Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

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do with it. But with a view to putting the screw on the landlords,
agents, etc., the wirepullers have often forced the country folk to stop
the hounds. There are lots of nice places in some of the best hunting
districts in the South and West which could be had for next to
nothing, but what Englishman will take them so long as there is
any fear of hunting being stopped ?

There has been very little interference during the last ten or
twelve years, but rumours and alarms have been by no means un-
common, and they are quite sufficient to scare away an intending
visitor. That the majority of the people, even in the South, want
Home Rule I do not believe. I was quartered in Limerick, con-
sidered a hot-bed of Nationalism, when Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule
Bill passed the House of Commons. No sort of enthusiastic delight
was manifested; and when the Lords threw it out, relief and satisfac-
faction were plainly the feeling of the great majority of the people.
Personally I look back upon the six years which I spent in Ireland as
among the happiest of my life, and I have the kindliest recollections
of her and her people. I went about a great deal soldiering, hunting,
and racing, and everywhere met with nothing but kindness and
courtesy; while the fun I had, the good stories I heard, and the
friends I made, have been an enduring joy.

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To the humours of Irish hunting there is no Gtid, and the fun in
the field is inexhaustible. I can only say that those most admirable
sketches ** The Recollections of an Irish R.M.," which first appeared
in these pages, are in no way overdrawn. With the remembrance of
them in my mind, and the certainty that my readers know them and
love them, I hardly dare to attempt anything in the comic line. One
or two stories; however, I cannot resist. I had gone with the
Limerick Hounds to a district which lay a few miles outside of the
country usually hunted. We had been told that we were certain to
find, but we had had a long blank draw when we came to a wood on


the slope of a steep hill-side. I saw a big crowd of country lads on
the hill about the covert, and I thought to myself ** We shall find
here." Hounds had not been long in covert when a terrific yelling
broke out from the crowd, and frantic wavings in the direction of the
valley. Hounds were galloped up to the spot indicated, and about
three fields off I saw a sheep dog going like the wind. Of course we
thought he was chasing the fox, so hounds were laid on and away
we went over half a dozen good-sized banks. Although hounds ran
fast, they did not settle properly to the line, and instead of carrying
a good head they strung out much as draghounds do. We ran in
this fashion for a mile or so right into the yard of a little farmhouse.

c %

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Then we found out the trick that had been played on us. The
country-folk were determined to see a hunt of some sort, and to
guard against a blank day, so they had stolen a dog from this little
farm and had managed somehow or other to get hold of some fox
litter and smear him with it. Then they carried him in a bag to a
convenient spot, and at the right moment shook him out and started
him for home, aided by a smack from a whip, and yells which rent
the air. They had their bit of fun and we trotted off to our nearest


proper covert and were lucky enough to redeem the day by a good

The following was told to a friend of mine by the very popular
Viceroy to whom it occurred. A sporting farmer had actually
jumped on " His Ex." no fewer than three times. When the latter
soon after landed very nearly on top of the farmer, he was profuse
in his apologies, but all the farmer said was, ** No matter, your
Excellency, you owe me two yet."

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" A third young lady said it was elegant, and a fourth expressed her opinion
it was swan-like.'' — Pickwick,

Few devotees of skating are aware of the profuse and compendious
literature treating of their favourite pastime.

Since the days of Olaus Magnus and Fitz-Stephen skating has
never lacked historians. Goethe and Klopstock have extolled the art
in poetry and prose in Germany; Garcin and Vail in France; in
England, Evelyn and Pepys, ever curious for any novelty ; Johnson,
though it must not be supposed that the didactic doctor adventured
his ponderous person on " skaits,'' and Wordsworth, with a host of
minor writers, have described its pleasures.

