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TO THE PUBLISHER.
I am a country gentleman of a midland county. I might have been a parliament-man for a certain borough; having had the offer of as many votes as General T. at the general election in 1812.* But I was all for domestic happiness; as, fifteen years ago, on a visit to London, I married a middleaged maid of honour. We lived happily at Hornem Hall till last season, when my wife and I were invited by the Countess of Waltzaway (a distant relation of my spouse) to pass the winter in town. Thinking no harm, and our girls being come to a marriageable (or, as they call it, marketable) age, and having besides a Chancery suit inveterately entailed upon the family estate, we came up in our old chariot,—of which, by the by, my wife grew so much ashamed in less than a week, that I was obliged to buy a second-hand barouche, of which I might mount the box, Mrs. H. says, if I could drive, but never see the inside-that place being reserved for the Honourable Augustus Tiptoe, her partner-general and opera-knight. Hearing great praises of Mrs. H.'s dancing (she was famous for birthnight minuets in the latter end of the last century), I unbooted, and went to a ball at the Countess's, expecting to see a country dance, or, at most, cotillons, reels, and all the old paces to the newest tunes. But, judge of my surprise, on arriving, to see poor dear Mrs. Hornem with her arms half *State of the poll (last day) 5.
round the loins of a huge hussar-looking gentleman I never set eyes on before; and his, to say truth, rather more than half round her waist, turning round, and round, te a d—d sec-saw up-and-down sort of tune, that reminded me of the "Black Joke," only more "affettuoso," till it made me quite giddy with wondering they were not so. By-and-by they stopped a bit, and I thought they would sit or fall down: -but no; with Mrs. H's hand on his shoulder, quam familiariter," * (as Terence said, when I was at school,) they walked about a minute, and then at it again, like two cockchafers spitted on the same bodkin. I asked what all this meant, when, with a loud laugh, a child no older than our Wilhelmina (a name I never heard but in the Vicar of Wakefield, though her mother would call her after the Princess of Swappenbach,) said, "Lord! Mr. Hornem, can't you see they're valtzing?" or waltzing (I forget which); and then up she got, and her mother and sister, and away they went, and round-abouted it till supper-time. Now, that I know what it is, I like it of all things, and so does Mrs. H. (though I have broken my shins, and four times overturned Mrs. Hornem's maid, in practising the preliminary steps in a morning). Indeed, so much do I like it, that having a turn for rhyme, tastily displayed in some election ballads, and songs in honour of all the victories, (but till lately I have had little practice in that way), I sat down, and with the aid of William Fitzgerald, Esq. and a few hints from Dr. Busby, (whose recitations I attend, and am monstrous fond of Master Busby's manner of delivering his father's late suc
*My Latin is all forgotten, if a man can be said to have forgotten what he never remembered; but I bought my title-page motto of a Catholic priest for a three-shilling bank token, after much haggling for the even sixpence. I grudged the money to a papist, being all for the memory of Perceval and "No popery," and quite regretting the downfall of the pope, because we can't burn him any more."
cessful "Drury Lane Address,")* I composed the following hymn, wherewithal to make my sentiments known to the public; whom, nevertheless, I heartily despise, as well as the critics.
I am, Sir, yours, &c. &c.
[See "Rejected Addresses."]
INTRODUCTION TO THE WALTZ.
LORD BYRON Wrote to Mr. Murray from Cheltenham in October, 1812, that he would make him a present of a poem on Waltzing which he had just composed in the old style of " English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." It was a condition of the gift that it should be brought out anonymously, and when, on its appearance in the spring of 1813, it was unfavourably received, he was anxious to disclaim it altogether. "I hear," he wrote to Mr. Murray, "that a certain malicious publication on Waltzing is attributed to me. This report I suppose you will take care to contradict, as the author, I am sure, will not like that I should wear his cap and bells." Dancing appears to be an instinct with man; for there is not, we believe, a single tribe of savages who are destitute of the accomplishment. Art first produces elegance, and then destroys it. When the limits of graceful movement have been attained, public performers aspire to feats of unnatural difficulty, and in private life the passion for novelty is no less fatal to the perpetuation of refinement. To the restlessness, which prefers a change for the worse to a monotony of excellence, we owe the reign of the Waltz, which is among the least natural, the least graceful, and the least social of dances. The amusement, in all its forms, must often have awakened painful reflections in Lord Byron. Once, while on the committee of Drury Lane Theatre, he had to arbitrate in a dispute between the ballet-master and a performer. "If you had come a minute sooner," said Lord Byron to Mr. James Smith, who entered the green-room immediately afterwards, "you would have heard a curious matter decided on by me: a question of dancing! -by me," (looking down at his lame limb) "whom Nature from my birth has prohibited from taking a single step." His countenance fell when he had uttered the words, as if embarrassed by the inadvertent betrayal of feelings he would have wished to conceal. Excluded from the dance, he was not sorry of an opportunity to trip up the dancers, and hence probably the present poem. Moore speaks of it as "full of very lively satire," which is higher praise than most will think it deserves. Lord Byron had not yet hit upon that vein of felicitous sarcasm which flows stinging and sparkling through his later works. The strokes of satire in "The Waltz" have little of the energy of invective on the one hand, or of the airiness of ridicule on the other. A stronger objection is that, under the guise of "moralising his song," many of the lines exemplify the indelicacy they condemn. The charge applies to almost every satirist, from the great Roman models, Juvenal and Horace, down to their latest imitators in modern times. It would seem as if in their zeal to put Vice to shame, they had forgotten the decorum which was due to Virtue.
MUSE of the many-twinkling feet! whose charms
Far be from thee and thine the name of prude:
Thy breast-if bare enough-requires no shield;
Thy not too lawfully begotten "Waltz."
Hail, nimble nymph! to whom the young hussar, The whisker'd votary of waltz and war,
His night devotes, despite of spur and boots;
And give both Belial and his dance their due!
Imperial Waltz! imported from the Rhine (Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine),