Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Admiral Keppel's Arrival in Bath in 1779

The Bath Chronicle of Thursday 18th March 1779 reported on Admiral Keppel's arrival in Bath the previous Friday. Keppel was almost certainly coming to Bath to seek treatment for his chronic ill health following from a fever he had contracted during his service in the West Indies.


A member of a leading Whig aristocratic family (which had come to England with William of Orange), Augustus Keppel was the second son of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle and Anne van Keppel, a daughter of the 1st Duke of Richmond (himself an illegitimate son of King Charles II).


The most prominent period of his life belonged to the opening years of the American Revolutionary War. Keppel had been promoted to full admiral on 29 January 1778 and appointed to command the Channel Fleet, the main fleet prepared against France, he at the time of his appointment expressed the view that the First Lord would be glad for him to be defeated.


Prior to 1778 Keppel had failed to persuade the Lords of the Admiralty to copper sheath any of their ships. He had remarked that coppering "gave additional strength to the navy". The lack of coppering the Navy was is often considered one of the reasons for Britain losing the 13 colonies.


One of Keppel's subordinate admirals was Sir Hugh Palliser, a member of the Admiralty Board, a member of parliament, and in Keppel's opinion responsible with his colleagues for the bad state of the Royal Navy. The First Battle of Ushant which Keppel fought with the French on 27 July 1778 ended badly. Reasons included Keppel's own management, but also the failure of Palliser to obey orders. Keppel had become convinced that he had been deliberately betrayed.


Though Keppel had praised Palliser in his public despatch, he had attacked him in private. The Whig press, with Keppel's friends, had begun a campaign of calumny. The ministerial papers answered in the same style, and each side had accused the other of deliberate treason. The result was a scandalous series of scenes in parliament and of courts-martial. On the 11th February Keppel's court-martial had pronounced the charges against him to be malicious and unfounded. Following this verdict, there had been a wave of riotous popular celebrations across the country. 


Keppel painted by Lawrence 1779



These celebrations were to greet Keppel on his arrival on 12th March with window displays, parades, cheering crowds, popular demonstrations including the burning of effigies outside the Crescent being ‘only slightly constrained by the modest protests of their hero’.


On Wednesday the 17th twenty-five 'Ladies of the first distinction in this city'  held 'an elegant and sumptuous breakfast' 'in compliment to Admiral Keppel'. These 'Ladies of first distinction' 'selected out of the company here at present here upwards of two hundred Ladies and Gentlemen to partake of it'. This event was put on at the Upper Rooms and the Admiral was accompanied by 'several distinguished Naval Officers' in uniform.


The breakfast was held in the Tea Room and was accompanied by music provided by a band stationed in the gallery.


After the Breakfast, the party moved into the ballroom where they were treated to an "elegant collation of fruits, sweetmeats, ices of various sorts, jellies etc etc’. At this point the younger invitees continued the celebrations with dancing both cotillions and country dances until 3pm. The company ended by dancing a long minuet composed and presented by a lady described as “a young Lady of distinguished worth and musical abilities”.


The crowds of the uninvited admirers of the Admiral had gathered outside the door and made it difficult for the party to leave.


The newspaper further tell us of Bath and Bristol’s intentions to make the Admiral a freeman of their respective cities and that the Admiral intended to honour the Theatre with is company the following evening. There he would have been treated to a performance of Sheridan’s ‘The Rival’ and a farce entitle ‘The Liverpool Prize’.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Singleton Hall a dance from the 1780s


From 8 Cotillions, 6 Favorite Country Dances and two Minuets, with their proper Figures for the Harp, Harpsichord and Violin ... Book xviii, for the Year 1785 by Francis Werner

Francis Werner was a dancing master and master of the ceremonies at Almack's and the Festino Rooms. He lived at 6, Lower St. James' Street, Golden Square, in 1782 and died in the year 1787. Campbell, Fentum, Birchall, and Andrews, and others published his yearly books.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Dance at The Court in the 1780's

A View of the Ball at St. James on his Mjesties [sic] Birth Night, c. 1782

In 1761-62, when Count Carl von Kielmansegge visited London for the coronation of George III and Queen Sophia Charlotte, he naturally visited the Court at St. James’s and described the ballroom:

'The place for dancing is divided from the rest of the room by a railing; inside this space nobody is admitted except the royal family and suite and those who dance minuets.  All the rest of the room is occupied by benches, and a gallery runs all round for lookers-on and the band.  Only one couple dances the minuet at a time, and as there are usually more ladies than gentlemen, each lady dances only one minuet, and every man two.'

