Category Archives: Sport

The Phantom Huntsman: 1890s?

Sargent, John Singer; Lord Ribblesdale; The National Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/lord-ribblesdale-114725. Shown in hunting costume. He was Master of the Buckhounds from 1892-95.

The Phantom Huntsman

When I was about nine years of age, I went to live with my grandfather on a farm near the little town of Yarm, on the banks of the river Tees. One day he happened to be short-handed. He had an order for a ton of potatoes to be delivered in Yarm on that day. He loaded the cart and sent me off to deliver them in the afternoon. It was a November afternoon, therefore, it turned dark early.

I delivered the potatoes and set off home later than I expected, in the dark. I knew the old horse knew every inch of the road, and, being a lonely road and practically deserted, I gave the horse his head and laid down in the bottom of the cart on the empty sacks. I got along all right until I landed at a part of the road which led between two plantations, one at each side. I still had about two miles to go, as we lived four miles from the town, when I was startled to hear what I thought was the rustle of a saddle and the tread of a horse on the frosty road. Being lonely and nervous, I jumped up to see what was coming, delighted to think I was going to have company.

To my utter surprise, I saw a horseman riding alongside me on a beautiful bay horse. He was dressed in a red coat, white riding breeches, huntsman’s hat, and everything complete. I grabbed my reins to pull off and make way for him, but he kept to the grass at the side of the road.

I said, “Good evening, sir.”

He didn’t speak, but only lifted his whip to his cap in response. I was delighted, as I loved to see the huntsmen and the hounds, although I was surprised to see this one. I knew perfectly well that there was no meet in the immediate district on that day, or my grandfather would certainly have attended it, as he never missed a run when possible to get there.

I said to the gentleman, “Where did the hounds meet to-day, sir?”

He only looked down on me and smiled. I had then got as far as the gate leading into the fields off the main road to the farm. I got out and opened the gate and let my horse and cart pass through, then still held the gate for the huntsman to pass, as he was standing waiting.

Instead of coming through the gate, to my great surprise, he suddenly vanished.

I was terribly afraid as I could not make out where he had gone or how he had gone. I let the gate go and jumped into the cart, and made the old horse go as fast as he could for home. Although I had no idea of ghosts then, I landed home scared to death. I rushed into the house and scared my grandfather and grandmother as well. When I got pulled round I related to them what had happened.

Then my grandfather said he wouldn’t have let me go if he had thought about it. He said there had been a follower of the hunt killed in those woods two or three seasons before and that he had haunted the woods during the hunting season ever since. My grandfather himself had been present on the very day the accident happened and he said my description of the gentleman tallied exactly with the one who was killed. He had no doubt I had seen and even spoken to the ghost that others had seen riding at night about those woods. He mentioned the incident at the next hunt meet and it was generally accepted that I had seen the ghost.

Curiously enough, my grandfather had the misfortune to be killed himself with a horse and lorry sometime after my experience. Whether it had any bearing upon the after trouble that befell me I can’t say, but this goes to prove that there are ghosts. As the saying goes, seeing is believing.

True Ghost Stories Told by “Daily News” Readers, S. Louis Giraud, 1927: p. 77-78

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a vanished world is reflected in the young man’s eagerness to “make way” for the gentleman, the aristocratic ghost’s touching of its cap with its whip, the ghost waiting, with the expectation that the boy would open the gate for him and his horse. Even in death, the social distinctions were maintained by the phantom huntsman and his witness.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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The Great Grampus Bath-house Tragedy: 1875

The Sad Result of Using Patent Bathing Houses.

New Orleans Picayune.

A harrowing story comes to us from one of our sea side watering places. Old Mr. Grampus was in Paris last spring, and he brought home with him one of Baptiste’s patent bath houses. It was made of vulcanized silk with steel ribs, and it shut and opened by a spring. Open it had the appearance of a beautiful blue and buff striped pavilion, octagonal in shape, and covering a superficial area of some ninety or a hundred square feet. Shut up, it looked like a huge Brobdignagian umbrella, though, being very light, Mr. Grampus could carry it to the beach as easy as he did his camp stool. The Grampuses were very proud of this bath-house. They used to take it down to the most crowded point on the sands and flaunt it in the faces of their rivals. It afforded to Mrs. Grampus and the Miss Grampuses a satisfaction more ecstatic than they had ever known before to emerge from this gorgeous edifice just as those odious Millers came sneaking out of their dingy old wooden huts under the cliff. The crowd gazed at them with envy and admiration, while they either pitied or ignored the Millers. Baptiste’s patent bath-house was an object of respectful amazement to the whole caravansary, and the Grampuses came in for no little social eminence and superiority in consequence.

