The Whole Cast Now On-Stage; Miss Prettyman Defends Crawley; Reappearing Characters; Credit and Debt; Skating (which on C18-l morphed into Skating as Socialising, Class and Sexual Activity; Thin Ice; Skating as Socialising, Class and Sexual Activity, and Skating Is for Everyone); Diet; Reverend Crawley's Dilemma; Checks (Cheques); Banking Practices!

To Trollope-l

July 3, 2000

Re: Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 7-11: The Whole Cast Now On-Stage

This week's chapters intermingle some strong scenes of acute psychological depiction of the Crawleys at home and in the local tavern where the Reverend is arraigned. I know many will not agree with this one; Trollope seems to me to withhold judgement. I am glad Crawley refused to go into court on his own power. It reminds me of a man who was executed in the state of Texas last week: very unusually, he refused to go into the night gently. He made it difficult for the authorities. An interesting factor in many an execution in the 18th century is that the person to be hanged took on the role of weeping sacrificial scapegoat. It also fit Crawley's character perfectly: one of the reasons he can't fit into society is this inflexibility of his. Why should he hire a lawyer? He is innocent. He is told that society doesn't work according to such uncompromising principles; you go to the wall if you try it. I thought his stillness at the trial, apparent obliviousness to it all well understood. Mrs Crawley suffered more intensely behind her veil. Do others remember that Lady Mason took off her veil and faced them all down (Orley Farm).

We have some further hard moments in the Bishop's palace. Trollope may be softening his presentation of the Archdeacon, not so Mrs Proudie. That she believes someone is an emanation from Satan is why she makes for real evil in the world. Trollope's even-handedness makes him remind us that if the Framley Parsonage people had someone of Mrs Proudie's party accused of thievery, they would behaved in the same biased way. It's not so much that all of them are sure the Rev is innocent, but that he's of their party. Mrs Proudie hates Crawley for further reasons: his poverty, his refusal to submit to her. Trollope has not had her center stage for 2 novels straight; thus she comes out roaring. The Bishop quavers before her. The play upon the word 'soul' and 'convicted' gives the scene intense nervous power. We hear the resounding tones of this woman. They play upon the pulse. I can see why Thumble shakes in his shoes too.

But there are lighter comic notes too. They come in a variety. There's Miss Prettyman. She is actually manipulating Major Grantly. Trollope makes sure we see that. Why let this fish off the hook? I would call this half-serious comedy because the position of Grace is serious. This comedy has the quality of the Grantly comedy because the actors are themselves concerned intently in what is happening.

A humorous variety (meaning the characters are presented as humours characters) is provided by the dinner at Framley Parsonage and the coming of Grace to Allington. The folks at the Parsonage form a chorus. They stand for Everyman on Crawley's side (as Mr Fothergill stands for Everyman against him). Here Trollope does try to awaken our memories of earlier books and rely on that to provide enjoyment. There is a sort of closure in this chapter which shows the book is meant to be a closing book of a sequence. Old early happenings brought back: how young Lady Lufton nursed Mrs Crawley when she was Lucy Robarts; how it was she who is partly responsible for the love attachment of Major Grantly. Comedy is gotten from the Luftons (a fairy godmother and her rich son in FP). Dr Thorne has lost his intense human burden and is moulded shallowly, but his wife, Mrs Thorne (our Miss Dunstable) hasn't changed much. Still the saturnine disillusioned humour, and still recognising the absurdities of life: how is it if we all know he is innocent, he was committed? A good question.

I thought though I would point up something even lighter. Later on Lily will resume some of her old role in a love story, but here she too is chorus. It is she who invites and greets Grace; brings her into a haven. On another list I'm on we have been talking about whether 18th c. women skated. I have been reading Jane Austen's letters and came across a passage where she, her mother, her sister-in-law and a friend accompany her brother on a freezing cold day to a lake to watch him skate. It appears that skating was not done by genteel women in the 18th century -- except in private. It was not acceptable -- like hunting was not quite acceptable even in the mid-19th century. It's true that by the later 19th century Christmas cards and other pictorial records show us upper class genteel or WASP type gentlewomen skating; before the 19th century genteel women did skate in the Scandanavian and Dutch regions. Skating was a practical way to get from one place to another. It was also probably accepted among working class women and done in private in somewhat warmer climates like Great Britain. However, it's very hard to find some documentation. Too bad we don't have inventories from shoemaking (joke alert).

Anyway probably because I was thinking about skating, I noticed a number of jokes when Grace arrives at Allington. The passage itself connects skating to hunting and billiards as a man's activity. Note it is winter. Miss Prettyman and the Dales between them have now contrived to get Grace with decent clothing to Allington. (The passage on the anguish of genteel poverty, the people on the edge shows Trollope speaking from his own experience as a boy: "None but they who have themselves been poor gentry ... can understand the peculiar bitterness ..., Houghton Miffllin Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch9, pp. 74-75). The idea here is not just to bring home to us how Grace's presence threatens the school; how Mrs Crawley can't feed her, but that if gotten away to near the Grantlys, she just may ensnare Archdeacon Grantly's son from afar. So we have her in her pretty cloak coming into Allington. Then Lily picks her up at the railway station in a pony carriage (the Squire's -- he having the dough for this) on a frozen day, both 'starved to death'; as the two young women go into the house, Mrs Dale offers hot tea, and Lily remarks:

"'It's all up with Bernard and Mr Green [our old friend Bernard & another gentleman-squires] for the next week at least. It is freezing as hard as it can freeze, and they might as well try to hunt in Lapland as here.

'They'll console themselves with skating', said Mrs Dale.

'Have you ever observed, Grace', said Miss Dale, 'how much amusement gentlemen require, and how imperative it is that some other game should be provided when one game fails?'

'Not particularly', said Grace.

[But then Grace is not very observant when it comes to the ironies of life; Lily still is]

'Oh, but it is so' [says Lily]. Now, with women, it is supposed that they can amuse themselves or live without amusement. Once or twice in a year, perhaps something is done for them. There is an arrow-shooting party, or a ball, or a picnic. But the catering for men's sport is never ending, and is always paramount to everything else. And yet the pet game of the day never goes properly off. In partridge time, the partridges are wild, and won't come to be killed. In hunting time the foxes won't run straight, -- the wretches. They show no spirit, and wil take to ground to save their brushes. Then comes a nipping frost, and skating is proclaimed; but the ice is always rough, and the woodcocks have deserted the country. And as for salmon, -- when the summer comes round I do really believe that they suffer a reat deal about the samon. I'm sure they never catch any. So they go back to their clubs and their cards ...

On the other hand, we are told that Mr Green who is other otherwise 'such a duck of a man, -- such top- boots and all the rest of it ...', yet it is 'whispered' that 'he doesn't always ride to the hounds'. And while to watch him play billiards 'is beautiful, he never can make a stroke'. (Trollope is often quietly bawdy.) Thus Lily hopes that Grace plays billiards 'because Uncle Christopher has just had a new table put up'. Grace, who is as virtuous as her father, of course 'never saw a billiard table'. And so it goes.

Here is evidence that in private women may do what men do in public. Well, we knew that, didn't we?

Yet at the same time it is clear from the passage that skating is a man's activity ... Women may shoot arrows: there's a Cupid-Eros link here. They may dance and go on picnics.

A light grace note from the intelligent Lily. I like her for living so quietly herself.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

--- "I wish Mr Trollope would go on writing Framley Parsonage for ever" ----Elizabeth Gaskell

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 08:00
Subject: [trollope-l] Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 7-11: The Whole Cast Now On- Stage

Like Ellen, I enjoyed Lily in this week's chapters. No pun intended, but she does really seem to have "bloomed" in her spinsterhood-widowhood. Perhaps, after all, being single was more to her independent taste. Also, her lively, faintly rebellious speech patterns seem faintly akin to the lively Glencora, a character that suffers much in adjusting to the confines of married life. I cannot recall (even after several readings of both the Barsetshire and the Palliser series), do these two kindred spirits ever meet? If no, can we speculate as to whether they both owe something to the real women in Trollope's life (Fanny, Rose & Kate)?

Judy Geater's message on the above reminds me that I think that I owe the group some sort of apology. Having talked about Barset, rather than Barsetshire, I started The Last Chronicle to find that Trollope calls the book The Last Chronicle of Barset, but then goes on to use both Barset and Barsetshire in the text more or less indifferently. A quick rush through revealed about six of the first and seven of the second. Trollope clearly didn't know any more than we do!

Regards, Howard

From Dagny:

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 18:48:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle, Ch 7: Miss Prettyman defends Crawley

love the paragraph wherein Miss Prettyman defends Rev. Crawley to Major Grantly. She admirably expressed my own indignation at the thought of anyone even suspecting the Rev. of stealing, actually stealing with mercenary intent, the check. Her final sentence reads: "Whoever heard of anybody becoming so base as that all at once?"

