Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

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than is a dull man. Natural selection is as
ruthless here as in other matters. There is a
greater number of pretty and intelligent, leisured
and therefore charming women in London than
there is of clever, interesting men. It is one
of the disabilities of Empire, that the outlying
possessions claim year by year many of the
more adventurous, thoughtful, and ambitious of
England's youth. If a man is not the eldest
son of a great house, and has no desire to go to
the Bar, or enter politics, he is almost certain
to ?et to India — or to one of the great colonies.
After governing kingdoms, after fighting savage
tribes or building railways which change the
destinies of continents, these men come back to
London as strangers — they are often run after,
flattered, and feasted, but they do not stay —
they return to their distant and strenuous lives
and leave society very much as they found it.
They rarely have the opportunity of marrying



into it, which may or may not be a loss for
them, but is undeniably one for the girl who
would have found in her husband's career a
fitting outlet for her own energy, enthusiasm
and ambition. The growing interest in the
problems of empire which make women admire
men of this calibre, the greater freedom of inter-
course allowed, and above all the habit of con-
stant and extended travel, will alter these
conditions, and there may in time be far more
intermarriage between England and her colonies
than now exists between England and America.
American women have started the fashion of
travelling — and incidentally that of marrying
out of their own land. Their English sisters
being able to satisfy hankerings after titles and
other social amenities at home, will probably
extend their choice almost entirely to men of
their own race.

No description of social life would be com-
plete without some mention of its duties and
claims. The feudal dependence upon great
families, the claims of poor relations, the pat-
ronage of struggling authors and artists, these
things exist no longer as institutions to which
all must submit, whether they wish to or not.
Instead has come a far wider sense of responsi-
bility, including these claims, and many others
as well. Hardly a social man or woman exists
who does not give time and work to his or her
particular charity or league. Many great re-
forms have been initiated in this way — the at-
tempt to redress coming from the very class
carelessly dubbed as heartless. The efforts are
sometimes futile and unfruitful, but a surprising
amount of devotion and ability exists, and in
times of national crisis, like the Boer War,
social men and women come to the front, and
reveal powers of organization and work little
suspected. Many women spend all their leis-
ure in promoting various causes — many men
rob themselves of well-earned rest to help in
definite philanthropic work.

In attempting to give any picture of Society
as a whole it must always be borne in mind that
there are circles within circles in London : there
are houses where you can get brilliant talk,
political and social; there are houses where
people who belong to various choirs and choral
societies meet to sing through old madrigals
and part-songs; there are hostesses who provide
perfect concerts, who give balls, who arrange
card parties, and there are others who attract
round them the literary flavor of the moment.

Large, flashing, many-sided, English Society
of to-day deserves much adverse criticism, but
it is also worthy of study and of admiration.
From its ranks are drawn many of the nation's
most famous men and women — and to its
ranks are welcomed every day all and any who
have distinguished themselves. The bright
gaudy pattern is woven on a plain and sober
ground of solid work and achievement. So-
ciety in England is adapting, expanding, alter-
ing with the general state, and is therefore not
a mere excrescence on the national life, but an
integral part of its organism.

Edith Lytteltok.

33. Great Britain — Sport. Sport occupies at
the present time, as indeed in all periods of
English history, a space in social organization
which those who would understand national life



