Parlor Games





The  Victorians  were fortunate in the respect that they abided in somewhat more radical times than our 17th-century ancestors. For in 1647, the Puritans - in the form of the Long Parliament of Cromwell - banned Christmas revelry altogether. Only after the Restoration thirteen years later were celebrations brought, once more, to the fore, and even in King Henry VIII's day, games were restricted to Christmas time alone.

The nostalgic Victorians were responsible for resurrecting Christmas as we now know it, and they celebrated the festive season with much gusto. That great British institution, the pantomime, was an exciting Christmas ritual for all, and from Boxing Day onwards all the major theatres around Britain were packed to capacity with patrons eager to see a lavishly-staged play. Home entertainment was especially popular at Christmas time, except for servants, post office and railway employees for whom it was work as usual. Inside the typical Victorian house, fireworks burned and 'exploding bon-bons' (known as crackers from the 1920's onwards) were pulled to the delight of all when small toys and trinkets poured out. There were after-dinner singing sessions around the piano; ghostly story-telling hours by the fireside; conjurors; dancing and Punch and Judy, theatrical or magic lantern shows. An intrinsic part of the entertainment program was the parlor game.

The Victorians were particularly fond of parlor games, a number of which have since been forgotten, though a select few have been passed down to successive   generations and remain firm favorites even today. Victorian families were among the first ever to be blessed with abundant free time, and among the last to pass that time without television. They enjoyed numerous interactive parlor activities, ranging from cards (euchre, bridge, seven-up) and board games (dominoes, checkers, chess) to 20 Questions and charades. Young ladies and their mothers spent their leisure time learning needlecrafts, creating ornaments, and reading novels. Popular titles of the age include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES and L. Frank Baum's THE WIZARD OF OZ. Male and female family members alike frequently gathered around a parlor organ, a piano, or a player piano to have "a sing." New entertainment technologies of the year included the phonograph, a stand-alone console for playing back recorded audio programs, and the stereograph, a handheld device for viewing 3-D-like images.

HOUSEHOLD AMUSEMENTS. - I.

IT is related of one of England's greatest statesmen, that some one calling to see him unexpectedly on grave political affairs, found him, not absorbed in state papers and official documents, but on all fours in his nursery, with his children romping upon and around him. And of another eminent man, the late Earl of Derby, it has been recorded, in a graceful tribute paid to his memory, that while at times he would seek recreation from political labours in the translation of Homer, at others he loved to find it in "Making some wonder for a happy child."
    Many other instances might be quoted to prove that the busiest and greatest men, as well as the humblest, have often found delight and solace in participation in the amusements of youth in their own households. Not, therefore, the young only, but also those in more advanced life, the best among us feel that it is desirable to cultivate the recreations of home, and to be ready at times for frolic and the innocent enjoyment of household pastimes. We shall try, in a series of papers, to guide all who may read this work in the choice of such recreations, by giving a description of many which are familiar, and of others less generally known ; sometimes choosing the simplest in-door games, and at others, commenting on pastimes of a more intricate character, and thus enabling all to select the amusement which is most suited to the tastes and circumstances both of themselves and those around them.
    The dark evenings of winter and early spring call into request games for round parties, and we shall devote the present paper to some of these. To commence with a very simple one, we will describe a game of German origin, known as:

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The Ball of Wool- The party are seated round a table, from which the cloth must be drawn. A little wool is rolled up into the form of a ball, and placed in the middle of the table. The company then commence to blow upon it, each one trying to drive it away from his own direction, and the object of all being to blow it off; so that the person by whose right side it falls may pay a forfeit. The longer the ball is kept on the table by the opposing puffs of the surrounding party, the more amusing the game becomes, as the distended cheeks and zealous exertions of the players afford mirth to lookers-on as well as to themselves.
    Similar to this is a game called "
Blowing the Feather," in which a small feather set floating in the air answers the same purpose as the ball upon the table. The forfeit falls to the individual whose puff is ineffectual in keeping the feather afloat, or who suffers it to drop when it reaches him.
    Of a different character, and still more comic in its results, is a game called 
   

