Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pleasures & perils of skating

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Loretta reports:

SKATING, a species of exercise upon the ice, performed by means of skates, or wooden soles shod with iron, resembling in shape the keel of a ship : the whole is fastened to the feet, by means of straps.

Skating is a healthy and elegant amusement, well calculated for the severity of winter; as it contributes to promote both insensible perspiration, and the circulation of the blood. Hence, a Society has even been formed in Edinburgh, under the name of the Skating-club ; the avowed object of which is the improvement of this recreation, so as to reduce it to the rules of art.—

Excellence, however, can be attained only by observing the motions of a skilful skater. Let it, therefore, suffice to observe, that this innocent pursuit, especially in the South of Britain, where the winters are generally mild, is highly dangerous ; and ought not to be encouraged, unless the ice be of considerable thickness: at the same time, great precaution is necessary to retire from such enticing diversion in proper time ; because the body, being thrown into sensible perspiration, is thus rendered more susceptible of cold ; and, unless due attention be paid to this circumstance, a fatal CATARRH*  will probably be the consequence.
The Domestic Encyclopaedia, Volume 4, 1802

The Skater (Portrait of William Grant) by Gilbert Stuart, 1782, from the National Gallery, 
Washington, DC

*Inflammation of mucous membrane, especially of nose and throat.


Unknown said...

I've seen this painting in D.C. It's large and its awesome in person! Unfortunately, I can't skate to save my life. I was ok on roller skates with 4 wheels on the ground, but one thin blade does nasty things to my ankles...


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