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This poem by an otherwise unnamed “Boughton, Esq.” is featured in Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath (126–30) and contains reference to a number of games which were apparently at risk of being forgotten at the time the poem was written — however the poem is actually a sequence of sexual references.

As Christmas Gambols are our theme,
 Let’s search through good old times,
And skim, where’er we can, the cream
 Of Gambols, for our rhymes.

Full many a good old game’s forgot,
 In these insipid days,
Which, if old folks believ’d may be,
 Well worthy were of praise.

’Twas in that merry Monarch’s reign,
 When Charles o’er Britain sway’d,
Court dames, and lords of high renown,
 Each night some Gambol play’d.

I have premis’d, ’twas ancient times
 When kings such games did choose,
At Westminster each night to play
The Royal Game of Goose.

Oft would the king with beauteous dame,
 Carouse it o’er the bowl,i.e. the wassail-bowl
And then would play the sprightly game,
 ’Yclept My Lady’s Hole.

We’ll visit now the City dames,
 The aldermen and mayor;
The frequent pranks that here are play’d,
 Makes Christmas all the year.

Ah ! could their worships but divine,
 Where their fine ladies go,
Each neighbour might, to play agree
 At Cuckolds All-a-Row.

The Town to quit for Country sports,Possibly a pun akin to Shakespeare’s “country matters”.
 Will give us better cheer:
The pastimes we’ll not all recite,
 That’s play’d in Bed-fordshire.“This poem is just about dirty stuff.”

At villages and market towns,
 The lads the lasses wheedle,
Each evening in the holidays,
 To play at Thread my Needle.

But when the weather proves unkind,
 As oft these times betide,
Some parties play at Blind Man’s Buff,
 And others Hoopers-hide.

Full many a lass this game doth rue,
 Both rich as well as poor,
Far better had they learnt to play
 At Beat Knave out of Door.See: Beggar My Neighbour.

Whilst in the parlour cards are play’d,
 Or novels shall be read,
The servant shall the Slipper hunti.e. hunt-the-slipper, a circle-game
 And mould the Cockle Bread.“Young Wenches have a wanton sport which they call moulding of Cocklebread: viz. they gett upon a Table-board, and then gather-up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can, and then they wabble to and fro with their Buttocks as if they were kneading of Dowgh with their A[rse], and say these words, viz.—‘My Dame is sick and gonne to bed/And I’le go mowld my Cockle-bread’.”B[43] This was apparently a remnant of a older folk-magic in which such fundamentally-kneaded bread would be served to the object of the girl’s desire, in order to secure their love.B[225] See also “cockle-bread” in A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature (264).

Each lady has her hobby-horse,
 Few men without their poney;
May Laugh and lie down be my lot,See: Laugh and Lie Down.
 With Loo, and Matrimony.

And, now I’ve done, this boon I crave,
 ’Twill make my Muse to amble,
(For tir’d she is) a sprig you’ll give,
The Master of the Gambol.


  1. Miller⁩, ⁨Anna Riggs (editor) (). ⁨⁩ volume 2. W. Frederick⁩: London.

  2. (). ⁨⁩, edited by James Britten; Publications of the Folk-Lore Society⁩ volume 4. W. Satchell, Peyton, and Co.⁩: London.  This book based upon a manuscript composed by Aubrey between 1687–9.

  3. (). ⁨A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature⁩ volume 1: ‘⁨A–F⁩’. The Athlone Press⁩: London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ. ISBN: 0-485-11393-7.


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