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Shadows.- This game, sometimes called "Shadow Buff," is productive of much amusement in a round party. It consists in the detection of the individuals who compose the company by their shadows; but these they are at liberty to disguise as much as possible. The following is the method pursued:-
    A white tablecloth or a sheet is suspended on one side of the apartment, and, at a short distance before this sheet, one of the party, chosen for the purpose, is seated upon either the ground or a low stool, with his face directed towards the cloth. Behind him, on the farther side of the apartment, the table is placed, and upon it a lamp or taper, all other lights in the apartment being extinguished. Each of the company in turn passes before the lamp and behind the person who is gazing upon the cloth, which thus receives a strong shadow, If the individual seated can name the person whose shadow is thus thrown, the latter has to pay a forfeit, or to take the place of the guesser, as may be agreed upon. It would be easy, in playing this game, to detect particular individuals if they passed in their natural attitude ; but they arc free to change this as much as lies in their power, by stooping, standing more erect than usual, bending the limbs, or using the arms in any way calculated to obscure the outline of the shadow and render it difficult of detection. An alteration in costume, such as turning up the collar or changing the coat, if a gentleman, and enveloping the head in a hood, in the case of a lady, is also allowable. The game gives rise to a good deal of ingenuity in this fashion, and may often proceed for some time before many forfeits have resulted.
   

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  The Messenger.- The party are seated in line, or round the sides of the room, and some one previously appointed enters with the message, "My master sends me to you, madam," or "sir," as the case may be, directed to any individual he may select at his option. " What for?" is the natural inquiry. "To do as I do;" and with this the messenger commences to perform some antic, which the lady or gentleman must imitate - say he wags his head from side to side, or taps with one foot incessantly on the floor. The person whose duty it is to obey commands his neighbor to the right or to the left to "Do as I do," also and so on until the whole company are in motion, when the messenger leaves the room, re-entering it with fresh injunctions. While the messenger is in the room he must see his master's will obeyed, and no one must stop from the movement without suffering a forfeit. The messenger should be some one ingenious in making the antics ludicrous, and yet kept within moderate bounds, and the game will not fail to produce shouts of laughter.
    Among the other tricks which may be commended are such as rocking the body to and fro, wiping the eyes with a pocket-handkerchief yawning, whistling, stroking the chin or the beard, and making any grimace.
    Another game, of much the same character, is known by the title,
    

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 "Thus says the Grand Seignior." The chief difference is that the first player is stationed in the center of the room, and prefaces his movements, which the others must all follow, by the above words. If he varies his command by framing it, "So says the Grand Seignior," the party must remain still, and decline to follow his example. Any one who moves when he begins with "So," or does not follow him when he commences with "Thus," has to pay a forfeit.
  

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  Magic Music.- In this game a player is seated at the piano, and one of the others leaves the room, while the company decides what the last-mentioned is to do on his return. When called in, he is given a hint, but only a hint, of what he is expected to do. We will suppose that he is told that he is to "make an offering to a certain lady." He is left to himself as to what the offering may be, but [-128-] he must guess the lady to whom it is to be offered, and offer to each in succession until he discovers the individual selected. The musical part of the performance is this: When he re-enters the room, the person at the piano commences to play some piece, with a moderate degree of vigour. As the guesser approaches the right lady, or the right thing to be done, whatever its nature, the music becomes louder or quicker; but if he appears to be going farther and farther from his appointed task, the music becomes softer and softer, until it is scarcely heard. This gives him a clue as to whether he is on the right scent, or otherwise. If there is no piano in the room, the "magic music" may be of another character, It may consist in the tinkling or clashing together of any articles that wil1 emit either a harmonious or a discordant sound, according to the degree of hilarity or boisterousness to which the age and other circumstances of the company dispose them. But, played with a little tact, the game in any of its forms will be found amusing.
    We have had occasion to mention forfeits; and as those form an important element in many in-door games, we shall have something to say about them in our next paper, in which we hope, at the same time, to introduce to the notice of our younger readers several novel amusements, which in the long evenings they may find especially acceptable. 

