King Arthur: a silly sailor game of yore
When near the line, or in a hot latitude, a man who is to represent King Arthur, is ridiculously dressed, having a large wig made out of oakum, or some old swabs. He is seated on the side, or over a large vessel of water, and every person in turn is ceremoniously introduced to him, and has to pour a bucket of water over him, crying out, “Hail, King Arthur!” If during the ceremony the person introduced laughs or smiles (to which his majesty endeavors to excite him by all sorts of ridiculous gesticulations), he changes places with, and then becomes King Arthur, till relieved by some brother tar who has as little command over his muscles as himself.
On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.
From A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, 1905.