Monday, May 19, 2008

Rites of Spring

Today is Victoria Day in much of Canada. I'm not going to spend too much of it on the web. But in memory of the monarch who oversaw the great nineteenth-century foundations of our ancient nation, a few bits and pieces picked up around the place.
In December 1868 Gladstone was appointed as PM for the first time following the Liberal victory in the General Election that followed the passing of the second Reform Act and Gladstone announced that his 'mission was to pacify Ireland'. The ministry (1868-74) passed a whole spate of reforms but lost the 1874 general election at which Disraeli's Tory party won a majority. In 1876 Gladstone published The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East, attacking the government's policy towards the Ottoman Empire. During this period, Gladstone constantly attacked the PM and ultimately launched his Midlothian Campaign prior to the next general election on 1880. He was able to discredit Disraeli and the Liberals won the election; Gladstone had offended Queen Victoria in 1866 when he refused to support the purchase of gun metal for a memorial to Prince Albert that was to be erected in Kensington Gardens, and relations between the two were always difficult. Gladstone formed his second ministry even though Queen Victoria attempted to appoint Lord Hartington instead. The queen was widely reported to have commented that, 'He speaks to me as if I were a public meeting'. Just before she appointed Gladstone, Victoria wrote to Sir Henry Ponsonby that she would 'sooner abdicate than send for or have anything to do with that half-mad fire-brand who would soon ruin everything and be a dictator'
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)

By the way, Gladstone is remembered, inter alia, for his rallying cry of "Peers vs. People", one reason he can't be favoured at this blog



In 1857; Complete Rules of Etiquette, had this to say:

Rules to be Observed at Fashionable Dancing Parties or Sociables.

"A gentleman should never attempt to step across a lady's train. He should walk around it."

"No gentleman should ever go into the supper-room alone, unless he has seen every lady enter before him."

"When dancing a round dance, a gentleman should never hold a lady's hand behind him, or on his hip, or high in the air, moving her arm as though it were a pump handle, as seen in some of our cities but should hold it gracefully by his side."

"Draw on your gloves (white or yellow) in the dressing-room and do not be for one moment with them off in the dancing rooms. At supper take them off; nothing is more preposterous than to eat in gloves."

"When an unpractised dancer makes a mistake, we may aprise him of his error; but it would be very impolite to have the air of giving him a lesson."

"Unless a man has a very graceful figure, and can use it with great elegance, it is better for him to walk through the quadrilles, or invent some gliding movement for the occasion.

"The master of the house should see that all the ladies dance. He should take notice particularly of those who seem to serve as 'drapery' to the walls of the ball-room and should see that they are invited to dance."

"If a lady waltzes with you, beware not to press her waist; you must only lightly touch it with the open palm of your hand, lest you leave a disagreeable impression not only on her ceinture, but on her mind."

"Dance quietly, do not kick or caper about nor sway your body, but let your motion be from the hips downward. Do not pride yourself too much on the neatness of your steps, lest you be taken for a dancing master."

"When a lady is standing in a quadrille, though not engaged in dancing, a gentleman not acquainted with her partner should not converse with her."

What if I Galop When I Should Have Deaux Temps? Canadian Dances and Balls

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)
Night Hymns on Lake Nipigon

Here in the midnight, where the dark mainland and island
Shadows mingle in shadow deeper, profounder,
Sing we the hymns of the churches, while the dead water
Whispers before us.

Thunder is travelling slow on the path of the lightning;
One after one the stars and the beaming planets
Look serene in the lake from the edge of the storm-cloud,
Then have they vanished.

While our canoe, that floats dumb in the bursting thunder,
Gathers her voice in the quiet and thrills and whispers,
Presses her prow in the star-gleam, and all her ripple
Lapses in blackness.

Sing we the sacred ancient hymns of the churches,
Chanted first in old-world nooks of the desert,
While in the wild, pellucid Nipigon reaches
Hunted the savage.

Now have the ages met in the Northern midnight,
And on the lonely, loon-haunted Nipigon reaches
Rises the hymn of triumph and courage and comfort,
Adeste Fideles.

Tones that were fashioned when the faith brooded in darkness,
Joined with sonorous vowels in the noble Latin,
Now are married with the long-drawn Ojibwa,
Uncouth and mournful.

Soft with the silver drip of the regular paddles
Falling in rhythm, timed with the liquid, plangent
Sounds from the blades where the whirlpools break and are carried
Down into darkness;

Each long cadence, flying like a dove from her shelter
Deep in the shadow, wheels for a throbbing moment,
Poises in utterance, returning in circles of silver
To nest in the silence.

All wild nature stirs with the infinite, tender
Plaint of a bygone age whose soul is eternal,
Bound in the lonely phrases that thrill and falter
Back into quiet.

Back they falter as the deep storm overtakes them,
Whelms them in splendid hollows of booming thunder,
Wraps them in rain, that, sweeping, breaks and onrushes
Ringing like cymbals.

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