This description of 20 years earlier seems to be reflected in the depiction above.

Von Kielmansegge noted that if one wished to dance a minuet, one had to send one’s name the previous day to the Duke of Devonshire, the King’s Chamberlain, who called up participants in strict order. 'Rank in England is decided exclusively according to class, and not according to service' wrote the Count; 'consequently, the duchesses dance first, then marchionesses, then dukes’ daughters, then countesses.  Foreigners have no rank at all in England, so they may not dance before the lords and barons; after them, all the rest who have no rank and happen to be near, are called up by the Chamberlain'.  He added that towards midnight, “as soon as the second English dance [i.e., a country dance] has taken place, the King and Queen retire, as English etiquette does not allow them to dance at public parties”.

Writing in 1829, Mr. G. Yates provided more detail about the formality of a ball at court in the days of George III.  Yates was in his youth an aide-de-campe to court dancing master Monsieur Charles Le Picq (1744-1806), who worked in London from 1782 to 1787.  Here Yates describes the balls of the mid-1780s:

"On the evening of the ball, the Lord Chamberlain, with his wand of office, stood within the railing that encompassed the space for dancing, with the list of dancers in his hand.  When the ball-room was as full as was thought convenient, the door of entrance for the company was closed till the ball was over; . . . On their Majesties’ entrance the court band, stationed in the music gallery at the opposite end of the room, commenced playing the march in Judas Maccabeus,1 which by the king’s command was always performed on this occasion.

After their Majesties had walked round the inside of the [dancing] space . . . and had [greeted a few nobles], they retired to their chairs, (for there was no throne) and this was the signal for the band to cease.  Then the Lord Chamberlain advanced to the Prince of Wales and his royal sister, making his obeisance before them, on which they arose and performed the same ceremony before their Majesties, retiring backwards until they arrived at the opposite end of the open space, when the band immediately commenced playing a minuet.

The court dancing-master (Monsieur [Philip] Desnoyer [1700-88]) spread the lady’s train, which was exceedingly long and heavy with gold or silver, and which, during the respectful preliminary, had been supported on the hoop.  Having concluded a minuet, the obeisance was repeated to their Majesties; and in the same manner proceeded the other members of the royal family and nobility according to precedence, going through the same ceremonies.

The gentleman did not go up a second time to make obeisance if he was again required to dance another minuet (as was generally the case); but waited for another lady, who was under the necessity of going through the awful ceremony alone.

A country dance or two followed when the minuets were over; for cotillons or quadrilles were not then in fashion at court."

Monday, 1 February 2021

Not Jane Austen Again!



A visitor to Bath could easily get the impression that the only Georgian woman novelist with significant Bath connections was Jane Austen but this was far from being the case many women writers lived in and visited the City and drew inspiration from it. Some were much more famous and widely read in their own time than Austen. What follows are short accounts of just some of them.


Sarah Fielding


Younger Sister of the more famous novelist Henry, Sarah Fielding wrote more than 4,000 pages of prose fiction, a 366 page translation of Xenophon’s Memoirs of Socrates, a part of which was still in print as late as 1937, and a short pamphlet of literary criticism last reprinted in 1985. Her novel The Governess, or the Little Female Academy published in 1749 is considered to be the first novel written in English expressly aimed at children. In her life time her literary output often came close to outselling that of her more celebrated brother.


Sarah had many links to Bath and was a frequent visitor. Finally moving to Bath permanently around 1754 until her death probably in Walcot in 1768. She and Henry were at the centre of the literary circle that formed around the generosity of Ralph Allan and also James Leake, Bath’s famous book seller and publisher, who was brother-in-law to Sarah’s friend the novelist Samuel Richardson. The Fielding’s were also linked to Bath via the Fielding families  relationship to the Dukes of Kingston whose land holdings in Bath are still marked in our street names today. Sarah’s second novel is set in Bath and demonstrates considerable knowledge of the city. The place in Bath most associated with Sarah is Widcombe Lodge where there is still a plaque marking her residence. However, much of what is written about Sarah’s residences in Bath comes from the writing of R.E.M Peach which modern historians have failed to substantiate. 


