AN APOSTROPHIC HYMN.
"Qualis in Eurotæ ripis, aut per juga Cynthi,
Exercet Diana choros." Virgil.
"Such on Eurotas' banks, or Cynthia's height,
Diana seems: and so she charms the sight,
When in the dance the graceful goddess leads
The quire of nymphs, and overtops their heads."
TO THE PUBLISHER.
Sir, -- 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 middle-aged 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, cotillions, 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 round the loins of a huge hussar-looking gentleman I never set eyes on before: and his, to say the truth, rather more than half round her waist, turning round, and round, and round, to a d____d see-saw up-and-down sort of tune, that reminded me of the "Black Joke," only more /"affetuoso,"/ till it made me quite giddy with wondering why 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 it when I was at school,) they walked about a minute, and then at it again, like two cockchafers spitted upon 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 are 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 successful "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.
* 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.
* State of the poll (last day) 5.
Muse of the many-twinkling feet!  whose charms
Are now extended up from legs to arms;
Terpsichore! -- too long misdeem'd a maid --
Reproachful term -- bestow'd but to upbraid --
Henceforth in all the bronze of brightness shine,
The least a vestal of the virgin Nine.
Far be from thee and thine the name of prude;
Mock'd, yet triumphant; sneer'd at, unsubdued;
Thy legs must move to conquer as they fly,
If but thy coats are reasonably high;
Thy breast -- if bare enough -- requires no shield;
Dance forth -- /sans armour/ thou shalt take the field,
And own -- impregnable to /most/ assaults,
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;
A sight unmatch'd since Orpheus and his brutes:
Hail, spirit-stirring Waltz! -- beneath whose banners
A modern hero fought for modish manners;
On Hounslow's heath to rival Wellesley's fame, 
Cock'd -- fired -- and miss'd his man -- but gain'd his aim;
Hail, moving Muse! to whom the fair one's breast
Gives all it can, and bids us take the rest.
Oh for the flow of Busby, or of Fitz,
The latter's loyalty, the former's wits,
To "energise the object I pursue,"
And give both Belial and his dance their due!
Imperial Waltz! imported from the Rhine,
(Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine,)
Long be thine import from all duty free,
And hock itself be less esteem'd than thee:
In some few qualities alike -- for hock
Improves our cellar -- /thou/ our living stock.
The head to hock belongs -- thy subtler art
Intoxicates alone the heedless heart:
Through the full veins thy gentler poison swims,
And wakes to wantonness the willing limbs.
O Germany! how much to thee we owe,
As heaven-born Pitt can testify below,
Ere cursed confederation made thee France's,
And only left us thy d____d debts and dances!
Of subsidies and Hanover bereft,
We bless thee still -- for George the Third is left!
Of kings the best -- and last, not least in worth,
For graciously begetting George the Fourth.
To Germany, and highnesses serene,
Who owe us millions -- don't we owe the queen?
To Germany, what owe we not besides?
So oft bestowing Brunswickers and brides:
Who paid for vulgar, with her royal blood,
Drawn from the stem of each Teutonic stud;
Who sent us -- so be pardon'd all her faults --
A dozen dukes, some kings, a queen -- and Waltz.
But peace to her -- her emperor and diet,
Though now transferr'd to Buonaparte's "fiat!"
Back to my theme -- O Muse of motion! say,
How first to Albion found thy Waltz her way?
Borne on the breath of hyperborean gales,
From Hamburg's port (while Hamburg yet had /mails/)
Ere yet unlucky Fame -- compelled to creep
To snowy Gottenburg -- was chill'd to sleep;
Or, starting from her slumbers, deign'd arise,
Heligoland, to stock thy mart with lies;
While unburnt Moscow yet had news to send, 
Nor owed her fiery exit to a friend,
She came -- Waltz came -- and with her certain sets
Of true despatches, and as true gazettes:
Then flamed of Austerlitz the blest despatch,
Which Moniteur nor Morning Post can match;
And -- almost crush'd beneath the glorious news --
Ten plays, and forty tales of Kotzebue's:
One envoy's letters, six composers' airs,
And loads from Frankfort and from Leipsic fairs;
Meiner's four volumes upon womankind,
Like Lapland witches to ensure a wind;
Brunck's heaviest tome for ballast, and, to back it,
Of Heynè, such as should not sink the packet.
Fraught with this cargo -- and her fairest freight,
Delightful Waltz, on tiptoe for a mate,
The welcome vessel reach'd the genial strand,
And round her flock'd the daughters of the land.
