable us so truthfully to compare ancient with modern times. Old Fennex, in his declining years, was hospitably appointed by Mr. Mitford to a sinecure office, created expressly in his honour, in the beautiful gardens of Benhall; and Pilch, and Box, and Bayley, and all his old acquaintance, will not be surprised to hear that the old man would carefully water and roll his little cricket-ground on summer mornings, and on wet and wintry days would sit in the
chimney-corner, dealing over and over again by the hour, to an imaginary partner, a very dark and dingy pack of cards, and would then sally forth to teach a long remembered lesson to some hob-nailed frequenter of the village ale-house.
So much for the History: but why should we venture on the Science of the game?
Many may be excellently qualified, and have a fund of anecdote and illustration, still not one of the many will venture on a book. Hundreds play without knowing principles; many know what they cannot explain; and some could explain, but fear the certain labour and cost, with the most uncertain return, of authorship. For our own part, we have felt our way. The wide circulation of our "Recollections of College Days" and "Course of English Reading" promises a patient hearing on subjects within our proper sphere; and that in this sphere lies Cricket, we may without vanity presume to assert. For in August last, at Mr. Dark's Repository at Lord's, our little treatise on the "Principles of Scientific Batting" (Slatter: Oxford, 1835) was singled out as "the book which contained as much on Cricket as all that had ever been written, and more besides." That same day did we proceed to arrange
with Messrs. Longman, naturally desirous to lead a second advance movement, as we led the first, and to break the spell which, we had thus been assured, had for fifteen years chained down the invention of literary cricketers at the identical point where we left off; for, not a single rule or principle has yet been published in advance of our own; though more than one author has been kind enough to adopt (thinking, no doubt, the parents were dead) our ideas, and language too!
"Shall we ever make new books," asks Tristram Shandy, "as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?" No. But so common is the failing, that actually even this illustration of plagiarism Sterne stole from Burton!
Like solitary travellers from unknown lands, we are naturally desirous to offer some confirmation of statements, depending otherwise too much on our literary honour. We, happily, have received the following from—we believe the oldest player of the day who can be pronounced a good player still- Mr. E. H. Budd:
"I return the proof-sheets of the History of my Contemporaries, and can truly say that they do indeed remind me of old times. I find one