1 Pocket Ghost was kind enough to lend me a real treasure: an original printing of "The Game of Billiards" by Michael Phelan (USA - 1856). I'm really enjoying this glimpse of how the fledgling game was perceived in the US back when Darwin was discovering evolution, before the invention of the fountain pen and the start of the Civil War - so I thought I'd share some excerpts from it in this thread for your enjoyment.
"Let us to billiards!"
The Noble Game of Billiards
This game is peculiarly in harmony with the mechanical genius of our people; it combines science with gymnastics, teaching the eye to judge of distances, the mind to calculate forces, and the arm to execute with rapidity and skill whatever the mind and eye combine to dictate for its execution; it expands the chest while giving grace and elegance to the form, and affords even to the illiterate mind a practical basis for the appreciation of mathematical and geometric truth. [...]
...the game, like that of chess, has an eastern origin; the Templars brought it back with them from the Holy Land, and it soon became the favorite amusement and means of health to which the cloistered monks of that period were permitted by their superiors to have recourse: and however much, in these latter days, it may have come to be regarded as a "carnal amusement," we have abundant evidence that it was cradled in the monasteries, which were then the fountain heads, and only sources of the Christian faith. [...]
...we find that the unfortunate Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, complains in a letter to the Archbishop of Glasgow, dated Fotheringay, and written the very evening before her death, that her "Billiard table has just been taken away from her, as a preliminary step to her punishment." Doubtless, Mary having been married to the Dauphin of France, was introduced to the game during her stay in Paris.
You see, therefore, ladies, that you will run no risk of being considered "too masculine in your tastes," if you devote yourselves to this delightful household recreation.
More to follow forthwith...
The public's most obedient servant,