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|Dancing Bob with his Engish Legs and Antigallican Toes
Written by JulieW
(3/4/2007 9:56 a.m.)
Poor Bob awaits the dancing master in Scene iv.
Acres. [Practising a dancing-step.] Sink, slide—coupee.— Confound the first inventors of cotillons! say I—they are as bad as algebra to us country gentlemen.—I can walk a minuet easy enough when I am forced!—and I have been accounted a good stick in a country-dance.—Odds jigs and tabors! I never valued your cross-over to couple—figure in—right and left—and I’d foot it with e’er a captain in the county!—but these outlandish heathen allemandes and cotillons are quite beyond me!—I shall never prosper at ’em, that’s sure—mine are true-born English legs—they don’t understand their curst French lingo!—their pas this, and pas that, and pas t’other!—damn me! my feet don’t like to be called paws! no, ’tis certain I have most Antigallican toes!
Bob can’t even manages to pronounce the terms used in dancing, let alone execute them elegantly, hampered as he is by his solidly English feet and toes.
Balancing… must surely mean “balancer”- to sway from foot to foot.
Chasing must surely mean chasse- to glide, not run after a rabbit
And boring must mean bouree which was a lively dance in ¾ time.
Poor Bob was only trying to reach the required standard of elegance as advised by men such as Lord Chesterfield.
Lord Chesterfield (1694–1773) wrote instructional books and his book Letters to His Son later became adapted by John Trusler into a smaller more accessible book entitled Principles of Politeness, and of Knowing the World My edition is dated Jan 1st 1775.
The book contained:
The book soon became the most popular manual on manners. One quote from the book alerts us to the importance of dance to proper deportment: ?
Next to good-breeding is genteel manners and carriage, and the best method to acquire these is through a knowledge of dance. Now to acquire a graceful air, you must attend to your dancing; no one can either sit, stand or walk well, unless he dances well. And in learning to dance, be particularly attentive to the motion of your arms for a stiffness in the wrist will make any man look awkward. If a man walks well, presents himself well in company, wears his hat well, moves his head properly, and his arms gracefully, it is almost all that is necessary.?
Here are the ideals our poor Devon Monekroni is trying to ape( forgive me) from
The Rudiments of Genteel Behaviour by Francis Nivelon (1737).
This book gave detailed written instructions and illustrations as to how to stand walk and salute at the same time, making a bow with the hat off, how to retire from a room, how hold oneself when offering or receiving an item, and how to dance a minuet.
Here is making a bow:
And here is dancing the minuet:
I cant help thinking that all poor Bob will be able to manage is something akin to this print, by John Collet, of Grown Men Taught to Dance
These heathen cotillons are just not what he is used to!
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