Not decent David, when, before the ark,
His grand /pas-seul/ excited some remark;
Not love-born Quixote, when his Sancho thought
The knight's fandango friskier than it ought:
Not soft Herodias, when, with winning tread,
Her nimble feet danced off another's head;
Not Cleopatra on her galley's deck,
Display'd so much of /leg,/ or more of /neck,/
Than thou, ambrosial Waltz, when first the moon
Beheld thee twirling to a Saxon tune!
To you, ye husbands of ten years! whose brows
Ache with the annual tributes of a spouse;
To you of nine years less, who only bear
The budding sprouts of those that you /shall/ wear,
With added ornaments around them roll'd
Of native brass, or law-awarded gold;
To you, ye children of -- whom chance accords --
/Always/ the ladies, and /sometimes/ their lords;
To you, ye single gentlemen, who seek
Torments for life, or pleasures for a week;
As Love or Hymen your endeavours guide,
To gain your own, or snatch another's bride; --
To one and all the lovely stranger came,
And every ball-room echoes with her name.
Endearing Waltz! -- to thy more melting tune
Bow Irish jig, and ancient jigadoon.
Scotch reels, avaunt! and country-dance, forgo
Your future claims to each fantastic toe!
Waltz -- Waltz alone -- both legs and arms demands,
Liberal of feet, and lavish of her hands;
Hands which may freely range in public sight
Where ne'er before -- but -- pray "put out the light."
Methinks the glare of yonder chandelier
Shines much too far -- or I am much too near;
And true, though strange -- Waltz whispers this remark,
"My slippery steps are safest in the dark!"
But here the Muse with due decorum halts,
And lends her longest petticoat to Waltz.
Observant travellers of every time!
Ye quartos publish'd upon every clime!
Oh, say, shall dull Romaika's heavy round,
Fandango's wriggle, or Bolero's bound;
Can Egypt's Almas -- tantalising group -- 
Columbia's caperers to the warlike whoop --
Can aught from cold Kamchatka to Cape Horn
With Waltz compare, or after Waltz be borne?
Ah, no! from Morier's pages down to Galt's,
Each tourist pens a paragraph for "Waltz."
Shades of those belles whose reign began of yore,
With George the Third's -- and ended long before! --
Though in your daughters' daughters yet you thrive,
Burst from your lead, and be yourselves alive!
Back to the ball-room speed your spectred host;
Fool's Paradise is dull to you that lost.
No treacherous powder bids conjecture quake;
No stiff-starch'd stays make meddling fingers ache;
(Transferr'd to those ambiguous things that ape
Goats in their visage, women in their shape;) 
No damsel faints when rather closely press'd,
But more caressing seems when most caress'd;
Superfluous hartshorn and reviving salts,
Both banish'd by the sovereign cordial "Waltz."
Seductive Waltz! -- though on thy native shore
Even Werter's self proclaimed thee half a whore;
Werter -- to decent vice though much inclined,
Yet warm, not wanton; dazzled, but not blind --
Though gentle Genlis, in her strife with Stael,
Would even proscribe thee from a Paris ball;
The fashion hails -- from countesses to queens,
And maids and valets waltz behind the scenes;
Wide and more wide thy witching circle spreads,
And turns -- if nothing else -- at least our /heads;/
With thee even clumsy cits attempt to bounce,
And cockneys practise what they can't pronounce.
Gods! how the glorious theme my strain exalts,
And rhyme finds partner rhyme in praise of Waltz!
Blest was the time Waltz chose for her /début;/
The court, the Regent, like herself were new; 
New face for friends, for foes some new rewards;
New ornaments for black and royal guards;
New laws to hang the rogues that roar'd for bread;
New coins (most new) to follow those that fled; 
New victories -- nor can we prize them less,
Though Jenky wonders at his own success;
New wars, because the old succeed so well,
That most survivors envy those who fell;
New mistresses -- no, old -- and yet 'tis true,
Though they be /old,/ the /thing/ is something new;
Each new, quite new -- (except some ancient tricks,) 
New white-sticks, gold-sticks, broom-sticks, all new sticks!
With vests or ribbons, deck'd alike in hue,
New troopers strut, new turncoats blush in blue;
So saith the muse: my ____, what say you? 
Such was the time when Waltz might best maintain
Her new preferments in this novel reign;
Such was the time, nor ever yet was such;
Hoops are /no more,/ and petticoats /not much;/
Morals and minuets, virtue and her stays,
And tell-tale powder -- all have had their days.