Figure-skating as distinct from speed-skating is of comparatively
modern growth. The earliest book on figure-skating which I have
been able to trace was written by one Robert Jones, a lieutenant of
artillery, and published in London, 1772. This gentleman was
evidently no pioneer in the art, for he describes a number of figures

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which, having regard to the few facilities for practice in this country,
it is hardly possible he could have evolved unaided. Lieutenant
Jones was acquainted with the following figures, to which he alludes
in detail : the FO, BO, and FI edges, the FO spiral, and the
FO 3, on which he bestows the poetical designation of ** a figure
of a heart on one leg,'' remarking that it was ** a pleasing figure and
but lately known " ; the FO 8 was apparently also known to him.
Plates depicting skaters in various flamboyant attitudes are a
feature of Lieutenant Jones's work. It would appear that, when once
firmly established, skating rapidly grew in popular favour, for a
number of books on the subject subsequently appeared, and a club.


which exists with unimpaired vitality, was founded in Edinburgh
about 1780.

The next work of distinction to appear was ** Le Vrai Patineur,"
by J. Garcin, published in Paris in 1813, several copies of which are
to be found in this country. This carried the practice yet further,
and enumerated the following additions : the BO 8, the serpentine,
the spread eagle, FI reverse Q, and the multiple turns, etc.

We now come to the time of Clias, Walker, Clay, and Cycles
(George Anderson), who describes the FO Q, FO reverse Q, the
two-foot 8, and the FO loop. After the foregoing period and from
about i860 a remarkable change is apparent in the style of skating as

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practised in this country. The older writers up to and including
Cycles, though advocating a certain necessary restraint, indicated
very clearly that the limbs should have free play and should assist
the movement. Walker states that the position of the arms should
be easy and varied, one being always more raised than the other.
Harewood advocates the attitude of drawing the bow, etc., Cyclos
that the arm should be bent and half raised, the knee bent and
turned well outwards, the toe pointing to the ice.

From such directions we turn with surprise to the canons
of form laid down only a few years later by Vandeervell and Witham,
where we see tentatively set forth those rules which a few years


later were carried to the extreme of rigidity as set forth in the
following : —

" The elbows kept to the side of the body ; the employed foot
should not ever be allowed to swing." — ** Skating,'* by Douglas
Adams, 1894.

"Employed leg must be kept absolutely straight ; no bend at
the knee is allowed; elbows turned in." — ** Combined Figure Skat-
ing," by G. Wood, 1899.

Such a momentous change in the character of English figure-
skating had for some years a very cramping effect on the develop-
ment of the art. Immense curves and turns effected solely by body
twist were considered its highest expression, and such movements as
loops, cross-cuts, and the many wonderful combinations of them

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were quite taboo. Some writers, indeed, admitted an occasional
indulgence, but the learner was strictly enjoined to straighten him-
self at intervals, as such diversions could not be executed without
" bending the body and knee and craning the head in advance." All
figures, save gigantic curves and turns which appeared as a mere
incident therein, were regarded as outside the pale and designated
" kickers " ; and truly, as usually demonstrated, they fully merited
the appellation.

The fact that none of the chief skaters of Austria, Sweden,
Norway, and Germany had been seen here accounts for these restric-


tions ; had they, or Jackson Haynes, the celebrated American pro-
fessional who delighted the whole of skating Europe in the sixties by
his grace and skill, visited us, we should probably have been spared
an infliction of rigidity from the effects of which we are not yet
entirely free. It was not till the holding in London of the World's
Championship in 1898, when the three greatest skaters of the
Continent visited us, that the possibilities of the art were fully
appreciated and studied here. The grace and apparent ease with
which such figures as loop change loop, and bracket change bracket.

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both forward and back, could be skated was a revelation to us, and
from that occasion may be dated the renaissance of English skating.
All inteniational figure-skating championships and competitions
consist of two sections: "A," a set of six or seven compulsory
figures — *' Pflichtiibungen " ; and '* B," a free programme — '* Kur-
laufen," of five minutes' duration, in which the competitor introduces
such tours de force and original combinations as he thinks will find
favour in the eyes of the judges.