This sort of thing went on smoothly for a fortnight or so, until the Millers and the Joneses and the Snagsbys were absolutely on the point of leaving Jolimer for sheer mortification. And perhaps they would have gone the very next day, but for the singular adventure which little Blinker had with his donkey. It was about 11 o’clock; the beach had been crowed for an hour or more, and as usual the centre of attraction and of interest was the Grampus bath-house. They had lately embellished this beautiful structure with a pair of golden horns [antlers] and a silk centennial flag, and in the eyes of the unhappy Millers it looked more insolent and gaudy and overwhelming than ever. The Grampus ladies had been inside for a quarter of an hour or so, and the spectators conjectured, rightly as it afterward transpired, that they were almost ready for the surf, when all of a sudden little Blinkers was seen descending one of the winding paths astride a particularly contumacious and evil-minded donkey. His agonized cries and expostulations attracted attention, and in less than a minute every eye, except those of the doomed and unsuspecting Grampuses, was riveted on Blinkers. Here he came, his donkey churning away at the bit, and buck-jumping like a mustang, and be miserable, frantic and helpless with terror. Blinkers stuck, though, and the donkey lunged away down the path like something mad, without shaking off the stricken wretch who rode him.

There were a few Ravelian acrobatics, a wild lurch, and then Blinkers and the donkey went kerslap again the Grampuses’ patent bath-house! One complicated shriek shot through the air, a flutter and a rattling as of machinery, and the next instant Blinkers was dashed upon the sand in a crumpled heap, and a haggard and affrighted donkey with his ears pinned back and his tail between his legs, was seen hustling down the beach like some panic-stricken meteor. And then the great Grampus pavilion with a creak and a snap, suddenly shut itself up into umbrella shape, and waddled hysterically toward the surf on a pair of elephantine legs—identified by a spectator as the legs of the Mrs. Grampus—suggesting the idea, with its towering outline and its antlers and its flag, for some gigantic species of horned giraffe which had just taken the blue ribbon at the fair.

And that was the end of the great Grampus bath-house tragedy. Old mother Grampus pranced about the beach awhile with the patent bath house sitting on her head like a long but emaciated extinguisher, and the two Miss Grampuses who had escaped the collapse rushed frantically into the surf, with a good deal less bathing dress than they would have had if Blinkers and his donkey had given them a little more time. Next day the family departed before the rest of the world had wakened, and the Millers and the Joneses, and the Snagsbys are having their own way. Now, if this narrative should reach the eye of any family using Baptiste’s patent portable bath-house, we trust they will take warning, and never afterward trust to its protection until it has been enclosed in a serviceable picket fence.

Fort Wayne [IN] Weekly Sentinel 18 August 1875: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Truly, a useful warning about bathing-pavilion hubris, which we all should take to heart. How are the Vulcanized fallen!  Mrs Daffodil has sought casually, but in vain for the inventor. Considering his role in submerging persons in water, he must have been called “Jean Baptiste.”

Mrs Daffodil has previously written about a bathing machine as the scene of scandal, as well as the ideal bath-house, which will, indeed make one the envy of one’s friends, if not one’s maid.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Dangerous Pair of Stockings: 1883

A Dangerous Pair of Stockings

A man at Albert Lea, Minn., had the worst time explaining a telegram to his wife. He is a sporting man, who does a good deal of fishing and hunting, and he had a pair of rubber wading stockings which he wore when hunting marshes. A friend of his wanted a pair of them, and he promised to send to New York and get them. The two men were great friends, and the man who had been promised the wading-stockings, and who lived at North Branch, got ready to go hunting last fall, and wanted them, so he telegraphed to his Albert Lea friend, as follows:

“Send my stockings at once, as I need them bad. YOUR BLONDE DARLING.”

