Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on the pond at Frogmore.
What is so very interesting in Jones treatise is the emphasis, all the way through, on the position of the head. In his description of the Dutch Rolling, a movement on both feet, on Running and, the Spiral Line, we come to what he calls the “more masterly parts of the art after a run of about thirty yards, throw yourself with great force on the outside edge, the knee bent the arms in the same position as an archer drawing his bow, the right leg raised as high as you can with ease, so that as you look over the left shoulder you may see the (free) foot, then
raise the body, drop the left hand on the hip and advance the right higher than the head, keeping your eyes fixed upon it; this attitude has a pretty effect at the conclusion of the spiral.
This sort of skating, we are told, may be performed by a person of genteel figure.
It has become the fashion nowadays to talk of the centre of gravity; imagine my surprise, therefore, when I read that the centre of gravity is said to be situated in the human body in the middle between the two hips, or in that part called the Pelvis.
The Treatise then goes on to explain the Inside Circle, the Outside Circle, the Fencing Position, the Salutation wherein two skaters of equal ability stand about twenty feet apart,
Twice back and forward (the original English style) From a drawing by H.H.Warner, 1893
Origins of Skating
they then make a sweep on their right legs till they come near enough to join hands as they pass immediately turn themselves on their right feet, and strike off in the same manner as in making a bow at the beginning of a minuet the hat must be pulled off and held down during the bow, which may be made according to fancy. Here was undoubtedly the beginning of pair skating. The work finishes with an instruction on the Serpentine Line, on traveling backwards and then comes to a triumphant close with advice on how To cut the Figure of a Heart on one Leg, which must surely be the first reference to a figure three ever written. Here are a few extracts for those who are such proficient as to attempt this manoeuvre. First set off with a sweep on the outside, on the right leg, and when you think you have formed half the figure of a heart turn yourself suddenly half round; then throw yourself on the inside edge, and by looking to the right you will move backwards. Whatever one may think of Mr. Jones (Gent.), and of his Patron Lord Spencer Hamilton, and of their friends, if they carried out the instructions given in the work, nobody could accuse them of lack of courage. The final sentence of the book reads:
raise the right leg behind, by bending the knee only; which knee must be not more than three or four inches from the left ham, the foot hung in an easy manner, with the toe downward.
Part 7
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