Sarah was born in East Stour, Dorset in 1710. Around 1720 her father placed his children in the care of their maternal grandmother Sarah Lady Gould in Salisbury where she and her sisters attended Mary Rooke’s boarding school where girl’s were ‘to be educated and learn to work and read and write and to talk French and Dance and be brought up as Gentlewomen’. Lady Gould won legal custody of the Fielding children and Sarah stayed with her in Salisbury where she made important friendships that would improve her education and nurture her writing talent. 


Lady Gould died in 1733 and Sarah seems to have left Salisbury for extended visits to East Stour, London and Bath. Sarah’s first published work was a ‘letter’ from ‘Leonara to Horatio’ which was included in her brothers novel Joseph Andrews published in 1742. In the following year Sarah’s short fictional life of Anne Boleyn appeared in Henry’s ‘A Journey from this World to the Next’. Then in 1744 she published her first full novel ‘The Adventures David Simple’. ‘Familiar Letters between the Principal Characters of David Simple and Others’ which is set in Bath appeared in 1747. In 1749 she published her only volume of literary criticism ‘Remarks on Clarissa’ and in the same year ‘The Governess, or, the little Female Academy: being the history of Mrs Teachum and her nine girls, with their nine days amusement’ which was the first children’s school story exclusive about and for young girls. In 1753 a final sequel to Sarah’s first novel was published ‘The Adventures of David Simple, Volume the Last.’ 


By the end of 1754 she had lost all her immediate family and was in poor shape financially and with help from her many friends moved permanently to Bath. In 1754 she and Jane Collier published ‘The Cry: a New Dramatic Fable.’ In 1757 backed by 441 subscribers and following prodigious amounts of research she published her double fictional autobiography ‘The Lives of Cleopatra and Octavia’. ‘The History of the Countess of Dellwyn’ followed in 1759, which included an essay on literary theory. Her most popular novel ‘The History of Ophelia’ followed the next year. Sarah’s final triumph came in 1762 with the publication of a work she had been writing and researching since 1758 ‘Xenophon’s Memoirs of Socrates, with the Defence of Socrates before his Judges translated from the original Greek.’ This book was printed in Bath by the printer and publisher Cornelius Pope.


Sarah is buried in St Mary’s Charlcombe and there is a monument to her in Bath Abbey the inscription however contains several factual errors.


Sarah Scott


Sarah Scott was born Sarah Robinson in 1720 the daughter of Mathew Robinson of Edgeley and West Layton Hall Yorkshire. Her sister Elizabeth married a much older wealthy mine owner Edward Montagu and following his death used her freedom and wealth to create a circle of upper-class intellectual men. and more importantly women, which became know as the Bluestockings.


Sarah was left to care for her mother who was dying of cancer. After her mother’s death in 1746 Sarah stayed with various friends and relations until after a visit to Bath she decided to stay on as a companion to the invalid Lady Barbara Montagu. Sarah published her first book in 1750, a novel titled ‘The History of Cornelia’ but it enjoyed only modest success.


In 1751 Sarah married George Lewis Scott and set up house in Leicester Square with Lady Barbara as part of the household. The marriage was not a success and after a minor scandal in 1752 Sarah left her husband and she and Lady Barbara returned to Bath where they lived in modest circumstances and devoted their time to good works. From 1754 the two women fell into a routine of spending their summers in Bath Easton and the winters in the city at Beauford Buildings. During this period Sarah enjoyed a close friendship with Sarah Fielding and at one point Sarah Fielding was impatient to go and live with Scott and Lady Barbara but was dissuaded by Mrs Montagu although Scott and her sister provided much discrete financial assistance to Fielding.


To help with their income Sarah took up her pen to publish a translation of a French novel and a novel of her own ‘A Journey through every Stage of Life’ both published in 1754.


Sarah produced ‘The History of Gustav Ericson, King of Sweden’ in 1761 and in the following year ‘History of Mecklenburgh, from the first settlement of the Vandals in that Country to the Present Time’. Also in that year she produced her most successful work a Utopian novel entitled ‘Millenium Hall and the Country Adjacent’ which went to 4 editions. Millenium Hall was a female commune which Elizabeth Montegu at one time proposed making a reality involving both her sister and Sarah Fielding.


