Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/520

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
476
THE WALTZ.

and turning, though the rolling is not horizontal but perpendicular. Yet Werther, after describing his first waltz with Charlotte, says, and I say so too, 'I felt that if I were married my wife should waltz (or roll) with no one but myself.'" Ten years later, Gillray publishes a caricature of the waltz, as a French dance, which he styles, "Le bon Genre." It is not a pretty picture. By degrees, however, and with some reluctance, society yielded to the fascinations of the stranger. "My cousin Hartington," writes Lady Caroline Lamb, in 1812 (Memoirs of Viscount Melbourne, by W. T. M'Cullagh Torrens, i. 105), "wanted to have waltzes and quadrilles; and at Devonshire House it could not be allowed, so we had them in the great drawing-room at Whitehall. All the bon ton assembled there continually. There was nothing so fashionable."

"No event," says Thomas Raikes (Personal Reminiscences, p. 284), ever produced so great a sensation in English society as the introduction of the German waltz.... Old and young returned to school, and the mornings were now absorbed at home in practising the figures of a French quadrille or whirling a chair round the room to learn the step and measure of the German waltz. The anti-waltzing party took the alarm, cried it down; mothers forbad it, and every ballroom became a scene of feud and contention. The foreigners were not idle in forming their élèves; Baron Tripp, Neumann, St. Aldegonde, etc., persevered in spite of all prejudices which were marshalled against them. It was not, however, till Byron's "malicious publication" had been issued and forgotten that the new dance received full recognition. "When," Raikes concludes, "the Emperor Alexander was seen waltzing round the room at Almack's with his tight uniform and numerous decorations," or [Gronow, Recollections, 1860, pp. 32, 33] "Lord Palmerston might have been seen describing an infinite number of circles with Madame de Lieven," insular prejudices gave way, and waltzing became general.