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GREAT BRITAIN— SPORT



and character cannot possibly ignore. Speaking
generally, m most of the forms which it has
assumed, sport represents the survival of those
instincts and aptitudes developed by primitive
man to cope with the two imperious necessities
of his existence ; defence against his fellows and
the quest for animal food; and war and the
chase, which were the expression of these neces-
sities, demanded qualities of very similar char-
acter. Both necessities exist at the present time,
but war is of far less frequent occurrence and the
pursuit of wild animals is rare in old and civ-
ilized countries. But in the less advanced prov-
inces of the Empire adventurous Britons find the
older conditions still prevalent, and there, as in
times of war nearer home, large opportunity and
recognition is accorded to those qualities which
are characteristic of the best sportsmen — cour-
age, cheerfulness, discipline, the faculty of com-
mand, the corporate sense, the spirit which, for-
getful of self, rejoices in the power and cohesion
of the crew, the regiment and the team. A
school of reformers whose eyes are bent at the
present time on national efficiency in war are
disposed to deny the value of sporting qualities
in modern warfare, and preach with conviction
the necessity of the training of our youth in
drill, rifle-shooting and other exercises more
closely related to military science. It is doubt-
ful whether these views are harmonious to the
national tastes, and whether if they prevailed,
the training suggested would ultimately produce
better material than the less organized physical
discipline of field sports and games. Be that as
it may, sports and games have a great, perhaps
too great, a vogue in England. Not unfre-
quently they have become an end in themselves,
and as perhaps is natural in a period of ever
increasing wealth and leisure, men pass from
cricket, tennis and polo in the summer to hunt-
ing, shooting and golf in the winter, believing
that they are attaining, as doubtless they are pur-
suing, pleasure; but they carry on their counte-
nances the negation of their expectancy and fur-
nish living proofs of the existence of the law of
contrast prescribing that pleasure must take its
roots in foundations of strenuous and often irk-
some industry. Recreation, which sport in its
true sense represents, is that which rents and re-
cuperates man and renders him more capable
to do his work, and the nation which has seized
this conception of sport, lives up to it and nar-
rowly observes its tests, has little to fear from
the joyless exaggerations of pleasure, or the
nervous morbidities of industrial excess. But
when the basis of industry is firmly established,
those gain most from recreative sport, and get
most efficiency from its pursuit, who are the
most absorbed and strenuous, put forth for the
time being every faculty and energy into the
affair of pleasure, and whose ardor for success
is limited only by the canons of the highest chiv-
alry, and by the resolve that while every nerve
must be strained to defeat him, an antagonist,
whether man or beast, must have all the cour-
tesy and honor of war.

The seriousness of Britons at play is often
the wonder of amused and tolerant foreigners,
but much can be urged to justify it; if realities
have for a time to be banished, the phantoms
pursued in their place must have their semblance
and fashion; the problems of politics, law and
business, the cares of every day life absorb and



wear the brain; to exclude them there is need
of substitutes which will really engross other
faculties than those normally in use.

Few will dispute that the Britons have car-
ried sport further and cultivated the sporting
spirit more assiduously than any other civilized
race. This energy is in part accounted for not
by the greater prevalence in ancient days of war
and the chase in England, but by the peculiar
social conditions absent elsewhere, but which
obtained in earlier days in England. Looking
backwards only so far as the days of the Stuarts,
before Puritanism had set its ban on many of
the pastimes of our forefathers, we find that
while in France the Court encouraged the noble
to assert his plea in society by living in Paris
or Versailles, the Stuarts regarded the status of
country gentlemen as a profession in itself. The
squire was expected to keep open house, ad-
minister local justice, relieve want and furnish
employment. These functions, enforced by a
shrewd purpose from above, confirmed a not un-
willing class in those duties which were not so
onerous as to prove any serious bar to much
sporting. The deer in the enclosed parks were
deliberately chased to the cry of hounds (( slow
in pursuit but matched in mouth like bells*
hunting ( at force ) ranged over wider spaces —
the otter was speared, the badger trapped, the
hare coursed and the fox hunted by the squire
who owned his own hounds. But if these
sports were the peculiar domain of the well-to-
do, the less wealthy enjoyed with a whole heart
fishing, then open to nearly all, and games of all
sorts. The country lay ever at the townsman's
doors, and wrestling, where life and limb were
in jeopardy, jumping, pitching the bar, dancing
and nine pins were native customs, while foot-
ball enjoyed a popularity which emulates that of
the present time. The husbandman, when the fat
swine were killed on the approach of winter, got
the bladder and blew it out great and thin, and
"tried it out at football with the shins.* The
simplest of all games, it was played with local
rules suited to the nature of the ground, often
across the stream and up the length of the vil-
lage. King James forbade it at Court as "meet-
cr for the laming than the making able of his
liege subjects,* but all classes commonly joined
in the scrimmage to the good old cry of "all
fellows at football.* The causes, partly eco-
nomic and partly political, which attached the
rural gentry to the land received renewed im-
petus from the Napoleonic wars and the great
appreciation of prices of agricultural produce of
that period ; and the honorable opinion that obli-
gations should accompany social privileges in
rural life, is happily to this day widely felt
throughout the land. Local government and ad-
ministration and minor judicial work still re-
main, and the police, notwithstanding the activity
of County Councils, are largely controlled by the
experience of country gentlemen, and so long
as there is this solid background of usefulness
for them, field sports will continue to be en-
joyed by the gentry, but for whose presence
in rural England they would soon perish.
But it is natural and inevitable that with the
growth of population, and above all of
the perpetually increasing facilities of loco-
motion which make that population so mo-
bile, hunting, fowling, stalking, and shooting,
owing to the competition for them, tend