Lady Barbara died in 1765 but Sarah stayed on in Bath and, with the encouragement of her sister, continued writing publishing another Utopian novel ‘The History of Sir George Ellison’ in 1766.


In 1772 Scott published ‘The Life of Theodore Agrippa d’Aubigne’ a French protestant much admired in England and in the same year produced her last novel ‘The test of filial duty’ in a series of letters between Miss Emilia Leonard, and Miss Charlotte Arlington.’


The death of Edward Montagu in 1775 allowed her sister the freedom to render direct financial assistance and Sarah stopped publishing and moved around the country staying with her sister and her friends. In 1787 after and extended stay in Norwich she took a small house at nearby Catton where she died in 1795



Ann Ford


Today Ann Ford is best known as the sitter in Gainsborough’s wonderful portrait known as ‘Portrait of Mrs Philip Thicknesse’ painted around 1760 when she would have been 23. In her time she was known as a famous beauty, a virtuoso musician and for a life which generated much gossip and scandal. She was also a writer and her works include ‘Instructions for Playing on the Musical Glasses’, ‘Lives and Writings of the most eminent Ladies in France’, ‘Biographical Memoirs’ and her only novel ‘School of Fashion’ whose characters are all thinly disguised members of contemporary society.


Ann spent a great deal of time in Bath and lived there from 1767 to 1791 though that period was punctuated by two long continental tours. Latterly she resided in the Royal Crescent. The Bath concert master Rauzzini was a great admirer of her talents as a singer. Her husband was the author of ‘The New Prose Bath Guide: for the year 1778’.


As a niece of Dr Ford the Queen’s physician, and of Gilbert Ford, Attorney General of Jamaica, Ann was readily accepted by fashionable society where she was celebrated for her beauty and musical talents as well as her dancing. The cream of London society came to her Sunday concerts where she played alongside some of the leading professionals. However, her father was violently opposed to her performing in public that he used a magistrate’s warrant to take her prisoner. Escaping from captivity she raised £1500 in subscriptions to put on five concerts at the Haymarket’s Little Theatre. At the first of these her father surrounded the theatre with Bow Street runners who were only dispersed when one of Ann’s aristocratic supporters threatened to bring in a detachment of guards. In 1762 aged 25 she married the notorious Philip Thickness. A journey they made to Italy in 1792 was interrupt by the death of Philip just after their departure from Boulogne. Left alone Ann was arrested and confined in a convent but on the death of Robespierre in 1794 she was released. In 1800 she publish her novel. Ann died in 1824  aged 86.


Mary Ann Costello


On 28th March 1827 Mrs Hann aged 81 died  in the house in Henrietta Street in which she had lived in for the last 20 years. This brought to an end an extraordinary life during which she had been a leading actress, a quack medicine seller and had given birth to 13 children by 3 fathers, including 4 sets of twins. One of these children rose to be Prime Minister of Great Britain. She also managed to write a novel which was considered worthy of being republished in the 21st century.


Mary Ann Costello was born in Ireland in 1747. Her father was a Connacht squire. She appears to have been orphaned at a young age, and was raised in London by her maternal grandfather Col. Guydickens. 


She was lauded for her beauty but had little money, so when she met and married George Canning in 1768 it was against the wishes of his family who cut him off from any prospect of inheritance. Early 1769 Costello gave birth to a daughter, Letitia, who died a few months later. On 22 April 1770, she had the couple's second child, George Canning, the child destined to become Prime Minister. 


By 1771, Costello was widowed and was pregnant again, with no financial support. Her third child, a son Thomas, also died in infancy. To support her young son she became an actress, she debuted in Jane Shore at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in November 1773. It was not a success, and Costello had to instead move to work in more provincial theatre in the west and north of England.


In 1775 when she was performing in Bristol she began a 6-year relationship with the actor Samuel Reddish, having 5 children with him, including 2 sets of twins. She referred to herself as Mrs Reddish, but there is no evidence of their marriage. Her eldest son, George, was removed from her care and went to live with his uncle Stratford Canning. It was during this time that she wrote her novel ‘The Offspring of Fancy’ published in 1778. This seems to have been one of a number of money making schemes she undertook as the condition, probably tertiary syphilis, that would ultimately lead Reddish to be declared insane, destroyed his career and earning power.


