Home Site Map Back

National Sports

Source: The Illustrated London News, August 5, 1848

Shoot folly as it flies,

And catch the manners living, as they rise.—POPE.

The autumnal quarter is prodigal of sports in all their infinite variety. During the present month there will be upwards of forty race meetings. August is the especial time for regattas of importance. The people's recreation, cricket, now greatly prevails. Grouse shooting, a class sport, it is true, but one of the wildest known to civilisation, will commence this day week. The angler pants for the running waters-in short, it is the occasion for almost every species of out-door amusement conducive to wholesome enjoyment, manly exertion, and boon intercourse. The turf, however, is without any matter of public account till York, which does not fall till the 23rd. The regatta in Southampton Water can hardly claim the character of a national sailing. The scene is too confined to admit of any display of marine manoeuvre or marine materiel. It was a most pleasant passage of aquatic revelry—a delightful amphibious holiday—but with scarce any higher maritime pretension. The rendezvous of the amateur sailor will presently be beyond the Solent, and then our log will tell of encounters of pith and moment. To be sure, the spirit of yachting in some parts of the gentle and bright is not as courteous as might bet desired; but the purest of blood has had its ills since the days of Virgil, as well as before— "tantoene animis coelestibus iroe?" And now it must be said in sorrow a cloud has come o'er the halcyon course of cricket. This, until the present moon, was the purest of all pure pastimes—the honour of the victory was the player's only lure. But base lucre cast an eye upon it—and lo! there was advertised in the journals a "Grand Cricket Sweep !" Forthwith did Mr. Dank express his "greatest possible objection," and passionate lovers of the game denounced the "pernicious project." Thus bad begun, we come to relate what remained behind. Upon the heels of the cricket lottery trode the following announcement: "Royal Victoria Purse Sweeps I!" This was a little scheme of some five or six thousand pounds, to be decided by means of sailing matches between members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, In the neighbourhood of Ryde, in the course of the present month. At first sight, this seemed another "pernicious project." Your yachtsmen carry things with a high hand, and there promised to be something puzzling to the propriety of the white and the red burgee, in cries of "Go it Godolphin !" " Cut away Cardigan !" and the like. . . . But it is possible those who were alarmed were premature in their anxiety. Is not the whole affair a hoax? In the advertisement, it is stated that "Remittances can be made in Post-office stamps." . . Can they? Would it not require as much of the adhesive plaster—in the form it is at present manufactured—to accomplish such a purpose, as would reach from the General Post-office to Spithead. In the notices of the Goodwood Meeting, in the last number of this paper, a change affecting its future features was anticipated. This has already begun. In future, Lord Clifden's stud will stand at Newmarket, trained by the elder Stephenson. Goodwood races became the first turf festival in the world when Lord George Bentinck had the first turf establishment in the world upon the spot—and because of it. Heaton Park, Eglinton Park, Gorhambury, are among the pleasant places—that were. Have they found fitting successors in the monster handicap days, which "express" their thousands for an hour to a betting-ring a hundred miles a-field, and then "express" them back again? Our matter is scarce germane to philosophy, and yet a useful moral may be read by those that Catch the manners living as they rise.