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GREAT BRITAIN— SPORT



to be the sports of a relatively diminishing
portion of the population. Fox hunting does
indeed (wild stag hunting is now so rare
as to be almost a curiosity) despite the in-
roads of civilized life still retain a leading posi-
tion in England sports, but railways and motors
are making and will make its pursuit more and
more difficult by temporarily concentrating into
particular places most adapted for the sport
such large numbers of people living at a dis-
tance that the agriculturists, who formerly never
repelled and often welcomed the advent of
hounds, now require large compensation for the
kindly hospitality which they extend to their
passage over the land. This is not surprising
when a field of 500 horsemen, many of them
strangers to the district, accompany the hunt
whose progress ravages both crops and fences in
spite of a dictator's authority freely accorded to
the master and exercised to the general good.
The attachment of Britons to the greatest of all
sports is attested by the expenditure, cheerfully
borne by men often not rich, which of necessity
follows on the track of such damage, but it is
to be feared that in the coming years other ob-
stacles to hunting more difficult to overcome will
follow in the wake of more specialized and sci-
entific agriculture.

Shooting is enjoyed under more advan-
tageous conditions as the great natural wheat
lands and pastures of the world come more com-
pletely into use. Deer forests and moorlands
are less likely to be required in the future than
now for the purposes of pastoral or agricultural
industry. The driving of both grouse and part-
ridge has, contrary to expectations, resulted in a
wonderful improvement in the health and repro-
ductive power of these birds. The Battue of
pheasants, though probably requiring greater
skill from the individual in the technique of ac-
tual ^gunnery,® is by reason of its artificiality
lacking in the highest interest and excitement of
sport, but for that very reason it can be con-
ducted in places where nature has been most ob-
viously civilized. Partridges, though wilder than
pheasants, if let alone will seldom go beyond
the limits of two or three fields, they need not
the silence and the calm of the moors, and are
not averse to the frequent presence of man ;
thus partridge shooting is a popular sport and
on the first of September, the echoes are answer-
ing a dropping fire from John O'Groats to
Lands End.

Driving, usually postponed till three or four
weeks later, requires large estates and much
organization, drilling of beaters, etc., but there
remain many lively days of more desultory
sport widely enjoyed by modest folk, sometimes
advancing in line over the fields, sometimes
using the dogs who were formerly indispensable.
Geese, snipe, duck and woodcock are rare in any
considerable numbers, but the rabbit's white tail
vanishing into the burrow is one of the most
familiar spectacles of the rougher and less
highly cultivated countries. Fishing is even more
democratic and is pursued by great varieties
of men of all conditions and all ages, but salmon
and good trout fishing are already beyond the
reach of modest incomes, even in Scotland.
This sport, which in the opinion of many great
judges, is second to none, is connected with
many disappointments and has infinite varieties.