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HOUSEHOLD AMUSEMENTS.-II.

Prussian Exercises. - The players are drawn up in line along one side of the apartment, and are supposed to represent a regiment. On the extreme right of the party a corporal is stationed, and the captain, selected for his knowledge of the game, takes his place in front, It is his duty to give the word of command for the movements of the line, and he must do this with mock solemnity, however absurd the antics which he orders to be performed. Thus, he commences with the ordinary "Attention Eyes right!" at which all are bound to look straight at the commander ; and he then gives such orders as his own will and experience may dictate. "Fold arms;" "Extend arms!" "Slap cheeks!" "Tweak noses!" "Ground knees!" and similar evolutions, are all to be performed at the same instant by the whole company, under penalty of a forfeit; and the corporal on the right, who has had a previous consultation with the captain, sets the example for the guidance of the rest, where the meaning of the order is not clear. At the word "March!" the party must move one foot after the other, as in walking, but without changing position ; at "Right march !" they move the right leg only, backwards and forwards "Left March !" they do the same with the left. "Ground knees !" may be varied by "Ground right knee!" or "left," and in this case the regiment sinks with that knee to the ground. This is a favourable position for bringing the amusement to a climax, as follows:- When the party are on one or both knees, the order is given, "Present arms!" which they do by stretching them straight out in front. The next command is "Fire!" and the corporal who is in the secret, then gives his next neighbour a nudge with the shoulder. This causes him, as he is already kneeling, to lose his equilibrium; and falling sidewise, he brings down the next person to him, and so on along the whole line, which is thus "floored" in a moment. When young ladies and gentlemen are playing together, and it is thought desirable to wind up the exercises in more polite fashion, the word may be given to "Salute!" The players having been stationed alternately according to sex, each gentleman then salutes his neighbour to the right, to the left, or on both sides, as the captain may order.
   

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 The Courtiers.-One of the company is selected to be king or queen, and occupies a chair in the centre of the room, the rest being seated round the sides of the apartment. Whatever movement may be made by the monarch must be imitated by the courtiers ; and it is the gist of the game that this should be done without any one losing that assumption of decorous gravity which becomes the scene. The monarch may yawn, sneeze, blow his nose, or wipe his eye, and the courtiers must all do the same ; but if any one of them is so deficient in self-control or so presumptive as to grin or to laugh, he or she must pay the penalty of a forfeit. It is rarely, however, that penalties are few or far between.
   
 

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The Dumb Orator.- This is a very amusing performance, enacted by two persons for the benefit of the rest of the company. One of the two recites a speech, or any popular piece of declamation- My name is Norval," or the like - keeping all the while perfectly motionless, and without a quiver upon his countenance, while the other, standing silent by his side, gesticulates furiously, according to the emotions called up by the passage recited. Of course, the more closely he follows and burlesques the action natural to the words throughout, the greater the amusement created. There is another way of performing the same oratorical show, namely, by the two players enveloping themselves in the same cloak or wrapper, and the arms of the one - which are all the company are allowed to see of him - keeping up an action suited to the narrative of the other; but this is more awkward in the performance, and less effective than the method first described.
   

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 Speaking Buff- At this game, the eyes of one of the players are bandaged, as in "blind man," and he is seated in the centre of the room, the party then taking their places. "Buff" holds a wand or stick in one hand, and, when all are seated, he points with this to one side of the room, or touches one of the players, at the same time  uttering three words according to his fancy. The person towards whom he points must then repeat these words; and if "Buff" can discover his or her identity by the tones of the voice, he is released from his position, and the person detected takes his place. 
   