I was not the only one impressed with her defense, Major Grantly was also.


Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 21:49:55
Subject: [trollope-l] Reverend Crawley's dilemma (From Catherine Crean)

Several interesting posts today. It is ironic that Ellen mentions The Way We Live Now in her post about the last chapters we read of The Last Chronicle of Barset. As I have mentioned, I am listening to TWWLN as read by David Case on audiocassette. TWWLN is not one of my favorite books. Trollope's excoriation of the men grubbing for money is amplified by his excoriation of the women grubbing for tickets to Melmotte's party for the Emperor of China. The men in the Beargarden pass around IOU's knowing that in the end nobody is going to pay up. It would not be gentlemanly to press a fellow to repay an IOU. I am oversimplifying here, but this is by way of echoing Ellen's remarks about the power we give to bits of paper.

Trollope is on the high wire when he presents Reverend Crawley's dilemma. That he carries it off is a mark of Trollope's skill as a writer and also the confidence he has in his relationship with the reader. I think that Ellen is correct when she says that Trollope was having a go at showing up Wilkie Collins. (If not showing him up, at least saying "me too!") The manipulations of props and events is almost like a mystery story. What is primary to the story is the Crawleys as a couple. I think to really appreciate the agonies of conscience, the despair, the shame and the self-doubt of Reverend Crawley, we must have his wife in the picture, too. For all the shabbiness in the Crawley home, there is an integrity, a love of learning, and heartfelt loyalty. One of the few possesions the Crawleys have is a set of books. Trollope specifically mentions this. I don't think this mention is an accident.

Earlier today we had some posts about homes where there is a love for books. I am always suspicious of a home where I see no books at all. In my home, my husband has literally hundreds of books on Railroads, including old repair manuals for steam locomotives. Howard has no interest in fiction, but he is a great help explaining the probable route of Melmotte's railroad. I feel sorry that Howard does not share my interest in Trollope, but I certainly don't share his interest in trains. I respect his learning and integrity, even when he seems to have gone round the bend with the railroad stuff. I often wonder what Mrs. Crawley thought when Mr. Crawley was drilling Greek irregular verbs into the children's heads, and they had not enough to eat. This precarious household is pushed over the brink by a slip of paper. Alas, that could be true of almost anybody nowadays! If the economy goes wrong, how will we pay the mortgage? If the main breadwinner loses a job, how does the family cope? Not everyone has the heroic proportions of a Reverend Crawley, or the steadfast love of a Mrs. Crawley. I would like to think that Howard's love of trains is akin to Reverend Crawley's love of Greek irregular verbs. (That is, they both love learning.) Is it worthless to love something rather arcane? I say no, it is not worthless. Is it foolhardy to invest so much time in learning about something that most people don't even know about much less care? Again, I say no. Being practical is not the most important thing in the world, suffer as one may for the consequences.

Well, this post has wandered all over the map. In thinking about my home and the co-existing sets of books (trains and Trollope) I realize that Howard and I aren't so far apart after all. Howard and I share a computer, and he at least glances at the Trollope posts. When it was announced that Ellen was going to give the talk at the Trollope Society AGM, I didn't think it was possible for me to go and hear her talk. Howard said, "Don't you want to see your friends and talk about Mrs. Proudie?" I loved him for that, I just loved him. He knew that there was such a character as Mrs. Proudie.

Catherine Crean

From Rory O'Farrell:

Ellen wrote:

"I like to think that faced with a money machine in a wall, Crawley would walk away, refuse to consort with something so inhuman."

I fully agree with Ellen's assumption about Crawley and a money machine. I have some shares in a major Irish bank, and they keep trying to give me a card for the money machines. I point out to the clerk that she is cutting her own throat - there won't be any need for bank clerks if everybody uses money machines. While one cannot live in the past except in the realms of literature, one can fight a rearguard action for the maintenance of the "old decencies" and for personal contact and involvement. Perhaps this is one of the major attractions of Trollope's works, that they are concerned with the personal interactions between the major participants - they matter as individuals.

Rory O'Farrell

From Angela Richardson:

Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 17:54:11 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Reappearing Characters

Ellen wrote last week that we could be a bit cynical about the reappearing characters. This is the first time I have read the Last Chronicle and I must say, I was a bit taken a back to see so many of them come surging out of the pages. I wondered if the appearance of Lily and the Thornes in this book is part of the authentication that Dr Thorne and The Small House are really part of the Barsetshire series. You could read those on their own.

However, any passing distraction which these reappearing characters caused - including wondering where Major Grantly had come from - has been put aside as the Crawleys take centre stage. Its very good to know that they are the main theme of this novel, and I look forward to many good reads ahead.


From Howard Merkin:

I have been suffering with computer problems again for the past week, and haven't been able to get email in or out. I now have a new modem, and have downloaded my last week's mail and ploughed through it.

I had been meaning to post a message about chapter IV of The Last Chronicle, where we are told something of the way that Mr Crawley's 130 a year is spent. Since I retired about eight years ago, I have acted as a volunteer adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau. For non-UK residents, this is an organisation where people who have difficulty in coping with the problems of modern life can get advice and. If they want it, guidance.. Along with everything else, we deal with problems about state benefits, and with debt. Using our standard technique for assessing a client's debt position, it is clear that Mr Crawley's income falls far short of his actual expenditure, since the items that we are told have to come out of the remaining 15, including 'tea, sugar, beer, wages, education and the like' must have come to a great deal more than that. Evidently Dean Arabin's occasional 50 can only have staved off the pressure for a short time, and the level of the family's debts was likely to continue to rise.

The first point that occurred to me on reading the list of expenditure was the relatively high amount spent on meat. For this to take up 30% of the family income seems excessive. There were only four of them at home, the two parents, Jane, and presumably the servant, who would have been fed. How did they manage to get through three pounds of meat a day? Nowadays, we tend to tell people in debt that they need to cut down on the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. I think that I should have advised the Crawleys to cut down a bit on meat. I also think that a little of the Arabin money might have been directed towards doing something about the furniture. A local handyman could have carried out a few repairs and put up some shelves for the books very cheaply. This would have helped Mr Crawley to recover some of his self-respect.

The principle point that I would make, however, is the fact that the major part of the creditors' troubles arose from their own actions. Why did they continue to give credit to someone who clearly was having difficulty in paying their old debts? If they had insisted on cash from the start, the Crawleys would have had to budget their expenditure more carefully. This is exactly the same as occurs today, when banks and credit card companies are only too anxious to give large amounts of credit to people who will be unable pay them. It is not unusual to find people on benefits of, say, 52.20 per week owing amounts of 5,000 or even 10,000. They have two or three credit cards, overdrawn bank accounts and a variety of mail order and store accounts. Since the basic benefit is set at subsistence level for a single person, they clearly do not have scope for the sort of expenditure that must have occasioned such debts. But even after we have persuaded them to cut up their credit cards, they continue to receive further offers of cards, sometimes from the same organisations that are pursuing them for payment

You will see that I am agreeing with Ellen and Rory that the wholesale giving of credit causes a great deal of the problems that people who are on low income have. I do not agree that the institution of credit is in itself a bad thing, since it forms the basis on which most of the wealth of our modern society is based. I do think, however, that the way in which it is granted needs much more careful consideration.

Regards, Howard

From Rory O'Farrell:

We should remember that at this time, Trollope suggested an income of 800/900 was adequate for a middle-class family in comfortable conditions, but not allowing for any extravagance. We can map that to the same standard today, and by taking 1/7th of it, get an idea of Rev Crawley's income in today's circumstances. Howard, would you like to suggest an equivalent middle class income today in the UK? Anyone for the USA?

Rory O'Farrell

From Gene Stratton, belatedly, to Howard after Howard complained some of us (meaning me, Ellen) were putting a "shire" into The Last Chronicle of Barset.

Subject: [trollope-l] Shires

Howard, it would seem to me that Barchester, Barset is modeled after Dorchester, Dorset in form, and isn't it true that Dorset and Dorsetshire are interchangeable? Also Devon and Devonshire and some others.

Gene Stratton

Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 15:31:18 -0700
Subject: [trollope-l] Credit and debt

I, too, would be interested in knowing what list members in England think is a reasonable middle class income today in the UK. A friend in Cornwall not long ago suggested Pounds 25,000, but I recall that a list member in London suggested Pounds 50,000. For the U.S., I would suggest $40,000 to $50,000, which I'm sure is debatable.

Gene Stratton

From Rory:

Remember we are talking of a "careful" middle class income, so 25,000-30,000 would be about right, I think. And those figures would scale to $35,000-40,000.

That would suggest Crawley would today be managing on 4000/$5500. Poverty indeed!

It is always difficult to scale from Victorian prices to modern prices, but I hope the above figures give the list a fair idea of how difficult things were for Mr (and Mrs) Crawley.

Rory O'Farrell

From Dagny:

Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 15:18:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] Credit and debt

Howard, I too thought that 3 pounds of meat seemed excessive for the Crawleys. Or was meat cheaper back then in proportion to potatoes, beans, oatmeal and such? I don't know how the prices compared back then.

And to give us another measuring stick, a few years ago it seems that the poverty level for the U.S. was set at around $7,000 or $7,500.


Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 14:58:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 7-11

Ellen wrote:

"We have some further hard moments in the Bishop's palace. Trollope may be softening his presentation of the Archdeacon, not so Mrs Proudie."

Yes, Trollope put this forth loud and clear. If anything it seems to me that Mrs. Proudie is portrayed as even more bigotted, judgemental, domineering, etc. than in the prior books. And the Bishop seems even more afraid of her, of arousing her wrath. But I still laugh when I think of her at the party in the book in which we meet her, the second book of the series (I think), and the problem with her dress.

I was surprised to see that archery was one of the very few activities available to British women of that day and age. I don't think I had really thought about skating, but I had assumed they hunted if they desired since I know Lord Lufton wanted to teach Lucy to ride.


I wrote to C18-l to ask about the lack of physical activities middle class women were allowed to do:

To C18-l

July 2000

Re: Did 18th and 19th century gentlewomen skate?

Here is another query. I have been reading Jane Austen's letters and have come across a passage where she and the other females of the household at Southampton accompany Frank Austen to a near-by frozen-over pond and watch him ice-skate. I find myself asking, why do none of the women skate with him? It may be one is pregnant (his wife), another too old (his mother), and two just don't feel like it (his sisters, including Jane Austen). But I know women in this period rarely hunted -- or didn't at all. It wasn't approved of as an activity for women. Was there social disapproval of women skating? Or social disapproval of genteel women skating? I discover that working class women do many things which are verboten for their richer well-connected sisters. How about girl children? This morning I can't seem to think of another passage in the literature which readily comes to mind in which women are pictured skating. Perhaps children in books for children, but how accurate are these?

I looked up in a recent book, JA and Leisure and find nothing on it. Can someone recommend a book which would inform me about something as mundance as going skating. The 18th and early 19th century in England is a very cold era; the Thames freezes over, so I would like to know.

Ellen Moody

Subject: THIN ICE
From: Betty RW Rizzo

Dear Ellen,

Since getting on the list lately I've enjoyed your considerations. I've been working on an essay about women as athletes in the 18th, and have come up with some facts. Actually I'll be speaking on it at ECASECS in the fall -- did someone tell me you're a member?? (Faulty memory, perhaps). John Collett has done a very revealing set of satiric drawings of women at different sports in the second half of the 18th--that is, they reveal both that women did all the things men did--boating, cricket, fisticuffs, and, I think, also iceskating -- but that these activities were to be satirized and made fun of. In fact women gave public exhibitions of many sports. My only proof that women skated is a letter written by Lord March describing a stay at Althorp with the Spencers, where everyone, including Charles Fox, if I remember, went skating. I think the operative condition here is the privacy. Incidentally, the Althorp hunt, which was famous, included women, and Lady Spencer was an enthusiastic hunter. I have a lot of Collett reproductions but not the iceskating one, and if it exists, the BL can tell you. (I do have the hunting one.)

I would love to give you the precise reference for the Althorp skating party, and can, given a little time, but it is buried in a 1000 page manuscript. If you want it, I can find it by looking up the proper chapter. But it occurred in 1767, which may be too early for you. Let me know.

Would there be a website for looking up the drawings at the BL???? I'm constantly amazed by what is available on the web.

Please don't acknowledge this dubious contribution on the list. I am embarrassed by my constant intervention, but the fact is that research was always my primary pleasure, and I have had a lot of information which often now is hard to access precisely. And an uncontrollable urge to impart. Best, Betty Rizzo

Subject: skating
From: Betty RW Rizzo

Dear Ellen,

I just glanced up at a favorite postcard, a detail of Sir Henry Raeburn's Skating on Duddington Loch -- one delightful male skater, but there must be a lot more. Worth checking to see if there are any women skaters. Raeburn's dates: 1756-1823. The lone skater is a clergyman in gaiters.

Best, Betty Rizzo

Sender: 18th Century Interdisciplinary Discussion

From: Frank Felsenstein
Subject: Did women skate?

A good source for this (as indeed for so many other eighteenth-century subjects) is Mary Dorothy George and F.G. Stephens, "Catalogue of Political and Personal the British Museum", 11 vols., 1870-1954. The later volumes, that were edited by Dorothy George contain a subject index that includes "Skating". A superficial glance at vol. VII (covering the years 1793-1800) shows several skating prints, most of which are of male skaters. I don't have the other volumes to hand, but I'd be surprised if there were no women skaters. An invaluable companion to the catalogue, for those far away from the B.M. Department of Prints and Drawings, is a microfilm issued some years back by Chadwyck-Healey.

With best wishes,
Frank Felsenstein

Off list to Betty Rizzo:

Dear Betty,

How kind of you to answer me off-list this way. I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble of looking into a large manuscript for me. What you say about women participating in athletics but because they risked ridicule most would only do so in private parties makes sense to me. Skating then links up to writing: that too women tried to keep private. I was reading James Edward Austen-Leigh's memoir about hunting in the Hampshire region at the turn of the 18th century and he never mentioned a woman. But then he is so proper. Trollope mentions women as usually being part of hunts by the mid-19th century, but he registers a sense that they are unusual. Also the women who hunted are presented as aggressive, and the hunting and riding itself attached to sexuality. A good horsewomen will be aggressive and sexy: Mary Crawford fits this bill, except she doesn't hunt. I can think of women in satiric prints getting involved in fights (Rowlandson) but that's about it. Althorp is part of the area I'm interested in.

My interest here is putting another piece in a large puzzle of Jane Austen's character. I was wondering if she didn't skate because it wasn't socially acceptable or because she didn't want to. But then why go out on such a cold morning, walk such a long way, and watch someone else? I suppose I must conclude that here again is an instance of her conforming to a stereotype in her outward behavior.

Like you though I just have a hard time believing 18th century women didn't skate. But perhaps they didn't. There's the skirt blowing up high and the lack of underwear. Does that sound silly? And there are Christmas cards in the US with women skating in the later 19th century and modesty was a controlling standard then too. It is just so hard to get at these sorts of behaviors. People just don't discuss them. If only the camera had been invented earlier ... :) After all a man can choose whom he will sketch. I hope your talk will appear in one of the publications I get from ECS.

I am one of those who are guilty of saying too much on lists. It is to me inspiriting to talk to others about my interests, to listen to what others have to say, and contribute. I belong to ECASECS, but have not yet gone to any meeting. I have been trying to control my participation on lists of late so that I can work on my book and other projects so that's why I took so long to get back to you. I simply shut down Eudora in the mid-morning and don't bring it up again until late at night. I should say that C18-l is one of the best lists I know of on the Internet. Occasionally there are quarrels, but most of the time the sharing of information is genuine, helpful, and collegial.


On List to C18-l:

This is to thank Frank Felsenstein. From the prints you describe it seems as if in the 18th century it was not as socially acceptable for women to skate as it was for men. Thus men would be drawn skating and not women. Too bad we don't have records of inventories of shoemakers from the 18th century (feeble joke alert). We could look to see if shoemakers regularly made skates in smaller or women's sizes. If they did, we could conclude women skated, even if women did it only when in private parties.

Women were certainly skating openly and in public by the later 19th century. Think of later 19th century Christmas postcards with genteel women on skates with muffs in their hands. Or do these come from the early 20th century?

To this later 20th century person it just seemed so unfair that the Austen women should go on a long walk on a very cold morning to watch someone else skate. They should skate too.

Ellen Moody

From: Francis F Steen
To: Ellen Moody
Subject: Did women skate?

Dear Ellen,

I don't have a copy myself, but I recall some of Brueghel's paintings of winter scenes with skaters -- this would of course have been much earlier, and in Holland, so it didn't seem appropriate to the list, but you might find it of interest. I'm also thinking of the "little ice age" -- I don't have the precise dates, but as you probably recall, the Thames was regularly frozen during the winters of the 1680s and I believe there are prints of all the activities on the ice -- unfortunately I haven't seen any, and would be very interested to hear if you come across one. Winters nowadays in the south of England rarely have enough cold weather even to freeze the ponds; was this different in Austin's time? I'm guessing women were more likely to skate if there were more opportunities, or perhaps if it had practical value, as it might in the Lake District. Wordsworth speaks of skating in the Prelude -- a beautiful passage (the 1797 version below), yet not helpful for your purposes!