The tendency of late in free skating seems toward the elimina-


tion of figures of extreme difficulty, and the substitution of easy
graceful movements. There is much to be said in favour of this
innovation, alike as it concerns candidates, judges, and spectators.
Should the candidate fail in the execution of a difficult figure he will
be not only minus so many marks in respect of it, but the continuity
of the representation will be lost, and an inharmonious impression
created. On the other hand, judges may find it difficult justly to
apprise the true value of an intricate figure, seen possibly for the
first time.

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From the spectators' point of view complicated star figures, for
which the skater has to arrest his progress on each occasion, and
which necessitate a circumscribed field of action, are far less attrac-
tive than the lightness and movement typical of the Vienna school,
which has been so aptly described as ** being like dancing on ice."

Of athletic sports skating alone possesses the attribute of a
patron saint. This distinction is conferred by St. Liedwi, whose
sufferings and virtues deserve a wider recognition. As briefly told,
her history is this :

** St. Liedwi was born at Schiedam in 1380. Persuaded by her
girl friends to skate for her health's sake, against her own inclina-
tions, she was knocked down accidentally on rough ice in 1396, a rib


being broken inwards. For the rest of her life she was confined to
her bed, a prey to unspeakable diseases. During her lifetime, of
extreme piety and devotion, visions and marvels surrounded her,
replaced by miracles after her death in 1433.

** In i6t6 she was beatified, and sanctified in 1890. Some relics
of her are preserved in the Carmelite monastery in Brussels." —
From ** On the Outside Edge," by G. Herbert Fowler.

Owing, perhaps, to ignorance of the foregoing relations, we
have never heard of devotees on the eve of some important competi-
tion invoking the saint's aid or dedicating wax tapers to her shrine.

We do not propose to attempt here that pleasant task — the
teaching of the young idea. It is doubtful if a true impression of the

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ever-varying pKDsitions incidental to figure-skating can be conveyed
to the novice in print ; ** the eftest way " is to consult some acknow-
ledged authority as to the essentials of the rudiments, and from
practical demonstration apprehend the first steps. When initial
difficulties have been overcome, as an excellent source of informa-
tion and the most up-to-date may be commended the " Skating
Handbook and Supplement *' of Doctor G. Browne, M.A., of Boston,
published by Barney and Berry, New York; in it will be found the
essence of skating instruction.

From skating to skates is a natural transition, and a brief
account of their evolution, with some typical examples, may be ol


No. I represents a bone skate du;^: up in Moorfields, which
remarkable mine of antiquities it would appear the bygone inhabi-
tants of London regarded- as a species of museum or convenient
repository for the storage of objects likely to be of interest to
succeeding generations.

The date of this skate, formed from the metacarpal bone of a
horse, is conjectural, probably circa 1200. Progression on bone
skates was effected by the wearer punting himself along by means
of a piked staff, and Fitz-Stephen relates how the London appren-
tices were wont — imitative of knights at a joust or tournament —
sportively to charge upon each other thus shod and armed.

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" Sometime two runne together with poles, and hitting one the
other, eyther one or both doe fall, not without hurt ; some break
their armes, some their legs."

No. 2 is the earliest blade skate we have seen ; its date is prob-
ably 1664 or thereabouts. It is adorned with a foliated prow, and
is the only example of a decorated skate with which we are ac-
quainted. Right-angled ; radius about y^ ft. ; width of blade, J in.
One might picture such if ** 'Twere not to consider too curiously to
consider so,'* as having shod some one of those gallants who excited
the admiration of Evelyn when he remarked on *' Having seene the

strange and wonderful dexterity of the sliders, on the new canal in
St. James's Park, performed before their Majesties by divers gentle-
men and others with scheets, after the manner of Hollanders."

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No. 3, a German skate, date about 1810. Right angles; no
curve; width of blade J in.

No. 4, Knglish " club skate," about 1855. Radius 4 J ft. ; right
angles; width of blade f^ in.