The dispatch came to the man’s residence, and his wife opened it, and her hair stood right up straight. When the innocent husband came home she put on a refrigerator expression, and handed him a pair of her own old stockings, done up in a paper, and told him he better send them to his blonde darling at North Branch. He was taken all of a heap, and asked her what she meant, and said he had no blonde darling at North Branch or any other branch; and after he had said he did not know a woman any-where, and never thought of supplying stockings to anybody but his wife, she handed him the telegram. He scratched his head, blushed, and then she thought she had him, but finally he laughed right out loud, and went to his room, where he keeps his guns and things, and brought out the new pair of rubber wading stockings, that he had bought for his friend, each of which would hold a bushel of wheat, and handed them to his wife, and asked her how she thought they would look on a blonde darling. Then he told her they were for his sporting friend, of a male persuasion, and she asked his pardon, but insisted that the telegram had a bad look on the face of it, and was enough to scare any wife out of her wits and stockings. The wading stockings were expressed to the friend with a letter, telling him to be mighty careful in future how he telegraphed.

New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette [Concord, NH] 25 January 1883: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil must  take the wife’s side: the telegram certainly did have a “bad look” to it and one cannot blame her for being upset.  For all she knew, it could have been a genuine instance of a stocking mis-communication which would inevitably lead to a domestic tragedy. One is relieved that this was not another and hopes that the “blonde darling” ceased his “kidding” in future.

Mrs Daffodil is reminded of a wag who, as a “joke,” sent out half a dozen telegrams to random acquaintances, reading: “All is discovered. Fly at once!”  The men decamped and were never seen again. In the wrong hands, telegraphy is a dangerous weapon.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Jockey Wore Crape: 1870

THE DREAM HORSE

(By “Old Ballaratian” in Melbourne “Argus”)

There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ..

The present being the second time the Melbourne Cup has been postponed on account of abnormally heavy rain storms, it is not inappropriate to recall the first occasion, upon which it was “held up” for exactly the same reason and also because it is associated with what is probably the most remarkable incident in the annals of horse racing and which is now a tradition of the Australian Turf.

The story which has been often told in an incomplete mangled way, is worth repeating in correct form. Sometime about the middle of September in the year 1870, a party of eight gentlemen were gathered together one evening after dinner in the private parlour of the well-known Balarat hostel “Craig’s Hotel” then presided over by the late veteran sportsman and popular host, Mr Walter Craig. The conversation turned upon racing and the approaching Melbourne Cup, whereupon Mr Craig related to the company a strange dream, which was afterwards to be looked upon in the light of a startling prophecy. Mr Craig said: “1 dreamt I saw a horse ridden by a jockey wearing my colours, but with crape on his left sleeve, come in first in the Melbourne Cup.”

“Billy” Slack, one of the biggest double event “bookies” of his day, who was one of the party, good-naturedly offered to bet Mr Craig £1000 to eight, drinks that a horse named Croydon would not win the forthcoming A.J.C. Metropolitan and that his dream would not come true. The bet was taken and the drinks were consumed in advance.

One morning shortly afterwards Mr Craig remarked to a member of his family: “Nimblefoot will win the Melbourne Cup, but I shall not live to see it.” And that, very night he died.

Croydon won the “Metro;” Nimblefoot won the Melbourne Cup by a short head and the jockey, young Day, wore a crape band upon his left sleeve, out of respect to the late owner of the winner Nimblefoot.

Great was the regret in Ballarat that poor Walter Craig did not live to see his horse triumph. Of course, as Mr Craig had died in the meantime, all bets were off, but an act that will ever redound to the honor of “Billy” Slack the bookmaker, was that he paid in full the late Walter Craig’s widow £1000.

Grey River Argus 25 November 1916: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-morrow is the day of the American horse-racing contest, The Kentucky Derby, so a supernatural racing story seems to be in order. Mrs Daffodil has written upon another prophetic horse-racing dream in “Dreaming a Derby Winner,”  while that hearse-loving person over at Haunted Ohio has reported on “Hunches and Hearses at the Racetrack.”

 Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Swell Party on Ice: 1881

London Skating Rink, 1882, British Museum.

London Skating Rink, 1882, British Museum.

“Clara Belle” has been to the aristocratic rink in the  polo grounds, off Fifth Avenue, and discourses of her skating sisters with her usual freedom. “A swell party,” she says, ” had hired the ice for the afternoon, and were thus enabled to skate without showing their heels to common people. A great deal of solid comfort was in the warm club-house, where the girls awarded the valued privilege of putting on their skates, and that sentimental operation was performed with some newly acquired graces. There was a prosaic attendant at hand to do the work, but he was only called on to serve the older and plainer women. The more attractive girls were beset by volunteers, and one impartial maiden surrendered a foot to each of two admirers. She manifestly enjoyed the experience of having two fellows on their knees before her at a time, and bore the ordeal with unexampled patience, though they were wonderfully slow, and kept her feet in their laps at least ten minutes. Not being shoemakers, they appeared to appreciate the boon, and to be each determined to make it last longer than the other, under the pretense of having trouble with the straps. Finally her big brother came along, and pulled the buckles into place with brutal celerity. She did not say ‘thank you’ to him, and probably didn’t feel like it.”

“The assemblage,” she continues, “was comely as a whole, and had a few good exhibits of American beauty. They wore short street-costumes, in many cases quite elaborate. The fashion used to be to wear plain woolen dresses, made expressly for skating ; but it is not so now. The rage for costly fabrics is too great to be relaxed for even one afternoon. Satins, velvets, and plushes were commoner than wool, and the damage done toilets by falls on the ice was simply immense. An awkward girl, with a weight of one hundred and eighty pounds, sat down with a thud on not less than a full square yard of embossed velvet, and slid over a rough spot, utterly ruining not less than forty dollars worth of surface. But she didn’t care. I only saw one who seemed to be at all mindful of consequences. She wore a skirt of velvet and brocade satin, and evidently was resolved not to spoil it. Whenever she slipped up she managed to fall cat fashion on all fours—and to straddle about until an upright position was regained without having dragged the precious cloth on the ice. She was built like a spider, weighed about ninety pounds, and could strike light, while the other girl went down with a crushing, spreading, sprawling force that was terrific.

“The only distinctive features of dress for the occasion were on the heads and legs. Many of the women wore turban-like caps of fur, plush, or velvet ; but there were a few very coquettish hoods, of the pattern usually worn by little children, but made of handsome dark materials. These were at once warm and stylish. The hair left visible was a frizzle or bang in front, and a careless brush hanging down behind. The effect was killing, particularly if the girl had any claims to beauty of face. A close hood on a round, rosy-cheeked creature, with a bang reaching nearly to her bright eyes, and a tangle of hair flying behind her, made her simply bewitching.”

But Clara reveals the artifices of the sex with most refreshing frankness. Listen:
“One whom I have especially in mind was as artful in reality as she was innocent in aspect. Her arrangement of stockings proved it. She wore a pair of leggings, or over-hose, of knitting or crochet work, reaching from low down on her boots to a little above the ankle. They were red, and therefore conspicuous enough to draw considerable attention to her skating gear. But that was not all. Every high flop of her short skirts revealed light pink silk stockings.— just a tantalizing amount of almost flesh-colored surface above the leggings, at the point where her legs began to swell. The contrivance has often been resorted to in the ballet. It may be that I wrong her by the suspicion that her falls were not always accidental. She was a most excellent skater, and it did seem odd that she should go over on her face, with her heels kicking up behind, four times in one hour. Being of her sex I was no doubt envious. However, I did not discern any incredulity on the part of the men, who invariably rushed to her assistance, and I really believe the trickery was as pleasing to them as it was to her.”

On the whole, it is perhaps as well that we have no skating in ‘Frisco.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 22 January 1881

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well, quite.

Young ladies who skated in crinoline in the ’60s might certainly tantalise the young men with a glimpse of stocking, but the narrower dresses of the ’80s should have rendered this delight impossible, except, of course, to this saucy siren of the ice. One wonders if this member of the “swell” skating party “swelled” her calves by means of artificial padding as young ladies did in the ’60s.