Best wishes,
Francis Steen

And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows through the twilight blazed,
I heeded not their summons. Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six; I wheeled about
Proud and exulting, like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel,
We hissed along the polished ice in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase
 And woodland pleasures, the resounding horn,
The pack loud bellowing, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle With the din
Meanwhile, the precipices rang aloud;
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while the distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy, not unnoticed; while the stars,
Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.

Not seldom from the uproar I retired
Into a silent bay, or sportively
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
To cut across the shadow of a star
That gleamed upon the ice. And oftentimes
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short--yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me, even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round.
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a summer sea.

Dear Francis,

Thank you for those beautiful lines. I shall go look at the Brueghel, but, as you say, it's Dutch, much earlier in time, and peasants to boot. Another source would be Gay's Trivia.

I wonder if Cowper goes skating? I doubt it. He just sits in front of the fire with his tea and newspaper and dreams.


Subject: THIN ICE
From: Betty RW Rizzo

Dear Ellen, Thanks for your interesting reply. I should add, since you're interested in Althorp, that I've been through the Spencer papers in the BL and learned a lot about Lady Spencer. She's interesting because she did as she liked, though she kept many of her avocations secret, studying Greek and Latin early in the morning with her local clergyman, for instance, and walking out later to visit her almshouses very publicly! But she had all the money she needed and all the station, and was very lucky in her husband, who had been prohibited by his grandmother the Duchess of Marlborough from ever taking public office and who was a bit of a valitudinarian as well, so they were pretty nigh equal. She was obviously an athlete, skating, riding, hunting, fishing (again, in private at home in her own pools and rivers) and walking madly for miles.

You didn't respond to my second note about the Raeburn painting, so perhaps you didn't receive it. I could without much trouble access the reference to the Althorp skating party, if it's where I think I used it. And, finally, the prints mentioned by Frank F. sound very intriguing to me--could you possibly share the references (as I'm still working on my project). If only the prints under skating in the index of the BL catalogue, I've seen that, so don't bother--and as I recollect, that is what he mentioned.

Finally, I would say you are right: if Austen skated at all, she wouldn't mention it!

Best, Betty R.

It would be great if you came to ECASECS--Linda Merians has said she'd love to meet you, and I would too.

Dear Betty, Yes I just reached your second post. I have Amanda Foreman's Duchess of Devonshire which I mean to read (as I do so many books -- I am grinning). The problem with these half-popular books is they always dwell on sex. I glanced at this one and it does too. Someone recently told me about a book called _A History of Walking_; it's by Rebecca Solnit and said to contain a section on Austen. I have bought an inexpensive copy on the Net, and am waiting for it. Austen walked, frequently and for long ways. Ordinary people did before the railway.

I have only one reference. In Austen's letter to Cassandra (so of course she was not of the party) dated 7-8 January 1807, she describes how 'we' re going to see Frank skate 'which he hopes to do in the meadows by the beach', and then 'we are to treat ourselves with a passage over the ferry' (Le Faye, p. 117). Although it's not althetics, she describes very long walks in the few letters we have extant by her from Bath. Yes, if it is really not too much trouble, I would like the reference in the letter. I am trying to think of what kind of an individual Austen was in life. Her novels omit so much of ordinary life, and most of her letters to Cassandra were destroyed and those left to us bowdlerised that this is no easy task.

It is very good of you to urge me to come to these meetings. I do think of it.


Hi Ellen Moody,

An ajacent query would be whether 18C women skated in the "most skating" of all european countries: Holland. I.e. When it became accepted? Since Holland was the first modern nation, perhaps it also lead the way in this regard. Again, paintings and prints would answer the question.

Bruce M.

Dear Bruce,

Yes someone off-list suggested Holland: after all skating there would be a practical way of getting from one place to another too.


Subject: Thin ice
From: Betty RW Rizzo

Dear Ellen,

I resorted to my Spencer file and found what I was looking for. It's not as definite that the ladies skated as I remember. The letter is actually published, but first, in Historical Manuscripts Commission vol 42, the letters of Lord Carlisle, p. 227: on Jan. 5, 1768 George Selwyn informs Carlisle that March is still at Lord Spencer's "where he amuses himself, as he tells me, excessively." p. 229: on Jan. 15, he tells Carlisle that March was leaving Althorp that day. This is a necessary comment, for in the relevant passage about skating, it isn't said where March is!

Jesse's volumes on Selwyn (don't have the precise title here), 2:213-4 (31 Dec. 1767) "We are now all going to the ice, which is quite like a fair. There is a tent, with strong beer, cold meat, &c., where Lady Spencer and our other ladies go an airing. Lord Villiers left us this morning. Adieu, my dear George! I am in haste to go to the great rendezvous upon the canal." So, they are all going to the ice, but it isn't clear if they all skated. I do believe Lady S. would have.

I have notes from the Althorp Chase Books. Every Christmas their friends assembled to foxhunt. P. 134 of book: members included Lord and Lady Jersey, Mr. and Mrs. Bouverie, Lord and Lady Pembroke, Lord and Lady Spencer, Lady Charles Spencer, Lady Clermont, Mrs. Poyntz, Mr. and Mrs. Garrick, Miss Lloyd, and Miss Shipley. Again, it isn't clear that the women actually rode, but the Duke of Devonshire was a member, and the duchess (the Spencer's daughter) was not. There were other male members whose wives weren't listed. Actually, the Chase Book, which gave details of each hunt, might well mention the feats of women riders. I didn't at the time look for that.

I'm into this subject and don't mean to bore you. I have a hunch the Raeburn painting is what would help, and it must be about the right date for Austen.

Best, Betty

To C18-l July 3, 2000

Re: They'll console themselves with skating (Was 'Did women skate? ...)

I have had a large number of such generous replies on this topic whose leads I mean to go into that I want to reciprocate by amusing. It would seem from the replies off-list that before the later 19th century when postcards and such like show us upper class genteel or WASP type gentlewomen skating, women did skate in the Scandanavian and Dutch regions. Skating was a practical way to get from one place to another. It was also probably accepted among working class women and done in private in somewhat warmer climates like Great Britain. However, it's very hard to find some documentation. As I remarked late the other night, shoemakers didn't preserve their inventories for us.

However, I have come across a passage in The Last Chronicle of Barset (I carry on reading Trollope) which is directly relevant to Jane Austen. It connects skating to hunting and billiards as a man's activity for English gentry.

It is winter and poor Rev Crawley has been accused of stealing 20. All good people (including the reader) know this man of adamantine integrity could not possibly have done such a thing. Nonetheless, he is arraigned and must stand trial in April; in the meantime his daughter, Grace, can no longer teach at a respectable school, for her presence threatens their respectability; alas, it costs her mother, Mrs Crawley, to to feed her and she just may ensnare Archdeacon Grantly's son from afar (no one admits this motive openly) if she goes to live with Lily Dale and her mother. All contrive to manage this. Then Lily picks Grace up at the railway station in a pony carriage (the Squire's -- he having the dough for this) on a frozen day, both 'starved to death'; as the two young women go into the house, Lily remarks:

"'It's all up with Bernard and Mr Green [two neighborhood gentleman-squires] for the next week at least. It is freezing as hard as it can freeze, and they might as well try to hunt in Lapland as here.

'They'll console themselves with skating', said Mrs Dale.

'Have you ever observed, Grace', said Miss Dale, 'how much amusement gentlemen require, and how imperative it is that some other game should be provided when one game fails?'

'Not particularly', said Grace.

[But then Grace is not very observant.]

'Oh, but it is so' [says Lily]. Now, with women, it is supposed that they can amuse themselves or live without amusement. Once or twice in a year, perhaps something is done for them. There is an arrow-shooting party, or a ball, or a picnic. But the catering for men's sport is never ending, and is always paramount to everything else. And yet the pet game of the day never goes properly off. In partridge time, the partridges are wild, and won't come to be killed. In hunting time the foxes won't run straight, -- the wretches. They show no spirit, and wil take to ground to save their brushes. Then comes a nipping frost, and skating is proclaimed; but the ice is always rough, and the woodcocks have deserted the country. And as for salmon, -- when the summer comes round I do really believe that they suffer a reat deal about the samon. I'm sure they never catch any. So they go back to their clubs and their cards ...

On the other hand, we are told that Mr Green who is other otherwise 'such a duck of a man, -- such top- boots and all the rest of it ...', yet it is 'whispered' that 'he doesn't always ride to the hounds'. And while to watch him play billiards 'is beautiful, he never can make a stroke'. Trollope is often quietly bawdy. Take it from me. Thus Lily hopes that Grace plays billiards 'because Uncle Christopher has just had a new table put up'. Grace, who is as virtuous as her father, of course 'never saw a billiard table'. And so it goes.

Here is evidence that in private women may do what men do in public. Well, we knew that, didn't we?

