World History 1874 Part 1

About the history of the world in 1874, lawn tennis gets popular in England, Impressionist exhibition in France, the drink the Manhattan is invented.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1874

* Maj. Walter C. Wingfield, a British colonial officer, popularized the sport of lawn tennis. Wingfield conceded that he was not the first to send a ball over a net. The game, in one form or another, went back centuries. But with a little ingenuity Wingfield changed the pastime just enough to secure a patent for what he called "a portable court for playing tennis." Instead of the rectangular court, he proposed an hourglass-shaped playing surface, 21 ft. wide at the net and 30 ft. at the baseline. He also introduced the oval racket. To get his new product off the ground with an eye-catching name, Wingfield dipped into Greek history and came up with Sphairistike (meaning ballgame), an obscure outdoor sport of the ancients. In March he published the Sphairistike rulebook and offered for sale the first Sphairistike sets (complete with rubber balls, four rackets, and a net) at five guineas a pop. One of those hardest hit by the sudden popularity of the new sport was the All-England Croquet Club at Wimbledon. To keep from financial ruin, the club added facilities for Sphairistike (or "sticky," as it came to be called) in 1876. The following year the All-England sponsored the first Wimbledon Championship. As for the exotic name for the sport, it was soon replaced by the more descriptive title of lawn tennis.

* Impostor Arthur Orton was convicted of perjury in England. He had attempted to swindle the rightful heirs of the Tichborne estate out of their inheritance by posing as Sir Roger Tichborne, the long-lost son of Sir James and Lady Henrietta Tichborne. Orton, born in a poor section of London, hatched his scheme while working as a butcher in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. There he read an advertisement placed by Lady Tichborne which offered a reward for information leading to the return of her son, who had been lost at sea in 1854. In 1866 Orton sought out Lady Tichborne, and in a dimly lit hotel room in Paris convinced the gullible widow that he in fact was her son, despite the obvious flaws in his claim. When last seen, the real Tichborne weighed 125 lb., had a long thin face, light straight hair, a tattoo, and spoke French fluently. Orton, nearly 300 lb., with a huge round face and dark wavy hair, spoke only coarse English and bore no tattoo. Still, Lady Tichborne, unwilling to accept her son's death, declared Orton authentic and put him on an annual allowance of pound 1,000. Others were not so readily convinced, however. So when Lady Tichborne died in 1867, Orton lost his most loyal supporter. In order to withstand the probing cross-examination which awaited him on the witness stand, Orton buckled down to a cram course in the Tichborne family background. He hired Sir Roger's former servant as a tutor. And Orton's attorney obtained Sir Roger's school and military records, as well as a copy of his will. But it was not enough. After three years of litigation (which cost the Tichborne family pound 90,000), the case was decided in favor of the rightful heirs. The court then prosecuted the impostor for perjury. Orton served 10 years of a 14-year sentence and later died in London as poor as he was born.

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