Some other posts on ice-skating: A Naughty Story on Ice, An Idler at a New York Ice Carnival, and How to Be Decorative While Ice-Skating.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Queen of Valor and the Bull: 1901

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

DARING FEAT

Of a Young Woman Who Is Called “Queen of Valor.”

[Paris Cor. Baltimore American.]

A few weeks there appeared some alluring advertisements which were especially attractive to those Parisians who love excitement, and who had their appetite for such things tickled by the races of the Rue Pergolese. The attraction this time was a woman, Donna Tancreda, who, made up to resemble a statue, was to await, motionless, in the area, the assault of the bull, and to conquer it by her immobility. At the last moment this performance, which was to have taken place at Enghion, was forbidden. It did, however, take place in Roubaix. Here is an exact account of what happened:

At a given signal from the President, the doors of the arena opened and a magnificent carriage appeared, all draped in red velvet fringed with gold. In this carriage sat Senorita Mercedes del Barte, alias Donna Tancreda.

The “Queen of Valor” is dressed completely in white. Her face and her hair are powdered. The carriage stops just in front of the presiding party, and she gets out smiling and bowing and throws off her mantle, talking with the ushers while the attendants arrange in the middle of the arena a pedestal of wood about two feet high. When all is ready the impresario addresses the public and begs them to observe the most rigorous silence during the performance. This is indispensable. Then Donna Tancreda mounts the pedestal, helped by the matadora. She crosses her arms and faces the door from which the bull will emerge. The woman looks exactly like a marble statue. The arena is empty. All the ushers have disappeared behind the barriers and shelters. The deepest silence reigns in the vast amphitheater. Half a minute passes thus. Then the door opens and one sees tin the shadow the enormous head of the bull Gitano. The spectators hardly breathe. Many of the women cover their eyes with their hands. It is a terrible moment. The bull is a superb animal, with a powerful neck and long, straight horns. He raises his head, looks around, and at once bounds upon the white statue.

It is with the greatest difficulty that one can restrain a cry of horror, one’s sensations are too painful and a long endurance of such emotion would be unbearable. Donna Tancreda is as rigid as marble. The last movement would be fatal to her.

The bull starts back, looks at his strange adversary, and then with a terrible bound rushes up to the pedestal. Anxiety is at its height. But once more the bull stops short without striking. He draws back a few feet, and, taking advantage of this, Donna Tancreda jumps down and rushes behind a screen, while the ushers draw off the bull. The people breathe again. A long sigh escapes from all, and then thunders of applause are heard, and the “Queen of Valor” gets a tremendous ovation.

Donna Tancreda, who was born in Paris, has appeared with success at Barcelona, Valentia, Castile, Madrid, Seville and for the first time in France at Roubaix.

The Enquirer [Cincinnati, OH] 18 August 1901: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a very curious career—to be, essentially, a professional statue, a tableau vivant of one. The venue sounds most disagreeable: first there are the insects, which  invariably accompany bovines and their excretions. Then there is the smell and the incontinent spittle of the charging creature. And the damage to the complexion from the concealing powder and the  the sun is painful to contemplate. One wonders that the young lady was not carried off by sunstroke or that she did not as a precaution wear a helmet and appear in the character of Athena. That, of course, would have taken much of the fun out of it….

Mrs Daffodil supposes it cannot be that much different from being an artist’s live model, where one must stay very still and one’s virtue, rather than one’s life, is threatened by the amorous artist who fancies himself a bull of sorts. There are also persons who pursue this statuesque vocation by posing as wind-up tin soldiers, or automata, startling the public as they “come to life.”  Mrs Daffodil, who always thinks practically,  wonders if they can obtain insurance for the invariable injuries that will occur. And, of course, there are the Queen’s Guards, enjoined to immobility during sentry duty, but they, at least, are allowed to carry weapons to ward off the predatory, “selfie”-taking public.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Sports of Queens: 1908

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

HOW QUEENS AMUSE THEMSELVES

They Drive Motor Cars, Play Tennis, Ride on Horseback, and Enjoy All the Healthful Out of Door Sports That Amuse Their Less Exalted Sisters Throughout the World.

