27 August 2015

"O Lord! I cannot keep my tackle in, G-d d--n it!"

Governess Nelly Weeton describes a footrace held as part of a regatta on Lake Windermere in the north of England in August 1810, as quoted in Jane Austen's England. In the race an item of wardrobe proved rather troublesome for one competitor:

'The second Regatta was expected to have been more splendid still, in consequence of which, [Weeton's employer] Mr Pedder invited a number of friends. We were sadly disappointed; it was one of the most blackguard things ever conducted. After a rowing match or two, which began the entertainment, there followed a footrace by four men. Two of them ran without shirts; one had breeches on, the other only drawers, very thin calico, without gallaces [braces]. Expecting they would burst or come off, the ladies durst not view the race, and turned away from the sight. And well it was they did'

Nelly had no qualms in watching and gave an eyewitness description:

'During the race, and with the exertion of running, the drawers did actually burst, and the man cried out as he run - "Oh Lord! O Lord! I cannot keep my tackle in, G-d d--n it! I cannot keep my tackle in."' The ladies were disgusted and left, she reported, and 'there were many of fashion and rank; amongst other, Lady Diana Fleming, and her daughter Lady Fleming, and the Bishop of Llandaff's daughters; several carriages, barouches, curricles; but all trooped off. Wrestling and leaping occupied the remainder of the day, were were told'

- Roy & Lesley Adkins, Jane Austen's England, London, 2013, p.218.

See also:
HistoryJane Austen's history of England, 6 March 2014
History: Doing his suit at the coffee-house, 11 October 2014
History: The dangerous fruits of a discontented mind, 5 April 2014
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