The Shopkeepers- This is a good game to exercise a knowledge of the various productions of nature. Each person in the company represents a shopkeeper or merchant, who has some goods on hand which he wishes to dispose of; but no two persons may choose the same trade. Any one may start the game - say, for instance, the draper - and he commences, we will suppose, by observing to his next neighbour, "I have some silk for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral ?" To this the reply would be, "Animal, for it is the production of the silk-worm." The correct answer having been given - we will assume by the chemist - the latter turns to the person next him, with an inquiry suited to his trade; say, "I have some glycerine for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?" The rejoinder would be, "Either animal or vegetable, for it may be obtained from either vegetable or animal fat." The merchant, in his turn, may say, "I have some shell-lac for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?" and should receive the reply, "Animal, for it is obtained from an insect." So the game goes on, the ingenuity of each, as it proceeds, being taxed to mention some article of his stock, the origin of which may not be within the knowledge of the person addressed. A round or two of the game will rarely proceed without some of the company finding that they have added to their store of general knowledge, as well as derived amusement. Any such information as that contained in the series of papers on The Natural History of Commerce," which appears in the "Popular Educator," may be turned to account in sport,. as well as in matters of graver moment. The game may be played, either with forfeits as the penalty of an incorrect reply, or by simply restricting the person who does not answer correctly from disposing of any of his own articles - that is, from putting any question in his turn - during that round.
  

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  Twirling the Trencher.- This is a brisk game, requiring activity without ingenuity. A circle is formed in the room, and a good space is left clear in the midst. A trencher or round wooden platter is obtained, or, if such a thing is not available, a small round tray or waiter will best answer the purpose. When all the party are seated, one of the company stands up in the centre and twirls the tray round upon the floor, at the same time calling out the name of any other person present, who must rise and  pick up the trencher before it falls to the ground, otherwise he or she pays a forfeit. The person who twirls the trencher returns to his own seat immediately, and the one who picks it up, or has been called upon to do so, has the privilege of making a call afterwards.
   

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  Proverbs is a game of a more intellectual character. In this, one person volunteers, or is chosen by the company, to leave the room, and in his or her absence a proverb is fixed upon by the remaining party. The person outside is then called in, and the first person whom he addresses with any remark or inquiry, is bound to reply to him with an answer in which the first word of the proverb is introduced. The second person to whom he goes must reply in such a way as to bring in the second word; and so on, until the proverb has been repeated. He is then informed that he need not proceed further, and is left to guess the proverb chosen. If he fails in three attempts, he must again retire, and his ingenuity is tried by the selection and repetition of another proverb. Any one making an answer in which the right word in turn is not introduced, pays the penalty of a forfeit, and the company are, therefore, on the watch to see that each person addressed duly performs the part. The great art of the game is in so wrapping up the word in the course of the reply as to make it difficult to the guesser to discover the proverb which was chosen. Some proverbs are far, more easy of detection than others, from the forcible or peculiar words comprised in them, or the difficulty which the answerers find in concealing the words which fall to them in rotation. "Still waters run deep" may be taken as an example of the class difficult of concealment, for "waters" and " deep" are awkward words to introduce, and will easily connect themselves in the mind of the guesser, who is on the watch for his clue. "Where there's a will there's a way" is more capable of disguise, but "will" and "way" will reveal themselves to a person quick of apprehension. None of the proverbs chosen should consist of very many words, or the guessing may become tedious. When the proverb is detected, the guesser is entitled to claim that some one else shall take his place, and may, if he pleases, select for that purpose the person whose insufficient disguise of the allotted word gave him his first clue. Or he may name any one else in the company for the purpose. If the guesser tries his skill two or three times without success, he may claim relief from his office, and some one else may be appointed. In this, as in all other games, it must be remembered that when weariness on any side commences, amusement is at an end; and where there are symptoms of a game reaching that point, it should be relinquished for another.

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HOUSEHOLD AMUSEMENTS.-III.

