virtual tour :: a dance to remember

Phillip Battell's letter to Emma Hart Seymour

August 7, 1826

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Norfolk Aug. 27, 1826

I was wrong my dear Emma, and must begin my first letter with an explanation. When I told you so, I did expect to be at the Ball Commencement evening, and as it was a fine night and the moon and stars were pouring down abundant Poetry, about ten o’clock I went to my room meaning first to copy the verses you wished for and then carry them down to the room, in reason to see you and bid you good bye, for I began to see, then, that if I went in the morning I should scarcely have time even for that call. But I was interrupted by one and another and at last by some old Graduates who were kind enough to occupy my room for the night. At least I left it to three of them and in as very good humour began a night ramble at half past eleven. If you felt well, Emma, you never saw a lovelier sky and earth than those which suspended men’s spirits between them that night. And to one that felt very bad, they were so quiet and unobtrusive with their gladness that I was disposed to be at peace with them, as I went down by the creek, and even rekindled my love of Nature as I looked over into your grove – That Grove, my dear girl, you have near you to visit. Do you think it is better dear away from such objects to think and labor to recall them from Memory. You cannot think so, Emma, if you ever go to see our “toying tree”, and our stone seat by the bank. And yet, I confess in a moonlit chamber, or on a shady ledge, some very pleasant scenery is often brought down from old Vermont a very winding stream and an open grove – a pretty waterfall and a peculiar “ slope” a steep ascent from a green and level bank, with trees and a moon up through them, a rough stone half buried but coming out so as to make a tolerable seat for -- Mine were a most unfaithful fancy and less allied to the heart than it should be, if it did not tell right glowingly for whom that rough seat had been placed in such worthy scenery and you need not doubt the form that is seated has a companion, I know not how unworthy, but as far as I can judge, as loving as the seated one can wish . And she believes it too, Emma, for I heard his question plainly as far as the words were spoken, and her answer was “yes”. But though I can, and can not do otherwise, call these things well up among the brightest moments of solitude, you do not any longer doubt that it is better to be among them, even if the others were away. This is your chance, Emma, but for your lover, - he is

“Far away from thee. And the thing that roused thee
Were an Earthly Heaven, which Thou didst enlighten –

And to add to this, are miseries that the Poet’s lover had not, and with which your own shall not trouble you. – I have left my explanation too long, but it was not because I doubted its acceptance. Were it ten times more deficient I know that your kindness will forgive me, and though my pen can not prove it, your heart will believe that I meant well towards you, and had good reason as well as sincere regret for not having appeared so. I had seen you dancing as I passed, at least I thought so, and when I returned I determined to go in and see you nearer at least, if not to speak with you. My feelings were somewhat disturbed, and I had trusted to the music (never think of the wine Sister Em’) to make me feel better. You can guess what I felt, when I saw you standing by the stairs, I thought…

introduction :: the art of the dance card :: the yearly round of dances :: winter carnival
the turning point: dance in american fiction :: a dance to remember: emma hart seymour and philip battell