The ball begins -- the honours of the house
First duly done by daughter or by spouse,
Some potentate -- or royal or serene --
With Kent's gay grace, or sapient Glo'ster's mien,
Leads forth the ready dame, whose rising flush
Might once have been mistaken for a blush.
From where the garb just leaves the bosom free,
That spot where hearts were once supposed to be; 
Round all the confines of the yielded waist,
The stranger's hand may wander undisplaced;
The lady's in return may grasp as much
As princely paunches offer to her touch.
Pleased round the chalky floor how well they trip,
One hand reposing on the royal hip;
The other to the shoulder no less royal
Ascending with affection truly loyal!
Thus front to front the partners move or stand,
The foot may rest, but none withdraw the hand;
And all in turn may follow in their rank,
The Earl of -- Asterisk -- and Lady -- Blank;
Sir Such-a-one -- with those of fashion's host,
For whose blest surnames -- /vide/ Morning Post
(Or if for that impartial print too late,
Search Doctors' Commons six months from my date) --
Thus all and each, in movement swift or slow,
The genial contact gently undergo;
Till some might marvel, with the modest Turk,
If "nothing follows all this palming work?" 
True, honest Mirza! -- you may trust my rhyme --
Something does follow at a fitter time;
The breast thus publically resign'd to man
In private may resist him -- if it can.
O ye who loved our grandmothers of yore,
Fitzpatrick, Sheridan, and many more!
And thou, my prince! whose sovereign taste and will,
It is to love the lovely beldames still!
Thou ghost of Queensbury! whose judging sprite
Satan may spare to peep a single night,
Pronounce -- if ever in your days of bliss
Asmodeus struck so bright as stroke as this?
To teach the young ideas how to rise,
Flush in the cheek, and languish in the eyes;
Rush to the heart, and lighten through the frame,
With half-told wish and ill-dissembled flame:
For prurient nature still will storm the breast --
/Who,/ tempted thus, can answer for the rest?
But ye -- who never felt a single thought
For what our morals are to be, or ought;
Who wisely wish the charms you view to reap,
Say -- would you make those beauties quite so cheap?
Hot from the hands promiscuously applied,
Round the slight waist, or down the glowing side,
Where were the rapture then to clasp the form
From this lewd grasp and lawless contact warm?
At once love's most endearing thought resign,
To press the hand so press'd by none but thine;
To gaze upon that eye which never met
Another's ardent look without regret;
Approach the lip which all, without restraint,
Come near enough -- if not to touch -- to taint;
If such thou lovest -- love her then no more,
Or give -- like her -- caresses to a score;
Her mind with these is gone, and with it go
The little left behind it to bestow.
Voluptuous Waltz! and dare I thus blaspheme?
Thy bard forgot thy praises were his theme.
Terpsichore, forgive! -- at every ball
My wife /now/ waltzes -- and my daughters /shall;/
/My/ son -- (or stop -- 'tis needless to inquire --
These little accidents should ne'er transpire;
Some ages hence our genealogic tree
Will wear as green a bough for him as me) --
Waltzing shall rear, to make our name amends,
Grandsons for me -- in heirs to all his friends.
1. "Glance their many-twinkling feet." -- Gray.
2. To rival Lord Wellesley's, or his nephew's, as the reader pleases: -- the one gained a pretty woman, whom he deserved, by fighting for; and the other has been fighting in the Peninsula many a long day, "by Shrewsbury clock," without gaining anything in /that/ country but the title of "the great Lord," and "the Lord;" which savours of profanation, having been hitherto applied only to that Being to whom /"Te Deums"/ for carnage are the rankest blasphemy. It is to be presumed that the general will one day return to his Sabine farm; there
"To tame the genius of the stubborn plain,
/Almost as quickly/ as he conquer'd Spain!"
The Lord Peterborough conquered continents in a summer; we do more -- we contrive both to conquer and lose them in a shorter season. If the "great Lord's" /Cincinnatian/ progress in agriculture be no speedier than the proportional average of time in Pope's couplet, it will, according to the farmers' proverb, be "ploughing with dogs."