It is a mistake to think that the royal women of the world set all the fashions. The women of lesser degree may indeed imitate queens in small matters of gowns and hats and coiffures, but in many of the large affairs of life the great world of women are the leaders and the queens are the followers.

The women of America and England, indeed, have taught the royal women of the world how to amuse themselves. Time was when a queen was a languid creature, too dainty almost to lift her fan. She would not have walked a mile for the sake of her kingdom. She had a page, or a procession of pages to carry her train, and she scorned every sort of physical exercise as beneath her caste.

But when the royal women saw how beautiful and healthful the athletic women of America and England were, they took advantage of the lesson. They found out that there was a good deal of fun to be had in playing golf, fishing, motoring, riding horseback and taking part in other athletic pastimes—and they, too, began to enjoy themselves. Now, outside of the Turkish harems or the courts of the orient, there is hardly a queen or princess to be found in the world who is not devoted to some form of sport. The result is that they are a great deal more vigorous than they were in the old days. Their cheeks are rosier, and they have more of the joy of life.

How Queen Alexandra Keeps Young.

Queen Alexandra always has lived out of doors a great deal, and she attributes keeping young and enjoying good health to this fact. When a young girl she was fond of swimming, rowing, and driving, and even now she never permits a day to go by without taking some exercise. If the weather is too bad for walking she passes several hours at billiards. She is wonderfully skilled with the cue and is proud of her game. The queen has taught all her daughters and her ladies in waiting for play billiards, and the room sometimes becomes lively when there is a championship game.

But in nice weather her favorite exercise is walking. When living at Buckingham palace and at Windsor she walks five or six miles a day, and nearly doubles the amount when at Sandringham. When she was younger she as so fond of walking that she could go miles and miles without getting tired, but since she became lame it is more of an effort.

At Sandringham she visits all parts of her farm twice a day and in the afternoon takes a long walk with the king. This is more of a pleasure than a task, because she usually amuses herself on the way by taking snap shots with her camera or playing with one or more dogs.

Fond though the queen is of outdoor life, she avoids hard exercise. Yachting and driving she enjoys, but she has never played golf, or put a ball over tennis net.

Persistent automobiling, she believes, offers the quickest means known for getting rid of a nice complexion and gaining 10,000 wrinkles. About once in a fortnight she takes a spin for about an hour, but always swathed in veils, quite like a Turkish woman.

Fishing Drives Out the Wrinkles.

Fishing is Queen Alexandra’s favorite sport after walking. She says that fishing rests the mind, steadies the nerves, and drives the wrinkles right out of the complexion. It is impossible to think of anything else while you fish. Her place at Sandringham, as well as the estate in Scotland, is well stocked with a wonderful variety of fish. Even when alone she spends hours in some shady nook waiting for a fish bite, and rarely goes home until she is satisfied with her haul.

When younger she rowed, but since her lameness has begun to annoy her she has a rowing machine at Windsor instead, and here, with the windows wide open she goes boating in a rowing machine. No longer able to ride a bicycle, she has a stationary machine fastened near one of the windows, and she rides it as energetically as if she were spinning over one of the country roads.

Queen Alexandra believes so much in fresh air and exercise out of doors that she often sleeps in a tent she had put up for her Sandringham. One day one of the younger grandchildren came to visit her, and hearing that the queen was sleeping out in a tent, the child asked: “Grandma, are you not afraid to stay there, alone?” The queen kissed the child and answered: “But, dear, I am not alone. I have the stars, God’s sentinels. They are taking care of me.”

At Windsor she has a roof garden, and as soon as it grows warm she sleeps out of doors.

Once asked how she managed to keep young, she said: “Fresh air and exercise are the best elixirs of youth.”

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

Queen of Italy a Mountain Climber.

But Queen Alexandra as a devotee of sports is forced to share honors with Queen Helene of Italy, for she is a Montenegrin, and the women from Montenegro are daring. As a child her time was divided between the field and the mountains, and it were hard to say which she enjoyed the more.

