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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/539

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THE WALTZ.

Blest was the time Waltz chose for her début!161

The Court, the Regent, like herself were new;[1]
  1. An anachronism—Waltz and the battle of Austerlitz are before said to have opened the ball together; the bard means (if he means anything), Waltz was not so much in vogue till the Regent attained the acmé of his popularity. Waltz, the comet, whiskers, and the new government, illuminated heaven and earth, in all their glory, much about the same time: of these the comet only has disappeared; the other three continue to astonish us still.—Printer's Devil.

    [As the Printer's Devil intimates, the various novelties of the age of "Waltz" are somewhat loosely enumerated. The Comet, which signalized 1811, the year of the restricted Regency, had disappeared before the Prince and his satellites burst into full blaze in 1812. It was (see Historical Record of the Life Guards, 1835, p. 177) in 1812 that the Prince Regent commanded the following alterations to be made in the equipments of the regiment of Life Guards: "Cocked hats with feathers to be discontinued, and brass helmets with black horsehair crests substituted. Long coats, trimmed with gold lace across the front. Shirts and cuffs to be replaced by short coatees," etc., etc. In the same branch of the service, whiskers were already in vogue. The "new laws" were those embodied in the "Frame-work Bill," which Byron denounced in his speech in the House of Lords, Feb. 27, 1812. Formerly the breaking of frames had been treated "as a minor felony, punishable by transportation for fourteen years," and the object of the bill was to make such offences capital. The bill passed into law on March 5, and as a result we read (Annual Register, 1812, pp. 38, 39) that on May 24 a special commission for the rioters of Cheshire was opened by Judge Dallas at Chester. "His lordship passed the awful sentence of death upon sixteen, and in a most impressioned address, held out not the smallest hope of mercy." Of these five only were hanged.

    Owing to the scarcity of silver coinage, the Bank of England was empowered to issue bank-tokens for various sums (Mr. Hornem bought his motto for The Waltz with a three-shilling bank-token; see note to Preface) which came into circulation on July 9, 1811. The "new ninepences" which were said to be forthcoming never passed into circulation at all. A single "pattern" coin (on the obverse, Bank Token, Ninepence, 1812) is preserved in the British Museum (see privately printed Catalogue, by W. Boyne