In February 1783, Mary married a silk mercer from Plymouth, Richard Hunn a great admirer of all things theatrical. The couple had 5 children, including another 2 sets of twins. Costello's marriage to Hunn ended in with his death the 1790s, and she retired from acting. Prior to his death Hunn’s business had failed and once again she was left in penury. Mary attempted to make money with an eye ointment, Collysium, but it was a failure. It was at this point that her son George came to her rescue securing her a pension of £500 a year which enabled her to retire to Bath where she appears to have lived as a highly regarded member of the community.


Sophia Lee


Was born in 1750 to a theatrical family. Her father was the actor manger John Lee. After her father’s death, and using money she had earned from her early and very successful play writing, she and her sisters opened a school for young ladies at Belvedere House in Bath. The sisters enjoyed the friendship of both the Linleys and the Sheridans. Other close friends in Bath included Mrs Siddon, whose daughter was a pupil, Mrs Piozzi and Sir Thomas Lawrence. A wonderfully vivid picture of the school appears in the memoirs of Susan Sibbald who was a pupil in 1797. The school consisted of some 50 boarders and 20 day scholars, ages ranged from 8 to 19 years old and they were taught French, grammar, geography, writing and arithmetic. They also had music and dancing lessons, the latter provided by the Grand Dame of Bath dancing mistresses Ann Flemming. Every three years pupils put on a performance at the Upper Assembly Rooms which were often attended by Royalty.


Sophia’s first play was ‘The Chapter of Accidents’ which was first produced by George Coleman at the Haymarket in 1780. Her subsequent works included an early best selling Gothic novel ‘The Recess, or a Tale of other Times’ published in 1785 a novel which was admired by and influenced Ann Radcliffe, and ‘Almeyda, Queen of Grenada’ in 1796. The latter was a tragedy in Blank verse which opened in Drury Lane with Sarah Siddens in the lead role.


Sophia also produce a number of translations. She died in Bristol in 1824.


Frances Burney


Frances Burney was a frequent visitor to Bath and expressed great affection for the city. She had first visited the city in 1767 with her father and lived here with her friends, the Thrales, in 1780 in 14 South Parade. She returned to live in Bath at 23 Great Stanhope Street between 1815 and 1818. Burney died in 1847 and is buried at St Swithen’s Walcot. She is also a visitor to her friend Hester Thrales house in Gay Street following Hester’s marriage to the Italian piano teacher Gabreil Poizzi. Hester herself was an established writer. 


Frances was born in Lynn Regis, now Kings Lynn in 1752 to the musician and musicologist Charles Burney and his first wife. Like Austen she began writing very young. From 1786 to 1790 she was “Keeper of the Robes” to Queen Charlotte. In 1793 at the age of 41 she married the exiled French General Alexandre D’Arblay and had her only child Alexander in 1794. Her first novel Evelina was a huge best seller and won critical acclaim including from her friend Dr Johnson. She went on to write another three novels and a number of plays. She also wrote a memoir of her father. Frances left many letters and journals on which much of her modern reputation rests. Jane Austen acknowledged having been very influenced by Burney.


Harriet Lee


Harriet Lee was born in 1757 the youngest of three sisters which included the bestselling novelist and playwright Sophia.  Harriet lived much of her life in Bath helping her sisters run their much admired school.


In 1786 Harriet published her first novel ‘The Errors of Innocence’. It was more than ten years later that she began what was to be her masterpiece ‘The Canterbury Tales’ , which includes some small contributions by Sophia, by the time of it completion in 1807 it ran to 5 volumes. ‘The Canterbury Tales’ was in print for many years and won much admiration from critics and other writers including Lord Byron.


In addition to this Harriet produced another novel and a play.


Harriet Lee died in 1851 at the age of 94.


Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire


Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire 1757 - 1806 socialite, political organiser, leader of fashion, author and notorious gambler whose marriage to William 5th Duke of Devonshire united two of the great aristocratic families of England the Spencers and the Cavendishes.