When the king came to court her she said to him mischievously: “I am so glad you came. I want to teach an Italian what mountain climbing means.” Their first day’s climb was not difficult, but her gallant cavalier confessed it was a fairly good ascent for a woman. At the end of the third expedition the king was growing desperate. But when she showed him the side of a mountain as straight as a wall he said, “Never!” But she would not yield, and, seeing that her gallant young escort could not be forced to go, she said: “Never mind. You wait here, and I shall go alone.”

The prince became pale at the thought of making the venture, and still he did not see how she could go alone, even without a guide. She went, he waiting for her below, until she returned that evening with rosy cheeks, but no worse for the climb. When his family opposed the marriage as being too bourgeoisie, he recalled her courage at mountaineering and realized that this was a little plebeian for a woman who would someday share a throne. But shortly after she beat him at tennis and then he explained to his parents. “This Montenegrin is the woman for me; she is as skilful in the fields as in climbing mountain heights.”

When the queen came to Rome she consoled herself for the mountaineering she lost by playing tennis. The first gift the king gave her was a tennis court and when the king was not busy with affairs of state they were seen playing tennis together, and she was as proud of her stroke as of climbing mountains.

Goes on Hunting Trips with King.

The king is fond of hunting and has beautiful hunting estates. She is equally fond of this sport, and they both go on long hunting trips together. Rare is the day on which some trophies do not fall to her gun, for it is hard to find a woman more skilful with a shogun or rifle. She is a beautiful horsewoman, and before her children were a year old she had them ride a pony. They were strapped in a basket so they could not fall.

Both Queen Helene and the king delight in yachting. They have a beautiful yacht and the family spend many happy weeks every year cruising in the Mediterranean.

It is at San Rossore, the country estate where they spend the summer time, that the king, queen and children have an idyllic life. Here they hunt, ride, drive and fish. There are beautiful streams and ponds well stocked with a great variety of fish and here the queen and children pass many happy hours fishing.

Before automobiling became so popular, Queen Helene was enthusiastic about bicycling, a pastime which Queen Margherita, her mother-in-law, before she became a widow, often enjoyed with her. Queen Margherita presented to Queen Helene shortly after her marriage a bicycle fitted with gold and silver and together the two royal women used to cycle in the park daily.

It was Queen Margherita who has made her son and daughter-in-law enthusiastic automobilists. At first they were indifferent about this sport, but the queen mother insisted on their making tours in her car and now they have several handsome machines. Not long ago they made an excursion of 225 miles in their car, completing this distance in fourteen hours. They started at 4 o’clock in the morning, dined in the open fields at Oneglia, and reached their destination that evening, confident it was the most unconventional and pleasantest short journey they ever made.

Queen Margherita has had many daring and exciting adventures; she admits that her happiest days are spent touring. At first she was prejudiced against motor cars and would not be persuaded to ride in one, as she considered them both ugly and dangerous. One day, however, she permitted a friend to persuade her to take a spin. Just as they were ready to speed down hill the brake refused to work and the queen was in a dreadful state of fright. But it cured her fear, and from that day she became wildly enthusiastic about machines.

Queen Margherita Daring Motorist

She keeps few horses in her stables, though she has a finely equipped garage filled with a half dozen machines of different makes. She has the most complete touring car in Europe and one of the handsomest in the world.

One day, with her chauffeur and a lady and gentleman in waiting, Queen Margherita started after luncheon for a spin, saying that they would be home for tea. Five o’clock came, and when they did not return the household grew worried and started a searching party. There was a wild ringing of telephones, flying of horses, and dispatching of servants. Nothing was heard of the machine until a carabineer reported he had seen a similar car in a small village. A little further on, looking through the vines in a garden, they saw the royal party dining at a small bare table while the chauffeur was struggling hard to repair the machine.

She has toured through all parts of Europe. A few years ago she planned an extensive tour through the United States, and it was only her dread of crossing the ocean that led he to change her plans.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

German Empress Plays Tennis.

The emperor of Germany accepts the doctrine of the strenuous life quite as seriously as does President Roosevelt. When not engaged with affairs of state he is enjoying exercise out of doors. The queen shares all of these pastimes with him because she believes in fresh air and has a horror of getting stout. When they were first married she rarely let a day go by without riding or driving with the emperor and she has kept up this practice.