The element of uncertainty and risk enter into
it to a degree sufficient to answer the expectancy
of the most exacting, but like hunting it is
greatly to be feared that the enjoyment of its
exquisite pleasures must be more and more re-
stricted, and the pursuit more and more de-
tached from universal national life. In truth
those causes against which no expert can be of
any avail and to which reference has already
been made, the fast filling up of the island, the
limited area unoccupied by the presence of man,
machinery and locomotive facilities of all kinds
are slowly tending to draw the vast majority of
the people from the chase to those games whose
enjoyment is independent of the existence of
wild nature, and whose arena is accessible to all.
Cricket, football, racing and golf occupy a
truly astonishing position in the public mind.
Even in Scotland, where cricket is, compara-
tively speaking, little in vogue, the leading news-
papers devote daily, five or six columns to ac-
counts of these pastimes, while it is noticeable
that English journals whose leading articles con-
tain austere exhortations against gambling, and
denunciation of the undue dominance of sport,
are forced by the struggle for existence to chroni-
cle at wearisome length the very subjects whose
popularity they deplore. Racing has become so
commercial and statistical that it may be said
to have, for many of those who are prominently
engaged in it, many of the characteristics of
business, and it affords great pleasure and ex-
citement to innumerable speculators who with-
out seeing the races, or knowing anything of
horses, hazard sums of money varying in amount
under the guidance of ^tipsters* in newspapers
on the issues of remote contests. In the north
of England and sporadically in the Midlands
and South there exist many genuine lovers
of horses deeply interested in the science of
breeding for speed, and enjoying without pe-
cuniary stimulant the glorious sensation of pride
and admiration which the victory of a horse
bred at home and reared with affectionate and
anxious solicitude inspires.

Gambling has not entered to so considerable
an extent into cricket or golf, though it is said
to be making its way into the wide regions
where football holds sway. But the commercial
spirit is tending to invade the arena of popular
games. Cheap excursion trains concentrate
vast crowds of spectators in the large cities;
so many as 100,000 gather to see the most
important football engagements; and during
the three davs occupied by a cricket match
50,000 or 60,000 frequently pay sixpence
or a shilling for a pleasure which to men
engaged in hard manual toil throughout five
days of the week has the deepest attraction.
The press is compelled to give large spaces to
description of contests which arouse such wide-
spread interest and stimulate such extensive cir-
culation among a public who but for the sport-
ing cohesion would never dream of purchasing
the cheapest journal. The opportunity of a good
livelihood pleasantly earned is, as a result, ex-
tending itself to a larger and larger number of
professional players, and if the worthiness of an
occupation is to be measured by the different
pleasures which it conveys, a professional crick-
eter or footballer is earning his bread in at least
as meritorious a manner as many other crafts-



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GREAT BRITAIN — THE FINE ARTS



men against whose calling no criticism fias
ever been made. But; irritation is aroused
at the disproportionate celebrity which is at-
tached to skill in these pursuits, and to the am-
bitions which they excite among amateurs, and
to the place given in national life to things which
should be the variants and not the principal men
tives of energy." A powerful temptation is con-
tinually presenting itself to young men just at
the time when the real business of life should
begin to earn popular applause and distinction
by making a game the Staple occupation of their
time. The result often is that at the age oi 35*
when physical powers for these purposes begin
to lose their first bloom, men who have had
much excitement and have awakened much popu-
ular notice fall into an enforced and unwilling
idleness which is often difficult, after so long a
delay, to disperse by the practice of a profes-
sion or entrance into business. Criticism is
heard far and wide of this exaggeration of a
natural and manly taste, but no remedy will ever
be oi the slightest avail unless it be accompanied
by an alteration in public opinion and estimate
of the value of proficiency in games.

At present no evidence of such a change is
perceptible in the Anglo Saxon race. In
America, though less widely diffused, games are
prosecuted with an intensity characteristic of an
energetic people. Australia, New Zealand and
South Africa are more deeply inoculated with
their attraction than the mother country. In
one province leading statesmen vie with civic
dignitaries in applauding and welcoming with
honors the dashing batsman or the a demon 9
bowler; in another the expenses of the all-con-
quering football team are placed on the esti-
mates and cheerfully voted by an enthusiastic
Parliament Few anticipate a diminution, many
expect an increase in the popularity of sport,
and the historian of the future will probably be
able to institute an interesting comparison be-
tween those nations who are trained more con-
sciously for war and those who are learning
some of its lessons m sport. The phrase *play
the game* has passed into the language as a
symbol of honor, unselfishness and veracity; we
may hope that the sources of these virtues will
be untainted by commercial standards and will
refresh and preserve national manliness.
Alfred Lyttelton,
Formerly Secretary of State for the Colonies.

