POSTSCRIPT to Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or, Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?
By Chris Coldwell

Copyright 1998, Chris Coldwell

After this paper was finalized, the author was referred to an anti-Sabbatarian site on the Internet that had the following quote from Winton Solberg’s Reedem the Time – The Puritan Sabbath in Early America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977), p. 19:

The Genevan, however, did not require observance every seventh day or only on Sunday. In this respect he offers a precedent for the present-day practice of conducting the main weekly worship service at a time (Thursday evening, for example) that permits Christians to attend church before the start of a long weekend. In Calvin’s Geneva, citizens were free to amuse themselves after Sunday worship, and they did so with military drill and bowling. Calvin himself bowled on Sunday and was buried on a Lord’s Day afternoon.

There are probably other examples of authors reciting the bowling tale, and postscripts to this paper are not needed as each turns up; however, Solberg provides a perfect example of how this tale lives by careless reference from one generation to the next. His support for the bowling anecdote is, Douglas Campbell, The Puritan in Holland, England and America, 4th ed. rev.; 2 vols. (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1902), 2:157. Campbell wrote: "Calvin permitted his young men to drill, and his old men to play at bowls, himself taking part at times. Knox, when at Geneva, visited Calvin one Sunday evening, finding him at his game, and on another occasion went to supper with a friend." One finds that Campbell is relying on Stanley’s statement in his History of the Church of Scotland (London, 1872), p. 113, already thoroughly dealt with by David Hay Fleming. Campbell’s assertion that the young men drilled and the old men bowled could have been uttered by Laud himself, yet Campbell provides no footnote reference for the statement.

As shown already, Stanley was relying on Hessey (see p. * above), who was relying on Disraeli. Thus the chain Hay Fleming first traced in Mathieson, stretches now well into the 20th century -- Disraeli (1828) to Hessey (1860) to Stanley (1872) to Campbell (1902) to Solberg (1977). The problem of course is that everyone from Stanley forward has obscured the clear fact that Disraeli calls the tale a tradition. What Hay Fleming wrote regarding Knox can be applied to Calvin, Thus it is that history is falsified and good men slandered.