In Berlin they often are seen riding their horses or driving in the park. She has her own stables, selects her horses, and gives her own orders governing them. When younger she said that she never saw a horse she was afraid to mount, and the harder they were to govern the better she liked them. She is one of the few queens who are members of a royal guard, and she can go through a drill as well as a man.

The empress is also fond of playing tennis and has a beautiful court at Potsdam. She has had several unfortunate accidents while playing this game. Only a few months ago while playing she fell, and it was thought at first she had suffered some serious injury. The king begged her to give up this sport, at last for a while, but she could not bear the idea.

When she was younger she liked to play with some of the young officers at court. The emperor, who was then possessed of some of that jealousy natural to youth, always managed to watch the game, though he did not play.

The empress is known throughout Europe for her splendid complexion. One day a royal friend complimented her on this fact, when the empress answered: “I shall give you my recipe—plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The emperor also believes in this doctrine and all outdoor sports have played an important part in his children’s education.

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Princess Cecelia Is a Crack Whip.

Though the betrothal of the crown prince [Wilhelm, son of the Kaiser] to Princess Cecelia [sic] was not a love match, they had many tastes in common right from the start. They both were interested in photography. They were crack whips, and she could hold her own with him in managing the wildest horses. She is devoted to all outdoor sports, while he would rather be in the field than in the ballroom. Her mother-in-law taught her to play tennis, and she proved such an adept pupil that now she has hard work finding any one to beat her at singles. Her devotion to horses led her to accept the office of patroness of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And she likewise influenced her father-in-law to abolish the bearing rein it the imperial stables.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Takes Long Walks.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain—whose love for outdoor sports did much to win her a throne—if she were not a queen she could well be dubbed a nice boy, she is ever ready to rough it. The king and she walk miles every day, and she has taught him to play an excellent game of tennis. She is learning to play golf, is enthusiastic about it, and says that he must learn. Before she was married she did more reckless things. When a young girl she acted as stoker and engine driver once in the country.

A very young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

The future Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 7, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

Though the young queen of Holland has few athletic tastes in common with her consort, they met in the fields. They are both skilled in managing horses and he cannot suggest a drive that can tire her. When the queen was a young girl she always begged for the most reckless horses. When the queen mother opposed this she often explained: “No, I must teach them that I am their mistress.”

Queen of Belgium Enjoys Many Sports.

The queen of Belgium is one of the best all round sportswomen. She is a superb and fearless horsewoman and thinks nothing of riding forty or fifty miles. She never gets into the country but she walks and climbs, and the more difficult the ascent the better she likes it. Though known as an equestrienne, she is even a better sailor. She never visits England without enjoying some delightful cruises with the king and queen. She understands all the fine points about yachting and is ever ready with some good sea yarns. [Queen Henriette-Marie died in 1902 so it is clear that there was a delay in publishing this article in the American press.]

Empress Alexandra of Russia

Empress Alexandra of Russia

The czarina of Russia inherits her sister’s love for outdoor life, but the conventionalities of court limit her pleasures. Her court ladies were much shocked when she told the czar that she wanted a billiard table. By means of her splendid tact she succeeded in getting some of her ladies in waiting to enjoy the game. She has wonderful saddle and driving horses.

She can mount and dismount with all the ease and grace natural to a well-trained officer. She rides horseback until the snow and cold force her into a sleigh. A few years ago she had a tennis court laid out at one of her country houses. But her ladies in waiting were so horrified at seeing her chase after a ball that she never again suggested playing tennis.

The Chicago [IL] Tribune 7 June 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: As the Olympics comes to a close, we look at the sports of Queens: their amusements and past-times. It is diverting to think of the Crowned Heads of Europe staging their own Olympic Games. One could compete in such categories as “Bazaar Opening,” “Ribbon-cutting,” “Plaque-unveiling,” and, most strenuously—ship-launching with a bottle. Other events might include clocking how many anodyne remarks can be made in a fifteen-minute walk-about or Synchronised Corgis. Given their fondness for horses, the British Royals would undoubtedly scoop the equestrian events; while the Scandinavian monarchies would provide keen competition in the Tiara Classes.

And, of course, the victors will be crowned with jewelled laurels.

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.