No. 5, the English skate as used for combined figures and large
turns ; the present day. The method of attaching the blade to the
plates by means of screws and bolts is clumsy. This skate is much
heavier than No. 6. Radius 7 ft. ; obtuse angles ; width of blade

No. 6 is a slight modification of the pattern introduced by


Jackson Haynes. It is becoming very popular in England, and is
used abroad by Hiigel, Salchow, Fuchs, Bohatsch, and others. The
row of small teeth cut in the prow enable toe spins and pirouettes
to be effected with ease and without damage to the ice. Radius
about 5 J ft. ; acute angles ; width of blade J in., tapering slightly to
toe and heel.

In conclusion, it is safe to assert that skating is one of the sports
in which the greatest skill has been attained by living exponents.
** Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona *' does not apply in this connec-
tion. Though there was no lack of bards to sing the praises of the

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skaters of former days, their exploits, as thus recounted, must be
received with discretion.

The legends, still occasionally met with, of skaters apt, among
other feats, to inscribe their names on the ice, or ** by turning and
winding with much adroitness readily in succession to describe upon
the ice the form of all the letters in the alphabet," may be relegated
to the same limbo as the early accounts of speed-skating, in which it
was a not uncommon occurrence for a competitor to cover a mile a
minute ; indeed, one gentleman of extreme velocity has been credited
with the amazing record of two miles in two minutes, vide ** Annals
of Sporting and Fancy Gazette,*' London, 1822.

It is our hope, in bidding the reader adieu, that this little review
may interest some who are already skaters, and induce others to
adventure the ** irons " where, as Dr. Johnson says —

O'er crackling ice, o'er gulfs profound,

With nimble glide the skaiters play ;
O'er treacherous pleasures' flowery ground

Thus lightly skim and haste away.

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If the New Zealand tour has taught the Rugby Union nothing
else — and I doubt not but that it has taught them a good many
things — it ought at any rate to have instilled into them the fact that
a house divided against itself cannot stand. Club after club of
old-established reputation has fallen before the onslaught of our
Colonists, and but lately I heard a Cambridge man puffing himself
up at the expense of an Oxford brother because, forsooth, his
University had only lost by fifteen points to nil ! Ye gods, what
an enviable distinction !

No purpose will be served, however, by^^cataloguing at length
disasters that are fresh in the minds of all, and it would need a more
far-seeing brain than that of the writer to settle the problem as
to whether the Rugby Union will recognise the cause of their
disasters, not only this season but during preceding ones, in their
split with the professional element. But whether or not the pro-
teges of the handling code receive back the sinners with open arms
and recognise at length that a paid player is not necessarily an

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assassin, it is vitally important that we of Association inclination
should grasp the lesson that New Zealand has tried to teach the
Rugby players of England, and that we should not only grasp it
but that we should act on it now, henceforward, and for ever.

If we look at the position of Association football in Great
Britain to-day we shall find that it is satisfactory from every point
of view, except, perhaps, that of the amateur. Unfortunately the
latter is being gradually but surely swept away by this inrush of
professionalism, and I cannot help thinking that if he vanishes
altogether the epithet *' satisfactory '* will also vanish from the
dictionary of football. Professionalism by itself is a very excellent
thing ; but it is possible to have too much of a good thing — even
of an excellent thing. The ideal formation of a pastime, and some-
times also of a sport, is professionalism leavened by amateurism.
In the hunting or shooting field we see this is the case, where the
Master and his whips or the host and his keepers unite to show
us the best of sport ; and, still closer to our argument, we witness it
in the Yorkshire cricket eleven with its professionalism combining
with the unsullied amateurism of Lord Hawke.