Yet at the same time it is clear from the passage that skating is a man's activity ... Women may shoot arrows: there's a Cupid-Eros link here. They may dance and go on picnics. All but the first we see Austen heroines go in for.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Subject: Women Skating
From: "Susan A. Nash"
To: Ellen Moody

Dear Ellen --

Not a scholarly enough posting for the list, nor even the longest 18th century, but a very enlarged detail of the "soaring bird" from Pieter Bruegel the elder's Hunters in the Snow (1565 -- Oil on panel, 117 x 162 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna ), available at -- sorry can't get the hypertext to work, I'll try an attachment) clearly shows women skating. Surely women in Scandanavian countries have skated since there were skates. I know I've seen 18th century folk art of American women skating, too, but where? Winterthur? I wonder if satires are the best evidence for female skating. It was probably less risible than women driving carriages, hunting (with rifles), engaging in archery contests, and playing cricket, all of which are satirized in 18th century caricatures.

With Austen I suspect female skating is one of those pleasures (like rolling down the hill) Catharine will have to forego if she's to be married even to the likes of Henry Tilney. (It isn't fair.) Girls and working class women I'll bet skated, but I'm hard-pressed to provide much evidence.

Susan Nash

To C18-l

Re: Skating as a Man's Activity

I promise this will be my last one on this topic. Is it not curious which activities are seen as socially acceptable for women and which not? I can see hunting as a male preserve. This is primeval; go back to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is a bloodsport and the franker depictions of the final kill are savage scenes. I can see billiards as male. It's at least competitive; around the table, the males are drinking liquor, smoking; they do it at their clubs as a way of killing time together. Competitive team sports have long been male preserves; numbers of them are violently aggressive.

But ice skating? It's not competitive; it's not a bloodsport; it's innocent -- outside in lovely landscapes of snow and ice. It's not conducive to sex. It's too cold; you are all bundled up.

Yet women are encouraged to do archery. Of course they are aiming at a target not another person. Still ... And it does seem that lawn tennis and bicycle-riding were socially acceptable for women from their inception as a popular social activity at the end of the 19th century.


Ellen Moody

Sender: 18th Century Interdisciplinary Discussion
From: Roy Flannagan
 Subject: Skating as a Man's Activity

At 07:37 AM 7/4/00 -0400, you wrote:

"I promise this will be my last one on this topic. Is it not curious which activities are seen as socially acceptable for women and which not? I can see hunting as a male preserve."

Yes, except for Diana and the Amazons. And there is something monstrous about a woman hunter turning on a man as when Diana turns on Actaeon in revenge for the male gaze.

"This is primeval; go back to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is a bloodsport and the franker depictions of the final kill are savage scenes."

I have always wondered if Sir Gawain hunts out of sexual displacement or frustration, as many men do.

" I can see billiards as male. It's at least competitive; around the table, the males are drinking liquor, smoking ..."

The cigars may be off-putting, on purpose, to keep women out of the smoke-filled room. When women started smoking, they violated the sanctity of the smoker.

"they do it at their clubs as a way of killing time together. Competitive team sports have long been male preserves; numbers of them are violently aggressive."

The recent release of women into competitive sports (usually with other women) shows them as violently aggressive as well. Kathleen Turner did a kind of parodic woman detective, V. I. Whateversky, who actually got punched in the mouth, and did that to other people. A woman can be violently aggressive with a tennis racquet (see under "killer instinct").

"But ice skating? It's not competitive; it's not a bloodsport ..."

Think hockey, ma'am. That sport as played in North America is as close to naked male aggression as any gladiator contest ever was, though the contestants usually don't die.

"it's innocent -- outside in lovely landscapes of snow and ice. It's not conducive to sex."

Doesn't ice hockey have groupies? And isn't a ski lodge (if not the restaurant at Rockefeller Center) a place for liaisons?

"It's too cold; you are all bundled up."

I said the same thing about a sauna once, for the opposite reason (too hot), and was quickly corrected by a female student.

"Yet women are encouraged to do archery. Of course they are aiming at a target not another person."

Except maybe for Diana and Niobe's kids?

"Still ... And it does seem that lawn tennis and bicycle-riding were socially acceptable for women from their inception as a popular social activity at the end of the 19th century."

Bicycle riding was probably liberating at the time, with speed and exhilaration, if not aggressive driving. Picturing my grandmother as a suffragette on a bike is a happy image.

Roy Flannagan

Sender: 18th Century Interdisciplinary Discussion
From: Peter Radford
Subject: Skating as a Man's Activity

The suitability of one activity or another for men/women does seem odd at times, but it may well be the physicality of skating that made men take it up and consider it as their own, as much as anything else. This seems to be the explanation for why men similarly commandeered bell-ringing. Indeed, feats of bell ringing were reported as a sporting activity alongside cricket and hunting in the press, but as far as I know men did not bet on it, could not show-off about it, and it must have been fairly low on the list for making sexual conquests ('though, I may be wrong on that). The dum-bell eventually became a key training device not only for 18c athletes but also when other 18c men trained for exercise and health.

We must also remember that all these discussions about the 'acceptability' of various activities for men/women only refers to those in the top bands of the social strata. The 'lower orders' which comprised the majority, were free to do pretty well as they liked. This is why foot-races for women and girls were so common in village fairs and revels, whilst at the same time running as a sport would have been considered most unsuitable for 'ladies' or for those from the 'genteel' or 'refined' classes.

Peter Radford

The only literary ice skating that comes to mind is the first part of Woolf's Orlando where the 17th-century aristocrats skate on the frozen Thames. On the basis of Orlando I'm not sure you can say skating isn't conducive to sex. Much flirtation goes on . . . as it still does among the early-teens crowd skating at the local shopping mall. In Orlando the skating is somewhere between a dance and a masquerade, with the elegance of graceful movement balanced by the ease of escape and pursuit. The hero(ine) falls madly in love on the ice, and alas, his true love's heart proves not much warmer.

Allen Michie

Subject: Skating as a Man's Activity

Dear Ellen and all,

Archery may have been a fashionable sport for ladies both because it does not disarrange clothing much and because it harkens back to the image of the goddess Diana, a lady well able to defend her chastity and integrity (by well-aimed arrows if need be) against the onslaught of boorish would-be ravishers.

Happy Fourth to all, Jim

Amber Vogel

Subject: Skating as a Man's Activity

Ellen Moody wrote:

"But ice skating? It's not competitive; it's not a bloodsport; it's innocent -- outside in lovely landscapes of snow and ice. It's not conducive to sex. It's too cold; you are all bundled up."

An alternative view is presented in Thomas Love Peacock's GRYLL GRANGE (1861), in a scene entitled "Pas de Deux on the Ice". Lord Curryfin asks Miss Niphet if she has ever skated:

"She answered: 'I have skated often in our grounds at home.' 'Then why not now?' he asked. She answered: 'I have never done it before so many witnesses.' 'But what is the objection?' he asked. 'None that I know of,' she answered. 'Then,' he said, 'as I have done or left undone some things to please you, will you do this one thing to please me?' 'Certainly,' she replied: adding to herself: 'I will do anything in my power to please you.'"

Observing Lord Curryfin and Miss Niphet as they skate together, the Rev. Dr. Opimian remarks: "They remind me of the mythological fiction that Jupiter made men and women in pairs, like the Siamese twins; but in this way they grew so powerful and presumptuous, that he cut them in two; and now the main business of each half is to look for the other; which is very rarely found, and hence so few marriages are happy. Here the two true halves seem to have met."

I should mention, too, that the initial hestiancy to skate is shared by men and women in this scene. Miss Gryll does not skate: "I have tried it,' she said, 'but unsuccessfully. I admire it extremely, and regret my inability to participate in it.'" Mr. Macborrowdale says, "I should be very glad to cut eights and nines with his lordship: but the only figure I should cut would be that of as many feet as would measure my own length on the ice." Even the impressive Lord Curryfin had practiced his figures (and taken "two or three tumbles") for an hour before breakfast: "He thought it would be best to try his experiment without witnesses." Hesitancy in these cases seems to be related to understandable concerns about skating poorly, particularly before spectators!

