Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/519

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


INTRODUCTION TO THE WALTZ.

Byron spent the autumn of 1812 "by the waters of Cheltenham," and, besides writing to order his Song of Drury Lane (the address spoken at the opening of the theatre, Oct. 10, 1812), he put in hand a Satire on Waltzing. It was published anonymously in the following spring; but, possibly, because it was somewhat coolly received, he told Murray (April 21, 1813) "to contradict the report that he was the author of a certain malicious publication on waltzing." In his memoranda "chiefly with reference to my Byron," Moore notes "Byron's hatred of waltzing," and records a passage of arms between "the lame boy" and Mary Chaworth, which arose from her "dancing with some person who was unknown to her." Then, and always, he must have experienced the bitter sense of exclusion from active amusements; but it is a hasty assumption that Byron only denounced waltzing because he was unable to waltz himself. To modern sentiment, on the moral side, waltzing is unassailable; but the first impressions of spectators, to whom it was a novelty, were distinctly unfavourable.

In a letter from Germany (May 17, 1799) Coleridge describes a dance round the maypole at RĂ¼beland. "The dances were reels and the waltzes, but chiefly the latter; this dance is in the higher circles sufficiently voluptuous, but here the motions of it were far more faithful interpreters of the passions." A year later, H. C. Robinson, writing from Frankfort in 1800 (Diary and Letters, i. 76), says, "The dancing is unlike anything you ever saw. You must have heard of it under the name of waltzing, that is rolling