Amateur football pure and simple cannot live by itself; for a
brief moment or two an isolated team, such as the Corinthians of
the present day or the Old Carthusians of the past, may be found
to be able to tackle satisfactorily our professional combinations ; but
it is not the rule — only the exception. Apply our football system
to the summer game and solely amateur clubs would soon be left
behind. At either pastime we have many brilliant individual
players. Cricket knows how to use them, and gently shuffles them
in with the professional pack. Football allows them to waste their
sweetness and their skill on the deserted arena of an exclusively
amateur club.

We are happily able to state that at the present time, with
the exception, perhaps, of the London Football Association and
some kindred admirers of the good old days, there is no animus
whatever among amateurs against their paid brother; the reverse
is rather the case, and never was the ground more ripe for the seed
of friendship to be sown where hitherto the rank weed of dis-
union has flourished alone. There are perhaps in England to-day
some dozen amateurs playing for professional clubs : ten years ago
there were none. So that we have indeed progressed, though our
progress has not been far enough. In every professional side I
should like to see that leaven of amateurism — not shamateurism
please, but the real hall-marked article — which I mentioned earlier
in my paper. And I should like to see it there for two good
reasons of equal, and, to my mind, inseparable importance. First,

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for the sake of the professionals themselves; secondly, for the sake
of the amateurs; in a word, for the sake of the game.

The amateurs, as I have already pointed out, are not numerically
strong enough in first-class players to flourish alone, and yet their
talent is far too valuable when it exists not to be used in the way
I have mentioned. Nor are signs wanting in professional football
that there is need of some tactfully restraining hand — some inocu-
lator of the serum of true sportsmanlike feeling.

The crowd at a football match has always in its hands the
j)ower to make or mar a game, even a team. Taken as a whole, the
spectators of the winter game are sportsmanlike, and delight to see
the game played in its proper spirit ; but on nearly every ground nowa-
days there exists a small but always noisy band of what I can only
call the " win-at-any-pricers." Vox populi, vox Dei, and the player
is only human. Small wonder, then, if he is encouraged to repro-
duce dirty tricks and unfair tactics when applause is given to them
which makes up for its scantiness by loudness and reiteration, and
even requests for more. This section of the crowd, too, is great at
referee- baiting ; no decision, however just, against the home side,
but is met with scoffs and jeers; no decision /or them, whether right
or wrong, but is greeted with applause.

The canaille of the football ground, perhaps one per cent, of the
assembled thousands, bids fair to ruin the game for everyone else
and to make the players turn legitimate excitement into illegitimate
unfairness. And here the leaven of amateurism would come in. A
player who had tact and was popular with his side could by a mere
word restore the lost temper, prevent the coming storm ; or with
the spectators he might, with equal success, subdue excitement
that was becoming ugly. Both player and spectator would lend
a ready ear to another player — really a good fellow and a good
performer — whom they knew to be in the right, where they might
be deaf to a whole army of directors.

For a moment we will hark back to the Yorkshire cricket team.
Can one for a moment imagine any of the Yorkshire bowlers sending
down body balls, or indulging in any similar unfair tricks ? Can
one imagine Lord Hawke allowing one of his men to pretend to
bowl and then to run his opponent out ? The answer is a decided
no. Well, we want a Lord Hawke — two or three of them, if
pK>ssible — in every Association team before the public to-day.
Difficult, of course, may be the task to find them, but public school
and university would not say impossible. And here do not let my
reader run away with the idea that I think that only amateurs know
how to play the game, and that the paid player is not a sportsman.
Far from it. I have known more fotil players among amateurs
NO. czxvi. VOL. xxu.— January 1906 D

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than professionals, but only few of these former have been public
school men. There are degrees of sportsmanship. There is the
man who will forget himself only under extreme provocation. There
is, again, the man who will never forget himself under any provoca-
tion whatever. And somehow I think I can with justice urge that
we are more likely to find this latter type among fellows who have
been brought up on the best traditions of the game, who have been
taught from their earliest age that departure from its unwritten laws
means temporary social ostracism, than we are from any other

To take another aspect of the case, there is no longer any

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 4 of 52)