Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The delights of skating

Though we had a teasing spate of warm (er) weather, it wasn't enough to deter the ice fishermen, we noticed.  Since this may, though, be the last hurrah for skating, it seemed a good time to do an accompaniment to my ice skating blog over at Two Nerdy History Girls.  This quotation is from a half century later.
The good tidings that the ice on St. James’s water or on the Serpentine is strong enough to bear (its safety is another matter) circulates far and wide, and the scene becomes ere long as animated as any that London has to display.  Groups of warmly clad ladies and children are gradually drawn to the scenes of action to watch the sport, and by their presence and encouragement to add gaiety to the scene.  The less confident aspirants are encouraged to essay a venture for the sake of the bright eyes that look on; and the heroes of the day redouble their exertions to astonish and gratify the spectators, by vigorous efforts and intrepid feats of skill.  Some few are to be seen, so well instructed by art, or gifted by nature, as to tread the slippery floor with as much decision and grace as would be exhibited by the most finished dancer in a drawing-room, and would half inspire the believe that they had never trodden rougher ground in their lives, or had been shod otherwise than with the narrow strip of steel which now supports them.  Skating has one advantage over many other amusements, that it is free alike to the rich and poor.
The Illustrated London Almanack, 1853, as quoted in The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook, compiled by Robert Harling, 1938.

Illustration:  Out of door sports - the Caledonian and Thistle clubs playing the Scottish national game of curling upon the frozen pond in the Central Park, New York / from a sketch by our own artist, (from Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper), 1860, Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.  

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