FORFEITS

IT will have been observed that many of the games already described lead up to the payment of forfeits, and that some appear to be designed for the express purpose of extracting as many as possible from the various members of the company. This is really the case, for "crying the forfeits," as it is called, often forms the most amusing part of an evening's entertainment, and is, therefore, usually reserved until the last. It is conducted in the following manner:-
    Each player who has to pay a forfeit deposits some small article, or trinket, in the hands of one of the company appointed as collector - say a handkerchief, a knife, a pencil-case, or anything which can be readily identified. One article is given for every forfeit incurred, and it is redeemed when the particular task assigned to the owner has been duly performed. It is not desirable that very many forfeits should accumulate before they are  "cried," as this often takes up a considerable time ; but when an average of one to each member of the party has been reached, if the number is between a dozen and twenty, it is time to stop the collection.
    Two persons, chosen from the rest of the company for their knowledge of a good number of suitable and amusing forfeits, and generally ladies, cry the forfeits thus:- One is seated, and the various articles collected are placed in her lap. The other is blindfolded, and kneels down before her companion. The object of the blindfolding is to prevent the recognition of any of the articles as belonging to particular members of the company, and thus to assure something like impartiality in the allotment of the various tasks.
    The person seated takes one of the articles from the collection before her, and, holding it up so that the company may recognise the owner, usually cries, "Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing; what shall be done by the owner of this very pretty thing?" This established form of words, which dates farther back than the memory of man, may, however, be reduced to the latter clause alone, if that plan is preferred. The blindfolded lady asks, "Is it fine, or superfine?" or "Is it a lady's or a gentleman's ?" for this much she is allowed to know, that she may name a suitable forfeit. Having received an answer, she declares the task which the owner must perform. The following are examples of the forfeits which may be allotted.
   
For a Gentleman.-. To kiss every lady in the room Spanish fashion. The person to whom this forfeit is assigned usually imagines that an agreeable task is before him; but he is thus enlightened. A lady rises from her seat to conduct him round the room, and she proceeds to each lady in turn, kisses her, and then wipes the gentleman's mouth with her pocket handkerchief.
    2. To make a Grecian Statue. To do this the gentleman must stand upon a chair, and take his pose according to the pleasure of the company. One person may stick his arm out, or bend it into an awkward position; another may do the same by a leg; a third may incline his head backward, with the chin elevated in the air ; and so they may proceed, until his figure is sufficiently removed from the "Grecian" to satisfy the party. He is bound to be as plastic as possible while the statue is moulded.
    3. To perform the Dumb Orator. How to do this was described in our last paper. The forfeit may either be allotted to one person, who is to go through the action while either a lady or a gentleman volunteer recites, or two forfeits may be coupled, and both reciter and actor may take their parts as a penalty.
    4. Say Half-a-dozen Flattering Things to a Lady, without using the Letter l. This may be done by such phrases as "You are pretty," "You are entertaining, &c.," but such words as graceful, beautiful, and charitable are, of course, inadmissible.
    5. To try the Cold Water Cure, the gentleman is first blindfolded, and then a tumbler filled with cold water, and a teaspoon, are produced. Not to be too hard upon him, he is allowed to take a seat. Each member of the company is then privileged to give him a spoonful; but if he can guess at any time the name of the person who is "curing" him, he is at once released from a further infliction of the remedy.
    6. To play the Learned Pig. To do this, the gentleman must first put himself as nearly as possible in the attitude of one. He must go on all fours, and he is then to answer questions that may be put to him either by the company or by somebody who may volunteer as his master, to show his attainments. The questions asked are something like the following: "Show us the most agreeable person in the company," or, "the most charming," "the greatest flirt," &c. After each question, the victim is to proceed to any one whom he may select and signify his choice by a grunt. The learning as well as the docility of a pig has its limits, and the game must, therefore, not be prolonged too far.
   
For a Lady.- To Choose Partners for a Quadrille - In this the lady, after making her choice, is informed that the quadrille must be performed blindfold. The gentlemen selected must be satisfied with that honour, and go through the performance which devolves upon them; but the second lady may be allowed to reclaim her forfeiture, if she has one, as compensation. All stand up, blindfolded as we have said, and go through the first figure of a set, as best they may.
    2. To repeat a Proverb Backwards. Any proverb may be chosen by the lady for the purpose.
    3. To stand in the Middle of the Room, and spell Opportunity. If, after the lady has spelt the word, a gentleman can reach her before she regains her seat, he may avail himself of the "opportunity" offered, under the mistletoe.
    4. To say "Yes" or "No" to Three Questions by the Company. The lady must go out of the room, while the company agree as to each of the questions to be asked. To each of these the lady must give one or other of the plain monosyllables. Ladies of experience say the safe answer is always "no;" but this hint must be reserved to readers of these papers.