By the by -- one of this illustrious person's new titles is forgotten -- it is, however, worth remembering -- /"Salvador del mundo!" credite, posteri!/ If this be the appellation annexed by the inhabitants of the Peninsula to the name of a /man/ who has not yet saved them -- query, are they worth saving, even in this world? for, according to the mildest modifications of any Christian creed, those three words make the odds much against them in the next. "Saviour of the world," quotha! -- it were to be wished that he, or any one else, could save a corner of it -- his country. Yet this stupid misnomer, although it shews the near connexion between superstition and impiety, so far has its use, that it proves there can be little to dread from those Catholics (inquisitorial Catholics too) who can confer such an appellation on a /Protestant./ I suppose next year he will be entitled the "Virgin Mary;" if so, Lord George Gordon himself would have nothing to object to such liberal bastards of our Lady of Babylon.
3. The patriotic arson of our amiable allies cannot be sufficiently commended -- nor subscribed for. Amongst other details omitted in the various despatches of our eloquent ambassador, he did not state (being too much occupied with the exploits of Colonel C___, in swimming rivers frozen, and galloping over roads impassable,) that one entire province perished by famine in the most melancholy manner, as follows: -- In General Rostopchin's consummate conflagration, the consumption of tallow and train oil was so great, that the market was inadequate to the demand; and thus one hundred and thirty-three thousand persons were starved to death, by being reduced to wholesome diet. The lamp-lighters of London have unanimously voted a quantity of the best moulds (four to the pound) to the relief of the surviving Scythians; -- the scarcity will soon, by such exertions, and a proper attention to the /quality/ rather than the quantity of provision, be totally alleviated. It is said, in return, that the untouched Ukraine has subscribed sixty thousand beeves for a day's meal to our suffering manufacturers.
4. Dancing girls -- who do for hire what Waltz doth gratis.
5. It cannot be complained now, as in the Lady Baussière's time, of the "Sieur de la Croix," that there be "no whiskers;" but how far these are indications of valour in the field, or elsewhere, may /still/ be questionable. Much may be, and hath been, avouched on both sides. In the olden times philosophers had whiskers, and soldiers none -- Scipio himself was shaven -- Hannibal thought his one eye handsome enough without a beard; but Adrian, the emperor, wore a beard, (having warts on his chin, which neither the Empress Sabina nor even the courtiers could abide) -- Turenne had whiskers, Marlborough none -- Buonaparte is unwhiskered, the Regent whiskered; /"argal"/ greatness of mind and whiskers may or may not go together; but certainly the different occurrences, since the growth of the last mentioned, go further in behalf of whiskers than the anathema of Anselm did /against/ long hair in the reign of Henry I. -- Formerly, /red/ was a favourite colour. See Lodowick Barry's comedy of Ram Alley, 1661, Act i, Sc. 1: --
/"Taffeta./ Now for a wager -- What coloured beard comes next by the window?
/"Adriana./ A black man's, I think.
/"Taffeta./ I think not so: I think a /red,/ for that is most in fashion."
There is nothing new under the sun; but /red,/ then a /favourite,/ has now subsided into a /favourite's/ colour.
6. 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 acme 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./
7. Amongst others a new ninepence -- a creditable coin now forthcoming, worth a pound, in paper, at the fairest calculation.
8. "Oh that /right/ should thus overcome /might!"/ Who does not remember the "delicate investigation" in the "Merry Wives of Windsor?" --
/"Ford./ Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause, why then make sport at me: then let me be your jest; I deserve it. How now? whither bear you this?
/"Mrs Ford./ What have you to do with whither they bear it? -- you were best meddle with buck-washing."
9. The gentle, or ferocious, reader may fill up the blank as he pleases -- there are several dissyllabic names at his service, (being already in the Regent's); it would not be fair to back any particular initial against the alphabet, as every month will add to the list now entered for the sweepstakes: -- a distinguished consonant is said to be the favourite, much against the wishes of the /knowing ones./
10. "We have changed all that," says the Mock Doctor -- 'tis all gone -- Asmodeus knows where. After all, it is of no great importance how women's hearts are disposed of; they have nature's privilege to distribute them as absurdly as possible. But there are also some men with hearts so thoroughly bad, as to remind us of those phenomena often mentioned in natural history, viz., a mass of solid stone -- only to be opened by force -- and when divided, you find a /toad/ in the centre, lively, and with the reputation of being venomous.
11. In Turkey a pertinent, here an impertinent and superfluous question -- literally put, as in the text, by a Persian to Morier, on seeing a waltz in Pera. -- /Vide/ Morier's Travels.
Poetry: Lord Byron - The Waltz - An apostrophic Hymn - Complete - Links
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