Best wishes,

To C18-l

July 5, 2000

Re: Skating as Socialising, Class and Sexual Activity

This is to thank everyone. I now see that skating does indeed have a sexual dimension. The passages from Orlando are especially intriguing. Thank you for that reply. I hadn't thought about the extent to which how we appear before others also influences who skates and who doesn't. When you are not racing on skates in a contest, it is a kind of stage-y activity. One reason the passage in Austen in which the women don't ice-skate intrigued me is ice-skating is one of the few sports I have ever engaged in. When I was young I did bike-ride, jump rope, play in school in games we were pushed into (stick- or soft-ball, a form of baseball for girls, volley-ball, which I liked), and I swam. But I never thought about these things very much -- as opposed to skating, where, for example, my parents had to buy for me what were seen as expensive ice-skates and I had to travel to where I could do it, so the activity assumed an importance or dimension other activities didn't. (I got all the bikes I ever owned from the Salvation Army.) I stopped skating for various reasons, but one was that my first husband was sometimes upset that I didn't do it very well, didn't look good on the ice. He would bother me about it & try to get me to skate better or faster or look more like others did. I rebelled, refused to go along but the sense that others saw it that way was an inhibition. There was also dressing up for it, an outfit -- so we have a money element too. The Austens were not exactly rich, and skates just for Frank made for less expense than skates for all. In short at least in our time and perhaps earlier maybe there is a show-off aspect to ice-skating; we see this on TV today when ice-skating is presented; and in your passage we see this has always been so. I would think it might be especially true of gentry where you are not skating as a practical thing.

Yes and I agree we should not forget we are just talking about an upper strata of society, and a female one. Probably then the social unacceptability of ice-skating for genteel and upper class women connects to sex, as most of the prohibitions that hindered these women from living freer more interesting varied lives often came down to preventing them from getting involved with men sexually, even in the more casual ways.

As a coda or extension to this theme of what is 'socially acceptable' for men and women to participate in, I'd like to add that in NYC in the 1950s and 1960s girls were placed in different gyms than boys and often played different games or different versions of games. Both my daughters in Alexandria, Va (a town just outside Washington DC) were in gyms with boys and girls intermingled. So everyone played together, and from what they said, the same games, mostly it appears soccer. They wear the same outfits: t-shirts and short pants for all. (In the 1950s and 60s girls in NYC had the most absurd skirted gym outfits.) I can't say that either girl liked gym very much though, and will say the emphasis on athletics as opposed to academic achievement in high school skews school atmosphere in a way deleterious to academic achievement and pride in what you accomplish in the classroom.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2000 14:04:22 +0200
From: Paul Goring
Subject: Skating and sex

Dear Ellen Moody,

I'm afraid I haven't been following your skating thread but I read your last message on the subject and it immediately brought Woolf's Orlando to mind (I suspect it's already been mentioned, which is why I write to you rather than the list). The skating scenes in Orlando, with their playful approach to gender roles, seem to strike at the heart of your interest, particularly:

"When the boy, for alas, a boy it must be - no woman could skate with such speed and vigour - swept almost on tiptoe past him, Orlando was ready to tear his hair with vexation that the person was of his own sex, and thus all embraces were out of the question. But the skater came closer. Legs, hands, carriage, were a boy's, but no boy ever had a mouth like that ..... She was a woman ...' (pp.26-27 in my Penguin edition)."

I hope this might be of interest.

Paul Goring

Dr Paul Goring
Engelsk institutt
NTNU Trondheim
7491 Dragvoll

From: Paul Jacob
Subject: Skating as Socialising, Class and Sexual Activity

At 09:27 AM 7/5/00 -0400, you wrote:

"skating does indeed have a sexual dimension."

See Fontane, Effi Briest for sexual symbolism of skating & swinging

Subject: Women Skating
From: "Susan A. Nash"
To: Ellen Moody

Dear Ellen --

Not a learned enough observation for the list, but surely women skated in North America in the 18th century, and in all Scandanavian countries centuries before. I think I've seen visual representations of both, but, alas, the sources escape me. (To some extent no doubt a reverse class

Sender: 18th Century Interdisciplinary Discussion
From: Rictor Norton
Subject: Skating is for everyone

As some contributors to the skating thread have noted, skating was not limited only to men, but was a pleasure also shared by women, despite the infrequent evidence for this. Skating had been popular in the Netherlands from the middle ages, and there are a lot of 17th century paintings and prints which show Dutch women skating, not only peasants but also the middling sort of people.

"Stonehenge" (the editor of The Field etc.) in his book British Rural Sports (1867) has an article on skating accompanied by a woodcut illustrating a lady and gentleman (she wearing a voluminous skirt, he brandishing a gold-tipped cane aloft), and there is no suggestion whatsoever that this sport is not suitable for women.

Norman Wymer in his book Sport in England (1949) mentions the famous time when the Thames froze solid in the winter of 1715-16 when all London made merry on the ice including "men and women whirling themselves dizzy" on sleds and skates. The crowds included royalty and the nobility as well as the middling classes. Wymer says that the fashion for figure skating was introduced from Holland by the Royalists during the Restoration. But British weather (Britain has a temperate climate) usually was not very suitable during the 18th century and the popularity of skating waned, but a series of hard winters during the early 19th century caused skating to come into vogue again, first in the Fen country with its extensive marshes and in the Norfolk Broads. By the 1820s skating became a competitive sport and men held races against one another, to which women were only spectators rather than participants. It became a very highly organized international competition sport for men by the 1870s. But women were not excluded from figure skating. Artificial rinks were created in the 1840s, but didn't become popular until the 1870s, in Manchester, when "men, women and children" increasingly enjoyed themselves on the ice. Women's hockey teams were organized from the 1890s.

Incidentally, the man most responsible for popularizing the art of ice-skating was Captain Robert Jones. His book "A Treatise on Skating" was first published in London in 1772, possibly in more than one edition; reissued with engravings in 1775; second edition in 1780, with a song, "The Skaters' March"; and many other editions, e.g. in 1797, 1823, 1825, 1855. (He also wrote "A New Treatise on Artificial Fireworks", 1765; also frequently reprinted.)

Skates manufactured to Jones's designs could be bought at Riccard's Manufactory in London. He was one of the first people to advocate the firm attachment of the skates to the shoes (by means of screws through the heels) rather than by means of straps and clips, in effect to make the skate integral (previously skaters had to keep retying the skates to their shoes, and they kept falling off). He wrote, "An easy movement and graceful attitude are the sole objects of our attention."

Jones gives various instructions on how to achieve plain skating, graceful rolling, and the spiral line, especially its most elegant attitude - "the flying Mercury" (for which he provides a delightful illustration).

Though called Captain Jones, he was actually a Lieutenant in the artillery corps of the army. In July 1772 he was convicted at the Old Bailey for sodomy upon Francis Henry Hay, aged thirteen. The newspapers debated his guilt or innocence, as he was a famous character in eighteenth-century popular culture: for example he would go to masquerades dressed in the character of Punch. He was undoubtedly guilty and was sentenced to death, but on the day he was scheduled to be hanged, 11 August 1772, this was respited to imprisonment, and one month later he was granted a pardon by King George III on condition he go into exile. A newspaper reported in June 1773 that "The famous Capt. Jones lives now in grandeur with a lovely Ganymede (his footboy) at Lyons, in the South of France."

There are many allusions to the scandal in contemporary satires and poetry. One example is the "Latin Epitaph on Bob Jones," published in a newspaper in July 1773:

Underneath this stone there lies
A face turn'd downward to the skies;
A captain who employ'd his parts
Upon male bums, not female hearts:
Who turn'd his arms not against foes,
But against friends, whence Sodom rose,
And vile Gomorrah horrid fell,
To court th' unnatural flames of hell;
Because he err'd from nature's ways,
Nature despis'd him all his days,
Till being to Jack Ketch consign'd,
For crime of crimes, and dirty mind,
He was repriev'd from gallows death,
At Tyburn had resign'd his breath;
But George, in vengeance, let him live,
Like Cain, till conscience should forgive.

Jones's "Treatise on Skating" was published during the course of his trial, and sales were probably helped by his notoriety. Unfortunately this great Queen on Ice seems to have been written out of the history of the sport.

Rictor Norton, London

This is to thank Rictor Norton. I am actually delighted to think that all women skated even if the evidence for this is thin. The story of the Queen of the Ice is good.

So now I am back to my original question: why then did Jane Austen not skate with her brother? She was only a year younger. I doubt she was pregnant. Apparently she could even get cheap skates. Actually she doesn't participate in any sports that I can see from the letters -- just walking. She doesn't hunt or ride -- which her brothers do. She plays cards and games in the house. She walks a whole lot -- as I do. (I just bought a wonderful book called The History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit which I mean to cheer myself with this weekend.) I rush to say I think nothing wrong in not participating in any sport whatsoever. I don't. She reads. I can't disapprove of that; prefer it myself. Still walking is not what is meant by the word 'sport'. So maybe it does tell us something particular about her even if only something negative in the sense that she doesn't do it, not in the sense that she ought to have. That was really my original interest. What was this author like as a real personality, what did she go in for and what did she not do. Then to build a picture.

Claudia Johnson and other writers go on about Elizabeth Bennet's one big walk where she gets all muddy. However, besides a couple of other long walks in the books, none of the Austen heroines go in for sports or other physical activities. Fanny Price has to overcome a neurasthenic reluctance to get on her pony. Again, I'm not critical of her for this. I find nothing particularly admirable in people born with genes which encourages them into sports (a disposition for this is another way of putting this).

There is the Trollope passage suggests that a strata of English society in the mid-19th century again saw skating as an activity for gentlemen not ladies.

It may be that in their fictions meant for middle class readers both these authors are particularly neanderthal in the area of sports for women as in other areas. Trollope has heroines who hunt and ride, but he makes it clear that this shows they are sexy or aggressive, and while he's attracted as a man, as an author he doesn't quite approve. I'll conclude by saying that perhaps this strain of conventionality in Trollope and perhaps a truthfulness about competitive sports finally relating to herself in Austen is why they have maintained their apparent popularity.


Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 12:00:01 -0500 (CDT)
From: Jan Wellington
To: Ellen Moody
Subject: Skating is for everyone

Dear Ellen:

With Austen's letters in mind, I'd say her favorite "sports" were reading, writing, intimate conversation, laughing, joking, gossip, shopping, and dancing. (And then, perhaps, after she'd passed the dancing /courting age, the pleasures of getting tipsy by the fire and laughing at the dancers.)

I think of Catherine Moreland delighting in rough-and-tumble activites as a child and then seemingly "graduating" to dancing, walking for social/aesthetic pleasure, and being driven (decorously) in a carriage. (Of course, there's the "sport" of Gothic exploration--both stimulating and laughable.) I get the sense that the grown Austen may simply have preferred mental to bodily stimulation--a matter of personal proclivity or taste. She strikes me as such an observer: a natural-born looker-on (or "sports commentator"?). Of course, her "taste" could have been informed by an unconscious association of strenuous (adult) physical activity with sex . . . but this is mere speculation. I think of Fanny Price joyfully dancing with her brother--definitely an approved activity--and wish, like you, that Jane had skated with hers.

I'm sure these observations are flavored by my own preferences: with the exception of walking, sex, and dancing (when tipsy), my favorite sports are mostly mental--reading, writing, and talk. One thing I hate about traditional sports is the fuss, bother, time and expense of equipping oneself. And then one looks so silly unless one has mastered the requisite equipment and technique, and sometimes even then. The truth is, I dread making a spectacle of myself. While I hope I have the sense not to mistake myself for Austen, or my world for hers, I can't help thinking we may share some of these preferences and aversions. And perhaps, after all, the bottom line may be she simply felt sports to be ungenteel for a woman of her position--and perhaps the tenuousness of her position reinforced her seeming aversion.

For what it's worth!

Jan Wellington

P.s. Offhand, I can't think of Austen treating ANY sportsman kindly in her novels. Which brings to mind the following 1798 poem by your "namesake," Elizabeth Moody--whom I consider Austen's sister-in-wit:

To a Gentleman, Who Invited Me to Go a Fishing

For vacant hours of Man's destructive leisure,
Were sports invented of the barb'rous kind;
But tempt not me to share thy cruel pleasure.--
No sports are guiltless to the feeling mind

And thou who know'st the charms of letter'd taste,
Whose treasur'd memory classic stores commands,
Shalt thou thy valuable moments waste,
Saunt'ring by streams with Fish-rods in thy hands?

Shall I who cultivate the Muse's lays
And pay my homage at Apollo's shrine?
Shall I to torpid Angling give my days,
And change poetic wreaths for Fishing-line?

Sit like a statue by the placid lake,
My mind suspended on a Gudgeon's fate?
Transported if the silly fish I take;
Chagrin'd and weary, if it shuns the bait.
- - - -

(True, fishing isn't skating, and JA wasn't, as far as I can tell, an animal advocate--but note the preference for mental "sport.")

Dear Jan,

Thank you for letter and the poem. I like 18th century poetry. I agree with much of what you say, and also tend to see Austen as something like myself -- someone who likes to walk, read, write, and talk to like-minded people. The word 'sport' connotes competition too; the desire to triumph, so maybe we could see flirting as a sort of sport. I wonder how much Austen liked competition; except for Emma her heroines eschew it. You are right that Austen's favorite males are not hunters: says Edward Ferrars, 'everyone does not hunt'. I believe we are told that Admiral Crofts like to go shooting, but doesn't kill birds. Austen is sarcastic about shooting and killing birds in one of her letters. Maybe you would like A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit; I tell myself I will not be so virtuous this weekend, and put away the 'serious reading towards my book' and read that one.


Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 18:55:23 -0400
Subject: [trollope-l] Diet

On a slightly different tack, isn't it amazing how much meat in general, and how few vegetables seem to be eaten. I wonder how their digestive systems could have worked. I think the poorer people got enough whole grains--just a guess--but upperclass people seem to have even eaten meat for breakfast. Never a mention of salad --and surely fruit was only for a short season. Is this a true picture, or just the way it sounds in fiction? Is there somewhere I could read about food in this period?

Judy Warner

From Angela:

The brick maker, Dan Morris, says to Josiah Crawley that "I'd 've arned three and six here at brick making easy". This puts his income about 50/60 per year - half that of Mr Crawley.

Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2000 06:52:07 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Reverend Crawley's dilemma

Ellen posted a while ago about the central mystery of the cheque in this novel. I've been intrigued.

As Trollope lovers, everyone will be delighted to learn that The Last Chronicle comes in at No 2 of the Guardian's recommended 100 classic summer novels. Described as "containing the near impossibility - the sympathetic portrait of an incredibly unsympathetic hero. A masterpiece." Perhaps not surprisingly, this is Joanna Trollope's choice.

I like the way in which Trollope works with the idea of the public handling of a very painful private situation. We got it in The Warden, The Small House and in Orley Farm and now in The Last Chronicle. I think he does this extremely well and makes us feel those lacerations of the spirit in an indirect way.


Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2000 16:33:48
Subject: [trollope-l] Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 7-11: The Whole Cast Now On- Stage

"The folks at the Parsonage form a chorus.

I particularly liked Mrs. Thorne's comment about the "wiseacres at Silverbridge"

and then the disbelief present when the men explained to the women that they had to do what the lawyer said but ladies could not understand that ...

and later when Mrs. Grantly warns the archdeacon "'Archdeacon,' said his wife, cautioning him to repress his energy."

This is the first time I remember her saying anything to him outside of their bedchamber.

I do love this book and find it hard to comment without giving too much away to those who haven't read it yet.


From Michael Powe:

In fact, according to Gay (in, I believe, The Education of the Senses), infant and mother mortality among the poor was actually better than it was among the bourgeois. This was because at that time, the poor went to hospital for maternity, whereas the bourgeois stayed at home. The hospitals were more sanitary and the risks of infections after childbirth were less.


Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 00:25:22 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Cheques (or Checks)

I earlier explained a little about cheques (I prefer to use the older form of spelling - checks are rather flamboyant trousers for playing golf in here, or going to parties in in the USA!). I need to explain a little more; I am not an expert in banking, but I don't think I am making any errors in what I write.

We are speaking now of the banking situation in a small town, in a period 150 years ago, and it applied much like this until within the last 20 years or so. The concept of nationwide banks did not apply at the time. Now in the UK, Ireland and on the continent of Europe most of the small bank companies have amalgamated into giant banking corporations (and gone to Hell in a handcart!); we are speaking of a period before this.

The bank in question might have had six or eight branches in a specific area; it might have had some form of liaison with a London bank, who presented its cheques to the Central Clearing House. But within its own immediate area it handled everything. Cheques presented in its offices would be sorted every day; those drawn on its branches would be charged against the relevant accounts; those drawn on other banks (not within the small group we speak of) would be sent to the Central Clearing House for presentation to the bank on which they were drawn.

A cheque is a written order to the bank to pay the payee (the person named on the cheque) a sum of money. The standard cheque form, which names the bank, has a blank space for the payee. This space is followed by the words "or order". So if I write a cheque for Mickey Mouse, it reads "Pay Mickey Mouse or order 100". Now it can be "negotiated". Mickey Mouse can turn up at the bank and say "Please cash this", and if they like his face, and are reasonably sure he is Mickey Mouse, they give him the money.

In the good old days of which we speak, Mickey Mouse might owe Fred Flintstone 100. So he gives him my cheque, and Fred turns up at the bank to get the money. Same story - if they like his face, and if the cashier thinks I have the money to meet the cheque, they give him the money. The person actually getting the money signs the back of the cheque as a form of receipt. In due course, the paid cheque is returned to me as the account holder (no longer returned - another good custom bites the dust!). On the front, it says "Pay Mickey Mouse". On the back is Fred Flintstone's signature (or mark, with his name written by the bank clerk, if FF can't write). So I am able to say that MM gave the cheque to FF. The path can be extended - Fred could have given it to Barney Rubble in settlement of some gambling debt. Barney could have given it to ... and so on. But one thing is certain - the person who actually got the money would have signed the back of the cheque. It was the responsibility of the person who presented the cheque at the bank to be able to prove that he had that cheque legally. It was often the case that a cheque would be presented by a "third party", who was only acting as a messenger. So Fred might not be able to get to the bank, and would endorse the cheque, and Wilma would bring the cheque into the bank and get the money. I have known cases where such a third party presenter was not given money into his/her hand, but an envelope addressed to the person who had endorsed the cheque, containing the correct amount of money.