Georgiana lived in and visited Bath throughout her life and even in old age she delighted in attending the pupil balls run by Bath’s many schools and dancing teachers at the Assembly Rooms. 

The Duchess was an avid writer and as well as an extensive correspondent and wrote both poetry and prose from a young age.


Her first published work, in 1773 when she was 16, was a novel entitled ‘Emma; Or, The Unfortunate Attachment: A Sentimental Novel.’  5 years later she published her most successful work a novel ‘The Sylph’ which satirises the fashionable London Ton of which she was a central figure for many years. It was commercially very successful earning four reprints.


Ann Radcliffe


Another novelist who influenced Austen and is explicitly mentioned in Northanger Abbey is Ann Radcliffe. The young Ann Ward came to live in Bath at the age of 8  in 1772 when through the good offices of her uncle Thomas Bentley her father was appointed to manage the showroom being opened by Bentley and his more famous partner Josiah Wedgwood. Bentley had secured premises in in Westgate buildings in 1770 and William Ward is listed as the tenant as early as December 1771. Prior to this appointment Ann’s father William had been proprietor of a haberdashery in Holborn. By May of 1772 when Mrs Wedgwood was in Bath recuperating from an illness her niece was able to report that she had received ‘the kind attention of a respectable couple named Ward who were to manage the show-room.’


Josiah himself came to Bath to help with the opening in June 1772. The showroom was decorated with a background of yellow wallpaper to better show off the black basalt vases. The opening was delayed by supply issues and missed the season and was postponed to the autumn.


When the showroom finally opened Wedgwood was shocked by what he regarded as the vulgarity of Ward’s marketing methods.


However, despite all the set backs by early 1773 Wedgwood was ‘glad to hear that Mrs Ward had some hopes of the business answering to them at Bath. Pray make my best respects to her, and my love to Miss Nancy’. Miss Nancy was Ann’s family nickname.


Wedgwood had never liked Westgate street which he described as being ‘full of Coal Carts, Coal Horses & Asses - & a great way from the Town and the Parades’. So at the end of 1774 the showroom and the Wards relocated near the bottom of Milsom Street. In 1779 they moved again to No 22 one door from the top. The directories of the time suggest that the Wards’ supplemented their earnings by operating part of their home as a lodging house.


It is possible that Ann spent at least fifteen of the most formative years of her life in Bath but rarely acknowledged it. Her first biographer only mentions it twice; once in relation her recollections of Mrs Siddons and once in relation to her marriage to William Radcliffe in Bath in 1787 when she was 23. It may be that this in part reflects the amount of time she spent in her uncles house in Chelsea but may also reflect the shame she seems to have felt at her fathers lowly status in Bath society.


Ann went on to become one of the foundational authors of the Gothic school of novel writing. She has been credited with making the genre respectable. She was one of the most successful writers of her time and widely admired by both readers and critics. Of the six novels she wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho, thanks largely to Austen, is probable the best known today.


Mary Shelley


Mary Shelley, developed and wrote much of the novel ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,  on which her reputation rests while living in Bath. 


In 1816 after leaving Byron in Geneva, Percy Shelley, the 19 year old Mary Godwin, the heavily pregnant Clare Clermont Mary’s stepsister and Mary’s 2 year old son and his nurse travelled through France to Le Havre where they took ship for Portsmouth. At Portsmouth Shelley left the party to visit a friend in Great Marlow and the others went on to Bath. Arriving in Bath on the 10th September where Mary and Clare took two sets of lodgings in Bath the first at 5 Abbey Church Yard the location of which is now marked by a plaque. The other address was at 12 New Bond Street.


It was now that Mary started in earnest to turn the story idea  that she had conceived in Geneva into a full blown novel and purchased new notebooks to start her writing. On the 5th December Mary wrote to Shelley saying she had completed chapter 4.


Mary and Percy left Bath for London on 30th December where the were married at St Mildred’s Church. Claire remained in Bath and gave birth to a daughter on the 12th January 1817. The Shelleys left Bath on the 27th February 1816  When they left Mary was pregnant for the third time and just starting on the second notebook.




Wednesday, 21 October 2020

"Just fit to Be Quality at Lyme"

Writing to her sister Cassandra from Lyme on Friday 14th September 1804 Jane Austen recounts her experiences at a ball at the Assembly Rooms, which were at the end of Broads Street and had a sea view.

