Regency Ladies

I have been spending time with a couple of Regency ladies over the last few days.  Yesterday I saw Lady Caroline Lamb’s scrapbook (left) in the John Murray archive in Edinburgh, which I wanted to look at to understand her views on the waltz.

She loved waltzing, and made lots of humorous drawings of waltzing couples.  The sight of these men and women clasped in each others’ arms also explains why many respectable Regency people considered this new and German dance to be rather depraved.

Waltzing also played a sad part in Caroline’s tempestuous relationship with Lord Byron.  He made her swear never to waltz herself, as it made him so jealous to see her in the arms of another man.  (He couldn’t waltz himself because of his bad foot.)

After their break-up, though, they ran into each other at a ball, and she said to him that she supposed she might waltz now. Yes, he said, she could dance with ‘every body in turn’.  (I saw a copy of her letter recording this conversation.)  Poor unstable Caroline was devastated by this further evidence that their relationship was over.  She immediately got hold of a knife, cut herself, and blood went all over her gown.

Of quite a different cast was Mrs John Soane, whose tomb we also visited.  The inscription said that, unlike Caroline, her ‘mind remained untainted by an extensive intercourse with the world’.

One thought on “Regency Ladies

  1. bonnie hurst

    Just wanted to say, how much we enjoy your programs on pbs. Look forward to more. Thanks Lucy. From Canada, B.Hurst

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