The cheque was written by Lord Lufton on his bankers in London, in favour of Mr Soames his agent, to repay Soames who had given him 20 in cash. The cheque was presented to the Barchester bank by "a brickmaker of Hoggle End". The bank don't like this (I did say that they had to like your face!), but next day he turns up with the back of the cheque signed by Josiah Crawley, and a note from Josiah Crawley asking that the cheque be cashed and the cash given to the brick maker, and of course, Josiah Crawley being a clergyman, they cash the cheque.

In due course, the cheque is presented to the bank on which it is drawn in London and the 20 (already paid) passed down to the bank in Barchester to reimburse them. Then Soames, as Lord Lufton's agent, notices that the cheque has been paid, and asks (not clear just who, though I suspect the police became involved early on; once they are involved it is difficult to get them off the case) that Crawley be asked where he got the cheque.

Crawley says that he got it from Soames. Now he did get 20 4 shillings from Soames, certainly, but this turns out to have been in the form of a cheque written on Soames's own account (probably a Lufton estate account) on a Barchester bank . So Crawley is asked again where he got the cheque and he says "wasn't it Soames? Must have been from the Dean"; they ask the Dean, and he says he didn't give Crawley the cheque.

So there is the scenario: Crawley has undoubtedly received 20 for a cheque he does not appear to be entitled to cash. The police have been brought in, and as "uttering a stolen cheque" is a crime, they must take matters to the correct legal course. Early in The Last Chronicle one can detect that Lord Lufton would have forgotten the matter if he could have, but the involvement of the police prevented this.

The important point is that a cheque is a negotiable instrument, and the person getting value for it must be able to account for his possession of it.

For completeness, I should just cover how a cheque was made "non negotiable". The way to make sure a cheque was paid _only_ into a bank account was to "cross" it, where two diagonal lines were drawn across the cheque and "and Company" written between them (shortened to "& Co"). This meant that the cheque had to be paid into a bank account, but it could still be passed from person to person, although now each person handling it had to endorse the back. To be absolutely certain that it was paid only to the correct person and no other person, you had to cross out the "or order", initial both ends, and if you were really paranoid, write "only" (As in "Pay Mickey Mouse only") and then "cross" the cheque to ensure it was paid only into Mickey Mouse's bank account.

At the time, and probably still today, one did not have to write a cheque on a bank printed form. One could write a cheque on a piece of paper, provided it had the following:

a) Name of Bank and branch on which drawn
b) Name of Payee (Mickey Mouse)
c) Amount of the cheque (100)
d) Signature of the person writing the cheque
e) A stamp for government cheque duty, currently 7 pence in Ireland. One could use postage stamps to that value.

Account numbers? No! Bank sort codes? No! These are all things that the banks use for their convenience. Did I say a piece of paper? Sorry - nearly anything will do. English writer AP Herbert wrote a cheque on the side of a cow, on a flat fish, and I think a boiled egg and a banana skin. He was having a row with his bank at the time. They had to bring the cow for special clearance. I hope they had to specially clear the banking hall after the cow as well!

Rory O'Farrell Email:
Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 10:47:38
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle: The 20 Bill

I'm sure we ought to thank Rory for that thorough explanation of how checks worked, and why the question we are going to confront this week is, How did he get it? The flow and exchange of paper money was different in Trollope's time, different enough to be confusing to us, especially since some of the terminology has remained the same.

I have no expertise in investment, but would say that the process of intimidation is alive and well in banks today still. I know I dislike going into banks to talk with 'counselors'. I always feel awkward in these places because I don't like the sense of being screened. I have always been glad I never worked in such a place.

Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 16:01:23 -0400
Subject: [trollope-l] Cheques (or Checks)

Many thanks to Rory O'Farrell for his short course in negotiable instruments. The difficulty that I've had 'following' the course of Lord Lufton's check may arise from a difference in banking practices. To revert to Rory's fact pattern, Mickey Mouse, in the US, would have to endorse the check before passing it on to Fred Flintstone. Mickey's signature would be proof of Fred's entitlement, so far as the banking system would be concerned. Since Mickey would have to endorse the check anyway, to cash or deposit the check on his own, it's obviously conceivable that Fred could misappropriate the check after Mickey endorsed it but before he had a chance to cash or deposit it. Responsibility for the misappropriation - criminal questions aside - would fall upon Mickey, which is why prudent people don't endorse checks until they're standing in front of a teller.

I gather that Soames had not endorsed the check, as either (a) his signature would not be required by obtaining banking rules or (b) he would not be so careless as to endorse the check prematurely. In the US, the check as such could not be cashed or deposited by Josiah Crawley or his by messenger or for that matter by Bishop Proudie. The absence of Soames' endorsing signature would be an insurmountable obstacle to negotiating the check. If Rory's account of the practices is correct (and I take it to be), then we may see in current American laws at least a measure to prevent accidents like the one befalling Mr. Crawley.

R J Keefe

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 11:23:19 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Cheques

I think that we need to go back to the original law. To quote from my text book, Elements of English Law by William Geldart (Fourth Edition 1948), a cheque is :

"an order for payment of money on demand, drawn on a banker, and expressed to be payable either to bearer or to a named person or his order. If it is payable to bearer, the rights of the holder may be transferred to him by merely handing over the cheque. If payable to order, the holder can transfer his rights only by endorsement i.e. by signing his name on the back. If he so signs without more, the endorsement is said to be in blank, and the cheque becomes payable to bearer. He may, however, make a special endorsement, i.e. order to some other named person, who must again endorse."

The author, writing originally in 1911, goes on to say :

"... any holder of a cheque to bearer - even a thief - can give a good title to one who takes from him for value and in good faith; it passes like money."

This means that even if Mr Crawley had stolen the cheque from Mr Soames, he would have been given value (cash for 20) by the bank in Silverbridge, and the latter would therefore be able to collect the money from Lord Lufton's London bank. Mr Crawley would still have to explain how he came by the cheque, which is the point of the legal proceedings against him. The chequered (!) history of the cheque will come to light later in the novel.

In the period when Trollope was writing, it would have been unusual for cheques to be payable to order, so that Lord Lufton's cheque would have been payable to "Mr Soames" only. I agree with Rory and R J Keefe that if it had been payable to "Mr Soames or Order", there would have had to be a history on the back of the subsequent endorsees. With the increased use of banks and cheques after the second world war it became common, in the interests of security (of the banks probably), for the cheque to be crossed, with or without the addition of "& Co", which meant that it could only be paid by presenting it to a bank. Nowadays, the words "or Order" are left out altogether, and the crossing reads "Account Payee" which makes it almost impossible to use other than by paying it in to the account of the person named on the cheque. This overcomes the problem of tracing the history of a cheque, but makes life very difficult for people without a bank account, of whom there are still a substantial number in the UK. As Rory says, talking about Irish banks, a UK bank might be prepared to make an exception for someone they know, (or can identify by the ears!), or for a relatively small amount of money.

Regards, Howard

Teresa Ransom had written in about checks, and Rory corrected her with a "tut, tut."

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 08:23:28 EDT
Subject: [trollope-l] cheques

Indeed tut tut, - homework inadequately done. However, having now re read chapter 1 as instructed, I remain baffled. It is specifically stated that *the accomodation had been refused to the man at first, [the brickmaker of Hoggle End] but when he presented the cheque the second day, bearing Mr Crawleys name on the back of it, together with a note from Mr Crawley himself, the money had been given for it;* So the cheque written by Lord Lufton in favour of Mr Soames had now been endorsed by Mr Crawley. [and not, one is led to believe by the payee, Mr Soames.]

According to Rory this was an acceptable state of affairs, and would seem to provide compelling evidence of Mr Crawleys guilt. However, in Chapter 8 (TS version p73) it is stated that when Mr Soames discovered the loss of the cheque and the pocket book shortly after his visit to Mr Crawley in the Spring, *He had written and sent to Mr Crawley to enquire, but had been assured that nothing had been found. . . . .He had therefore stopped the cheque at the London bank.*

If the cheque was stopped in the Spring, how was Crawley able to cash it in October, several months later?

Perhaps I am nit picking, but I, like the inhabitants of Barchester and Hogglestock, do like to get the facts straight.

Having said that, I have to admit that I have not yet finished the book, though am enjoying it so much I have rather rushed ahead of the official timetable. No doubt all will be revealed by the last page.


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