FORFEITS are in such general demand during the season when round and merry games are in vogue, that we add a few more to the list given in a previous paper. Before doing so, however, we may be allowed to remind our readers that the spirit in which forfeit games should be conducted is to extract as much harmless fun from them as possible, avoiding everything rough and unseemly, or in which a mind exceptionally sensitive can find a cause of offence. With those which are simply boisterous in character, or have any element calculated to cause a feeling of annoyance or pain, we have nothing to do. But at the same time, all who enter on games of this kind should be prepared to give as well as to receive amusement.
    We will continue first our list of forfeits suited to a gentleman.
   
1. To go round the Room Blindfolded, and kiss all the Ladies- The company, of course, are seated, but as soon as the gentleman is blindfolded they change positions, with as little commotion as possible. He consequently finds, in his progress, that he as often attempts to kiss one of his own as one of the opposite sex; or a lady may reverse the position of her chair, so that the gentleman kisses the back of her head.
    2. To choose One of Three Signs.- To do this, he is to stand with his face to the wall, while any lady present makes three signs behind him - of a kiss, of a pinch, and of a box on the ear. He is then asked whether he chooses the first, the second, or the third, not knowing the order in which they have been made, and receives the corresponding action.
    3. To imitate any Animal that may be named. If the company call upon him to imitate a goat, a donkey &c he must do it ; but if the forfeit happens to fall upon any one who, from age or other reasons, may be excused from such performance, "a man" is named as the animal and a bow will suffice.
   
4. To kiss a Lady through the Back of a Chair He must wait, with his visage inserted in the chair-back until some lady comes to his rescue ; but if the chair be of a fancy pattern, she may dodge him through the framework before giving him his release.
    5. To blow the Candle out.-He is blindfolded and the candle held near his face, until he happens to give a puff in the right direction.
    6. To perform the Clown's Pantomime - This consists [-203-] in rubbing the forehead with one hand while you strike the breast with the other, standing up in the room for the performance. If correct time is not kept, in the judgment of the company, another forfeit is to be paid.
    To the forfeits for a lady given in the previous paper may be added:-
    1. To kiss a Gentleman "Rabbit Fashion." - This is usually a source of great amusement to the rest of the party. The lady has the privilege of choosing any gentleman present. A piece is broken off a reel of cotton, and the lady takes one end of the piece in her mouth while the gentleman takes the other in the same way. They then both nibble the cotton until the kiss ensues, as a matter of course. If the gentleman is sufficiently gallant, he will perform the chief part of the "nibbling" process. The company may exercise their discretion as to the length of the cotton.
    2. To sing a Song, or play a Piece of Music.-This is given either to elicit the musical capabilities of a lady who may be shy, or to make an agreeable interlude in the round of other forfeits. If the lady called upon can really do neither, another forfeit is allotted to her.
    3. Ask a Question to which Yes must be the Answer. - This is a great puzzle to any one who is not in the secret. The unfortunate forfeiter may ask all kinds of questions, without eliciting the answer required for her release.  But if she simply inquires, "What does y-e-s spell?" there cannot be any other reply. 
    4. To kiss the Gentleman you love best in the Company, without any one knowing it.-There is only one way of paying this penalty, and that is, to kiss every gentleman in the room, leaving them to settle the question as to "loving best" amongst them.
   