34. Great Britain — The Fine Arts. The
earliest records of British art are concerned
with the decoration of palaces, churches, cos-
tumes, arms, furniture, and domestic utensils.
But we find the point of transition from the
useful to the fine arts in the shrines, such as
those erected by Edward I. to the memory of
Queen Eleanor, the monuments, tombs, painted
tablets and portraits on glass and in illuminated
MSS. of the 15th century. From the 15th cen-
tury onwards oil painting became the chief
medium in which the memory of important
persons and events was recorded. All the im-
portant work of this kind was, however, till
the 18th century, in the hands of foreign artists,
who were attracted to England by the munifi-
cence of the kings and nobles ; hence, with the
possible exception of Holbein's and the best
Vol. 10 — 11



of Van Dyck's portraits, it reflects the national
Instincts and sentiments only from an external
and superficial point of view. But the distinc-
tively British school of painting, which sprang
mto existence during the 18th century/ owed
much to the influence of these foreign artist^
and fcheir works, and to the numerous collec-
tions of pictures by celebrated continental
artists which collectors like the Earl of
Arundel and Charles I. had formed. These
provided a kind of university in which native-
born artists could educate their taste and mas-
ter the manual secrets of their art The Eng-
lish artists had only to assimilate the tradi-
tions of the great foreign schools and to use
the technical skill thus acquired for the ex-
pression of those more intimate nuances of the
national character which foreign artists — what-
ever their artistic gifts — were incapable of shar*
ing. Hence, the astonishing rapidity with
which the English school of painting developed,
the absence of technical experiments which
marked its first stages, and the very high stand-
ard of executive ability which the earlier men
possessed.

PORTJtATT PAINTING.

The first English portrait painters seem to
have seen their sitters through the eyes of the
foreign masters under whom they had studied
or on whose works they had formed them-
selves. The very skilful miniatures of Nicholas
Hilliard (1537-1619) and Isaac Oliver (1564-
1617) show the influence of Holbein and the
French miniaturists. Robert Streater (1624-
1680) was a pupil and imitator of Dumoulin,
WilKam Dobson (1610-1646) and John Haylis,

( 1679) of Van Dyck, John Greenhill of

Salisbury, (1649-1676) of Sir Peter Lely.
Samuel Cooper (1600-1672), whose fine por-
trait of Cromwell is well known, and John
Riley (1646-1601) were the first to express a
more distinctively national point of view in
their portraits. Jonathan Richardson (1665-
I745)i Riley's pupil, had great influence in di-
recting attention to the intellectual and imag-
inative aims of paintings.

William Hogarth (1607^764) is the first
great English artist. In a series of paintings
like <The Harlot's Pro£ress,> <The Rake's
Progress, > and <The Marriage a la Mode* (Na-
tional Gallery), he brought the whole drama
of contemporary life into pictorial art. Such
pictures contain abundant evidence of the art-
ist's powers of observation and memory, but
Hogarth was not content to observe life merely
from the outside. He does not choose a series
of situations and proceed to visualize them as
they would appear to an indifferent spectator,
but, as Charles Lamb has pointed out, he seizes
his subjects with such an extraordinary power
of imaginative intuition that they seem to di-
rect him, and his paintings, instead of confining
themselves to external matters, become a reve-
lation of and a commentary on the unseen
qualities— the moral and intellectual attributes—
of his characters. To do this the whole of the
artist's personality has to be engaged in his
work of dramatization, and it is inevitable that
the result should bear the impress of his tem-
perament and convictions. Hogarth has been
censured, especially by continental theoricians,
for allowing his moral emotions to appear in



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his work; but the place his art has taken in



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 42 of 185)