"The Ball last night was very pleasant, but not full for Thursday. My Father staid very contentedly till half past nine - we went a little after eight - & then walked home with James and a Lanthorn, tho' I believe the Lanthorn was not lit, as the Moon was up. But this Lanthorne may sometimes be a great convenience to him. My mother & I staid about an hour later.  Nobody asked me the two first dances - the two next I danced with Mr Crawford Mrs Granville's son - whom my dear friend Miss Armstrong offered to introduce me - or with a new, odd looking Man who had been eying me for some time, & at last without any introduction asked me if I meant to dance again. - I think he must be Irish by his ease, & because I imagine belong to the Honble Barnwells, who are the son & son's wife of an Irish Viscount - bold, queerlooking people, just fit to be quality at Lyme."

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Two Dances from the 1730s

Taken from "Twenty-Four Dances for the year 1738 with proper tunes Figures or Directions for each Dance." published by Benjamin Cooke in 1738.

Benjamin Cooke (? - 1743) was an organist, music publisher and music seller based at the Golden Harp, in New Street, Covent Garden from 1726 to 1743. Cooke had, in 1723, married the widow of John Jones who had operated as an instrument maker and music publisher at the Golden Harp until 1720.

His second wife Elizabeth Wayet, was the sister-in-law of Lancelot (Capability) Brown, the legendary garden designer, who gave birth to the composer Benjamin Cooke(1734 - 1793).

As well as collections of dance music Cooke's production included a seminal edition of the collected works of Arcangelo Corelli in study scores comprising all five books of sonatas and the twelve concerti grossi. Indeed,  Cooke was in many ways a pioneering music publisher with his insistence on sourcing music from composers or their agents rather than other publishers material.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Dance and Satire

The Spectator was a daily publication founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in England, and published from 1711 to 1712.

In May of 1711, they claimed to have received the following letter from someone they described as a "substantial tradesman".

'Sir,

I am a Man in Years, and by an honest Industry in the World have acquired enough to give my Children a liberal Education, tho' I was an utter Stranger to it my self. My eldest Daughter, a Girl of Sixteen, has for some time been under the Tuition of Monsieur Rigadoon, a Dancing-Master in the City; and I was prevailed upon by her and her Mother to go last Night to one of his Balls. I must own to you, Sir, that having never been at any such Place before, I was very much pleased and surprized with that Part of his Entertainment which he called French Dancing. There were several young Men and Women, whose Limbs seemed to have no other Motion, but purely what the Musick gave them. After this Part was over, they began a Diversion which they call Country Dancing, and wherein there were also some things not disagreeable, and divers Emblematical Figures, Compos'd, as I guess, by Wise Men, for the Instruction of Youth.



Among the rest, I observed one, which, I think, they call Hunt the Squirrel, in which while the Woman flies the Man pursues her; but as soon as she turns, he runs away, and she is obliged to follow.

The Moral of this Dance does, I think, very aptly recommend Modesty and Discretion to the Female Sex.

But as the best Institutions are liable to Corruptions, so, Sir, I must acquaint you, that very great Abuses are crept into this Entertainment. I was amazed to see my Girl handed by, and handing young Fellows with so much Familiarity; and I could not have thought it had been in the Child. They very often made use of a most impudent and lascivious Step called Setting, which I know not how to describe to you, but by telling you that it is the very reverse of Back to Back. At last an impudent young Dog bid the Fidlers play a Dance called Mol Patley, and after having made two or three Capers, ran to his Partner, locked his Arms in hers, and whisked her round cleverly above Ground in such manner, that I, who sat upon one of the lowest Benches, saw further above her Shoe than I can think fit to acquaint you with. I could no longer endure these Enormities; wherefore just as my Girl was going to be made a Whirligig, I ran in, seized on the Child, and carried her home.


Sir, I am not yet old enough to be a Fool. I suppose this Diversion might be at first invented to keep up a good Understanding between young Men and Women, and so far I am not against it; but I shall never allow of these things. I know not what you will say to this Case at present, but am sure that had you been with me you would have seen matter of great Speculation.

I am

Yours, &c.'

Note: the dances mentioned are taken from editions of Playford's The Dancing Master