5. To put yourself through the Keyhole.- This is one of those quibbles upon words, for which persons called upon to pay forfeits should watch, as they are often in use. We give this as an example. The forfeit is paid by writing "yourself" upon a piece of paper, and passing that through the keyhole.
    6. To kiss each Corner of the Room.- When this forfeit is declared, a gentleman stations himself in each corner, and the lady has to pay an unexpected penalty.
    7. To spell "Constantinople." - This must be done an the old schoolmistress's fashion- "C-o-n, Con, with a Con, s-t-a-n, stan, with a stan," &c.; but, after the third syllable, the company attempt to embarrass the speller by crying out, "No! No!" as if a mistake had been made. To this, the proper reply is, "Thank you;" the fourth syllable is then spelt, and the fifth completes the task.
    8. To form a Rifle Corps.- The lady goes to one end of the room, and calls up a gentleman, who stands opposite to her. The gentleman then calls a lady, who stands at his side; and she in turn names a gentleman, who places himself opposite to her. So the calling goes on, until all present are included. If the number of ladies and of gentlemen present is unequal, the more mirth is created by the last persons called standing opposite one of their own sex. When all are called, the word is given by the first gentleman in the rank, "Present arms." All then join hands with the persons opposite; and the next command is "Salute," which is done in osculatory fashion. We conclude our list of forfeits with a few contrived to include more than one member of the company.
    1. Either a lady or a gentleman may be called upon to "sit on the Stool of Repentance." He or she must then sit in the centre of the room, while one of the party goes round to inquire, in a whisper, of each person present, what the repentant individual "looks like." The reply may be "wise," "silly," "pitiable," "beautiful," &c., according to circumstances. The answers are repeated openly to the forfeiter, with the question after each, "Who said that ?" If the right name is guessed, as is often the  case, the person who made the particular observation must then sit on the "stool" in turn, and so on until the company are satisfied with the round.
    2. A lady is required to "be Postman." She is to go outside the room, and rap on the door, when one of the company inquires, "Who's there?" The answer is, "The postman, with a letter for -," any gentleman she likes to name. "How many seals?" Whatever the answer may be, the gentleman may exact so many kisses; and he in turn remains outside, and declares he has a letter for a lady. So the forfeit proceeds, a lady calling a gentleman, and a gentleman a lady, until the company have all been called, but no person present is bound to answer twice.
    3. When the calling of forfeits has been continued long enough, and several remain, which it is desired to clear off together, the forfeiters may be called upon to perform a "Musical Medley." Each one must then sing some verse or stanza of a song, no two choosing the same melody, but all commencing and singing together. The effect is generally so grotesque as to produce shouts of laughter.

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Blind man's Bluff

One member of the company was blindfolded and counted to twenty whilst the rest scattered about the room. The blindfolded person had to chase and catch somebody and identify him or her correctly, by touch alone. Once identified, that person donned the blindfold and the game began again. A popular children's game today.


One variation on the game was known as 'Queen of Sheba', which involved the prettiest girl in the company being seated on a chair, after which the blindfolded player had to make his way over to steal a kiss from her. The girl was replaced by an elderly relation at the last moment, to the intense delight of all present.

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Hunt the Slipper

The players sat in a circle with one person in the middle, their eyes closed. A slipper was then passed round the players' backs. When the middle person opened his or her eyes, the players continued to pass the slipper surreptitiously between them, and the person was required to guess who had the slipper at any one moment. If he or she guessed correctly, the person named then took center stage.

Snapdragon

This game was one of the favorites. Each person had to pick currants (known as plums) out of a shallow bowl of burning spirit using their mouth, thereby extinguishing the flame. Not one to recommend today!

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Charades

This was perhaps the most popular of all Victorian parlor games. The company divided into teams of up to six. For a simple game of charades, the first team was given a two- or three-syllable word to act out in total silence, which the others had to guess. The more complicated game could involve the acting out of a scene from a complicated staged production. Members of the opposite team were required to guess the required word or scenario before it was their turn to act.
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Squeak, Piggy, Squeak!

In this second variation of blind man's buff, the company sat in a circle and the blindfolded person stood in the center and was spun around. The 'blind man' then placed a cushion on someone's lap and sat down on it (without touching that person), saying "Squeak, piggy, squeak!" The chosen person had to squeak and the blindfolded person was required to identify them. If the person was correctly-identified, he or she then became the 'blind man'.


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Tiddledy Winks


"Even in the matter of nursery games the Victorian child took things very seriously. There were some board games, however, which provided little or no intellectual stimulus. Chief among these was [] tiddlywinks, whose apparent inanity (to the uninitiated) is often regarded as the ultimate in useless activities.",
 James Mackay
Childhood antiques, 1976