Thursday, January 15, 2015

British Sport and Fashionable Sportsmen

Regency sport--stalking, shooting, fishing, fox hunting, horse racing, coursing--was very different from what we today call sport or sports. It called for a level of involvement in nature that is foreign to us, and a heavy dependence on that essential of the age, the horse.

The Sporting Magazine was a necessity for any gentleman calling himself a "crack sportsman", a "blood", or a "Corinthian". The magazine's subtitle is worthy of note:
 The Sporting Magazine or Monthly Calendar of the transactions of The Turf, The Chase, and every other Diversion interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize and Spirit"
But even the august publication of Rudolph Ackermann, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion and Politics, included a column "British Sports" in every issue, with a fine plate illustrating some aspect of the activities of the field and stream. The column even waxed lyrical, with sporting poetry that included such lines as
The plates that appeared in The Sporting Magazine and Ackermann's Repository were detailed, accurate and evocative of the sentiments expressed in the lines above:

"Going Out" from Repository of Arts January 1810

A winter sport--snipe shooting
The plates also display the animals necessary to 'sport', both the pursued and the pursuers:

Hare from Repository of Arts

Spaniels from Repository of Arts
Despite the celebration of outdoor life in both magazines, in 1802 a letter to the editor of The Sporting Magazine made some interesting points:

 Next time, his thoughts on the Fashionable Sportsman. They are not at all flattering!

'Til then,
Lesley-Anne


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