Page images

inside forwards to the inside backwards, exhausts the combination of edges.

Up to the year 1868, the only work at all worthy of the art was one published in 1852 by Cyclos, and entitled "The Art of Skating," which, although it noticed the one Q figure then generally known, and the use of an opposing curve in the Shamrock, went no farther into intricate movements.

In 1866 one of my figures found its way into the Field, having been sent to that publication, as I afterwards learned, by my coadjutor, Mr. Witham, and is from that paper extracted and engraved in the new edition of the "Art of Skating," by Cyclos, published in 1868, page 59, diagram 5, fig. 1.

This excellent and honest writer there acknowledges "that to unite figures that were already double is more than doubly difficult, and I had never heard of it before;" and farther on, at page 65, remarks that "he is not acquainted with the performances of the London Skating Club." For this reason, probably, he attributes in the preface to his new work more importance to the Canadian Ice Rink" for novelties in figure-skating than it deserves; for on behalf of English skaters who have ever held the first place in that highest branch of our art (for none will deny that from London have emanated the Club Figures), I feel

bound to say, that to no foreign source whatsoever (with one exception) are any of the contents of this work attributable, whether in the single or combined movements of easy or difficult skating. The exception alluded to will be found in the last chapter.

Although the only book worthy of the art is the one by Cyclos, much interesting correspondence relating to skating has occasionally been carried on in the pages of the Field; and in the number for Nov. 30, 1867, some of our Club Figures are given, and engraved, including some of my design, and in that and the succeeding numbers of that excellent publication the correspondence is continued, and my name prominently brought forward.

The principal writer there, M. A. C., who had ably described these figures, was, as I stated in a letter which I addressed to the editor, utterly unrecognised by me, and it was only after some five weeks had elapsed that I became aware, in consequence of a letter he sent me, that he was a member of the Skating Club, with whom I had been acquainted about a year. He informed me that he was writing a treatise on skating, and wished me to look over his list of figures, and add any I thought proper. In reply I said I

should be very pleased, as far as I could with due regard to my own MS., which I had been preparing for publication for some considerable time, and which was then nearly finished. This was his answer: "Dear Vandervell, I am horrified to find that you are writing a work on skating, as I feel that it is death to my little offspring. It would be ridiculous of me to think of publishing what I have written, knowing that you, who are so much more capable, are engaged on the same thing. I will bring my MS. in the hope that it will be of some service to you," &c.

• •


This he did, and I was rejoiced to find that upon all the essential points of skating our experience was identical, often couched in the same words; and that without destroying or altering the plan of my work, which, I am happy to say, had the approval of my friend, I have been enabled from a close study of his to extract from it, and incorporate in mine much valuable matter, and from his suggestions, additions, and corrections, upon the perusal of it, to still farther improve my MS.

I trust that this arrangement will be to the advantage of all who wish to skate; for certainly, notwithstanding the work of Cyclos, and the able

articles in the Field, with both of which every skater ought to be familiar, an entire system of skating has not been given to the public, and indeed never could be without the full recognition and development of the inside edge. I have therefore carried out my views in this work, well knowing that they will be antagonistic to those of many most excellent skaters, but I confidently anticipate that they will nevertheless be acquiesced in by a still larger proportion. The matter is simple: the old school of skaters would bury the inside in oblivion, and be content with a few picked movements. The modern school comprises those who, like ourselves and others, wish to see the inside brought into use for figuring, a host of pure onefooted and difficult feats of balancing added to the old glories of our art, and the system made complete.

On one point all must agree, that enough has not been done by the pen to further the attainment of the finest exercise that exists, to try to weed out the mystery and fable with which it has ever been surrounded, and finally to probe it to the bottom.

Until the subject shall have been taken up by others more competent to do it justice, the authors make their attempt to supply the well-known want.

The engravings of diagrams are from our own drawings, those of skates from photographs of the best kinds in use, whilst the attitudes are from photographs from life.


« PreviousContinue »